Hotel Loyalty clubs

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Post Reply
User avatar
gravlax
Posts: 234
Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2008 2:29 pm
Location: Cole Valley, CA

Hotel Loyalty clubs

Post by gravlax » Tue Oct 20, 2015 3:54 pm

I'm going to start doing regular business travel to major US cities, and therefore would like to start accumulating points with one of the major hotel chains. I'm aware of Hyatt and Mariott - are there any others I should consider? Also, if anyone is a member of either of these chains, please let me know how your experience has been.

Thanks in advance for any comments.

DSInvestor
Posts: 10575
Joined: Sat Oct 04, 2008 11:42 am

Re: Hotel Loyalty clubs

Post by DSInvestor » Tue Oct 20, 2015 4:01 pm

Are you an employee with a corporate card or a self employed person with your own business card? If self employed with your own card, take a look at AMEX business cards as they will credit your account after charging at certain hotels (Marriott/Courtyard etc), Fedex, Hertz etc with their OPEN SAVINGS program. AMEX open savings used to credit me 5% every time I stayed at a Marriott/Courtyard hotel, 5% for Hertz car rental, 3% JetBlue, 5% FedEx. Say my hotel charge was $1000, I get a receipt for $1000 to submit to client for reimbursement. My Amex shows $1000 charge but 2 days later a $50 credit pops up due to open savings. It adds up.

The OPEN SAVINGS program pushed me towards companies that participated in the program and for those that I used frequently I joined the clubs - Marriott, Hertz, etc. I accumulated so many points that when my wife and daughter went to Europe for 8 weeks, they were able to stay in Marriott properties for 3 out those 8 weeks for free and were treated as valued guests on club floors with drinks and snacks due to my elite status. All of my business spending on hotels, car rentals and flights were charged on the AMEX which has membership rewards points and I used some points to fly them business class to Europe.

Apparently Amex OpenSavings has dropped Marriott brands (Courtyard, SpringHill Suites, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Residence Inn, and Towneplace Suites) from the discount plan.
Here's a link to Hyatt showing 5% discount credited back to your Amex:
http://hyatthotels.hyatt.com/content/pa ... -open.html
Last edited by DSInvestor on Tue Oct 20, 2015 6:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

August
Posts: 64
Joined: Wed Dec 04, 2013 9:03 pm

Re: Hotel Loyalty clubs

Post by August » Tue Oct 20, 2015 4:19 pm

I do a lot of traveling for work and have found the loyalty programs for Hilton, Marriott, and Hyatt to be the best. Hilton and Marriott are better if you'd like to do vacations on points as they have more locations in different places. Hyatt tends to be the easiest to earn enough points for free nights though. If I had to choose just one, I'd probably choose Hilton or Marriott. I tend to prefer Marriott at the moment only because I am very close to their lifetime status requirements.

I frequently get free upgrades at Marriott for both having status there and having their credit card. I've never gotten an upgrade from Hilton or Hyatt.

centrifuge41
Posts: 1155
Joined: Mon May 17, 2010 9:04 am

Re: Hotel Loyalty clubs

Post by centrifuge41 » Tue Oct 20, 2015 5:13 pm

The majors are:
Hilton, Hyatt, Starwood, Marriott, IHG, and maybe Club Carlson. Best Western, Choice, and Wyndham represent lower tier properties.

Are you looking for the most rebate/reward for revenue stays, or are you looking to get VIP treatment? Or both?

Hilton accrues quickly (15 points/$), but the typical suburban property (Hampton, etc) costs 40k. You won't get great value with that program unless you travel abroad to more far-flung spots and redeem for 5k to 10k nights.
Marriott earns 10 points/$. The best burn opportunities are at 7.5k/10k nights, which are significantly more common than for Hilton, and for 7 night airline mile + hotel packages.
SPG awards are way overpriced for high end hotels. There aren't enough 2k-4k properties. This program is best for earning airline miles off of revenue hotel stays.
IHG is great for the quarterly promos (b2g1 free or b4g2 free this quarter if you are new) but not so much for the normal 10 points/$. They sometimes sell points for 0.56 cents, making this program less rewarding for $ spend than hotels.com.
Hyatt is a solid choice, but only if there are locations where you need them. If you want to talk about status/benefits, that's a whole new conversation.

http://www.travelcodex.com/2014/03/much ... ree-night/

PaunchyPirate
Posts: 70
Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2014 7:58 pm

Re: Hotel Loyalty clubs

Post by PaunchyPirate » Tue Oct 20, 2015 5:19 pm

Join them all, just in case. I prefer Marriotts and try to plan my trips with that target in mind, but there are many trips where I need to stay elsewhere for various reasons and I've utilized points from all the major chains thru the years. I've spent many, many vacation nights at Marriotts for free through the years. Also check if your company has any deals with the hotel and airlines for reciprocal status. If you're GOLD on one airline your company may have a deal with another airline such that the second airline will match status in order to try and convince you to fly with them.

MikeZ
Posts: 198
Joined: Sun Dec 07, 2014 9:17 pm

Re: Hotel Loyalty clubs

Post by MikeZ » Tue Oct 20, 2015 9:34 pm

First question: Your money or your employer's money.

If it's your money, I say skip it and go with priceline or hotwire. It's not worth paying the higher rate just for a slightly bigger room and free drinks.

User avatar
grabiner
Advisory Board
Posts: 20877
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 11:58 pm
Location: Columbia, MD

Re: Hotel Loyalty clubs

Post by grabiner » Tue Oct 20, 2015 10:25 pm

It may be better to earn frequent-flyer miles than points unless you stay at one brand frequently. I happen to travel regularly on business to places where a Marriott is the best hotel, so I can earn enough Marriott points to stay at them occasionally on personal trips. I often stay at Choice hotels for personal travel, but I don't earn enough to get free nights, so I earn frequent-flyer miles.

This has the additional benefit of keeping frequent-flyer accounts from expiring. I can fly United, earn American miles for the car rental, and earn Delta miles for the hotel, keeping all three alive.
David Grabiner

niceguy7376
Posts: 1810
Joined: Wed Jul 10, 2013 2:59 pm
Location: Metro ATL

Re: Hotel Loyalty clubs

Post by niceguy7376 » Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:24 am

MikeZ wrote:First question: Your money or your employer's money.

If it's your money, I say skip it and go with priceline or hotwire. It's not worth paying the higher rate just for a slightly bigger room and free drinks.


This is the most important. If you are on all inclusive rate and thus hotel amount comes out of your pocket, I would ho priceline or hotwire or hotels.com (which also has rewards).

if the hotel expense is being paid independent of your hourly rate, then I prefer Marriott. They have properties everywhere and I had booked rooms at a hotel 50 miles away on Interstates for that same night stay and checked in after 30 minutes. Amex OPEN used to be (since one poster said it is not offered anymore) very good to use at marriott.

tim1999
Posts: 3325
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 7:16 am

Re: Hotel Loyalty clubs

Post by tim1999 » Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:35 am

When I travel on company business on their dime I almost always stay at some place in the Holiday Inn group of brands and collect "Priority Club" points. They tend to have more locations in Podunk towns where Hilton or Marriott have no presence.

I don't use the points for personal travel, where the points are far more valuable for free stays, since I tend to go to resort-type places. However every 38,000 points or so I can trade them in for a $100 ExxonMobil gas card.

kd2008
Posts: 520
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:19 pm

Re: Hotel Loyalty clubs

Post by kd2008 » Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:45 am

Once you decide on your choice of program, have a plan to burn the accumulated points in the same year or next year. Every 2-3 years these loyalty programs change and get devalued. I have seen folks sit on couple of million points only to see that their value diminish by half overnight.

Instead of trying to get max value out of loyalty programs, figure out what you want out of it first and then align spending and loyalty programs towards achieving that.

If paying out of pocket and looking for low rates, then look into hilton family mvp rates.

Jack FFR1846
Posts: 5771
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:05 am

Re: Hotel Loyalty clubs

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:47 am

Join them all

From best western to thr ritz, from subway to ruths christ, from southwest to cathay pacific.... If there's a rewards program, use it.

Its easy to get thousands of dollars (in cash) by playing the system. Last resort? Use points.com and convert unusable points into something usable.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

mhop
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2013 12:41 pm

Re: Hotel Loyalty clubs

Post by mhop » Wed Oct 21, 2015 9:03 am

I travel every week as a consultant. As such, one consideration is lifetime status as I know I won't be doing this forever. In that regard, here's the breakdown:

Hilton - Lifetime Diamond at 1000 nights and 10 years in the program
Marriott - Lifetime Silver at 250 nights, Gold at 500 nights, and Platinum at 750 nights - note that Marriott has a points requirement as well which will encourage you to sign up for their credit card
Starwood - Lifetime Gold at 250 nights, Platinum at 500 nights and 10 years of Platinum status
IHG - no lifetime status

Even judging by the night requirements for lifetime status, you'll get a good sense of which program is easier to achieve a yearly status.

Hilton - Silver at 4 stays or 10 nights, Gold at 20 stays or 40 nights, Diamond at 30 stays or 60 nights
Marriott - Silver at 10 nights, Gold at 50 nights, Platinum at 75 nights
Starwood - Gold at 10 stays or 25 nights, Platinum at 25 stays or 50 nights
IHG - Gold at 15 nights, Platinum at 50 nights

For me, I choose Starwood as they offer amazing elite recognition oversees (where I'm likely to use my points) and is easy to qualify for status (some years I shoot for status in 2 chains). When in a crunch, I try to hotel hop and qualify on stays rather than nights though this does not allow me to earn the 10 Suite Nights that come with hitting 50 nights. Typically I stay at Westins and find them to be well appointed and of higher quality than a Marriott or Hilton. I think with a wider selection of hotels, Marriott and Hilton properties generally suffer in quality control: some are really nice and others need a renovation. Having said that, my backup chain is Marriott (for the lifetime status and footprint, duh!).

Something to consider is your frequent flier program as United and Marriott are tied in to earn points together, whereas Delta and Starwood are tied in (Delta flirts with Hilton on Hilton's Q4 promotion every year). Starwood also has a relationship with Uber. I made my choice and got their credit card since I'm on the road every week. I'd say if your pattern is sporadic, it may not be worth signing up for a card.

User avatar
Aptenodytes
Posts: 3741
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 8:39 pm

Re: Hotel Loyalty clubs

Post by Aptenodytes » Wed Oct 21, 2015 9:15 am

I personally have never opted to concentrate hotel stays to optimize rewards; I just join them all, let them accumulate, and use them off and on. I sometimes wonder if I'm missing out, it has never seemed worth it to me.

A friend who travels much more than I do and has high control over his spending and hotel selection raves about the Starwood program. I find that I have less discretion on which hotel I stay at than which airline I choose; that's just a function of the type of travel I do and the way my sponsors manage travel spending.

When I have questions like this I tend to go to a site like The Points Guy, who seems to have written a post about hotel loyalty programs. He seems to like Hilton and Hyatt.

magicj
Posts: 109
Joined: Wed Sep 16, 2015 1:44 pm

Re: Hotel Loyalty clubs

Post by magicj » Wed Oct 21, 2015 9:26 am

I travel all over the state and stay overnight frequently. I used to be with Holiday Inn and found even their regular offering of Holiday Inn Express did not compare to Hampton Inn (Hilton). The HIX hotels were hit or miss, mostly misses. Used up all of my points with Holiday Inn and have been with Hilton for the past couple years.

takeshi
Posts: 1114
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2013 10:02 pm

Re: Hotel Loyalty clubs

Post by takeshi » Wed Oct 21, 2015 9:55 am

gravlax wrote:I'm aware of Hyatt and Mariott - are there any others I should consider?

Depends on where you tend to stay, how quickly you can accumulate and redeem rewards, whether or not you have other sources to earn rewards with a given program, whether or not you have something that boost your status for a given program, etc.

There are credit cards and partner programs that can earn points and provide benefits for hotel programs.

As an example of "boost", our AmEx Platinum gives us gold status with Hilton HHonors and Starwood Preferred Guest. If you are Premier Gold or higher with United you can get Gold Elite with Marriott while Marriott Platinum and Platinum Premier Elites can get Premier Silver with United. There are other such reciprocal programs out there.

If you don't tend to stay in major chains and stay at hotels associated with the program there are programs like Stash Rewards.

MikeZ wrote:It's not worth paying the higher rate just for a slightly bigger room and free drinks.

Worth is always highly subjective. it's up to each individual to determine such matters.

mw1739
Posts: 422
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 5:44 pm

Re: Hotel Loyalty clubs

Post by mw1739 » Wed Oct 21, 2015 10:12 am

Find out where everyone else in your company/office stays. Depending on where you're traveling to this could vary. As another poster mentioned, Holiday Inn Express is in a million small towns all over the country. My co-workers that travel often to small cities value IHG (Holiday Inn and formerly Priority Club) highly based on the number of hotels. On the other hand, I often travel to large cities and prefer Marriott and to a lesser extent Hilton.

I'm Platinum with Marriott and Gold with Hilton. Marriott has always treated me very well and they are my first choice. Some things to consider: Are you using a corporate credit card or can you use your own? If you can use your own, get the credit card associated with that brand and really rack up the points. Do you get a per diem for meals or actual expenses reimbursed? I save a ton of money by eating free breakfast and dinners in the Concierge lounge for people with status.

Exterous
Posts: 180
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2012 1:34 pm

Re: Hotel Loyalty clubs

Post by Exterous » Wed Oct 21, 2015 10:46 am

centrifuge41 wrote:Hilton accrues quickly (15 points/$), but the typical suburban property (Hampton, etc) costs 40k. You won't get great value with that program unless you travel abroad to more far-flung spots and redeem for 5k to 10k nights.


I don't necessarily think that is true. Hilton runs frequent 2x and 3x your points promotions for extended periods of time with, generally, very good hotel participation. It was not uncommon for me to get 45+ points/$ during their promotions with the Hilton Surpass Amex. Even without the promotions it is a base 29.5 points/$ for a Gold member

So, yes the card is an extra step and it may not work for everyone but I was getting great value out of my frequent Hilton stays when I traveled for work. (For those who churn cards Citi is incredibly generous with their card approvals.) I had 2 open Citi Hilton cards and they still gave me a third (and I got a fourth but after I closed the first one). 200,000 points in a year from Citi + another 60,000 from the Amex plus the 29.5-47.5points/$ on the actual stay. A four day stay would get me between 23,000 and 35,000 points. So while properties may have what appear to be high redemption rates when compared to other brands their points are incredibly easy to earn

That being said my favorite brand to stay in is usually Hyatt.

Post Reply