Why PointsHound is My New Favorite Hotel Booking Site

Back in October I covered the launch of hotel booking site PointsHound. They were giving out free miles for joining, which was cool. But at the time I said that I probably wouldn’t use the site. That’s all changing.

PointsHound is a site that gives you miles – often quite a lot of miles – for your hotel bookings. Here’s what I explained at the time:

[W]hile many websites like TopCashBack and eBates will offer cash back for the hotel bookings you make through the hotel’s own website, PointsHound rebates you in the form of miles and has you book through their own system.

The downside to making bookings through third party websites is that some chains do not allow accrual of elite stays and nights for those reservations, some do not allow points-earning, and still some do not even offer elite status recognition. That’s why I’ll almost never make hotel bookings through Expedia or Orbitz, for instance. Still, the rebate value here (paid out in miles) looks reasonable overall.

I do like going through a website that gives you a rebate for your bookings. But I do not like giving up elite benefits, or credit towards renewing my status. So I had been passing on PointsHound, even though they’ve been giving out a ton of miles.

Recently that’s changed — for a few months they’ve offered a handful of hotels in a dozen markets that earn a rebate and still qualify for elite status and benefits.

They called the program ‘double dip’ but clearly that idea is pretty Hilton HHonors-specific in the hotel space (Hilton for years has let you earn both miles and points on your hotel stays rather than making you choose one or the other).

So on Monday when they launch the program with about 1000 hotels across the Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, Starwood, and Priority Club chains it will be branded “Double Up” instead.

So for those ~ 1000 hotels, you can earn a generous rebate in the form of miles without giving up status credits and benefits.

Now, it still pays to check websites like TopCashBack and decide whether the cash rebate they’ll give you is worth more than the miles you’ll get from PointsHound. (TopCashBack and similar sites — unlike Expedia and Orbitz — send you to the hotel’s own website to make your booking so those reservations are eligible for elite status credits and recognition.)

But for chains other than Priority Club, the mileage offers from PointsHound are frequently better.

Their mileage-earning partners currently are:

They have three mileage-earning levels based on how many times you book with them. They’ve given me a referral link, though, that will start you off at level 2 which seems to earn about 50% more miles on average. If you sign up through the link it will take, I’m told, about 24-48 hours for your ‘level 2 status’ to be reflected.

Here are their levels and the earn ranges for each:

It pays to compare rates — there seeem to be outliers where the site winds up more expensive than booking directly, but that hasn’t been frequent in the searches I’ve done. Always check prices against other sources.

For someone like me, this program really hits the spot. I care about re-upping my elite status. I care about the benefits of that status. And I’ve hated forgoing a rebate, for instance, when booking rooms with Hyatt. 1000 hotels is a good start but not ubiquitous enough, but getting perhaps the equivalent of a 12% rebate in the form of miles is pretty good compared to what I was getting before (no rebate) on those bookings where PointsHound has a hotel. Good news all around.

Do note, though that not all of their deals earn status and elite benefits — their prepaid rates do not. So look for their Double Up rates only if your preferences are like mine. For hotels I’m booking at chains where I care about status and the hotel isn’t listed with this marker I will continue to book elsewhere. (But for one-off stays, the rebated points may be worth more than what I’d earn through the chain anyway.)

Additional disclosure: Not only do you get level 2 status but I understand that I may get some miles for referring you if you use my link when signing up for the site and make bookings. So it’s win-win. Furthermore, when I was perusing their list of key players I noted that I do know one of the site’s investors. He has never mentioned this investment to me.

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. 2x updated sometime overnight. There seems to be a lot of hotels. Well at least in San Diego. There’s a hostel/hotel place in San Diego and the rate is exactly the same as all booking engines and even hotel website 400 UA miles for a $50 room 🙂 Looking at many of the hotels seems more UA gets a better CPM than US Air. Some good ones 2000 miles for $150 while another hotel is 900 points for 2x the room rate.

    Although i do find it interesting a hotel on SPG website is sold out but available on pointshound.

  2. Thanks for sharing the info. This is a new hotel search engine for me and I like the idea without losing the elite status of hotel loyalty points.

    I’m collecting miles with different airlines to those listed so it is probably not suited to my preferences.

    In the UK I do like Topcashback and you can get some good deals when you know which hotel you’ll be choosing before you log on.

  3. Just signed in. Thank you for all your great information and don’t worry about the “critics”; nothing wrong with referral bonus and other payment as long as you are up front about it ( which you always are)
    If I purchase a Hilton reservation, do I still get all the points with Hilton as gold, the benefits as gold and the 10 miles per dollar I get with the Citicard Hilton for staying at Hilton brand hotel? I have guaranteed gold status with Hilton so not worried about my nights getting me status credit

  4. I’m glad you’ve rationalized your view, Gary. If you really wanted to make sure you could give the points back to the people signing up why not try to figure that out first? It isn’t like you’ve always been racing to push the latest info about Pointshound out first so by giving it the extra couple hours it would have changed the net effect of your post. And the 1000 extra properties don’t appear to be live yet either.

    Maybe you really don’t want the bonus points. That’s great, too. But to go from almost no coverage despite the developments with the program to suddenly being so motivated that it is you favorite site seems like quite a jump. Especially when it is still only ~1000 hotels allowing the Double Up earning, well less than 10% of the total hotels in those brands globally. I guess I’m just surprised that small shift suddenly makes it the best choice for you.

    I also notice that you aren’t including the caveat that the Level 2 sign-up is only a trial period, valid for 60 days. That’s probably important information you should share so people actually know what they are signing up for and how to make sure they get the value from it.

  5. @Seth Miller – I’ve seen other posts of yours dogging other popular travel bloggers and your comments are truly a reflection on what a douchy kind of person you are. I stopped reading your blog because of your shrewd tactics.
    Gary is upfront and a great blogger, so stop your drivel and focus on your own site.

    Carry on Gary..Ignore Seth..

  6. I tend to take Gary’s side in this spat mostly because, in the end, his readers benefit. I learned from this post and am appreciative. Fact remains, the other blogs don’t have the readership that Gary has. That’s not Gary’s fault. Sure, I wish his posts were more concise…but, that’s another matter.

  7. Just signed up thru Gary’s link and got this message:

    “Also, as a thank you for signing up, you’ll receive an ADDTIONAL 500 miles with your first booking, so start shopping.”

    “We will also be upgrading your account to Level 2 status, which will happen with in the next 24 hours. You’ll receive an email from us once completed!”

    And yes, Gary is right, I would rather get 500 United miles than 350 Etihad miles. 😀

  8. Haters are gonna hate !! Disappointed in Seth’s (and others )negative comments, as a blogger he should realize you cannot make everyone happy all the time. I like reading both Gary’s and Seth’s blogs. Maybe time for you two to have a few beers together ???

  9. PS : If both of you are ever in Las Vegas I’ll bring the beers, throw in steak dinners and a suite for all the hard work BOTH of you do !!!

  10. I agree with Seth on this. This post could’ve been clarified much better

    Guess now it’s confirmed (not from Gary) that Level 2 is indeed only for 60 days. That’s disappointing

    Next time I’ll wait a bit and reward the bloggers that actually clearly state as such, as well as the benefits bloggers get from our referral (e.g. extra points)

  11. Gary, Do you or anyone know if one gets Bonus Promotions Programs credit thry Pointshound. I am in the Marriott and they have the Stay twice and get a Free Voucher for Level 1-5 hotels thru 2 Sept. I assume booking thru Pointshound would quality for the stay – is that so? Thanks

  12. i don’t think anything much of Seth, anyone that has themselves hanging out of the overhead for their avatar says it all to me, maybe he just hasn’t grown up yet. Thanks for the heads up Gary

  13. Better a picture of themselves hanging out of the overhead than of oneself in the lavatory, I say.

  14. Pointshound.com does not let you choose the type of room for example 1 king size bed or 2 queen size bed. If you are travelling on business by yourself, it’s fine and doesn’t really matter. If you are travelling with a family of 3+ and try to book 2 queen size bed room, the customer service support from pointshound.com said it does not guarantee the type of room you would get. In this case, it totally doesn’t work out. RocketMiles.com will give you an option to choose the # of beds for the bedroom you need. Also, when you book from pointshound.com, it does not give you an option to choose smoking or non-smoking room either!!! I don’t really think a non-smoker could stay in the smoking room!!! For a smoker who gets the non-smoking room, he could not smoke either!!!

  15. I booked around 50 nights altogether from my trips over the year with pointshound.
    I received miles only my first 10 nights, then I never receive any miles again since then. I wrote email, no reply, checked their facebook, some people wrote they are chearing customer by marking up price for their margin to buy mileage. Now they got money, and run away…… be careful

  16. Is the Pointshound referral link still valid? I did some checking and I think there are other referral links with 1000 bonus pointshound miles to both parties but don’t have this level 2 upgrade which i think is better long-term (thanks for that!). Are there any bonus miles which I would get with this link? Thank you.

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