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Is Hotels.com "free night" better than rewards program?

Is Hotels.com "free night" better than rewards program?

Old Oct 15, 2016, 5:44 am
  #61  
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Originally Posted by dinanm3atl
However every chain seems to always have a 'pay same rate and get 1000, 2000 or varying bonus points'. At that point it doesn't make sense.
I completely agree with your reasoning. Hotels.com doesn't make sense when booking hotel chains.

When I book via hotels.com, I get a rate that's usually 10 percent higher than when booking an HHonors discount rate, IHG Your Rate, Accor member's rate etc.

This is enough to make hotels.com worse than the chain's program: I'd prefer paying 10 percent less today over getting 10 percent back via a rewards night sometime in the future.

I don't buy the cashback argument, either. Sure, I can get CB for hotels.com. But I can get cashback from accorhotels.com, ihg.com, hilton.com, too (sometimes as high as 15 percent). Of course, there are a few exceptions. Personally, I've had trouble getting CB for Best Western bookings.

Plus going for the chain directly gives me access to the points offers, bonus point promos as well as elite status benefits.
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Old Oct 15, 2016, 6:15 am
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Hotels.com rewards program hasn't evolved since it first launched.

Yes, effectively up to 10% discount on hotel nights, but only on the backend after 10 nights are reached. Even then, to maximize value, you need to book a "free night" that is the average of the 10 nights 10% savings. Plus you pay tax.

It can and does work for people, and I use it situationally. But here's where other programs have Hotels.com beat:

-Chain hotels which offer "member only" rates below what is available on hotels.com. And because you have to be a "member", hotels.com will not price match.

-Discount codes for 5-15% off periodically available from hotels.com almost always void out ability to earn toward their free nights program

-Most hotels don't recognize hotels.com bookings for any sort of elite benefits the guest may have with the hotel. Even non-elites will receive small benefits like bottled water and basic internet if booked directly through the hotel.

-Cash back portals are available with hotels.com and most of the chain hotels (but a plus to hotels.com when it involves non-chain hotels) And the amount varies over time and portal.
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Old Oct 15, 2016, 1:12 pm
  #63  
 
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Originally Posted by GUWonder
I get a c. 17-19% return back on hotels.com bookings in the way I do it. Even as I have top-tier elite status in a few hotel point programs and play the promo game well, I find hotels.com has an important role to play in my travels.
Right I get there are 'other ways' and cutback but the past few times I have looked, specifically when I friend was telling me how great the program was, the room was 10 dollars more PER NIGHT on hotels.com. That negates their portion of the program right there. It also ignored the fact the rate was +2000 points.

And again it's an average of price paid. Wyndham for instance doesn't have the greatest properties in the world but I can spend all year on business in Days Inn, Super8 and the like and then get multiple nights in NYC at expensive nightly spots.
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Old Oct 18, 2016, 10:07 pm
  #64  
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I think hotels.com works great as an additional or backup program. If you have status with your main hotel program (or 2 or 3) via staying, match or credit card, booking through the hotel website for the member rates and perks makes sense.
But if you don't have status and only stay a few nights a year, you probably won't earn enough points for a free night and they might expire. Consolidating your nights at those secondary chains into hotels.com might get you a better price.
It also encourages you to search for independent hotels that might be a much better deal than chain hotels in the same city, offering comparable rooms/service for much less. Outside the US, the American chains are often way overpriced compared to local hotels - because many US travelers will default to US chain hotels no matter what...
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Old Oct 19, 2016, 4:40 pm
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I agree with GUWonder & Fyd. The major chains' own loyalty programs are almost always better for their own hotels, but Hotels.com has made me consider independent hotels to get 10% back via the B10G1 free nights + 7% from Topcashback. I also like it for budget chains where I stay too seldom to make good use of their own programs, such as Red Roof Inns, La Quinta, & maybe Choice. Further, Fairmont does not disqualify hotels.com stays from their own stay/ night credits .
Finally, hotels.com sometimes offers incredible bargain rates not found elsewhere, which can be ammo for BRG's!
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Old Oct 22, 2016, 11:25 am
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I book most of my trips through Hotels.com because I am not particularly brand loyal/would rather have flexibility. I have Hilton Silver status through some promo and I've never not had free wifi at any Hilton property because of not booking directly.
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Old Oct 25, 2016, 7:42 am
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Originally Posted by Schwann
I book most of my trips through Hotels.com because I am not particularly brand loyal/would rather have flexibility. I have Hilton Silver status through some promo and I've never not had free wifi at any Hilton property because of not booking directly.
Hyatt and Marriott don't treat me as just my rate on a given night when it comes to elite status benefits at the hotel property. The elite status benefits at Hyatt and Marriott hotels (but not Starwood) even apply to me on hotels.com bookings. And Hilton hotels in Europe usually still give me at-hotel Hilton Diamond benefits on hotels.com bookings.

Choice and Wyndham hotels are the primary two hotel groups where I almost completely avoid using hotels.com. But that is because I can do better by gaming Choice and Wyndham loyalty programs.
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Old Oct 25, 2016, 11:54 pm
  #68  
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I generally dislike and avoid chain hotels so Hotels.com works well for me, though I rarely manage to double dip with cash back.
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Old Oct 26, 2016, 8:39 am
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I have found hotels.com to be a bit more expensive than bookings.com for the same room, the same night in the same hotel. This negates the advantage of the free room, IMHO.

I find that the trick is to find one chain, use it as much as possible (unless they are just not price competitive for a stay), and not worry to much about it. Works for me.

Last edited by MrTemporal; Oct 26, 2016 at 8:45 am
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Old Oct 31, 2016, 6:23 pm
  #70  
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For me, the winning thing about hotels.com is the simplicity of use and clarity of layout. That means a lot to me, because I have a very low patience threshold with fiddling about on unusable and visually awful websites. Which most are, I'm afraid.
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Old Nov 3, 2016, 7:17 am
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I paid 89 for a hotel in Nanjing, China a couple of weeks ago. But in my rewards dashboard the value I collected from this stay was 76, so I guess the tax element was excluded?

From all my previous experience the full rate was earned for the rewards. Is this a new regulation (downgrade) to the program? Also noticed that hotels.com on TCB calculates the cashback based on ex-Tax rate too now.
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Old Nov 4, 2016, 4:37 pm
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I'm a big fan of hotels.com and use them almost exclusively. Another way you may be able to take advantage is through the upromise.com booking portal which gives you 7% of the stay back towards student loans/529 plan/check which I use to pay off my student loans.
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Old Nov 6, 2016, 11:32 pm
  #73  
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Not sure if this was mentioned already but you can buy hotels.com gift cards from Paypal Digital Gifts and earn 5 UR with your Ink+ card. Each UR is worth a minimum of 2 cents so that's 10% back right there (minimum).

Additionally, hotels.com will occasionally run promos where they throw in an extra night on your booking. Example: Book a 3 night stay and they will give you 4 nights credit.

Orbitz and the like almost always have a 10% to 18% coupon being passed around but that only works for select properties. If the hotel you want isn't one of those properties, there is absolutely no discussion, hotels.com is the play.
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Old Nov 6, 2016, 11:35 pm
  #74  
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Originally Posted by Brendan
Finally, hotels.com sometimes offers incredible bargain rates not found elsewhere, which can be ammo for BRG's!
Hell yes. I just booked Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun on hotels.com. Expensive property but hotels.com had some sort of secret price which was way way better than what I found on any other portal and significantly better than Le Blanc's own site.

On top of that, Hotels.com was running an extra night promo (example: book 3 nights and hotels.com would give me 4 nights credit towards my 10 nights).

AND, I loaded up on hotels.com gift cards through Paypal Digital Gifts with my Ink+ to get 5 UR.

In the end, I came out like a damn bandit.
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Old Nov 8, 2016, 12:38 pm
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Originally Posted by TMM1982
Hell yes. I just booked Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun on hotels.com. Expensive property but hotels.com had some sort of secret price which was way way better than what I found on any other portal and significantly better than Le Blanc's own site.
...
In the end, I came out like a damn bandit.
Well played! The resort properties in Turkey that I book through Hotels.com really vary from day to day with respect to the "secret prices" - sometimes the use of a cashback portal or choice of browser also affects the rates offered. I suspect they have some "big data" folks in their Bellevue, WA headquarters running experiments on how to increase marginal revenue, which occasionally yields a huge win for the end-user...

-Most hotels don't recognize hotels.com bookings for any sort of elite benefits the guest may have with the hotel. Even non-elites will receive small benefits like bottled water and basic internet if booked directly through the hotel.
True, but in some parts of the world you might actually be more valued as a guest coming through a large travel agency that an unflagged property wants to build and/or maintain a relationship with than you would be as a walk-up. Any disgruntled guest could theoretically inflict retribution on a property via TripAdvisor, but the consumer may have even greater leverage in a situation where they could also leave a review on the booking agency's website or complain direct to the agency. I suspect that this power dynamic is at least understood by some of the all-inclusives in Turkey.
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