WalletHub today released its annual Hotel Rewards Report, and it was smaller chains that dominated the top five.
WalletHub examined the nine largest U.S. hotel chains’ rewards programs using 21 key metrics, such as the average value of a point, point expiration policies and the volatility of award-night pricing.
In order, the company found that Wyndham Rewards was the best hotel loyalty program, followed by Radisson Rewards, Best Western Rewards, Choice Privileges and Marriott Bonvoy.
“Many people will be surprised to learn that Wyndham, Radisson and Best Western top WalletHub’s list of the best hotel rewards programs for 2020, assuming bigger names such as Hilton and Marriott would lead the way,” WalletHub CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou said in a statement. “But smaller players in the travel space often provide more incentives because they have to do so in order to compete with bigger names. And that underscores the value in shopping around.”
Papadimitriou said the WalletHub rankings are best used as a tie-breaker, of sorts, between two similarly priced lodging options.
“Start by comparison shopping to find the cheapest hotel reservations with the amenities you want. Then, if there are a few options in the same ballpark, you can take their loyalty programs into account,” he said. “Of course, things are a bit different for frequent travelers who are in a position to commit to one of several hotel chains for the foreseeable future. In that case, the loyalty programs and the hotels’ credit cards should be focal points when making your selection.”
Wyndham Rewards offers up to $13.46 in rewards value per $100 spent, the most among major hotel loyalty programs.
“One big thing to watch out for with hotel loyalty programs is rewards-point expiration. Best Western is the only major hotel chain whose rewards points do not expire due to account inactivity,” said Papadimitriou. “So, at the very least, make sure to search a program’s terms and conditions for the word ‘expire’ to make sure you know what to prevent from happening.”