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Why I think Hotels.com reward nights are the easiest to use

Nov. 01, 2021
7 min read
Farmington Hotel in Liberia
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I've spent hours over the last few weeks maximizing expiring reward night certificates from several major hotel loyalty programs. After all, there's a ton of potential value lurking in these reward nights.

However, even before spending hours on my quest to maximize expiring reward night certificates, I'd already wanted to write a story about why Hotels.com Rewards reward nights are the easiest for me to actually use. After all, I used a Hotels.com reward night earlier this year to stay in Naxos, Greece – and in doing so, I remembered just how simple it is to get value from them.

In light of all the changes happening to hotel loyalty programs, here's how and why you might want to earn and redeem Hotels.com reward nights, including info on my own recent redemption in Greece.

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Hotels.com reward night basics

I booked two nights at The Farmington Hotel in Liberia through Hotels.com. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

The ease of earning and redeeming with the Hotels.com Rewards program is undoubtedly one of its strongest points. Not only is the program straightforward to use, but you can also get good value from it.

For each night that you book and stay through Hotels.com, you earn one "stamp." Once you've collected 10 stamps, you get a reward night worth the average value of the 10 stamps (excluding taxes and fees). So, you'll get slightly less than 10% back on each night you book and stay through Hotels.com.

When you're ready to redeem your Hotels.com reward night, you'll pay just the taxes and fees at properties that cost less than or equal to your reward night (excluding taxes and fees). If the night costs more than your reward night, you'll need to pay the difference on top of the taxes and fees. For reasons we'll get to in a minute, I try to book reward nights that are slightly more expensive than the value of my reward night.

Most nights you'll book and stay with Hotels.com will be eligible for earning stamps. However, some discount codes and package bookings are ineligible. Also, note that you'll forfeit your stamps and reward nights if you don't make and complete an eligible Hotels.com stay at least once every 12 months.

Related: Why infrequent travelers shouldn't book with hotel chains

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How to maximize Hotels.com reward nights

You could redeem a Hotels.com reward night at Skamania Lodge in Washington. (Photo courtesy of Hotels.com)

The primary reason I believe Hotels.com reward nights are the easiest to use is that it's simple to ensure you get full value from these nights. I don't fear that I could have gotten significantly better value on a later redemption because it's simply worth what it's worth.

To get as much value as you can from a Hotels.com reward night, aim for a stay with an average nightly rate that's slightly greater than the value of your reward night. After all, you won't retain any value if you book a night that's less costly than your reward night. On the other hand, don't apply your reward night toward a night that's significantly more expensive than you usually book. After all, reward nights don't count toward earning your next reward night, so you'll be better off paying yourself for a costly night – and thus increasing the average value of your next reward night.

Second, you'll want to avoid the redemption fee. Hotels.com charges a $5 redemption fee per reward night. However, you can avoid this fee by booking reward nights through the Hotels.com app or having an open Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card (rates & fees). Check out our review of the Hotels.com credit card if you're interested in adding the card to your wallet.

The information for the Hotels.com Rewards Visa has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Finally, if you have elite status with one or more hotel loyalty programs, you'll usually only want to book with Hotels.com when you are staying with hotels outside of these programs. After all, you won't typically get elite benefits and earnings when you book through an online travel agency such as Hotels.com.

Related: Top 5 reasons to get the Hotels.com credit card

How I used a Hotels.com reward night in Greece

I usually use Hotels.com to book stays at independent properties and hotels in programs where I don't have (or want) elite status. For example, here's a look at how I earned 10 stamps (including nights at The Farmington Hotel in Liberia and even the Hooters Hotel in Las Vegas) for the $92.18 reward night I used this summer in Greece:

(Screenshot from Hotels.com)

I knew I'd book with either Airbnb or Hotels.com for my stay in Naxos, Greece. After all, there are no hotels in major loyalty programs that fall within my budget on the island.

Eventually, I booked two nights at the Sun Beach Hotel through Hotels.com. I could have earned two stamps on my stay and paid $241.97 for two nights:

(Screenshot from Hotels.com)

Instead, I decided to redeem my $92.18 reward night through the Hotels.com app. Doing so dropped the total for my two-night stay to $149.79. On this two-night stay, I got the full $92.18 value from my reward night. On top of that, I still earned a stamp worth $89.57 for the other night, which will count toward earning my next reward night.

Related: The best Hotels.com properties for your fall trip

Bottom line

I love earning and redeeming reward nights from major hotel loyalty programs because of the outsized value I can obtain when the stars align. For example, my husband and I have used Hilton free weekend night certificates to stay at aspirational Hilton hotels, including the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. We recently used up to 35,000-point Marriott Bonvoy free night awards to enjoy the new Le Meridien Maldives Resort & Spa.

Although using the annual free nights that come with select hotel credit cards takes planning and strategy, I enjoy maximizing these nights and dreaming of where they can take me.

Le Meridien Maldives. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Still, this pursuit of maximization requires time and also leads me to hold on to our reward nights for the "perfect" redemption – which is likely why we have so many expiring reward night certificates to use up right now.

In contrast, Hotels.com reward nights have a set value. As long as I redeem one for a night that's slightly more expensive than my reward night and avoid the redemption fee, I'll get good value each and every time without lots of time or strategy required.

As such, Hotels.com Rewards nights are the easiest reward nights for me to actually use. I can get full value from the reward night and not regret that I should have waited and used it for a different stay.

Featured image by KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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  • Steep $550 annual fee
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  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
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Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

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  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more