Are Hotel Loyalty Programs Worth It?

I've been on a whirlwind trip the past couple weeks for work - a rare opportunity these days for me to travel. While work has been painful - its been fun to get back out on a travel adventure.

One thing that has really surprised me was the # of my peers that have been traveling with me that do not take advantage of Hotel Loyalty Programs from the major hotel chains to earn rewards/free stays at hotels. The majority of my peers that I spoke too all had Airline Frequent Flyer accounts, but none of them had hotel loyalty program memberships.

While there wasn't a single reason why, I did get a sense that most folks were not aware of the benefits of these hotel accounts. Also some folks felt they weren't able to take advantage of the programs because they were not as loyal to a single hotel chain.

This surprised me quite a bit as I generally feel that the hotel loyalty programs are a better deal and if I could only participate in 1 type of loyalty program I would probably stick to the hotel programs.

A couple key benefits to the hotel loyalty programs for me include:

  • Many hotel loyalty programs points don't expire. Unlike most Airline Frequent Flyer accounts where you lose your miles after 18mos of activity.
  • It usually doesn't cost anything to redeem free hotel nights. Unlike free flights using your miles where you have to pay taxes and fees on the flights that are a significant of the flight cost, I'm usually able to redeem free hotel night rewards without having to pay any taxes or fees. This can add up - for example on our transatlantic cruise last year we ended up paying $606 for our reward flights taxes/fees, but paid nothing for 4 hotel reward nights.
  • In addition to earning points through the hotel loyalty programs, just like airline frequent flyer accounts, hotel loyalty programs with status provide you perks during your stays including additional bonus points, room upgrades, free breakfasts, free cocktails/executive lunge access, and additional amenities.

While you can go to the extreme with hotel loyalty programs, just like you can with Airline Frequent Flyer programs, since the account is free I do think it makes sense to sign up for all the hotel chain loyalty plans and take advantage of them if your booking a stay at that hotel chain anyway.

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Comments (1)

I signed up for Marriott's reward program this year because I got a contract job for 4 months that put me in Marriott hotels only. I rackeed up enough points for 17 free nights at their basic hotel or 5 nights at a Ritz Carlton! Not too shabby!

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