Do you have a hotel and resort chain that you tend to stick with during your travels? If not, it’s something you may want to consider as it can save you money in the long run. The most popular hotel rewards programs are owned by Marriott, Hilton and Starwood. They offer points for each and every stay (some reward you for dollars spent during your stay as well) which can then be redeemed for free nights and other perks.
I have yet to test out the Starwood program, but Marriott and Hilton are two that I use frequently. The Hilton HHonors Rewards Program offers members-only benefits that vary depending on the tier or level of membership. The more nights you stay, the more perks you receive.
The same sort of perks are offered with Mariott’s program and you can earn points at all of their establishments including luxury properties such as The Ritz-Carlton, Edition and of course — JW Marriott.
Although I’m a fan of them both, I’ve redeemed two free nights with Hiltons HHonors and I’ve found that they offer the best bang for your buck point-wise as they frequently offer bonus programs where you can earn bonus/double during your stay. My recommendation is to sign up for every rewards program that coincides with the properties you stay at. It’s free and the points don’t expire as long as you keep your membership valid by staying at least once in a full calendar year.
If you have yet to jump on the point train, I highly recommend it!
Here are five tips on how to make the most of your rewards points:
1. Check for bonus offers
As I mentioned above, there are bonus offers that pop up throughout the year, so it’s always worth a check before you make your reservation. These offers are not applicable through other online booking sites, so you need to make your reservation directly through the hotel’s website. Sometimes you can receive room credits in addition to the points!
2. Check pricing
Just because you’re earning points, doesn’t mean you should be paying more! Always be sure to compare room rates with other booking sites. You may not be eligible for the bonus offer, but you can still earn points for your stay. Just be sure to alert the desk clerk upon arrival and they should be able to pull up your membership information.
3. Double dip
Signing in through Ebates.com before booking your reservation can earn you up to 10 percent of your money back! Other rewards programs such as AIRMILES in Canada have their own booking sites that allow you to earn miles on top of your points. You can even triple dip if you have a rewards credit card!
4. Compare and pare
Yes, you can earn points through each and every rewards program, but if you find a chain you really like, it’s sometimes best to stay loyal to them. The more you stay, the faster you climb through the tiers and more perks are then offered to you. If you tend to stay at one chain more than another, try to stick with them as often as possible!
5. Keep your points organized
But how do you keep your eye on all of these rewards programs? There are SO many and no one has the time to keep tabs on them all. Thankfully, there is a free service that does all that for you. Points.com is my favorite. You can track over 100 different loyalty programs, trade, exchange or buy points in order to grow your balances even faster.It’s a really great service!
Photo credit: Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel