Every major hotel chain offers its own rewards program with unique perks, from free room nights and WiFi to food-and-beverage credits; all guests can join them for free. But these programs are not equally rewarding, as financial website WalletHub explores in its annual Best Hotel Rewards Programs report, released earlier this week. Each program has its own set of rules, earning rates and point values, among other metrics; and the benefits travelers are able to claim depend heavily on the destinations they visit and the time of year they visit, how often they stay in hotels, and how much they spend per night.
Wyndham Rewards came out on top of the rankings for the fifth year in a row for travelers of all spending levels (heavy, moderate and light travelers), earning an average score of 72.40 out of 100. For comparison, InterContinental Hotels Group's IHG Rewards Club received an average score of 45.11.
To determine which company offers the best hotel rewards for 2020, WalletHub's report compares the nine most popular programs using 21 metrics -- with the five major categories being geographic coverage, the value of the rewards, earning limitations, redemption options, and policy rank, which is compiled from a variety of program details such as point expiration and ease of achieving awards.
2020's Best Hotel Rewards Programs
- Wyndham Rewards
- Raddison Rewards
- Best Western Rewards
- Choice Privileges
- Marriott Bonvoy
- Hilton Honors
- World of Hyatt
- Drury Rewards
- IHG Rewards Club
The report states that many aspects of rewards programs are fluid, but that they also rely heavily on a traveler's spend per year with the company. Some other notable findings include:
- Best Western is the only major chain whose rewards points don't expire due to account inactivity.
- Choice and IHG are the only programs offering more rewards value than they did in 2018.
- Wyndham offers the most rewards value per $100 spent among the major loyalty programs.
WalletHub warns travelers should know what they're looking for in a loyalty program to get the most out of their personal experience. The report said Marriott Bonvoy is best for international travel, World of Hyatt offers the fewest earning limitations, Best Western Rewards' points last longest, Wyndham is the best for rewards values, IHG has the most partners who take transferred points and Best Western has the best redemption options.
The report suggests that the most valuable programs also offer co-branded credit cards, which allow frequent guests to earn free nights on every purchase they make. The rewards these cards provide vary widely, just like the loyalty programs they represent.
Find detailed scoring for each program in the WalletHub 2020 Best Hotel Rewards Programs report.