We started out by looking at the top frequent flyer programs for Australians to join, and his post goes quickly into the handful of hotel loyalty programs for which you should do the same.
Hotel loyalty programs are useful to understand and engage with, as they are usually more flexible than frequent flyer programs by allowing you to transfer the points out to a range of frequent flyer partners.
Alternatively you’ll be able to redeem the points for hotel stays or credit for future travel.
1. Starwood Preferred Guest – join here
Starwood has a slowly growing footprint in Australia and around, but with good coverage in the state capitals and major tourist spots.
Starwood’s points currency (Starpoints) is one of the most valuable out there on a point-for-point basis, with transfer partnerships with most major frequent flyer programs, including Virgin Australia (but excluding Qantas) and useful bonus points purchase promotions cropping up a couple of times per year.
Starwood Preferred Guest is a transfer partner of Australian American Express Membership Rewards too.
2. Hilton Honors – join here
Hilton have a good hotel spread in Australia too. Hilton HHonors points are a useful major points currency to consider if you have an affinity for the Hilton hotel chain.
Hilton has a massive global reach of hotels, and they also partner with a large number of airlines, including Qantas Frequent Flyer.
Hilton also have a credit card partnership with Macquarie Bank, which won’t earn many points from spend but does offer some hotel status and free stay benefits.
3. IHG Rewards – join here
IHG Rewards is the loyalty program of the Intercontinental Hotel Group, including the InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and Indigo hotel chains.
IHG also has a massive global hotel reach, and run promotions for large numbers of bonus points on your hotel stays along with discounted redemptions.
4. World of Hyatt – join here
Hyatt has a much smaller global footprint than some of the other chains mentioned here, but have some very aspirational properties and hotel brands in their portfolio.
Hyatt points are also transferrable to airline miles, and Hyatt runs points purchase promotions too. Otherwise, Hyatt points can be a little hard to come by for Australian travellers.
However, it might be worth taking two minutes to link your World of Hyatt and American Airlines AAdvantage accounts. You’ll be able to double-dip by earning both Hyatt points and AAdvantage miles on American Airlines flights.
5. Accor LeClub – join here
Accor is the parent brand for Sofitel, Novotel, Ibis and other hotels. Accor LeClub, their loyalty program, has a number of European airline partners as well as the major ones in the region for Australia.
However, there’s no major credit card points transfer partner in Australia.
6. Hotels.com Welcome Rewards – join here
Hotels.com is a hotel consolidator, where you can book rooms at a wide range of different hotel chains worldwide. Many (but not all) of the hotels they offer are included in their ‘Welcome Rewards’ program.
Welcome Rewards is fairly unique as, after 10 eligible nights booked through Hotels.com, you’ll get 10% of the cost of those stays back in the form of a Hotels.com credit. This is an effective 10% discount on every hotel stay made through hotels.com, which can often be more valuable than earning points with a hotel loyalty program directly.
Summary – why bother with hotel loyalty programs points
You might find that other hotel chains, small and large, have their own loyalty program too. They may be of use if you stay at a specific chain frequently enough, but otherwise I would look to book using a method where I would earn a points currency I know I will get more use out of.
My own personal strategy is to focus on one specific hotel loyalty program (in my case, Starwood Preferred Guest) for hotel stays where I can and earn points and status.
For all other hotel stays outside of Starwood, I’ll then look to book through Hotels.com and earn an effective 10% discount with Welcome Rewards, or look at one of the points hotel consolidator sites such as Qantas Hotels, Velocity Hotels, or Kaligo.