Loyalty in the points and rewards game is everything. This is one of the few situations where having all your eggs in one basket often pays off in a huge way. That’s why choosing where to place your loyalty is so important. For instance, in the airline industry, brand loyalty comes out on top–whatever airline you choose, pursue it with gusto! But where hotels are concerned, I have found in my travels that hotel brand loyalty is far inferior to the system that Hotels.com has to offer.
*This is not a sponsored post, and I’m not receiving anything for free in exchange for this post (not even hotel stays!). These are just the opinions I’ve drawn from experience!
Read on: The Beginner’s Guide to Earning and Redeeming Hotel Rewards
Things to Keep in Mind
Before we get into the weeds, let’s start with some terms and general information to make sure we’re all on the same page.
- Hotel Brand: This could be any hotel that falls into the Hilton, Marriott Bonvoy, Kimpton, St. Regis, W, Ritz Carlton, Choice Hotels, Four Seasons, Sandals, Wyndham, or other brand names.
- Points: This is the general term I’m using for “nights,” “rewards,” or other terms hotels use to measure earnings.
- Brand Loyalty: This is the general term for choosing one brand or hotel chain based on earning rewards using their system.
More here: Staying at the Trapp Family Lodge
Variety is the spice of life, am I right? If you have to stay somewhere, it might as well be where you want it to be!
Your Preferred Hotel Brand May Not Be Available at Your Destination
This might blow your mind: There is not a Hilton hotel in every major city in the world. There’s not even a Hilton hotel in every country. Replace “Hilton” with any hotel brand name, and the story is the same. So why limit yourself?
Why give up earning rewards or points just because your preferred hotel brand doesn’t have a property in the city or country you want to visit? Or will you be so committed to brand loyalty that you’ll only ever visit countries and cities where your preferred hotel brand has properties? (If you’re wondering, I think that’s a bad idea!)
Read more: Staying at Temple des Arts Hotel
Hotels.com Has Far More Variety to Offer
You can find pretty much any type of accommodation on Hotels.com: hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, boutique accommodations, even some vacation rentals, and–you better believe it–brand name hotels, too! Not only that, you’ll find an accommodation practically anywhere in the world.
We have stayed at beautiful, boutique properties all over the world thanks to Hotels.com, including Sacher Hotels in Vienna and Salzburg; Hotel Schlossle in Tallinn, Estonia; Trump International properties in Waikiki, Vegas, and D.C.; the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont; the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong; and La Corte di Guilietta (Juliet’s Courtyard) in Verona, Italy, and more!
Read next: Everything I Want in a Bed and Breakfast
Whether you go with a site like Hotels.com or choose to earn rewards based on brand loyalty, it’s important to understand how to redeem those rewards. Otherwise, what’s the point of earning them?
Hotel Brand Loyalty Points are Not Created Equal
My best advice for keeping up with hotel brand reward points: Make a spreadsheet! Why? Because different points, earned in different ways, have different worth. Thank goodness my husband is an engineer who’s willing to take on the challenge of keeping track of all that!
Here’s an example. We signed up for the Marriott Bonvoy credit card because we stay at Marriott properties pretty often, and they were offering a significant points bonus. Sounds great, right? But when we tried to use them, we quickly realized that dates were excluded and certain properties were not available using those sign-up bonus points.
Even more irritating was the fact that when we could find a way to use our reward points for one night, the other nights were exorbitantly more expensive. This made the trip as expensive (and in some cases, more expensive) than if we simply booked all three nights in a row instead of booking two nights with money and one with reward points. Not terribly rewarding!
Read next: Staying at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel
Hotels.com Offers an Equal Reward Earnings Scale
The main reason I prefer Hotels.com to hotel brand loyalty is the simplicity. There’s really not a lot to keep up with. Hotels.com‘s earning’s scale is a flat rate: 10% per night. That means when you stay 10 nights with Hotels.com, you get to use that 10% from the previous nights toward a future night.
Read next: Staying at the Old Post Office Pavillion, Trump International DC
If you have someone else (an employer, a sponsorship, etc.) paying for you to stay in a certain hotel brand or chain, by all means take that deal! Earning rewards of any kind on someone else’s dime is a fun way to go! However, if you’re wanting to maximize your own money and travel more on your own dime (like me!), the best thing you can do is get an excellent travel rewards credit card, and use it to buy flights, dine out, and book your accommodations on Hotels.com!
I use the CapitalOne Venture One Card (click to get yours and earn bonus points with me!), which has no annual fee, and earns you 1.25 reward points per dollar spent. I make all of my purchases on this card, which I pay off ASAP so I never carry a balance or pay interest. I redeem those credit card reward points to pay for my travel expenses. Read more about this in my post, The Ultimate Guide to Travel and Your Money!
More here: Staying at the Southernmost House Hotel, Key West
Want more about maximizing your budget and rewards? Check out my Saving and Money Page!
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