Hotel loyalty programs do not count reward nights on points as eligible hotel stays for promotion credit. That is a general rule. This also applies to Cash & Points stays for most hotel programs, except Club Carlson.
One of the best strategies I use to maximize promotions while saving cash is to combine a paid hotel night with reward nights when the cost in points is a better value than the cost to pay for the night. This is particularly useful at a hotel where there is a huge rate difference between weekend nights and weekday nights.
For example: if a Saturday night stay is $99 and Sunday night is $249, then I can pay for Saturday night and use points for Sunday night.
Most hotel chains will count the paid night of this two night stay as an eligible stay for earning loyalty points and promotion credit. They are made with two different reservations.
But Hilton HHonors added a very consumer-unfriendly rule to its HHonors program terms and conditions last year in the April 1, 2011 program rules update.
A “stay” is defined as the total number of consecutive nights spent at the same hotel, whether or not a guest checks out and checks back in again.
If at least one night of the Member’s stay is consumed with the use of HHonors Rewards points, the entire stay is considered a “Reward Stay” and no HHonors points may be earned, except that if Member is using Room Upgrade Rewards, any money spent on the original reservation will earn points and/or miles consistent with these Terms.
Participating hotel will determine whether incidental charges incurred during either or those stays are eligible for points, except that Points will not be earned for incidental charges at Hampton Inn®, Hampton Inn & Suites®, Homewood Suites by Hilton®, and Home2 Suites by Hilton®.
HHonors Terms & Conditions,
Accrual of Points Term #3, updated April 1, 2011.
This rule means that a hotel stay like I used in my example with a paid Saturday night followed by an HHonors reward using points for Sunday night would make the Saturday night stay ineligible for earning HHonors points and promotion credit.
I think this is the most member-unfriendly rule I have seen in hotel loyalty programs.
Why should a member be denied HHonors points for a stay that would otherwise earn points and promotion credit solely due to the fact that the member also used HHonors points for additional nights to extend the hotel stay?
I do not know of any other hotel loyalty program that works this way when combining paid nights with reward nights.
Have any readers encountered this issue when combining paid nights with reward nights?
This FlyerTalk thread from 2011 indicates the rule was not being enforced a year ago. Is it being applied in 2012?
Obviously a HHonors member has no recourse if denied points and promotion credit on paid nights combined with reward nights since the rule is posted in the HHonors program terms.
Ric Garrido, writer and content owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.