Hotels are a large part of the cost of any vacation, and getting value back on that spend by earning air miles and points is smart. This is one of my favorite ways to earn air miles, as it’s about comparing, calculating and being wise about the way you choose to book.
There are many options for booking hotels that will earn you air miles. The best way for you, will depend on your goals.
Regardless of the way you choose, you can stack the miles you earn, by earning in two different programs (or even twice in the same program) for the same spend.
We’ve outlined the different ways below, along with the pros and cons of each.
HOTEL LOYALTY PROGRAMS
When you book directly with a hotel, you are entitled to earn rewards in their loyalty program.
Most hotel chains have their own reward program, and most also partner with airlines, so you can choose to either directly earn air miles with your preferred airline, or manually transfer your points from the hotels loyalty program to your preferred airline.
Examples of hotel chains where you can earn air miles are Best Western, Choice, Club Carlson, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Langham, Marriot, Ritz Carlton, Starwood and Wyndham.
- As your booking with the hotel site directly, you’ll be earning points and elite qualifying stays with that hotel, and receiving your perks from your elite status with that hotel if you already have it e.g. free breakfast, complimentary upgrades etc.
- There could be better deals available through general booking sites like Hotels, Bookings, Expedia, Hotwire or Priceline
Shopping portals should be checked and used whenever you are purchasing anything online. The great news is that there are quite a few options for booking hotel rooms through a shopping portal.
This is because sites such as Hotels, Bookings, Expedia, Orbitz, Hotwire and Priceline participate with shopping portals, as do a number of the hotel chains.
Examples of shopping portals are American Aadvantage Shopping, Alaska Mileage Plan Shopping, Barclaycard Rewards Boost, Chase Ultimate Rewards Shopping Portal, Delta Skymiles Shopping, JetBlue Shop True, Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping and United Mileage Plus Shopping.
So always check your preferred shopping portal/s to see if the site you are about to book the hotel room on participates, before making that booking! You do have to click through from the shopping portal to the site you are booking the hotel on, in order to earn the shopping portals points.
- A super easy way to earn air miles!
- You can stack rewards this way, as you are earning miles through the shopping portal, and as you are also booking directly with the site you can earn their rewards as well
SPECIALIZED BOOKING SITES
Over the past few years a number of sites have launched that directly award you air miles and points in your preferred airline program, when you book a hotel room through their site.
- The earning rates can be quite high (in the thousands of air miles), so you can earn a large chunk of air miles
- Limited selection of hotel rooms
- Sometimes the rooms are more expensive than you will find on other sites
- Not booking directly with a hotel means that you miss out on earning points and elite qualifying stays with that hotel, or receiving your perks from your elite status with that hotel if you already have it e.g. free breakfast, complimentary upgrades etc.
Airbnb has been slowly partnering with airlines, allowing you to earn air miles and points for your stay, just like you would if you were booking a hotel.
There are several different ways to earn air miles for Airbnb stays.
You can earn United miles by buying Airbnb eGift cards through the United MileagePlus X App and using these to pay for your booking on the Airbnb site.
You can earn Delta miles by visiting www.deltaairbnb.com, entering your Delta number and clicking through to book your Airbnb.
Qantas also partners with Airbnb and it works the same way as with Delta, whereby you need to book via the airlines site www.qantas.com
- You can stack miles, by booking through Delta or Qantas and then paying with the Airbnb eGift cards you’ve purchased through the United MileagePlus X App
- You are limited to only earning United, Delta or Qantas points at this stage
Some airlines provide you with air miles if you book the hotel on their website. The air miles you will earn are shown next to the hotel details, when you do a search.
The main airlines that do this are: American, Delta, Lufthansa (Miles&More), Qantas and Southwest
- You can book your flight and hotel on one website at the same time, and earn air miles for both
- Not booking directly with a hotel means that you miss out on earning points and elite qualifying stays with that hotel, and receiving your perks from your elite status with that hotel if you already have it e.g. free breakfast, complimentary upgrades etc.
AIRLINE WEBSITES VACATION PACKAGES
Some airlines offer vacation packages, which are a bundle of flights, hotel and transportation. You book these packages on the airlines website.
The main airlines that offer air miles for these packages are Alaska, American, Delta, Jet Blue, Southwest and United.
- You earn a higher rate of award miles on the vacation package than you would if you were just booking the flight, or booking the flight and hotel separately
- You book everything at once, so it saves time and is easier to manage
- Limited choices of destinations and hotels
- May or may not be cheaper than booking flights, hotels and transportation separately - you'll need to work this out
There are a lot of different strategies to earn air miles and points for your hotel bookings. Choose the one that accomplishes your goal the best, whether that is earning large amounts of air miles, getting the cheapest rate while still earning miles or achieving and retaining the perks of elite status with a hotel.
My preferred way to earn is by booking a hotel via a shopping portal, so that I earn points from both the shopping portal and the site I booked the hotel on. And of course, I use an air mile earning credit card to pay, so I’m earning air miles in three different ways for the same spend!
If you are interested in signing up for any of the specialized booking sites or Airbnb, my referral links are below. If you use these, we will both earn points!
Rocketmiles referral link
Pointshound referral link
Kaligo referral link
Airbnb referral link