Last updated: 04:00 PM ET, Mon December 14 2015

Which Hotel Rewards Programs Are the Best?

Hotel & Resort | Patrick Clarke | December 14, 2015

Which Hotel Rewards Programs Are the Best?

With so many different hotel loyalty programs to choose from, picking the right one is often times challenging. Plus, with many travelers searching third-party websites like Expedia in search of the best deal, loyal hotel guests have become a minority

Nonetheless there are benefits to be had, and in an effort to simplify the process for travelers, CardHub has revealed the results of its 2015 Hotel Rewards Study, which analyzes the loyalty programs offered by the 12 largest U.S. hotel chains based on a variety of metrics, including expiration policies and rewards value, among others.

CardHub also examined the rewards programs based on expected value for travelers with spending profiles ranging from light to heavy.

Earning a score of 71.85, the study determined that Wyndham Rewards is the best hotel loyalty program for travelers of all spending levels. Even when rewards value was the only characteristic considered, Wyndham still finished atop the rest in all spending profiles.

Regardless of the spending profile, CardHub found that Wyndham Rewards members earn about $11.80 in rewards value per every $100 spent.

While heavy spenders received more rewards value than moderate or light spenders with most of the other programs, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Drury Hotels' Gold Key Club provided travelers of all spending profiles with the same rewards value.

However Gold Key Club and Ritz-Carlton Rewards far exceeded SPG in terms of reward value, providing travelers with $11.50 and $10 in value for every $100 spent, respectively, compared to just $5.48 for SPG.

For all spending profiles — light ($487 per year), moderate ($779 per year) and heavy ($1,461 per year) — Marriott Rewards took second place behind Wyndham Rewards, earning a score of 67.94 for heavy spenders and 59.88 for light and moderate. 

Other interesting findings from the study include that Best Western is the only U.S. chain offering points that don't expire because of account inactivity, none of the programs allow members to earn points through reservations made on third-party websites and a whopping one-third of programs don't allow members to redeem points for award nights at all hotel brands and properties.

While hotel rewards programs clearly benefit brands and guests, Troy University's assistant professor in the School of Hospitality, Sport and Tourism Management Patrick Holladay points out that "the winners here are the hotel chains successful in creating consumer buy-in to rewards programs."

"Satisfied consumers will continue to use that hotel chain to build reward points. It is much more cost-effective to maintain the consumer base than it is to procure new customers," he added.

And according to Zongqing Zhou, a professor in the College of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Niagara University, an effective rewards program is able to encourage a customer's frequency of stay, extend the length of their stay, increase their spending, retain old customers and also have those customers put in a good word with others.

Click here to use CardHub's custom calculator to determine the best hotel rewards program for you.


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