Hotel booking services are obviously a lucrative game. If websites such as hotels.com can offer you 10% cashback through the likes of Topcashback and Quidco, as well as an additional 10% off (1 night free for 10 paid) through their Welcome Rewards scheme, there must be sizable profits available through commissions and wholesale agreements.
Understanding that a certain percentage of the population are compulsively drawn to earning air miles, other competitors have sprung up, offering miles instead of cashback. One such website is called PointsHound.com.
Points Hound has partnered with the following airlines:
- American Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- US Airways
- Virgin America
- Baltic Miles
- Jet Airways
When searching for a hotel, you enter the frequent flyer programme in which you would like to earn miles as well as the location and dates required. The website will then show you a list of prices for various hotels, and an amount of miles that you will receive in your chosen programme. As the website is focused on the United States and American clients, the only currency available is US dollars.
It is important to note that in most cases, you will NOT receive status credit / benefits or miles/points – hotels.com works the same way. Based on the few times I’ve done hotel searches, it appears that almost all of the time you will be better off booking through hotels.com via a cashback website… (however, since the mileage offered gets substantially better once you have accumulated more than 20 booked nights with PointsHound, it might be worth doing a few low cost hotel bookings to accumulate enough nights to reach “Level 3″…)
The exception to this might be a number of hotels that are flagged as “Double Up” on the PointsHound website. These bookings WILL give miles via PointsHound, as well as your typical miles/benefits/etc. as if you had booked directly with the hotel chain. In my experience these hotels are mostly located in the United States and not all hotels across a given hotel chain are available as “Double Up”.
So, if you’re looking for a hotel in the US, and want to stay at a hotel that doesn’t offer cashback but is offering a promotion or something that makes it important to avoid the likes of hotels.com, make sure to check out PointsHound.com and see if that particular hotel is available under the “Double Up” scheme.
Now, why do I mention the Starwood Preferred Guest Best Rate Guarantee in the headline? For those not familiar with the Best Rate Guarantee, you can read about it on the Starwood Preferred Guest website. Many chains offer similar claims or guarantees, but the Starwood one in particular offers 2,000 Starpoints or a 10% discount if you find a rate elsewhere (with a few exceptions) that is lower than the one offered by SPG directly.
Imagine my luck when I was recently looking for a hotel in Las Vegas. Because of the two Starwood promotions I’ve flagged up earlier, I wouldn’t mind staying at least 5 nights at Starwood properties this autumn. (not the easiest of tasks when I’m also trying to get my IHG Big Win stays and my Hilton HHonors gold status confirmed) The Westin in Las Vegas near the Strip was coming out at $160 + tax (almost $200 all-in) on the SPG website, too much really when I can stay elsewhere for much less – and in Vegas the quality of the room is meaningless to me because I’m always out playing poker or otherwise enjoying the city’s “charms”. (love them or hate them…)
I was also checking PointsHound and noticed that they wanted $105 + tax for the same room, so quickly sent off an email to Starwood to claim the Best Rate Guarantee, as PointsHound weren’t offering “Double Up” and I wanted the stay credit for the promotions. Within a day, I received confirmation of a rate of $67 + tax (which now seems to be the current rate on PointsHound for the night in question) and a 2,000 Starpoint bonus to hit my account after checkout! Just to double-check, I looked at hotels.com and found they wanted the same price as the SPG website, so it definitely paid to be comparing PointsHound with the hotel website!!
For 20 minutes of my time, I saved over $100 on my hotel night and will get 2,000 Starpoints as a bonus. Not a bad piece of work, again partly due to the research that goes into Flying Piggie!