How to Avoid Hotels.com’s New Nightly Fee on Award Redemptions

Aug 29, 2019

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Hotels.com, a popular online travel agency with a lucrative loyalty program, is making a negative change to its free night rewards.

Beginning Nov. 27, 2019, Hotels.com will charge a $5 redemption fee per reward night redeemed through the website. However, no redemption fee will be charged on reward nights redeemed through the Hotels.com app.

The company announced the news via email to Hotels.com customers, stating that the change was made to help cover costs associated with the rewards program.

As a refresher, Hotels.com offers customers one reward night for every ten nights booked and completed via Hotels.com. The maximum value of the reward night averages the daily rate of the 10 paid nights, and does not include taxes and fees. Essentially, you’re getting 10% back on the combined total of the 10 nights you stayed.

This news is a disappointment for Hotels.com customers, especially since this move seems to be nothing more than a concerted effort to move travelers toward utilizing the app more heavily. That being said, Hotels.com still makes a lot of sense for many people, especially travelers who don’t pursue hotel chain loyalty enough to benefit from holding elite status.

One of the best ways to maximize Hotels.com purchases is by paying with either the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card. These cards have a unique bonus category, offering 10x miles on bookings made through the special link: Hotels.com/Venture.

This means Capital One Venture cardholders will receive at least 10% back on hotels booked through Hotels.com, since Capital One points are worth 1 cent apiece when redeemed for a statement credit against travel purchases. TPG actually values the return rate on Capital One points at 14%, factoring in our current 1.4-cent valuation of Venture miles because of the airline transfer partners. When coupled with the “Buy 10 Nights, Get 1 Free” policy of Hotels.com, stacking the two benefits equates to a generous return of around 24% cash back on every hotel night booked.

The Capital One Venture 10x promotion is currently available through January 2020, although the future of the bonus is uncertain after that. Until then, it still makes sense for Hotels.com customers to continue using the program, especially since reward nights booked through the app still incur no fee.

Featured Photo courtesy of Ambrosia Key West.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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