Using Rocketmiles to Earn Points and Miles on Hotel Stays
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Choosing a hotel is hard enough. If you’re looking to maximize your purchase, however, choosing a hotel is just the beginning of the process.
You could book directly with a hotel to get elite benefits. You could book and pay through Hotels.com Venture with your with Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card to get 10x miles (ends Jan. 31, 2020). If you’re staying at a higher-end property and have The Platinum Card® from American Express in your wallet, you could book through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts Program to get elite-like benefits. Or you could use an online travel agency or bank portal to maximize earnings or even get a 4th night free.
But there’s another program from which you may have received emails in the past: Rocketmiles, which claims you can “earn thousands of loyalty miles and points per night” in your choice of 60 participating programs. Sounds great on paper, but is Rocketmiles a good option for booking hotels? Let’s take a closer look.
What is Rocketmiles?
When you book directly with a hotel, you’ll earn points in that hotel’s loyalty program, assuming (of course) that they have a loyalty program and you’re a member. But when booking with Rocketmiles, you’ll instead choose what type of points and miles you’ll earn for the stay in a different program.
Unlike Hotels.com, where you can find a wide variety of price ranges and accommodation types, Rocketmiles provides “a curated list of high-quality hotels in top business markets around the world.” Based on my testing, this means that budget travelers and backpackers usually won’t find hotels that are within their budget.
How much will I earn?
Rocketmiles earnings aren’t tied into the property or price. As a result, there’s no way to estimate how much you’ll earn without doing a search on Rocketmiles. Luckily, you can sort the results by the points, miles or cashback that you’ll earn at eligible properties:
The exact type of earnings that you’ll earn on a given stay often differs based on the program selected. As a result, you may want to consider a few different programs before booking. For example, here’s the same search for the same dates in New York, comparing the earning rates when you select American Airlines’ AAdvantage miles (on the left) and Air Canada’s Aeroplan miles (on the right):
In the images above you’ll notice that the most you can earn through Rocketmiles for a stay on the night of October 13 would be 10,000 AAdvantage miles or 15,000 Aeroplan miles. TPG’s latest valuations peg these earnings at $140 and $225, respectively. However, note the paid rates in the search results above. In order to earn that many points or miles, you’ll likely need to spend a hefty sum on the hotel. The less expensive options on Rocketmiles almost always earn at a lower rate.
Here’s another search on Rocketmiles for New York, again selecting Aeroplan but this time with the filter set for properties that cost no more than $310 per night:
As you can see, the earning rates drop significantly, though earning 4,000 Aeroplan miles (worth $60) on a $300 stay is still a return of roughly 20%.
Will I get elite benefits when booking through Rocketmiles?
Not usually. In general, you won’t earn hotel points or have your elite status recognized on stays booked through a third party like Rocketmiles. You could always call the individual property directly once booked to add your membership number; just don’t expect it (and be pleasantly surprised if you do!). If you’re an elite member with a give hotel program or are working toward getting elite status, you’ll probably want to book directly with that brand or use Rocketmiles to select a boutique property that isn’t affiliated with a program.
Are Rocketmiles’ prices competitive?
Based on past experience and comments on other articles, I expected that Rocketmiles’ rates wouldn’t be competitive. After all, Rocketmiles never claims to give users the lowest price, and theoretically the earnings could make up for small to moderate price differences. It’s very easy to compare rates online, whether you’re booking directly, through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts Program or through Hotels.com/Venture with the Capital One Venture or VentureOne cards to get 10x miles plus an additional 10% back towards future stays through the Hotels.com Rewards program. To test out the competitiveness of Rocketmiles’ rates, I compared it to these three alternative booking options below in a couple of examples.
First, let’s consider a one-night stay on October 12 at The Chatwal, a Luxury Collection Hotel, New York City, New York. The Chatwal was the cheapest option I found offering 10,000 Membership Rewards points through Rocketmiles that was also available through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts Program. Note that all rates in the table below are before taxes & fees and are for the least expensive room type available on Rocketmiles (a Grand Deluxe room):
|Room only, Refundable||Room only, Non-refundable||Breakfast included, Refundable|
(10,000 Membership Rewards points)
Booking directly with Marriott provides the lowest refundable rate, with free cancellation until two days before arrival. You’d also enjoy elite benefits and the ability to earn points for the stay. Alternatively, booking through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts Program for the free breakfast, space-available room upgrade and spa credit could be appealing, while booking through Hotels.com Venture for the increased earning rates could help you towards your next free night. Indeed, all four options for booking are reasonable — which one is right for you depends on how you value the benefits and/or earning opportunities provided by each.
Next, let’s consider the cheapest option bookable on Rocketmiles for a one-night stay in Manhattan on October 12: the Hilton Garden Inn New York Times Square South. Note that all rates in the table below are before taxes & fees and are for a room with one King-sized bed.
|Room only, Refundable||Room only, Non-refundable||Breakfast included, Refundable|
|Rocketmiles (1,000 Membership Rewards Points)||$207||$201||$229|
|Hotels.com Venture||$210 to $219||$197||n/a|
|Hilton||$206 to $219||$197||$253|
If you want breakfast, Rocketmiles is a good option, as long as you don’t care about elite benefits and earning toward elite status. However, the 1,000 Membership Rewards points that come with the Rocketmiles booking are only worth $19, so that aspect doesn’t move the needle much. Booking directly with Hilton Honors would allow you to take advantage of elite benefits and earning opportunities, while booking through Hotels.com Venture would get you 10x miles plus the effective 10% back through the Hotels.com Rewards program.
How do I know if Rocketmiles is a good deal for me?
If you’re considering a particular booking on Rocketmiles, compare the final price, cancellation policy and inclusions with a few other websites before booking. In particular, I’d recommend at least comparing rates for the property on Rocketmiles, Hotels.com Venture (if you hold one of the Venture cards) and the hotel’s website.
For Rocketmiles, consider the final price, the bonus points you’ll earn through Rocketmiles and the credit card points you’ll earn from the purchase. Remember that you may be able to earn more points or more valuable points by selecting a different earning program on Rocketmiles, so I’d recommend looking at multiple earning options when evaluating if this is a good deal. You can use TPG’s latest valuations as a starting point for the valuation of the miles or points you’d earn.
For Hotels.com, consider the final price, how the stay will affect the price of your next free night (roughly 10% back) and the credit card points you’ll earn from the stay. Be sure to book through Hotels.com Venture with your Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card to get 10x miles earning rate.
For booking directly with the property/hotel, consider the final price, elite benefits for booking direct, progress toward elite status based on the stay, hotel loyalty program points earned by the stay and the credit card points you’ll earn from the stay. And remember to consider booking through a portal to maximize your earnings.
Who should use Rocketmiles?
Rocketmiles can be useful in two specific cases: (1) You don’t need to book direct to get elite benefits or elite earnings; and (2) You would normally stay at one of the properties offering a high bonus on Rocketmiles. The website’s interface can be slow, but in some cases it may be worth the wait.
Rocketmiles’ website states that “customers tend to be business travelers who look forward to their well-deserved vacations.” Indeed, if someone else is paying for your hotel stays, Rocketmiles can be a sly way to get large personal earning — Rocketmiles is careful to not show points and miles earning on receipts and even offers the option to pay extra to get more points or miles. Although making your employer pay more than is necessary isn’t what I’d consider ethical, it is an option offered by Rocketmiles.
The 60 programs that partner with Rocketmiles likely have many sweet spots and interesting earning opportunities. In some cases, you could even leverage the platform to earn status, as we’ve discussed be on how to earn AAdvantage Gold elite status through Rocketmiles stays.
Rocketmiles provides an option for earning points, miles or gift cards on hotel stays and can be particularly appealing if you don’t have hotel elite status and want to stay at a hotel that is offering a nice bonus on the dates you want to stay. Even if you’re not set on staying at a particular hotel, Rocketmiles may be worth checking when booking hotels.
That being said, I don’t expect I’ll be booking any Rocketmiles stays soon. The price range of most properties on Rocketmiles simply doesn’t align with my digital nomad budget. In addition, when I’m staying at the type of hotel typically found on Rocketmiles, I’m usually staying to satisfy a hotel promotion, earn elite status or use the perks of my elite status. In spite of that, Rocketmiles can provide a good earning option for those without hotel status that want to earn points or miles in a given program, and I’d certainly recommend at least investigating your options on the site for your next stay.
Featured image courtesy of SPG.