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).

a collage of images of a hotel

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.

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I think when considering credit cards, IHG cards should also be considered for their 4th night free and 10% points back benefits.


Nice analysis but a bit unfair to compare a $550/$650 fee card to $95 fee card (with a free night) of IHG. It would be good to separate the credit card section into mid-tier and high-tier.


No mention of the Choice credit card


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.