Do you want a really complicated number crunch download of the best hotel loyalty programs by percentages and variables? There's enough out there. What you really want is a simple breakdown of which hotel chain is going to treat you the best and give you the most value for your points. Keeping things simple, here are a few of the best options, which will reward your loyalty with free stuff, free nights and some meaningful benefits...
Starwood Preferred Guest
SPG, as many people like to call Starwood's loyalty program, is a great group to get in with. Not only do they have wide ranging properties from top of the line St. Regis chain, to luxury boutique hotels, W's and great brands like Sheraton, they have a really lucrative rewards program with tons of ways to use your points in ways you'll actually want to!
You Can Use Your Points For: Airline miles with over 20 airlines at a 1:1 ratio, room upgrades, cash + points stays, complimentary stays, SPG moments experiences including concerts, dinners, sporting events and priceless opportunites.
Elite Benefits Include: If you make it to elite status, you'll instantly enjoy money saving benefits like complimentary breakfast, late check out, early check in, enhanced room (minor upgrade), free wifi and more. The further up the elite chain you get the upgrades get even better including club lounge access with complimentary food and beverages and suite upgrades!
Best Ways To Use SPG Points: Yep, we have a post on that, finish reading here and then check out some real world examples of the cool things you can do with points right HERE.
Hyatt Gold Passport
Hyatt's Gold Passport program, which doesn't have a cool acronym like SPG, is a great choice for loyalty. Hyatt offers many leading properties around the world with their Park Hyatt brand, as well as many more accessible options. Best of all, you'll find real value for your points when you stay with Hyatt...
You Can Use Your Points For: Upgrades to suites starting at just 6,000 points per night, cash and points rates to save on hotels, complimentary stays, transfers to many airlines at a rate of 2:1, though some airlines offer closer to 1:1.
Elite Benefits Include: Hyatt has some amazing benefits for its elite members, most notably suite upgrades for your entire stay for Diamond members, which can turn a stay up to 8 nights into a free suite, just for being an elite. You'll also experience the traditional early check in, late check out, free wifi, free breakfast as well.
Best Ways To Use Hyatt Gold Passport Points: As you may have guessed, we also have a post on that. Get finished here and then pop over to browse some eye catching ways to redeem your points, right HERE.
SLH / LHW
Bit of a curve ball here, but for those who prefer to stay in unique, boutique properties, Small Luxury Hotels (SLH) and Leading Hotels Of The World (LHW) offer very simple, very valuable programs which can instantly unlock savings and benefits. No crazy arbitrage opportunities here, but some free breakfast and stuff is always nice.
You Can Use Your Points For: There are no points! Instead, you earn free nights based on a very simple system. After five stays (even just a night) you get a free night with either program, as long as you stay at at least two different hotels and don't book consecutive one night stays at the same property. So yeah, stay five times anywhere, get a free night anywhere, solid.
Elite Benefits: Want instant elite benefits? Through a special link, you can grab elite status with SLH immediately, instantly kicking you towards the good stuff and getting you complimentary breakfast and room upgrades. Link HERE.
Honorable Mentions: Hilton, Marriott, IHG...
If you're purely after free nights, especially at lower end properties (not my style) you'll do very well, if not equally well or better with Hilton, Marriott or IHG. These chains offer a relatively small number of points required for complimentary stays at their basic hotels, while their highest end hotels seem to sky rocket to almost impossibly expensive prices using points. One thing that's true for all three of these programs? They have properties everywhere and will be easy to earn points just about anywhere in the world. Like Hyatt and SPG, they also offer credit cards with bonuses that can be lucrative...