We talk a lot about the benefits of booking directly with hotels—TL;DR, you get discounted rates and earn free stuff—but we know that choosing which loyalty program to join might not be easy. So we’ve put together a simple guide to figuring out which hotel loyalty program is best for you based on your travel habits.
A few notes before we get started: Of course, all loyalty programs provide more value the more frequently they’re used, especially if you sign up for and use a corresponding credit card. All the programs we’ve recommended here are flexible and will work for different kinds of travelers, but hotel credit cards are definitely something to consider if you really want to rack up points. We give a brief outline of each loyalty program and who they’re best for below, but if you want more detailed hotel credit card number-crunching, check out this article from The Points Guy.
Your chosen hotel loyalty program shouldn’t just suit your type of travel (business or leisure, short trip or long); it should suit the way you travel. Do you demand turndown service? Do you like to eat a quick breakfast at the hotel, or would you rather go out? Do you travel to the same places, or are you a throw-a-dart-at-the-map type? We’re getting to the bottom of your travel personality to cordially present you with your best hotel loyalty option. Find your match below!
Best for: The Commuting Business Traveler
If you travel frequently and usually visit one or two specific cities, you have the good fortune of knowing exactly what you’re looking for. Instead of picking a broad and flexible loyalty program, you can pick one that suits your needs best. A few things to consider are:
1. Location: Does this chain have a hotel in a convenient location in your destination cities?
2. Benefits: Is free breakfast important or are you going to sleep through it?
3. Value: How much will the points get you?
If all factors are equal, World of Hyatt is your best bet. Hyatt isn’t as great for diverse traveling as it has only about 1,000 locations globally. However, the value of their points is greater, and it has the best top tier benefits: guaranteed free breakfast, a late check-out, and confirmed room upgrades. Hyatt is best for committed travelers because the rewards and points aren’t as flexible as some other programs. Therefore, if you’re a frequent business traveler who is sure to unlock higher tier rewards, go with World of Hyatt.
Best for: The Work Hard, Play Hard
If you travel frequently to different destinations, Marriott Bonvoy has your back. Marriott has thousands of global locations; wherever you go, a Marriott is there to tuck you in. The points are valued highly, and they take care of their top-tier members with free breakfast, late check-out, and upgrade options available at check-in. Marriott has a generous and flexible loyalty rewards system which provides the widest range of benefits for all levels, not just for top-tier travelers. Marriott Bonvoy is great for travelers who want to earn points on business trips and redeem them on vacation travel. To read more about Marriott and their Bonvoy program, read our post, The Perks of Booking with Marriott.
Best for: The Weekender
If you have “spontaneous” in your Hinge bio and you’ve hashtagged #AdventureGram on more than one occasion, then we recommend Choice Privileges. With over 6,800 properties of wide variety across the globe, you’ll always have an affordable place to stay. Better yet, you can spend your points as you would spend them: enjoying a free night at your dream resort or jet-setting across the country for a weekend getaway. Yep, you read that right—you can redeem your Choice points for more than just hotel stays. Transfer them to an airline for your next flight, or cash them in for restaurant or retailer gift cards. Choice also allows you to earn points every time you travel or shop with one of their partners, so you’ll get to the free stuff faster. If you’re the kind of traveler that likes to do it all and get rewarded at the same time, then Choice Privileges is your match.
Best for: The Globetrotter
If you’ve been known to throw a dart at a map and act on it, Hilton Honors might be the program for you. Hilton has one of the largest global footprints in the game, providing lots of options in major hubs like London and boasting properties in tropical destinations like Seychelles. A membership also gains you access to the Hilton Honors Aspire credit card from American Express, which has some of the best benefits of any travel card. You can read more about the credit card here. Hilton properties are also known for their consistent comfort and style. You always know what you’ll get by staying in a Hilton, and that’s reassuring when you’re traveling to new destinations left and right. If you’re the kind of traveler who likes to travel in style while relying on dependability, join Hilton Honors.
Best for: The Go-With-The-Flow
If you know you should be a member of a loyalty program, but you don’t want to have to think too hard about it, try Wyndham Rewards. Wyndham Worldwide has the simplest of all the hotel loyalty programs. Free nights are redeemed at a flat rate of 15,000 points, no matter where you cash them in, which means you can get a great deal on a luxury hotel. Earn your points by staying in some of their less expensive properties while on a road trip, and then redeem them for a special occasion at a Dolce or a Wyndham Grand. If you don’t mind being frugal while building up for that 5-star night, Wyndham Rewards is the program for you.
Best for: The Planner
If you typically go on one big vacation a year and it is perfect because you planned every last detail, the IHG Rewards Club is for you. IHG is great for planners and infrequent travelers because of their point redemption flexibility. You can redeem your points on purchases or free nights at the 5,000 IHG properties, with over 200 airlines, at almost all rental car companies, and even at non-IHG hotels. This might be overwhelming to some travelers. It’s a lot to consider, but not to you. To you, it means you can map out every step of your journey ahead of time and book it with points. IHG is also great for travelers that are frequently in out-of-the-way destinations because their brand portfolio includes Holiday Inn Express, one of the most popular and dependable hotel chains. So, if travel planning is what you geek out on, be sure to add joining IHG Rewards to your next to-do list.
So, there you have it. Does your travel style relate to more than one of these profiles? There’s no harm in joining multiple programs—that way you’ll save money and get perks no matter where you stay. Whichever loyalty program(s) you choose, we’re here to make your hotel booking experience simple and stress-free. When you come to us, not only can you search hotels from your favorite brands all in one place, but once you’ve found the perfect room, we take you straight to that hotel’s website to complete your booking where you’ll secure your room, rate, and loyalty points, too. At Roomkey, you’ll be sure to be treated like loyalty royalty.
Like what you see? Sign up with Roomkey to receive honest offers, industry insights, and great travel advice.