The Best Travel Rewards Programs for 2018-19 (Hotels)


The Best Hotel Rewards Programs
For this year’s Best Hotel Rewards Programs, U.S. News considered factors that matter to everyday travelers, including the number of participating hotels, available member benefits, property diversity, geographic coverage and how easy it is to earn a free night. Browse through to find which of the 16 ranked programs is the right one for you. (Courtesy of Hilton Worldwide Hotels)

16. I Prefer Hotel Rewards
Preferred Hotels & Resorts’ loyalty program includes a diverse selection of participating properties and offers several perks for members, including early check-in, room upgrades and late checkout. However, I Prefer Hotel Rewards members can only earn and use points on hotel stays. To book a free night, members need to redeem reward certificates, which are worth $25 to $500 each and can only be purchased with points. Members will earn 10 or 15 points per dollar spent on hotel stays (depending on membership status), and a minimum of 12,500 points is required to earn a reward certificate. (Courtesy of Preferred Hotels & Resorts)

15. Le Club AccorHotels
Few U.S.-based AccorHotels are available for Le Club AccorHotels members, but leisure travelers who regularly vacation in Europe will likely find this loyalty program appealing. Members can earn points on hotel stays, as well as with airline and rental car partners. For every 2,000 points accrued, members will receive a hotel reward voucher worth 40 euros (about $47), which can be applied toward stays, spa treatments and dining expenses at affiliated hotels. Or, members can trade points for airline miles or use them to book experiences, such as sporting events and concerts. (Courtesy of AccorHotels)

14. Omni Select Guest
Instead of awarding points per stay, Omni Select Guest offers a free night certificate to each member who completes 20 qualifying stays. Redemption options are limited due to the program lacking airline, car rental and retail partners and featuring only 53 properties, but basic members enjoy benefits like free internet access and complimentary bottled water (after completing their first Omni stay). Additional perks, such as room upgrades and access to local experiences, are also available free of charge for elite members. (Courtesy of Omni Hotels & Resorts)

13. Stash Hotel Rewards
More than 140 boutique properties participate in the Stash Hotel Rewards program, though affiliated hotels are not available in Honolulu, Paris and other popular vacation destinations. In addition to earning five points for every dollar spent on rooms at partner hotels (or one point per dollar spent at nonpartner hotels), members can collect points for everyday purchases made with the Stash Hotel Rewards Visa Card. Few benefits are available due to the program’s lack of elite tiers, but members do have access to special hotel deals and room discounts. (Courtesy of The Chateaux Deer Valley)

12. Sonesta Travel Pass
All Sonesta Travel Pass members can take advantage of benefits like reduced room rates and complimentary internet access. However, methods of earning and using points with this ranking newcomer are limited: Members can only accrue and redeem points by staying at Sonesta properties. To cash in points for a free night, members must make a redemption request by calling the program’s customer service team or by filling out an online redemption form. Once approved, members will need 15,000 to 50,000 points to book a free night. (Courtesy of Sonesta International Hotels)

11. Hilton Honors
With more than 5,300 hotels available in a variety of domestic and international destinations, Hilton’s loyalty program appeals to travelers who want multiple ways to earn and redeem points. Hilton Honors partners with several airline, rail and rental car companies to give members more opportunities to collect points. What’s more, participants who use one of the program’s affiliated credit cards to make everyday purchases can accrue additional points. Redemption options range from cruise certificates and Amazon purchases to donating points to charity. Members who want to cash in points for a free night generally need to complete a high number of stays. (Courtesy of Hilton Worldwide Hotels)

10. Leaders Club
The Leading Hotels of the World’s loyalty program lacks the abundance of domestic properties other programs offer, but its basic membership comes with multiple perks. After paying the $150 annual fee to join, Leaders Club members receive daily complimentary breakfast for two, free room upgrades, early check-in, late checkout and a welcome gift during each stay at an affiliated hotel. Participants also qualify for comparable status in Sixt Rent a Car’s rewards program. Instead of earning points for nights, members are awarded a complimentary night certificate following four or five qualifying stays in a year. (Courtesy of The Leading Hotels of the World)

The second of two hotel rewards programs added to this year’s ranking, Small Luxury Hotels of the World’s INVITED program gives members the opportunity to earn one free reward night voucher after staying five times or spending $6,000 at affiliated properties in one year. Although roughly 520 hotels participate in the program, INVITED’s limited options in major domestic vacation destinations like San Francisco and New Orleans make it difficult for members to accrue qualifying stays. But basic membership does come with some perks, including discounted room rates, free Wi-Fi access, complimentary breakfast for two, early check-in and late checkout. (Courtesy of Small Luxury Hotels of the World)

8. La Quinta Returns
La Quinta Returns’ ties to Wyndham Rewards (as of May 2018) means members of either program can now link their accounts, transfer points and match their status until both programs merge, which is expected to occur in 2019. Participating properties are limited outside of the U.S., Mexico and Canada, but members earn 10 points per dollar spent and only need a minimum of 6,000 points for a free night in many hotels. Points can also be converted to airline miles or cashed in for magazine subscriptions, retail gift cards and more. Membership benefits include late checkout, free room upgrades and earnings bonuses. (Courtesy of La Quinta Inns & Suites)

7. Radisson Rewards
The Radisson-affiliated Club Carlson rewards program rebranded to become Radisson Rewards in March 2018. Though most program details remain the same, members now need fewer qualifying stays or nights in a year to reach elite status. Basic membership benefits are limited to reduced room rates, discounts at on-site dining venues and two complimentary bottles of water per stay. However, elite status comes with additional perks, such as free room upgrades and early check-in. To earn a free night, members will need to accrue at least 9,000 points from stays, affiliated credit card purchases or partner car hires or retail orders. (Courtesy of Radisson Hotel Group)

6. IHG Rewards Club
Nearly 5,400 InterContinental hotels participate in the IHG Rewards Club, including Kimpton properties previously part of the Kimpton Karma Rewards program. Hotel choices are plentiful in most major cities, but higher overall points minimums for rooms apply, so members will need to stay more times on average to earn a free night. But basic members do have access to several unique perks, such as in-room spa credits, free Amazon Kindle e-books and fuel discounts at partner gas stations. Plus, members with select IHG Rewards Club credit cards receive complimentary Platinum Elite status. (Courtesy of InterContinental Hotels Group)

5. Best Western Rewards
Best Western lacks the higher-end properties other brands offer, but its loyalty program consistently earns praise for its variety of earning methods and its multitude of member benefits. Ten points are awarded for every dollar spent on room rates, and additional points are available for linking partner accounts, flying with partner airlines and making purchases with an affiliated credit card. Most program credit card holders also receive complimentary elite status, which includes benefits like late checkout and free room upgrades. What’s more, Best Western Rewards is also the only program tied to a major hotel brand where points never expire. (Courtesy of Best Western Hotels & Resorts)

4. Choice Privileges
Choice Privileges’ network of 5,500-plus participating hotels makes it a great option for travelers keen on sticking to a budget. Many popular vacation destinations are home to multiple Choice Hotels outposts, and some hotels require as few as 6,000 points for a reward night. Points can also be used at select vacation rentals, Bluegreen Vacations resorts and Preferred Hotels & Resorts properties. Members earn 10 points per dollar spent on up to four rooms per stay, and membership benefits range from points bonuses to keepsake luggage tags to complimentary room upgrades. (Courtesy of Choice Hotels)

3. World of Hyatt
World of Hyatt, which replaced Hyatt’s former Hyatt Gold Passport program, continues to improve its standing on the Best Hotel Rewards Program list. Members receive five points for every dollar spent at participating Hyatt and MGM Resorts properties, with additional points awarded to elite members. Free nights in standard rooms cost 5,000 to 30,000 points, or members can use a combination of points and cash to pay for award nights. Members will also earn a free night every year if they stay at five different Hyatt brands or if they have the World of Hyatt Credit Card. (Courtesy of Hyatt Hotels & Resorts)

2. Wyndham Rewards
Wyndham Rewards participants can earn and redeem points at more than 8,000 properties around the world. Members earn 10 points per dollar spent on qualifying stays (or 1,000 points, whichever is higher) at Wyndham hotels and vacation resorts, and at participating Caesars Entertainment hotels. Additional points are available for everyday purchases made with a Wyndham-affiliated credit card. Plus, cardholders automatically qualify for elite status, which comes with late checkout and preferred room requests, among other perks. Members can also transfer points to and match their status in La Quinta Returns, which is expected to merge with Wyndham Rewards in 2019. But perhaps the best Wyndham Rewards attribute is its favorable redemption rates: Every Wyndham property costs only 15,000 points per night (or 3,000 points plus cash) to book. (Courtesy of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts)

1. Marriott Rewards
For the second consecutive year, Marriott Rewards is the No. 1 Best Hotel Rewards Program. In addition to offering multiple ways to earn points (including through affiliated credit card purchases and friend referrals), members can cash in as few as 7,500 points for a free night. What’s more, Marriott Rewards’ merger with Starwood Preferred Guest and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards programs means members can now qualify for Gold Elite or Platinum Elite status with fewer paid nights. Two additional elite tiers and new perks like Annual Choice Benefits (think: welcome gifts or complimentary suite awards) and personal ambassadors (who can assist with arranging sightseeing excursions, spa appointments and more) are available as well. (Courtesy of Marriott International Hotels)

Courtesy of USNews