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Best hotels in the world, ranked by Rewards Programs

Starwood Preferred Guest edges out Wyndham Rewards for top honors.

NEW YORK – Starwood Preferred Guest is the best hotel loyalty program in the world, according to a new study conducted by ThePointsGuy.com, which has 5 million monthly unique visitors and is a leading resource for travel news. The in-depth analysis evaluated the loyalty offerings from 10 major international hotel programs across 10 categories, with Starwood Preferred Guest ultimately edging out Wyndham Rewards for top honors.

When choosing a hotel loyalty program, there are many factors that come into play. After carefully considering the elements that go into the decision, the following criteria were used in this analysis (weightings in parentheses): Ease and Value of Earning/Redeeming Points (40%), Number of Hotels/Rooms (10%), Perks (10%), Elite Status (10%), Percentage of Luxury Properties (7%), Geographic Spread (5%), Co-Branded Credit Cards (5%), Promotions/Bonuses (5%), Non-Hotel Aspects (5%) and Percentage of Economical Properties (3%).

The overall ranking came out as follows:

  • Starwood Preferred Guest
  • Wyndham Rewards
  • World of Hyatt
  • Hilton Honors
  • Le Club AccorHotels
  • Marriott Rewards
  • IHG Rewards
  • Best Western Rewards
  • Choice Privileges
  • Club Carlson

Starwood Preferred Guest narrowly defeated Wyndham Rewards for the top spot due to its high percentage of luxury properties, rewarding Elite Status program and vast geographic spread. Although regular SPG members earn just 2 Starpoints per dollar spent, one of the poorest earning rates among these 10 chains, Starpoints regularly top TPG’s list of monthly point valuations (currently worth 2.7 cents apiece), thus buoying its Ease and Value of Earning/Redeeming Points score.

Wyndham Rewards checked in at second place, just behind Starwood but well ahead of World of Hyatt, its next closest competitor. The biggest contributor to the chain’s success is its recently revamped approach to free night awards. It’ll cost members a modest 15,000 points for a free night at any Wyndham property worldwide, whether it’s the cheapest Days Inn or the most expensive Wyndham Grand resort. This helped the program earn top marks in Ease and Value of Earning/Redeeming Points, even though TPG only values Wyndham points at 1.2 cents apiece. The program also scored highly in Number of Hotels/Rooms thanks to its 8,000+ properties and 700,000+ rooms around the world, and also did well in the Percentage of Economical Properties.

Third place was another tight race, but World of Hyatt just nosed out Hilton Honors for the bronze. Comparatively speaking, Hyatt features a small portfolio of properties, with less than 750 hotels and roughly 70,000 rooms around the globe (Hilton has over 5,000 properties and 800,000 rooms worldwide). However, Hyatt excels when it comes to its percentage of luxury properties, with almost 6% of its hotels falling into this category, good for second place in that criterion. It also provides some fantastic Elite Status benefits and scored well with its co-branded credit card.

“We are continually amazed by the number of travelers who arrive to a hotel, are invited to join the chain’s program, and turn down the opportunity. From our perspective, that’s simply throwing away free money,” said Nick Ewen, an analyst at ThePointsGuy.com. “We always encourage TPG readers to sign up for any and all loyalty programs.”

Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website | + Posts

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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