Which Hotel Program Has The Most Rewarding Q3/Q4 2018 Promotions?

Back in May, I did some analysis to try calculating which of the hotel promotions at the time were the most rewarding. Some of the results were surprising, although the results could’ve been different if they’d been calculated under different scenarios.

Now that all of the large hotel chains have announced details of their promotions for the end of 2018, I figured it was time to analyze these new promotions and see which ones are the best this time around.

Kimpton The Gray hotel room

As noted in that original post, it’s impossible to do an apples-to-apples comparison for numerous reasons:

  • Promotion dates are different between chains.
  • Hotel promotions are sometimes targeted.
  • Some bonus points are awarded per night, others are awarded per stay, others are awarded on a cumulative basis, etc. Your types of stay and length of stay can therefore affect how rewarding a promotion is.
  • The cost of stays can vary depending on what brand you’re staying at. This in turn can affect how many bonus points you earn if they’re calculated based on your spend.

To keep things consistent, I’ll use the same scenarios and costs as last time. Each hotel’s promotion will be assessed based on the following three scenarios:

  • 5 stays of 1 night.
  • 1 stay of 5 nights.
  • 3 stays: 1 for 1 night, 1 for 3 nights and 1 for 5 nights.

With regards to the cost per night, I’ve gone with $131.56. That’s the figure Nick used for his posts about which hotel loyalty program in general was the most rewarding.

To then calculate the value of each set of bonus points, I’ve used the Frequent Miler Reasonable Redemption Values for each chain.

As before, the best hotel promotion will vary based on the promotion periods, cost of stays, length of stays, etc. This is simply an attempt to assign some kind of value. You can also always find a list of the current hotel promotions here.

Here are the results.

Hilton

First up – Hilton. Their current promotion offers triple base points at luxury or resort properties and double base points at all other properties on every stay from September 10, 2018 to January 3, 2019. At most Hilton brands, you earn 10 points per dollar spent.

Hilton Double Triple Points

Here’s how many bonus points you’d earn in each scenario based on a $131.56 room rate along with their value. To try to be fair, in the first scenario I’ve assumed two of those one-night stays are at luxury or resort properties. In the second scenario I’ve assumed that one stay is at a regular property. With the third scenario, I’ve assumed the three night stay is at a luxury or resort property.

  • 5 stays of 1 night – 9,209 bonus points. RRV = $41.44
  • 1 stay of 5 nights – 6,578 bonus points. RRV = $29.60.
  • 3 stays: 1 for 1 night, 1 for 3 nights and 1 for 5 nights – 15,787 bonus points. RRV = $71.04.

This current Hilton promotion is the same as the one from back in May. The only difference is the opportunity to earn triple base points at luxury or resort properties. It’s that difference which has increased the overall return for the first and third scenarios.

Marriott

The new MegaBonus promo for Marriott offers 2,000 bonus points per stay on stays of 2+ nights and 1,000 bonus points per brand starting from your second brand.

Marriott MegaBonus In More Places

Here’s the return you’d get in each of the three scenarios. With the first scenario, I’ve assumed you stay at three different brands. In the third scenario, I’ve assumed you stay at two different brands.

  • 5 stays of 1 night – 2,000 bonus points. RRV = $14.40.
  • 1 stay of 5 nights – 2,000 bonus points. RRV = $14.40.
  • 3 stays: 1 for 1 night, 1 for 3 nights and 1 for 5 nights – 5,000 bonus points. RRV = $36.00.

Their promotion back in May was lame. As the results above show, their latest promotion is even worse.

Hyatt

Hyatt has been inconsistent with their promotions over the last year. A lot of them have only rewarded you when staying at specific pairs of brands (e.g. Hyatt Place and Hyatt House / Grand Hyatt and Hyatt Regency).

They did recently launch a much better promotion offering bonus points when staying 5/10/20/30/40 nights. A great extra feature of this promotion is that the bonus points are cumulative. For example, you earn 2,500 bonus points when staying five nights and 5,000 additional points when staying ten nights. That means staying ten nights earns a total of 7,500 bonus points.

This promotion makes our calculations easier as there’s no need to make assumptions about the types of stays. Here’s the return from each scenario.

  • 5 stays of 1 night – 2,500 bonus points. RRV = $43.50.
  • 1 stay of 5 nights – 2,500 bonus points. RRV = $43.50.
  • 3 stays: 1 for 1 night, 1 for 3 nights and 1 for 5 nights – 2,500 bonus points. RRV = $43.50.

This promotion is therefore less rewarding than the one we assessed last time, but still better than Marriott’s across the board. In the final scenario, staying for one additional night would have resulted in ten nights total and so an additional 5,000 World of Hyatt bonus points would’ve been earned.

IHG

IHG makes these kind of calculations much harder as they send out targeted promotions. This time around their promotion is split into two parts. Everyone earns double points starting from their second stay, plus many people received additional tasks to complete to earn more bonus points.

My wife’s targeted offer was awful, but mine was much better. I’ve therefore moved a couple of stays over to IHG given how rewarding my targeted offer is.

IHG Double Points Plus More - Stephen

The scenarios below have been calculated based on my offer. I’ve assumed in both the first and third scenarios that I’d be staying at three different brands.

  • 5 stays of 1 night – 43,662 bonus points. RRV = $248.87.
  • 1 stay of 5 nights – 0 bonus points. RRV = $0.00.
  • 3 stays: 1 for 1 night, 1 for 3 nights and 1 for 5 nights – 48,925 bonus points. RRV = $278.87.

The results above illustrate why I was so keen on moving a couple of stays over to IHG. The third scenario would’ve been even more rewarding if the second and third stays were both four nights each rather than three and five nights. If that was the case, the bonus for the third task would be received and so 60,925 bonus points worth $347.27 would be earned.

Radisson

Radisson Rewards just launched a promotion offering 15,000 bonus points on your next stay, even stays of one night. It’s meant to be a targeted promotion, but I was able to register a non-targeted account and received an email confirmation of my enrollment.

Radisson-Rewards-15000-Bonus-Points

That’s the only bonus on offer which makes the following calculations nice and simple.

  • 5 stays of 1 night – 15,000 bonus points. RRV = $57.00.
  • 1 stay of 5 nights – 15,000 bonus points. RRV = $57.00.
  • 3 stays: 1 for 1 night, 1 for 3 nights and 1 for 5 nights – 15,000 bonus points. RRV = $57.00.

Funnily enough, those are the exact same returns calculated from their promotion back in May.

Choice

The latest promotion from Choice Hotels offers 5,000-8,000 bonus points after staying twice within the promotion period. The way it works is that Choice Hotels awards between 5,000 and 8,000 bonus points so that you’ll end up with a total of 8,000 points once your base points have been taken into account.

You earn 10 points per dollar which means you’d earn 1,316 points per night based on an average room rate of $131.56. That therefore lowers the number of bonus points you’d be awarded. The current promotion also seems to limit you to earning the bonus points only once.

Choice Hotels Fall 2018 Promo

Here’s how the Choice Hotels promotion works out in each scenario.

  • 5 stays of 1 night – 10,738 bonus points. RRV = $86.98.
  • 1 stay of 5 nights – 0 bonus points. RRV = $0.00.
  • 3 stays: 1 for 1 night, 1 for 3 nights and 1 for 5 nights – 5,000 bonus points. RRV = $40.50.

As you can see, promotions from Choice Hotels encourage gaming and discourage loyalty. You’re actually rewarded less for staying nine nights across three stays than by having four one-night stays, while a five night stay earns no bonus points at all.

Wyndham

Finally, we come to Wyndham. They might have something in the pipeline, but as far as I’m aware they’re not currently running any promotions.

  • 5 stays of 1 night – 0 bonus points. RRV = $0.00.
  • 1 stay of 5 nights – 0 bonus points. RRV = $0.00.
  • 3 stays: 1 for 1 night, 1 for 3 nights and 1 for 5 nights – 0 bonus points. RRV = $0.00.

Results

Based on all of the above calculations, here’s a table listing the results. The blue cells highlight the hotel chain with the most rewarding promotion for each of the three scenarios.

Hotel Promotion Values Q3-Q4 2018.

Other than Wyndham which isn’t running a bonus points promotion right now, Marriott’s promotion offers the lowest return in all three scenarios. That’s not surprising given they’re running what I called a lackluster promotion. It might surprise some that IHG offers the best reward in two of the three scenarios, but that was the case last time too.

As for the others, the promotions for Hilton, Hyatt and Radisson are giving pretty good value across the board, as is Choice so long as you stay at least twice.

Conclusion

The results once again show something important – you need to calculate the value of the promotions based on your own upcoming stays and how you’re targeted. Like I mentioned earlier, my wife’s offer from IHG was nowhere near as rewarding as mine, although it still would’ve marginally beaten out Radisson for first place in the first scenario.

The Hyatt offer meanwhile is incredibly lucrative for us based on our upcoming stays, so it came at the perfect time. We have 42 nights booked during the promotion period (for stays we actually need) that are costing us a total of 132,000 points, $905.16 and two free night certificates. Their promotion means we’ll get 60,000 of those points back, giving an average net cost of 1,714 points + $34.98 per night (plus two free night certificates), as well as the regular points we’ll earn from the paid stays. We completely lucked out with how generous that promotion is at the top end and how the promotion period perfectly aligned with a ton of Hyatt stays we’d already booked.

If you’re someone that likes to stay in – and can afford to pay for – luxury or resort hotels, Hilton’s offer might be a no-brainer. With triple points on offer, you can earn up to 54 points per dollar when paying with the Amex Hilton Aspire card, while the Diamond status that comes with the card should enhance your stay further.

One final thing to remember is that it’s important to not consider hotel promotions in isolation. Regular point earning opportunities, status benefits, elite night credits, portal cashback, Amex Offers, credit card rewards, etc. also need to be taken into account as that can affect the overall value proposition.

Question

Have any of these promotions influenced your booking habits for the last few months of the year? Let us know in the comments below what your thoughts are about the promotions.

About Stephen Pepper

Stephen Pepper is on a 5 year, 50 state road trip with his wife Shae and their dog Truffles. Finding opportunities to earn miles and points is one of the ways they can afford to do this, so he'll try to help you do the same for your own travels.

More articles by Stephen Pepper »

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Ric Garrido
Guest
Ric Garrido

For Choice Privileges you say, “The current promotion also seems to limit you to earning the bonus points only once.”

That is incorrect.

Promotion FAQ state, “You can earn an unlimited number of bonuses! After you register, you’ll earn points for a future free night after every two separate qualifying stays.”

$131.56 x 2 stays = $263.12 = 2,631 base points. The promotion for 8,000 points means 5,369 bonus points earned.

Your example of 5 stays = 10,738 bonus points.

But $131.56 is an arbitrary room rate. There are hundreds of Choice Hotels with $50 to $60 per night room rates.

Spend $120 for two stays and earn 6,800 bonus points per stay. The amount of spend needed to earn 8,000 Choice Privileges points is less than with most other hotel chains due to lower market segment hotels with far lower average nightly rates than say Hilton, Hyatt, IHG and Marriott.

There are dozens of Choice hotels where 8,000 points can be a $150 to $400 night.

My local Comfort Inn Carmel by the Sea is only 8,000 points for Friday Sep 28 for a room with a posted rate of $478.29 after tax.

In past two weeks I have redeemed 8,000 points, 6,000 points and 8,000 points for three different Choice Privileges stays in three different cities with after tax room rates of $329, $226 and $168.

London and Paris both have several hotels with reward nights at 8,000 points during December/January holiday season.

toomanybooks
Guest
toomanybooks

Agreed. On the right Choice stays during these 8000 point promotions, the return can easily exceed 100%.

Lancelot
Guest
Lancelot

I have 47 nights on the year with Marriott so the promo hasn’t changed my loyalty to Marriott, but what it will do is likely make me look to see if there’s other brands of Marriott properties in the cities I’ll be staying in to pick up the bonus points.

StarGuy
Guest
StarGuy

@Lancelot Marriott program sucks, SPG was so much better. have fun with that. marriott is trash

losingtrader
Guest
losingtrader

Best program is IHG Ambassador. The best unpublished benefit is full diplomatic immunity while at the hotel

Simon
Guest
Simon

Can you elaborate? “The best unpublished benefit is full diplomatic immunity while at the hotel”

Greg The Frequent Miler
Admin

He was joking. FWIW, I thought it was a good joke.

losingtrader
Guest
losingtrader

I’m now wondering what crime Simon committed

Simon
Guest
Simon

Haha – I thought it was code for some special treatment, as I’ve been considering adding Ambassador to Spire to see if there is a measurable difference (to Spire only)…

losingtrader
Guest
losingtrader

It’s worth paying for it with cash for the second weekend night free and the 15,000 points alone, but there’s an extra 10% of points back on reward stays I don’t think is an advertised benefit…in addition to the 10% you get back from the credit card.

IHG has horrendous IT (the 4-digit PIN is absurd), and they have been known to give extra points rebates.

Simon
Guest
Simon

Thanks for the additional DP’s & insight.

Glenn
Guest
Glenn

The Marriott one appears to be targeted. I can’t register for it and neither can my wife.

Probably
Guest
Probably

In order to not get disappointed with Judas Starriott it’s best to keep expectations low.

On the other hand, I look forward to getting triple points at Hilton plus earnings on the Aspire and Amex offer cash back.

Bern
Guest
Bern

I’m planning 12 days in Asia/Thailand with family next month..

Hilton still triumphant as the most lucrative program for lower rates/higher points/miles return.
You missed the 2500 Lufthansa miles per stay ending in 10/31. This is extremely valuable when stacked with x3 points.
Base points is x10, x.8 for being Gold, x.2 AMEX Ascend card, 2x for regular hotels, 3x for Conrad/WA/Resorts, 25% SEA member sale (on avg conrad’s rate in Bangkok is about $120/night). In terms of rates and returns, this gives me the best point rewards. The only issue is deciding if I want to check in and out every night on my vacation just for 12×2500 (30000miles) – 1 free econ flight in Europe.

Even for Marriott, if I were to double dip (my accounts are pre-merged), 1 room for us and 1 room for parents per reservation, we’ll only get 75k points in total if we go all out and stay at luxury properties – Luxury Collection/W hotels (avg in BKK is about $250) High spend, poor returns. Though we get the comfort of not moving every night..

IHG is out of the box for us, our promo only cap us at 15k points.. so NADA..

Philip Fenske
Guest
Philip Fenske

What is RRV? Sorry, we’re not all part of the clique, article seems meaningless without that info.

Vicky
Guest
Vicky

Have to say this highlights how absolutely lame Marriott promotions are. If you increase nightly rates to $400, which is what my husband is routinely paying, Marriott earnings remain pathetically lame whereas Hilton charges ahead. Personally I don’t mind IHG as normally can use the Accelerate promos to get something worthwhile out of it. What this does reinforce is its best to be a free agent and do what suits your wallet.

Peter Larsen
Guest
Peter Larsen

For me, IHG has the most disappointing offer: 3,200 points Book 2 stay(s) with the IHG App; 6,600 points when you book 2 Bonus Points Package stay(s); and 4,400 points Stay 4 time(s) using your corporate rate. That’s it.

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Abj
Guest
Abj

Don’t count on Radisson paying out the 15.000 points. The last time they ran this promotion (winter 2017/18), i sign up, got an confirmation email, but never any points. I contacted Radisson multiple times, but always got the same answer: “you are not targeted for this promotion”. Arguing i got a confirmation mail from Raddison saying i would get 15.000 points for my next stay din’t help at all. I’m done with Radisson, complete scam.