Get Big Cash Back Rebates on Your Hotel Bookings

Usually my favorite online shopping portal is the Chase Ultimate Rewards mall, both because the points earned are especially valuable (in large measure due to their flexibility and their lucrative transfer partners) and because the earning ratios tend to be really good.

There are some online shopping portals that consistently just offer bad deals, this is not one of them.

For most purchases I start at EV Reward, it’s a search engine where you look up the merchant you’re going to be buying from and it shows you the different deals that are on offer from the various mileage and cash back websites.

That’s points or cash rebates you can get for the purchases you’re going to make anyway, just for starting at a shopping portal ad using their link to get to the online store.

That’s because the online store will pay commissions to these sites to drive buyers to them, and those shopping portal sites rebate much of that commission to you in order to get you to go through their portal.

The shopping portal makes money, and makes more money by driving more transactions even though their per-transaction net is lower (since they’re rebating much of it to you).

That’s how the airline mileage malls work, like the Dividend Miles or AAdvantage shopping malls, and it’s how the cash back sites like Ebates and Fatwallet work.

Once in awhile there are big ‘special offers’ — more often with the cash back websites than with the mileage malls. And those specials come around more often than EV Reward updates. So you don’t always see the latest information there. So it can pay to check a few of the most lucrative sites yourself, sites in particular like TopCashBack which is often at the top end of rebates and runs regular specials, but also ShopAtHome.

DJP_707 posted on Milepoint this morning that Ebates was up to 13.5% cash back on Intercontinental Hotels Group (Priority Club) properties — Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, etc.

That’s great, it’s an off-the-top discount effectively. And really nice for business travelers making their own reservations, getting reimbursed.

But that’s not even the best current offer for Priority Club properties.

Through November 30, ShopAtHome.com is offering 20% back.

Note of course that you can go to the Holiday Inn booking site and book other Priority Club chain hotels.

The stunningly high rebate just underscores how worthwhile it is to check what sites will offer you for the reservations you’re going to make anyway, online purchases can be really lucrative just as I wrote about for airfare, in “Quintuple Dipping: Maximizing Your Earning When Purchasing Travel”.

Since these sites generally just take you to the hotel’s own website to make your booking, they’ll earn points. At a 20% rebate it’s entirely possible to be getting better than a 50% total return on your hotel stays when you add in points earned for the stay and points earned from credit card spend on the stay.

There are opportunities for big rebates (in points or cash) or hotel stays, airfare, car rentals even, not to mention purchases made at Amazon.com (Hawaiian miles) or Target.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I hate to be negative about this BUT I recommend avoiding cashback sites other than UR mall, ebates, and FatWallet. It really doesn’t matter how much rebate is offered if it isn’t ever paid out.

  2. @Gene, I have about 90% success rate using 5 different sites, including bigcrumbs and topcashback. In my view, this is just icing ontop of the cake. I don’t know anything about ShopAtHome. Is it reliable?

  3. My recent experience with ShopAtHome is a bit negative.
    I used it for a Hilton stay when they gave 8% back. After all there is no cashback given. ShopAtHome told me that the reason is my reservation was a prepaid rate and they only give cash back to Best Available Rate reservations. Any other rate will not qualify.
    My previous experience with Topcashback is different. I think they give cashback for any kind of rate.

  4. I would stick with the main websites regarding cashback sites. I’ve never had a problem with ebates, and now use Mr Rebates and TopCashback (due to their reputation in the UK). Ebates pays out once a quarter, whereas with Mr Rebates you can request a check at anytime, but it takes 90 days for items to be marked payable. With TopCashback, you can also request a check at anytime, but items are marked payble quicker, anywhere between 1-3 months depending on the merchant. And when booking hotel reservations, once you book a hotel, it will show up in your list before your stay so you know that it is being tracked, unlike ebates and Mr Rebates.

    Also, Mr Rebates and TopCashback are now at 15%.

  5. I’ve had trouble with Mr. Rebates not automatically posting my rebates that I should get via click throughs, so I’ve learned to keep a spreadsheet of exactly when I click, what reservation it was, and what I’m owed. They’ve been prompt in researching and manually crediting me each time. It’s a PITA, but worth it when the rebate amounts are so high.

  6. If I book a hotel through one of these portals, does the hotel give me points for the stay and credit the stay to accumulating status, or do I forfeit those benefits?

  7. Something to watch out for — when you go through an online shopping mall or rebate site the merchant you eventually arrive at knows the site you went through (since they need the id of that site to pay the commission). Sometimes, the price of the item is higher going through the referral site than it is going directly to the merchant.
    .
    For instance, this summer I bought two backpacks at ebags.com (excellent bags, excellent site, btw). One bag was the same price purchased directly or through the Ultimate Rewards mall. The other bag, however, was discounted 20% if purchased directly, but not if purchased “via” the mall.
    .
    I made two purchases, one direct and one via the mall. Obviously, if you’re buying a lot of items, this can become quite tedious.
    .
    Caveat Emptor.

  8. @Helena Smith – as I mentioned in the post, these portals generally send you over to the hotel site to make your booking so you still get points, stay credit, elite benefits

  9. @Gene, I can say that E-Bates and Big crumbs have paid out every transaction I’ve ever made with them. To date I’ve got over $800 cash back. And IHG hotels post very quickly, usually 3-4 days after you checkout. Other companies take longer to post. I do however suggest keeping records i.e. the email confirmations for and purchase or reservation.
    Has anybody had any experience with shop at home?

  10. Gary, What happens if you need to cancel or modify a reservation? Does it get complicated? I’ve generally been somewhat leery about adding another merchant in the middle.

  11. No merchant in the middle you make the reservation directly on the hotel website, so cancel per reservation’s cancellation rules. In most cases you just don’t get the rebate for an unconsumed stay.

  12. looks like it’s dropped back to 15%, i booked yesterday@ 20% a long term stay, tried another this evening and all i see is 15%, i believe it was to run till end of November

  13. Hi Gary, I thought you would like to know about a new booking website that pays CASH BACK on every booking. 100% free to get one’s own booking site. You even get cash back on those you refer that book their own travel on their own free booking website. NOT MLM. Beats or matches Expedia, Travelocity, etc. No points to earn or all that complicated record keeping stuff. Thus is also global. Hope you find it of value to your readers. David

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