Which hotel loyalty program is most rewarding on paid stays?


This post was last published about a year ago.  Since then, I’ve developed a new method for estimating hotel point values.  The new method takes into account base rates, taxes & fees, and whether or not resort fees are waived on award stays (they are waived only with Hilton, Hyatt, and Wyndham).  With this new methodology I’ve re-estimated the Reasonable Redemption Values (RRVs) of Hyatt points, Hilton points, Marriott points, and Wyndham points.  The new results meant that it was time to recalculate which hotel program is most rewarding on paid stays.  This post has been re-calculated and re-written with the latest RRVs included and with minor other changes (such as the fact that the Bonvoy Brilliant card now offers Marriott Platinum Elite status).

The calculations in this post rely on our Reasonable Redemption Values (RRVs).  RRVs are the values at which it is reasonable to expect to get that much value or more from your points.  For hotels, I calculate RRVs by comparing paid and award rates for multiple dates at a number of hotels in the United States, and I pick the median point value to be the RRV.  If a program has an RRV of 1.0, for example, this means that the median value of that program’s points is 1 cent.  Most hotel programs have RRV’s below 1.0.

This post does not factor in extra points earned from hotel promotions or elite welcome gifts; nor does this post factor in the way different elite programs are differentially rewarding in ways other than assigning extra points.  For example, I love the fact that Hyatt waives parking fees on free nights for top tier elites, but that type of thing is not factored in here.

Most rewarding hotel loyalty program without elite status

The following table shows the hotel programs that offer the most valuable rewards on paid stays for those with no elite status.  This table does not consider the value of credit card rewards earned on your stay:

Rewards Program Point Value (RRV) Points Earned Per Dollar* Value of Rewards Earned as Percentage of Amount Spent
Hyatt 2.1 5 11%
Wyndham 0.88 10 9%
Marriott Bonvoy 0.8 10 8%
Choice 0.68 10 7%
IHG 0.63 10 6%
Best Western 0.54 10 5%
Hilton 0.48 10 5%

* The points per dollar number is each hotel program’s usual rate. Some have exceptions. For example, Marriott only offers 5 points per dollar for their long-stay hotels.

Thanks to the outstanding value you can get with Hyatt points, Hyatt stands alone at the top of this chart despite only offering 5 points per dollar on stays.

Most rewarding hotel loyalty program with top status

The following table shows the hotel programs that offer the most valuable rewards on paid stays for those with top tier elite status.  This table does not consider the value of credit card rewards earned on your stay:

Rewards Program Top Elite Status Point Value (RRV) Points Earned Per Dollar* Value of Rewards Earned as Percentage of Amount Spent
Hyatt Globalist 2.1 6.5 14%
Marriott Bonvoy Titanium or Ambassador 0.8 17.5 14%
IHG Diamond 0.63 20 13%
Wyndham Diamond 0.88 12 11%
Choice Diamond 0.68 15 10%
Hilton Diamond 0.48 20 10%
Best Western Diamond 0.54 15 8%

* The points per dollar number is each hotel program’s usual rate. Some have exceptions. For example, Marriott only offers 5 points per dollar for their long-stay hotels.

At 14% back in point value, Hyatt and Marriott lead the pack for top tier elites, but IHG is extremely close behind with 13%.

Most rewarding hotel loyalty program with credit card status

Many hotel programs offer credit cards which give the cardholder elite status.  That elite status, in turn, usually means earning more points per dollar for stays.  With this factored in, let’s take a look at which hotel programs are most rewarding for those who have status from credit cards:

Elite Status from Card Credit Card Points Per Dollar Due to Status Points Per Dollar from Card Total Value %
Discoverist World of Hyatt 5.5 4 20%
Diamond Wyndham Rewards Earner Business Card 12 8 18%
Platinum Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant 15 6 17%
Diamond Hilton Aspire 20 14 16%
Platinum IHG Premier, Premier Business 16 10 16%
Gold Ritz 12.5 6 15%
Platinum Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus 11.5 6 15%
Gold Hilton Surpass, Hilton Business 18 12 14%
Silver Marriott Bonvoy Boundless 11 6 14%
Platinum Best Western Rewards Premium 11.5 10 12%
Silver Hilton (No Fee) 12 7 9%

Hyatt again takes the top spot but with Wyndham, Marriott, Hilton, and IHG trailing closely behind.

The hotel promo factor

Hilton performs noticeably poorly in most of the above analyses.  This is not because they offer few points per dollar, but because their points are, on average, worth considerably less than points from most other hotel loyalty programs.

Despite that, Hilton is often the most rewarding hotel chain for paid stays because they frequently run valuable promos.  For example, they frequently run a promo that offers double points on 1 or 2 night stays and triple points on longer stays.  With double points alone, Hilton would rise to the top of all of the above charts as long as the other chains weren’t also offering valuable promos at the same time.


Hyatt came out on top (or equal to the top) in every category shown above.  This is largely due to the huge value that you can get with Hyatt points compared to their competition.  That said, you can do really well with almost any of these programs with the right combination of elite status and credit cards.

For those wondering whether Hyatt’s latest category reassignments will impact the Hyatt RRV: I don’t think it will.  The RRV is based on the median cents per point value we observe and since most Hyatt hotels did not change categories, I don’t think the median will be affected.  That said, I will recalculate Hyatt’s RRV after the changes take place.

Want to learn more about miles and points? Subscribe to email updates or check out our podcast on your favorite podcast platform.
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Lol Wyndham like that pro wrestler who runs onto the mat with a metal chair.

2nd behind Hyatt for king of the cc status listings? With that cheap of a card. Hilarious.

Interesting about Hilton, although I don’t know how that but promos is relevant as all of them have promos.

Dying for a great Hyatt or Wyndham sub. They’re as mediocre as you get.


It would be even better if you consider breakfast, F&B credits into credit card consideration. For example, in your comparison, Marriott Platinum seems to be worse than World of Hyatt Discoverist by 3%, but if you value breakfast for 2 for 20-30 bucks, Marriott wins by a lot, etc. Of course, if it’s like Hyatt House or Hyatt Place and Fairfield, then this wouldn’t matter.


Any chance for Hyatt entering the premium co-branded credit card market?


I would not have included the card rewards in the last table – neither card requires to use it in the hotel for the status, and you might have a better card to pay.


Which program has the best breakfast benefit? I’m currently giving Marriott a try and compared to Hyatt it has been very disappointing, actually insulting.

Frequent Miler Superfan

It’s hard enough to maintain globalist. I don’t know how everyone maintains elite status with multiple brands.

Mary Jane

Greg, you had to be an accountant before FM. Your analysis is amazing!


Hyatt is great of course.

I feel IHG and Hilton should get a little more love due to easy of point generation/replenishment.

IHG’s ability to buy points, combined with 4th night free promo. Incredibly easy way to get great value.

Hilton FNCs, 5th night fee promo, with the ability to buy points at a fair value, PLUS the occasional MR transfer bonus.

I’m negative on Marriott for the difficulty of points replenishment, unless you travel for work, and have specific Marriott hotel spend. FNCs can help, but the difficulty and cost of replenishing points is high.


I am globalist with Hyatt and value the customer service and attention to all details when staying at high end locations over and above all other programs. For that reason I primarily stick with Hyatt. When Hilton runs the triple promo, being diamond with them exceeds all other programs. We did Conrad Maldives
And earned enough for a 3 night stay. Combine that with the 5th night free and credit card night, it’s a fantastic option. As for Marriott, I was platinum for a decade and only stay there on free card nights. For the most part, they just suck. No guaranteed suite upgrade is a killer when I can book Hyatt and call to upgrade it immediately.


Thanks again for the post, I was wondering the same thing about hilton till you mentioned the double or triple points. It seems the last few years its always double or triple point or some other promo. Hilton points are worth less most of the time but definitly times when you get can get real value. For me Hilton’s footprint works better then most others.

Steve S

Love the analysis here. If memory serves the mix of hotels used in the dataset is varied between higher end full serve vs lower end limited serv properties so it’s a pretty good methodology and generalization. I wonder though what would pan out of say you were to break the analysis and especially RRV into two methods based on the typical stay pattern of the individual? One for folks who typically redeem points at limited service properties. The other for those that prefer luxury.
Is it safe to assume that most people earn staying at limited or mid-tier properties traveling for business? Nowadays maybe not, maybe so….has business travel REALLY returned?
I like reading about how these analysis are structured and wish I had more time to do so.

Ryan Butler

Greg – how is it possible to really know how much the Marriott points are worth with their dynamic pricing and there are additional dynamic changes coming soon with no caps? My husband and I are Marriott ambassadors and have been really disappointed in Marriott and their new point system. We’re finding a lot of hotel rooms are being listed at 30% or 40% more in points cost than they used to be just three years ago. If the cash price on a hotel room is $800 or $100, the Hyatt point redemption remains the same, but Marriott and many other programs are dynamic.


Hi Greg:
I always appreciate your thoughtful analysis. You mention you plan to incorporate the value of waived resort fees in future RRV analysis. There are also a number of points/counterpoints offered in the comments that could/may be considered in the process of rethinking your model. I have a suggestion that may allow incorporation of a wider range of award stay benefits for each program. This could be done by including the effect of 4th/5th night free, waived fees etc and then reducing the calculated value by the opportunity cost of forgone points from a paid stay. This would allow a more direct comparison of program values without the need to assume some but not other award benefits equal forgone points earned on a paid stay while accounting for differences between programs on both accounts. This would work much like your analysis of the value of credit card sign up where you reduce the face value by the net opportunity cost of using the a 2.5 to 3.0% earning card. That said, with multiple levels of additional complexity and standard value assumptions, any error can become exponential in its effect. Thank you again for your work on the community’s behalf.


@ Greg — Another consideration is cash back. Hilton generally gives 1x MR back through Rakuten, while IHG gives 3x MR (often more, up to 6-15x MR). Hyatt gives zero. I use Rakuten as my benchmark since they always pay out. Other sites may sometimes offer more cash back, but they are also far less reliable and have horrible customer service, so I have stopped wasting my energy using those sites.


What you’re forgetting is how you pay for the stay is also important and there are various elements to how much you are awarded. First is the stay itself but those that pay with that program’s loyalty credit card would also receive even more credit toward the transaction itself. For example, paying for a Marriott hotel with a co-branded credit card and staying there. If there is a promotion (if lucky) with double points and double nights it can be even more rewarding. While many programs are downgrading their points value, there are more promotions to earn more than before and I would not hoard points. Credit card points are much more flexible.


I suggest you reread the article. Using a co-brand credit card and taking advantage of promotions are both covered.

Last edited 1 year ago by Brutus
FM Fan

Bold of you to assume that this guy read the article at all considering what he says was “forgotten” from it.


I think you might need to revisit Radisson RRV. I looked back at one of the posts where you arrive at the value and you looked at major markets like Chicago and New York but some of the better value in the Radisson program is in smaller towns and their brands like Country Inn’s. They shouldn’t be much lower than Wyndham overall with a less value on their top-end properties. They also provide very high value in some smaller European areas with high prices.


The real value of the Wyndham Rewards Diamond is that it gives you Caesars Reward Diamond status at no cost, That has saved me hundreds in free nights, free meals, and free drinks.

JJ Lee

Very interesting article Greg. I’m currently a Marriott Titanium Elite and I wouldn’t consider paying for my Marriott stays with my Bonvoy Brilliant AMEX. Maybe you can comment on this, but wouldn’t I be better off paying for my Marriott stays with either the CSR or the Citi Prestige? Both will give me 3x on hotels and the points have more value.

I love Avios. Since Marriott cards earn 6x at Marriott stays, how much Avios will I get per dollar spent with and without the 5000 points bonus?

JJ Lee

My math is not at your level. Since Marriott cards earn 6x at Marriott stays, how much Avios will I get per dollar spent with and without the 5000 points bonus? Once we have the figure, then it’ll be easy to compare to CSR and Citi Prestige to better understand the value of the currencies.

JJ Lee

Given what you said, it only make sense to use Citi Prestige, AMEX Green, and CSR as I’ll get 3x Avios (or any other currencies that transfers 1:1) for my hotel spend. I think you need to update the article and divert people from putting Marriott spend on their Bonvoy cards!

Last edited 2 years ago by JJ Lee

Thanks for bringing up this question! I’ve generally paid Marriott stays w/ CSR for the 3X. (I’m almost Titanium with Boundless Card). But another commenter above mentioned the current(?) promo at Marriott which equates to 21X Marriott Points for Platinum…more for higher level Elites:

6X for Boundless CC + 10X for Marriott Hotels as Bonvoy Member + 7.5X for Titanium = 23.5X points. If our plan is to use Bonvoy points for Airline transfer…

In this case…wouldn’t it make more sense to use Boundless CC? Even if Bonvoy points converts 3:1 to airlines w/o the 5000 point bonus…the # of Bonvoy points earned using Boundless to pay for Marriott stays would still be almost 7.83 airline points vs. CSR which converts to 3 airline points

GREG…am I looking at this correctly?


It would be great to see the elite-level charts without credit card rewards. My use case is that I travel for work and am forced to use the corporate card for hotel charges but I should be able to easily earn top-tier elite status. With the recent devaluations at Hilton (lack of breakfast, etc), I’m weighing a switch in my loyalty.

Thanks for all the great analyses!


Yes, same here!


Just this month alone, I received $200 in statement credits via AMEX Marriott Offers on 4 Bonvoy cards.

Chase has their own offers too, of course, but after SUBs on Marriott cards are long exhausted, I find putting hotel spend on co-branded cards is the fastest way to replenish Bonvoy points (while receiving comparable point value to transfereable currencies).


(receiving another quick 15,000 Bonvoy points from spend on 2 Co-Branded Business cards)

[…] We like to stay at hotels for free around here but just in case you do the unthinkable: Which hotel loyalty program is most rewarding on paid stays? […]

Miles Ahead

Hi Greg, great and very useful analysis, yet again! One thing you did not account for is that Top Tier Hyatt Globalists also get one AA point per $ spend. With that value included WoH with or without cc is #1.
I am not aware of any other hotel chain offering such a benefit.
Thanks again!

JJ Lee

My understanding is that only Hyatt Globalists with AA status will get AA miles. I am currently a Globalist and linked my AA account to Hyatt. However, I don’t have AA status and never got any AA miles from my Hyatt stays.


Correct. I am a Hyatt Globalist with no status on AA, and I have linked the accounts. I get Hyatt points when I fly AA, but no AA points when I stay at Hyatt. I would need to be an AA elite to get AA miles at Hyatt.


When Hyatt has run special promos with AA mile accruals, however, I have still received those AA miles without AA status. And even Hyatt points from AA flights is something!

I do think, however, including (sometimes temporary) relationships like that can be a slippery slope in calculations because where does it end & does it apply to all? For instance I receive Marriott points from Uber spend & Hilton points from Lyft because I use them both (& not everyone does), but I only receive United Silver status perks because I am Marriott Tiranium. Too many variables imo.

Dugroz Reports

While those promos are in effect, I’d bet that Hilton SURPASSes the other programs.”

Pun intended???


I always love this type of analysis which alas we don’t see often enough. However this suffers from a fatal flaw: (1) Wyndham offers few if any aspirational properties so it’s not a realistic choice for many of us and (2) the RRVs are a bit low, which skews the results. I usually get .005 for Hilton, .01 for Marriott and .02 for Hyatt. This results in a higher ROI for those programs as opposed to IHG which just massively devalued it’s program.


Really interesting data, it must have taken a long time to search and compile all these data points! Definitely appreciate it and that’s why you guys are the best. Out of curiosity, which website did you feel was the most user-friendly while you were researching pricing?

It was really surprising to see how valuable paid stays at IHG (and to a lesser degree Marriott) are despite the hate they both get in the points circle compared to Hilton. Hilton does always have 2x and 3x promos all the time so that might swing things in it’s favor: even a 2x points promo would vault it up to top 2 on several of the charts at 17.6%.

One other factor to consider (and would be very difficult to factor in) is award availability. I think for anything outside of your Hilton Garden Inn on the side of the road somewhere, Hilton has the least standard award availability.


Very interesting. I think one part of the equation is the value of the actual points. A premium hotel night at Hyatt is significantly fewer points than the comparable Hilton property, and as Globalist there are additional savings when using points. Also, I want to concentrate my points with hotel chains that have the type of properties I am going to use.


The value is taken into account — that’s why in the last chart (as an example) 10.5 Hyatt points are pretty much as valuable as 30 IHG points or 45 Radisson points.


Curious what decision went into not revising Marriotts numbers


Greg, will the values for these tables be updated whenever you update the RRVs for each program?

Also, if you do have plans to update these tables in the future, can you add a leading extra column with the hotel program names for the tables involving credit cards? I know that the credit cards have the name of the program in them, but I think that it would be easier to quickly visually identify the individual programs if that extra column was there.


Always love your analysis. The baseline is a great place to start that allows people to layer on their own added values. (For me I try to use points on stays where I can get a 4th or 5th night free – which increases values of those currencies by 25-33%. RIP Carlson.)

I always appreciated Travel Codex’s old comparison charts about value at different status levels and the sweet spots in the programs. (https://www.travelcodex.com/hotel-status-sweet-spot-2016/) With your passion around crunching the data, this seems like an opportunity for you to pick up.


Still confused. I have a paid stay next month with Marriott. I have Gold status w a Marriott Boundless credit card. With your chart, it should give me 13% back in value. But shouldn’t I still use my Sapphire Reserve (3x) to pay, since Boundless cc only pays 6x, UR has bigger RRV?


Try to register your Boundless card for the current round of Chase promos. You may get 10x Marriott points, which would be worth more than 3x UR points. Doctor of Credit has dedicated links. When I used the generic link, I received 5x back on all purchases, up to $1500 in spend from 4/1 to 6/30. But using the link in the DoC post this morning, I received 10x Marriott points and 5x travel & gas on up to $1500 spend from 5/15 to 8/15.


Yes, I saw this before and didn’t think of it. Many thanks!!


There are lots of permutations that can be run here. Here’s the delta between having and not having a card:

Aspire 9.6%
IHG Premier 9%
Wyndham Biz: 8.2%
Surpass 8%
Hyatt 7.2%
BW 6.2%
Wyndham 6.2%
Brilliant 6%
Radisson 5.7%
Boundless 4.9%
Choice 4.1%
Wyndham no AF 4.1%
IHG Traveler 3%
Honors 2.8%
Bold 2.8%
BW no AF 1.62%
Radisson no AF 1.14%

None of the no AF cards are worth using. All of the AF cards may be worth using. Of course, whether the AF is worth it will depend on how much value you can get out of it.


@ Greg — You should consider setting a ceiling on the value of each currency, based on the lowest value at which they are regularly sold. IHG points are sold almost continuously for 0.5, and I am pretty sure IHG isn’t selling them to lose money. Therefore, I would argue that IHG points are worth no more than 0.5. I personally value IHG points at 0.46.

Rob Carlin

What about Hotels.com? How do they compare?

Brad R

Why did you not make a chart of having status without credit card?

Brad R

Would be helpful for people like me who have top tier status without the credit cards. If you already have all the data and a template, should be really easy to throw together.


My impression is the credit card chart includes the status level that is automatically conferred by holding that credit card. Is that not correct?

(Edit: Oh wait — it’s vice versa that he’s asking for)

Last edited 2 years ago by LarryInNYC

What’s interesting is that, ignoring status perks, unless you are top tier with IHG, Radisson, Marriott, or Hyatt, you’re better off booking through hotels.com and getting 10% back. You can still for the most part pay at the hotel with your card of choice if you want, or use your highest earning card to book direct. This could also work out plenty well with discounted hotels.com gift cards.


Good point. Or whenever Rakuten has 10% cash back!


I’m surprised about the numbers from Hilton. Maybe I should have taken advantage of Hyatt’s incredible deal late last year/earlier this year to reach Globalist status.


Hilton always has a promotion running, some quarters it is better than others. The current quarter is 2x on stays of 1 or 2 nights and 3x on 3 nights or more. For paid stays, personally I the value would be much higher this quarter. Last quarter it was bonus points based on stays/nights and you came out ahead when using reward stays. I understand why it is not part of Greg’s analysis as every program has different promotions, but I almost always get more value with the aspire than the 13.6%.


Thanks for running this – I’m not sure how much “real world” value this has, since prices, promotions, and elite benefits are never perfectly identical but I found it interesting nonetheless.


Everyone’s situation will be different. For me, the real world value is knowing that background earning rates are not that discrepant from one program to the next. I have the WoH card, Hilton Aspire & Bonvoy Brilliant. So without promos, I am earning 13-15% back, which is not that big of a difference (especially if I do my own tweak on valuations). With this article, I now realize that promos, prices, benefits & location should really be the only things I focus on, because the regular earning rates are not that different.