You may have noticed that one of the top ways to save money on hotels is by joining a hotel rewards program. So, which one do you pick? The best hotel rewards program is something only you can decide depending on the hotels you like (luxury, budget, kid-friendly, etc.), the types of perks you prefer (free nights, upgrades), and how many nights you normally stay in a hotel in a given year. Here we’ll look at five top hotel rewards programs, each of which could be considered the “best” for different reasons.
Best for Business Travelers: Hyatt Gold Passport
The Hyatt Gold Passport program ranks highly on most hotel rewards program lists, but it really stands out for business travelers. To start with, Hyatt hotels are well known for quality, so they are excellent for travelers who prefer to stay in upscale properties (and for those whose company is footing the bill). In addition, it takes only five qualifying stays or 15 eligible nights to be promoted to Platinum status, where you will earn rewards faster and also which entitles you to goodies including preferred rooms and late checkout upon request.
Best for World Travelers: Marriott Rewards
If you travel to many different places, Marriott Rewards is your top choice. Marriott has more than 3600 hotels in 70 countries, so you can find one wherever you go. You can also redeem your points for many things other than hotel rooms, including online shopping, tickets to events, cruises, and other vacation packages. The downside of this program is that it takes a lot of stays to reach the elite levels, but you can get there faster with the Marriott Rewards credit card from Chase.
Best for Frequent Travelers: Hilton HHonors
If what you really want to do is earn free nights, Hilton HHonors is the program for you. There are many ways to earn—hotel stays, air travel, rail travel, car rentals, shopping, dining, and more. The Hilton line includes everything from the budget-friendly Hampton Inn to the upscale Waldorf Astoria, so you can always find the right hotel to fit your needs. And it doesn’t take too many points to book rewards nights, relatively speaking.
Best for Budget Travelers: Choice Privileges
Budget-conscious travelers do well with Choice Privileges, which includes hotels like Comfort Inn, Clarion, and EconoLodge. The Choice family has more than 6000 hotels in North and South America, the Caribbean, and parts of Asia. You can earn free nights pretty quickly, and it takes only 10 nights to reach Gold elite status, where you can earn points even faster. The downside to this program is that it doesn’t have as many partners as some of the others do, so if your plan is to earn airline miles rather than hotel points, this isn’t as great an option.
Best for Luxury Travelers: Starwood Preferred Guest
If luxury is your top priority, go for the Starwood Preferred Guest program, which includes more luxury hotels than any of the others. There are no capacity controls on reward nights, which means that as long as a standard room is available, you can book it on points. The trick to earning points, however, is becoming an elite member and using the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express—without these, it can take a long time to earn any meaningful freebies.
So, there you have it – the best hotel rewards programs for all of your traveling needs. Learn more about how to save even more on hotels with Hotel Engine and Windfall: