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Hotels.com Rewards adds an avoidable £4 reward booking fee

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Hotels.com Rewards emailed its UK members yesterday to announce a £4 booking fee when you redeem your ‘free’ nights from 27th November.

This did not come as a surprise, since a similar fee was announced for US and Continental European members a few weeks.  If anything, I’m not sure why the company waited so long.

The £4 booking fee is waived if you book your reward night via the Hotels.com app.  This makes little sense and throws doubt on the claims that this change is needed to ensure the viability of the programme.  It would also, logistically, have been easier to deduct £4 from the value of your free night.

Hotels.com adds £4 redemption fee on rewards

I am a big fan of Hotels.com Rewards – I am typing this in a Kempinski hotel booked via Hotels.com – but the rewards scheme has never been entirely ‘free’.  Certain special offers run by the company are only valid if you agree to waive your right to reward night credit, for example.  You also do not earn reward night credit on the night you book using your free night voucher so it is best saved for somewhere where the value covers most of the cost.

(Comments below corrected my earlier statement – if you use the voucher on a multi-night stay you DO get credit for the other nights.)

There is no reason why this change should make Hotels.com Rewards less attractive.  You can avoid the fee as long as you have a smartphone, and in any event a £4 fee to redeem a free night probably worth £75+ is not a disaster.  It remains a scheme that I think makes a lot of sense for people who only do a modest number of hotel stays per year and do not have elite status.

A full-length article on why I like Hotels.com Rewards so much is here.  You can learn more about how the rewards scheme works on its website here.

You may also find this April 2020 article on proposed changes to Hotels.com Rewards worth a read.

(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.)

Comments (158)

  • Funtime says:

    TODAY (27th September) is the last day to book.

    Well I’m in New York and today is still 25th September albeit with only an hour and half to go.

    Do you mean 26th September or tomorrow for the UK 27th?

  • Anna says:

    As mentioned yesterday, hotels.com has just become a whole lot less attractive having recently removed the “pay at hotel” option from many of its properties. It’s not clear what protection, if any, you would have if a hotel, or indeed hotels.com went bust. They have also removed the “free cancellation” filter from the search options which means having to trawl through pages of properties to find one which offers this. Also you can’t tell which properties take Amex until you click through to the payment page. I have 15 nights booked with them over the coming months but am leaning more and more towards booking direct with Hilton or IHG.

    • Funtime says:

      Whilst the scheme isn’t bad “as such” you do lose the benefits of a branded scheme.

      Ie poor view, low floor rooms hence noisier rooms etc.

      I like to use them mainly when booking lads holidays away to Tenerife for a few nights lol

      • Genghis says:

        I disagree. I’d say 50% of the time I get some kind of upgrade due to hotels.com Gold status.

        • BJ says:

          I imagined you were in the ‘staying on business, redeeming on leisure’ category getting 100%+ off.

        • Rob says:

          I have got a low floor, noisy room here in Doha (I would still be asleep otherwise!) – after the hotel admitted at check-in that they are virtually empty.

        • Doug M says:

          I’m with you. Often been treated very well on hotels com bookings. I can live without the free bottle of water and 250 points IHG Or Hilton like to send my way.

      • Gavin says:

        I generally use hotels.com for two types of stay for my annual trip to see family in Korea:

        A 3-4 night stay at the Grand Hyatt, Seoul. I don’t find that lack of status matters much, always get a decent early check in and late check out.

        Several 1-2 night stays at various pensions and guest houses when on holiday away from Seoul.

        Works a treat, we rarely use hotels outside of our main holiday so status is not attainable, we have however got ourselves a free night at the Hyatt for next year due to the hotels.com scheme

      • Lady London says:

        Rotten rooms on the very, very few occasions I’ve ever booked with hotels.com or similar, (OTA) has also been my experience. Even when hotel not full and no excuse.

        If a hotel does that to me I just don’t stay again – booking direct or otherwise.

        • dimitri says:

          Ok but why should the hotel give you a better room than the one that you booked? Many hotels have rotten basic rooms but also have exceptional rooms that cost more and you can eithet book them on an OTA or get them for free with an upgrade by booking direct with status. IC Ana Tokyo being a great example.

          • Rob says:

            Because it makes sense. It may encourage you to trade up next time and you may spend more when you are there if you are in a good mood.

            Being told my hotel was empty and then getting a room at the back (what I booked) on the 1st floor of seven directly under the service entrance did not encourage me to throw much extra money at them.

          • Lady London says:

            Amongst all basic rooms in a hotel, there are always better and worse rooms same category and pricing level. Even in a HIX. And the staff always know which room is worse or better and usually why. Eg

            The room next to the squeaky hotel flagpole,
            The room next to lift
            The room over the courtyard where big noisy trucks collect rubbish bins from the hotel at 5am…
            The room with a musty smell they’ve never been able to fix
            The room with noisy aircon
            The room with same thing regularly breaking …like aircon, toilet flush, electric plus not working…
            The room on the same floor as a party of 25 Spring Breakers, when there are same rooms free on other floors. But it’s easier for housekeeping…
            The room in thé first corridor everyone takes leaving the bar at 0100…
            The room with it’s window next to the air conditioning fans for thewhole hotel….

            If you book though a consolidator there’s a good chance of the above.

            If you’re a single female not known to the hotel and no status, it’s almost guaranteed except in very decent hotels.

            This is why any level of status is useful. It pretty much removes that risk. Vence if u do have to book in directly i usually phone and get my membership number added to my booking. No status benefits if indirect but helps with the above.

    • John says:

      Not really sure what this is supposed to mean. I only use hotels.com when there is no suitable Hilton or IHG property (which includes when they are too expensive).

    • Rob says:

      To be fair I’m not concerned with Expedia’s financial stability, given that it owns no hotels and throws off money.

    • Mikeact says:

      My wife is a ‘limited’ fan of Hotels.com, i.e. we don’t always use them. She uses them in conjunction with TripAdvisor etc. She normally goes for the free cancellation option, and is quite happy to email the property direct to see if we are being ripped off and to ensure that a ‘sea view’ room is what it says it is. We also rarely go for large, major properties, tending towards smaller , family type properties where it’s usually easier to see what you’re purchasing.
      We redeemed for a night last month at the Holiday Inn in Ellesmere Port, which was excellent.

    • James says:

      The ‘free cancellation’ filter was an excellent bit of functionality.
      With that going and the start of adding fees for redeeming, it seems hotels.com will be getting less of my business, which is a shame.

    • sloth says:

      you are protected by your credit card if either the hotel or hotels.com go bust. No?

      • Anna says:

        Even so, I’ve a £2k stay booked for next July which I can pay on arrival. If I booked the same property now I’d have to pay that up front. Most resort-type hotels seem to have changed over to this system in the past weeks, which makes me less likely to book them in future.

      • the_real_a says:

        To be fair to hotels.com this happened to me. They proactively contacted me to say the hotel had gone bust, and allowed me to book into any comparable hotel at the airport without extra charge. I was left very impressed.

  • Scallder says:

    If using a reward night, going through an earning portal means that you get the higher rate on offer. So if you’re wanting to use a voucher then you can get the higher payout rate on the difference of cost and the free night value.

    So assuming 10% back then the £4 is offset if your night costs £40 more than your free night value (exc VAT and taxes).

    You still get more at a lower payout rate plus the hotels.com rewards value, but this might be why they’ve added it. As going through their app means they’re not paying out elsewhere to other portals…

  • Claire says:

    Can i clarify re free night and how it effects future earnings. I have used my hotels.com free night on a 9 night stay next year. Do i get 8 nights towards my next free night or as this article suggests will these not count. I wasnt clear if it just brought down my average stay. My booking can be cancelled so just keen to know whay is best. Thanks

    • Rob says:

      I THOUGHT that you didn’t earn on a stay where you use a voucher. However, I absolutely could be wrong about this and I will demur to the wisdom of other readers.

      • Ed says:

        I recently redeemed three reward nights on a 4 night stay and was given one night towards my next free night

        • Claire says:

          Fab thanks. Will keep booking as is.

          • Lady London says:

            If I were you, I’d keep watching in case they try to change that later and before your stay.

            As memesweeper pointed out, it’s not fair (and probably illegal!) for hotels.com to now try to impose a £4 charge on people to use points they earned on the basis that no charge would apply for them to use them. So alongside all the “meanness” and “obfuscatory” changes pointed out now on hotels.com by Anna, watch out for them possibly sneakily changing that before you actually use your booking.
            To make sure, personally I’d stay the free night, then somewhere else for 1 night, then the 8 free nights. Late checkout and possible early checking on the “gap” night, and you might almost not notice the one night somewhere else.

            Hotels.com bears watching now for more sneaky rules changes. As Rob says, they’;ve enjoyed oligopoly profits for a while now, and the hotels are now trying to change that, so the only place hotels.com can earn any more fees is going to be ….. you.

      • Craig says:

        You don’t for the reward night(s) but you do for any additional night(s).

        • Gin and Tonic Please says:

          +1. I have the same on a booking at end Oct. Showing in the app as credits for the nights where I’m not using vouchers

    • Jonathan says:

      I’ve understood that it’s only the free night(s) that don’t earn any rewards, so a five night stay, two of those nights being reward nights, should mean that the other three nights would count towards the earning of the next free night. I could be wrong though, if I am, then it’s another example of how loyalty schemes catch people out. The way around that of course, is for example if you’ve got two free nights, then book those and under a separate booking, then just pay for the other three nights that would start right after the free nights’ stay

    • Doug M says:

      Yes you def get credit for nights you pay for on a mixed voucher/pay booking.
      One thing to think about when using free nights on stays, is to use vouchers that closely match your night cost. You don’t want to waste voucher value, but equally using a £80 free night on a £250 night booking means you’ve spent £170 you won’t earn free nights on.

  • BJ says:

    O/T: New Caledonian Sleeper trains supposed to be launching next month ( if we can believe it) Too late to take advantage of the long daylight hours on a trip from London to Fort William which is my plan so it will now have to wait until next year.
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-49824688

    • Cat says:

      I highly recommend you board the Caledonian Sleeper with lowered expectations BJ. Remember the service is run by Serco – expect a mind-boggling omnishambles. Indian railways run a far more reliable service.
      With lowered expectations, you may be able to enjoy the views!

      • BJ says:

        Yes, I think I read they recently fired the cleaning contractors for the state of the trains, and there are strike issues too. However, hopefully with new coaches the experience will be good for a while at least. I read the Chinese-built sleeper trains Thai railways bought about three years ago are excellent so we are planing to try those out on a trip to Chiang Mai next summer.

        • Cat says:

          My issues were more with the fact that they left Euston an hour earlier than the time given on the schedule at the time of booking, which was also the time on my ticket. At no point did anyone email me or phone me or try to contact me in any way to notify me of the time change. The only reason we made the train was that we’d been told it was worth arriving super early in order to nab a table in the restaurant car. We got there an hour and 10 mins early. You’ve never seen anyone use those damned ticket machines so fast, and I felt like an asthmatic Usain Bolt after the run for the train. No tables left in the restaurant car though.
          Others weren’t so lucky – they’d bought tickets when the train was supposed to be departing from KX at the later time. Nobody updated them either. They didn’t make it.
          They then tried to deposit us in the middle of nowhere in the Highlands, to catch a rail replacement bus. When it hadn’t turned up 15 mins later, they let us back on the train, shivering, and carried on. They then deposited us in Oban, rather than Fort William and told us to wait for the rail replacement bus. Had someone told us it was going to take an hour, we’d have hidden from the mid February sleet in the nearby hotel bar. Sadly that would have required the ability to arrange a p!ss-up in a brewery.

          • Cat says:

            Also, I sent a complaint email every month or so, for a year and a half, hoping someone would eventually reply. When I finally got a reply, it was to say that it was too late to pay any sort of compensation now.
            It was an absolute clusterf*ck.
            The train to Chiang Mai will be infinitely more pleasant! Enjoy!

  • Shoestring says:

    Spend £30 or more, get 7% back every time – Morrisons – EXPIRES 23/10/2019
    OFFER DETAILS
    Save to Card to get a 7% statement credit on an eligible transaction of £30+ in participating store(s) and online at Morrisons by 23/10/2019. Valid every time for the first 3,500 Cardmembers to save. Terms, location & payment restrictions apply.

    • Alan says:

      Got spend £30 get 5% on my Gold card. Nothing on the others though.

    • Harry T says:

      Came here to tell you it was back on!

      I have spend 30£ or more, get 10% back on my BAPP, and spend 30£ or more get 5% back on Platinum (I spent a grand or so on the platinum last time I got the offer but didn’t have the BAPP then).

    • RussellH says:

      Got 7% on BA Amex, 5% on ARCC.
      Problems adding them to the card though. The offer says it has been added, and it initially appears in the list of added offers. Then it migrates back to the list of available offers and if I try to add again it errors.
      I guess I need to give it a few hours and then look again. Will not be going to Morrisons today anyway.
      I had 5% on ARCC on a previous offer which expired yesterday; used the card yesterday at about 1530 but never got an e-mail acknowledgement. I did a PDF of the page showing both the offer and the transaction in case the credit never appears.

    • 1nfrequent says:

      I got spend £30 get 10% back on my Gold AMex.

      1F

    • AndyGWP says:

      I’ve finally got this offer!! (5%)

      Wishing I’d paid attention to you guys usage of this before, so what’s the plan? Go to the cigarette kiosk bit and buy some vouchers that can be used (for up to 12 months)?

      How many can be purchased at once?

      Thank you 🙂

  • Benilyn says:

    IAG SA cut its capacity-growth target and said full-year earnings will fall after the owner of airlines such as British Airways suffered from strike action and weak bookings at low-cost carriers.
    Operating profit before exceptional items will be 215 million euros ($235 million) lower than 2018 pro forma, while full-year capacity growth is expected to be about 4%, compared with an earlier forecast of 5%.
    British Airways has been rocked this summer by its first piliot strike since 1979, which led to the cancellation of more than 2,000 flights. There have been no further talks between the airline and the main pilots union, IAG said in a statement on Thursday, and its most recent offer still stands.
    Latest booking trends at IAG’s low-cost carriers will have an adverse financial impact of 45 million euros, according to the statement.

  • Ed says:

    In my experience you can always find a 10% off voucher for at least some of the OTAs, and as they always offer approximately the same prices you’re better off just using one of those. That way you don’t have to commit to staying 10 nights with hotels.com before getting your 10% back. But if your company is paying it’s a different story of course..