Hotels.com Rewards is the reward scheme operated by Hotels.com, the main accommodation website of the Expedia travel group. Because you are not tied to one specific hotel chain, you can choose from more than 500,000 properties worldwide! This allows you to book your preferred hotel in each destination, instead of being tied down to one or two major chains (and the sub-optimal choices that sometimes entails).
Hotels.com Rewards is also the most simple and straightforward rebate scheme available.
What Do I Get From Hotels.com Rewards?
It is pretty simple… book 10 nights and receive 1 night free.
Now… Hotels.com is not so crazy as to allow you to book 10 nights at a cheap hostel and then redeem for a free night at the Conrad or Park Hyatt in the Maldives! The average rate you paid for your ten nights becomes the amount that you can credit towards your “free night”. In essence, you are receiving a 10% rebate on your paid nights.
There are four major elements to keep in mind:
- You cannot pay any taxes or fees with your Hotels.com Rewards balance
- If you choose a hotel that costs less than your Hotels.com Rewards balance, you lose any unspent amounts. (i.e. don’t spend your £200 balance on a £170 hotel room)
- Your Hotels.com Rewards balance can only be applied to ONE hotel night. (i.e. you can’t spend a £200 balance on a 2-night stay costing £100 per night without wasting £100)
- Unless you book your reward night via a Hotels.com App, you will be charged an additional £4 fee
To be sure to collect credits towards your reward night, you can filter your searches based on participation in Hotels.com Rewards. (which is nearly all of them to be honest). But be aware that using many money off coupons can mean that your hotel stay won’t count towards Hotels.com Rewards.
The Bright Side… You will want to make judicious use of your “reward” night – it doesn’t have to be every 11th night. For example, spending a £100 credit on a £400 room means that you forfeit a potential £40 (10% of £400) you could be accumulating for your next reward credit.
Do My Credits Expire?
Yes. You must book a hotel via Hotels.com at least once every twelve months.
The Bright Side… If you have some credits about to expire, you can always book one night at the cheapest prepaid hotel you can find, perhaps somewhere in India. It will bring down your average room rate substantially, but you will avoid losing your credits. Unlike the major hotel chains, Hotels.com do not care whether you actually check in to the hotel, as long as you’ve paid for it in advance.
Can I Still Earn Points and Elite Status Credit at the Major Chains?
The major disadvantage of Hotels.com is that it is considered a third party booking by the major hotel chains. As a result, you won’t receive points or any of the other perks available from booking direct.
In a few rare cases, a chain hotel might honour your elite benefits. Of course, if you get into the habit of booking chain hotels via Hotels.com, you won’t retain your elite status for long…
Is There an Elite Status Scheme?
Yes, but qualifying for elite status is based on anniversaries of the exact date that you joined Hotels.com Rewards.
- Silver status is earned at 10-29 nights per membership year
- Gold status is earned with 30+ nights per membership year
The Bright Side… I do not have enough personal experience to know whether Hotels.com actually delivers on some of the elite perks they promise, such as room upgrades and free breakfast at select properties. I prefer the guaranteed perks of the major chains.
Can I Earn Cashback or Avios with Hotels.com Rewards?
The major cashback websites in the UK – Topcashback and Quidco – offer approximately 2% cashback when booking Hotels.com whilst logged in (to earn Rewards credit).
You can also earn 3 Avios per £ spent by booking via this special British Airways / Hotels.com website. You can also earn 6 Avios per £ by booking as a guest – i.e. declining to earn Hotels.com Rewards credits – but it makes far more sense to earn the 10% rebate instead of an additional 3 Avios…
The 30-Second Lowdown
Hotels.com Rewards is the hotel loyalty programme for those people who simply can’t be bothered with hotel chain loyalty programmes! It is simple, easy to understand and its major benefits do not require you to spend dozens of nights per year in hotels.
Because of price parity agreements with the major hotel chains, you will rarely pay substantially more by booking through Hotels.com. However, you will only get what you pay for. No elite benefits such as free breakfast, lounge access, room upgrades, etc. You also must forego earning points, elite status credit, etc.
One great unofficial perk of Gold membership is they will get you a refund on a non-refundable rate through the call centre. I’ve only done it four times but every time they have managed.
That would be useful to know – the only way I have managed that was to change a single night non-refundable into a 2-night stay, which I could then cancel!
I’m not sure it’s fair to say it’s the programme for those who can’t be bothered, rather those, like me, who won’t make enough stays to achieve status in any single chain.
There are other advantages, such as being able to pay in your own currency on a points earning card. Hotels.com occasionally has its own status perks, such as free drinks and even room upgrades, and in our experience when advertised they do materialise.
One major snag is trying to decipher the room you are actually getting and very often what is ostensibly the same room description will be listed at several different prices – and h.com customer services are not much help in decoding it.
It is also not entirely the case that you can only use your ‘reward balance’ on one night. It is one ‘reward night’ per night – so you can use 2 nights towards a multi-night stay, ensuring that each reward night is applied in the most efficient way.
Horses for courses but it works for us as leisure travellers.
Yes the room types can be confusing, and it’s not unusual to be offered the same room and terms at different prices on the same enquiry. But completely agree with your last line, as a leisure traveller it works for me.
As a Gold member I have had the same experience as Simon, having been able to secure a refund on non-refundable bookings.
They also price match any subsequent reduction in the cost of your accommodation on their site. It used to be the case that you had to ring the gold line and ask for a refund of the difference but, if you spot a reduction, it can now be done automatically through the change booking link and selecting the same room again – I remember suggesting this as a member of their consumer panel a while ago.
A word of caution over booking a cheap non-refundable night to maintain credits – if the hotel reports your no-show then hotels.com do actually void it as a night credit towards the reward scheme and you would presumably lose other credits about to lapse.
Is VAT charged for hotel stays?
This is one downside of h .com for business. The VAT situation is somewhat odd, and often you will not be able to get a VAT invoice.
Thanks for clarifying, Doug. I found that with another hotel booking site, and that’s a no-go for business bookings as far as I’m concerned.
Sayling. One way round it is some hotels will give you a VAT invoice directly, even though the booking was from Expedia, others won’t. No idea how this works, and the legitimacy of the VAT receipt, I’m certainly no expert in this area, or any other area really 🙂
I’m a regular user of hotels com. I find the pricing is almost always competitive with direct, and often they have a deal including breakfast anyway, so not all chain status benefits is lost. When I was a gold I had an issue with a room, it was Florida and didn’t have the balcony specified. Hotel could do nothing said were fully booked, so I called hotels com and after some effort with the hotel to find a room with a balcony failed they gave me two choices, they’d do their best to locate a room locally with a balcony and I could move, or they’d refund the entire 4 night stay if I wanted to manage without. Excellent service recovery I thought. I also think they are one of the more reliable payers when you come through a points referral site like BA or Virgin shopping portals. The rewards nights are real and work well, but do remember to use them on rooms that costs around what the reward night is worth, or you lose out.
Downsides. I definitely feel when you come through any 3rd party agency hotels give you the less desirable rooms, albeit ones that are what you paid for. Also, for business the VAT thing, which may or may not be a problem for you.
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