Miles and points are two ways to improve the way you travel. Getting a healthy balance of hotel points is a major part of that. Even if you don’t go out of your way to collect hotel points through other means, just getting points for the stays you pay for can eventually earn you enough for a night or two off on a future stay. That’s money you can use for something else on your trip.
Nothing in the miles and points world is free and keeping these points active does require work to make sure that the points you have don’t expire. Using a website like AwardWallet can help you keep track of all of your points and miles accounts.
I’ll always sign up for programs even if I am not sure that I will be able to use them in the future. You never know when those points might come in handy. Just having a membership can give you some perks like wireless internet in your room or at least preventing you from getting the worst room in the hotel (and trust me…years ago, I got that room on more than one occasion).
I’m going to include links to the major hotel program sign up pages along with the expiration policy and perks the program gives to entry level members.
Starwood Hotels (includes Sheraton, Westin, W Hotels, Aloft, etc) – Starwood Preferred Guest
Starwood points expire if your account is inactive for a 12 month period.
Complimentary in-room bottled water and complementary in-room internet access when you book through Starwood web sites or the SPG apps.
Marriott Hotels (includes Residence Inn, Courtyard, Fairfield, etc.) – Marriott Rewards
Marriott points will expire if you do not have a qualifying activity in your account in the prior 2 years.
All Marriott Rewards members get free in-room Wi-Fi when they book through Marriott.
Intercontinental Hotel Group (includes Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Candlewood Suites, etc.) – IHG Rewards Club
All points will expire after 12 months if there’s no account activity.
All IHG Rewards Club members get free internet.
Hyatt Hotels – World of Hyatt
Accounts that are inactive for 24 consecutive months will be closed and all points and benefits associated with the account will be forfeited at that time.
Members receive standard complimentary internet.
Hilton Hotels (includes Doubletree Suites, Hampton Inn, Embassy Suites, etc.) – Hilton Honors
To keep an account active, members can stay at one of Hilton’s hotels, or earn or redeem Honors Points within 12 months
Member receive complimentary in-room and lobby Standard Internet access. They also receive late check-out (must be requested and subject to availability)
Wyndham Hotels (includes Days Inn, Super 8, Ramada Inn, Travelodge, Howard Johnson’s, etc.) – Wyndham Rewards
All accrued points in a member’s Wyndham Rewards account may be cancelled or forfeited if the member has no account activity for a period of eighteen (18) consecutive months. Wyndham Rewards points expire four (4) years after being posted to the member’s account, unless the points are forfeited or cancelled earlier due to membership inactivity or otherwise in accordance with these terms and conditions.
Wyndham Rewards members enjoy free Wi-Fi.
Choice Hotels (includes Comfort Inn, EconoLodge, Rodeway Inn, etc.) – Choice Privileges
As long as you stay an active Choice Privileges member, you keep the points you earn. So as long as you have a qualifying activity every 18 months, you keep your points.
Members get extended check-out as late as 2 P.M. (must be requested before the posted check out time)
Carlson Hotels (includes Radisson, Park Inn, Country Inn & Suites, etc.) – Club Carlson
Gold Points do not have an expiration date as long as your account remains active by earning or redeeming within a 24 month period.
I couldn’t find extra benefits for being a Red (basic) member.
Best Western – Best Western Rewards
Best Western Rewards points do not expire for members of the North American club, which includes members who reside in North, Central and South America, Asia and South Africa.
There are no listed extra benefits of being a Blue (basic) member.
MGM Resorts – M Life Rewards
For those of you who visit Las Vegas, this is the points program of MGM Resorts.
Base level Sapphire membership can get you personalized offers on mlife.com, including discounts on rooms and retail shops.
If you are planning on staying in Las Vegas, it pays to sign up for this program. Tier credits to advance to the next level reset on October 1st each year. If you qualify for a higher tier, you will keep those benefits for at least one full year.
Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants – Karma Rewards
Kimpton is a smaller chain of mainly boutique hotels in major cities.
Just for signing up for their program you get some pretty good benefits like free wifi, “raid the minibar” $10 credit, and exclusive room rates.
Kimpton Hotels can delete any account with no activity for 24 months.
LaQuinta Hotels – LaQuinta Rewards
Members who do not have any stay activity within an 18-month consecutive period may be removed from the program and all accrued points will be forfeited.
Silver (basic) members do get late check-out (if available).
Those are the major hotel chains that I have dealt with. If you have any other ones that you would like me to include, please let me know in the comments.