I love when an email arrives touting "enhancements" to a program. There’s a good chance the changes are nothing of the sort, but it always takes a bit of digging to figure out what the deal really is. Hotels.com sent one such email this week and, as expected the news is a mixed bag.
The policy changes affect the expiry of credits earned in the company’s Welcome Rewards loyalty program. Under the current scheme credits expire after three years, whether there is any activity or not. Under the new scheme any activity in 12 months keeps the points alive but when they expire all of them go, not just the older ones.
Before October 4, 2011, each loyalty credit is valid for three (3) years from the date it is earned. After three (3) years from the date a loyalty credit is earned, the loyalty credit will expire and you will not be able to use that loyalty credit toward a free night.
Beginning October 4, 2011, loyalty credits will not expire as long as there is a qualifying purchase or redemption activity associated with your welcomerewards account at least once every 12 months. Each time a qualifying activity occurs, the expiration will be extended for another 12 months. "Qualifying purchase or redemption activity" means a rewards-eligible stay which has been both booked AND completed, or a redemption of loyalty credits for 1 or more free- nights. If there is no qualifying purchase or redemption activity during 12 month period, all credits in your account will expire and your account may be deactivated.
This is certainly a mixed bag sort of change. If you’re not using the programs once a year odds are you’re not really getting much value out of the points anyways. And getting more than the fixed 3 years to earn the 10 credits necessary to cash in a redemption is probably a good thing. But if you stay 8 nights every18 months you’re never going to earn any rewards under the program while you would have in the old scheme. So it goes.
As far as changes go this isn’t a huge one in my book. Still worth noting because things are changing, but not a huge deal. Welcome Rewards is still the best hotel loyalty program for me and that doesn’t seem likely to change any time soon.
- Updates to the British Airways program coming soon
- Insight into loyalty programs at the Randy Petersen Travel Executive Summit
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