Posted by William Charles on February 3, 2015
Hotel Booking

Published on February 3rd, 2015 | by William Charles

11

Kaligo Vs PointsHound Vs Rocketmiles – Which Hotel Booking Site That Offers Airline Miles Is The Best?

At the moment there are three websites which will award you with airline miles when you make a hotel booking: Kaligo, PointsHound & Rocketmiles. I recently finished my individual reviews of each of these sites, but thought it’d be a good idea to see how they stack up against each other. Before we get started, it’s important that there is a number of downsides to using these websites:

  • You won’t be awarded hotel points.
  • You won’t receive stay credits towards elite status.
  • Your elite status will not be recognized (e.g you might not get free breakfast/free WiFi).

This isn’t true at all hotel chains, but it’s best to just consider that you won’t get these benefits and be pleasantly surprised if you do.

Airline Partners

All of these websites lets you earn with multiple airline partners.

  • Kaligo: 8 airline partners
  • PointsHound: 18 airline partners (1 non airline partner: Bitcoin)
  • Rocketmiles: 23 airline partners

Rocketmiles has the most partners, but it’s really just about making sure they have a partner that you’d actually use. Below is a list of all the airlines and whether each site is partnered with them or not.

KaligoPointsHoundRocketmiles
AeroplanNoNoYes
AirAsia BigYesNoNo
Alaska Airlines Mileage PlanNoYesYes
American Airlines AAdvantage programYesYesYes
Alitalia MilleMigliaNoYesNo
Asia MilesNoYesYes
BitcoinNoYesNo
British Airways Executive Club/Avios Travel Rewards ProgrammeYesNoYes
Cathay Pacific Asia MilesYesNoNo
Club Premier AeromexicoNoYesYes
Etihad GuestNoYesYes
Flying BlueNoYesYes
Frontier EarlyReturnsNoYesYes
HawaiianMilesNoYesYes
Icelandair Saga ClubNoYesYes
Jet Airways India JetPrivilegeYesNoNo
JetBlue TrueBlueNoYesYes
JetPrivilege JPMilesNoYesYes
Malaysia Airlines EnrichNoNoYes
Multiplus PointsNoYesNo
Norwegian RewardNoNoYes
PINSNoYesNo
Qatar Airways Privilege ClubNoNoYes
Royal Jordanian Royal PlusNoNoYes
Saudi Airlines AlfursanNoNoYes
Southwest Rapid RewardsNoNoYes
Thai Airways Royal Orchard PlusYesNoNo
Turkish Airlines Miles&SmilesNoYesYes
United MileagePlusYesNoYes
US Airways Dividend MilesYesYesYes
Virgin America ElevateNoYesYes
Virgin Atlantic Flying ClubNoYesNo
  • Winner: Rocketmiles, they have the most options and more of the major airlines in the US market than their competition.
  • Second place: Kaligo, whilst PointsHound has more partners, the partners that Kaligo does have are of higher quality (e.g United & British Airways).
  • Last place: PointsHound, some would argue that PointsHound deserves to be second due to Alaska Airlines being included and the fact they have more. I disagree and think that while they do have a lot of partners in total, most of them are not something most consumers would use.

Selection of Hotels

You can have the best loyalty program in the world, but if you only have one hotel listed on your site it’s not very useful.

  • Kaligo: 300,000+ hotels listed
  • PointsHound: 150,000+ hotels listed
  • Rocketmiles: Unknown, contacted Rocketmiles and they never replied. 

Knowing the total number of hotels in a system is useful, but even better is knowing how many properties they have available for the 10 most visited cities in the world (according to Forbes). We used the same date for each site.

KaligoPointsHoundRocketmiles
London50515835
Bangkok23317921
Paris86117635
Singapore1989035
Dubai2835835
New York47410135
Istanbul37412318
Kuala Lumpur901067
Hong Kong22512133
Seoul19414628

Rocketmiles purposefully shows a maximum of 35 hotels at a time, for those who can’t deal with too much choice this could be seen as a benefit. Although in a lot of cases it wasn’t even able to return 35 results.

  • Winner: Kaligo was the clear winner in this category, they have double the amount of properties in their system when compared to PointsHound and it shows when comparing individual cities.
  • Second place: PointsHound came in second, their selection was much better than Rocketmiles and even beat our Kaligo in Kuala Lumpur.
  • Last place: Rocketmiles, shocking selection compared to the other two. When it comes to choosing hotel, I always like more choice.

Referral Program

  • Kaligo: No referral program
  • PointsHound: 1,000 points for each party after they complete their first booking
  • Rocketmiles: 1,000 points for each party after they complete their first booking

For me the referral program isn’t a big deal as the public promotions are typically higher than the referral bonus anyway, so I’d never refer somebody using it because they would be losing out on points. I’m sure Kaligo will add a similar/the same referral program in the future.

  • Winner: Draw between PointsHound & Rocketmiles as they offer the same referral program.
  • Last place: Kaligo has no referral program.

Promotions

All of these sites offer promotions, some are only for new users whilst others can be for existing users as well.

  • Kaligo: Up to 10,000 miles, but it usually requires a high spend of $1,000+ (Update: they are now offering 20,000 miles but this requires a £1,000 spend)
  • PointsHound: 100 mile sign up bonuses + 1,000/2,000 miles after first booking
  • Rocketmiles: Usually offer 3,000 additional miles after your first completed stay. Often offer bonuses that existing users can use, these typically give 500/1,000 additional miles.

It’s somewhat surprising that basically all three sites offer better public promotions than referral bonuses, it really doesn’t provide any incentive for people to advertise on their behalf.

  • Winner: Kaligo, they typically have higher bonuses that reward higher spend customers but even if you’re not spending a lot their bonuses are usually better than those offered by RM & PH.
  • Second place: Rocketmiles have decent sign up bonuses, but they also offer bonuses to existing customers which is nice as well.
  • Last place: The only good thing about PointsHound sign up bonuses is that they offer miles for not completing a booking, otherwise they are lackluster to say the least.

Best Rate Guarantee

Out of the three, PointsHound is the only one that offers any sort of best rate guarantee. If you find a lower rate elsewhere, they will refund the difference. They also hide which rooms do have this grantee (it’s under room & cancellation information on the booking page).

  • Winner: PointsHound, although it remains to see how useful this guarantee actually is. It looks to be more trouble than it’s worth.
  • Last place: Kaligo & Rocketmiles, they don’t offer a best rate guarantee, although they do give the impression to a casual user they do “BEST PRICES” display prominently.

Search Features

When it comes to search features, all of these sites are severely lacking.

KaligoPointsHoundRocketmiles
Ability to change currencyYesYesYes
Sort by priceYesYesYes
Sort by star ratingYesYesYes
Filter by amentities offeredNoNoNo
Search by hotel nameYesYesNo
Filter by areaNoYesNo
Sort by milesNoYesYes
  • Winner: PointsHound has by far the most options for sorting, compared to other OTAs it still sucks but it’s better than the other miles earning alternatives.
  • Second Place: Kaligo, slightly more functionality than Rocketmiles but not by much.
  • Last Place: Rocketmiles not being able to search by hotel name is killer.

Price Comparison

The most important thing when comparing hotel booking sites are prices, it’s great getting airline miles but if the hotel is $200 more expensive you’re going to need to have earned an absurd amount of miles for it to have been worth it.

We looked at the prices for 11 different hotels using different dates and stay lengths. We tried to pick the hotels at random, but if the hotel did not show up on all three sites we excluded it.

KaligoPointsHoundRocketMiles
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London – Westminster (28th February)$204.63$179.74$184.47
Dusit Thani Bangkok (June 2nd – 4th, Double/Twin Superior)$242.80$296.72$296.46
Hotel Aiglon, Paris (August 7th – 9th, standard room)$300.26$294.62$298.64
Conrad Centennial,  Singapore (March 2nd – 6th, Classic Room)$1,445.88$1,331.84$1,325.52
Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel Dubai (February 6th, Superior room)$225.48$183.20$222.87
The Surrey Hotel (February 20th – 22nd, Deluxe Salon)$885.06$817.80$901.03
Avicenna Hotel (October 2nd, Standard room)$125.85$138.85$125.44
Capri By Fraser Kuala Lumpur (September 2nd – 4th, deluxe studio)$196.72$215.42$208.87
Lanson Place Hotel, Hong Kong (February 23rd – 26th, Surperior room)$693.27$716.84$703.25
Hotel Skypark Myeongdong III Seoul ( March 1st – 2nd Standard Double/Twin)$118.11$111.59$147.06
Best Western Hotel President Berlin (February 10th – 15th. Comfort twin/double)$322.34$319.10$396.03
  • Winner: PointsHound,  cheapest rate six times
  • Second: Kaligo, cheapest rate three times
  • Last place: Rocketmiles, Cheapest rate two times

One thing I noticed was that Kaligo almost never showed advance purchase/early purchase rates, which is why their prices were often much more expensive. When these rates were not available, they were usually the cheapest option. PointsHound was the best at showing these early purchase rates, while Rocketmiles sometimes showed them.

These comparisons weren’t entirely fair either, because Rocketmiles has such little inventory a lot of places we wanted to compare we couldn’t because they didn’t have the hotel listed. Theoretically that should have given Rocketmiles an advantage (e.g they only list properties were they have the best price), in reality that didn’t eventuate even though they had this advantage.

Miles Comparison

I also recorded how many miles each of the above bookings would have received. All of these sites have the ability to earn American Airline miles, so we selected that for comparison.

KaligoPointsHoundRocketmiles
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London – Westminster (28th February)700 miles300 miles1,000 miles
Dusit Thani Bangkok (June 2nd – 4th, Double/Twin Superior)800 miles900 miles2,000 miles
Hotel Aiglon, Paris (August 7th – 9th, standard room)1,300 miles1,900 miles2,000 miles
Conrad Centennial,  Singapore (March 2nd – 6th, Classic Room)5,000 miles2,400 miles4,000 miles
Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel Dubai (February 6th, Superior room)1,000 miles500 miles1,00 miles
The Surrey Hotel (February 20th – 22nd, Deluxe Salon)6,300 miles5,000 miles9,000 miles
Avicenna Hotel (October 2nd, Standard room)400 miles400 miles1,000 miles
Capri By Fraser Kuala Lumpur (September 2nd – 4th, deluxe studio)600 miles700 miles2,000 miles
Lanson Place Hotel, Hong Kong (February 23rd – 26th, Surperior room)2,500 miles1,900 miles3,000 miles
Hotel Skypark Myeongdong III Seoul ( March 1st – 2nd Standard Double/Twin)300 miles400 miles1,000 miles
Best Western Hotel President Berlin (February 10th – 15th. Comfort twin/double)1,100 miles1,000 miles5,000 miles
  • Winner: Rocketmiles had the most awarded miles 9 times
  • Second Place: Kaligo awarded the most miles 2 times
  • Last Place: PointsHound never awarded the most miles

Rocketmiles was the clear winner when it came to miles awarded, although it’s worth keeping in mind that this only looked at base miles earned. Because Kaligo often has promotions for existing customers they would have done better if this was factored into account. We can’t be sure if they will extend these promotions into the future, which is why we didn’t include them.

Price + Miles Comparison

Ideally what you want to do is compare the price of the hotel after you’ve taken into account how many miles you’re going to earn. The below table shows you how much the room would’ve cost if we value miles at 1¢ a piece, we also looked at the prices if you booked direct or on Hotels.com. For Hotels.com, we gave a 17% discount (you can earn 7% cash back through TopCashBack or 5x Chase UR points through the Chase portal and you also get a free night after every 10 paid nights).

KaligoPointsHoundRocketmilesDirectHotels.com
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London – Westminster (28th February)$197.63$176.74$174.47$180.00$149.18
Dusit Thani Bangkok (June 2nd – 4th, Double/Twin Superior)$234.80$287.72$276.46$323.52$243.32
Hotel Aiglon, Paris (August 7th – 9th, standard room)$287.26$275.62$278.64$361.76$243.52
Conrad Centennial,  Singapore (March 2nd – 6th, Classic Room)$1,395.88$1,307.84$1,285.52$1,535.88$1,077.74
Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel Dubai (February 6th, Superior room)$215.48$178.20$215.87$176.42$146.88
The Surrey Hotel (February 20th – 22nd, Deluxe Salon)$822.06$767.80$811.03$885.00$734.40
Avicenna Hotel (October 2nd, Standard room)$121.85$134.85$115.44$105.89$102.92
Capri By Fraser Kuala Lumpur (September 2nd – 4th, deluxe studio)$190.72$208.42$188.87$207.24$172.11
Lanson Place Hotel, Hong Kong (February 23rd – 26th, Surperior room)$668.27$697.84$673.25$694.80$579.26
Hotel Skypark Myeongdong III Seoul ( March 1st – 2nd Standard Double/Twin)$115.11$107.59$137.06$133.03$90.79
Best Western Hotel President Berlin (February 10th – 15th. Comfort twin/double)$311.34309.10346.03$339.89$258.54

I thought it was interesting that booking with Hotels.com was the best option in all but one booking scenario (where Kaligo was the cheapest), although their base prices were typically cheaper as well before even accounting for the discount. In terms of looking purely the hotel booking sites that offer miles here are the results:

  • Kaligo was the cheapest twice (same as originally)
  • PointsHound was the cheapest six times (down from 9)
  • Rocketmiles was the cheapest three times (up from zero)

Obviously not everybody values miles at only 1¢ per point, I wonder what would happen if we gave them a value of 2¢ per point and these are the results (I kept the Hotels.com discount at 17%, even though technically it should be 20% as a portal rate of 5x Chase URs would be worth 10% if miles are valued at 2¢).

KaligoPointsHoundRocketmilesDirectHotels.com
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London – Westminster (28th February)$190.63$173.74$164.47$180.00$149.18
Dusit Thani Bangkok (June 2nd – 4th, Double/Twin Superior)$226.80$280.72$256.46$323.52$243.32
Hotel Aiglon, Paris (August 7th – 9th, standard room)$274.26$256.62$258.64$361.76$243.52
Conrad Centennial,  Singapore (March 2nd – 6th, Classic Room)$1,345.88$1,283.84$1,245.52$1,535.88$1,077.74
Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel Dubai (February 6th, Superior room)$205.48$173.20$208.87$176.42$146.88
The Surrey Hotel (February 20th – 22nd, Deluxe Salon)$759.06$717.80$721.03$885.00$734.40
Avicenna Hotel (October 2nd, Standard room)$117.85$130.85$105.44$105.89$102.92
Capri By Fraser Kuala Lumpur (September 2nd – 4th, deluxe studio)$184.72$201.42$168.87$207.24$172.11
Lanson Place Hotel, Hong Kong (February 23rd – 26th, Surperior room)$643.27$678.84$643.25$694.80$579.26
Hotel Skypark Myeongdong III Seoul ( March 1st – 2nd Standard Double/Twin)$112.11 (300 miles)$103.59$127.06$133.03$90.79
Best Western Hotel President Berlin (February 10th – 15th. Comfort twin/double)$300.34299.10296.03$339.89$258.54

The sites that earn miles did a bit better this round, Hotels.com was only the cheapest option in 8 of the booking scenarios. It makes sense that as the value of miles increases, the sites that offer the most miles will do better. With that being said here are those results:

  • Kaligo: was the cheapest option only once
  • PointsHound: was the cheapest option four times
  • RocketMiles: was the cheapest option six times

And now onto the winners for this category:

  • Joint winners: PointsHound & Rocketmiles, it really depends on how much you value your miles. If you give them a high value, Rocketmiles will be better if you give them a low value then PointsHound will be better.
  • Last place: Kaligo. Although this didn’t take into account sign up promotions on on going promotions, where Kaligo excels. I think Kaligo would be better placed by awarding these bonuses automatically on all bookings rather than requiring their members to sign up for them.

It’s also worth noting how much Hotels.com dominated these sites when it comes to booking hotels.

Final Thoughts

I thought it would be interesting to tally up the votes to see which miles earning hotel booking website (what a mouth full) is the best. If they came in first for a category, they would get 3 points, second 2 points and last 1 point. If it was a draw they would both get the higher category. Below is a table with the amount of points earned:

KaligoPointsHoundRocketmiles
Airline Partners213
Selection of Hotels321
Referral Program133
Promotions321
Best Rate Guarantee131
Search Features231
Price Comparison231
Miles Comparison213
Price + Miles Comparison133
Total:172117

Obviously this table is not the ideal way of looking at the best site. That’s because some categories are more important than others (e.g price is more important than the search features for example).

The other thing to keep in mind is that some sites are newer than others and as such probably have more room for growth/improvement in the short term (Kaligo has been around twelve months, Rocketmiles was late 2012 and PointsHound 2012 as well).

 

I think the main take away you should get from this post is thus:

Always check multiple online travel agencies when booking hotel rooms to make sure you’re getting the best price. Try not to let the sway of airline miles lead you to make an irrational choice. If you wouldn’t purchase miles at a high price normally, make sure you’re not doing it unwittingly when you make a hotel booking.

Hopefully some of you found this comparison, and hopefully all of these products take some of my criticisms into account and improve their offerings. I think these sites provide the best value when you’re using an on going promotion or sign up bonus, aside from that I’ll stick to booking direct (if I want the hotel points/elite stay credits) or using Hotels.com (when I just care about the lowest rate).

Make sure you follow me on Twitter, as I’ll always tweet out whenever one of these websites offers a new bonus. You can also read my individual reviews for each of these three sites at the following links:

If you had one request for how these sites could improve, what would it be and why?



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Tara

Great analysis! I tend to choose hotels by location and convenience so these booking portals are the best option for budget travelers like me. Rocketmiles sometimes has a good deal for places that are around the $100 per night mark but I usually get the best prices through Pointshound or Hotels.com via Ultimate Rewards.

The Ultimate Rewards portal is the only one that ever works automatically for me. I’ve used Booking.com for more obscure hotels not available with other booking sites via the AAdvantage shopping portal and always have to chase the miles.

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Kenny
Kenny

Nice analysis, but as usual it depends on what each person is looking for when booking accomodations. I remember choosing Pointshound for 2 reasons (and I still choose them):

1) my gf and I usually don’t go to the chain hotels, we usually end up at smaller, more intimate boutique hotels (especially for our international trips), and some of these show up on PointsHound.com more than Rocketmiles. Because of this, we’re not too concerned about missing out on the Hyatt/Marriott/etc hotel loyalty programs or hotel elite status. We’ll take the miles 🙂

2) PointsHound appears to have a potential for much higher bonuses, the more you book with them over time (ie 5 digit bonuses). The analysis here appears to be more focused on first time bookings.

jam77
jam77

Thank you for an excellent analysis……….will be very helpful in determining which program I will select.
Much appreciated.~

Ben
Ben

Great analysis! I still think these 3 sites are largely scams. They combine extremely poor search function and availability with inflated prices 9 times out of 10. You are simply paying more money than competing sites in exchange for the airline points. You are essentially buying the points at a usually very poor rate.
It surprises me that these site are so popular – I would have thought the average person who was savvy enough to use this site to collect airline points would be equally savvy to know roughly what the points are worth and that the premium they are paying is more than the points are worth.
Yes the sign-on bonuses are tempting (5k AA miles is worth $100 to me) but after that there’s very little motivation to use them.

Kenny
Kenny

Well the Paris hotel we booked with Pointshound was actually lower than competing sites (a comparison we always do), and the points earned were above what we earned from making the purchase on the CC. About a month later, we received our bonus. I still think it is worth it for how we use it, maybe not for others.

karl

Kaligo now offers a referral bonus!
If you sign up via my link we both get an extra 1000 united miles.
Currently they offer a flash sale (ends 29 May) where you will get 2000 United miles for any booking (stackable)!
2000 + 1000 miles for your first booking
https://www.kaligo.com/unitedairlines/Z8LIPMRP

Yogi

Fantastic analysis.
Kaligo offers Airline Miles indirectly also through Citi Premiermiles. And with the current promo going on you earn tremendous amount of Citi Premier-miles which can be convereted into Krisflyer or Asiamiles etc.

Jay
Jay

A bad experience with Kaligo. I booked for myself with my account, my wife did with her account for me on the bonus promo page for new users. We were new to Kaligo. But Kaligo declined bonus miles because both bookings paid with same credit card. I asked what ‘new user’ means, they answered new account, new e-mail, and payment details never used before with them.
Though I got confirmations for bonus miles for new users, they cancel bonus offer because paid credit card is same.
But there are no details of new user on their T&C

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