As a traveler I love to collect and use points on hotel stays, but when I can’t find a hotel that has a loyalty program what do I do? I turn to hotels.com. Sometimes there is no brand hotels nearby like Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, or IHG, so I will have to settle for an independent hotel with no loyalty program. This is where hotels.com comes in, the big advantage of hotels.com is that you can book pretty much any hotel, anywhere in the world. Hotels.com also has a loyalty program of their own called Hotels.com Welcome Rewards.
How to earn free nights
How their loyalty program works is that you stay 10 nights and you get one free. To be more accurate they take the average amount that you spent throughout those 10 nights and that is how much your free night is worth.
For example: If I spend $1,000 over 10 nights then your free night stay is good for $100.
- Night 1-4: $100/night = $400
- Night 5-7: $70/night = $210
- Night 8-10: $130/night = $390
- 10 nights total: = $1000
- Free night: $1000/10 = $100
Basically you are getting 10% back towards your next purchase with no black out dates on over 85,000 hotels.
With welcome rewards, when you earn a free night you are able to book hotels that cost more than your free night is worth by paying the difference. If you redeem your free night for a night that cost less than your free night is worth, you lose out on the difference.
For example using the numbers above if you wanted to stay on November 5th, 2013 at:
- The Sheraton Waikiki: $276/night
- $276 -$100 (free night) = $176 out of pocket
- The Waikiki Gateway Hotel: $78/night
- $78 – $100 (free night) = $22 lost
The small print
Other things to note is that you will also have to pay all hotel taxes and fees on your free night, so it’s not exactly free like other hotel loyalty programs. Besides having to pay the taxes and fees you can’t combine multiple free nights to redeem for one free night, but you are able to use multiple free nights for a multiple night stay. So if you are staying at the same hotel for 3 nights and have 2 free nights, you just have to pay for the last night, plus taxes and fees of the first 2 nights. Also your free night is valid for 12 months from your last activity. Meaning any activity such as your last redemption or your last completed stay earning welcome rewards.
Like most loyalty programs there are different tiers or status levels to achieve that gives you better perks than the average customer. In welcome rewards there are 3 tiers: member, silver and gold. Honestly they are not worth going into detail, but basically you get a dedicated concierge, spam mail on upcoming deals before anyone else, and for gold elites you get Exclusive deals, which probably isn’t even that good.
What good is Welcome Rewards?
So far what we have learned about Hotels.com Welcome Rewards doesn’t sound so great. Now compare that to all the other hotel loyalty programs, would I still use them? Definitely! Like I said earlier you don’t always find hotels with loyalty programs where you are going. Sometimes there are Hilton’s and IHG’s where you are going, but they are in an inconvenient area and not worth using or earning points. For example if you found a decent hotel for cheap next to the train station in the city center vs a hotel brand that earns you points on the outskirts of town that would cost you money and time every day to get to the city center, which would you pick. For me, I would weigh out the cost of transportation and time to get to the city center. Majority of the time I choose to go with the independent hotels close to where I need to be, instead of the one that earns me points.
2 free nights at Hyatt
Though this is not the only reason I like hotels.com, they are also part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping portal which earns 5 UR points/dollar. Combine that with the Chase sapphire preferred card and you will be earning 7.02 UR points/dollar! Since Hyatt is a transfer partner of UR points you can potentially earn 2 free nights. One with Welcome Rewards and one with UR points.
For example we will stay at Hyatt Place Waikiki with average rate of about $200/night
- 10 nights x $200 = $2,000
- $2,000 x 7.02 UR pts. = 14,040 UR points
14,040 UR points is enough to book another night at the Hyatt Place Waikiki or another category 3 hotel for 13,000 points. Since you have stayed 10 nights at $200/night average you can book another night with Hyatt Place Waikiki. Like I said before you can stay at any hotel and earn Welcome Rewards nights. So you could still earn UR points at some random hotel on Hotels.com, then redeem for 2 nights at a Hyatt.
Who is this loyalty program for?
Though this isn’t for those who frequently stay at a Hyatt, because you do not get the perks or stay credit of elite status. This is more geared towards those of you who don’t travel enough to earn elite status and still want to earn free nights. If you are one of those who doesn’t travel enough definitely check this out. If you are a Hyatt elite, keep Hotels.com Welcome Rewards in your back pocket for when you visit a city without a Hyatt. With Welcome Rewards at least you will still be earning UR points that transfer to Hyatt Gold Passport points. So don’t write them off just yet, check out the program and let me know what you think in the comments below.
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