When you need to pick a hotel, there are the brands you’ll normally go with. If you’re focused on loyalty, then you’ll try to go with a chain where either you have status or one where you’re trying to achieve status for the current year. But what if the place you’re going doesn’t have a hotel in your favorite (or any of your favorite) chains? Or maybe, you’re going with a group of friends and they picked a hotel convenient for their needs, not taking into consideration that you want to earn points in another program. What nerve, right? 😉
All hope is not lost! You can still maximize your points earning even if you’re not staying at your favorite hotel chain. Since you’re not worried about booking direct to keep your benefits, you might be able to book somewhere else besides the hotel website and get some extra perks or a lower price.
Here are some of the options available…
I’m not going to be able to go through all of the options and work through all of the programs because they differ depending on which hotel you’re staying at.
These were just some of the options I had to consider when booking a room at a Best Western hotel for an upcoming stay. I need to say right now that I love our friends and I don’t hold it against them that they picked a Best Western (since I know that some of them read our blog on a regular basis, and they know I’m not seriously caring about which hotel they picked – that’s not the important part of the trip and we all know it). 🙂
Book Through The Hotel Website
I could join the Best Western Rewards Program. New members who sign up will get a $20 Best Western gift card after the first stay. But the gift card expires in 120 days. Not much good for us.
I’d be able to earn Best Western Rewards, where I could earn 10 points per dollar for the stay as an entry-level Blue member. The best rate I could find for the three-night stay was $474.
Instead of Best Western Rewards points, you can earn airlines miles through the Best Western Rewards program. Here’s the page for Southwest Rapid Rewards:
There isn’t any mention of how many points you’ll earn but I’ve seen it listed as around 600 points per stay.
Earning points for American Airlines is even worse:
There have to be some other options.
Book Through Hotels.com
Hotels.com is an OTA (Online Travel Agency) that offers certain benefits when booking through their website. One of the biggest perks is the Hotels.com Rewards program. It’s very straightforward. Once you book 10 nights through Hotels.com, you’re able to book a “free night” worth 10% of the cost of the 10 nights you booked. Easy.
On top of this 10% rebate, Hotels.com also partners with Capital One.
If you book on Hotels.com and pay with your Capital One Venture card, you’ll get 10x miles (points) for your purchase.
Booking through Hotels.com would cost $448 for the three nights. I don’t have any other bookings with them so I’d have to book 7 additional nights to get back my 10% and I also don’t have a Capital One Venture card so no 10x miles for me.
Book Through Southwest Hotels
Southwest Airlines has its own hotel booking portal, Southwesthotels.com. This is a portal where you book a hotel and receive Southwest Rapid Rewards miles. The reward for this stay is 1 Southwest mile per dollar spent. It’s not a great reward. I found a rate of $448 for the three nights but only would earn an additional 397 Southwest miles because taxes and fees don’t count for the reward miles. It’s the same rate at Hotels.com
Book Through Rocketmiles
Rocketmiles is a website that offers bonus miles in a variety of programs when using them to book hotel rooms. We wrote about them when they had a very inventive post-Christmas offer going on early this year. I looked at the same hotel and I found a rate of $480. That’s $30 more than the lower prices from Hotels.com and Southwest Hotels. However, Rocketmiles will pay 3000 extra miles in a variety of programs such as Southwest, Frontier, United, Virgin Atlantic, and Alaska. When it comes down to it, you’re paying 1 cent per point to buy miles since the Rocketmiles prices are generally higher than you’ll find elsewhere. They make no secret about this, as here’s their explanation of “Taxes and Fees”
So they’re basically saying they’ll charge extra but that’s money to pay for your miles and anything extra is just going to profit. Nice.
I see my two choices are to pay less and either start collecting Hotels.com nights, or get the few miles from Southwest, or pay the extra money and get the bonus miles from Rocketmiles.
I’m never a fan of “buying miles” but a price of 1 cent per point is just too good to pass up considering that Alaska is selling miles at 2 cents per point and that’s considered a good value for some people.
I need to earn miles to keep my Virgin Atlantic account active so I’m thinking about going the Rocketmiles route and parking the points there. Well, to be honest, our Frontier Miles are going to expire first but those will probably get donated again like the last ones were.
I’m sure, depending on your particular situation, you might come up with a different choice and that’s OK. None of the choices were bad (except for getting 250 AAdvantage miles from Best Western) so this is just another example of Your Mileage May Vary.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary