InsideLook: Best Western Rewards

InsideLook: Best Western Rewards

Founded in 1946 by M.K. Guertin, a California-based hotelier, Best Western has become a familiar presence in more than 100 countries and territories with over 4,000 independently owned and operated hotels worldwide.

At the end of 2013, there were 2,163 Best Western hotels in North America. Best Western divides their hotels into three types: Best Western, Best Western Plus and Best Western Premier with escalating amenities and features.

Best Western Rewards was launched in 1988 and currently has over 22 million members. With hotels located almost everywhere around the globe, including new locations like Malaysia and Suriname, Best Western Rewards members have many opportunities for earning and redeeming points for hotel stays.

Best Western hotels in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean offer free Internet access (since 2004), free continental or hot breakfast and free local phone calls as standard hotel features. Best Western Rewards offers customized affinity partner programs such as Best Western Ride Rewards (for Harley-Davidson enthusiasts), Best Western Speed Rewards (for race fans) and the AAA or CAA Preferred Best Western Rewards program (for AAA and CAA members). The basic structure of these specialized programs is the same as Best Western Rewards; however, members have the added benefit of additional earning opportunities and may be eligible for special sweepstakes, discounted rates, exclusive offers and award redemption options.

Earning Ability
Members earn 10 points for every U.S. dollar spent on the qualifying room rate, excluding taxes. Or members may choose to earn airline miles for stays.

Members can also earn points through Best Western Rewards MasterCard and other credit card partner purchases, retail partners and car rentals.

Award Choices
A free award night starts at 8,000 points and there are eight redemption levels: 8,000, 12,000, 16,000, 20,000, 24,000, 28,000, 32,000 and 36,000 points. If you redeem for an award and would like to upgrade to a higher-level hotel, you can redeem for a 4,000-point level adjustment award.
If you don’t have enough points for a free night, you can redeem for a Best Western Travel Card that can be used toward Best Western hotel charges and applicable taxes at any Best Western hotel worldwide starting at 6,000 points for a $25 card. A $50 card is 12,000 points (11,000 points for elite members), a $100 card is 24,000 points (22,000 points for elite members) and the highest denomination of $250 is 60,000 points. The cards are reloadable and you can rush an order for delivery using 4,000 points, waived for Elite members.

Best Western Rewards has many other gift card award options. For as little as 2,000 points, you can redeem for an AMC movie ticket. Redeeming 5,800 points will get you a $25 gift card for The Sports Authority, Autozone and AMC Theatres. Redeeming 6,500 points will get you a $25 gift card for restaurants such as Applebee’s, Chili’s, Red Lobster or Starbucks. There are many other gift card and other (non-hotel stay) award options such as an iTunes $25 gift card for 6,500 points, one ticket to Busch Gardens Williamsburg for 15,000 points or 26,000 points will get you $100 Best Buy, Home Depot, Target or Walmart gift cards. Members can even spend their points to fill their gas tanks, starting at 6,500 points for a $25 Shell or Exxon/Mobil gas card.

Members may also opt to spend their points for cash donations to various charities including American Red Cross, Kiva, Make-A-Wish Foundation and more.

Members can convert 5,000 Best Western Rewards points into 1,000 airline miles with participating frequent flyer programs: Aeroplan, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, American AAdvantage, Asiana Airlines Asiana Club and US Airways Dividend Miles. Or you can redeem 5,000 Best Western Rewards points for 1,200 Southwest Rapid Rewards points, 1,600 AeroMexico Club Premier kilometers or 80 AIR MILES. Car rental awards are 11,600 points for $50 gift certificate for Avis or Budget or 13,000 points for $50 to be put toward Alamo or National car rentals.

Members who want to redeem points for merchandise can choose from an assortment of items starting at 5,000 points. A one-year membership in CAA can be obtained for 16,000 points and a Harley-Davidson H.O.G. membership starts at 6,250 points for a one-year associate membership in the U.S. (8,500 points in Canada).

Best Western Rewards does not currently offer auction awards or combinations of cash and points for award stays.

Best Western Rewards partners with the frequent flyer programs of AeroMexico, Air Berlin, Air Canada, Alaska, Air France, KLM, Alitalia, American, Asiana, Avianca, China Southern, Czech, Hainan, LAN, Lufthansa, Southwest, Turkish, United, US Airways and Virgin Atlantic. Payback in Germany, AIR MILES in Canada and Deutsche Bahn in Europe also partner with Best Western Rewards. Most airlines offer 250 miles per stay with the exception of Lufthansa and Aeroflot, offering 500 miles per stay, Aeromexico offering 400 kilometers per stay and Southwest, which offers 600 points per stay. AIR MILES offers 20 reward miles per stay.

Best Western Rewards will be introducing a new credit card partner for U.S. residents in the Spring of 2015. Currently members can earn 15 points for every $1 spent at Best Western locations and one point for every $1 spent everywhere else with the Best Western Rewards MasterCard issued by Barclays Bank. Cardmembers automatically receive Gold status after their first purchase and Diamond status each year they spend $10,000 on the card.

The Canadian card is issued by MBNA Canada Bank and offers 20,000 bonus points after the first purchase, 1.5 points for every $1 spent and has no annual fee. Cardholders receive a one-tier elite status upgrade when spending $6,000 per year.

Points can be transferred into Best Western Rewards at a ratio of 1,000 American Express Membership Rewards points to 1,000 Best Western Rewards points. Diners Club points can also be transferred in varying amounts.

Members can earn points plus discounts on qualifying car rentals with Avis and Budget. Best Western Rewards does not currently have an online shopping mall but partners with a few retailers. Members can earn up to 12,500 points for membership in Vinesse Wine Club and can earn points for purchasing flowers through FTD or Teleflora.

Elite-level Program
Best Western Rewards has three elite tiers: Gold Elite, Platinum Elite and Diamond Elite. Members who complete 10 qualifying nights or earn 10,000 points during a calendar year will receive Gold Elite status. Gold Elite members receive a 10 percent point bonus on their stays and exclusive elite-only offers.

Members who stay 15 qualifying nights or earn 15,000 points during a calendar year receive Platinum Elite status. In addition to Gold benefits, Platinum Elite members receive a 15 percent point bonus on their stays, best available room and a welcome snack and beverage or 250 bonus points at hotels in the U.S. and Canada.

Stay 30 qualifying nights or earn 30,000 points in a calendar year and you’ll receive Diamond Elite status. In addition to Gold and Platinum benefits, Diamond Elite members receive a 30 percent point bonus on their stays.

Only points earned from hotel stays qualify towards elite qualification. Best Western Rewards also offers a “Status Match…No Catch” program, where elite members of any other hotel loyalty programs can receive comparable status with Best Western. If you own a co-branded credit card, you’ll receive Gold status.

Rules and Conditions
Free room nights are fully transferable and can be used at any Best Western brand lodging establishment in Asia, Australia, Europe, Central America, North America and South America that accepts the point value designated with the free room night, subject to capacity controls and lodging establishment room availability.

Points are awarded for room rate only (excluding tax) and members will not earn points on stays longer than 30 nights (upon the property’s discretion). Members can earn points on up to 10 rooms reserved under the member’s name.

Best Western Rewards points do not expire for members of the North American club, which includes members who reside in North, Central and South America, Asia and South Africa. Points may expire for members who reside in other countries not mentioned above.

Points cannot be pooled with other Best Western Rewards members unless they reside at the same address. There is a Best Western Best Advantage program designed for small- to medium-sized businesses offering 10 percent off best available room rate, Diamond Elite status for the company owner and Gold for employees, exclusive perks and the company earns 10 percent of all points into a company account that the company’s travelers earn.

Missing point requests must be made within six months of the stay by contacting Best Western Rewards customer service.

New members can claim points for stays occurring 30 days before enrollment.

Members in the U.S. and Canada can purchase points at the rate of 1,000 points for $10, up to 20,000 points per transaction.

Points can be transferred without a fee by contacting customer service, and may only be between members who share the same address.

Service Support
Many general questions can be answered by visiting the FAQ list at . Members can also email customer service from the website or call the customer care center. There are 28 local customer service telephone numbers that members can access worldwide.

Online Services
Members can view their account activity, update their account information and change their preferences at Requests for hotel awards, point donations, gift cards and point conversions to airline miles can all be made via the website.

Missing point requests can be completed online or by contacting customer service. To get credit for stays booked in other ways, you will need to mail or fax a copy of the missing point request form (available online) along with a copy of your hotel receipt.

Plus Features
Best Western has a vast array of hotels worldwide where members can earn and spend points. Best Western hotels are often located in smaller towns and may be your only hotel option if you want to earn miles or points when staying in places off the beaten path. Points can be transferred between members residing at the same address with no fee and points don’t expire for most members (depends on where you live). The Status Match … No Catch program is a definite plus for anyone wishing to switch loyalties.

Minus Features
A complimentary room upgrade at a Best Western can’t compare to the type of upgrades offered by upscale hotel groups and it could be argued that the program is lacking truly aspirational award stays, although Best Western hotels can be found in desirable locations. Members do not have the option to combine cash and points for a hotel stay.

Program Rating
Overall Score 7.21
Earning Ability 7.0
Award Choices 7.5
Partnerships 7.0
Elite Level 7.0
Rules & Condition 7.5
Service Support 7.5
Online Services 7.0

Program Information:
Best Western Rewards
PO Box 42007
Phoenix, AZ 85080
(800) 237-8483