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Best Western Rewards: The Complete Guide

Dec. 21, 2018
Loyalty Programs, Travel, Travel Credit Cards
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Best Western Rewards was originally founded in 1988 as the Gold Crown Club, making it one of the oldest loyalty programs among hotels. In its first year, 200,000 people signed up to earn rewards for free nights. Today, over 32 million travelers are Best Western Rewards members, covering 13 hotel brands and over 4,000 hotels in over 100 countries, with the biggest concentration in the United States and Canada.

Despite being known as a value brand, Best Western consistently ranks high among midscale brands. In 2017, it ranked second overall in the J.D. Power North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, and it won its tenth consecutive AAA/CAA Lodging Partner of the Year award in 2018.

NerdWallet’s latest analysis values Best Western Rewards points at 0.6 cent each when using them for hotel rooms. But is it the right loyalty program for your travel style?

If you are a budget-conscious traveler who values price over amenities and wants a program with points that never expire, this program may offer a good return for your spending.


In this article:

Best Western Rewards: The basics

In 2008, the Gold Crown Club rebranded as Best Western Rewards, with a promise of offering more value for customers across the price spectrum. Some of the most popular Best Western brands include:

  • Best Western: As the legacy brand, Best Western hotels offer family-friendly rooms, free Wi-Fi and free breakfast at most locations.
  • Best Western Plus: Best Western Plus hotels offer an upgrade to the brand’s baseline hotel experience. With complimentary breakfast, free Wi-Fi and in-room mini-refrigerators, these hotels are designed with midscale travelers in mind.
  • Best Western Premier: On par with upper-midscale hotels, Best Western Premier offers amenities geared to the business traveler. In addition to upgraded rooms, free Wi-Fi and complimentary breakfast at some locations, Best Western Premier hotels also feature business centers, meeting spaces and cocktail bars on site.
  • BW Signature Collection: A smaller imprint inside Best Western, the BW Signature Collection balances premium amenities and decor with affordable rates. The BW Signature Collection offers free Wi-Fi and free breakfast to all guests.
  • BW Premier Collection: The BW Premier Collection is the smallest group of properties within Best Western, focused on creating memorable experiences at upscale hotels. Destinations in this group are comparable to boutique lodging, with sophisticated amenities that reflect their locations.
  • SureStay: Frugal travelers will appreciate the simplicity of SureStay Hotels by Best Western. With a continental breakfast and free Wi-Fi, this brand is focused on providing the essentials for the value-driven guest.
  • SureStay Plus: A step above the SureStay hotels, SureStay Plus balances low rates with amenities that business travelers appreciate the most. Guests can expect to receive free Wi-Fi at every hotel, along with a hot breakfast every morning at most locations.

Other Best Western Brands include Aiden by Best Western, Executive Residency by Best Western, Glo, Sadie, Surestay Collection and Vib.

Best Western Rewards elite levels

The program has five elite tiers, starting with base level Blue, up to Diamond Select for the most loyal guests. Points never expire for all members, and everyone signed up for Best Western Rewards gets access to an exclusive reservations line.

  • Best Western Rewards Blue: All members start at the Blue level, assigned when they sign up or don’t make elite status every year. At the base level, members earn 10 points per $1 on qualifying stays and can book awards with no blackout dates. When redeeming points for rooms, all free nights count toward elite status. Members can request an early check-in or late checkout for their stay, subject to availability.
  • Best Western Rewards Gold: Members reach Gold status after staying 10 nights or seven qualifying stays, earning 10,000 points from eligible stays, or getting the Best Western Rewards Mastercard. In addition to the Blue-level benefits, Gold members earn an additional 10% bonus points for an eligible stay, for a total of 11 points per $1. Gold guests can also receive a room upgrade, where available, and the choice of a thank-you gift or additional points upon arrival.
  • Best Western Rewards Platinum: Platinum status is achieved after staying 15 nights or 10 qualifying stays, earning 15,000 points from eligible stays, or getting the Best Western Rewards Premium Mastercard. In addition to all the benefits of Blue and Gold levels, members earn 15% bonus points per stay on top of the base 10 points per $1.
  • Best Western Rewards Diamond: Members move up to Diamond status after staying 30 nights or 20 qualifying stays, or earning 30,000 points from eligible stays. While this status offers no new benefits outside of those granted by Gold status, Diamond elites earn a total of 30% bonus points for eligible stays, for a total of 13 points per $1 spent at Best Western properties.
  • Best Western Rewards Diamond Select: At the top of the elite ladder is Diamond Select status, earned by staying 50 nights or 40 qualifying stays, or earning 50,000 points from eligible stays. Members get all the benefits of the Gold tier, while earning 50% bonus points for an eligible stay: a total of 15 points per $1 spent at Best Western properties.

Best Western Rewards lifetime status

Unlike other hotel programs, Best Western Rewards does not offer lifetime status for its most loyal guests. Repeated loyalty status must be earned every year through qualifying nights, qualifying hotel stays, or earning enough base points.

Does Best Western Rewards match elite status?

If you currently have elite status with another hotel loyalty program, Best Western will match your status in its rewards program. To qualify, you must be a member of Best Western Rewards and submit your loyalty information on the Best Western Rewards website. All status tiers are eligible for matching, including Best Western Rewards Diamond Select.

After reviewing the information you submitted, Best Western will determine your loyalty status match based on the number of nights, stays, or points required to reach the status you currently hold. Only competing hotel loyalty programs will be considered no other status, including those with airlines or other travel providers, is applicable. If your status is upgraded at Best Western, you will receive a new membership card in four to six weeks. If you have questions about the program, call Best Western at 800-444-7646 or email [email protected].

Other Best Western Rewards loyalty programs

In addition to Best Western Rewards, the hotel program offers two targeted sub-programs: Best Western Service Rewards and Best Western Rewards Business Advantage.

  • Best Western Service Rewards: This program is open to veterans, military and government personnel in the United States and Canada. Members are automatically granted Gold status and receive a discount of 10% or more with the government or military rate. Qualified members must sign up for Best Western Rewards and present an official identification card when they check in.
  • Best Western Rewards Business Advantage: This program is targeted toward small and medium-sized businesses, giving them some of the travel benefits often reserved for major companies. The business owner gains Diamond status upon approval, while employees added to the company account receive Gold status. In addition to the Diamond Elite benefits, business owners earn 10% in bonus points from all of their employees’ stays, which can be used toward future travel and qualify for members-only promotions and special offers.

Earning Best Western Rewards points

Much like other rewards programs, Best Western Rewards allows members to earn points in multiple ways. In addition to earning through hotel stays, loyalty members can pick up points for their everyday spending on credit cards, or taking advantage of partner offers.

Earning Best Western Rewards points for hotel stays

When staying at Best Western hotels, you can earn 10 points per $1 spent on an eligible stay, including taxes in certain locations outside the United States.

An eligible stay is defined as a stay that is not booked:

  • Through an online travel agency (like Orbitz, Hotels.com, Expedia or Kayak).
  • Through a tour operator.
  • With a special discount rate, including employee rates, wholesale rates, or discounted stays of longer than 30 nights.

As described above, elite members will earn bonus points on top of the base points, starting with the first stay after they reach their status. Elite bonuses are:

  • Gold status: 10% point bonus.
  • Platinum status: 15% point bonus.
  • Diamond status: 30% point bonus.
  • Diamond Select status: 50% point bonus.

For example, if you booked an eligible stay and paid $100 for a one-room night, you could earn:

  • Blue member: 1,000 Best Western Rewards points.
  • Gold member: 1,100 Best Western Rewards points (1,000 base points plus 100 bonus points).
  • Platinum member: 1,150 Best Western Rewards points (1,000 base points plus 150 bonus points).
  • Diamond member: 1,300 Best Western Rewards points (1,000 base points plus 300 bonus points).
  • Diamond Select member: 1,500 Best Western Rewards points (1,000 base points plus 500 bonus points).

Credit cards that earn Best Western Rewards points

There are two credit cards that earn Best Western Rewards points, both offered by First Bankcard, a division of First National Bank of Omaha. Both cards come with common benefits including travel accident insurance, auto rental insurance and no foreign transaction fees.

Best Western Reward Premium Mastercard

The Best Western Rewards Premium Mastercard is the more rewarding of the two cards but comes with a $59 annual fee, waived in the first year. When using it at Best Western properties, cardholders can earn a total of 20 points for each $1 spent at Best Western hotels: 10 base points from membership and 10 points from the card. Cardholders can earn 2 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases. If cardholders spend $1,000 or more in net purchases within the first three billing cycles, members can earn 50,000 bonus points. Spending $5,000 in a 12-billing-cycle period (starting from when the card is opened) earns an additional 20,000 points annually, which can be earned once per year. The card comes with automatic Platinum status and a 10% discount on flexible rates when booking at bwrcarddiscount.com.

Best Western Rewards Mastercard

The Best Western Rewards Mastercard has no annual fee, but also smaller rewards. Using the card for Best Western hotel stays, cardholders can earn 13 Best Western Rewards points per $1: 10 base points plus 3 points per $1 at Best Western hotels. The card earns 2 points per $1 on all other purchases. New cardholders can earn 16,000 points after their first purchase and 16,000 points for their first Best Western stay, for a total of 32,000 bonus points. Cardholders receive Gold status for as long as they hold the card, and members qualify for a 10% discount on flexible rates when booking at bwrcarddiscount.com.

There is also a Best Western Rewards credit card offered to Canadian residents through MBNA.

» Learn more: Find the best hotel credit card for you

Other ways to get Best Western Rewards points

Although Best Western Rewards doesn’t offer a shopping portal, there are additional ways to earn points for shopping. The program has one points transfer partner, as well as bonus offers through select retailers.

  • Teleflora: Best Western Rewards members can earn 1,250 points with every order when they use promotion code BAABW and input their membership number.
  • Vinesse Wine Club: Best Western Rewards members can earn 12,500 points when they sign up for the Vinesse Wine Club through the Best Western Rewards website.
  • Car rental partners: Best Western Rewards members can earn points for renting a car from Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, National and Sixt. Offers range from 3 points per $1 spent at participating locations, to a flat 1,000 points on every rental. To learn more about rental car partners, visit the Best Western Rewards website.
  • Transfer from Diners Club Rewards: If you have a Diners Club card that earns reward points, you can transfer them to Best Western Rewards. Moving the minimum of 7,576 Club Rewards points will earn 20,000 Best Western Rewards points at a transfer rate of 1:2.64.

Redeeming Best Western Rewards points

From free nights to shopping rewards, Best Western Rewards points can be used for many different purposes. While the primary use of points is hotel nights, members may also redeem them for gift cards and other options.

Using Best Western Rewards for free hotel nights

Best Western Rewards doesn’t have a formal award chart, but each hotel has a set amount of points you will need to earn a free night. The price of a hotel night is based on the dates requested, hotel location and brand, and can fluctuate based on season and demand. For example: A Best Western hotel may cost fewer points than a Best Western Premier, but the Premier location may offer more amenities.

To determine how many points you will need for an award night, visit bestwestern.com and select the “Best Western Reward Points” under the Rates menu.

We value Best Western Rewards points at 0.6 cent each. To make sure you are getting the most out of your points, look for awards where you can get at least that much per point, if not more.

Other ways to use Best Western Rewards points

Even if you can’t use your points for hotel nights, there are plenty of other options, such as:

  • Airline miles: Best Western partners with 16 airlines as transfer partners, including Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, American Airlines AAdvantage, British Airways Executive Club and Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards. Transfers must be done in blocks of 5,000 points, at a 5-to-1 exchange ratio: 5,000 Best Western Rewards points turns into 1,000 airline miles.
  • Car rental gift certificate: Points can be turned into gift cards at Avis, Alamo, Budget and National. Gift cards are valued at $50 each and range in price from 11,600 to 13,000 Best Western Rewards points.
  • Charitable donations: Best Western Rewards are exchangeable for charitable donations in your name to 10 different charities in the United States and Canada, including the Best Friends Animal Society, the Canadian Red Cross and the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Exchanging 500 points results in a $2 donation, with no limit on the number of donations you can make.
  • Gift cards: As with other hotel programs, points can be exchanged for gift cards at several retailers and restaurants. Prices range from 6,000 to 6,500 Best Western Rewards points for some gift cards, to 26,000 points for a $100 gift card. The award prices will change based on which gift card you select.
  • Merchandise: Almost all points can be exchanged for merchandise rewards, and Best Western Rewards are no exception to this rule. The rewards redemption mall offers many different items for purchase, ranging from watches and backpacks to home technology. Your value for points is dependent on what you choose to purchase.
  • Best Western Travel Cards: If you would rather have cash toward a hotel room instead of using points for award nights, you can exchange your Best Western Rewards for travel cards instead. Travel cards are available in both U.S. dollars and Canadian dollars, and exchange at different rates based on your elite status. Guests who don’t hold elite status can exchange 6,000 Best Western points for a $25 card, while elite members get a $25 card for 5,500 points.

Good redemption options

Hotel rooms: Despite the many options, hotel rooms still give you the best return for your Best Western Rewards points. When using points to book award nights, travelers get an average value of 0.6 cent per point. And across our research, value ranged from 0.4 to 0.7 cent per point.

Gift cards: If you have no other use for your Best Western Rewards, redeeming them for gift cards is not the worst use of your points. At most retailers, gift cards exchange for around 0.4 cent per point, which is at the low end of hotel awards. While we don’t necessarily recommend exchanging points for gift cards, using Best Western Rewards for gift cards isn’t a bad devaluation.

Bad redemption options

Merchandise awards: As with most rewards programs, using points for merchandise is usually a devaluation. Best Western Rewards are no exception. When exchanging for merchandise, points are only worth between 0.2 and 0.3 cent each. When considering using rewards to buy items, divide the lowest price over the number of points required to purchase. If the value is below 0.6 cent, it’s a bad purchase.

Airline transfers: While some hotel loyalty programs offer good options for transferring points to airline frequent flyer miles, turning Best Western Rewards into airfare isn’t a good proposition. At a transfer ratio of 5 points to 1 frequent flyer mile, you lose a significant amount of value unless your airline points are worth 3 cents or more. If you stay at Best Western properties but don’t want points, you can switch your rewards to airline miles in your profile.

Bottom line

Offered by one of America’s largest hotel chains, Best Western Rewards can be valuable to travelers who primarily stay in the United States and Canada. With an average value of 0.6 cent per point, the program’s overall value is less compared with Marriott Rewards or World of Hyatt. But for those who want a clean room and don’t mind forgoing the amenities of a full-service hotel, Best Western Rewards may hold some long-term value.

Methodology

To determine the value of Best Western Rewards points, we analyzed prices in U.S. dollars and Best Western Rewards points at Best Western-affiliated hotels from November 2018 to April 2019 in the 10 largest U.S. media markets as defined by ratings and data company Nielsen, along with five randomly selected media markets. We collected the average prices in cash and points to find the average value of points in cents. The markets are New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Philadelphia; Dallas/Fort Worth; Washington, D.C.; Houston; San Francisco; Atlanta; Boston; Salisbury, Maryland; Lafayette, Louisiana; Madison, Wisconsin; Roanoke, Virginia; and Grand Junction, Colorado. In addition, 19 of the world’s busiest cities for tourism as defined by the 2017 Mastercard Destination City Index were also analyzed from November 2018 to April 2019 to determine the average price in cash, points and an average value of points in cents. The cities are Bangkok; Hong Kong; Seoul, South Korea; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Tokyo; London; Paris; Istanbul; Barcelona; Amsterdam; Rio de Janeiro; Mexico City; Bogota, Colombia; Sao Paulo, Brazil; San Jose, Costa Rica; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Tel Aviv, Israel; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and Cape Town, South Africa.

The average value of 0.6 cent per point was determined from the mean value of all rewards across all surveyed cities. Individual city average values range from 0.4 cent to 0.7 cent per point.

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