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There are lots of different ways to earn hotel points, but one of the most obvious ways is through staying at the hotel itself. Especially if you are traveling regularly for business, if you choose a chain and program to focus your loyalty on, you can rack up a good balance of points that can then be redeemed for stays at aspirational properties, and some hotel points currencies can also be transferred to airline points (although the conversion rates may be unfavorable).

But there are some stays that won’t earn you any points. If you’re expecting a decent haul on your next hotel stay, make sure you avoid these situations, as the reception agent checking you in is unlikely to inform you of this.

(Photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy)

1. Nights Booked Through Third Parties

There are numerous ways you can book a hotel these days. You might book with the hotel directly or use an online booking site, or perhaps a comparison site like Trivago. Obviously, you want to get the best price for the same product, regardless of how you book it, and you may find the exact same price shown for each booking method — or the prices may be different.

Most hotel programs have a policy that states that you will only earn points for your stay if you book directly with the hotel or through its loyalty program. For example, at a Hyatt property, these must be booked at Hyatt.com in order to earn points. The reason hotels program do this is because they have to pay commissions to online booking platforms like Booking.com, so it’s much cheaper for the hotel if you book with them directly, as commissions would not be payable and they can use some of this saving to entice you to book with them by paying out points for your stay.

If you do happen to see a cheaper price elsewhere but still want to earn points for the stay, consider investigating if the hotel has a Best Rate Guarantee and if the cheaper price would qualify for you to use it.

(Photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy)

2. Award Nights, Free Credit Card Nights and Anniversary Nights

If you’ve already earned enough points in the hotel program for a free night or nights, unfortunately, you won’t earn points on that award night stay. This is the same as airline redemptions — you won’t earn points on an award flight, where you would if you were on a cash fare.

Similarly, your hotel co-branded credit card may offer nights for free to entice you to take out or keep using the card (and paying any associated annual fee). You may receive a free night when you are approved for the card, or there may be a free night on the anniversary of keeping the card each year. These nights are classified in the same way as award night stays, so there may be limited availability and you, unfortunately, won’t earn hotel points on those stays.

It’s worth noting that for ancillary expenses during your stay that you pay for, such as room service, food and beverage, spa treatments, etc., if the hotel does provide points for this expenditure, you would earn points on what you actually paid for — whether the room was a cash fare or a redemption.

Photo by Marcus Manoogian/The Points Guy

Know before you go.

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