A few times a year, my job sends me on short business trips around the US and Canada which make for good opportunities to earn a few extra points and miles. The destination this time isn’t exactly a big city and the hotel choices were sparse, so I ended up booking 2 nights at a Best Western property. I’ve never stayed at a Best Western before, but this particular property was reviewed well and this would be a good opportunity to learn about a new loyalty program, Best Western Rewards. The program itself is nothing to get too excited about, but I was able to skip straight to top-tier Diamond status thanks to a status match! This might provide a free upgrade upon checking and some bonus point earning opportunities, but the real question is: Do I even want to earn Best Western Rewards Points?
Best Western Rewards Status Match
The first thing I noticed when registering for Best Western Rewards was an ad for their “Status Match…No Catch” program. Much like the name implies, they will match your elite status in any other hotel program just for filling out a form and providing proof of your other status.
While I don’t stay at hotels enough to actually earn status, several of my credit cards come with hotel status just for having the card! I currently have Hilton Silver, Hyatt Platinum, and IHG Platinum in my own name, while Becky has Hilton Gold and Hyatt Platinum in her name, all simply for having the associated hotel credit cards.
As the process only involves filling out a couple fields and sending in proof, I decided it would be worth the effort to get free Best Western status before my stay. The only question was, which of my hotel statuses should I use for the match? Hilton Silver/Gold and Hyatt Platinum are mid-tier, while the IHG Platinum up until recently was top-tier status. IHG recently added a “Spire” tier above Platinum, but it doesn’t add much more than point earning opportunities on top of the Platinum tier. For that reason, I decided to use my IHG Platinum status for the match and hoped that I would get placed into the top-tier Best Western Diamond tier.
At worst, I would get placed into the Best Western Platinum tier which still came with the “Best available room” and welcome bonus benefits which are the only two I can see myself benefiting from.
I filled out the super easy status match form and emailed it in along with an IHG “statement” that included my name and status. To generate this statement, I visited the IHG Rewards Club “My Account” page, clicked “Print my account activity”, and saved the result as a PDF file.
The whole process took about 5 minutes and a couple days later, I received an email from Best Western stating that I was now valued Diamond Elite Rewards member! Best Western doesn’t publish exactly which statuses at other hotels match up with their own program, so I can only tell you that IHG Platinum is equivalent to Best Western Diamond status.
Should I Earn Points or Miles?
Now that I had top-tier Best Western status, the only question left was whether or not I wanted to actually participate in the program. Like most hotel loyalty programs I’ve signed up for, instead of earning hotel points for nights and stays, you have to option to choose airline miles instead. Up until this point, I’ve always chosen the hotel currency over airline miles because the value of the points earned was typically much higher and I pictured myself being able to redeem them in the future.
With Best Western on the other hand, I’m not so sure if I’ll ever get around to collecting enough points for a worthy redemption and actually finding a way to work it into our future travels. I certainly don’t mind switching hotels during our trip if there is a lot of benefit to be gained, but going out of our way for 1 night at a Best Western probably wouldn’t hit that mark.
Before I jump to a decision, let’s look at the numbers for this particular stay. The standard Best Western earnings rate is 10 points per dollar spent, but with my newly gained Diamond status I get an additional 30% on top of that. The approximate cost of my two night stay is $175 which would allow me to earn 2,275 Best Western Rewards points. The lowest hotel redemption is 4,000 points but goes all the way up to 36,000 points.
It’s hard to say how much any number of Best Western Rewards might be worth, but cashing them out directly for gift cards (typically a bad redemption of hotel points) seems to place the value around 0.4 cents per point. We’ll round it up to 0.5 because hotel redemptions are typically better, and this rough valuation would place my potential 2,275 points around $11.38. One thing to keep in mind though is what the Free-quent Flyer taught me, “the least valuable point is the one you don’t redeem.”
With that in mind, let’s look at the alternative, earning airline miles. Best Western’s airline mile program is odd in that the number of points earned is simply a flat rate per stay. Whether you are staying 1 night or 30 nights, you earn the exact same amount of airline miles on the stay. My primary two options for airline mile earning are 600 points for Southwest or 250 miles at just about any other airline. AeroMexico, AIR MILES, and Lufthansa are also special options aside from Southwest, but I haven’t even registered for any of those.
While it’s probably possible to turn 250 Alaska miles into more value than 600 Southwest points, I think I prefer the Southwest points simply because I know I’ll use them and they work especially well with the Southwest Companion Pass. Southwest points are easy to value because they have a standard redemption value of approximately 1.3 cents per point on almost any flight that Southwest offers. The 600 Southwest points in that case would be worth ~$7.80.
As the potential 2,275 Best Western points isn’t enough for a redemption by itself and I don’t see myself earning many Best Western Rewards points in the future, choosing to earn Southwest miles instead made for an easy choice.
I’m a strong believer in Earning and Burning points and miles, so I try to focus on earning ones that I can actually see myself redeeming in the next year or two. A few hundred/thousand points scattered around different programs won’t benefit me in any way, so even if the “value” of the earning option is less on paper, what really counts is how/if you can redeem them.