Remember that little Coffee Bean card that lets you claim a free drink after buying a certain number of coffees? You know you need to drink as much coffee as it would take to give you a heart attack in order to claim a drink worth a measly $5, but still you go there day after day.
The rewards programmes of travel sites like Expedia operate on a similar concept—the more you spend, the more points you earn, and you can then exchange them for freebies.
Here are some of the best travel rewards programmes on popular booking sites, and what kinds of freebies their points systems can bag you.
For every 15 SGD you spend on hotels, hotel packages or activities purchased on Expedia, you earn 20 points, which you can then use to offset the cost of your bookings. You also get 2 points for every 15 SGD spent on flights.
When you first join the Expedia Rewards Programme, you’re a +blue member. To become a +silver member, you need to either spend $5,000 on eligible bookings, or book 7 qualifying hotel room nights. To become a +gold member, you either spend $10,000 or book 15 qualifying hotel room nights. The higher your tier, the more you can get out of your points.
What can you get:
For members at all tiers, you can get 25 SGD off a hotel booking with 3,500 points. (In order to earn $3,500 points, you would need to spend at least $2,625, which works out to about a 0.95% rebate).
For +gold and +silver members, you get to accelerate your points to make them go further, as well as qualify for other freebies like room upgrades.
There are other tricks to help you get more out of your points. For instance, when you use your points to book stays in certain hotels classified as +VIP Access (read: atas) on the site, you double their value. So with 3,500 points you get $50 off instead of $25.
One thing that turns people off rewards programmes is how complicated they are.
Hotel booking site very pointedly named, uh, Hotels.com simplifies this with a formula even the most mentally challenged should be able to grasp.
What you get:
Buy 10 nights on the site and receive 1 night free. You can pick your free night for any day of the year, no need to wait till low season. But before you think of booking 10 nights at a budget shack and then redeeming a night at the Hilton, know that they’ll average out the price of the 10 nights you book when deciding how much you can spend on your redemption.
I’m a huge fan of Agoda, simply because you can get such enormous discounts on hotels in the region. So yay!
When you create an account and book accommodation on Agoda, you are immediately credited points on eligible properties
You get 20 points for every dollar charged to your credit card. So a $100 booking would earn you 2,000 points.
What you get:
You need at least 12,500 points to make a redemption. 12,500 points gets you $25 off on a booking, 25,000 gets you $50 off, and so on.
Here’s the catch: you can only use it to book stays that are going for full price on the site.
The thing about Agoda is that they almost always have tie ups with credit cards that can get you a 5% to 7% rebate, making your stay even cheaper than it has to be.
Have you ever made a booking on any of the above sites? Share your experiences in the comments!