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Last week I wrote about how hotel loyalty programme members can turn a £100 stay into a £75-90 net cost, simply by taking advantage of cashback websites and standard points earning. A few readers jumped in to point out that you can reduce this substantially further by making judicious use of promotions. This is undoubtedly true – and part of the fun of travel hacking – but not everybody has the time or inclination to visit Leeds in order to earn a free night from IHG!
In Part Two, I want to demonstrate how these rebates can be increased even further by loyalty programme members with elite status. Easier to obtain than you might expect, especially with Hilton Honors…
And if you really want to turbo charge your rebates from hotel chain stays, you need to look into Best Rate Guarantees…
“Rebates” for Elite Status Members
Each hotel chain – including the three I am looking at for the purposes of this analysis – has varying levels of elite status. Since mid-range status is far easier to achieve than the very top levels, I’ll look at Marriott Platinum, Hilton Gold and IHG Platinum.
Hotel chains offer bonus points to their members holding elite status. For the three status levels I’ve outlined above, you can earn:
- Marriott Platinum – a 50% bonus, which is an additional 5 points per US dollar spent
- Hilton Gold – an 80% bonus, which is an additional 8 points per US dollar spent
- IHG Platinum – a 50% bonus, which is an additional 5 points per US dollar spent
All three chains offer a welcome amenity. A savvy points collector will almost always choose the more-valuable option of points over a welcome drink. Usually more points are received when staying at a “full service” property such as Sheraton or Doubletree, with fewer points received at chains such as Hampton or Holiday Inn Express.
- Marriott Platinum
- 1,000 points at a full service hotel such as Sheraton, Marriott, etc.
- 500 points at a limited service hotel such as Aloft, Four Points, etc.
- Hilton Gold
- 1,000 points at a full service hotel such as Hilton, Doubletree, etc.
- 200 points at a limited service hotel such as Hampton
- IHG Platinum
- 600 points at a full service hotel such as Crowne Plaza
- 300 points at a limited service hotel such as Holiday Inn Express
Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors offer free breakfast to their Platinum and Gold members (and above). Often you are forced to choose BETWEEN points and breakfast. But you can also find yourself enjoying both, especially in these situations:
- A hotel with an executive lounge. Access is guaranteed with Marriott Platinum and probable with Hilton Gold.
- A hotel with a blanket “breakfast included for elites” policy.
IHG Platinum (or Spire for that matter) does not provide free breakfast to its members. In very rare circumstances an elite member might be upgraded at a Crowne Plaza to an executive floor with lounge access. So, in order to allow for a like-for-like comparison, I’ve assumed that you would pay £15 for that hotel breakfast at an IHG hotel.
Adding it Together
If you add these rebates to the ones already received in Part One, you can end up approaching 35-40% in rebate… before promotions!
As you can see, a Marriott Platinum member who books a full service hotel (during an AA shopping portal promotion) can end up “paying” less than £65 for that £100 hotel stay.
If an IHG Platinum member ends up paying for breakfast, that £100 hotel stay might end up costing… £100!
Best Rate Guarantees
It is impossible to do justice to Best Rate Guarantees in a blog format. But if you want to stay in hotels for less than half price, you need to figure out how they are done. In my experience, Marriott Bonvoy has the most user-friendly BRG policy. Hilton and IHG’s policies are much harder to successfully navigate. But for the purposes of briefly showing off their potential, here is what you can expect for a successful BRG claim.
- Marriott Bonvoy – a 25% discount or 5,000 points
- Hilton Honors – a 25% discount
- IHG Rewards Club – 50 points per US dollar spent
When added to the rebates I’ve previously discussed, you can end up paying as little as this…
P.S. If you choose the 25% discount, you will earn fewer base/tier points and you might (but not always) invalidate your cashback. And of course you are matching a lower rate, rather than the one quoted by the hotel chain. But including those elements would overly complicate the numbers…
If you’ve ever wondered why some people (such as yours truly) categorically insist that “the real value in loyalty programmes comes from the hotel chains”, I hope that this analysis has demonstrated the possibilities. In the near future I’ll provide some real life examples of how I’ve managed to rebate my hotel stays substantially below their headline price.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments section…