Note: this article is an update of the Agoda vs. Booking.com Article back in December 2018
What is the point of this Article…
The main purpose of this article is to highlight the differences between Agoda, Booking.com & Hotels.com (at least from a reward perspective). All three offer different reward strategies and can be approached in different ways but ultimately it is how you use the rewards which will have the most return.
The benefits of all three are summarised at the end – however as will become evident – no one scheme “pops-out” to offer the best reward because it is not what reward is given, rather, how you use it which determines its value.
Over the years, many travellers can attest that Booking.com has set the standard for hotel booking websites. Booking.com’s loyalty program – Genius – continues this model and is simplistic but also user intuitive.
In Short – Upon completing two nights within two years you will receive 10% to 15% off on successive bookings.
The trick with this is that no matter what price your room is – ie. £14 a night hostel or £200 a night Hilton, a night is still a night. That is really the sum of it. Upon reaching the target, if the hotel operates the Genius scheme then a discount is automatically applied.
In recent years though, the benefits of the scheme has dwindled as the genius program is set for life after your 5th stay meaning that there is now always an expectation to receive 10 to 15% off. However, cast back a year ago where there was a requirement to have 3 stays instead of just 2 to hit Genius level 1 so that is at least a plus. But then again, for the most loyal, you were able to get 20% off, not just 15%.
In addition to everything you can offer, Booking.com offers Genius guests appealing extras like a 10% discount on ground transport via Rideways.com
Agoda as of the beginning of this year runs three different reward streams – one of which is a direct copy of Booking.com’s Genius scheme – not surprising as they are owned by the same holding company.
Agoda has Points Max, where you earn rewards on the individual stays at a property, which, depending on how much you pay per night on the room, can allow you to earn airline miles with hotel room bookings.
Secondly, Agoda Cash allows you get a small cash rebate for the duration of your stay which can be used to offset the next booking or grouped together to be used at once.
Thirdly, the Agoda VIP Program enables participating properties to offer exclusive discounts to Agoda VIP status customers, categorized as VIPs because they have made a minimum of five bookings on Agoda in the past 24 months.
In total you are looking at around a reward worth 4-7% of each booking.
Hotels.com Rewards is an idiot-proof loyalty scheme:
- You earn 1 credit for every night you book, whatever the chain;
- When you have got 10 credits, you get a free night;
- The value of the free night is the average price you paid for those 10 nights;
- Your credits don’t expire as long as you have one stay every 12 months
There aren’t any catches when you redeem. You can pick any property on Hotels.com that takes part in Hotels.com Rewards and you can pay the difference if you want to book a hotel which is more expensive than the value of your free night voucher.
There is a lot of upside here:
- ALL of your stays (assuming the hotels you book are in Hotels.com Rewards) will count towards free nights.
- Your free night can be used to book any room on Hotels.com. Most reward schemes restrict the ability to book club rooms, suites, family room etc. That is not a problem with Hotels.com Rewards.
- When travelling, you are free to stay at the hotel which is most convenient for where you need to be – no need to mess around with badly reviewed properties or out of the way hotels purely to find one in your favourite chain;
- There are no theoretical blackout dates on applicable properties.
- Agoda – Allows for the collection of points which can be accredited to an airline – what they call Points Max – as well as Agoda Cash which can be used against future bookings by grouping rewards together.
- Booking.com – Once you hit a certain number of bookings in a year you are able to accrue 10-15% off bookings moving forward.
- Hotels.com – Upon booking 10 nights you are able to claim 1 free night exclusive of tax’s.