Compare Hotel Rewards Programs

From company profile and earned points to amenities and reservations, we research everything you need to compare hotel rewards programs and make a decision. Learn how our editors compare the different factors of hotel rewards programs below.
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Hotel rewards programs reward the loyalty of their frequent customers by offering perks and discounts. Each rewards program targets different preferred lodging styles, travel habits and goals. Where some hotels prioritize flexibility and earning points for free nights, others focus on membership-only privileges, such as free WiFi access or minibar credits.

Frequent travellers for business or pleasure can reap the benefits of hotel rewards programs without breaking the budget, but infrequent travellers can also obtain points by signing up for hotel rewards credit cards, and meeting some basic requirements. Even families can profit this way, by using the credit card for everyday purchases in order to gain points, as opposed to doing so through paid hotel stays.

When choosing a hotel rewards program, consider your reason for travelling. Business travellers are more likely to gain points through hotel stays, whereas leisure travellers do so through credit cards. Perhaps a combination of both is the best solution for you. It’s also important to compare the earned points per dollar across different programs, and whether the points ever expire.

Some hotel rewards programs also include many limitations to the usage of points, such as restricting the brands you can stay at within the hotel chain, incorporating blackout dates and different weekend rates, and change their rewards system if reservations are booked last minute. Getting the most out of your points requires planning, understanding the rules and stipulations, and finding lodging you can travel to easily.

How we Compare Hotel Rewards Programs

Company Profile - 15%
Earned Points - 20%
Redeeming Points - 20%
Upgrades - 20%
Amenities - 15%
Reservations - 10%

Earned Points

Guests should consider how much they're required to spend before gaining enough points to receive a free night or receive other incentives at the hotel. Ideally, the value of the loyalty or rewards points should benefit you their versatility, e.g. zero expiration date, ability to use over a variety of different properties, does not include black-out dates, etc. When comparison shopping, consider:

  • Earned Points per Dollar
  • Point Expiration
  • Earning Limitations
  • Elite Bonus
  • Credit Card Bonus

Hotel Rewards Programs with the Best Earned Points:

Hyatt Gold PassportStarwood Preferred GuestIHG Rewards ClubClub CarlsonMarriott RewardsHilton HhonorsLeaders ClubBest Western RewardsWyndham RewardsKimpton Karma Rewards
Earned Points per Dollar5210201010N/A1010N/A
Elite Bonus5.75311231216.5N/A10%10N/A
Credit Card Bonus3256 (basic) 10 (premier)3 (basic) 5 (premier)6 (visa) 7 (amex)N/A135N/A

Redeeming Points

Things to look out for when reading the fine print on how to redeem points include:

  • Brand Exclusivity - Can you use your points with any brand in the hotel chain? 
  • Blackout Dates & Weekend Rates - Does the hotel enforce blackout dates or not take cheap weekend rates into account when tabulating point redemption?
  • Reservations - Does the rewards system change whether reservations are made last-minute or in advance?

 

The best hotel rewards programs generally offer upgrades, elite status, earning points for-onsite expenses, access to promotions and/or free nights with low point requirements. Consumers should look for a loyalty program that has redeemable rewards in which they can enjoy instant gratification.

  • Point per Free Night
  • Brand Exclusions
  • Money Spent
  • Credit Card Bonus

Hotel Rewards Programs with the Best Redeeming Points:

Hyatt Gold PassportStarwood Preferred GuestIHG Rewards ClubClub CarlsonMarriott RewardsHilton HhonorsLeaders ClubBest Western RewardsWyndham RewardsKimpton Karma Rewards
Points per Free Night5,000-30,0002,000-35,0005,000-50,0009,000-70,0006,000 -70,0005,000-95,0005 Qualifying Stays8,00016,0007 Stays or 20 Nights
Money Spent$6,000$17,500$4,500$3,500$500 - $5,833$9,500N/A$2,267$1,600$700 - $4,000
Credit Card Bonuses$571-$3,429$400-$7,000$313-$3,125$273-$2,121$353-$4,118$213-$4,034N/AN/A$1,000N/A

Upgrades

Hotels should include a selection of upgrades in their rewards program. A privilege of room upgrade that is redeemable or discounted is one factor that guests should experience with their loyalty plan. Customers must also consider other upgrades that hotels offer before investing for their rewards program.

  • Preferred Room
  • Confirmed Upgrade Rewards
  • Suites

Hotel Rewards Programs with the Best Upgrades:

Hyatt Gold PassportStarwood Preferred GuestIHG Rewards ClubClub CarlsonMarriott RewardsHilton HhonorsLeaders ClubBest Western RewardsWyndham RewardsKimpton Karma Rewards
Preferred Room
Confirmed Upgrade Rewards
Suites

Amenities

Hotels should allow their guests to experience first-class amenities and services at the period of their stay. Customers should also be able to enjoy an extensive range of facilities and services that displays a quality design and attention to detail. Some amenities that consumers should look for are:

  • Free Internet
  • Free Breakfast
  • Food/Beverage option
  • Free Bottled Water

Hotel Rewards Programs with the Best Amenities:

Hyatt Gold PassportStarwood Preferred GuestIHG Rewards ClubClub CarlsonMarriott RewardsHilton HhonorsLeaders ClubBest Western RewardsWyndham RewardsKimpton Karma Rewards
Free Internet
Free Breakfast
Food/Beverage Option
Free Bottled Water

Reservations

Hotel’s reservation system should provide a convertible room rates in different currencies for their international guests. Companies must also support known and trusted online payment methods that will allow their international travellers to pay online with ease. Guests must also consider the safety of a company’s reservation system and its process time.

  • Guaranteed Availability
  • Late Check-Out

Hotel Rewards Programs with the Best Reservations:

Hyatt Gold PassportStarwood Preferred GuestIHG Rewards ClubClub CarlsonMarriott RewardsHilton HhonorsLeaders ClubBest Western RewardsWyndham RewardsKimpton Karma Rewards
Guaranteed Availability
Late Check-Out2:00 PM4:00 PMN/ABy RequestBy RequestBy RequestYesN/AN/AN/A

Full Hotel Rewards Programs Comparison

Company ProfileEarned PointsRedeeming PointsUpgradesAmenitiesReservations
Hyatt Gold Passport Hotel Rewards Program10.08.09.010.08.010.0
Starwood Preferred Guest Hotel Rewards Program10.08.010.010.010.05.0
IHG Rewards Club Hotel Rewards Program8.07.08.010.09.08.0
Club Carlson Hotel Rewards Program8.010.04.010.08.08.0
Marriott Rewards Program10.08.06.08.08.08.0
Hilton Hhonors Hotel Rewards Program8.09.07.08.05.08.0
Leaders Club Hotel Rewards Program8.05.05.010.09.08.0
Best Western Rewards Program10.06.05.08.08.08.0
Wyndham Rewards Program10.05.05.05.09.05.0
Kimpton Karma Rewards Program8.05.05.05.08.08.0
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Latest Reviews

R
Rick E
Fullerton, California
1/3/2017
I don't purchase too many frivolous things on my AMEX, but all business expenses and other expenses go on it and I am very happy with Starwood and the points that I redeem. I have stayed at several good hotels and a few great ones as well including the W hotel in NYC downtown. Those took a lot of points but might as well use them.

Michael M
Belleville, New Jersey
9/29/2016
I travel a lot for work so staying in a quality hotel makes a big difference for me. Hilton has the best honors program I've seen and they always take care of me no matter where I travel to. The staff is always friendly and whenever I need something, they are always more than willing to help me get there. Whether it's directions, something for the room or I forgot something for my trip, they are always there to help.

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