Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

What do you think of proposed changes to Hotels.com Rewards?

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

Hotels.com is considering changes to the ‘free night for every 10 nights you stay’ benefit with Hotels.com Rewards.

The company recently asked selected members to answer a questionnaire on different reward options.  In general, the proposed options are worse than the current Hotels.com Rewards scheme.

(Yes, I know. Big surprise.)

Why do we like Hotels.com Rewards?

We rate Hotels.com Rewards highly.

It is a pleasingly simple scheme.  For every 10 nights you stay, you receive a free night.  The value of the free night is the average of the ex-tax price of those ten nights.

There is no time limit to how long it takes to earn your free night, as long as you do at least one stay in every 12 month period.

If you are about to hit your 12 month anniversary without a stay, a booking at a £3 hostel somewhere in the developing world will usually credit and reset the timer.

The only ‘snag’ is that you don’t get any change when you spend your free night, so you need to use it on a fairly expensive stay.  You will also not collect new Hotels.com Rewards credits on your reward stay.

Some Head for Points readers find Hotels.com Rewards BETTER than a standard hotel loyalty scheme.   Hotels.com has more hotels than every major hotel brand PUT TOGETHER.  You never have to compromise on location or hotel quality, as you often do if you are tied to Hilton, IHG etc.  You also get rewarded for ALL of your stays, even at independent unbranded properties.

The downside is that you don’t earn any hotel loyalty points or status benefits – no upgrades, no late check-out, no free breakfast – on your stays.

You can find out more about Hotels.com Rewards on its website here.

What is Hotels.com Rewards planning?

The survey coverered a number of potential scenarios.  Respondents were shown two different options side by side, chosen at random, and asked which they preferred.  For example:

Sample scenario:

You no longer need to do 10 nights before you redeem.  Instead, each stay earns you a credit of 10% of the ex-tax value which you can redeem against your next stay.

Ability to use credits towards breakfast, upgrades, spa etc.

Sample scenario:

Each stay earns you a credit of 7% of the ex-tax value

You can redeem at any point BUT you must have enough credit to cover the full cost of the stay

Credits can also be turned into Uber / Lyft credit or airport lounge passes

Ability to use credits towards breakfast, upgrades, spa etc

Sample scenario:

Each stay earns you a credit of 7% of the ex-tax value

Silver members (7 nights in a year) receive 7.35% whilst Gold members (25 nights in a year) receive 7.7%

You can redeem at any point BUT you must have enough credit to cover at least 75% of the cost of the stay

Credits can also be used on Hotels.com partner sites such as Expedia and VRBO

Ability to use credits towards breakfast, upgrades, spa etc

Sample scenario:

Each stay earns you a credit of 8% of the ex-tax value, with a selection of ‘top’ properties earning 16% credit

You can redeem at any point BUT you must have enough credit to cover 75% of the cost of the stay

Ability to use credits towards breakfast, upgrades, spa etc

Sample scenario:

Each stay earns you a credit of 7% of the ex-tax value, with a selection of ‘top’ properties earning 14% credit

You can redeem at any point BUT you must have enough credit to cover at least 75% of the cost of the stay

Credits can also be turned into Uber / Lyft credit or airport lounge passes

Ability to use credits towards breakfast, upgrades, spa etc

Sample scenario:

Each night earns you 1 free night stamp

Get a free night when you have collected 12 stamps, with the night worth the average cost of the 12 nights

Alternatively, redeem 6 stamps for a free night credit worth 40% of the average cost of your six nights

I should add that the scenarios also involved tweaking the number of nights required for status in Hotels.com Rewards.  However, in general I do not find that people take Hotels.com Rewards elite status, or its benefits, seriously.

changes to Hotels.com Rewards

Are any of these scenarios positive for members?

Put it this way, none are a major improvement.

The first one – 10% credit after every stay, redeemable immediately, IS better than the current ‘free night after 10 stays’ because you can redeem your 10% straight away.  This removes the gamification element from the programme, however, so I don’t see why Hotels.com Rewards would do this.

The other scenarios effectively cut the reward benefit from 10% to something closer to 7%-8%.   The company tries to dress this up but, in effect, you are getting less back.

Of course, the devil is in the detail – if it dropped to 8% but a high proportion of hotels were classed as ‘top’ properties earning double credits, you would be better off.

You may also, personally, prefer a 7% cashback credit to use on your next stay versus a 10% return which only turns up after doing 10 nights.  There is a trend in loyalty today to offer returns faster driven by the assumption that millennials have the attention span of a gnat.

Hotels.com needs to be careful ….

There is something key that Hotels.com needs to remember

Whilst technically sister companies, Hotels.com and Expedia are, fundamentally, the same business.  In general, they sell the same hotels at the same prices.  The ONLY difference, apart from Expedia also offering flights, is that Hotels.com has a very generous reward programme.

Expedia, on the other hand, has Expedia Rewards which we reviewed here.  It isn’t great.

Expedia also owns eBookers.  We reviewed ebookers BONUS+ here.  Again, it isn’t great but it is better than Expedia Rewards as it offers airport lounge passes for regular bookers.

The bottom line is that the whole point of Hotels.com is that it offers a good loyalty scheme.  Without one, it might as well cease to exist as it would literally be a clone of Expedia and ebookers.  Any attempt to water down Hotels.com Rewards could be a mistake.


Hotel offers update – January 2023:

Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.

Want to buy hotel points?

  • Hilton Honors is offering a 100% bonus when you buy points by 7th March. Click here to buy.

Comments (110)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • stevenhp1987 says:

    “You will also not collect new Hotels.com Rewards credits on your reward stay – it makes no sense to use your free night as part of a five night trip as you are sacrificing five credits towards a new free night.”

    Not true. If you have a 5 night trip and use 1 free night you will be credited with 4 nights credit towards your free night.

    The real downside is that you have to use the app to book to avoid the £4 charge. This also means you cannot earn Avios on your bookings via the /britishairways URL unless you suck up the charge.

  • StevieKicks says:

    Hotels.com always have either an 8% or 10% off coupon available, which you can use instead of earning credit towards your free night. Seems like a better, much more flexible option

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Not if you aren’t actually paying for the night.

      Then it’s your employer/client getting 10% discount rather than a perk for you.

      I’ll let those that actually do it discuss the morals of that I’m personal travel only and pass the savings on to any family/friends etc I might be going away with too.

      • Kev 85 says:

        “ Then it’s your employer/client getting 10% discount rather than a perk for you”

        From my experience (which might not be representative), a lot of companies require hotel bookings to be through a company approved agent.

        Where that’s not the case, I don’t think there’s any moral dilemma as I wouldn’t waste time looking for a working discount code

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Mostly small operations but even some large organisations just give you a budget and allow you to claim back whatever it cost.

          • Kev 85 says:

            Fair enough but why would anyone bother actively looking for a discount code for a work booking?

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Depends what your budget is and the places you like to stay.

            Also if it’s no more than a search on HUKD or like it’s hardly any work is it?

            I’d go to the trouble of getting an extra 1-2% on my £back from the right site or right card but that’s my money I don’t think many people treat their companies money as if it was their own.

  • G Flyer says:

    Rob is spot on when he says Hotels.com risks losing their differentiator. Despite being Hilton Diamond (earned through BA GGL), I normally book ~50 nights a year through Hotels.com precisely because of the simplicity of their great Rewards scheme and how flexible it is – it works equally as well for my business bookings ($$$$) AND my leisure bookings ($$). If they drop the rate and remove the gamification then how is it much different to the boring Expedia Rewards scheme? I’d just go back to picking a hotel chain and spending all my loyalty direct (via a cash back site of course) with them!

  • Peter K says:

    I was in an intensive 2 day paid for “focus group” to come up with ideas and test out how we viewed certain ideas. Basically too many people were getting to about 4 nights, then not bothering any more with the traditional scheme.

    It seems they have taken some of the points put in, that free breakfast would be a big boost, or the ability to cash out and ‘get a win’ sooner (even a lower level) would be welcome but they’ve reduced it to a poor level with these options.

    • Doug M says:

      Surely that’s no different to the thousands of people that let points expire, I’d always assumed that was factored in to the overall win for the scheme owner. I think free breakfast matters more to family groups than solos. It’s usually quite poor when it’s ‘included’.

      • Rob says:

        How can hotels.com force independent hotels to give free breakfast though? What I THINK would happen is that they would look at the price difference between room only and B&B, offer you ‘free’ breakfast if you spend an equivalent number of credits and then actually book you in as B&B.

        • Peter K says:

          This was part of the whole points idea that if you give points rather than night stamps away, it could mean you could book a room cash and pay for the breakfast with points, for example.

  • Gavin says:

    I find there’s always a discount code available for ebookers for around 12-15% (instant discount) and the initial price is usually the same as hotels.com, so it’s a better deal. Plus you get an extra 3% with their own reward scheme.

  • Concerto says:

    If they change it again (we’ve already been slightly stuffed by them introducing a charge for non-app booked free nights) then I walk. There are plenty of other options, which do NOT include booking.com (their behaviour during Corona deserves a boycott) but DO include booking directly with smaller, independent hotels (they often offer a good deal over the phone).

  • Chris H says:

    I have just spent another hour trying to contact them. The phone line only connects you if you have an existing booking to cancel, otherwise all options tell you to go online and then cut you off. The chat only connects you if you have an existing booking, otherwise loops you back to the start again and again.
    I can’t find ANY information of concessions on the 12 month expiry without activity of the hotel credits and I have 8 nights credit to lose.
    Does anyone know if I am going to lose them? The last stay was 12 months ago, and I normally book through them for my USA holiday in April which is impossible right now. I could search for a cheap mattress run, but as I can’t get anywhere, I can’t check in.
    I am p****ed off with Hotel.com at the moment as they don’t seem to care about their “loyal” customers.

    • Tony says:

      Yes having a similar problem and am totally unable to find an email address.
      Pity as do like the rewards scheme even if you book multiple rooms so long as they are paid for you get credit. Makes the hassle of organising a party worthwhile.

    • Liz says:

      I cancelled my bookings for our USA trip in May and was going to lose my free night worth £113 and 4 reward nights so i booked a hostel in Edinburgh non refundable rate for £11 and it re-set the lot for another year. I felt that was worth it. Just search your local area and put in a low price range and see what comes up.

    • Steve Brown says:

      How about booking a cheap room for one night. I found this… Hostel Grad2-star
      Dlinnaya 128, Krasnodar, Krasnodarsky kray, 350000, Russia… for one night next week £ GB 4. Presume that will reset clock ?
      Good luck

      • Chris H says:

        I have just booked a £5 a night in Nigeria, but I can’t check in.
        I can’t book a local hotel and check in either as they are all closed.
        I just wanted to see if they were giving any leeway in the 12 month rule???? Or does anyone have an email address for them so I can contact them directly?

        • Rob says:

          It’s all automated Chris, I really wouldn’t be too concerned about then noticing. Even if they did, you have a very good excuse.

      • Liz says:

        I tried to keep it in the UK as it’s obvious we are not travelling.

  • PJJ says:

    Rob, you spoke a year or two ago that there could be a hotels.com credit card.
    If they went for a percentage of cost into your account could they then marry up a points/cash element from the credit card into your account
    Thus joining the two schemes (credit card and reward nights) together ?

    • Rob says:

      That is true, and would make sense. As I think I wrote at the time, there was no obvious way of linking credit card spend rewards to the current reward nights scheme. Moving to a cash pot is the only way.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.