While I was playing around on the Best Western Rewards website over the weekend, I happened to notice a hotel with a redemption rate of 56,000 points per night. Hmm… I thought the highest point rate was 36,000? Upon further searching I found some hotels at 70,000 points per night. Holy moly. That’s quite an increase. Many Best Western Rewards members will not be pleased. However, from my perspective, there is a silver lining as I will explain below.
3000 Point Promo
Before I get into the big changes, I’ll mention a new promotion for bookings made from November 18 to 28, 2019. You’ll get 3000 bonus points for qualifying stays until March 20, 2020. The terms and conditions state that it’s for pre-selected Best Western Rewards members who received the promotion email. One of my family members did not receive the email and was still able to register for the promotion so I think it’s fair game for anyone.
The big downside to this promo is the very short booking window. You only have until November 28, 2019 to make hotel reservations for dates up till March 20, 2020. I suppose you could make some speculative bookings and take a chance that it will work out. But, even if a reservation ends up fitting into your travel plans, the rate may drop between now and then and you’ll want to cancel and re-book. I just cancelled and re-booked an upcoming hotel night after I noticed a significant drop in price.
The last two years Best Western had an excellent promotion where all hotels in North America were 10,000 points per night during a certain period. So far there has been no sign of that one this year. If this 3000 point promotion is a substitute of sorts then it’s quite a poor replacement.
Major Changes To Best Western Rewards Rates
Until now, point redemption rates at Best Western ranged from 8000 to 36,000 points per night. The rate would vary according to the month of the year or weekend versus weekday. Now it appears that rates range from 5000 to 70,000 per night and the rate can vary from one night to the next.
That’s a huge devaluation. Some hotels nearly doubled their redemption rates. Although devaluations are a common and unpleasant occurrence in the world of travel loyalty programs, it especially disappoints when it’s done unannounced like that.
The Silver Lining
There might be some lemonade to be made amid this sudden onslaught of lemons. Not only does there now exist 5000 point options, if my initial observations are accurate, there also appears to be more availability in the 8000 – 12,000 point range. Previously, hotels with point rates that low were very limited in number. Unfortunately, there is no flexible date search feature so these still aren’t easy to find. And note that selecting a multi-night stay will display only the first night’s point rate – not an average of all nights. So don’t get too excited if you search a 5 night stay and a very low point rate appears in the results. Your bubble might get burst when you click through. This is quite frustrating so I hope the website gets updated soon.
I’m going to spend some time figuring out what hotels in the lower point range represent good value in appealing destinations. Hopefully I’ll be able to post a few examples on the blog within a few days. I need to emphasize that these kind of sweet spots are not going to be city centre hotels or upscale properties. They’ll be hidden gems of the variety that require some imagination to see the shine.
Variable Point Rates According To Room Type
Another interesting development is the introduction of different point rates for different room types. I haven’t noticed this before with Best Western Rewards but it seems to be a thing now. This can be a positive or a negative. Sometimes when redeeming hotel points there is the odd lucky opportunity to get a free upgraded room when multiple room types are available on points. On the flip side, sometimes you wish you could just pay a few more points to get a larger room not otherwise available for redemption.
MBNA Best Western Mastercard
If you don’t have any Best Western Rewards points, there is an easy way to acquire some – sign up for the MBNA Best Western Mastercard. It’s a no-fee credit card and comes with a welcome bonus of 20,000 points upon first purchase. Although the sign-up bonus has been higher in the past, it’s been a while and I’m not all that hopeful it will increase again. To make it a little sweeter, though, apply for the card through Great Canadian Rebates to get a $60 rebate.
This is not a great credit card to use for everyday spending as there are much better options out there. It’s really the welcome bonus you’re after. And if another member of your household gets the card as well, it’s possible to combine your points into one account if that works better for your redemption plans.
Because I probably never personally would have redeemed 36,000 points for one free night, the changes don’t seem too bad to me. I’m hoping I can find good opportunities at the lower end of the spectrum. Best Western Rewards is not a loyalty program that gets much attention due to the relative lack of upscale properties, but for a budget traveller it can be a good points currency. The hotels are not of the cookie-cutter variety so common among major chains and are often located in places where there are no little to no other chain options. Sometimes the points you value least are the ones that end up helping your trip come together.