Best Hotel Loyalty Programs: 7 Brands Worth Frequenting When You Travel

Loyalty can pay off when it comes to hotels. If you travel a lot for business or pleasure, joining one or several of the best hotel loyalty programs can make sense to earn points to cash in for free nights. Many of these programs add value to your paid stays, offering room upgrades, late checkouts, and sometimes even free breakfast. That’s certainly worth the time to sign up for these free programs, so you don’t leave money behind when you checkout. A lot of hotel chains also offer branded credit cards tied to their loyalty programs. These cards let you earn points faster and grant you more exclusive offers.

Despite the allure of accumulating points and enjoying elite status perks, a clean room remains a top priority for most travelers. A recent study found cleaning crews do a pretty good job cleaning toilets and bathrooms, but you may want to think twice before using a glass left on the desk or picking up the remote. These are the two items most often overlooked and not sanitized between guests. Yuck! Cleanliness and overall guest satisfaction may influence which hotel loyalty programs you want to join. But, some programs make it easier than others to redeem the rewards they lure you with. Which programs offer the best bang for your reward buck? Our extensive research across seven prominent travel websites has identified the top seven best hotel loyalty programs most recommended by travel experts. These programs stand out for their exceptional rewards, ensuring you get the most out of every stay. Don’t see your favorite rewards program on our list? Comment below.

The List: Best Hotel Loyalty Programs, According to Travel Experts

1. Wyndham Rewards


The Wyndham hotel brand offers the most hotels of any loyalty program, with over 9,000 worldwide, which is why it ranked first on almost all seven websites we reviewed. According to The Points Guy, while Wyndham does have some luxurious options, the majority of its properties fall under the budget-friendly category. This means you’ll find a wider selection of Wyndham hotels in smaller towns, making it easier to use your points and save on accommodation costs during your quaint getaway. You will certainly recognize the hotel brands, such as Wyndham, La Quinta, Super 9, Days Inn, and Microtel.

If you like to redeem hotel points for more than just free hotel rooms, this rewards program may fit the bill. You can redeem your points for a variety of exciting experiences and rewards. This includes gift cards for your favorite stores and restaurants, allowing you to treat yourself or find the perfect present, says USA Today. For the adventurous spirit, you can use your points to book tours and excursions, exploring new destinations in a unique way. And if you’re a sports fan, USA Today even mentions the possibility of using points to snag tickets to a game.

Racking up points with everyday purchases is easy with one of the company’s three branded credit cards. Additionally, U.S. News & World Report says that qualifying nights you earn throughout the year roll over into the next year. This gives you a head start on achieving the next membership level, potentially unlocking additional benefits like room upgrades or bonus points. Also, when you redeem points for a free night at an all-inclusive Wyndham property, you’re not just getting a place to stay. These stays typically cover meals, drinks, and even access to on-site amenities for up to two guests. This can be a fantastic way to experience a relaxing vacation without worrying about additional expenses for dining or entertainment.

2. Marriott Bonvoy

If you like the option to stay at a budget hotel sometimes and revel in luxury other times, the Marriott Bonvoy rewards program may be your best option. According to AFAR, Marriott Bonvoy, unlike other programs that might focus on a specific category, boasts a vast portfolio catering to all budgets and travel styles. With a wider coverage area compared to competitors, you’re more likely to find a Marriott Bonvoy hotel in your desired destination, maximizing your ability to use your points and enjoy their member benefits.

Consistency across the brands is what attracts many to join the Bonvoy program. A unique advantage of all of Marriott’s Moxy hotels, from Athens to Paris, offer a nearly identical experience. Knowing exactly what to expect, from the room layout to the overall vibe, can be a welcome comfort, especially when navigating the potential stresses of travel, writes Reader’s Digest.

One nice perk of the Bonvoy program is you’ll receive a fifth night free if you book a five-day trip using points. According to The Points Guy, this means you get the night with the lowest point value out of your five-night stay completely free. This can be a huge points saver, particularly in high-end destinations like the Maldives, where points redemption costs can be quite high. The program also has many branded credit cards to earn points faster and you can turn the points into airline miles with 50 participating carriers.

3. World of Hyatt

Hyatt’s hotel offerings may not be as large as other chains, but its loyalty program is much more generous. According to AFAR, top-tier elite members within the program can enjoy perks that enhance their overall hotel experience. For one, they may be eligible for complimentary suite upgrades, potentially offering them more spacious and luxurious accommodations compared to a standard room. Additionally, top-tier elites can often enjoy a late check-out time of 4:00 p.m.

The hotel chain also has some pretty low redemption levels that are much lower than other hotel loyalty programs. Free nights in standard rooms start at 3,500 points per night, notes U.S. News & World Report.

Hyatt points aren’t as easy to accrue as other programs, but they are much easier to redeem because of consistency in the program.  A favorite of The Points Guy is that Hyatt maintains a published award chart, unlike some programs where award costs can fluctuate and lack predictability. This chart clearly outlines the exact number of points required for a free night at any Hyatt property, categorized by hotel tier.

4. IHG One Rewards

This pet-friendly hotel chain features brands like InterContinetal, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, and the luxury Six Senses resorts. IHG uses a dynamic points system, where the number of points required for a free night varies depending on the specific hotel. However, they offer a guaranteed perk across all membership tiers: a late check-out at 2 p.m., says Reader’s Digest.

While the values of the points may not be the best, there other good reasons why this program may be a good fit. Firstly, IHG One Rewards is known for its user-friendly redemption process. Booking award stays is generally straightforward, writes The Points Guy. Secondly, the vast network of IHG hotels puts them nearly on par with Hilton in terms of global reach. This increases the possibility of finding an IHG property in your desired location. Finally, The Points Guy highlights the frequent opportunities to purchase IHG One Rewards points at a significant discount. This can be a strategic way to build up your points balance without spending a fortune, potentially making the dynamic pricing less of a concern.

Why wouldn’t you join this program? Membership grants you access to complimentary Wi-Fi at IHG hotels. This can be a major perk in today’s world, where reliable internet access is crucial for staying connected and informed during your travels, raves USA Today. On top of that, IHG One Rewards rewards loyalty. When you book your room directly through IHG channels, you unlock exclusive member-only rates. These special rates can potentially offer significant savings compared to the standard public rate

5. Hilton Honors Program

If you spend a lot of money on an American Express card, you’re in luck when you join the Hilton Honors program; it is a transfer partner for Amex Membership Rewards, writes The Points Guy. This means you can convert your Amex points to Hilton points at a very favorable rate: one Amex point gets you two Hilton Honors points. On top of the standard transfer rate, The Points Guy mentions the possibility of occasional transfer bonuses. Another way to boost your Hilton points is through Amex co-branded credit cards. These cards are known for offering generous welcome bonuses, often exceeding 100,000 points.

It’s relatively easy to become an elite member of the Hilton Honors program and when you do you’ll be rewarded. According to Reader’s Digest, upgrading to Elite unlocks a variety of benefits that can significantly enhance your hotel stays, including fifth-night-free benefit, free breakfast, room upgrades, spa discounts, and bonus points.

6. Best Western Rewards

Unlike other loyalty programs, the points you earn by staying at Best Western hotels never expire and there are no blackout dates! Another unique benefit? Status matching. This essentially means Best Western will recognize your existing elite status from a different hotel loyalty program and grant you an equivalent or similar elite tier in their program, says The Points Guy. This can be a significant advantage, especially if you already have mid-tier elite status with another hotel chain.

If you like to use your points for things other than hotel stays, no problem. For those looking to stretch their travel dollars, Best Western offers a straightforward way to earn rewards. Members accumulate points with every stay at any of their over 4,000 hotels located worldwide, explains USA Today. Additionally, you have the option to convert your points to airline miles or gift cards, providing further flexibility to suit your needs. The dollar-to-point ratio is strong. According to Small Biz Trends, by becoming a member, you earn points on every stay, with a rate of ten points for each dollar spent.

7. Choice Privileges

This chain doesn’t offer many perks to elite members, but if you travel a lot to countries like Sweden, Norway, and Denmark it may be worth joining. Scandinavia is a popular travel destination, but it’s also known for its expensive hotels. This is where Choice Hotels can be a real money saver, adds The Points Guy. Members receive discounted redemption rates through its Sweet Spot Rewards.

Like staying at cheap hotels, with the option to cash in your points for a more luxurious experience? Choice Privileges’ variety of hotels allows you to accumulate points through your everyday stays at their affordable hotels. The beauty lies in the redemption flexibility, notes USA Today. You can then use those accumulated points to book a complimentary night at a higher-end Choice Hotel property, indulging in a touch of luxury without a significant upfront cost.

Choice Privileges rounds out our list because it’s easy and affordable to gain elite status by getting a co-branded credit card. For those considering the Choice Privileges credit card, it offer benefits without any additional fees, says U.S. News & World Report. Simply by signing up for this card, you automatically achieve Gold status in the Choice Privileges program each year. Gold status members can take advantage of bonus points on stays, room upgrade opportunities (subject to availability), or late check-out options.


Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.

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About the Author

Amy Chodroff

Amy Chodroff is a recovering Morning Radio Show Host and award-winning broadcaster who recently retired from DFW’s Morning News on KLIF in Dallas. Fondly known as the “Chief Googler” by her friends, it was a seamless transition for StudyFinds to enlist her expertise for their “Best of the Best” franchise. Amy has an innate curiosity and a penchant for thorough research before any purchase and she’s constantly on the hunt for top-notch products. Outside of her digital explorations, Amy loves to explore the world with her husband and is the proud mother of two adult daughters. You can also find Amy on the pickleball court, perfecting her dink and drop shots.

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