Part 2: Credit Card Programs
Part 3: Hotel Frequent Guest Programs
Part 4: Non-Travel Reward Programs
HOTEL FREQUENT GUEST PROGRAMS
|InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa|
Many Canadians who participate in travel reward programs seem to focus on getting that free flight but don’t realize that often the hotel they stay at can cost as much if not more than the flights themselves. The above survey also showed that more than a quarter of Canadians said that they would prefer not to travel at all than to stay at a budget hotel. This seems to stem from the general lack of knowledge that average Canadian’s have with regards to the hotel programs. Frequent travellers do have this knowledge and I would suspect they make up the majority of the 13% of Canadians who are members of one or more frequent guest programs.
Historically, for Canadians, the number one way to earn points in a hotel frequent guest program was by staying at hotels only but in the last 3-4 years we finally saw the emergence of credit cards tied to several hotel frequent guest programs. In fact five major hotel chain programs are now vying for market share in the already crowded credit card space in Canada. Those chains are Best Western Hotels (Rewards), Choice Hotels (Privileges), InterContinental Hotels Group (Priority Club), Marriott Hotels (Rewards) and Starwood Hotels (Starwood Preferred Guest).
Related: See how all the Hotel credit cards performed in our 2012 Top Travel Rewards Credit Card rankings
Which card you choose will depend on which hotel brands you like and which chain has properties in locations you tend to stay at so that you can double dip on the stay and finally where you are most likely to redeem your points for.
|Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme|
Another reason to join one or more frequent guest programs is loyalty to your favorite airline frequent flyer program. Hotel stays have always been a good source of earning extra miles in frequent flyer program and this option can make sense for those who do not stay in hotels too frequently or are staying in a city that does not have a property participating in the hotel program of their choice. So why do you need to join a hotel program to earn airline miles? Because you have to! Most hotel chains will only award you airline miles if you are a member of their frequent guest program and have selected ‘earning miles‘ as your reward option. Very few hotels or hotel chains will accept your frequent flyer card at check in unless you sign up for their program right there and then.
Pros of Hotel Frequent Guest Programs and Hotel Frequent Guest Credit Cards:
1. Most of the redemptions can give you a mid to high rate of return on your credit card spending. As an example some numbers I have seen show up to a 7% return for certain Starwood Hotel redemptions.
2. Cash + Points: Some chains likes Starwood and IHG offer a cash+points option that allows you to redeem partial points for a stay and pay cash for the difference. This is a good benefit if you don’t have enough points to redeem for the full stay.
3. Elite Status: When you achieve elite status in a hotel program you stand to benefit from more points, complimentary room upgrades, meals, check-in amenities and more depending on the program
4. Convert to Airline Miles: All the hotel programs allow you to convert the hotel points to various airline frequent flyer programs.
5. Many hotels give their members (Elite or not) extra perks likes free wi-fi and in the case of Kimpton InTouch, minibar credits of up to $15.
Cons of Hotel Frequent Guest Programs and Hotel Frequent Guest Credit Cards:
1. They are less flexible than Travel Points Credit Cards (ie TD Visas, Amex Gold Rewards Cards, etc) as you are limited to only one or several brands of hotels and/or frequent flyer transfer partners
2. If the brand you are being loyal to has no properties in a location you are travelling to, you will lose out on earning points or you won’t be able to redeem for that area. A good example is Banff and Canmore Alberta. Huge travel destinations in their own right but you are limited in major hotel brands that have loyalty programs, in particular some of the higher end chains like Starwood, Hyatt, Marriott, or Hilton have no presence in the Canadian Rockies.
Hotel Frequent Guest Programs available to Canadians
Accor Hotels Le Club
Best Western Rewards (formerly Gold Crown Club)
Canalta Hotels Rewards
Carlson Hotels Club Carlson
Choice Hotels Privileges
Coast Hotels Coast Rewards
Delta Hotels Privilege
Executive Hotels Executive Rewards
Fairmont President's Club
Global Hotel Alliance (GHA) Discovery
Golden Tulip Flavours
Hyatt Gold Passport
InterContinental Hotels Group Priority Club
JAL Hotels My JALHotels
La Quinta Returns
Leading Hotels of the World Leaders Club
Loews Hotels YouFirst
Melia International Mas Rewards
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels Loyalty Club
NH Hotels & Resorts World
Preferred Hotel Group I Prefer
Red Lion Hotels R&R Club
Red Roof Inns Redicard
Scandic Hotels Guest Programme
Shangri-La Golden Circle
Qube Hotels Q Club
Starwood Preferred Guest
Stash Hotel Rewards
Sutton Place Hotels Prestige Guest
Swissotel Club Swiss Gold
Taj Hotels InnerCircle
Travelodge Guest Rewards
Trident Hotels Privilege
Voila Hotel Rewards
Hotel Frequent Guest Program Credit Cards for Canadians
Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa
MBNA Best Western Platinum Plus MasterCard
MBNA Choice Privileges MasterCard
Priority Club® World MasterCard® from Capital One®
Priority Club® Platinum MasterCard® from Capital One®
The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express