The Rewards loyalty program explained

Today (December 16, 2016): Travel Series: The Rewards loyalty program explained.

Being a member of a hotel loyalty program is one of the easiest ways to get free nights, score upgrades, and receive free VIP experiences at luxury hotels. I previously published the details, with pros & cons, of the loyalty programs of the world’s most famous hotel brands, and how to take advantage of them:

  • Starwood Hotel Group: Starwood preferred guest
  • Hyatt Hotel Groups: Hyatt Gold Passport
  • Hilton Hotel Group: Hilton Honors
  • Marriott Hotel Group: Marriott Rewards
  • InterContinental Hotel Group: IHG Rewards Club
  • Jumeirah Hotel Group: Jumeirah Sirius
  • Fairmont Hotel Group: Fairmont President’s Club
  • Global Hotel Alliance: Discovery
  • The Leading Hotels of the world: Leaders Club

Today, I have a look at Rewards, the loyalty program of, one of the largest hotel booking engines in the world. It’s also one of my 4 preferred websites to book luxury hotels, and saves me lots of money while traveling. In this overview, I explain the loyalty program:

  • Membership benefits & tiers
  • Pros & things I like about Rewards
  • Cons & things I don’t like about Rewards
  • My reviews of luxury hotels booked via
  • Key points
  • Poll: what’s the best hotel loyalty program?

HOTELS.COM REWARDS : MEMBERSHIP TIERS & BENEFITS has a very simple but rewarding loyalty program, called Rewards. When you book and stay 10 nights at eligible hotels via, you’ll get 1 night free to redeem at another. works out the average value of all the 10 nights you’ve collected and gives it back to you as a free night. recently added some membership tiers to its loyalty program, although the benefits are not that great. It’s the one free night for every 10 booked nights that is the program’s main strength. You qualify for our Rewards Silver or Rewards Gold tiers when you collect enough nights in a membership year. A membership year runs for a year from the day you first created an Rewards account to each anniversary after that.

To qualify for Rewards Silver you need to collect 10 to 29 nights during your current membership year. Rewards Silver benefits include:

  • Early access to deals and promotions.
  • Dedicated agents available by email or phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Hassle-free travel guarantee: If you need to change your booking, or if you have a problem with your stay, agents can help you make new travel plans and minimise any hotel charges or cancellation fees.

To qualify for Rewards Gold, you need to collect 30 or more nights during your current membership year. Rewards Gold benefits include:

  • All the benefits of Rewards Silver.
  • Exclusive access to special deals and promotions.

  • Registration for the Rewards loyalty program is free, very easy and can be done here.
  • You can redeem your free night for a night of greater value and pay the difference.
  • You can redeem multiple free nights when you book a multiple-night stay. For example, if you’re booking a 7-night stay and have 5 free nights to redeem, you can use all of your free nights in the same booking and pay for only 2 nights, plus taxes and fees.
  • If you cancel a refundable booking before the hotel’s cancellation deadline, your free night will be returned to your account within 1 hour.
  • The coupon(s) you receive through the Rewards program (after accomplishing 10 eligible nights) can be used for bookings at almost the large chain hotels, including the world’s most exclusive hotel brands. This is especially a lucrative business when you use for both company & leisure travel: you collect Welcome Rewards coupons through business stays, while you spend them on personal travel.
  • also has an excellent Best Rate Guarantee (BRG) program: If you find a cheaper price for a night, will match that rate (and refund you the difference). All you need to do is submit an online BRG form. Finding a cheaper price is not difficult nor time-consuming at all: just use the aggregator websites Hotelscombined and Trivago, which both verify hotel prices at hundreds of other sites (e.g. Expedia,,, etc…) and show where you can book the cheapest rate.
    • The BRG is available only for exact itinerary matches, including property, room type, and dates of travel (as is the case with all other BRG programs). The BRG also includes an identical cancellation policy (which can make it harder for your BRG claim to be approved).
    • A major and unique advantage of the BRG program is that you can submit a BRG claim from the moment of reservation until 23:59 (PST) the day before your stay (this large time span is unique in the world of BRG programs).
    • Another advantage is that hotel bookings that were matched for a better price remain valid for the Rewards program.
    • Tip: Use the UK or USA site to submit a BRG claim since their response rate is remarkably faster as compared to websites of other countries.
  • gives freedom in your hotel choices. Member of hotel loyalty programs (such as Hyatt, SPG, Marriott, …) tend to stay at hotels of those brands in order to receive the extra perk associated with their elite status, but that way they often pay more and miss the opportunity to stay at the very best hotel in the area. And while elite status perks are great, they can often be achieved using other tricks.
  • has almost permanently discount coupons available (subscribe to their newsletter or simply search for them on google). Discounts on hotel bookings vary from 10% (most of the time) to a rare 15%. Unfortunately, almost all of the world’s most luxurious hotel brands are excluded from the list of hotels for which you can use a discount coupon. However, surprisingly, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts is the only ultra-luxurious hotel brand that is most of the time eligible for discount coupons on (almost guaranteeing you a 10% discount on every Four Seasons booking). Keep in mind that when using a discount coupon, your booking will not count towards a free night in the Reward program.
  • allows payment in your own currency (the choice of currency can be adjusted at the top of the website). As such, you avoid paying the sometimes heavy foreign currency taxes (up to 3%) that come with most credit cards (a hidden cost that many are not aware of).

  • The value of a free night does not include taxes and fees. So it’s never actually completely free.
  • You can redeem only one free night for each night of your booking. So you cannot use two or more reward coupons for one and the same night.
  • If you cancel your booking after the cancellation deadline, you will forfeit your free night.
  • There are some restrictions for redeeming free nights through the Rewards program. You will not collect Rewards nights for:
    • Free nights that you redeemed through Rewards
    • Free nights that you received as part of a special promotion
    • Booked nights that you do not complete due to a change or cancellation
    • Bookings made when not signed in to your account (although you can attach them to your account before you complete your stay)
    • Booking made using a coupon (which are widely available on the internet).
    • Bookings made before you joined Rewards
  • cannot reward or redeem points for hotel loyalty programs or frequent flyer programs.
  • You will not get any free VIP perks at a hotel when booking your stay via, even when you are a Silver or Gold Rewards member. If you like to get free VIP perks at a luxury hotel (who doesn’t?), you should always book your stay via Virtuoso or become an elite member of one of the large hotel chain’s loyalty programs.