With so many hotels to choose from in even semi-remote destinations, companies need more than just the property itself to entice guests to stay. Cue hotel rewards programs, where with every stay at a certain hotel chain, you can accrue points and perks just by being a part of their loyalty program. With so many rewards programs on the market, it’s a challenge to know exactly what to choose. At Skyscanner Australia, we’ve discovered the four best hotel rewards programs for grobetrotting Aussies.
The best hotel loyalty programs for Australians
- Accor Le Club and Accor Plus
- Starwood Preferred Guest
- Hilton Honors
- IHG Rewards
1. Accor Le Club and Accor Plus
When we asked Skyscanner travellers what their favourite hotel rewards program was, Accor Le Club was mentioned by many.
The Accor Le Club membership is free to join and members get access to sales 48 hours before non-club members, are able to check in and check-out online, and get free nights with points that never expire. Once members reach gold status, they are eligible for a free upgrade to the next best room.
If you want to join the Accor Plus program, the cost to sign up is $395 AUD per year which includes a free night in one of their hotels. Accor Plus members also get 50% off meals and 15% off drinks at certain hotels. Accor Plus members are also automatically granted a Le Club silver membership.
Accor Le Club covers over 800 hotels in 18 countries and includes chains like the Fairmont, Novotel, Ibis, Sofitel, and Mercure.
2. Starwood Preferred Guest, Marriott Rewards, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards
Earlier this year, Starwood Preferred Guest, Marriott Rewards, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards merged to form one rewards program. This program covers 6,500 hotels across 127 countries. The name of this program is set to reveal in January 2019, though we already know some of the tentative details.
Members of this merged reward programs will be able to stay for five nights and pay for four, enjoy exclusively low rates, free internet, and a mobile key. Benefits increase as you climb from basic to premium platinum elite membership. Bonus points, room upgrades, late checkout, and no blackout dates are perks once you reach gold level and up. Membership is free.
3. Hilton Honors
Hilton Honors is a free to join rewards program with four tiers of membership. All members get a guaranteed member discount, online check-in, preferred room selection, free wifi, and late checkout. As you climb up in status, you’ll also get the fifth night free, rollover nights, free room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, and more.
The Hilton Honors program covers more than just Hilton hotels, it also includes Embassy Suites, Double Tree, Motto, and Waldorf Astoria hotels in its 570 properties.
4. IHG Rewards
With over 5,000 hotels in almost 100 countries, IHG Rewards Club is one of the most expansive loyalty programs where points can be accrued and redeemed at brands like Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, InterContinental, Hampton Hotels, and more.
There are four tiers of membership and points can be redeemed for reward nights, gift certificates, airline miles, and more. As your membership increases, you will also get free snacks and drinks, priority check-in, free wifi, spa credits, kindle books, and bonus points.
IHG also holds an umbrella over the InterContinental Ambassador membership, that costs $280 AUD and allows guests to have a free room upgrade at check-in and late check out. IHG Rewards Club members can use their points to redeem an InterContinental Ambassador membership.
Tips for choosing a rewards program
While there’s no harm in joining the free membership version of those offered above, you’ll want to carefully consider which hotel rwards programs you’ll be investing your time and money into.
Average hotel room cost
If you’re a budget traveller, it may make more sense to put most of your effort into a free rewards program that has a budget brand of hotels rather than a paid luxury hotel program. This way, you can rack up points quickly and make the most of them by spending them at lower-cost hotel chains.
You’ll want to look at whether or not loyalty points expire. For regular travellers, this may not be a problem. However, for those who only travel once or twice per year, it may not be worth the stress of booking a specific hotel solely to keep your points. Those who don’t travel very often should prioritise a program where the points don’t expire.
Price vs. perks
What perks mean the most to you? If you love late check outs and wifi, there are programs that award you these perks easier than others. Compare how often you’d need to stay at a qualifying property to how quickly you’d get the perks that mean the most to you.