In the past, star ratings were everything as far as understanding how nice a hotel was.
But today, there are several other rating systems travelers need to know to pick the hotel that is right for them.
Here are three to consider when choosing trip accommodations.
1. Star ratings
Star ratings can vary from site to site when booking reservations. For instance, Hotels.com, Expedia, Priceline and Hotwire all have star ratings, but each one has its own version of what those stars include.
For instance, Expedia considers golf courses and luxury spaces in its ratings, while Hotelstars, which is a European system for star ratings, has an exact standard for what quantifies each star category.
» Learn more: 3 ways consumers benefit when hotels compete with Airbnb
Often, the primary difference across star levels comes down to two things: breakfast and additional amenities, such as a pool or fitness center. Consider what is most important to you when booking, and make sure your hotel offers what you prioritize.
2. AAA’s diamond ratings
AAA ranks hotels in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. on a system from one to five diamonds and the ratings are made by full-time staff who visit each hotel.
A five-diamond hotel is what would traditionally be called a 5-star hotel, and a one-star hotel still has to meet basic standards for comfort and cleanliness.
As the diamonds go up, amenities go up in number and quantity. For instance, a one-diamond hotel could have a basic outdoor pool, but a five-diamond hotel may have a resort-style pool with food service.
Whether or not you choose to book through a AAA travel agent, you can find AAA ratings on their website.
When you see rankings on a one to 10 scale on sites such as Priceline or Expedia, those are often based on customer reviews.
Unlike diamonds or stars, there isn’t a guaranteed minimum standard for crowdsourced information, so it’s important to scroll through the reviews to see what customers liked and didn’t like about the hotels you’re considering.
When there is a discrepancy in star ratings between sites, reviews and customer ratings can be a great tiebreaker. When possible, if there is a particular service or policy you really want or need — such as being pet-friendly — you should contact the hotel to make sure the policy still is in place.
No matter where you stay, taking some extra time to review your hotel ratings will help ensure you’ll pick the right accommodations.
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 2021, 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