Between family vacations, children’s sports tournaments, and my job as a travel writer, I spend a lot of nights in hotel rooms. Friends and family often ask me what booking sites I use to save money on nightly hotel stays. While comparison sites can be useful, my answer is always that hotel loyalty programs consistently save me more money. I’m by no means loyal to only one hotel brand, but by having a handful of hotel loyalty cards in my wallet (all of the below), I have both options and perks that help me save on the overall cost of my trip.
The best hotel rewards programs offer money-saving perks that go beyond earning free stays. Below are some of the best hotel rewards programs for US travel:
The Kimpton In-Touch Guest Rewards loyalty program is one of my favorites for several reasons. First of all, it’s no hardship staying at a Kimpton Hotel. This brand takes great care when choosing their hotels’ locations, often renovating old buildings in downtown districts instead of building new ones, and is dedicated to going green. But a Kimpton hotel stay can be costly, so what do you get for your loyalty?
Kimpton In-Touch is free to join, and includes a free night stays earned after seven, free in-room wifi (normally a charge), and a $10 ‘Raid the MiniBar’ credit, which I always find convenient. At some Kimptons, membership also earns you reduced valet parking, and member or not, most Kimpton hotels host evening wine receptions to sweeten a stay.
As a Starwood Preferred Guest (or SPG), you save time by gaining access to their absolute best rates on the SPG website. And many travelers don’t realize that Starwood includes nine hotel brands, including Westin, Regis, Sheraton, and more. You’re never limited. You receive 2 Starwood points for every dollar spent, which can then be redeemed for a free room. There are no blackout dates. Because Starwood includes so many brands, I like that I’m always reminded of a hotel’s Starwood status upon check-in; I’ve never not been reminded to use my card to redeem my points.
I like the Marriott Rewards Program because there are multiple ways to earn points. You earn via stays, of course, but travelers can also earn extra points by booking travel services through their partners, who include Hertz, Travelling Connect, and CruisesOnly. You can earn additional points through booking airfare with many airlines. If you spend often on airfare and rental cars, a Marriott reward card may be the way to go.
Like Starwood, Marriott encompasses many hotel brands, ranging from economy brands such as Courtyard by Marriott, great team hotels like Residence Inn Marriott, and Ritz Carlton for luxury travel. You could earn points during the kids’ soccer games, then spend them on your summer vacation.
I love Hyatt hotels, but travelers don’t even have to be staying at one to earn Hyatt Gold Passport points. Just dining in one of their restaurants or opting for a service in a Hyatt spa will allow you to earn points. You get five points for every dollar spent (more than most loyalty programs), can convert points to miles, and there are no blackout dates for standard rooms. After five Hyatt stays, you unlock free wifi and a 15% point bonus.
There are great hotel rewards programs for every traveler and these are five of the best. You can save money, earn points, and get free stays. I recommend signing up for a number of loyalty programs so that for each trip you take, you can choose the hotel that best fits your travel needs.
What is your favorite hotel loyalty program? What perks make a stay worth your vacation dollars?
Photo credit: Holidayextras