When hotel booking engine PointsHound started up late last year there were some notable limitations to the service. Most significantly, like other OTAs, bookings made through the site would not earn points or stays in the hotel loyalty programs. While that’s no problem for some customers (like me) it is a deal-breaker for others. Earlier this year the company quietly introduced a limited collection of hotels where they are now able to offer elite benefits and points earning for stays, in addition to the airline miles for bookings. It turns out Hilton HHonors is no longer the only way to “double dip.”
That initial work was more a proof of concept than a final product. This past weekend the PointsHound team finished a major update to their site and one of the big changes was that they now have more than 3,200 hotels across 115 US markets where their customers can “Double Up” on bookings.
Searching their list of hotels you may come across an orange icon at the bottom of the entry which looks like this:
Book that hotel and you’ll earn both the airline points from PointsHound for the booking and also all the traditional benefits which come from direct booking through the hotel’s website.
Here are the rates for a PointsHound-only room and a double earning rate (and, just for fun, the direct booking rate) at a couple hotels on the same night for the same room:
For the same per-day rate you can walk away with 2600 free United Points (based on being a Level 2 PointsHound user). Or take slightly fewer points and a non-refundable rate and save some cash on the nightly price.
A Hyatt Place:
In the case of the Hyatt Place stay you are potentially giving up 100 airline points in favor of earning your Hyatt Gold Passport points. In the case of the Marriott you actually get MORE points by booking it as a stay which also earns Marriot Rewards points. And in each case you’re getting more benefits than just booking directly through the hotel’s site directly.
Of course, there is the rather notable catch that the option doesn’t exist in all cities, much less all hotels in any given city. Still, if the option works for the location you’re in and the property you’re interested in that’s a nice win. In cases where the price and earnings are otherwise the same this might even be enough to sway someone like me – a skeptic on the value of hotel points – to go for a booking engine which allows lots of earning options.
Also worth noting is that PointsHound has a promo out for some bloggers now whereby you can get a 60-day trial of Level 2 status (more points earned per night) and 250 bonus points for
signing up completing your first stay and the blogger gets 250 points. I’m pretty sure Gary even negotiated that the user can get all 500 if you want to sign up there. If you want the bonus points and Level 2 status you can use my referral link here. The main link atop the post is a generic one.
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“you can get a 60-day trial of Level 2 status (more points earned per night) and 250 bonus points for signing up and the blogger gets 250 points”
Unfortunately the bonus points come after your first completed stay, not just for signing up unfortunately.
Is this doable if you tend to book with corporate rates.
I usually book directly on SPG.com, but do it with my corporate rate code.
@Chris: No, it doesn’t allow for corporate rates. You’re saving money instead, though I suppose it might be worth it to see just how much you are saving versus the bonus points.
@Tom: As I understand it the booking will show up in the hotel system as though it was made by a corporate TA, not an OTA. A subtle difference, I suppose, but that’s how many TAs today are still able to provide that service to their customers. I wouldn’t worry too much about it from that perspective. Yes, it is a bit more complicated and a few extra steps in the process, but there are a lot of points at stake, too.
I book directly with the hotel typically because I like hotel points and credit toward elite status. I also think that there is bias against folks who book with OTA… rooms overlooking the trash-bin etc. Otherwise I go with something like priceline bidding.
I *think* I get the idea here… but it sounds a little too complicated for me. I can imagine that it would be a nightmare if things don’t post correctly and you’d probably be out of luck. I’d be mighty unhappy then
Seth, can you compare this to CB sites?
I’m checking my current reservations to see if there are any I can switch over to being made via Points Hound and get both the airline miles and the hotel points. So far I’m finding a lot of my regular hotels where there are points earning rates available, which is good. However, so far none of the rates Points Hound is offering are as good as my existing reservations, which are often booked on my corporate discount code, or a code from the client. Oh well. It’s definitely a nice development and something I’ll continue to check as I book new trips.
No real surprise, Steven, that they cannot match corporate rates. Bot everyone legitimately has access to those and some people actually prefer not to use the rates they aren’t entitled to.
I would always need to compare the PointsHound rate against government, AAA, AARP, IBM/MVP, and points redemption rates and for that I’d need to go to the hotel site in addition to PointsHound. At the c. $100 rates I tend to book I might receive 500 UA MP miles through PH, which I figure is worth $7.50 to $10.
Are PH’s cancellation policies the same as the hotel’s?
You have to check the fine print on the cancellation policies, Explore. Some rates (including all the Double Up ones I looked at) are refundable. Others are not.
It appears that stays booked through PH will be valid for promos. Is this correct ?
Currently doing Platinum Challenge with Marriott. Also am enrolled in the 2stays/free night promo. Are bookings through PointsHound going to work for that ? Can’t afford to miss something here.
@Jman: If you book a Double Up rate then I don’t see why it wouldn’t work as it will earn the points and such. If you book other rates then I would not expect that to work.
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