PointsHound offers a revolutionary approach to booking hotels, allowing you to earn miles AND hotel points AND hotel status when you stay with most major chains like Hilton, Hyatt, Starwood, Marriott, and Priority Club. When I wrote about this before, it was called “Double Dip,” but they’ve decided to rebrand as “Double Up” in order to avoid any confusion with Hilton’s existing double dip program.
The only real fault I found with Double Up when it was originally announced is that it rolled out in a limited number of properties. Most participating properties were in major markets, and even then you might find two Hyatts participated despite the presence of four in that city, or perhaps all the Marriott properties were game but not the Hilton ones. Well, the soft launch is over and has expanded dramatically. PointsHound now includes over 3,000 participating properties across the United States.
There may still be some isolated cases where a property does not participate, though in general you should find more availability than ever before. They’re looking at adding international properties soon, but there are some added complications that prevent it from happening right away.
Why do I call PointsHound revolutionary? Earning miles for hotel bookings is not new. Airlines were doing this for a while using white label booking sites that copied the look and inventory of established companies like Expedia. But the returns weren’t very good, and earning miles isn’t enough for someone like me who values hotel elite status. Other services added more miles by cutting special deals and restricting choice, but that’s merely evolutionary. The fact is, most hotel loyalty programs officially forbid earning points or status for stays booked through third-party services even if it sometimes works out anyway.
PointsHound turned this model on its head in three ways:
First, it offers the chance to earn airline miles, hotel status, and hotel points. It’s the best of both worlds. There is no low-price guarantee on these rates, but I have often found them to be the same or comparable to the lowest prices elsewhere. In addition, their inventory often includes discount rates, including AAA discounts at Starwood hotels. PointsHound has steadily chipped away at my usual hesitation toward booking anywhere other than directly with the hotel.
Second, it offers the chance to earn airline miles with many different programs while using the same reservations portal every time. Double Up rates are only a fraction of the available inventory. There are standard rates at the same hotels that offer a low-price guarantee. They still earn miles but do not guarantee hotel status or points. There are also standard rates for small towns and for many independent hotels and smaller chains. Basically, if you could find it on Expedia, you’ll probably find it on PointsHound, too, and you can change the airline loyalty program you credit to at any time.
Tying into the one-stop shopping, PointsHound includes a leveling program that promises more airline miles as you book more often. Readers have reported that status updates shortly after you book, so you don’t need to wait until you stay to benefit from higher earning rates. Roughly speaking, a Level 1 member (0-5 nights) earns 3-8 miles per dollar, Level 2 (6-20 nights) earns 5-10 miles per dollar, and Level 3 (20+ nights) earns 7-20 miles per dollar.
These nights are accumulated over a 6-month period, but the great part is you don’t need to stay 20 nights with the same chain in order to get status with PointsHound. I can split up my stays between Hyatt, Starwood, and Kimpton any way I please.
PointsHound noticed that I kept announcing airline promotions that include free Level 2 status when you register, giving you a leg up on extra miles with every booking. So they’ve created a special link for me! If you use my link to register, you’ll get automatic Level 2 status (please allow about 24 hours for it to take effect) and up to 250 miles when you book your first hotel stay. I may get a few miles, too, and they’ve upgraded me to Level 3, but I think this is a win-win for everyone.
Have more questions? Check out the Help section on PointsHound’s website. Contact information is at the bottom of the page.