Posted by William Charles on August 30, 2019
Misc

Published on August 30th, 2019 | by William Charles

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Hotels.com To Add $5 Redemption Fee On Free Night Certificates, Waived On App Bookings

Hotels.com is my favorite hotel booking website, mainly because it’s possible to buy gift cards at a discount and then also get a free night for every ten nights stayed. Unfortunately Hotels.com has announced that effective November 27th, 2019 when redeeming a free night certificate a $5 fee will be charged. This fee will be waived if that booking is made via the Hotels.com app. Personally I hate this change, I never like being forced into using an app and I can easily see Hotels.com increasing this fee in the future or removing the waiver. It looks like this will also be retroactively applied to certificates already earned as well which is a dangerous precedent to make. Obviously a $5 fee isn’t the end of the world, especially when it can be waived but I don’t like the direction Hotels.com seems intent on taking.



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Peter
Peter

Ditto. When I got the email I thought it was really just the first step in a major devaluation.

Stan
Stan

nobody ever mentions how gift card redemption is blocked very often on hotels.com properties.
such BS.

anonymous
anonymous

I think it’s mainly because some hotels don’t accept prepayment (necessary when using a gift card, obviously). Although hotels.com does seem to block using a coupon and a gift card in the same booking, which is BS.
Also, $5 per redeemed night is quickly going to escalate when redeeming multiple nights (for those who don’t have a phone capable of using the app).

OyVey
OyVey

Is this obvious up front? In other words would you first find the hotel you want, see if they accept gift card redemption and only then buy a discounted gift card?

dk
dk

You can filter for hotels that accept gift card when you search

OyVey
OyVey

So basically it’s a gamble to buy gift cards ahead of time when there are good deals to be had as you’ll never quite know if you’ll be able to redeem them?

anonymous
anonymous

I don’t ever have any problems using them. I use Hotels.com mostly for hopping around in Europe, and I would say that almost all hotels allow prepayment. If in future one of them doesn’t, I’ll just use the gift card for the next hotel. On the other hand, I HAVE come across hotels that don’t accept credit cards at check-out, so prepayment takes care of that problem before you get there.
Edit: Check some of your usual hotels from the past or from your likely upcoming travel, if in doubt.

Rob
Rob

After my next free night I may abandon hotels.com completely

dk
dk

well I can get the gift cards for 25% off face value, and I currently have 6 free nights built up with them lol. I’m planning on using the nights during a trip next fall. Then we shall see.

Daniel
Daniel

can you please share where you get the GCs for 25% off?

Sang Kancil Guru

Dishonest shi*tty company. Had many issues this week redeeming my gift cards on this dishonest OTA. Will not be using Hotels.com moving forward in the future.

dk
dk

Its just a whiteboxed expedia.

captainsave
captainsave

Their merging gift cards tool been down for a while now.

ssss
ssss

I suspect that has to do with fraud. The rep asks more and more questions such as the amounts on my gift card, where it was purchased and when? Seriously, anyone outside this credit card world doesn’t likely maintain spreadsheets for their gift cards.

Daniel
Daniel

You can basically make up the answers. They’re not checking them or anything.

Ian Pearson
Ian Pearson

No big deal for me. I rarely accumulate points as I always apply a 6-10% coupon code to booking. I don’t travel enough to earn a free night before the points expire anyway.

James
James

I know I’m going to be an outlier, but this doesn’t bother me too much…yet. At least there is a way to get around it for now. And even if it goes to all channels, I’ll still use hotels.com if it is cheaper than the other OTA’s that I use. I don’t always assume hotels.com is the best…I always compare. For the moment, the free night after 10 and the 10 Cap One points combined gives a 17ish % return (I haven’t done the complete math), which I don’t mind for off chain bookings.

OyVey
OyVey

I’m wondering if they did this to offset fees they pay to cashback sites. I’m assuming they don’t pay those fees when booked via the app. I like hotels.com, but between this and the 1 year expiration for the earned nights, it’s really annoying.

ssss
ssss

I have never used the app for my bookings, but I use gift cards. Is there an implication on using gift cards on the app? I wonder if this move has to do with fraud. Are people less likely to have multiple phones?

ssss
ssss

My issue is viewing hotels on the app is much harder than on a website. I wonder how the site is getting around ADA issues? Not everyone has a smartphone so this seems like the site is eliminating a social class from the site. I agree I see this as a slippery slope in a negative direction.

Frank Rizzo
Frank Rizzo

It’s marginally harder but you should be checking prices on the app too. Don’t know how many times I’ve seen lower prices for the same property.

dk
dk

maybe favorite the property on the web and then go to the app?

veeRob

My European friend got the email like 5 days ago and I was like nah, this ain’t gonna hit us US folk. 🙁

Fathiss
Fathiss

This does not seem like a big deal to me. One data point does not make a trend.
I love Hotels.com. Can save a lot with 20% discounted gift cards bought at opportune times that also give bonus cc points. Added with the cash back and 9% savings on 10th night free and this is a huge winner.
I also love their customer service. On several occasions when I’ve callled with issues I received a free $100 coupon for future use.
Sure, may need some flexibility with hotels that use coupons and gift cards, but I’ve not found that to be a huge issue. You have to make some concessions for the savings.

OyVey
OyVey

My understanding is however that when you do buy your gift cards at opportune times, there is no guarantee you’ll be able to utilize them at your next stay as not all hotels accept them.

TDD
TDD

All the more reason to use Orbitz. Get the credit card, make 10% back on hotel purchases when using the App (not forced, but you get only 8% if you use the website). Add on the usual 10% coupons they have and you are getting 20% off. They have a great pricematching system, and the rewards system is great (get 12 nights to make Platinum, get TSA Precheck free once every five years, plus $50 in airline bag check fees returned for bookings made on Orbitz, which make 6% cash back by the way)

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