Can Sites That Give You Miles for Hotel Bookings Also Get You Better Rates?

I’ve written about Rocketmiles several times in the past, such as here, here, and here.

And I’ve written about PointsHound several times in the past few months as well (Here, here, here, here).

Both Rocketmiles and PointsHound are hotel booking sites that rebate much of their commission to you in the form of frequent flyer miles.

Earning Frequent Flyer Mile Rebates for Your Hotel Bookings

For the most part, you may not earn hotel points or elite status credit when booking through these sites — just as you wouldn’t when booking through an online agency such as Expedia or Orbitz — although PointsHound does have ‘double dip’ rates where you will. (Hyatt and Marriott will generally honor elite treatment during your stay on these rates, while as a general proposition Starwood and Hilton will not.)

But the sites are generally much better for the consumer than the Online Travel Agencies because the rewards can be fairly large.

But Won’t You Get Stuck Paying a Higher Rate?

One of the concerns that gets raised is that the sites might have higher rates than booking elsewhere. I do not usually find that to be the case, but it does occasionally happen. Equally frequently they may wind up with a lower rate.

Here’s a query for a one-night stay at the Hilton O’Hare, which is attached to the airport. I include government rates for comparison purposes.

It’s an airport hotel that really can pull $275 rates because it’s the airport hotel you want at O’Hare. You always want the hotel attached to the airport when one exists, and when there isn’t one you choose the most recently renovated. But there’s huge value in a late night arrival and early morning departure not to have to deal with a hotel shuttle and burning extra time waiting for it, being downstairs early to make sure not to miss it and ensure there’s room, etc.

Interestingly, the state government rate is much lower that the federal government rate. Hotel rates are the one of the few times I’ve wished I was a government worker.

Fortunately there’s something even better than being a government employee at the Hilton O’Hare — being a PointsHound customer. Because what’s the rate for this hotel, same night, on PointsHound?

(Note: When I’m logged in to the PointsHound site my earnings rate is higher — 2000 miles for the booking.)

PointsHound, on this night, is selling the room cheaper than even the federal government rate. The PointsHound booking cancellable up to three days out — not as generous as a standard cancellable room. In this case it was a close-in booking so there was little risk. And without a special rate, a more generous cancellable rate was nearly twice as expensive.

It turns out that PointsHound was only slightly higher than the State Government rate — of course PointsHound also gives miles for this one night booking, miles that I would consider worth more than the difference in rates.

But I’m not a state government employee. However, even if rates were equal I view the miles earned from this one night booking as worth certainly more than the points a regular HHonors member would earn from a stay booked with Hilton.

Bottom-line: It pays to shop around. Will there be times that sites that rebate miles to you show a higher rate? No doubt. That’s not by design, but with so many hotels and rates it is bound to happen. At the same time, there will be instances where the sites are much cheaper, too.

Signup Bonsuses With PointsHound and Rocketmiles

I had had a referral bonus to offer of 2000 miles (I was foregoing my 1000 mile referral credit and arranged to have it given to you instead), unfortunately that was made available to me only through mid-July. You can still sign up through my link and get 1000 miles with your first booking. I’ll get 1000 miles too since they ended the ability for me to forego it.

Using my link for PpintsHound does get you both sides of the first-time booking bonus (250 miles for being referred, plus the 250 miles that would normally go to me as the referrer, all 500 go to you) as well as giving you 60 days at “level 2 earning” which is an extra ~ 50% miles on their bookings.


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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. I signed up, I think using you link during the double mile promotions. I checked a couple of hotels to book but the rates were way higher than intercontinental hotel group’s own website…

  2. The only problem I have with Points Hound is that they do not perform any of the hotel bookings. It it transferred to a third party.

    When requesting support for a booking, I got an email from JohnDoe@travelnow.com

    My booking got held up and I was never notified. Upon calling PointsHound to request an update, they transferred me to the folks at TravelNow who told me that they had a systemwide failures during my booking and did not know when it would be back up and running.

    By this time, hotel rate jumped from $249 to $339. I got ZERO support from PointsHound in this matter.

    I’m sure it has worked for others, but I will never consider using them again.

  3. What is the “average” nightly rate that the pointshound site is showing? Is that actually for the night you are querying or is that an average of what customers have paid in the past? Just clarifying because average rate is sort of a strange way to express the price of a single night stay.

  4. Perhaps the right answer in this case it to book with Hilton and invoke the best rate guarantee? I did one of those recently, and it worked adequately.

  5. I’m with DrSifu. Bad experience, will not use again. Definitely would not use if you are looking for elite credit.

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