We're all about making the most of our travel, from shopping in states without sales tax to finding good deals on flights and more. If you aren't taking advantage of a hotel loyalty program on your travels, though, you're missing out. Don't know which one to choose? Here are our top five programs worth joining, for everything from budget to luxury and domestic road trips to international globetrotting.
You know the Wyndham name from its properties such as Super 8, Travelodge, Baymont, Hawthorn Suites, AmericInn, and more. The brand does especially well in providing affordable accommodations all across the United States — but, with over 9,000 hotels in more than 80 countries worldwide, it's got you covered for international travel, too.
The basics of the Wyndham Rewards program include earning at least 1,000 points per qualifying hotel stay, or 10 points per dollar spent if your stay is more than $100. These points can then be redeemed for stays at other Wyndham properties, allowing you either to stay for free — with 7,500, 15,000, or 30,000 point stays — or to stay for a discounted price if you've earned at least 1,500 points.
Of course, the program has far more to offer, especially once you reach Gold Status and beyond — which happens after just five nights! At that point, you can look forward to perks like accelerated point earning, your choice of preferred rooms, and complimentary late check-out. One catch? Your points can expire if you don't have any account activity — meaning earning, redeeming, or transferring points — for 18 months. Hopefully that's plenty of time to plan your next adventure, though.
Best Western Rewards
While you may think of Best Western as a single chain, the brand encompasses a variety of properties — including two recent boutique hotel brands — for approximately 4,700 hotels around the world. Their hotels can be found in places as ancient as Athens and as far-flung as Zambia.
One of our favorite things about the Best Western Rewards program is that your points never expire, which is a rarity among loyalty programs. There are also no blackout dates, and you can begin taking advantage of perks like complimentary early check-ins and late check-outs immediately upon joining the program, without having to wait until you reach a higher status.
As with Wyndham Rewards, you earn 10 points per dollar spent, or more for higher membership levels. Redeeming points for hotel rooms begin at 5,000 points, and you are able to redeem your points for vouchers that work at any Best Western property — again, without blackout dates.
With thirty affiliated brands thanks to the recent Marriott-Starwood merger, the Marriott Bonvoy program is one of the best choices for international travelers today. Brands range from iconic names like the Ritz-Carlton and W Hotels to traveler favorites like Sheraton, Residence Inn, and Courtyard Hotels, with over 7,700 properties in total.
At most Marriott Bonvoy brands, you'll earn 10 points per dollar spent. The program breaks down hotels into eight categories, the lowest of which allows you to redeem a room for 7,500 points. Redemption can get confusing, as there are also limited PointSavers rewards available — giving you a discount on the points needed — in addition to different point amounts for off peak and peak times. As with Wyndham, however, you also have the convenient option to combine cash and points, which begins with a minimum of $55 and 3500 points.
Points expire after two years of inactivity on your account, so you have an excuse to keep up the travel. There are no blackout dates and once you've stayed at least 10 nights to reach Silver Status, you'll begin earning more points on stays and have the option to sleep in a little longer with late check-outs.
IHG Rewards Club
The InterContinental Hotels Group, or IHG for short, owns over 5,000 hotels worldwide. Holiday Inn is likely its most recognizable brand for U.S.-based travelers. Although IHG hotels may not be quite as ubiquitous as some of the others on this list, the IHG Rewards Club program is a great choice if there are properties at your destination.
Just like the other programs, you'll earn ten points per dollar spent. While there are no blackout dates on redeeming points, you will need a minimum of 10,000 points for a free night, which is more than many other programs. If you have at least 5,000 points, however, you'll be able to use their Points and Cash option for more flexibility.
At the basic membership level, the IHG Rewards Club requires you to earn or redeem points every year to prevent your points from expiring. Once you reach Elite status, however, your points won't expire — and you'll earn more with every booking.
Hilton brands — including Hampton Inn, Waldorf Astoria, and Doubletree — offer over 5,700 locations in 113 countries worldwide. The first perk of their Hilton Honors program? While every hotel loyalty program requires you to book directly through them in order to earn points, Hilton's Price Match Guarantee means you don't have to worry about missing out on a lower price elsewhere.
As a Hilton Honors member, you'll earn the standard 10 points per dollar spent, with the option to earn more in their frequent Bonus Promotions throughout the year. You'll need a minimum of 5,000 points to begin redeeming them for free stays, but Hilton offers complete flexibility in their Points and Money Rewards, with the ability to choose — in 1,000 point increments — how many points versus dollars you'd like to spend.
As soon as you create your Hilton Honors account, you'll gain benefits like digital check-in and late check-out. Once you reach one of their elite levels, you'll enjoy perks like a free fifth night when you use rewards to book longer stays, in addition to more points per dollar. Reach Silver Status with just four stays or ten nights, and watch your rewards rack up!
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