From free nights to upgrades, get extra rewards with these top hotel loyalty schemes.
With a bit of research, the savvy traveller can reap a whole host of cool perks from free Internet access and late check-out, to suite upgrades and VIP experiences. Here's the low-down on the hotel reward schemes that give you more bang for your buck...
How do they work?
Most loyalty schemes work on a points system and the more you stay, the more points you earn. Points can then be exchanged for free nights, upgrades and other tempting treats. While there's nothing to stop guests joining them all (most are free to join), to really benefit from your spending power, focus your attention on one or two.
What should you consider?
Think about how and where you travel. Are you a budget hound or a luxury leisure seeker? Do you stick to the UK and Europe or venture further afield? If you travel a lot, it's worth choosing a scheme which has numerous properties all over the world and brands across all price brackets, which can harvest points from short business trips as well as lengthy holidays. Here are our top suggestions.
Where can you earn points? Previously known as Club Carlson, Radisson Rewards is the hotel loyalty programme for Radisson Hotel Group, which has 1,100 properties worldwide, including Park Inn, Park Plaza and Radisson branded properties.
The details: It's free to sign up and members immediately get complimentary Internet access. Guests can earn up to 35 points per dollar spent and free nights start at 9,000 points. Members can also bump up their points through car hire, wine clubs and by shopping at popular retail outlets like Bicester Village.
Best perks: Silver cardholders get complimentary upgrades and early check-in/late check-out privileges, while Platinum members automatically receive a free breakfast.
Where can you earn points? As one of the most recognisable hotel chains, Hilton has more than 5,000 hotels across 100 countries worldwide. In addition to the Hilton branded hotels, such as Doubletree by Hilton, you can claim points at Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotels & Resorts, too.
The details: Like most programmes, Hilton Honors is free to join and offers four levels of membership; Member, Silver, Gold and Diamond. Guests can earn 10 points per dollar spend, increasing to 20 points for Diamond members. Stay 10 nights and you'll achieve Silver status which can earn extra perks like free bottled water and fifth reward night free.
Best perks: Free Internet access is standard and free nights start from 5,000 points. Gold members can chow down on free breakfast, while Diamond cardholders can also access the executive lounge.
World of Hyatt
Where can you earn points? If you travel extensively in the US especially it's worth checking out World of Hyatt, Hyatt's loyalty scheme. You can also collect points at Andaz properties.
The details: It has four levels of membership; Member, Discoverist, Explorist and Globalist, and the earning rate is five points for every dollar spent. Free nights start from 5000 points (with no blackout periods) and points can also be spent on suite upgrades, air miles and car rental.
Best perks: Basic members still get free internet access, Discoverists benefit from late check-outs and room upgrades, while the two upper tiers have lounge access and free parking.
Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), Marriott Rewards and Ritz-Carlton
Where can you earn points? The merger between Starwood and Marriott has created one of the biggest chains in the world with 6,500 properties across 29 brands. On 18th August 2018, these two kingpins of hotel loyalty schemes become one and SPG members will see their points triple to fall in line with Marriott Rewards.
The details: Basic members will earn from five to ten points per dollar (or equivalent), while elite tier cardholders will earn bonuses on top. Members of SPG, Marriott Rewards and Ritz-Carlton Rewards will also be able to combine their points and redeem free night stays from 5,000 points or bid for Marriott Moments, unique experiences such as DJ masterclasses, Michelin-starred meals or VIP seats for Britney Spears at the O2 in London.
Best perks: Basic members receive complimentary in-room internet access and exclusive member rates, while Silver and Gold Elite members benefit from free breakfast, gifts and lounge access. Platinum members can bag free suites and an ambassador service.
Where can you earn points? Wyndham hotel group has 18 brands including Tryp, Ramada and Days Inn covering everything from budget road-side stays to swish resorts. While the luxury properties are more limited in Europe, in the US you are spoilt for choice, especially as now Wyndham Rewards members can stay in Caesars-branded hotels, including Caesars Palace and Planet Hollywood Resort in Las Vegas (resort charges apply).
The details: Wyndham Rewards members earn 10 points per dollar or a 1,000 points per stay, whichever is greater, and, unlike other loyalty programmes, it offers a flat-rate deal when it comes to free nights, so whether you choose a Super 8 or a Nobu Hotel it will cost 15,000 points.
Best perks: Wyndham is one of the more straightforward schemes to use. Members can rack up points from the brand's budget properties like Days Inn and Super 8 and then spend them at Wyndham's high-end resorts. Platinum and Diamond cardholders can even bag free car rental upgrades through Avis and Budget.
Handpicked Hotels Privilege Rewards
Where can you earn points? It's not just big multinational corporations which reward repeat guests handsomely, Privilege Rewards is the loyalty programme of Handpicked Hotels, a small UK-based group of high-end properties located across the country from Cheshire to Jersey.
The details: Repeat guests can earn a point per £8 spent and members have access to exclusive discounts. Points can be redeemed for afternoon tea, dinner, champagne or free nights. Earn 450 reward points in a year and you'll achieve Gold status and earn a point for every £6 spent.
Best perks: Gold members and their guests receive a welcome drink, a complimentary upgrade and late check-out, as well as discounts on spa treatments.
Where can you earn points? While many of the big brands work well for US travellers, for European stays it's worth checking out Accor's Le Club which includes brands such as Ibis Style, Sofitel and Pullman properties, as well as boutique options like Mama Shelter.
The details: It's free and easy to join and members will earn 25 points per €10 spend and you can start bagging free nights from as few as 2000 points.
Best perks: Classic membership gives guests 10% off standard rates, advance access to sales and free in-room Internet access. Stay 10 nights and gain Silver membership where you can enjoy a welcome drink and late check-out privileges. Gold members (30 nights or more) benefit from free gifts and room upgrades, while Platinum cardholders have access to the lounge and a dedicated customer care line.
Dreaming of a hotel holiday? Read more useful tips from us before you book
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