Best Hotel Rewards Program

How we picked the programs to evaluate:

To be eligible, a hotel brand had to have properties in the majority of states in the U.S. and offer a loyalty program with a publicly available rewards search calendar. Rewards booking availability from 15 days to eight months from the time of search was also required.

Seven hotel brands met these requirements: Best Western, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, Radisson and Wyndham.

How we chose the winner:

We compared the rewards rate, the value of the elite status program and the fee structure for each program. We rated each of these factors separately, then determined an overall rating based on the weighting described below.

How we rated and weighted each factor:

  • Rewards rate (30%). We determined the dollar value of each program’s rewards points and the earnings rate of points. To determine the rewards rate, we multiplied the value of each point by the earnings rate and then multiplied by 100. For example, if a hotel’s rewards points were worth $0.01 apiece (the value of rewards points) and 10 points were earned per dollar spent (the earnings rate of points), its program would have a 10% rewards rate. (In this example, the two equations would be: first $0.01 x 10 = 0.1, then 0.1 x 100 = 10, or 10%.)
  • Elite status value rate (30%). We determined both (a) the value and (b) the cost of earning elite status with each program, and determined an overall value by dividing a by b.
  • Resort and parking fees (30%). We determined the average resort and amenity fees across each program.
  • Pet fees and policies (10%). We rated pet friendliness on four factors: (1) the percentage of hotels where pets are allowed, (2) average pet fee, (3) average pet fee as a percent of room rate and (4) the existence of a “pet-friendly” search filter on the website.

How we assigned star ratings:

For each factor, we subtracted the lowest value among all programs from the highest value among all programs to determine the range. We then split this range into five separate “star rating” ranges. We assigned each hotel program an appropriate star rating based on where its value fell in the range.

How we verified our data:

We independently spot-checked data collected on rewards bookings to ensure accuracy. Information about loyalty programs was verified on the hotels’ websites.