The majority of the major hotel loyalty schemes work on the basis of how many $ you spent on your trip. The main outlier is Accor which is € driven.
This means that, for the majority of your stays, the value of your stay will be converted into $ or € in order to calculate how many points are due.
This can lead to various problems, so it is often worth keeping an eye on what is happening.
For UK hotel stays, one common problem is the double deduction of VAT.
Points are awarded on the value of your expenditure excluding tax. Because UK consumer law means that prices must be shown including sales tax, it needs to be deducted from your spend before your points are calculated. I have seen numerous examples, most often with IHG, where the hotel has input an ex-VAT figure which the rewards programme has treated as VAT-inclusive – and thus deducted another 20%!
Another issue is the use of a pathetic exchange rate.
I had an email this week from a reader who had stayed at, shall we say, a flagship Marriott hotel in the UK. The points from a recent stay were converted into US$ at a rate of $1.23 per £1.
This was on a day when the official rate was $1.51!
The reader initially thought that it was a VAT issue – but no. The hotel confirmed in writing (and I have seen the correspondence) that $1.23 was the correct exchange rate that Marriott Rewards was using to convert UK stays into $.
The hotel was so embarrassed by this that it credited the reader involved with additional points as a goodwill gesture. I still find this difficult to believe, however, because there is no history of Marriott historically undercrediting members for UK stays except on a property level basis. Because the difference is so close to the VAT level I am tempted to believe that someone has made a mistake somewhere in the hotel.
Irrespective of fault, however, the lesson is that you should keep an eye on what you receive from you stays and file a complaint if the number seems too low.
PS. VAT is also proving to be an issue with IHG’s Accelerate promotion. Some people have been given a target of spending $40 on food and drink. This is $40 excluding VAT which is causing problems for some guests at UK hotels. They believe they have spent enough to trigger the bonus but IHG says not.