Picking the right hotel rewards program to suit your travel style and needs can be tricky. That’s why we’ve delved into the magical world of loyalty programs to help you pick the right one.
When traveling abroad, what is the most important thing for you when booking a hotel? Is it the offer of a room upgrade? Perhaps it’s the flexibility of being able to check-in or check-out when you like, or being guaranteed a room within 48 hours’ notice. Whatever your travel style, we have taken a look at some of the biggest hotel rewards programs out there to help you make the most of each stay.
Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and SPG – a trio of hotel rewards programs in one
Kicking off the list is this comprehensive loyalty program borne out of a merger between the three hotel brands earlier this year. The merger remained unnamed at the start of 2019, letting customers earn points under the old program names. In terms of the rewards program, all points collected under the different brands are converted into Marriott Rewards points, with SPG coming in at a tidy 3:1 point ratio.
Those already signed up to this rewards program should keep in mind the no blackout date selling point could come with a variation in hotel prices, determined by “peak” and “off-peak” times.
With 29 brands and 130 countries to choose from, the world is pretty much your oyster when it comes to where you want to stay. Book at any of the 6,700 hotels, which includes Marriott Rewards hotels and numerous luxury hotels, on offer and earn 10 points for every 1 USD spent, which reduces to five points per 1 USD when booked at Element, Residence Inn, or TownePlace Suites. You can also purchase points, 12.50 USD for 1000 points. The minimum points needed to earn a free night varies depending on the hotel, but starts at 5,000 and ranges up to 100,000 points.
A base membership, provided on free sign-up with the program, gives you all features on the brand’s mobile app, faster reservation processes, free Wi-Fi, and discounted prices. To reach Platinum Premier Elite status with an ambassador, you need to stay 100 nights and spend $20,000 across the hotels or through the brand’s co-branded credit cards in one calendar year. Once you have achieved this status, an ambassador is assigned to you for the year to help you with visits to any of the hotels available. On top of the base membership, you can also choose your check-in, check-out times, earn 75 per cent more points with every purchase, receive a welcome gift at each stay, a 48-hour guarantee for a room, room upgrades and lounge access where possible, free Wi-Fi and breakfast, mobile check-in options and no blackout dates for free nights.
The Visa Marriott Rewards Premier Plus credit card gives you 75,000 points when you spend 3,000 USD in the first three months of opening the account, one free night stay at participating hotels, and a bump up in member options from the base level after every annual account anniversary. You can earn six points for every 1 USD spent across the range of hotels. The business credit card option builds on these extras to include adding four points for every 1 USD spent at gas stations, restaurants, shipping services, and internet and phone services. You also get automatically upgraded to gold status, from base membership, if you spend more than 35,000 USD in a year.
The merger gives you the chance to swap points for miles with more than 40 airline partners, including British Airways, Thai Airways, Etihad, United, and Emirates. Three points equates to one mile and for every 60,000 points converted, the program gives you 15,000 bonus points.
Wyndham Rewards – a hotel loyalty program hard to beat
While Wyndham doesn’t have the biggest selection of luxury hotels, it has a great option for free nights — 15,000 points will get you into any of the hotels under the Wyndham hotel group brand, regardless of location or price, giving you an amazing choice from the 8,000 hotels on offer. Keep in mind, blackout dates and minimum length of stay requirements do apply to some hotels.
For every qualified stay at any one of the participating hotels across 20+ brands around the world, you can earn 10 points per 1 USD, or 1000 points, whichever is more.
Aside from the 15,000 points for a free night, the base membership gives you free Wi-Fi at hotels, the ability to rollover free nights and points across the years, and discounted passes for local experiences at your destination. To reach Diamond status, the top membership tier, you need to book in at least 40 nights cross the calendar year. On top of the basics, you also get room preferences, flexible check-in and check-out times, perks from selected casinos, car rental, and suite upgrades, complimentary snacks, and beverages as well as the option to pass on a gold membership to a friend or family member.
Sign up to the Wyndham Rewards Visa and earn 15,000 points after your first purchase, enough to stay for free at any of the hotels under the Wyndham umbrella. There’s no annual fee and you earn three points for every USD spent at participating hotels, two points per dollar on gas, utility and grocery store purchases, and a point for every dollar spent on all other purchases. You can opt to pay an annual fee of 75 USD and earn an additional 15,000 points after spending 1000 USD within the first 90 days and get bumped up to five points per dollar purchase at selected hotels.
Like the Marriott-SPG merger mentioned above, points can be transferred to miles under a frequent flyer program, such as American Airlines AAdvantage, Aeroplan, Amtrak, and MileagePlus United. Top tier members can earn two miles for every dollar spent on hotels. Depending on your membership level, you can get discounts on local experiences from shows, concerts, sporting events, or family outing activities. Free tickets are offered to Diamond members for certain events.
World of Hyatt – one of the best choices in hotel rewards programs
Make the most of your points under the World of Hyatt hotel loyalty program, which can be used across a range of services, not just at their 700+ hotels across 50 countries.
Earn five points for every USD spent on hotel stays, dining, and spa treatments across Hyatt hotels and 10 points for every dollar spent on experiences linked to the hotel brand. You need a minimum of 5,000 points for a free night, which can cost up to 60,000 points. The program offers a number of bonuses, including double point rates at certain hotels and savings at a number of locations.
Base level membership is free and gives you a range of extras, including complimentary Wi-Fi, the ability to share points with others, the option to pay for hotels in a cash and points combo, convert points to airline and car rental awards, complimentary breakfast, waived resort fees, and more flexible check-in, check-out options. To reach top status, called the Globalist program, you need to stay 60 nights at a qualifying hotel, earn 100,000 base points, or hold 20 meetings or events at Hyatt brand locations in one calendar year. Perks include club lounge access, bottled water replenished daily, expedited check-in, and priority access. Upgrade to Lifetime Globalist by earning one million base points over membership and enjoy your own concierge agent, 48 hours’ booking options and an exclusive reservation line.
Spend 50,000 USD on the Hyatt credit card and you are instantly boosted to “Explorist” member status for the following calendar year. You can also snare a free night at any category 1 to 4 hotels if you renew your card after a year. Earn three points for every USD spent at hotels, eight in total when taking into consideration member points, two bonus points per USD at selected restaurants, airline tickets, and car rentals.
You can redeem your points for FIND experiences under the program, which includes culinary experiences, fitness and relaxation programs, and tours and adventures at selected locations. Airline partners include British Airways, Etihad, Singapore Airways, United, Qantas, and Qatar Airways.
IHG Rewards – a range of hotels on offer
With more than 5,300 hotels across nearly 100 countries under 15 different brands, including Intercontinental and Kimpton, there’s a number of ways to earn points under this rewards program.
Earn 10 points for every USD spent on hotel stays across most brands, except Candlewood and Staybridge Suites, where your points are halved per USD. Points have a 12-month shelf-life and a free night costs minimum 10,000, all the way up to 70,000 points.
Baseline perks include free Wi-Fi, extended check-out options, and a dedicated customer service phone line. Upgrade to Intercontinental Ambassador status by staying 75 nights per
With the IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card, you can earn 80,000 points after spending 2000 USD in the first three months and then earn 10 points per USD across IHG hotels. Making a purchase at selected gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants will earn you two points to the USD, while everything else will give you one point per USD spent. You can secure 10,000 points annually when you renew your credit card, so long as you have spent 20,000 USD in the calendar year and made another purchase in the following year. You can also earn a free night on the renewal anniversary date each year.
Earn points with Apple products spent through IHG, save cash on car rentals under this hotel rewards program, or cash in on your points with air miles.
Hilton Honors – a varied way to use hotel loyalty program points
Offering more than just 5,000 hotel options under 16 different brands, this hotel rewards program also lets you spend points on experiences, including concert tickets, private tours, power lunches, and VIP experiences.
So how can you earn points? Through booking hotels under the Hilton umbrella, shopping at select outlets, holding meetings or events at participating hotels, or completing online surveys. You get 10 points per USD spent as a basic member and up to 20 points per USD on the top membership tier. Free nights start as low as 5,000 points.
At its membership baseline, you can enjoy the option to check-in digitally, free Wi-Fi, late check-out, and the ability to have a second guest stay for free. Top level on the Hilton Honors rewards program is called Diamond status and can only be reached after you have secured 30 stays, 60 nights, or earned 120,000 points in a calendar year. On the Diamond program, you can enjoy two free bottles of water, room upgrades
Hilton has a wide variety of credit card options. The no annual fee option offers 7x points on purchases within the Hilton portfolio and 5x points at US restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations. Hilton’s Aspire card comes in at the most expensive for annual fees (450 USD) and offers 250 USD Hilton resort statement credit for each year of your card membership and another 250 USD airline fee credit per
The Hilton rewards program offers a number of non-hotel perks including concert tickets, private tours across a range of cities, luxury shopping experiences, and power lunches.
Next time you book yourself into a hotel, be sure to also book a reliable Blacklane chauffeur service to get around in style.
Blacklane did not and does not receive compensation from any of the above hotel brands or rewards programs. The content of this blog was not provided by any of the companies mentioned above, but was sourced from each rewards program website. The information has not been reviewed, endorsed or edited by any of the listed companies.