Which hotel loyalty program is most rewarding on paid stays?

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Now that I’ve finished updating most of our hotel point values, I figured it would be interesting to use the new data to see which hotel rewards program offers the best rewards for hotel spend.  Specifically, in this post I look at the value of points earned on paid stays.  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.

In this round-up, I looked at Best Western, Choice, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, Radisson, and Wyndham.  Among these, only our Radisson point values are still based on very old numbers.  Our Marriott estimates are the next oldest, from April 2020.  The rest have been updated within the past few weeks.  For the latest information, see: Reasonable Redemption Values (RRVs).

Most rewarding with no status and no hotel credit card

This table shows the hotel programs that offer the most valuable rewards on paid stays for those with no elite status, and who do not use a hotel branded credit card to pay:

Rewards Program Point Value Points Earned Per Dollar* Value of Rewards Earned as Percentage of Amount Spent
Wyndham 0.82 10 8.2%
Hyatt 1.6 5 8%
Radisson Rewards 0.38 20 7.6%
Marriott Bonvoy 0.7 10 7%
Choice 0.68 10 6.8%
IHG 0.6 10 6%
Best Western 0.54 10 5.4%
Hilton 0.4 10 4%

* 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.

Wyndham, Hyatt, and Radisson lump together at the top of this table: points earned for stays amount to approximately 8% value.  Next, Marriott and Choice return around 7%.  IHG is next at 6%, then Best Western at 5.4%.  Hilton trails the pack at 4%.

Most rewarding with a hotel credit card

Most hotel programs offer credit cards which earn bonus points at their hotels and often give the cardholder elite status.  That elite status, in turn, usually means earning more points per dollar for stays.  With this combination factored in, let’s take a look at the most valuable hotel credit card & hotel program combos:

Elite Status from Card Credit Card Points Per Dollar Due to Status Points Per Dollar from Card Value of Rewards Earned as Percentage of Amount Spent
Diamond Wyndham Rewards Earner Business Card 12 8 16.4%
Discoverist World of Hyatt 5.5 4 15.2%
Platinum IHG Premier 15 10 15.0%
Platinum Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus 11.5 6 14.4%
Diamond Hilton Aspire 20 14 13.6%
Gold Radisson Rewards Premier 25 10 13.3%
Gold Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant 12.5 6 13.0%
Gold Hilton Surpass 18 12 12%
Silver Marriott Bonvoy Boundless 11 6 11.9%
Platinum Best Western Rewards Premium 11.5 10 11.6%
Gold Choice Privileges Visa Signature Card 11 5 10.9%

Thanks to the fact that the Wyndham Earner business card gives the cardholder Diamond status and 8 points per dollar on stays, Wyndham takes on the uncontested top spot with over 16% in rewards.  Hyatt and IHG follow with around 15% in rewards.  And Hilton makes its way to the top 50% with the Hilton Aspire card which offers Diamond status and 14 points per dollar on stays.

Most rewarding with top tier status

What if you have (or plan to get) top tier elite status?  The following chart shows rewards based on the combination of having top tier status, along with a hotel branded credit card:

Top Tier Status Credit Card Points Per Dollar Due to Status Points Per Dollar from Card Value of Rewards Earned as Percentage of Amount Spent
Spire IHG Premier 20 10 18.0%
Platinum Radisson Rewards Premier 35 10 17.1%
Globalist World of Hyatt 6.5 4 16.8%
Titanium or Ambassador Bonvoy (Almost Any Card) 17.5 6 16.5%
Diamond Wyndham Rewards Earner Business Card 12 8 16.4%
Diamond Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus 12 6 14.8%
Diamond Hilton Aspire 20 14 13.6%
Diamond Choice Privileges Visa Signature Card 15 5 13.6%
Diamond Best Western Rewards Premium 15 10 13.5%
Diamond Hilton Surpass 20 12 12.8%

 

IHG now takes the top spot thanks to the fact that their top-tier Spire status offers 20 points per dollar on stays.  With the rest of the programs, it’s interesting to me how they closely clump together.  Radisson, Hyatt, Marriott, and Wyndham (with the business card) offer around 17% in rewards.  Next, Wyndham (with the personal Earner Plus card) offers about 15%.  Then, Hilton (with the Aspire card), Choice, and Best Western all offer about 13.5%.  Hilton (with the Surpass card) trails the pack with 12.8% rewards.

Conclusion

Wyndham, Hyatt, and Radisson place highly in all 3 of the above charts.  IHG places highly when including the IHG Premier credit card (which offers 10 points per dollar at IHG properties).  Marriott is solidly in the middle, until you factor in top-level elite status where Marriott rises near the top.  Hilton looks decent when using the Hilton Aspire card, but only for those without top-tier status in other chains.  Choice and Best Western consistently place at or near the bottom of each chart.

In this analysis, I was honestly surprised at how poor Hilton performed.  Consider, though, that Hilton often offers fantastic 2X or 3X point earning promotions.  While those promos are in effect, I’d bet that Hilton surpasses the other programs.

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