Travel Tips

How to Get Free Hotel Rooms Anywhere in the World

Featured photo for this post - a photo of a bungalow in Bora Bora

In my almost two years of traveling, I’ve been able to try several hotel booking websites including Expedia, Agoda, Booking.com and more. I get asked pretty frequently what my favourite loyalty program is and the answer is always Hotels.com. It’s my jam. Before I jump into all the details about the program, I want to clarify that this is not a sponsored post. I genuinely love Hotels.com, and I want to help you get free hotel stays anywhere in the world.

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This post contains affiliate links to the products that I use and trust. This means that I might receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase using any of my links below. See full disclosure here.

Hotels.com Rewards Explained

Hotels.com is a partner of Expedia. As you can guess, it’s a hotel booking website. They offer options all over the world that fit nearly every budget including luxury hotels, hostels, international chains, apartments, villas, bed and breakfasts and more. I’ll admit that Hotels.com doesn’t have the same glamour that other loyalty programs do such as Hilton or Marriott. However, it appeals to people because of how incredibly simple and easy it is. It’s free to join their rewards program and it’ll take you less than a minute to sign up. You can sign up here.

Here’s the best part: When you book ten nights through their website or app using the rewards program, you’ll earn a FREE night. The free night is calculated based on the average room rate of the ten nights that you collected. You can then use this free night anywhere in the world at any property listed on their website or app. Yep, it’s that simple.

You can earn your free night with 10 separate one-night stays or booking a consecutive stay of ten nights. For example, you can book a night in January, another two nights in March, a night in August and so on. Once you reach ten nights, you’ll get another night for free. Alternatively, you can stay ten back-to-back nights and score a free night. Keep in mind that the free night does not include taxes and fees. Fun fact – we’ve had $584 worth of free nights since we’ve started traveling.

A screenshot showing a few of my redeemed nights through Hotels.com
Here are a few of the nights we’ve redeemed.

Also, you can still use your free night at a hotel that’s more expensive than the value of your free night. You would just pay the difference. For example, you’re staying at the JW Marriott in Dubai. It costs $200 per night. Your free night is worth $97. You would pay the difference of $103 plus taxes and fees. Further, you can redeem multiple free nights when you book a multiple-night stay. For example, you’re hitting the beach in the Cayman Islands for ten days. You have four free nights to redeem. You can use all four of your free nights in this booking and pay for only six nights plus taxes and fees.

A screenshot showing how to redeem free nights.
Here’s how to use your free night for a hotel that’s more expensive than the value of your free night.

PRO TIP: Free nights with Hotels.com will expire after twelve months if you have no activity in your account. In order to keep your account active, make sure you redeem a free night or complete a stay within that expiration window. You can check this by viewing the “Your membership activity” section in your account.

Elite Status Details

Hotels.com offers two levels of status – Silver and Gold. To become a Silver member, you have to stay ten nights or more during your membership year. You can become a Gold member by staying thirty nights or more during your membership year. A membership year runs for a year from the date you join the rewards program.

Silver benefits include:

  • Access to free breakfast at selected properties
  • Guaranteed free WiFi
  • Priority customer service
  • Price match guarantee (more on that below)
  • Hassle-free travel guarantee (more on that below)

Gold benefits include:

  • All benefits of Silver membership
  • VIP free room upgrades
A screenshot comparing levels of status with Hotels.com
A comparison of Silver & Gold benefits.

Benefits and Caveats of Booking with Hotels.com

  • Hotels.com allows you to redeem your free nights at properties that don’t offer a way to get free stays besides accumulating and using points. For example, you can use redeem your free night at the Four Seasons or St. Regis. These high-end properties are listed on Hotels.com. It’s important to note that if you have status with Marriott, Hilton, IHG and other hotel brands, and you book your stay with Hotels.com you won’t receive status benefits at the property. For example, I have Titanium status with Marriott. If I booked a hotel with Hotels.com, I wouldn’t receive a room upgrade that I typically do since I didn’t book directly through the Marriott website or app.
  • You’re able to redeem your free nights without any restrictions or blackout dates. You have complete freedom when it comes to using your free nights.
  • Hotels.com constantly has coupon codes available. The codes are usually 10-15% off your stay and you can find them by Googling “Hotels.com coupon codes.” Keep in mind that your stay does not count towards your free night credit if you use a coupon code.
  • Hotels.com makes it painless for you to find the perfect hotel. You can use filters to find your hotel based on price, neighborhood, landmarks, breakfast included and more. I typically filter by price and landmark to find the perfect hotel. For example, you can set your budget to $150 and close to the Eiffel Tower. You’ll see a list of hotels that match that criteria.
A screenshot showing different filters you can apply when searching for hotels.
So many filter options!
  • They offer an amazing price match guarantee program. Essentially, if you find a cheaper rate, Hotels.com will match that rate and refund you the difference in your original method of payment or a coupon. You have to submit your claim on the website before midnight local time prior to your stay. You’ll need to provide your dates of travel, hotel name and location, type of room, occupancy and cancellation policy. We’ve used this a few times and it’s a fast and seamless process. Unlike our previous experiences with Hilton, Hotels.com is quick to honor a lower rate and they do everything possible to expedite the process.
  • Want excellent customer service? Hotels.com has you covered. Customer service agents are always empathetic and friendly. They pick up the phone right away and they go above and beyond to make sure that your issues are resolved and you are happy. For instance, we were given a pretty terrible room in Vietnam. The shower flooded everywhere and there was a constant drilling noise outside. The manager refused to move us rooms so we called Hotels.com. They immediately contacted the hotel and got our room changed. It’s always great to have a middleman between you and the hotel.
  • Hotels.com will reward you for leaving an honest review. Once you complete your stay, you’ll get an email from them asking to leave your feedback about your stay. As a thank you, you’ll receive a 10-15% off coupon on your next stay.
  • As a Hotels.com Rewards member, you’ll have access to secret deals that non-reward members can’t see. They save you extra money without you even doing anything.
A screenshot showing the secret deals function
I love getting a secret price.
  • Sometimes Hotels.com isn’t always the cheapest option. From time to time, you can find a cheaper rate if you book directly through the hotel.
  • Hotels.com makes it straightforward to cancel your booking. Just go to your bookings and choose the “Cancel Booking” option. They don’t charge cancellation fees, but your hotel may. Make sure you read the fine print on the property’s cancellation policy before you complete your booking. We’ve canceled a booking before and we got our refund within 24 hours of requesting the cancellation. One time, our flight got delayed so we had to cancel the hotel. The hotel had a huge cancellation fee. Hotels.com called the property on our behalf and managed to get the cancellation fee waived for us. Talk about going above and beyond.
  • One neat benefit at some properties is that you can get nice perks for having Gold status with Hotels.com. These perks vary and can include late checkout, free drinks, free Wifi at five-star hotels (big hotels typically charge for this), free breakfast and more.
  • Starting November 27, 2019, Hotels.com will charge a $5 fee to redeem your free night. However, you won’t be charged this fee if you book through their app.
A screenshot highlighting Gold benefits.
These are some of the perks that some properties offer.

Final Thoughts

Hotels.com is simple to use and offers great benefits. In my opinion, it’s great to use when you don’t want to stay at a chain. For example, I love Marriott. I book primarily with them now because I get 22.5% back in points with my Marriott credit card and my Titanium status. There are some instances where a Marriott property will cost me an arm and a leg so I book a boutique hotel on Hotels.com instead. However, I try to stay loyal to Marriott when it’s financially convenient. No program is perfect for everyone and you’ll have to decide whether or not you find value in Hotels.com‘s Reward program.

Have you stayed with Hotels.com before? If so, how was your experience? Have more questions? Let me know in the comments below.

I hope you found this post helpful for booking your next hotel. Don’t forget to pin this post for later!

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18 thoughts on “How to Get Free Hotel Rooms Anywhere in the World”

  1. I travel a lot! so this is super helpful. I really need to check this out. Thank you so much for sharing and for the solid explanation!

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