The 10 Best Hotel Loyalty Programs
When it comes to hotel rewards, playing favorites pays off—especially when it comes to free stays and red carpet treatment. But with so many options in an increasingly crowded marketplace, deciding which brand works best for you can be challenging. We combed through the many programs to highlight the best ones for accruing points, earning free hotel stays, and getting special perks and amenities.
While it might make sense for frequent travelers to have a membership in all of these programs—especially since they're (mostly) free to join—focusing on earning elite status in just one can give you a big return on your investment of time and money. If you create a smart loyalty strategy and research each program's rules and benefits, these 10 hotel loyalty programs can deliver excellent value and ultimately help your travel budget go a lot further.
Relais & Châteaux guests are invited to become club members after they have stayed at least 15 nights— or dined 15 times—at any of the portfolio’s more than 550 properties worldwide. Perks include room upgrades and free experiences like a private guided hike at Vermont’s Twin Farms. American Express Centurion cardholders can waive the minimum-stay requirement, while Chase Sapphire Reserve card members can join after staying at a property for two nights.
In addition to a host of new game-changing perks, Hilton's loyalty program members are guaranteed the lowest available rate and can check in with the Honors app, which allows them to pick their room. They also get late checkout and a free fifth night when booking a reward stay of five nights or more. Members earn 10 points per dollar spent on stays.
IHG Rewards Club
The loyalty program for Intercontinental Hotel Group’s 12 brands, which include Crowne Plaza and InterContinental, awards free stays starting at 10,000 points (with no blackout dates). Points can also be redeemed for flights on more than 400 airlines. Every dollar spent at an IHG property reaps 10 points (except at Staybridge and Candlewood Suites, where guests get five points per dollar). IHG Rewards Club Select Chase MasterCard holders earn extra points on stays and get a free night every year.
Preferred Hotels & Resorts, which has 600 luxury hotels worldwide, including the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California, and the Opposite House in Beijing, gives its frequent guests room upgrades and late checkouts. Members bank 10 points for every dollar spent during their stay, while elite-status holders get 15 points. Every 12,500 points earns a $25 certificate that can be used toward rooms, dining, and spa services. Those who book a Last Minute Escape get double points and up to 35 percent off room rates.
The loyalty program from the pet-friendly boutique chain, which includes 58 hotels in the U.S. and new properties in Grand Cayman and Amsterdam, doesn’t operate on points. Rather, guests earn a free stay after 20 nights. Members can get room upgrades, spa discounts, and vouchers to use on mini-bars ($15 in New York City and $10 elsewhere).
Repeat visitors to the Leading Hotels of the World’s collection of 375 independent luxury properties pay a $150 annual fee to join its loyalty program, which has wide-ranging benefits, including access to members-only sales, breakfast for two, room upgrades, one free night for every five stays, and early check-in and late checkout. Plus, members can have luggage shipped to any property for free.
Marriott Rewards & Starwood Preferred Guest
Though the Starwood and Marriott programs won’t be fully integrated until 2018, members can already link accounts to reap similar benefits for both. Perks include the lowest available rates and a great app that allows self check-in and checkout and the ability to make special requests, such as airport transfers and extra pillows, and even room-service orders. They can also book thousands of local experiences and activities curated by PlacePass in 800 destinations for a fee.
Omni Select Guest
Travelers who stay at one of Omni’s 60 properties at least nine nights per year can qualify for elite status and get 10 benefits, such as free ironing service, and earn a free night after 20 nights. Members who stay 30 nights or more a year get 25 benefits, including suite upgrades and a dedicated concierge.
Frequent guests at Fairmont’s 70 hotels, including the Plaza in New York and the Savoy in London, have access to a members-only reservations line, earn airline miles from every stay, and have free use of TaylorMade golf clubs in certain locations. Elite members receive spa and dining credits, suite upgrades, and two-for-one rounds of golf at some properties. The club recently introduced special member discounts on rooms.
World of Hyatt
Hyatt’s recently revamped loyalty program allows members to earn five points for every dollar spent during a stay, which can be redeemed for free nights with no blackout dates. Guests who stay 60 nights or earn 100,000 points get upgrades, early check-in, and late checkout. Hyatt Visa cardholders receive one free night per year, earn three points per dollar spent at any of its hotels, and receive two free nights after spending $2,000 with the card.