The Hotel With the Best Rewards Program
Life + Money

The Hotel With the Best Rewards Program

© Carlo Allegri / Reuters

Want to earn the most bang for your buck from your hotel rewards program? Book your next trip at a Wyndham hotel.

A new study from IdeaWorks comparing the six largest hotel chains finds that Wyndham hotels (including Wyndham, Ramada and Days Inn properties) offers a rewards program with a payback of 13.6 percent. That’s more than 50 percent better than the second-best chain, Marriott, and more than double the least-generous chain, Starwood.

Hotel Rewards Programs

Source: IdeaWorks

While Marriott and Starwood have recently merged, the combined company plans to continue operating both rewards programs for the next few years.

Related: America’s Favorite Hotels, Ranked

To compare the payback of various programs, the study used the hypothetical value of rewards for consumers booking without elite status based on how many points they’d need to purchase a room. Those with elite status could typically earn more valuable rewards more quickly, and those booking with a co-branded credit card got the best payback.

The value of hotel points varied greatly depending on the date of travel and the current room rates at each hotel. Since the price of a room changes more frequently than the rewards needed to redeem it, points are generally more valuable during peak seasons when hotels charge the most.

For example, booking a room at the Wyndham New Yorker in December would cost $587 or 15,000 points, a rewards payback of 39 percent. But booking a hotel room at the Holiday Inn Midtown on a weeknight in February would cost just $117, but would require 40,000 points, a 2.9 percent rewards payback, according to IdeaWorks. So the range of value is quite large when it comes to hotel rewards, which means that consumers need to weigh the options carefully no matter what program they are using.