5 Reasons I Love Hotels.com Welcome Rewards

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I’m a simple traveler who doesn’t need a lot from my hotel.  In almost all cases, I’d prefer a cash discount than a vague guest benefit like a room upgrade or bottle of water when I check in.  One of the alternatives to traditional hotel loyalty points direct from the hotel is by booking your stay through Hotels.com Rewards (formerly Welcome Rewards), a program I’m learning to love.  Here’s why:

Hotels.com Rewards is Simple

With Welcome Rewards, all hotels earn rewards at exactly the same rate: 10 paid nights = 1 free night.  If I earn Welcome Rewards, I don’t need to wonder whether that brand of hotels offer 5 points or 10 points per dollar spent and it doesn’t matter if you spend 3 nights at a single hotel or 3 nights at 3 different hotels.   Since there are almost no details to remember, it’s refreshingly simple and straightforward.

hotels.com welcome rewards 10 nights get 1 free

Independent Hotels Earn Rewards

Staying at boutique hotels or independent properties is a great experience.  They’re almost always more unique and interesting than chains, can be smaller and offer more personalized service, and may even be cheaper than a chain hotel.  Although not all hotels participate in Welcome Rewards, many of them do — giving you an option to earn rewards even when staying at non-chain hotels.  Just check for the handy Welcome Rewards information when choosing your room and rate to confirm you’re earning rewards.hotels.com welcome rewards

Welcome Rewards Offers Global Coverage

Not all hotel brands are found all over the world.  Even if you normally are loyal to Hilton, there are some cities where you won’t find a hotel.  But with Welcome Rewards?  You can stay anywhere worldwide and still work toward earning a free night.  Additionally, you won’t feel pressured to stay loyal to Hilton if Marriott happens to offer a better resort in your destination.

Easy Redemptions

Forget black-out dates, certificate fine print, and other strings.  There’s really only one restriction with your free night through Welcome Rewards: the value of your free night is worth the average cost of your 10 paid nights.  If you averaged $150/night on your paid nights, you’re given an allowance of $150 toward the free night.  If you want to redeem toward a more expensive hotel than you normally stay at, just apply your Welcome Rewards to the cost and pay the difference.

save with hotels.com welcome rewards

Cash Rebates

In most cases (but not all, so double check!), I’ve found that Hotels.com offers the same room rate for my hotel stay compared to booking directly through a chain hotel website or other online booking agency.  In those cases, throwing on a shopping portal bonus can really sweeten the deal.  That’s in addition to the free nights you’re working toward.

Read more about using a shopping portal and how you can save more on every online purchase you make.

A Few Potential Downsides to Welcome Rewards

For the sake of being balanced, this program is not perfect.  There are a few things you need to be aware of – and things that may be a downside to some people depending on your travel styles.

  1. You can’t combine coupons and Welcome Rewards earnings.  Hotels.com frequently has coupons out for 5-15% off your stay, so you might prefer to get the upfront discount rather than save up for a free night later on.  Either way, it’s an easy way to be save.
  2. You won’t earn hotel points or stay credit toward earning status at chain hotels.  Welcome Rewards is instead of standard hotel rewards, not in addition to.  If you value hotel status perks or if there’s an incredible promotion to book directly with a hotel, you might not want to use Hotels.com.  It might change on a case-by-case scenario.
  3. Welcome Rewards is not great for aspirational awards.  Since the value of your free night must be less than or equal to your average paid rate, you can’t book 10 nights at the Motel 6 and expect a free night at a 5* luxury hotel in Tokyo.  However, if you’re just looking to save some cash on your next hotel stay, it is a good option to earn 15%+ in value on every night.  I prefer cash savings to upgrading my experience, making this a good value for me.
  4. Not all rates qualify for Welcome Rewards.  For starters, some individual properties are excluded from Welcome Rewards, but even participating properties may only offer rewards on certain rate types (for example, prepaid and nonrefundable).  I’ve been able to find refundable rates that earn rewards for most of my hotel needs, but always double check your rate details and consider a second choice hotel if the rewards are more important to you than the property itself.

hotels.com welcome rewards buy 10 get 1 free

Yes, there are situations where booking directly through the hotel will provide better value, but Welcome Rewards offers consistency and simplicity as well as a broad range of participating properties.  I’d encourage you to check it out and see if it’s a program that will work for you.

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Share your thoughts in the comments!

What are your favorite ways to save on hotels and earn rewards?

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13 thoughts on “5 Reasons I Love Hotels.com Welcome Rewards”

  1. This is a great program and I am surprised, we don’t hear more about it from blogs. Right now I have all my hotel stays booked on points for next year or so, but after that I am sticking with hotels.com. There is no way, I would actively go on accumulating points , at the expense of this rebate system. What bothers me about hotel loyalty programs, is how they raise rates for individual hotels without any notice. Its not just once a year thing, so you really can’t plan ahead.

  2. @Miles for Family, the lack of notice on changes is the main reason I’m frustrated with hotel programs as well.

    @Sal, I’m still in need of trying out PointsHound now that you can double dip airline miles/hotel credit. I’ll check it out for my next set of reservations.

    @Wandering Aramean, Great points and added to my post.

  3. I have used Hotels.com and I admit its a straight forward program,but I enjoy getting airline points on other big chain websites,and I have found other websites such as PointsHound working better for me. But it’s always good to have hotel options.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Also keep in mind that some hotels have rates which do or do not earn in the Welcome Rewards program, even at the same property. Most of the non-earning rates are post-paid while the earning rates are pre-paid.

    And some rates are non-refundable, which can be a challenge.

    Worth double-checking when making the reservations.

  5. Great post and I couldn’t agree more with your views on elite status in hotel chains. In fact, I’d go further: I actively dislike chain hotels as I find them incredibly depressing – they take all the local character out of travel, instead replacing them with some form of American suburban nightmare interpretation of what people want.

    I treat Welcome Rewards as a simple 10% discount – I’m careful to ensure I spend the rewards on a somewhat more expensive stay so it’s always 10%.

  6. I like Hotels.com but I have found the prices to be higher at least a third of the time I have tried to book.

    So always double check !

    I also go through Ultimate Rewards for an extra 2 points.

  7. I’m with you Mick. I’ve seen Chase Ultimate Rewards offer up to 4 points/$ on hotels.com.

    @Traveler, I’ve dealt with them a couple of times. Most of their CS is overseas, so something is lost in translation, but they’re generally pretty patient.

  8. Beware! You have 10 days to book your hotel when you redeem your free night and you have to travel within a short amount of time to use the hotel.

    In my case, I had 2/27 to 3/7 to redeem/book my hotel and I had to travel by/use my free night by 4/22. If you have no immediate travel plans, you basically have to randomly stay at a hotel for a night so your rewards night doesn’t go to waste!

  9. What do you do when you book a room that says “double nights” as a promotion and hotels. com does not give you credit for the bonus. Sent them an email saying they hadn’t credited the extra night and they said it “takes about 4-6 weeks for the bonus night to be added……still no bonus night 3 months later, email again and they said I need to give them a ‘screenshot’ of the bonus promotion before they will credit. As if they is a way to go back in time and get a screenshot from 4 months ago….

    They are quibbling over what amounts to $15-$20….geez

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