We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
Some folks book their hotels through Hotels.com, but others book directly through a hotel’s website. We’ll take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of booking through Hotels.com
Why You Should Book Through Hotels.com
1. You Aren’t Tied to a Hotel
You don’t have to be loyal to a hotel chain because you earn 1 free night for every 10 hotel nights you book regardless of which hotels you stay at.
I like that you can use the free night at any hotel because it gives you lots of flexibility.
Hotels.com has a loyalty program where you could earn Silver Elite status and Gold Elite status. But you don’t get any benefits like free internet and breakfast so there’s no point in doing a mattress run to get elite status with Hotels.com, except if you’re trying to get a free night.
2. Earn Rewards Points
Link: Welcome Rewards
For folks who aren’t loyal to a hotel chain or if you’re booking a hotel that isn’t part of a hotel chain, this is a great way to get ~10% back!
You can earn 1 free night for every 10 nights you book through Hotels.com. All bookings made through Hotels.com count towards earning the free night.
The free night value is based on the average cost of your 10 hotel nights. So if 5 of your hotels nights cost ~$85 each, 2 of your hotel nights cost ~$125 each, and 3 of your hotel nights cost ~$146 each, the value of your free night would be ~$111:
- $85 x 5 = $425
- $125 x 2 = $250
- $146 x 3 = $438
$425 + $250 + $438 = $1,113 / 10 = ~$111.
If you use the free night on a hotel that costs more than the value of your free night, you have to pay the difference. So if your free night value is ~$111 and the hotel you’re booking costs ~$156, you have to pay ~$45 (~$156 cost of hotel room – ~$111 value of free night).
While the free night covers the cost of your room, you have to pay the taxes and any applicable fees.
Welcome Rewards nights credits expire after 12 months of no activity. You can keep your account active by using a night or staying at a hotel booked through Hotels.com.
3. Get 5 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Per $1
You can get 5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent when book your hotel on Hotels.com through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall.
The number of Chase Ultimate Rewards points you can earn changes monthly. So you should check how many Chase Ultimate Rewards points are being offered through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall.
Currently, you can get 5 bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards points for every $1 you spent on Hotels.com. And you get 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on travel using your Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
So booking your hotel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall will get you 7 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent (5 bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards points for every $1 spent on Hotels.com + 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on travel on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card).
If you booked the night of November 8, 2014, at the Hilton Grand Vacations Suites – Las Vegas (Convention Center) on Hotels.com through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall for ~$85 and paid with your Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you would earn 595 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (~$85 room cost x 7 Chase Ultimate Rewards points).
Why You Should NOT Book Through Hotels.com
1. No Elite Benefits
If you have elite status with a hotel chain, you will NOT necessarily get your elite benefits when you book your hotel through Hotels.com.
So if you have Marriott Platinum elite status, and you book a night at the JW Marriott Essex House New York through Hotels.com, you would NOT get free breakfast and internet. This means you could pay ~$40 a day for breakfast and internet! So, you should decide if the cost savings to book your room through Hotels.com is worth it.
Some hotel chains like Hyatt, Hilton, and Starwood, honor elite benefits through 3rd parties.
2. No Elite Status Stay Credits
You will NOT earn credits toward elite status when you book your hotel through Hotels.com. So booking your hotel stays through Hotels.com would NOT count towards the Hyatt Diamond Challenge or the Starwood Platinum Challenge.
If keeping or earning elite status with a hotel chain is important to you, you should NOT book your stay through Hotels.com.
Alternatives to Hotels.com
But if you’re most concerned with finding the best price or most bonus points, you may want to consider:
- Google Hotel Finder | My review of Google Hotel Finder
- Rocketmiles | My review of Rocketmiles
- TravelPony | My review of TravelPony
Some folks like to book hotels through Hotels.com while others book directly with the hotels.
There are some advantages to booking through Hotels.com. You can get 5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent when you book on Hotels.com through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall. You earn 1 free night for every 10 nights you book through Hotels.com.
You can use the free night at any Hotels.com hotel! But your Welcome Rewards night credits expire after 12 months without activity. Redeeming a free night or staying at a hotel can keep your account active.
However, you do NOT get elite status benefits or elite stay credit at Marriott when you book through Hotels.com. So if you have hotel elite status, like Marriott Platinum elite status, you’ll have to pay for breakfast and internet.
You should do the math to see if it makes sense booking through Hotels.com or directly on a hotel website.