Hotel rewards programs are important, both to the travelers who join them and to the chains that run them. Roughly 18% of frequent travelers become loyal to a given hotel brand primarily because of its rewards program, according to Deloitte, and the average Millennial business traveler is actually willing to pay an extra $41 per night to stay at a hotel that belongs to his or her loyalty program. What’s more, hotel chains reap an average of 50% more revenue from customers who belong to their loyalty programs than those who do not, according to a study from the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University.

Questions nevertheless remain in the minds of many consumers. For instance, is it really worth pledging allegiance to a specific hotel chain when travel-comparison websites and disruptive lodging services could yield lower prices on a case-by-case basis? And, assuming that it’s feasible to commit to a given chain, how does one go about identifying the most-rewarding option?

While much ultimately comes down to personal preference and geography, it is possible to cut through the complexity inherent to hotel rewards programs and compare options on equal footing. In the interest of helping consumers make more-informed travel decisions and ultimately maximize their savings, CardHub did just that. We compared the rewards programs operated by the 12 largest U.S. hotel chains in terms of properties owed using 21 key metrics, including point expiration policies, the presence of blackout dates, brand exclusions, rewards value and more. These metrics collectively speak to each program’s expected value for travelers with three different hotel spending profiles: Light ($487 per year), Moderate ($779 per year), and Heavy ($1,461 per year).

Complete results can be found below, along with a custom calculator that will allow you to personalize the results based on your own budget.

Main Findings

  • Wyndham Rewards is the best hotel loyalty program for travelers of all spending levels, earning an overall CardHub score of 71.85 for each profile.

CardHub Score By Traveler Type

Hotel Heavy Traveler Moderate Traveler Light Traveler
Hilton HHonors 56.1 52.1 52.1
Marriott 67.94 59.88 59.88
Choice Privileges 64.04 59.07 59.07
IHG 58.18 54.12 54.12
Wyndham 71.85 71.85 71.85
Club Carlson 64.3 56.6 56.6
Starwood Preferred Guest 39.27 39.27 39.27
The Ritz-Carlton 50.11 50.11 50.11
Hyatt 64.21 55.75 55.75
Best Western 65.78 59.63 59.63
La Quinta 57.14 57.14 49.15
Drury Gold 57.37 57.37 57.37
  • When you only consider the value of rewards earned through each program, without taking into account any other important characteristics, such as blackout dates and point expiration policies, Wyndham Rewards is still the best program across spending levels, followed by Drury Gold and La Quinta. By this metric, Starwood Preferred Guest is the worst program for all spending levels.

Rewards Value Per $100 Spent

Hotel Heavy Traveler Moderate Traveler Light Traveler
Hilton HHonors $9.07 $8.25 $8.25
Marriott $11.64 $9.7 $9.7
Choice Privileges $11.38 $10.01 $10.01
IHG $9.24 $8.4 $8.4
Wyndham $11.8 $11.8 $11.8
Club Carlson $9.89 $8.6 $8.6
Starwood Preferred Guest $5.48 $5.48 $5.48
The Ritz-Carlton $10 $10 $10
Hyatt Gold Passport $11.5 $10 $10
Best Western $8.74 $7.6 $7.6
La Quinta $11.52 $11.52 $9.6
Drury Gold $11.5 $11.5 $11.5
  • Best Western is the only hotel chain that offers points that do not expire due to account inactivity. All other hotel points expire after 12 to 24 months of inactivity.
  • None of the hotel rewards programs allows members to earn points on reservations booked through third-party websites, such as or
  • One-third of hotel programs do not allow users to redeem points for award nights at all hotel brands and properties.
  • Buying points is a generally a bad deal, with program members having to pay 19% more than their points are worth on average. Consumers who do not have enough points to book a room are better off using the “points and cash” option offered by all chains.