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Update: As of July 20, 2014, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card no longer offers the 7% annual points dividend. View the current sign up offer here.
In my opinion, hotel loyalty programs have lost some luster over the past couple of years, with promotions getting weaker and most programs devaluing- sometimes significantly (ah, hem Hilton). That being said, I’m still loyal to Starwood, though over the past year I’ve seen myself diversifying my stays and even successfully dabbling in
the dark arts AirBnB.
Staying loyal to one or two chains can box you in and you still may not have a decent option when traveling to more remote places. That’s why Hotels.com is becoming more and more of a viable option with their 85,000+ properties around the world- more than any single hotel chain can offer. I’ve written about their loyalty program in the past and it’s beautifully simple- 1 free night for every 10 stays, so 10% back because the free night is the average price of the 10 paid stays. You don’t earn hotel points when you book through hotels.com; some hotels may allow you to get elite benefits if you add your loyalty number to your reservation after you book, but don’t count on it. Hotels.com also has an elite status program, though it basically provides better customer service and no real tangible perks like free wi-fi or breakfast.
Ultimate Rewards and Sapphire Preferred Power Combo
The real power play with Hotels.com is when you book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards earning portal, which is currently giving 5 points per dollar for Hotels.com, and then pay with your Sapphire Preferred, which gives 2x for travel purchases and a 7% annual bonus on all purchases (The Chase Ink Bold/ Plus / Cash cards also come with 2x points on hotels stays, but don’t offer the 7% annual dividend). So you’re getting a base return of 10% when you hit your free room, plus 7.49 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent.
I value Ultimate Rewards points at about 2.1 cents a pop, so 7.49 points per dollar is like getting an additional 15.7% back. So basically the Hotels.com Welcome Rewards 10% + Chase Ultimate Rewards and Sapphire Preferred 15.7% = 25.7% back on all of my hotel spending. Pretty hard to beat!
This 5x will likely drop back down to a lower earn ratio in the future, so if you have any Hotels.com stays to book, I’d recommend making them sooner than later- especially if they’re refundable. Chase generally re-evaluates earn ratios on the first of every month, so I could see this dropping August 1, but I’m hoping it doesn’t! I recently completed a 4 night Hotels.com stay at The Langham Chicago, which I thoroughly enjoyed and hope to earn my free night soon.
Aside from being able to triple dip with Ultimate Rewards, my Sapphire Preferred and the Hotels.com loyalty program, I also like booking stays through Hotels.com because of the diversity of hotels both small and large, and the fact that there are no opt out hotels like in so many other hotel programs that run seasonal promotions. Plus, on the redemption side, you can redeem your free nights at whatever participating property you want, whenever you want- something many hotel programs tout, but rarely can offer due to lack of “standard” rooms for sale.
For more information, see these posts: With great transfer partners like United and Hyatt, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game.
Maximizing Online Travel Agency (OTA) Loyalty Programs
Hotels.com Free Nights and Elite Status
Triple Dipping with Hotels.com, Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Ultimate Rewards Shopping Portal
Which Is Better – Hotel Points or Free Nights From Hotels.com?
With great transfer partners like United and Hyatt, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game.