Hotel and motel rewards programs can stretch vacation dollars

Country Inn & Suites in Natchez Mississippi - staying brand loyal, enjoying gorgeous views, and earning free nights

One of the highest costs for travelers is lodging. If one is fortunate to have friends scattered across the globe willing to accommodate the traveler then the cost of lodging is minimal. For the majority of travelers the next best thing to generous friends is free lodging at motels and hotels earned from either credit card points or rewards programs associated with the major chain hoteliers.

By utilizing a rewards program from a major chain, one can accumulate points towards free stays. Signing up is easy and free and is encouraged by the hotel industry as it creates brand loyalty. Many of the rewards programs also partner with car rental companies, airlines, and retailers with added incentives for earning points towards free stays. Additionally, members of rewards clubs may enjoy special considerations such as early check-ins or late check-outs.

Some of the more popular programs and associated brands are:
Best Western Gold Crown Club – Best Western; free nights begin at just 4,000 points. For more information go to www.goldcrownclub.bestwestern.com.
Choice Privileges – Ascend Collection, Cambria Suites, Clarion, Comfort Inn & Comfort Suites, EconoLodge, MainStay Suites, Quality Inn & Quality Suites, RodeWay Inn, Sleep Inn, and Suburban Extended Stay Hotels; free nights begin at 6,000 points. For more information, go to www.choicehotels.com.
• Drury Gold Key Club – Drury Inn & Suites; free nights begin at 7,500 points, points can also be redeemed for free cruises. For more information, go to www.drurygoldkey.com.
• Gold Points Plus – Carlson Hotels, Country Inns & Suites, Park Inn, Park Plaza, and Radisson; free nights begin at 15,000 points. For more information, go to www.goldpointsplus.com.
• Hilton Honors – Conrad, DoubleTree, Embassy Suites, Hampton, Hilton, Home 2 Suites, Homewood Suites, and Waldrof Astoria; free nights begin at 7,500 points. For more information, go to www.hhonors.hilton.com.
• Priority Club – Candlewood Suites, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express, Hotel Indigo, Intercontinental, and Staybridge Suites; points never expire. For more information, go to www.ichotelsgroup.com.
• Wyndham Rewards – Baymont, Days Inn, Hawthorn Suites, Howard Johnson, Knights Inn, Microtel, Ramada, Super 8, Travelodge, Wingate, and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts; free nights begin at 6,000 points. For more information, go to www.wyndhamrewards.com.

Some programs will have expiration dates on points earned and some will require reservations to be made through special 800 numbers or on-line. As long as the traveler is conscientious and follows all the ‘rules of the road’, free stays are a possibility.

One final bit of advice is to sign up for the email alerts; often the clubs will run special promotionals (recently Choice Privileges offered a free night for two separate stays). If planning a trip, these promotionals can be used for future free stays.

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