Why PointsHound is My New Favorite Hotel Booking Site

Back in October I covered the launch of hotel booking site PointsHound. They were giving out free miles for joining, which was cool. But at the time I said that I probably wouldn’t use the site. That’s all changing.

PointsHound is a site that gives you miles – often quite a lot of miles – for your hotel bookings. Here’s what I explained at the time:

[W]hile many websites like TopCashBack and eBates will offer cash back for the hotel bookings you make through the hotel’s own website, PointsHound rebates you in the form of miles and has you book through their own system.

The downside to making bookings through third party websites is that some chains do not allow accrual of elite stays and nights for those reservations, some do not allow points-earning, and still some do not even offer elite status recognition. That’s why I’ll almost never make hotel bookings through Expedia or Orbitz, for instance. Still, the rebate value here (paid out in miles) looks reasonable overall.

I do like going through a website that gives you a rebate for your bookings. But I do not like giving up elite benefits, or credit towards renewing my status. So I had been passing on PointsHound, even though they’ve been giving out a ton of miles.

Recently that’s changed — for a few months they’ve offered a handful of hotels in a dozen markets that earn a rebate and still qualify for elite status and benefits.

They called the program ‘double dip’ but clearly that idea is pretty Hilton HHonors-specific in the hotel space (Hilton for years has let you earn both miles and points on your hotel stays rather than making you choose one or the other).

So on Monday when they launch the program with about 1000 hotels across the Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, Starwood, and Priority Club chains it will be branded “Double Up” instead.

So for those ~ 1000 hotels, you can earn a generous rebate in the form of miles without giving up status credits and benefits.

Now, it still pays to check websites like TopCashBack and decide whether the cash rebate they’ll give you is worth more than the miles you’ll get from PointsHound. (TopCashBack and similar sites — unlike Expedia and Orbitz — send you to the hotel’s own website to make your booking so those reservations are eligible for elite status credits and recognition.)

But for chains other than Priority Club, the mileage offers from PointsHound are frequently better.

Their mileage-earning partners currently are:

They have three mileage-earning levels based on how many times you book with them. They’ve given me a referral link, though, that will start you off at level 2 which seems to earn about 50% more miles on average. If you sign up through the link it will take, I’m told, about 24-48 hours for your ‘level 2 status’ to be reflected.

Here are their levels and the earn ranges for each:

It pays to compare rates — there seeem to be outliers where the site winds up more expensive than booking directly, but that hasn’t been frequent in the searches I’ve done. Always check prices against other sources.

For someone like me, this program really hits the spot. I care about re-upping my elite status. I care about the benefits of that status. And I’ve hated forgoing a rebate, for instance, when booking rooms with Hyatt. 1000 hotels is a good start but not ubiquitous enough, but getting perhaps the equivalent of a 12% rebate in the form of miles is pretty good compared to what I was getting before (no rebate) on those bookings where PointsHound has a hotel. Good news all around.

Do note, though that not all of their deals earn status and elite benefits — their prepaid rates do not. So look for their Double Up rates only if your preferences are like mine. For hotels I’m booking at chains where I care about status and the hotel isn’t listed with this marker I will continue to book elsewhere. (But for one-off stays, the rebated points may be worth more than what I’d earn through the chain anyway.)

Additional disclosure: Not only do you get level 2 status but I understand that I may get some miles for referring you if you use my link when signing up for the site and make bookings. So it’s win-win. Furthermore, when I was perusing their list of key players I noted that I do know one of the site’s investors. He has never mentioned this investment to me.

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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  1. Seems like a good program for me since its hard to stay brand loyal when so much of my travel money goes into airfare.

    I haven’t had much luck with the cashback sites in fact i’m still fighting topcashback for a booking i made through hotelsclub.

  2. Seems like worth a look. However, using your link did not start me off at level two just level one. I am going to email them and see if I can get a bump though.

  3. I have a Hyatt Olive 8 reservation at $199 (AAA rate on hyatt.com). Checking PointsHound, the same room Double Up rate was $379. Too rich for my blood!

  4. I with everyone else. Do you ever not post stuff where u don’t get a referral. Is it too much to ask that you do something without getting a kick back.

  5. @Up and away – the vast majority of posts .. certainly > 90%… do not contain referral links of any kind. Furthermore, in this case I offer it because it is better than signing up for the site directly without my link (since you start off with higher mileage earning).

  6. Gary — does this show up as Pointshound or the hotel on a credit card statement? Would potentially be concerned for business expenses if it is the former.

  7. @gary. Out of approx your latest 17 posts 5 if them offer referrals. And that’s in about a week

  8. @Up and away – why don’t you crawl back under whatever bridge you normally live under?

    There is no reason why Gary should blog out of the goodness of his heart and never accept compensation. If you want a blog like that, go write your own. No one is making you come to this one.

  9. @Up and away – and I’ve gone back and looked at entire months, some of which it’s been ~ 3%. It depends what I’m writing about on a given day, depends on what’s news and new. Seriously, this referral link is here because is it better for readers than signing up directly. If folks don’t want to use it and want to have lower mileage earning options at PointsHound I’m totally cool with it.

    If my next flight in a few hours has internet and if there’s more kvetching, I might take down the referral link and suggest folks sign up directly, and they can blame their mileage losses on unappreciative commenters 🙂

  10. @John777 – prepaid rates would show up as paid to the booking engine, the ‘DoubleUp’ rates are pad at checkout…

  11. So to be very clear. I’m not looking for a fight just expressing a point of view.

  12. @Up and away no fight here, just pointing out to you that I think your impression of the frequency of referral links is off… But what of it? I have several relevant posts in the queue, I may post one that includes a link or two tomorrow even. It will always be disclosed. It will always be for the best offer I am aware of. And you can choose to click it or not. Here the referral link is present because it is better than you can do without it.

  13. Gary, may be you should just give both the links (one with the kickback and one without) – so folks can decide?

  14. @Mary The issue for me is Gary calling it “My New Favorite Hotel Booking Site” when he really provides no review or no experience for it. He lists the features and notes he gets a benefit for it. When your site is a review and opinion of products, he provides comments to provide our opinion on his opinions. And in this case, the way the post is written, this site may be his new “favourite” because he benefits from it, not necessarily because he has tried it, has experience with it, etc. In other words, the opinion on being his “favourite” must be taken with a grain of salt.

  15. I like this post and thank you. Sure, there is some cha ching, but I also learned something. As usual, you could have said the exact same thing in about half the words…but, that’s normal whether there is a referral or not. Regardless, another value added, albeit wordy, post.

  16. @upandaway, free speech doesn’t mean what you think it means. When you sound off like an ass, the rest of us don’t have to refrain from calling you an ass.

    You claimed that Gary never publishes anything without something in it for him and then followed that up with a post acknowledging that 12 of the last 17 posts did not contain referral links. Great argument.

  17. @T3pleShot I didn’t want folks to get confused and wind up getting less for themselves — as you can see from some of the comments, not everyone reads the whole post. But how hard would it be for someone to ‘decide for themselves’ to take the lesser offer / non-referral link? They could type “PointsHound.com” into their browser or Google it.

  18. Hey this site looks great. I’ve registered through the link you posted. This my way of saying Thank You to you. Keep up the good work.

  19. @Walt K +1 Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    @KR I think Gary very clearly explained why the recommended site is beneficial to his readers, and in considerable detail.

  20. The double dips are good if you’re spending other people money but otherwise your just trading a higher rate for points.

  21. @Gary I really appreciate your blog and would prefer to support you, but are you aware that there are much better links that will earn you Level 2 status as well as 100 miles upon signup as well as an additional 250 miles with your first booking? Just google “hackmytrip pointshound etihad link” and you’ll see what I mean. Thanks for all your great info!

  22. I recently stumbled upon a similar website called rocketmiles.com but their mileage earn seems quite superior than Pointshound – check it out. I stayed for 2 nights at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas and earned 10,000 AA miles on top of Hyatt elite night credits

  23. Hard to understand why people keep reading posts from someone they consider to be a fraud and a leech. Gary remains the best blogger out there and also the most generous in terms of willingness to give free advice too many times to count on Milepoint. If you asked for advice from any professional, you would expect to pay for it. Here it is totally optional and not the main focus, yet some people persist in complaining and then going back again and again to further piss themselves off. I wonder what these people do for a living and how much of their valuable services they give away every single friggin day.

    There are blogs I no longer read because the calculus between worthwhile advice and credit card pushing just wasn’t working for me. This site is certainly not one of them but if it is for some of these posters, so be it. Just leave. But don’t come back and constantly bitch about a site and a person many of us find not only worthy but admirable.

    Sorry – rant over.

  24. Thanks Gary, I signed up via your link and hopefully the level 2 will be updated soon.

    Personally speaking, I always appreciate that bloggers provided some ways (like referral link, referral code etc), by which we readers can pay for their efforts. let alone such referrals are also good to myself.

    I just did one dummy search on this site and found some rates are almost the same and earn miles (I paid more attentions on SPG hotels). For example, June 7-June9, The Westin Georgetown, Washington D.C. , on the pointshound, its 151 per night with 1000 AA miles plus elite qualified credits (didn’t fact in the Level 2 effects, which will), while it is 149 per night on SPG. i.e. I paid 2*2=4 more dollars to buy 1000 AA miles without considering the possible cashback on SPG. The current highest cashback for SPG website I could found is 3%, that means, I exchange 149*2*0.03+2*2=12.94 dollars for 1000 AA miles, that’s 1.294 cents/mile. this is far below what I value AA miles (1.7 cents/mile). The above calculation doesn’t include the effects of LEVEL 2 from Gary’s referral link, which could make things better.

    For this specific case, this website make sense to me.

    Thanks again.


  25. I’ve been using Points Hound since they did their presentation at FTU in LA. I’ve decided that I prefer to accumulate airline points towards premium flight redemptions rather than collect a few points spread around multiple hotel programs. I found using a site like Points Hound allows me to base my decision on where to stay based on price and what I think about the properties on offer instead of trying to retain any status. There is no need to worry about devaluation or worry about not getting my benefits. Points have always posted in a timely fashion.

  26. The sad part is that others have been covering the Double Up side of the business for the past couple months and you’re just now “discovering” it because they sent you the email offering you the bonus pots for signing people up. They get more customers, you get more points and the customer probably benefits a bit, too. But not as much as they would have had you covered the news months ago when it was new.

    If readers here want in-depth analysis and coverage of the company check out what Scott has been writing about Pointshound over at HackMyTrip; he’s got a lot more information and much more detailed coverage. His reports on it are probably the best out there right now (even better than my coverage, and I’ve actually provided some details, too).

    Rocketmiles is similar and offers more points per night at the few hotels they have. But they have a much smaller collection of hotels to choose from.

  27. Just signed up. Thanks for pointing out.

    And please ignore mean spirited commenters…there is no reason you should not have a referral link in your blog. After all you own it.

    Thanks for everything

  28. @Gary, To what extent have you played around with it? Pretty few points in many foreign countries. Cash back sites are looking better.

  29. agree w/above re domestic only. now when pointshound and/or rocketmiles begin substantially offering miles for international stays, that will be excellent & i think they’ll find that use of their sites will break out in a major way. they really need to offer this, & it can’t be too hard.
    one thing noticed: rocketmiles: far fewer properties, fewer dbl dips though higher miles, but often much higher prices too (not always, but often)- so check around.

  30. I just got this email from pointshound and have neven booked any room yet.

    Hi there!
    As a thank you for signing up with PointsHound, we’ve automatically upgraded your account status to Level 2! What this means is that you’ll now earn miles at an accelerated rate on hotel reservations. While earn rates vary by hotel, Level 2 members generally earn in the range of 5-12 miles per dollar spent!

    Make sure to checkout our referral program. When you invite friends to PointsHound with your unique referral link, both you and your friend will earn a 250 point bonus when your friend makes their first booking!

    Also, make sure to follow us on Twitter to get up to date information on exclusive offers and private sales.


    The PointsHound Team

  31. I signed up this afternoon through Gary’s link. 5 hours later I received an email telling me that I’ve been upgraded to level 2.


  32. @Ethan – I am not recommending earning Etihad miles via this site. You ALSO do get 250 miles upon your first booking with this link. I just didn’t mention the de minimum earning, preferring instead to focus on the miles-earning from the bookings themselves. But you don’t give that up 🙂 By all means use any link you wish, the 250 miles isn’t something that concerns me a bit.

  33. @Seth Miller actually Seth what prompted this post was going from a handful of hotels to 1000 hotels this coming Monday, not any earnings for me. It’s hopefully the subject of another post if it works out – I simply haven’t heard back yet – but I asked the Pointshound folks if there is any way to have “my” 250 miles per signup credited to the member signing up. I don’t know how that’ll work out, but I’m not just discovering the site .. I mentioned it in October, it’s only now becoming “worth” talking about… and the miles to me are something I don’t even WANT.

    I’d truly suggest that you take a long look at yourself and work hard to approach your comments with greater humility. You may have a theory of what’s going on in a given post, but it may say more about your own priors that the person you’re commenting on.

  34. Thanks Gary! Glad to hear that the 250 mile bonus is also available through your link. I always appreciate you being up front about referral links and the best information for your readers. Inevitably there will be people who complain about any kind of referral link, but you deserve to be compensated for the time you devote to this site, especially when it’s a win/win for everyone.

  35. Sound like this might also be away of keeping miles to expire due to inactivity in an airline account

  36. Thanks for the post Gary. I’d written off pointshound in past, but with them going to 1000 hotels I will take another look. Keep up the great work, and please keep providing value added links for readers, even where (horrors!) you have a chance to make a few pennies in return for the fabulous service your blog provides.

  37. I fail to see why it’s better to go through this site to earn normal hotel stay credits + some airmiles compared to cashback sites and earn normal stay credit + hard cash (up to 15%)

    Or if hotel loyalty is not an issue, go through a cashback site to hotels.com and earn up to a cool 20%+ (cashback is often 12% for hotels.com + their own rewards program’s 10%)

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