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Airline Points for Hotel Stays? PointsHound is Making It Happen

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  Site Where: Various Locations
May 14, 2013 at 12:01 PM | by | Comments (0)

Regardless of your approach to cashing in the hotel and airline loyalty points you accrue during your travels, one thing we can all agree on is that we want more of them. We've seen partnerships between industries before that helps to earn points even when we're not staying or flying -- such as credit cards -- but outside of the initial bulk reward one gets for signing up, the accumulation is anything but swift. Unfortunately, the $100 we spend at the grocery store every two weeks isn't going to get us very far in the way of a free ticket or night's stay.

So, what else is out there to aid in our crusade? A new booking engine recently launched known as PointsHound seeks to unite a myriad of loyalty programs, and although it's in the early stages of its operations, we think it has potential to really be a useful tool. Put simply: the site allows you to earn airline and/or hotel points when you book a hotel stay through the site.

When you sign up for PointsHound, you enter in your account information for the loyalty programs you're enrolled in. Right now, the site is partnered with the hotel reward programs of Hilton Honors, Hyatt Gold Passport, Marriott Rewards, Priority Club, and Starwood Preferred Guest. For airlines, it works with United Mileage Plus, Etihad Guest Miles, Virgin America Elevate, American AAdvantage, Baltic Miles, Club Premier KmP, Delta Skymiles, Hawaiian Miles, and US Airways Dividend Miles. You can also link your Best Buy Reward Zone account if you'd prefer to buy gadgets instead of earning more travel opportunities.

Let's walk through the process. Before searching, you select the reward program you'd like to earn points for. Then, it works just like any other booking engine. You enter a destination and the prices come up for the hotels they offer (PointsHounds says they have over 100,000 hotels worldwide participating). As you can see in the example graphic above, the price and points you'll earn are displayed in the search results. Some hotels, such as the Teatro above, are "featured" and offer bigger earnings than others. Other hotels will offer "double up" rewards, where you can earn both airline and hotel points simultaneously. If the hotel is not marked "double up," you won't be able to earn both airline and hotel reward points for that stay.

The amount of points you earn also depends upon how much you use the site (which is a loyalty program in itself). When you sign up for PointsHound, you are at Level 1. Once you book five room nights, you'll reach Level 2 status and your earn rate will increase to 5-7 miles or points per dollar spent. After booking 20 nights through PointsHound, you'll advance to Level 3 where you earn up to 20 miles or points per dollar spent. There is also a referral program that helps you to earn status with PointsHound.

We will certainly be experimenting with this new site over the summer and watching to see if more airline and hotel reward programs jump on board. Feel free to shoot us your thoughts if you've tried it out. We're excited about being able to accumulate points to a specific reward program without necessarily using that program's services. This also seems like a dream come true for business travelers, who would be able to spread some of their points to their personal accounts.

[Screengrabs: HotelChatter]

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