Hotel Bonus Programs
Living in hotels for more or less 12 of the last 18 months had made us very familiar with hotel loyalty programs and how to get the most out of them. As we have written before, our first choice is always Marriott, but it is important for us to have accounts with all of the hotel brands, as well as to know what promotions they have going on. And January was a big month for promotions!

Stay More, Get More
Marriott, Hilton and IHG (Holiday Inn) both have very good points programs that reward heavy loyalty (i.e. the best perks start at 40 nights per year). These both work on the philosophy the more you stay the more you get. Room upgrades, early check -in, late check-in, lounge access etc, but more importantly it is easier to earn points to get you to those FREE rooms faster. 

  • Marriott offers 20% more points after 10 nights, 25% more points after 50 nights and 50% more points after 75 nights.
  • Hilton offers 15% more points after 10 nights, 25% more points after 40 nights and 50% more points after 60 nights.
  • IHG offers 10% more points after 10 nights, 50% more points after 40 nights and 100% more points after 75 nights.

As you can see IHG does make it easier to get free rooms, but for our travel preferences (downtown locations mostly) it is harder to find IHG hotels that suit us than it is to find Marriott ones.

Starwood and Best Western also have early 2018 bonus programs going. Starwood is linked to Marriott so you can transfer earned points between the two programs. Best Western is a good program for those only staying a few nights a year as you can earn a free $10 on even your first stay but only until January 31st. We are pretty sure that all hotel brands have some type of bonus programs on now, but these are the ones we use and are most familiar with.

New Year, New Bonus Programs
Every January all of the loyalty programs come out with spring bonus programs. These programs are designed to sway your stay preferences and get you ‘hooked’ on one brand at the beginning of the year. These bonus programs are terrific for us as it gets us to the higher levels of the programs even faster. But these programs are also good for anyone that only stays in hotels 10 nights a year. You can earn a free night quite quickly (with about 5 stays) if you register for an early bonus program.

  • Marriott MEGA Bonus – for stays from January 16 – April 15 (retroactive when you register). Get 2,000 bonus points for each stay (3,000 if the stay is over a weekend). Read more.
  • Hilton Points Unlimited – for stays from January 1 – April 30 (must register before you stay). Get 2,000 bonus points for each stay and 10,000 bonus points after 5 stays. Read more.
  • IHG Accelerate – for stays from January 1 – April 30 (must register before you stay). Get up to a maximum 60,000 by completing various offers personalized to your stay history. (Not sure how this works for new reward members but here is ours.) Read more.

Register, Register, Register
Our advice is to register for them all. It does not hurt to have a loyalty number from all of the brands because you never know where you might stay. Yes, you get their emails but you can unsubscribe from the very first one and still earn all of the points and bonuses. It takes a couple of minutes to sign up and you need a place to keep all your account numbers but other than that it is not a lot of time to spend to work toward earning those free nights.

Writing this has brought up some other good blog topics about hotel travel, so stay tuned!

Note: We are currently not affiliated with, or earn any commissions from, any hotel chains. These are our opinions based on 18 months of location independent living and using all of the above loyalty programs. There may be others out there offering similar benefits that we are not familiar with.


We, Jeff and Tara Ciecko of CK Golf write two blogs, one is our 19th Hole Blog where we share personal experiences and the other an Industry Blog where we comment on general business and internet marketing best practices, sales strategies and give golf industry related opinions. We have owned CK Golf  for 9+ years and provide business services to the golf and other industries. As of August 2016 our life and our business is ‘location independent’. Our 19th Hole Blog is about the places we visit and the things we do. If you have any questions or comments, or happen to be in the same location as us please reach out and contact us anytime.