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PointsHound is a hotel booking engine that offers travelers bonus airline miles on hotel reservations – usually averaging about 3-4 miles per dollar spent, but the site is offering double miles on reservations made now through August 31, 2013.
When you create an account and log in, you can choose your destination, dates and which airline or other program to earn bonus miles with on your reservations.
PointsHound currently partners with over 150,000 hotels worldwide and 10 different loyalty programs:
American Airlines AAdvantage
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
US Airways Dividend Miles
Virgin America Elevate
Aeromexico Club Premier
Best Buy Reward Zone
The current 2X bonus is hardcoded into the searches and results, so you don’t have to register specially. To take a quick example, I looked at hotels for a weekend in Los Angeles in September and among the results was a room at the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica where there is a room for $322 (normally $379, but discounted 15% with PointsHound’s Summer Sale):
Just out of curiosity, I looked at what I’d earn with the other loyalty programs on this same stay and while Delta was the same 3,500 miles, I’d earn just 3,200 US Airways miles, 4,200 HawaiianMiles, or 2,100 Virgin America Elevate points. So when making your own reservations, be sure to double check the miles you’re earning with your airline of choice compared to other partners to make sure you’re getting a good deal.
The other thing I always caution readers about is to check around on other sites to make sure that the prices aren’t inflated through booking engines like this, but PointsHound has instituted a Low Price Guarantee that states: “We are confident that our prices are guaranteed to be the lowest rate you can find. If you find a lower rate for your hotel on another site, we’ll refund the difference to you.” You just have to fill out an online form with information on the rate you found and where you found it. You can read the rest of the details here. Just beware that “If you have made a booking which cannot be cancelled – so it is either non-refundable or if you are already within the cancellation window for the hotel – then you can’t claim under the guarantee. Bookings that were part of a specific promotion (e.g. 3 nights for the price of 2) are also excluded from claiming under the guarantee.”
The other innovative feature of PointsHound compared to comparable hotel booking sites and online travel agencies is that you can actually earn hotel points and elite stay credit on certain rooms/stays thanks to the site’s partnerships with the various chains – they seem to have worked out deals with Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott and Starwood.
The way to know if your reservation will count toward elite status is if your rate says: Double Up Eligible Rates Available, like this sample reservation at the Westin LAX Airport does.
Just beware that both the nightly rates and the bonus miles earning rates will not be the same for PointsHound’s standard rates versus Double Up rates. Still looking at the Westin LAX, standard rates start at $116 per night and you will earn a total of 1,250 points on a two-night stay.
Just for comparison, I went to SPG.com to look up rates the same weekend and the lowest standard rate – all prepaid and no changes or cancellations – was discounted 20% to $109 while I could still score a 10% off prepaid rate of $116 like PointsHound was offering.
In this particular case, since the nightly rates are the same for the standard and starting Double Up rates, I would forgo the extra 250 American miles and book the Double Up rate so that I’d earn just 1,000 American miles, but 696 Starwood Preferred Guest points. I earn 6 points per dollar thanks to my SPG 100-night Platinum status and the fact that I would pay using my Starwood Amex – though even base level SPG members would earn 232 Starpoints (at least) on this stay, making up for those AA miles and also earning 2 nights’ elite credit on this stay.
In the case of properties like the Fairmont above, or other hotels from this particular search, like the Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills, or the Hotel Erwin in Venice, which do no participate in loyalty programs, you might as well earn miles on your stay since you won’t be getting hotel points or elite stay credit.
Plus, in those cases, remember that PointsHound has a quasi loyalty program of its own where the more you stay, the more miles you earn on reservations. It breaks down like this:
So depending on how many stays you plan on booking you could be earning a lot more miles than in the examples above. Then throw in the possibility of earning hotel points and elite credit on stays, and you’re looking at a pretty cohesive points strategy.
As with all miles and points questions, do the math for yourself, make sure you’re earning what you need to to make a stay worth it, and only book if it makes sense. In the meantime, if you have some hotel stays coming up that you can book at this point and were interested in doing so through PointsHound, you should try do so within the next few days while this double miles promo is still available so that you rake in even more miles.