In its latest annual study of hotel loyalty programs, WalletHub found significant differences in the value of rewards and the rules governing the plans. Which one is best for any given individual depends on which aspects of a program the traveler values most, and how much he or she spends on hotels in a year.
The company examined the loyalty programs of the 12 largest U.S. lodging groups, and scored them on 21 different metrics. Overall, it rated Wyndham Rewards as the best loyalty program for the third consecutive year.
Why? For one thing, “Wyndham Rewards offers the most redemption flexibility, allowing members to book award nights at consistent point values and without brand restrictions,” a WalletHub spokesperson said.
But other hotel companies’ programs have their own distinct advantages. For instance, the geographical coverage offered by Marriott Rewards is tops for international travelers, since it has participating properties in 126 nations. Hilton’s Honors plan has the most travel partners – 49 in all – making it the best program for pooling and transferring points, WalletHub said.
In other categories, Best Western is the only chain whose points don’t expire when the loyalty member shows no account activity. And La Quinta members get the best return on their spending, with an average reward value of $13.65 per $100 spent.
On the other end of the scale, the Starwood Preferred Guest ranked 12th out of 12 in the value of its rewards (i.e., return on dollars spent), and in 11th place for the variety of redemption options.
You can see the study’s full results here, including a calculator that lets you see the best program for you based on your annual hotel spending level.