Hotels.com is an online travel booking tool that allows you to book over 325,000 hotels worldwide. When booking through their portal you will generally not be able to earn rewards with the hotel you're booking, but you will be able to earn 'rewards' with Hotels.com. If you're not loyal to any specific hotel and/or don't care about earning elite status, booking through Hotels.com is a great way to save money while still earning free nights and other rewards.
Signing up for a free Hotels.com Rewards account is easy to do. All they require is an email address and your first/last name. You'll then create a password and be on your way to earning free nights and more!
Hotels.com Free Nights
The primary benefit of joining the Hotels.com Rewards program is the free award night they offer after booking 10 nights through their portal. Free nights earned with the program along with the additional savings you can earn through secret prices, cash back portals, and credit cards can easily save you pretty penny when booking hotels. Just remember that booking through Hotels.com will not count towards elite status with the hotel brand you're booking with, but instead will count towards earning elite status within the Hotels.com Rewards program.
Earning Free Nights
Earning free nights with Hotels.com is the primary benefit of signing up for their rewards program. For every 10 nights stayed at hotels booked through Hotels.com, you will earn a "free night". While it's advertised as a free night, the reward given is actually a cash discount equal to the average price of the 10 nights you used to get the rewards. So if you book a night that's worth more than the value of the free night it won't technically be "free", but you can still apply the savings and pay the difference for that night if you wish.
Before I discovered the benefits of earning status and points with specific hotels, I used Hotels.com for all my bookings. During my time booking through their portal, I did earn a free night. Listed below are the ten nights that I accumulated booking through the Hotels.com portal.
If you add up the total cost across the 10 nights I booked at Hotels.com, you will get a total of $1,156.89. Divide that by 10 and you'll get an average of $115.69. So that is the value of the 'free night' I have received from Hotels.com.
Do note that any free nights booked through Hotels.com will not count towards award nights. Eligible properties are displayed on the search page and shows the Hotels.com moon symbol along with the word 'Collect Nights' next to it:
You'll also be told how many nights you'll earn with the booking on the final page before confirming the reservation. If you're not logged in, you'll be asked to do so if you want to earn rewards.
Redeeming Free Nights
Once you earn your free night with Hotels.com, you can apply it to a night of your choice. I choose to use my Hotels.com free night on my next booking.
Do note that you can redeem only 1 reward night for each night of your booking. This means you cannot apply multiple free nights to one day. So if you have two reward nights at $100 each and you have a 1-day stay that costs $200, you will only be able to apply one free night rewards toward that booking. You will then have to pay the $100 difference.
If you're redeeming your Hotels.com rewards night for something cheaper than the value of the free night, you will forfeit the difference. So if you apply a free night with a value of $150 towards a 1-day stay that costs $100, you will lose that $50. So to get the most value out of your free nights, I recommend getting the full value out of them by applying them to nights that are close to equal (or more) in value.
Hotels.com Elite Status
Hotels.com Rewards members can earn elite status with the program based on how many nights are booked within a membership year. A membership year begins from the day you sign up for an account. Hotels.com elite status does not operate on calendar year. You can check your membership year dates by looking at your Hotels.com Rewards profile.
Earning elite status with Hotels.com doesn't provide as many benefits as you would get from the leading hotel chains, but it's a nice touch for those loyal to Hotels.com. The program is split into Hotels.com Rewards Member, Silver, and Gold membership.
Hotels.com Rewards Member
You'll become a Hotels.com Rewards Member when you sign up for a free Hotels.com account. This gives you the ability to earn a free night after staying 10 nights and access to Hotel.com's Secret Prices.
Free Reward Nights
This is the primary perk of the Hotels.com Rewards program and you'll have access to it just by signing up for a free account. Just make sure that you're signed in when booking your hotel nights!
Secret Prices are lower prices that Hotels.com has negotiated for you, the customer. They're basically additional discounts when booking hotels though your Hotels.com account. As a member, you will still receive Hotels.com Reward Nights for booking these type of hotel rates. You will also be able to redeem your free night on nights that feature Secret Prices. Outside of signing up for an account, you can also gain access to Secret Prices by downloading the Hotels.com app.
Silver Membership is next up in the Hotels.com Rewards program. You can become a Silver Member after you book and stay 10 nights or more during your current membership year. Silver members receives the perks that come with being a Hotels.com Rewards Member along with the following additional perks:
Hotels.com Silver members will receive exclusive benefits at select hotels such as complimentary breakfast, airport transfers, and spa vouchers. Properties that offer benefits like these will show a gift box icon when booking.
Hotels.com Silver members will receive free WiFi when booking with Hotels.com's VIP properties. These are properties that have been rated highly for excellent service.
Hotels.com Silver members will also receive priority customer service, hassle-free travel guarantee, and price guarantee plus. The most useful benefit out of these three will be the price guarantee plus in which Hotels.com match or refund the difference if you were to find a better deal for the same exact booking elsewhere.
The highest status in the Hotels.com Rewards program is Gold. You can obtain Hotels.com Gold Status after you book and stay 30 nights or more during your current membership year. Gold members receive the benefits of being a Silver member along with the following additional benefit:
VIP Room Upgrades & Check In/Out Privileges
Hotels.com Gold members will receive a complimentary room upgrade when booking at VIP hotels. Gold Members will also be able to enjoy early check-in and late check-out (subject to availability) when staying at Hotels.com VIP Access properties.
Best Credit Cards For Hotels.com
Hotels.com doesn't have a co-branded credit card as of yet. The best credit cards for purchases made through this third party site will be credit cards that feature the travel category. Some examples of cards in the United States includes:
- Wells Fargo Propel Card (3x Travel)
- Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x Travel)
- Sam's Club Mastercard (3% Travel)
- Citi ThankYou Premier Card (3x Travel)
- U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Card (3x Travel)
If you want to find the best travel credit cards based on your own spend habits, you can use the Best Credit Cards For Travel Purchases Calculator to get a list!.
Hotels.com & Cash Back Portals
You can use cash back portals such as Rakuten to earn additional savings when booking anywhere on the Hotels.com website. This is done by going to the cash back portal's website, finding Hotels.com, and using the portal's link to start your booking. The Hotels.com link within cash back portal website will take you directly to the Hotels.com homepage so you can book your hotel as you normally would.
I recommend using cash back portals for all of your online shopping. Rakuten features over 2,500 stores that you can earn additional cash back with allowing you to easy double and triple dip your rewards. You can sign up through The Point Calculator to earn additional cash back on your first purchase made through the Rakuten cash back portal.