When I ran a reader survey a couple of years ago on which hotel chains you used, Best Western performed surprisingly strongly. It is worth knowing about Best Western Rewards, especially as they have a generous status match scheme AND offer points and airline miles for stays.
The Best Western brand covers 4,000 hotels worldwide in 80 countries. What differentiates the group from chains such as Hilton is that every hotel is independently owned and managed and they are given far more leeway in terms of how they operate. The hotels are generally smaller in terms of room numbers than you would find from the bigger chains and the average rating is probably around a three star.
The British operation was formed in 1999 via the merger of Interchange and Consort Hotels who now manage the UK business, although the brand has existed here since 1967.
Today there are 250 Best Western hotels in the UK (website here) and six global brands – Best Western, Best Western Plus, Best Western Plus Executive Residency (long stay), Vib (a new boutique hotel concept), Best Western Premier and BW Premier Collection.
Best Western Rewards
Gold – requires 10 nights, 7 stays or 10,000 points. The only benefit is a 10% points bonus.
Platinum – requires 15 nights / 10 stays / 15,000 points per membership year – Gold benefits plus room upgrade and recognition gift. Points bonus is 15%.
Diamond – requires 30 nights / 20 stays / 20,000 points per membership year – Platinum benefits plus a 30% points bonus
Diamond Select – requires 50 nights / 40 stays / 50,000 points. Diamond benefits plus a 50% points bonus.
Status runs on a calendar year basis. Once you hit the target for the next tier, you are promoted immediately and retain it for the rest of the current calendar year and all of the following year. I received a soft landing this year, from Diamond to Platinum, but I am not sure if that is official policy.
The scheme underwent a major change in January 2016. For historical reasons, UK residents were enrolled into a separate scheme to most of the rest of the world. This meant that you could not sign up for any of the many Best Western Rewards promotions that run on a regular basis. This changed a year ago with the UK version of Best Western Rewards merged with the global programme.
You can retro-claim points for stays from up to 30 days before you joined, so you haven’t necessarily missed out if you had a recent stay and were not a member at the time.
Stays earn 10 points per $1 spent on your entire bill when paying eligible rates. You do NOT earn points on restaurant charges or anything else charged to your bill apart from the room rate.
You can earn points on up to three rooms per night as long as they are all booked in your name and you occupy one of them.
Alternatively, you can take airline miles. Virgin Atlantic is the best option for most of us at 500 Flying Club miles per stay. A list of other participating airlines can be seen in the dropdown menu on the sign-up page – it includes American (250 per stay), Lufthansa (500) and Flying Blue (250) amongst other.
British Airways and Iberia are NOT partners.
You cannot transfer points from American Express in the UK (you can in some other countries) and there is no UK credit card.
Points can be transferred free of charge between members who share the same address.
There are a variety of hotel and non-hotel rewards options as you can see here (log-in required).
High Street and Amazon vouchers are priced at £5 for 2,000 points. Given that this would require $200 (£161) of spend, you are looking at a 3.1% of your spend returned. This is not great, although it improves if you have status, and is only based on your room rate and not incidental spend. Other reward options are available but you might as well take a gift card which is close to getting cash.
Airline miles offer better value if you are not chasing free nights. 500 Virgin miles are worth £3.75 to £5+ to most people and, assuming an average room rate of £100 and an average one night stay, you would be getting a 3.75% to 5% return.
Free room nights in the UK cost between 8,000 and 36,000 points. As a Blue member you are looking at spending £645 to £2,900 to earn a free night worth, say, £75 – £200. This is not a bad return if we assume you are getting 8% back on average.
Free nights in overseas hotels start at 4,000 points. These must be booked via telephone.
Note that, since January 2016, reward nights do NOT receive free breakfast.
Instead of using Best Western Rewards, another option is to book your Best Western stays via hotels.com in order to get free nights via Hotels.com Rewards. You won’t earn Best Western Rewards points on such bookings, but you will get 10% of the cost of your room back towards a free night. I wrote about Hotels.com Rewards here.
Tesco Clubcard is another way of getting a free night!
Best Western UK is a Tesco Clubcard partner. Roughly 2/3rd of the Best Western properties in the UK take part. You can redeem your Clubcard vouchers for free rooms, all with breakfast, at 3x face value.
More information can be found on the Clubcard website here. A list of participating hotels is on the Best Western website here. The reviews of the offer (as opposed to reviews of some of the hotels) are generally positive although it appears prices can be higher than shown online and some hotels operate black-out dates.
Following the January 2016 changes, Best Western Rewards points do not expire. This is a positive change to the old programme which required a stay every 12 months.
Best Western Rewards will match your existing hotel or Virgin status
Best Western has a generous status match policy. If you have status with any other hotel chain, it will be matched.
You can also match Virgin Flying Club status. A Virgin Silver will receive Best Western Platinum whilst a Virgin Gold receives Best Western Diamond. Full details are on the Virgin website here.
A couple of years ago I tested their responsiveness by sending a copy of my IHG Rewards Club Platinum statement (this was before Spire Elite became the top tier) to the UK office. It took 10 calendar days to receive an email confirming my match to Diamond status.
The form you need to send them can be found on the Best Western website here (PDF).
Best Western Rewards is a decent scheme but not a hugely exciting one. It is hampered by the very loose relationships between the group and its properties and the very varied nature of the hotels, which make standardised benefits impossible.
If your travels take you to occasional Best Western properties, my suggestions would be to get a status match (the benefits are modest but you will be front of the queue for upgrades) and take airline miles as your reward unless you are confident of eventually earning enough points for a free night.
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)