Triple dipping loyalty programs for hotel bookings ↦There are three ways to squeeze some money back plus get loyalty bonuses from hotel bookings without paying any extra or being committed to one hotel chain. Firstly, you'll need to find the cheapest hotel deal, and be sure to check the rooms and conditions are identical. Chances are the price will be the same on a third party web site like Hotels.com as the hotel's site, although it may vary on some occasions.
Hotels.com has one of the simplest and best hotel loyalty programs: you get a free night after staying 10 nights and the free night's value is the average of the previous 10 completed nights (the nights don't have to be in one booking and can be different hotels). You only need to either stay one night per year or book a free night per year to prevent the earned nights from expiring. This makes it the best loyalty program for booking accommodation. In effect, this will give you a 10% discount on your rooms. It costs no extra to sign up and it will help speed up future bookings on the site details, so it's worth it.
However, before you go to Hotels.com, you should set up a Cashrewards account. Cashrewards is a site where they earn commission on sales directed through them. The advantage for using them is they share some of that commission back with you. The prices you pay for hotels, such as at Hotels.com are still the same if you go through Cashrewards rather than directly to Hotels.com. The cash-back varies but it is averages around 4-5% for Hotels.com. Use this link you'll get a $5 credit on a new account.
Finally, pay for your Hotels.com booking with a points earning credit card. As long as you are on the Australian site, the charges will be in Australian dollars. There are no international credit card transactions that can cost up to 3% extra. In Australia, some hotels also charge credit card surcharges of around 1% if you pay at the hotel.
1. Find the cheapest rate for your hotel
2. If that is on Hotels.com, write down the rate and hotel name
6. Sign in to Hotels.com, join their reward program if needed, and book your room
7. Pay for the room with a points-earning credit card if you want to avoid the possibility of paying a surcharge
This is an illustration of how following the above steps will generate benefits. Remember you are not paying any more for the hotel's advertised room rate compared to booking directly at Hotels.com without the loyalty programs. You can always test this yourself by logging out of any loyalty programs and running a search to see if the prices have changed. We will assume that you are going away to Paris for 10 days and the hotel you want to book is $200 a night, or $2000 in total.
From Hotels.com you will earn a free $200 night after completing your stay: $200
At Cashrewards, you earn 4% cash back: $80
By paying with your credit card in Australian dollars on Hotels.com instead Euros at the hotel in Paris, you avoid a 2-3% international transaction fee if your credit card has this charge: saving $40-60
Using a credit card that earns one frequent flyer point per dollar: 2000 points
Your haul: one free $200 night to use on Hotels.com at 200,000 hotels, $80 cash back, 2000 frequent flyer points and no credit card surcharge. That brings the $2,060 total (including the surcharge) down to $1,720 plus 2000 points.
In effect your credit card earn rate has now increased 20% from 0.97 per total dollar spent (surcharges don't earn points, hence the drop from 1 to 0.97 per dollar spent) to 1.16.
This approach is not limited to Hotels.com. Through Cashrewards you can earn cashback and points from the loyalty programs of sites such as Expedia.com.au or Booking.com. These programs are not as generous but will equally work for people who have a preference for them, or if they have cheaper prices than Hotels.com. As a final tip, if you do find a cheaper rate elsewhere, you can take advantage of Hotels.com price guarantee - but be sure to read the conditions first as it can be tricky sometimes.