PointsHound is the online online travel agency I know that lets you earn frequent flyer miles with every hotel booking and offers a guarantee you’ll still earn hotel points and status at select properties. And now that program — called Double Up — is being expanded to include even more properties affiliated with Starwood, Hyatt, Hilton, and others. Wyndham Hotels and Club Carlson have also been added to the list. If you haven’t tried it yet, you can sign up and book by the end of the year to get 1,000 bonus miles (I’ll get 1,000 miles, too, for referring you).
You see, most third party bookings are excluded from hotel loyalty programs since the hotel loses so much revenue through high commissions. PointsHound lets you book these rates, too, and uses a cut of the commissions to give you some frequent flyer miles. If you only book hotels occasionally and don’t care about elite status it may not matter. PointsHound has access to the same inventory as larger players like Orbitz and Expedia and offers a low-price guarantee on these rates.
But the Double Up program is more exclusive. These hotels offer inventory through a separate back-end system with a smaller commission. PointsHound makes less money — and promises you fewer miles — but at least the reservation is treated as one made directly with the hotel. You pay on arrival and in addition to the miles you also earn points and credit toward elite status. It’s actually better than booking with the hotel. (PointsHound is working on providing access to discounted rates like AAA. It’s not perfect, but I’ve been able to find some at Starwood hotels. These only appear in the Double Up category.)
PointsHound recently created a concierge service for its frequent customers. Their partner, CheckMate, will contact you on the day of arrival to confirm your hotel loyalty account information, room preference, and other details. CheckMate then contacts the hotel to ensure everything is in order. By using CheckMate’s strength in this area to better implement the Double Up program, which takes a lot of effort to make sure you get the hotel points and status you deserve, they have been able to ramp up hotel participation dramatically.
All PointsHound users who book Double-Up eligible rates will receive an email prior to check-in asking to confirm frequent guest program info and room preferences. Confirming info in this mail (via mobile for users \already in-transit) allows us to ensure proper credit is quickly applied to eligible stays.
As a reminder, Double-Up eligible rates are marked with a Double-Up icon on the search results page and searched using the Double-Up filter on the results page.
You can read my past reviews of PointsHound above and why I think they’re one of the most innovative new travel businesses of the past year. Sign-up with PointsHound and make your first booking by December 31 to get 1,000 additional bonus miles. I’ll also get 1,000 miles for referring you.