If you have a credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards and are looking to book a paid hotel stay, a great option to maximize points earned is to book on hotels.com using the Ultimate Rewards portal.

There are a few reasons why I often pay for hotels rather than redeeming hotel points.  Sometimes I don’t have enough points or I am saving my points for free airfare.  Other times the price of the hotel is not worth the number of points it would take for an award redemption.  In many cases, I visit destinations where there are few or no hotels from the major hotel chains or there are some chain hotels but none I want to stay in.

Since I am a big fan of Ultimate Rewards, I often end up booking hotels on hotels.com going through the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal and paying with my Chase Sapphire Preferred card.  This way I can “double dip” and maximize the number of points I earn for a paid hotel stay.

The “double dip” involves 3 steps to maximize the number of Ultimate Rewards points earned for booking hotels:

1) Go through the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal.
2) Book hotel on hotels.com.
3) Pay with the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card.

Going through the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal

The Ultimate Rewards shopping portal is a portal that you can go through before online shopping similar to the portals offered by airlines.  However, in order to use the Ultimate Rewards portal you will need to have a Chase credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, the Chase Freedom card or one of the Chase Ink cards.

The Ultimate Rewards portal will give you extra points (on top of points earned with your credit card) for going through the portal before clicking to the website you want to shop with.  The payouts are always changing but range from 1 point per dollar to as high as 10 or more points per dollar for shopping.

What distinguishes the Ultimate Rewards portal from other portals such as airline portals is that its “stores” include travel booking sites such as Hotels.com.

After signing in to the Ultimate Rewards portal, click on “Shop and Earn Extra Points”  then go to “Shop By Category” click on “Travel” then “Hotels & Accommodations” to see a list of all partners that earn Ultimate Rewards points.

Ultimate Rewards shopping portal

Ultimate Rewards shopping portal

The current choices for making hotel bookings and earning Ultimate Rewards include Hotels.com, Expedia and hotwire.

Ultimate Rewards shopping portal

Booking hotels on Hotels.com

I frequently book hotels using hotels.com because it usually offers the highest payout on the Ultimate Rewards portal.  The payout for Hotels.com is usually either 3 or 5 points per $1 spent. Currently the payout is 5 points per $1 spent.

Ultimate Rewards shopping portal

Another reason why I like hotels.com is that it has the easiest rewards program.  If you pay for 10 nights you earn 1 night free, essentially giving you a 10% discount on hotel stays.

This method could also be used to earn extra points using other booking websites, such as Expedia and hotwire, although the amount of points would be lower compared to Hotels.com.  For example, Expedia usually offers 1 extra point per dollar. (On a sidenote one can also book flights on Expedia for an extra point and still be able to earn frequent flyer miles.)

Paying with Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card

I usually use my Chase Sapphire Preferred card to book hotel stays because it earns 2 points per dollar for travel plus the 7% annual dividend.  If you don’t have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card you can pay with another card like one of the Chase Ink cards or the Chase Freedom card but will earn slightly less points.

Example

For example, let’s assume you want to book a hotel that costs $100 a night for 2 nights for a total cost of $200.  By booking through the Ultimate Rewards portal on Hotels.com and using the Chase Sapphire Preferred card you would earn the following number of points:

5 points from booking on hotels.com through the Ultimate Rewards portal:  $200 x 5 points for a total of 1,000 points. 
2.14 points (2 points for travel plus the 7% annual dividend) for using the Chase Sapphire Preferred card:   $200 X 2.14 for a total of 428 points
Total points earned would be 1,428 points for $200 spent.

When Not To Use Hotels.com

There are a few scenarios where booking at hotels.com through the Ultimate Rewards portal might not be the best way to maximize points.  If you book a hotel on Hotels.com you will not receive points under the hotel loyalty program.  Also I would not use Hotels.com if the price of a hotel was substantially lower on another hotel booking site.  Usually I find hotel prices to be the same at major booking sites, but sometimes opaque booking sites like TravelPony have lower prices.  Also sites like PointsHound and Rocketmiles might be a good option because they allow you to earn frequent flyer miles on hotel bookings.  However, these sites do not have as many hotels as Hotels.com but can be worth taking a look.

Conclusion

If you have a credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards and are looking to book a hotel stay, a great option to maximize the number of points earned would be to book on hotels.com using the Ultimate Rewards portal.  This is especially a great way to earn points when booking hotels not part of a major hotel loyalty program.

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Update: This is not longer an option for earning Ultimate Rewards.  Still like hotels.com for the free night after ten nights but if you want to earn extra miles consider PointsHound.

 

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