The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Hotel Rewards

Updated February 18, 2021.

Hotels can be the most expensive part of a vacation. Depending on the type of hotel and the length of your stay, you could be paying more for the hotel than for the plane ticket to get there! But there’s good news: hotel rewards! You can accrue hotel rewards the old fashioned way (by actually staying at one hotel chain a certain number of nights), with a hotel credit card, or by signing up with a third-party service like Here’s your quick and painless guide to maximizing your hotel rewards and making your trips more affordable!

***No part of this post is affiliated with any brand or program. I am not sponsored or compensated in any way to write this post. All opinions and information are based on my honest, actual experiences!

We enjoyed perks at the Hotel Sacher Salzburg such as a room upgrade and complimentary personal Sacher Torte and fruit! We had an epic view from this beautiful room!
The sunrise view from our room’s beautiful balcony!
Double (or triple!) your points earnings with the right credit card. Check out this article about the Best Credit Cards for Travel from for more!

Hotel Loyalty Programs

All the major (and some smaller) hotel chains have a loyalty program these days. Basically, you stay a certain number of nights, and you accrue points and status in their loyalty program. Points can be redeemed for free hotel stays, but like airline rewards, you’ll still have to pay the tax. Status within a loyalty program will get you perks such as club level access, free room upgrades, early check-in, late check-out, and more! Each loyalty program is different, so read the fine print and don’t hesitate to ask questions if you need clarity!

For example, my husband and I just went to Zurich for five nights last month. We used our Marriott Bonvoy loyalty points to “pay” for the first four nights, and we got the fifth night free!

Our trip to Amsterdam for the tulip festival was even better because our whole stay was paid for with Marriott points!
Speaking of Loyalty:
The Beginner’s Guide to Using Airline Miles for Travel

Credit Card Programs

This has the potential to be the most versatile reward method. For instance, hotel-branded credit cards will help you earn status for perks such as the ones mentioned above. Alternatively, a good rewards credit card will let you use points to reimburse your travel expenses, such as hotels. So you’ll be earning points by using the card to book your stay, then paying yourself back using your accumulated points!

Hotel Rewards got me two FREE nights at the only 5-Star hotel in Downtown D.C.!
Read on: Beginner’s Guide to Using Credit Card Rewards for Travel

Third Party Booking Rewards 

This one can get pretty fun. Hotel loyalty requires you to stay with one hotel chain and its affiliated properties, but by using a third-party service like, you can earn money toward future hotel stays no matter what brand or boutique you choose! 

With, for example, you get stay 10 nights and then you get one night “free.” That seems a little deceptive at first, because you can’t stay for free just anywhere, at any price point. What you do get is a 10% kick-back on your hotel stays, meaning that each night you pay for will earn you 10% of the price to put toward a future stay. So, when you’ve accrued 10 nights, you’ll have a tidy sum to spend on your next trip! 

We stayed at the epic Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore and earned both credit card points and hotel rewards!
More on my Accommodations Page!

Cashing In Your Rewards

Once you earn enough rewards, it’s time to use them! Each hotel rewards program is different, but here are some examples of different to get you started.

Marriott Bonvoy Rewards

The Marriott Bonvoy brand includes the Ritz-Carlton, The Luxury Collection, Sheraton, Fairfield, Marriott (of course), Courtyard, Gaylord, and more. Staying at any of these hotels will help you earn points to put toward FREE nights! You can find all the details here. Rewards

As I stated previously, is the most versatile hotel rewards program because of the variety of accommodations on offer. You’ll earn 10% of the price of each night’s stay to put toward a FREE night! You can save up your free nights and redeem more than one at a time, which can mean big savings if you have a dream trip coming up! You can find all the details here.

Our anniversary trip to Hawaii was extra special knowing we were earning rewards with our stay at the epic Royal Hawaiian!

Want more hotel inspiration? Read all about the most Legendary Hotels of the World!

Need more money-saving, wise-spending tips for your travels, check out my Saving and Money Page!

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9 responses to “The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Hotel Rewards”

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