Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Got a pre-paid hotel room you can’t use? Do mobile check-in anyway ….

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my first experience of using my phone to unlock my hotel door. It allowed me to check in online at the Courtyard London Gatwick Airport and go straight to my room without bothering the front desk.

I once used mobile check-in to salvage some value from a prepaid hotel room where I could no longer make it.

Reader Nicholas dropped me a note this week with a similar story.

How does Marriott mobile key work?

He said:

“I booked a non refundable / exchangable cheap room in the DoubleTree by Hilton [Name Redacted] hotel which I was unexpectedly unable to use last week.

As there was no benefit in cancelling the room, I checked in online and went for the keyless entry option, giving me access via my phone. I was at all times 120 miles away in Norwich.

The following morning I was asked if I wanted to check out via the app, which I duly did.

I have just had an email thanking me for my stay and confirming my points.”

In my case, I did exactly the same thing at Marriott Manchester Airport a few years ago. The stay credited as it should.

This is only likely to work on stays in the UK. In most countries, you are legally obliged to show a copy of your passport at the front desk on arrival. Even if you want to use ‘mobile key’, it is not activated until you have had your documents confirmed. This isn’t a legal requirement in the UK.

There is clearly no guarantee that this trick will always work, and you’d be crazy to book a non-refundable room as a mattress run with zero intention of personally checking in. However, if you end up facing the loss of a pre-paid hotel room due to a change of plans, this is a way to try to salvage some value from the situation.

Hotel offers update – March 2023:

Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.

Want to buy hotel points?

  • IHG One Rewards is offering an 80%-100% bonus when you buy points by 21st March. Click here to buy.
  • Marriott Bonvoy is offering a 40% bonus when you buy points by 3rd April. Click here.
  • World of Hyatt is offering a 25% bonus when you buy points by 25th March. Click here to buy.

Comments (35)

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  • David A says:

    I booked a Bonvoy free night in the US for my partner and me using an AMEX Marriott certificate issued in her name. I entered my own name as the 2nd guest on the original Marriott reservation.
    Will I have any problems if I check-in online and she doesn’t travel?

  • Katie says:

    With Marriott Bonvey silver and gold status, I have received refunds on non-cancellable rooms as a gesture of goodwill where I have been delayed by cancelled / late flights. Before checking in online, it’s always worth calling the hotel directly to see what they can do….you might be pleasantly surprised!

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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