It’s not easy for business travelers to spend time away from home. Between the tedium of waiting around at airports and the discomfort of sleeping in new beds, business travel can be a grueling grind. One way you can help to ease the grind a bit is by deciding on a primary hotel rewards program.
Also known as loyalty programs, these programs can help you rack up points while taking advantage of extra perks. It’s honestly hard to see why a frequent business traveler would pass on signing up for a hotel rewards program — you’ll get free nights, access to free Wi-Fi, and more. And best of all, these rewards programs are free to join.
So which program might be best for you? Keep on reading for the low-down on what’s out there!
Hotel Rewards Programs: The Basics
Hotel rewards programs offer you the chance to save money while traveling. Every time you book a room at a hotel, you’ll receive a set number of points (usually around 10 points for every dollar spent). Once you’ve earned enough rewards, you can cash them in for free nights, room upgrades, and more. Additionally, by joining a loyalty program, you’ll be set to receive perks like free Wi-Fi- or late check-out — no points required.
In some cases, you may be able to earn even more rewards by signing up for a credit card that a particular hotel brand offers. These cards will usually shoot you to the highest level of points earning within that particular brand’s rewards scheme. These cards are of the personal variety in most cases, but there are a few business-specific cards floating around too.
On the flip side, however, these rewards programs can tie you down to a set of hotel brands. This means you might ultimately spend more money instead of just searching for the best deal. Plus, if you’re set on earning points from one set of brands, you may find yourself needing to be less flexible when it comes to hotel location.
All that said, smart usage of hotel rewards programs can indeed help business travelers save a bit of cash when used smartly. As such, those who require frequent travel may want to focus on joining a hotel rewards program to eke out that extra cash where possible.
Popular Hotel Rewards Programs For Business Travelers
Your favorite hotel brand probably offers its own set of rewards or is part of a rewards network alongside other hospitality brands. Here’s a look at a few of the most popular hotel loyalty programs and how they might stack up for business use:
IHG Rewards Club
InterContinental Hotels Group’s Rewards Club covers over 5,000 hotels throughout 100-plus countries. Its network of hotels includes Holiday Inn, InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Regent, and Hualuxe.
Points are generally obtained at the rate of 10 points per dollar spent on hotels within the IHG network. Those who reach IHG Reward Club’s top bracket (achieved by booking 75 nights or earning 75,000 points) can earn 20 points per dollar. Miles can also be earned for an array of airline partners. Booking a table via OpenTable or ordering from Grubhub through IHG can also pick up points for you. Points can additionally be bought with cold hard cash, which may make sense if IHG is running a sale on points.
Savvy travelers might also be able to save more with the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card through Chase. While this is a personal card, business users can still take advantage of the card’s 25x points rate. It’s also worth noting that IHG is a transfer partner with Chase — this means that if you have a Chase Ultimate Rewards-eligible card, you can transfer points to your IHG Rewards Club account on a 1:1 basis.
Once you have points in hand, they can be redeemed for hotel stays and airfare with over 40 airlines. Free nights start at 10,000 points and go up from there depending on the brand and location. You can also use your points for items from a variety of brands. Note, however, that if you fail you stay at an IHG network hotel over the course of 12 months, your points will expire.
Choice Privileges is a global rewards programs for hotels under the umbrella of Choice Hotels. Its network of budget brands includes Cambria Hotels, Comfort Inn & Suites, Econo Lodge, Sleep Inn, and Quality Inn. This network reaches 7,000 locations worldwide, with hotels in over 40 countries throughout North and South America, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, and Europe.
You’ll start off earning a base 10 points for every dollar you spend at eligible properties. After 40 nights at Choice properties, you can qualify for the program’s top rewards bracket, Diamond, and earn 15 points for every dollar spent. Points can additionally be earned for golf purchases, travel bookings through Bluegreen Vacations, and car rentals through Avis and Budget.
The Choice Privileges Signature Visa Card (offered in conjunction with Barclays) can stretch your savings even further. Signing up for the card will automatically boost your earning rate to Diamond status and there are various bonuses to earn even more. However, note that Choice Privileges only offers a personal credit card and not a business-specific one.
Points obtained through Choice Privileges can be cashed in for free nights, resort bookings, vacation rentals, gift cards, and trips with various travel partners. Choice Privileges’ list of travel partners includes Alaska Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and Amtrak. Points can further be used for purchasing golf gear or booking cruises. Free nights at eligible Choice hotels start at 8,000 points. You’ll want to keep in mind that Choice Privilege points expire after 18 months of account inactivity.
With over 7,000 hotels to choose from across the U.S., Canada, Asia, and Europe, Marriott Bonvoy is a solid rewards program with fairly strong coverage. The program includes the 30 different hospitality brands owned by Marriott International, including The Ritz-Carlton, Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Renaissance Hotels, and Courtyard.
Marriott Bonvoy users will be able to enjoy 10 points per dollar spent at eligible hotels. The highest two tiers (Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite) both earn an extra 75% on points. Besides staying at hotels, points also can be picked up through air travel or by booking travel “activities” through Marriott’s own portal.
Business travelers who frequent Marriott properties may want to look into the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card. This credit card will dole out 6 points per dollar on Marriott purchases (plus 4 on restaurants and 2 everywhere else). You can also take advantage of employee cards and one free night award every account anniversary.
After you’ve banked up points, you can use them on free nights, for partially paying for a stay, for booking travel with over 250 airlines and rental car companies, or for snagging travel packages. You can book free nights at eligible Marriott International properties for as little as 5,000 a night — plus there are no blackout dates on when you can book. Marriott Bonvoy points do expire, but not until after two years of account inactivity.
World of Hyatt
While World of Hyatt packs a punch with an excellent rewards program, it lacks the coverage other brands might have. There are fewer than 1,000 properties worldwide under the Hyatt umbrella. However, most U.S. travelers shouldn’t find difficulty — many of Hyatt’s hotels are located in the country’s biggest cities. Brands included in the Hyatt network include Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Joie de Vivre, Andaz, and Alila Hotels and Resorts.
World of Hyatt dishes out 5 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at Hyatt hotels. The highest membership tier, Globalist, collects an extra 30% on top of those 5 points. You can obtain Globalist status by spending 60 nights in Hyatt hotels, earning 100,000 points, or attending 20 qualifying meetings/events at Hyatt properties.
There is no business credit card for World Hyatt, but there is the World of Hyatt Credit Card. This card, co-offered with Chase, delivers 4 bonus points for every dollar spent at all Hyatt hotels (plus 2 points per dollar on dining, airfare, local transit, and gym memberships). Every cardholder will receive one free night annually, plus the opportunity to earn a second free night by spending $15,000 on the card in an anniversary year.
World of Hyatt has one of the most valuable points redemption rates around — some estimate that a point in this program is worth almost 2 cents a pop. You can use your World of Hyatt points on free nights, dining/spa experiences, fitness classes, trips, air travel, and car rentals. Free nights start at 5,000 points. Your points will expire after account inactivity of two years.
Its 9,000 properties worldwide mean that Wyndham Rewards is one of the furthest-reaching rewards programs on the planet. Available locations cover the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Among Wyndham Rewards’ brands are Wyndham Grand, Dolce Hotels and Resorts, La Quinta, Ramada, and Days Inn.
With Wyndham Rewards, you’ll net 10 points per dollar or 1,000 points per stay — whichever is higher. The top membership level, Diamond, nets 20% more rewards (you can reach that status after 40 stays at Wyndham properties). Wyndham enables other rewards-earning methods, such as shopping, gas from Marathon Gas stations, tours/activities, DoorDash purchases, and car rentals through Avis and Budget. You can also purchase points in increments of 1,000.
For credit cards, you can apply for either of the Wyndham Rewards Signature Visa cards. Offered in conjunction with Barclays, these two cards grant 5 points (for the annual fee version) or 3 points (for the no annual fee version) per dollar spent at Wyndham properties. These cards also feature welcome offers that will dish out enough points for free nights. Note that both these cards are of the personal variety; Wyndham offers no business credit card.
Points earned for Wyndham Rewards can be redeemed for free nights (starting at 7,500 points), shopping, tours/activities, gas, gift cards, and charitable donations. You can also transfer points to one of Wyndham’s travel partners (including American Airlines AAdvantage Miles, United MileagePlus Miles, Frontier Miles, and Amtrak Guest Rewards Points) or to Caesars Rewards to take advantage of casino-focused rewards. Those who own Wyndham vacation properties can also transfer points to pay for maintenance and exchange fees. Wyndham Rewards points have a long shelf life — they won’t expire until four years after they are posted to your account.
Other Hotel Rewards Programs
There are a few other programs worth mentioning, but just didn’t make the cut the above:
- Best Western Rewards: With a decent rewards rate and points that won’t ever expire, Best Western Rewards is a solid loyalty program. There are also a couple of Best Western co-branded (non-business) credit cards on offer, too.
- Hilton Honors: Hilton is one of the largest hotel chains in the world, with over 4,000 locations globally. However, the Honors program has one of the lowest points values around; by some estimates, Hilton Honors points equal less than 0.5 cents per point. Hilton Honors does have a business credit card that can help stretch your rewards value further, however.
- Radisson Rewards: With over 1,000 properties eligible, Radisson Rewards might be an excellent option. As their hotels are primarily located in the U.S. and Europe, those who frequently hop across the pond for business may find Radisson to be their best option.
Choosing The Best Hotel Rewards Program For Business Travel
Ultimately, there’s no one way to pick a rewards program. The program that works best for you will depend on where you travel to, which brands best suit your price point, and whether or not you can take advantage of credit card perks. But by utilizing a hotel rewards program smartly, you’ll be well on your way to softening the business travel grind.
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