Hotels.com has announced a major devaluation to its loyalty program. Previously you received a stamp with each night stay, when you had completed ten nights you received a free night stay based on the average cost of those ten nights (you could top it up with cash, but if it was under the value you didn’t get a further refund).
The new program is called One Key and is a combined loyalty program across other Expedia brands (Expedia, VRBO, Orbitz etc). The new program offers 2% back on all hotels, vacation rentals, activities, packages, car rentals, and cruises and 0.2% on all flights.
This is obviously a massive devaluation. It looks like the changes go live mid 2023, so aren’t live yet. Existing stamps will be converted to OneKey at 10% of the value listed (value listed is the price of the hotel night so this is a fair exchange). I actually used to use Hotels.com a bit, but this has killed any desire to ever use them again.
I want to summarize my analysis of the points made by Carly, Kafka, Simon, and others.
If you have any stamps or reward nights currently, you should be in no extra hurry to use them. The value for these will be retained after the conversion.
If you are planning a hotel stay, and the stay is before July 6, 2023, you should be fine with valuing the Hotels.com stamp at least just as much as before. The stamp you earn will not lose its value in the conversion, and in fact would gain 10% more in value.
Now, if your stay will be after July 6, 2023, you will be earning a lot less than before (roughly 2% instead of 7%, see https://www.doctorofcredit.com/hotels-com-devalues-loyalty-program-from-10-to-2-one-key/#comment-1587282) and so you may want to consider booking somewhere else depending on the final price you’d get elsewhere. It’s a little ambiguous exactly when the conversion will occur (all I see is “beginning on July 6”), but for simplicity we can just assume it to be that day.
Hope this clears up some of the other confusion in these comments, and feel free to chime in if you think I got something wrong.
William Charles Chuck
Something weird going on at Hotels .com…
Trying to check gift card balance: redirects to an Expedia login (?) at microsoftonline… WTF?
And, of course (!), can’t get past the bot to chat personally with an agent. Wants me to sign in when I’m already signed in, or enter a booking number, which I don’t even have yet.
EDIT: That was all linking from the support page.
But when I go here: https://www.hotels .com/page/temporary-balance-check/ it works.
There’s so much competition in this space. If Hotels doesn’t want my business I’m happy to take it elsewhere.
The 2% seems to be based on total price, while the 10% was only of the base rate. The redemptions in the current system also can’t be used against taxes and fees. More importantly, you lose any residual value if you redeem for less than your average of the last 10 nights of stays. Call it ballpark 8% earnings and >10% inefficiency in redemption, about 7% effective return.
These seem like nitpicking, but consider: last year, after staying 10 nights averaging $275ish, my next two stays were going to be $90 rooms, meaning either I redeem a free night for 70% less value, or my free night’s average value drops by 14%. I booked the two $90 nights via Chase instead.
Those problems aside, Hotels.com was a great program, and a devaluation from ~7% to 2% still sucks.
Personally, I never redeemed for a night of lesser value (and never would have). I would pay for the cheaper room instead of using a free night. Most of my reservations were at places with similar rates, though, so I was never faced with the choice you had to make.
I never got to 10 nights with them and prefer the 2% discount.
Hotel.com was my go to for hotels but i only gotten 1 free night reward with them. With all the Hilton & Marriott free night certs and points. Expedia points and finding cheaper rates on agoda and I haven’t got the chance to use them much. Just been collecting discounted giftcard so now im stuck with $800 hotel.com gc
From https://www.hotels.com/one-key :
I read this as you will NOT lose the value of already earned hotels dot com reward nights and that all stamps will be converted at full value to onekeycash w/ an additional 10% of value added.
Carly Full value = 10% of the Stamp value. $120 stamp gets converted to $12 in OneKeyCash. There’s no additional or bonus.
H.com Oh snap. That’s some bullshit right there. Thanks for letting me know. I reached out to them yesterday for clarification on Twitter but no response yet.
Here’s what I heard directly from hotels.com specifically related to my situation but you can infer… “All reward nights collected will be converted into One Key Cash at their full value and automatically transferred to the One Key account. There’s no loss of value to the traveler, so if you have a free night worth 200 USD, this will be converted into 200 USD in one key cash.
If you already have accumulated 8 free nights, you can get the full value of these nights in one key cash. If you have remaining stamps in your account that are not part of a reward night by the date you become a One Key member, 10% of each stamp will be converted to One Key Cash. For example, 1 stamp worth $100 will be converted to $10 in One Key Cash.
If stamps are pending for a stay not completed by the date you become a One Key member, then you will earn OneKeyCash based on One Key rates.”
So the earned nights will convert 1:1 but pending nights are converted to the new rate scheme – I’m thinking the silver, gold, platinum rates in the updated table. Gold converts higher than silver, platinum higher than gold.
That’s full value. Previously, 10 nights of $120 rooms gives you a 1 $120 value. This is better because previously if you only had 9 nights, you’d have a $0 value certificate because you were missing that 10th night.
Also it rewards people who use their platform more. It will be interesting to see how things play out over time. I’m not a fan of expedia but used vrnbo on occasion. Hotels com (as w/ airbnb) have stellar customer service in my experience. Hopefully the competitors such as airbnb, kayak, tripadvisor, etc add more loyalty incentives down the road.
Simon Exactly. As each stamp individually gets you around this amount today. Really a better deal for all.
Wow that’s HUGE, no? I was already pissed at Hotels.com for not refunding me during COVID. This kills them for me.
Expedia continues to become more irrelevant.
Yeah, I agree with you..this will make me not use them near as much, if at all…