One of the more amusing parts of speaking to a large audience is seeing what resonates, and more importantly – what doesn’t. One thing that needs to start resonating: the hotel double dip, bringing a boatload of airline miles along with your hotel points, while also maintaining any elite guest status benefits you may hold. It’s quite easy, and it’s way too overlooked.
What if you could search through all the top online travel agencies, get ready to book with whichever one offers the lowest rates and then sweeten the already velvety deal with a huge haul of airline miles too. You can, and it’s really easy. But you may not realize, you can also do the same on direct hotel bookings too.
When you book a hotel, you have the choice between a variety of things, many of which can’t be double dipped – but some of which can. For starters, unless you book direct with the hotel chain, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to earn hotel points for the stay. They’re finicky about that.
So when you book with an online travel agency like Expedia, Orbitz, Kayak and so forth, you may get a lower room rate, but not often the points. We’ve got a brilliant guide to weighing the cost versus benefits with that.
If you’re choosing not to earn hotel points by booking with online travel agencies, that doesn’t mean you can’t earn airline miles. Airlines have these things known as shopping portals, where they get a cash commission if you navigate from their page to an online travel agency, and as a kickback to you, you get miles. For example, for starting at the Delta shopping portal and clicking over to Hotels.com, you could earn Delta miles on your booking. Lots of them too! It looks like this.
You > Airline shopping page > Hotel > Points.
But these shopping portals also allow bonus airline miles for booking with the major hotel chains themselves, meaning you can fully double dip – locking in airline miles on top of your hotel points, all at the same prices. Yes – you can earn huge miles with your favourite airline program while getting the hotel points too.
Many airlines currently have major bonuses for top online travel agencies, but they also have major bonuses with the chains. You’re rewarded with a set number of airline miles for every dollar you spend, and quite a few airlines are offering 12x or better on hotel bookings via things like Hotels.com, or even direct. For people who don’t travel frequently, it can be worth going this route, if you don’t care about hotel points or elite status – provided the room rates are lower.
But if you do care about elite hotel status and getting your night credits and hotel points, you’re not out of luck. Many airline portals have inflated points per dollar rates at top chains like Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt and IHG, meaning you can earn as much as 10 airline miles per dollar spent in addition to your other stuff. Let’s say you spend 1,000 a Hilton, and book by starting at the British Airways shopping page. You’d currently earn…
- 8 Avios Per £/$ spent, bringing 8,000 Avios on the stay.
- Minimum 10 Hilton Points Per £/$ spent, bringing 10,000 Hilton Points.
- You’d earn your elite status benefits and night credits too.
- Still eligible for room upgrades and other perks, for booking direct.
Total haul: 8,000 Avios, 10,000+ Hilton Points, night credits and benefits.
The only remaining question is why you wouldn’t do this, now that you know about it. Why would anyone ever forgo such a lucrative haul of airline miles in addition to their hotel points, if there’s no cost or loss of benefits involved. Clarity alert: there’s not. You get everything, but are able to earn enough miles for nearly a round trip short haul flight, just from one booking like this one.
Short answer: a lot. Earning as much as 8x or 10x airline miles per dollar with these chains is uncommon and way above average, but during peak summer and winter holiday shopping bonanzas it’s totally possible. In fact, these sort of offers are live today.
- British Airways
- Virgin Atlantic
- American Airlines
- Air New Zealand
The best way to find what works for you is to click the airline with which you like to earn miles, search for your favourite chain and compare the earnings. In some cases, the online travel agencies may offer far better earn rates, at which point you’ll need to weigh whether the airline miles or the hotel points make more sense for you, rather than both.
Just in case it’s not abundantly clear – this is totally something you should be doing, every time!
Even earning 1 airline mile per dollar spent in addition to your usual hotel points haul is better than no points. Once you get the hang of it, it’s really a matter of making like two extra clicks to earn 1,000’s of uncapped miles each year. Enjoy the miles!