Hotels.com: The Guide to Booking and Saving

Hotels.com is an online travel agency with its own loyalty program to help you save on stays.
Carissa Rawson
By Carissa Rawson 
Updated
Edited by Meg Lee

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

MORE LIKE THISTravel

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.

🤓Nerdy Tip

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.

Unfortunately, the program is slated for discontinuation in late 2023 as Hotels.com merges loyalty programs with Expedia and Vrbo.

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.

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)

Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 

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.

Citi Premier® Card (For good rewards and a low annual fee)

Citibank ThankYou Premier Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 

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.

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.

🤓Nerdy Tip

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.

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 2024, including those best for:

Travel Cards from Our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-5x

5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

Points

Intro offer

60,000

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Points
Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1.5%-6.5%

Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Cashback

Intro offer

$300

Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
4.7
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

2x-5x

Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

Miles

Intro offer

75,000

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

Miles
See more travel cards
Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.