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May 20

Hotel points: Should I care?

Short answer: Yes

While my primary topic for the blog is frequent flyer miles, you can also get points for your oher travel, including rental cars and hotels.

Hotels are the biggies and most people ignore them.  Unlike airlines, where you’re generally stuck with one or two airlines in your home city, virtually every major city has a wide variety of hotels.  Thus, it’s harder to build loyalty to a hotel program, since there’s so many choiices.

Unlike airlines which, for now, base your points on the amount of miles you fly, hotels base your points on spend.  Thus, you benefit from paying for a higher-priced room.  And, with most programs, if you pay for more than one room, you’ll get the points for the second, or even third, room that you pay for.

Hotel programs have numerous advantages that airlines don’t, however.  The biggest among these is great levels of availability.  Since hotels base their programs on dollars spent, they are also able to set aside money to pay for these eventual rewards.  Most hotels put aside 5%, +/-, to account for eventual awards.  Thus, they are also able to offer much larger levels of award availabilities than airlines do, since they have the money to pay for it already.

And like airlines, hotels offer elite status, based on the number of nights, stays or dollars that you spend with them.  Each program is different.  But elite status generally includes goodies such as an arrival gift, breakfast, late checkout, internet access or an upgrade (among others).  Hotels know that they likely have a competitor sitting on either side of them, where airlines know that you only have a couple of ways to fly from Boston to Charleson.  Guess who is going to be more generous?

As we go forward, I will begin discussing hotel programs as well as airlines.  While most people are more familiar with airline programs than hotel programs, the hotel points are arguably more valuable.  Hang around.  We’re gonna earn you some free vacations.

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