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Editor's note: Hotels.com is now part of the One Key travel rewards program, which you can read more about here. This article is being updated to reflect that change.
Online travel agencies like Hotels.com act as the go-between for you and travel companies, helping to facilitate all your travel needs. Hotels.com — as the name suggests — focuses on accommodations. Let’s take a look at how Hotels.com works, its loyalty program and ways to save money when booking with Hotels.com.
How does Hotels.com work?
Like other OTAs, Hotels.com works to bring together a variety of accommodation options. Once you’ve input your information, you’ll complete a search and the website will return its results.
Perhaps the biggest benefit you’ll find when searching through an OTA rather than a single hotel’s website is that OTAs will gather information from multiple sources. This means that you’ll find results from several hotel chains, such as Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt and boutique hotels — all in a single search.
In contrast, searching through Hilton’s website will only return you results for available Hilton hotels.
As a member of Expedia Group, Hotels.com also offers rental car bookings.
Although you don’t need a Hotels.com account to book a hotel, in general it’s a good idea to do so. There are two reasons for this: By having an account, you’ll be able to earn rewards for your bookings. Plus, it’s much easier to track your reservations. Creating an account is free and requires some basic information such as your name and email address.
How to earn and redeem Hotels.com reward nights
Hotels.com has a very unique reward system when compared to other loyalty programs. Members receive a “stamp” for every eligible night that you stay with a hotel booked through Hotels.com. Once you’ve earned 10 stamps, you’ll be able to redeem for a free night.
The value of your free night will vary; Hotels.com uses an average of the nightly price you’ve paid in order to give you a value for your stay. This means that if you stayed five nights at a rate of $50 per night, and then another five nights at a rate of $100 per night, the total value of your free night would be worth $75.
Note that the free night doesn’t cover taxes or fees — and if the hotel is less expensive than the value of the free night you’re redeeming, you won’t receive a refund. This means it’s in your best interest to book a hotel as close to the value of your night as possible.
» Learn more: 5 benefits of booking with Hotels.com
Hotels.com elite status
Hotels.com has two levels of elite status: Silver and Gold. These tiers are based on how many nights you’ve stayed with the hotel in a calendar year and grant you extra perks and discounts at certain hotels.
Silver elite status
Silver elite status is earned after spending 10 nights with Hotels.com in a calendar year. As a Silver member, you can expect a few different benefits, including:
Free breakfast, Wi-Fi, spa vouchers or more at VIP Access properties.
Price matching guarantee until the time you check in.
Priority customer service.
Gold elite status
Earned after spending 30 nights with Hotels.com, Gold elite status grants even further benefits:
Complimentary room upgrades at VIP properties.
Guaranteed late checkout and early check-in (when available) at VIP Access properties.
These benefits are in addition to those that Silver members receive.
» Learn more: Is the Hotels.com Rewards Visa Credit Card worth it?
The best credit cards for booking on Hotels.com
Since Hotels.com is an online travel agency, you’ll want to carefully consider your credit card choices. This is because some credit cards reward you for booking directly with a company rather than through a travel agency.
When booking, choose cards that reward general travel spend.
Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card ($0 annual fee)
If you’re looking for a fee-free card for your Hotels.com bookings, the Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card leads the pack. Although its reward system is somewhat confusing, cardmembers can easily earn extra stamps from spending that leads to free nights.
For every $500 that you spend on the card, you’ll earn one stamp worth $110. This means that if you spend $5,000, you’ll end up with a free night reward valid for hotel stays up to $110. That’s a return of 2.2%, which is better than almost anything you’ll see for a no-annual-fee card.
Chase Sapphire Reserve® (For the best earning rates)
Although the Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes with a high annual fee ($550), it also features some pretty compelling rewards. This includes the ability to earn 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards® per dollar spent on all travel, including that booked at Hotels.com. NerdWallet values Chase points at 2.2 cents each, up from the guaranteed 1.5 cents per point floor. That means you’ll be getting a 4.5%-5.9% return on all your bookings.
In addition to a great earning rate, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® also offers an annual $300 travel credit, which can be used toward Hotels.com stays.
» Learn more: How does the Chase Sapphire Reserve travel credit work?
Citi Premier® Card (For good rewards and a low annual fee)
This last card, the Citi Premier® Card, features the solid earning rate of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® with a much lower annual fee ($95). The Citi Premier® Card will give you 3 ThankYou points per dollar spent on a wide variety of purchases, including air travel, hotels, travel agencies, groceries, gas stations and dining.
This makes the card an excellent one to hold for everyday use as well as Hotels.com booking. We value Citi points at 1.5 cents each, which means you’ll be getting a 4.5% return on your hotel stays.
In addition, the card offers a $100 annual hotel savings benefit on stays costing more than $500.
» Learn more: Best credit cards for online travel-booking websites
Ways to save money by booking through Hotels.com
Booking through an OTA may already be cheaper than booking directly — after all, they’re trying to grab your business. However, there are still ways to save more money, especially if you’re vigilant.
Maximize the best price guarantee
Hotels.com has a very competitive best price guarantee program. Unlike some other websites, which only allow you to submit a claim within 24 hours after booking, Hotels.com will match the best price all the way until the day before check-in.
If you’re a Silver member or above, the best price guarantee gets extended all the way until you check-in, so it always pays to scan for new pricing.
Use coupon codes
Whenever you’re online shopping, it always pays to search for coupon codes before making a purchase. Hotels.com is no different. You can sometimes find incentives to customers such as double stamps and discounted hotel rates.
Double-check your coupon code before booking. Some codes won’t allow you to earn stamps with your booking.
Sign up for a Hotels.com account for Secret Prices
Those who sign up for a free Hotels.com account unlock additional discounts compared to nonmembers. The discount varies, but you’ll see the savings denoted in your search results with a tag that states Secret Price.
Plus, once you've earned 10 stamps with the Hotels.com rewards program, you can redeem them for a free night.
How to cancel Hotels.com travel
The cancellation policy for your Hotels.com booking can vary. You’ll be able to review each hotel’s policy during the booking process; if your plans are unsure, you can also choose to filter your search so that you only see fully refundable properties.
If you’ve picked a refundable option, canceling your Hotels.com booking is simple. You’ll need to find your booking (either through your account or your confirmation email) and select Manage Your Booking.
From there, you’ll simply need to hit Change or Cancel Booking. Depending on how you’ve booked, you’ll either receive a refund or the booking will be canceled without charge.
» Learn more: How to find and book a hotel
How to contact Hotels.com
If for some reason you need to contact Hotels.com, there are a number of ways you can do so. The website has a virtual agent to help guide you through a number of processes, though if this doesn’t work, you can also chat with someone.
Finally, the customer service team can be reached at 877-903-0071.
All information about Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card is no longer available through NerdWallet.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card