The Best Hotel Rewards Return (For Now)

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Capital One has made a few moves in the recent past to better compete with the likes of Chase, Amex and Citi in the transferrable points arena. And hotel brands have been reconfiguring their branded credit cards and upping earn rates to attract customers. But the Capital One and Hotels.com cross-promotion available to a $0 annual fee card is easily the most flexible and valuable rewards program for hotel stays right now.

If you’re interested in this promo, I have referral links for both CapitalOne and Hotels.com. Be sure to check if you can get a better offer elsewhere before using them though.

CapitalOne Earnings

All bookings made at the Hotels.com/Venture portal and paid for with a CapitalOne Venture or VentureOne Rewards card until January 2020 earn 10x CapitalOne Rewards Miles per $1 spent. The Points Guy values these points at $0.014 each so it’s therefore about a 14% discount per stay.

Quick note on point valuations: they’re all subjective, but I like to use TPG to compare relative value between points programs and targeting redemption value when using points I’ve earned.

Hotels.com Rewards

When using the Venture portal, if you make sure to book a property that qualifies for Hotels.com Rewards you can get about 10% back because the program awards a free night after staying 10 nights (at the average price of the 10 nights).

The Catches

In order to get this effective 24% discount on Hotels.com stays, be sure to:

  1. Book through the Hotels.com/Venture portal

  2. Use your CapitalOne Venture or VentureOne card

  3. Book a property that participates in Hotels.com Rewards, and

  4. Book before the promo ends on Jan 31, 2020.

The Math

Between April 2019 and September 2019 I used this promotion on 12 bookings for a total of 45 nights. Here’s what I earned:

Spent VentureOne
Earn (1.25x)
Hotels.com
Promo (8.75x)
Total
Points
Value
($0.014 ea)
$2,219 2,774 19,415 22,189 $310

So by spending $2,219 I got $310 in points and 4.5 free nights (worth about $222) for a total of $532 in value. While it’s subjective valuation that depends on what I use those points on, it’s a relatively good way to ascertain how much the promotion’s worth in comparison to other options.

For example, if I had used my personal favorite the Chase Sapphire Reserve for all these stays it would’ve looked like this:

Spent Chase
Earn (3x)
Total
Points
Value
($0.02 ea)
$2,219 6,657 6,657 $133

Between CapitalOne Venture Rewards and Hotels.com free nights, you can get 4 times as much value over a normally stellar card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Two hotel branded credit cards come close, but one has a $450 annual fee (Hilton Honors Aspire Amex, effective 20.4% discount at Hilton properties) and the other has an $89 annual fee (IHG Rewards Club Premier, 20% effective discount at IHG properties). You can see my calculations of effective discounts here.

In Sum

The CapitalOne/Hotels.com promo is easily the best effective return in hotel rewards out there right now. I use a $0 annual fee card to get about 24% off bookings.

Prior to using it I’d been trying to concentrate hotel stays at IHG in order to rack up as many points as possible in one brand. But the prospect of a 24% discount is too big to turn down.

Moreover, Hotels.com has a far wider selection of properties than any single hotel brand could in locations that sometimes don’t have any large chains at all, and frequently at already discounted rates. It’s an easy choice for saving as much as possible on hotel stays until January 31 2020.