Third-party booking sites trip up hotel rewards
Hotels can be stingy about offering rewards when booking through third-party sites
Tony Mecia is a business journalist who writes for a number of trade and general-interest publications. He writes "Cashing In," a weekly column about credit card rewards programs, for CreditCards.com
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Dear Cashing In,
have a company MasterCard that is used for hotel expenses. When I book my
travel through our company travel agency, I have not been able to receive
reward points because the hotel states that I can't receive credit because the
booking was made through a third-party service (such as Expedia). Is there a way
for me to still receive credit? If so, how can this be accomplished? -- Ettienne
programs can be a pretty sweet deal for business travelers: Your company picks
up the tab for travel, and you rack up the reward points for a future vacation.
the way it usually works for airlines. Unfortunately, when it comes to hotels,
you're probably not going to be able to accumulate points if your employer
requires you to book through an outside agency.
airlines, hotels often pay a commission to third-party websites when travelers
book through them. Because of that practice, the hotels are unwilling to also
award points for those stays. The terms and conditions of hotel reward programs
make clear that rooms booked through outside sites or vendors are ineligible
for reward points.
booked through third-party online retailers, such as Expedia.com, Orbitz.com,
Travelocity.com, Hotels.com, Booking.com, Priceline, etc., are not eligible for
Points or Elite night credit."
excluded ... are the following types of ineligible stays: wholesaler/tour
operator packages ... travel agency discount rates ... third-party websites
bookings (irrespective of rate paid)."
Rates' are discounted rates, including ... any free night stays, Third-Party Internet
Rates (examples include priceline.com, hotels.com, Expedia and Travelocity),
traditional wholesale rates (examples include GOGO Worldwide Vacations,
Pleasant Holidays, etc.)"
rule typically is that to receive hotel points, you must book the room through
the hotel itself.
just because a rule exists doesn't mean that it's always enforced. We've
probably all had travel experiences where, because of human intervention, rules
have been bent in our favor.
might try calling the hotel ahead of your arrival and making sure it has your
rewards account number -- without that, you certainly won't receive points.
Same when you check in at the front desk. And you could always try to claim
reward credit for the stay after you check out and return home.
strategies could work but probably have low odds of success, because the
computers used by customer service agents and front desk personnel can show
exactly how you booked the room, and they probably know that outside bookings
are ineligible for reward points. But it might be worth a shot.
Of course, you can still earn hotel points by paying for
your room with a credit card that gives hotel points for each purchase. For
instance, if you pay Expedia for a Hilton hotel room and use a Citi Hilton
HHonors Visa Signature card, you would earn 2 points per dollar spent, just
as you would on other purchases. Most of these hotel cards supercharge the
earning power if you use them directly at the hotels. In this case, if you paid
Hilton for a room or charged room service or a spa treatment on the Citi Hilton
card, you would earn 6 points per dollar.
an aside, if you have frequent traveler status with a hotel -- the kind that
gives you room upgrades, free Wi-Fi, late checkout and the like -- you still
might be able to receive those perks, even if you book through an outside
service. Hotel terms and conditions vary on that point, and front desk workers
are more likely to be flexible in doling those out.
that might be a bright spot for you, Ettienne, even if you can't receive the
reward points that you're seeking.
See related: Who owns frequent flier miles from a corporate credit card?
How to keep points from a company credit card
, Supercharging rewards from online travel agencies
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Published: August 5, 2014