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Who Rewards Loyalty The Most – Marriott Rewards Or Hotels.com?

Marriott v Hotels.com
Hotels.com may win in a small village

Hotels.com is a great site for people who travel frequently but often stay in smaller towns where chain hotels don’t have a presence. It allows you to be rewarded for your loyalty when you can’t benefit from status in a major rewards programme. Every ten nights results in one free night, equivalent to the average of the value of the ten nights’ stayed.

What happens however if you have a choice between bagging a night towards your ten at hotels.com or staying at a chain hotel and earning rewards points? Which offers the best value? I will be reviewing the main chains against hotels.com over the course of the year but today, lets see how hotels.com compares with Marriott Rewards.

Earning Rewards

Earning Marriott Rewards

As you can see, you earn between 5 and 10 points per $1 spent at hotels within the group. I am using 10 points per $1 for my example as the hotel is a Marriott.

Hotels.com v Marriott example

The chart shows the costs for booking ten nights at the Marriott Gosforth Park directly with Marriott compared with hotels.com.

This shows the earnings for the hotel in reward points and airmiles and assumes £50 of incidentals for each stay. All figures are calculated based on the exchange rate of 1.24875 US $ to GBP on 12th February 2017. as ‘miles earned while staying at any participating hotel located outside the United States will be based on the U.S. dollar conversion‘.

  Marriott Hotel Booking Marriott Rewards for hotel plus £50 spend Airmiles for Marriott booking plus £50 spend Hotels.com Booking
 1/3 £82 1,648 330 £84
 1/4 £75 1,561 312 £79
 1/5 £70 1,499 300 £71
 1/6 £70 1,499 300 £71
 1/7 £113 2,035 407 £119
 1/8 £70 1,499 300 £71
 1/9 £80 1,623 325 £84
 1/10 £59 1,361 272 £60
 1/11 £85 1,686 337 £87
 1/12 £65 1,436 287 £68
Total £769 10,227 2,045 £794
Difference £25
Average £79

Marriott Reward conclusions

As you can see, it is immediately evident that you would be better booking directly with Marriott. Not only does it cost less, but you will earn points which contribute to status. The Marriott Rewards Terms and Conditions clearly state that rooms booked through third party online retailers, such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Priceline, are ineligible for Miles or Elite night credit.

So not only would you pay £25 more for your rooms on Hotels.com, you would also lose out on valued status benefits. Stay 10 qualifying nights in the calendar year at Marriott to reach Silver Elite status, 50 for Gold Elite and 75 for Platinum. Gold Elite members earn free lounge access and breakfast for two not to mention a room upgrade. The value of these perks could be considerably more valuable than just the £25 saving made on hotel bookings.

Marriott Elite tiers

How do Hotels.com and Marriott compare for our US friends?

Surprisingly when I do this comparison using the US site, the Marriott hotel prices are consistently more expensive than booking through hotels.com.

  Marriott Hotel Booking Marriott Rewards for hotel plus $50 spend Airmiles for Marriott booking plus $50 spend Hotels.com Booking
 1/3 $102 1,520 304 $87
 1/4 $93 1,430 286 $82
 1/5 $87 1,370 274 $74
 1/6 $88 1,380 276 $74
 1/7 $141 1,910 382 $124
 1/8 $87 1,370 274 $74
 1/9 $100 1,500 300 $87
 1/10 $73 1,230 246 $62
 1/11 $106 1,560 312 $91
 1/12 $81 1,310 262 $71
Total $958 10,080 2,016 $826
Difference -$132
Average $96 $83

However, the site offers a best rate guarantee meaning that if you find a rate elsewhere which is better, Marriott will match it and give you a further 25% off. On this basis, therefore it pays to check both but my conclusion is the same. Booking direct with Marriott.com rewards more.

Redeeming Rewards

Marriott redemptions start at 7,500 per night unless you are taking advantage of a PointSavers offer.

Redeeming Marriott Rewards

In these examples, the ten nights earn enough to redeem for one free night with points remaining. The free night with Hotels.com is equivalent to £79 0r $83.

Which scheme is more rewarding?

Admittedly, there may be more flexibility with hotels.com but there is no denying that acrruing points within the Marriott Reward scheme, offers better value, particularly once you start to progress through status ranks.

Not only are the hotel booking rates cheaper (remember the Best Rate Guarantee), but the ability to earn tier status is incredibly valuable as the value of those free drinks in the lounge and two breakfasts can easily exceed £50 per stay.

About Anne

Anne is the founder and editor of Frommilestosmiles. If she isn't travelling, she is thinking of travelling or planning her next trip. She has visited over 90 countries on six continents and sampled everything from backpacking to bank bursting travel. Her mission is to help you enjoy more luxurious travel without the luxury price tag through the use of airline and hotel rewards and other money-saving travel tips

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  1. Any idea about the perks which come with Gold status when booking via third party? I’m not worried about not getting the stay count or the nights towards the next level. My only concern has to do with the other perks, late-checkout, room upgrade, and free breakfast ( when available ).


    • Generally speaking if you book through a party such as hotels.com or Expedia you will not qualify for the perks. Holiday Inn is an exception in that I still get my welcome points with them and they seem to offer me upgrades etc regardless but certainly with Hilton and Marriott, it’s a forfeit of the perks!

      • Actually, I asked this same question on multiple channels, one being Flyertalk and the other i sent an email directly to marriott support.

        Overall the answer was that you are not eligible for Points or Elite night credit.

        BUT, you should be eligible for other perks, like late checkout, breakfast, room upgrade as there is nothing in the terms against this. Now, you have to make sure to include you #marriot account number in the reservation, and it depends on the hotels to provide the perks.

        • That’s an awesome update. Thanks for stopping by with the details. I greatly appreciate it. I guess every little helps with the perks. I’m actually at a Marriott tonight and aiming to utilise as many of them as possible, although a late checkout isn’t necessary considering I’m hosting an event at 730am! Yikes. Have a great evening

  2. Wooh thanks for this great comparison. The discussion in the comments has also been super useful to get a better insight into the points system. I already signed up with Marriott,Starwood,Melia etc but generally, booking.com is my go-to portal for flexible reservations , cancellations, scouring for the best places for selected dates, filtering etc. However, I have noticed that if you have a particular place in mind, it is sometimes more beneficial to book from the hotel site directly. Thanks again for the info 🙂

  3. With marriots rewards it doesn’t apply when booked at discounted sites and when I tried to get points for marriot hotel rooms booked through another site I was denied. That bummed me out. I sometimes use hotels.com but booking.com usually offers the best deals so I stick with them.

    • That’s absolutely true. You will not get the Marriott rewards unless booked through their site. I’m also currently invoking the Best Rate Guarantee which is not going too well so this may be another nail in the coffin for direct booking

  4. I didn’t know that hotels.com offered a reward scheme since two days ago when I received a survey from the website. I usually book through hotel.com, I am going to sign up for the rewards loyalty. Marriot sounds good, but the places I travel don’t have the chain ones.

    • I think (but let me know if you find different) that you are automatically signed up once you register for the site which I guess is another bonus.

  5. Interesting article. I had no idea Hotels.com offered a free night after booking 10. That is cool. Mariott rewards program also sounds good but really depends on where you are going. If there is Marriot there and how often you travel.

  6. We’ve had a Marriott card since 1987 and that is one card I actually do use the points I’ve accumulated. Love getting free stuff from them and typically each year, around December, I get a voucher for a free night at the place of my choice from them, just because of our loyalty. That matters big to me. Thanks for explaining the savings in such great detail.

  7. Great analysis! We have commonly booked with Marriott and found their program to be pretty amazing!

  8. I didn’t even realise that hotels.com offered a reward scheme! Lots of facts and figures to go through, but of course at the end, to get a ‘free’ thing, you pretty much have to pay for it somewhere down the line… most likely with more expensive rooms.

  9. What an intriguing comparison, really like having the actual figures of your research, rather than vague ideas, makes it really clear to see the options. I usually like booking.com which doesn’t give any loyalty but has many advantages for my way of travelling, but I’m definitely going to look into hotel.com now I’ve read your post.

  10. sometimes hotels.com have coupons which will drop the price altogether. Lets say 10% of the booking. I’d rather save $100 of a $1k booking than earning points.

    • They do and I use those coupons but generally I would not spend a $1,000 on a room and so the free nights are better for me. Definitely worth using them if you are going to a splurge though!

  11. Agggghhhh. Too many quotes and figures for my liking in this post as I don’t understand hotel points etc. Maybe I should get my ass in gear and check this out and save a few bob 🙂

  12. The Marriott scheme is really the better option here. Never thought hotels had such reward points system.

  13. Nice post, but your analysis overlooks/confuses several things that actually make Hotels.com a more attractive proposition than you make it seem.

    First, Hotels.com is not simply better for people who stay in smaller towns, but it’s also great for flexible stays throughout multiple chain hotels – you don’t have to be wedded to a Marriott, and can stay at a Hyatt, Hilton, etc., and still get a free night.

    Second, Hotels.com also has a Price Guarantee, that will match a cheaper, publicly available rate.

    Also, even though the Marriott best rate guarantee gives you a further 25% off, you must request your match within 24 hours of making your reservation. Hotels.com allows you to make your request for a match prior to midnight the day before your stay.

    Third, although Marriott redemptions start at 7,500 per night, the Marriott Gosforth Park (which you used for the comparison) is a Category 4 hotel, which means it requires 20,000 points for a night.

    So, if you booked with Marriott, based on the rewards earned in your analysis (roughly 10,000 after 10 nights in the UK or US), you would need to stay 20 nights to get a free night at the Marriott Gosforth Park.

    However, with Hotels.com, your free night is automatic after 10 nights, and it’s worth the average nightly rate of your 10 stays. Thus, after 10 nights, you’d have a free night that you could spend at the Marriott Gosforth Park!! (given your quotes for the average rate and how much each nights cost). These are things you should definitely have mentioned in your comparison.

    Finally, you’re overstating the value of the free drinks and breakfasts. You would have to be at least Gold Elite to get those, which require 50 qualifying nights in a calendar year (as you noted). Quite frankly, that’s a ridiculous amount of nights at one chain for the non-business traveller. (It doesn’t sound like you’re writing this post for the frequent business traveller, so I think it’s not fair to consider this status perk, when it’s not a realistic option for your audience).

    • Thanks for these great tips. I am a combination of both business and leisure traveller and mix up my travel bookings between the reward chains (for perks although admittedly the required extra nights is steep) and hotels.com. Until recently I was using hotels.com exclusively and wanted to make sure I was not missing a trick hence why i conducted this research.

      • Good to know. Admittedly, I used to use hotels.com exclusively as well, but have transitioned to mostly booking direct (because of status from credit cards). Although I use it less frequently now, Hotels.com is still an excellent value proposition, especially when I’m able to book a free stay at my choice of a 4/5 star hotel after 10 nights anywhere. Also, the Hotels.com search engine is *fantastic* for researching hotels even if you aren’t going to book through them.

        • That is definitely true. I like the fact you can search on a map or list and filter by facilities which can really save time. I’ve had a ton of redemptions with them and have to say their customer service is fantastic. I’m Gold status and I’ve needed to book some non refundable hotels on several occasions due to bad weather and other unexpected reasons. THey have always manages to sort something with the hotel.

  14. I would have to agree with your findings. I always book directly with a hotel chain like Marriott. In addition to the best rate guarantee I like to make sure my status is recognized and that I am earning points!

  15. I love reading your articles because I always end up learning something new. Thanks for this travel tip/hack!

  16. I think you get points for incidentals even on third party bookings, though not the room rate itself, of course.

    It’s hard to get enough stays with Marriott to get to the free breakfast level, as beneficial as it is. Also, good luck finding any decent hotel anywhere you want to stay that is category 2. 10K marriot points are useless if you can’t use them.

    • HI there, it depends on the chain. With Marriott you dont as I know from personal experience of previously booking their rooms on hotels.com and getting zilch points. With other hotels (I think Accor are one but will be reviewing them in weeks to come for certain) you certainly can still earn which would need to be factored into any comparison.

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