Published on November 3rd, 2014 | by William Charles30
Rocketmiles Review – Is It The Best Hotel Booking Portal?
Rocket Miles seems to have a never ending marketing budget, I see this website constantly advertised. They are constantly being mentioned on other blogs, preroll advertisements on youtube and traditional banner advertisements. I decided it was time to finally give them a thorough look to see if it made sense to change my hotel bookings to them.
Rocket Miles is similar to the majority of other hotel booking sites out there, their main point of difference is that instead of earning hotel loyalty points or cash back you earn airline miles. With that brief introduction out of the way, let’s have a look at the pros & cons.
Pros Vs Cons
Below are some of the pros and cons of booking with rocket miles.
- You earn airline miles instead of hotel points. The majority of people value airline miles at higher rates than hotel points
- Good range of participating airline partners
- They frequent run promotions where your first booking earns 3,000 airline miles, regardless of the price of your stay
- They have a generous referral program
- Limited hotel selection
- You do not earn any hotel loyalty points or cash back through a shopping portal when booking through rocket miles (it’s actually possible to get an additional $1 per completed stay at the moment by booking through CouponCatcus through RocketMiles. I have no experience with CouponCatcus so I have no idea if it’s legit or note.)
- You do not earn qualifying stays for elite status with hotel chains
- Your hotel status is not valid for your stays (e.g if you usually get free breakfast due to your status with a chain, chances are you won’t receive it if you book through rocket miles)
- No best rate guarantee (and rates aren’t usually best in show, more on this later)
In some cases your stays will count towards elite status and your elite status benefits will be applied, but in the majority of cases this will not happen. I think it’s much safer to assume that this won’t happen.
RocketMiles has 23 airline partners, they are as follows:
- Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
- American Airlines AAdvantage program
- Avios Travel Rewards Programme
- British Airways Executive Club
- Club Premier Aeromexico
- Etihad Guest
- Flying Blue
- Frontier EarlyReturns
- Icelandair Saga Club
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- JetPrivilege JPMiles
- Malaysia Airlines Enrich
- Norwegian Reward
- Qatar Airways Privilege Club
- Royal Jordanian Royal Plus
- Saudi Airlines Alfursan
- Southwest Rapid Rewards
- Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
- United MileagePlus
- US Airways Dividend Miles
- Virgin America Elevate
As mentioned earlier in the review, Rocket Miles offers a fairly generous referral program to all of their users. If you refer somebody they will earn a 1,000 airline miles when they make their first booking and you’ll also earn 1,000 after they’ve made their first booking.
If you’d like, you can use our referral link found here. We appreciate you using our links where possible. That being said the referral bonus can not be applied to other promotions. Given this, we’d recommend making use of one of the below promotions instead.
They often run promotions where you can earn more airline miles than standard. Usually these promotions are only available to those who haven’t made a booking before. You typically earn 3,000 miles for your first booking, but it sometimes goes as high as 5,000 miles. This is in addition to however many miles you’d normally earn for your stay (minimum of 1,000). For example here are some current promotions:
- 5,000 Eithad Guest Miles for your first booking valid until May 31st
- 5,000 American Airlines or US Airways for your first booking valid until April 15th
- 3,000 British Airways Executive Club/Avios miles for your first booking: valid until June 30th
- 3,000 Southwest points bonus for your first booking, valid until April 30th (has been 5k points before)
Make sure you scroll to the bottom of these offers to read the fine print to make sure you’re eligible and you complete the promotion successfully.
Comparisons To Other Hotel Booking Websites
Whenever I start using a new hotel booking site, I always like to compare it to other sites I’ve used before. I like to look at a few key factors: number of properties available, cheapest property, most expensive property. This allows me to gauge what type of choice I’m going to get. Below are those results for RocketMiles vs Agoda, Booking.com & Hotels.com.
|# Of Properties||19||1,519||1,104||?|
|Most Expensive Property||$376||$1,023||$1,171||$1,071|
As you can see from the table people, RocketMiles really doesn’t provide you with a lot of choice. 19 hotels for one of the most popular destinations in the world doesn’t make me feel confident that I’m getting a good range of budget, midrange and luxury hotels. It also doesn’t make me confident that I’ll get any options in a smaller market.
In addition to this the RocketMiles search feels extremely clunky compared to some of their competition. I can’t easily drill down by a certain location, facilities, review scores or hotel chains.
I decided to do a little bit of comparison to see how Rocket Miles stacks up against their competitors. I’m heading to Bangkok soon, so I used that as my destination. I wanted information on a two night stay for two people for the 20th till the 22nd of October (Monday + Tuesday nights), I selected Avios as my preferred airline currency as I am able to get the most value out of them by booking short haul flights.
Rocket Miles gave 19 hotel choices. I left the “Recommended” filter on and the top three were:
- Oriental Residence Bangkok
- Centara Grand at CentralWorld
- Grand Millennium Sukhumvit Bangkok
In each instance I’d earn 1,000 Avios per night stayed. I then compared the price that Rocket Miles showed to some of their competitors and the price if you booked direct. In the second table I’ve included the rates minus any discounts I’d receive if I used a cash back portal or coupon code for the other site (I purposefully didn’t include one off bonuses), I gave Airline miles a value of 1.75¢ a point. It’s also important to note that we always compared like to like (e.g the same room types) and all prices included tax & fees. RocketMiles does not include tax & fees on their first booking page (which is a pet peeve of mine, if the charge is unavoidable then you should include it). Here are those results:
Table 1. Base Prices Compared
|Oriental Residence Bangkok||$294.09||$289.40||$290.24||$290||$288.62|
|Centara Grand at CentralWorld||$270.52||$266.32||$266.98||$267||$265.50|
|Grand Millennium Sukhumvit Bangkok||$285.38||$282.60||$283.34||$283||$281.76|
As you can see in each case Rocket Miles is slightly more expensive. Given that Rocket Miles was able to cherry pick the hotels used for this comparison, you would’ve thought they would be the same or cheaper. It was also interesting to see that Hotels.com was always cheaper than Agoda & Booking.com
Table 2. Prices Compared Including Discounts
|Oriental Residence Bangkok||$259.09||$289.40||$272.83||$276||$239.55|
|Centara Grand at CentralWorld||$235.52||$266.32||$250.96||$253||$220.37|
|Grand Millennium Sukhumvit Bangkok||$250.38||$282.60||$266.02||$269||$233.86|
As we mentioned, we gave airline miles an extremely generous value of 1.75¢ a point. This means a hotel booking through Rocket Miles will give us discount of $17.5 per night (in this case $35 since we’re doing a two nights stay). With the other hotel booking websites, here are the best promotions when shopping through cash back portals:
- Agoda: 6% through topcashback
- Booking.com: $14 per booking (topcashback) or 2.1% (dollardig)
- Hotels.com: 7% through topcashback and 10% through their every ten night stays = one free night stay promotion. There is also a coupon code that gives you $20 cash back on stays of three nights or more, as we are only comparing two night stays we have not included this.
In this section RocketMiles fared a little better than some of their competitors but were still beaten every time by Hotels.com. I did give airline miles and extremely generous valuation (I usually value them closer to 1¢ a point) which helped their cause. That said RocketMiles was never the best option. If we looked at more budget options then Booking.com’s promotion would’ve come out ahead, hotels.com would’ve done even better if we looked at stays that were three nights or longer. Agoda would’ve struggled regardless but then again I don’t think Agoda is a very good hotel booking site to begin with.
Obviously if you’re doing a first booking promotion where you earn 3,000/5,000 miles in addition to the standard 1,000+ miles per night then you’re going to get better value than booking through hotels.com. Also to get the full value out of hotels.com, you’d need to book a total of ten nights to get the free night certificate and stay at a hotel that was exactly the value of that certificate.
I’m RocketMiles’ perfect customer, I travel a lot for work and I’m not brand loyal. I care very little about elite status and hotel points. What I care about the most is getting good value for money, having a wide selection of choice and using a hotel portal that is easy to search (the last is the least important as I can always use a better portal for searching and then book elsewhere).
I don’t think Rocket Miles delivers on those three fronts. They are more expensive than other booking sites, have a sparse selection and their portal isn’t particularly easy to use. The only time I could imagine using Rocket Miles is when they have a first booking bonus or similar and I was able to find a hotel that I wanted to stay at for a comparable price. Unfortunately the amount of choice that Rocket Miles gives you is too limiting and I haven’t been able to do this, even though I’ve had 50 paid stays in the last 60 days.
At some point I’ll probably find something I like and get in on the current 5,000 Southwest mile promotion. This will most likely happen when I move from an area that has cheap boutique hotels to an area where hotels are more expensive (at the moment almost all of my stays are in SEA. My work will be based more out of Europe starting at the start of next year).
The hotel booking space is extremely lucrative, search portals make 18%+ of the room rate and often charge more for featured listings in the search results. I think consumers should always try to use hotel points that they’ve earned from promotions first and then make sure they are getting the best price before booking.
My dream hotel booking website would be something similar to HotelsCombined, but that also took into account hotel booking websites own loyalty programs and any cash back that could be got by using a cash back portal. If such a thing exists, please tell me! At the moment my basic hotel strategy is this:
- Using points/free night certificates whenever I can get good value out of them
- Booking.com for cheap short stays (to maximize the $14 bonus per hotel stay through topcashback)
- Hotels.com for all other stays. Currently you get 7% cash back, $20 bonus per three+ night stay (through topcashback and provided promo code) and you also get a free night stay for every ten nights you stay. This is basically 17% return and an additional $20 cashback per three night stay.
- Rocket Miles or similar if they have a good promotion running and I can find something of similar value
Could I be doing better? Let me know in the comments what your hotel strategy is. I’m particularly interested in hearing from other road warriors that aren’t tied into set hotel chains. Check out our review of other hotel booking websites that award airline miles: