What are Best Western points worth?

6

Have you ever thought about what Best Western points are worth?  My guess is that the answer for most readers is no.  You can’t transfer points from bank programs to Best Western and so there’s been no thought about whether doing so would be a good or bad idea.  And while we occasionally see Best Western point-related promotions, it’s rare to see any that are worth going out of one’s way for.  Recently, though, Best Western introduced a promo offering 5K points per night for up to 3 nights.  That sounds great, but it’s hard to know how great without knowing the value of those points.  The short answer: “just over half a cent each.”  If you’re interested in the long answer, keep reading…

Best Western

For years, our Reasonable Redemption Value (RRV) for Best Western points was 0.58 cents per point.  This was based on data collected several years ago via a website that no longer exists.  And so, it was far past time to come up with a new RRV.

In order to determine the value of Best Western points, I collected real-world cash prices and point prices.  As I’ve done previously in analyses of other hotel loyalty programs, I examined 7 major hotel markets in the U.S. (Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, and Seattle). Within each market, I identified the top 3 Best Western booking search results with a Trip Advisor rating of 4.0 or better, and I recorded both cash and award prices for three dates each: a weekday, a weekend, and a holiday weekend.

  • Why U.S. only? U.S. consumers are known to spend most of their points and miles on domestic travel.  Since the majority of this blog’s audience resides in the U.S. we opted for a U.S. centric view of point values.
  • Why TripAdvisor? The goal wasn’t to find the 3 best Best Western hotels in each market. Instead, the goal was to find the 3 Best Western bookable hotels that are most popular.  Which ones are people really likely to book?  Since many people use TripAdvisor to pick hotels, this seems like a good way to identify those hotels.
  • Which paid rates were selected?  I always picked the best refundable paid rate shown on Best Western’s website, but without applying any discounts like AAA, military, government, etc.  In most cases, I selected the Best Western “Rewards Member Flexible Rate.”
  • What about point earnings on paid rates? An ideal analysis may include the value of point earnings on paid rates.  For simplicity, this was not considered in this analysis.  This decision has the effect of over-valuing Best Western points.
  • What about taxes and fees? For simplicity, taxes, resort fees, and other fees are not included in this analysis.  This decision has the effect of under-valuing Best Western points.
  • Which specific dates did I use?  
    • Weekday: Wednesday September 15th.  In one case I had to switch the next Wednesday in order to find available rooms.
    • Weekend Day: Friday October 15th.  In one case, I switched to Friday September 24th to find an available room.
    • Holiday Weekend Day: Friday July 2nd.

Results

May 12th 2021 Analysis
Point Value (Median) 0.54 cents
Point Value (Mean) 0.54 cents
Cash Price (Median) $144
Cash Price (Mean) $154
Point Price (Median) 28,000
Point Price (Mean) 28,508
Minimum Point Value 0.40 cents
Maximum Point Value 0.68 cents

The median observed point value was 0.54 cents per point.  This means that half of the observed results offered equal or better point value and half offered equal or worse value.  Another way to think about it is that without trying to cherry pick good awards, you have a 50/50 chance of getting 0.54 cents or better value from your Best Western points when booking free night awards.

Pick your own RRV May 12th 2021 Analysis
50th Percentile (Median) 0.54 cents
60th Percentile 0.56 cents
70th Percentile 0.58 cents
80th Percentile 0.58 cents
90th Percentile 0.60 cents

When we publish point RRVs, we conservatively pick the middle value, or the 50th percentile.  The idea is that just by randomly picking hotels to use your points, you have a 50/50 chance of getting this value or better.  But what if you cherry-pick awards?  Many people prefer to hold onto their points until they find good value uses for them.  If that’s you, then you may want to use the table above to pick your own RRV.  For example, if you think that you’ll hold out for the best 10% value awards, then pick the 90th Percentile.  If you cherry-pick a bit, but not that much, you might want to use the 70th Percentile (for example).

More than any other hotel program I’ve looked at, Best Western point values are clumped very tightly together.  While it’s possible to get a little bit better than 0.54 cents per point value, it’s unlikely that you’ll get better than 0.60 cents per point value.  The best value observation overall in this dataset resulted in only 0.68 cents per point value.

New Reasonable Redemption Value

Our Reasonable Redemption Value (RRV) for Best Western points was previously set to 0.58 cents per point.  RRV’s are intended to be the point at which it is reasonable to get that much value or better for your points.  Therefore, I believe that the median observed value for is a good choice for our RRV…

Reasonable Redemption Value for Best Western: 0.54 cents per point

Hotel RRV methodology

A number of people have argued that I should include taxes in the hotel rates used for analyses like this one because leaving out taxes means undervaluing points (since free night awards do not incur most taxes).  However, there are many factors besides taxes that are equally important and also, for the sake of simplicity, are not included in my analyses.  My hope is that these factors roughly balance each other out…

Factors that cause us to undervalue points

  • We do not include hotel taxes in our analyses.  Most taxes are charged on paid stays but not award stays.
  • With hotel programs that waive resort fees on award stays (Hilton, Hyatt, Wyndham), we do not include resort fees in our analyses.
  • With hotel programs that offer 4th Night Free Awards (IHG, with some credit cards), or 5th Night Free Awards (Hilton & Marriott), or award discounts (Wyndham), we do not consider the point savings in our analyses.
  • With hotel programs that offer free parking on award stays to top-tier elites (Hyatt), we do not factor this in.

Factors that cause us to overvalue points

  • We do not use discount rates (other than member rates) in our analyses.  In real-life, many people book hotels cheaper (and sometimes far cheaper) by using AAA rates, government & military rates, senior rates, etc.
  • We do not use hotel promotional rates.  Often, individual hotels have deals such as “Stay 2 Nights, Get 1 Night Free” which can greatly reduce the cost of a stay.
  • We do not use prepaid rates in our analyses.  Sometimes these rates are significantly lower than refundable rates.
  • We do not factor in rebates which can be earned from booking hotels through shopping portals.
  • We do not factor in points earned from paid stays.  These points can be thought of as a rebate on paid stays only.
  • We do not factor in extra points earned on paid stays for those with elite status.
  • We do not factor in hotel loyalty program promotions: Most promotions, but not all, only offer incentives for paid stays.  We often see promos offering bonus points, double or triple points, free night awards, etc.

Given the factors listed above, I think that including taxes in our analyses would lead us to over-value points.

Conclusion

Based on the latest analysis, I’ve slightly decreased our Best Western RRV from 0.58 to 0.54 cents per point.  The idea is that you have equal chance of getting that much value or more from your award stays.

This post’s percentile results show that it’s possible to get slightly better than 0.54 cents per point value by cherry-picking awards, but you’re unlikely to get significantly higher value.  The 90th percentile showed only 0.60 cents per point value.

For a complete list of Reasonable Redemption Values (and links to posts like this one), see: Reasonable Redemption Values (RRVs).

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