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Free points are my favorite kind, so I cherish an opportunity to build my balances without breaking the wallet- unless it takes up a lot of my time. Topguest is a way to get free points just by using social media sites Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, Gowalla and Instagram.
The whole concept is that hotels want to encourage you to “check-in” at their partners, because when you do that it brings awareness of their brand to your social network. After so many check-ins, some of your friends might be like “Why is Johnny checking into the Intercontinental so much- maybe I need to check that place out for after work drinks”. This social media presence can mean real revenue generation for hotels, so they pay Topguest to administer this program that encourages people to include hotel check-ins as part of their social media discussion.
The hotel brands currently supported are: Hilton, Wyndham, Priority Club, Choice, Caesars, Best Western, Kimpton, Voila, Thompson and the only airline participating is Virgin America.
Just for signing up for the free service you can get 50 free Hilton, Best Western points and Priority Club and 25 Elevate points. (If you don’t have a Hilton (link) or Best Western (link) account you can get 500 free points for signing up through the links. Once you sign up you add your loyalty program numbers and then associate your relevant social media accounts. Once everything is entered and linked, you will automatically get credited points each time you complete the criteria for each brand. Generally, all you need to do is check-in or share a photo from the hotel brand.(Full list of qualifying activity for each participating brand).
For example, Priority Club will give you 50 Priority Club points for sharing your location or a photo at an Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza or Holiday Inn hotel. You can check in once per day, so if you did this every day of the year you’d end up with 18,250 points, which is worth about $110. Priority Club also runs 5,000 point per night “PointBreaks” hotels, so technically your Topguest haul could get you at least 3 free hotel nights per year. Not too bad since it only takes about 10 seconds to load up your app and check-in to a property. 10 seconds x 365 days in the year = about 60 minutes of work. I don’t know about you, but $110 an hour isn’t a bad return!
However, there are some rules. The biggest one being that you technically need to be at the location. However, Topguest knows that not all GPS based location devices function properly, so there is a pretty big threshold- so if you live/work close to a participating hotel brand, you should be able to check-in without physically stepping onto the property, but just understand that’s technically against the rules, so don’t be upset if you don’t get the points.
“You represent and warrant that you are actually at a location by sharing a check-in at a place with Topguest. Topguest reserves the right to refuse to give rewards for checkins that Topguest, at its sole discretion, determines to be fraudulent or otherwise inauthentic.”
This rule also leaves open the door for them to shut you down if you get out of control and sign up for every program and check in every day. You might get away with it for a while, but I wouldn’t expect it to last. I’d choose a couple programs and just focus on them.
In general, Topguest isn’t going to get you tons of free flights and hotel stays, its not a bad way to pad your accounts. Beyond the time it takes to check-in, you are also giving up tons of valuable personal information, which then Topguest most likely sells to third parties. In my opinion, it’s worth it since I live close to Intercontinental’s and it won’t require me much effort to rack up thousands of points, however this won’t work for people who don’t live near any participating hotel, because Topguest does require you to enable location-based features on your smart phone so they know where you are checking in from (this won’t work if you use Foursquare on a computer).