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Thursday, February 26, 2015

What is Rocketmiles? Let's Start with 1,000 Bonus Airline Miles...

Rocketmiles is a relatively new player to the travel game that incentivizes customers to book hotel stays through their platform with airline currency, sometimes many more miles or points than if they had booked on even the hotel's own website.

UPDATE: Rocketmiles is offering 3,000 bonus miles for some programs. Click here for details

Many major airline frequent flyer programs are included in their network:

Rocketmiles partners include: Aeromexico (Club Premier), Air Canada (Aeroplan), Air France (Flying Blue), Alaska Airlines (Mileage Plan), Alitalia (Millemiglia), American Airlines (AAdvantage), British Airways, (Avios), Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles), Ethiopian (ShebaMiles), Etihad (Guest), Frontier Airlines (EarlyReturns), Hawaiian Airlines (HawaiianMiles), Icelandair (Saga Club), JetBlue (TrueBlue), Jet Airways (JetPrivilege), KLM (Flying Blue), Malaysia Airlines (Enrich), Norwegian Airlines (Reward), Qatar Airways (Privilege Club), Royal Jordanian (Royal Plus), Saudi Arabian Airlines/Saudia (Alfursan), Southwest Airlines (Rapid Rewards), Turkish Airlines (Miles & Smiles), United Airlines (Mileage Plus), US Airways (Dividend Miles), Virgin America (Elevate)
Reservations booked through Rocketmiles are credited with 500-5,000 miles per night, roughly based on the rate itself (or more accurately, on Rocketmiles' commission). This can be a lucrative deal for those who were needing to book a hotel stay anyway, as they claim to have the same prevailing rates as hotel and other travel websites. Refundable rates are also available, though Rocketmiles will charge your card first and refund later if you cancel within the hotel's policy.

For business travelers who book their own rooms for work and expense it later, Rocketmiles will produce a receipt that does not mention the bonus miles.

Here's a quick sample search for the Intercontinental Tokyo Bay on April 1 for a one-night stay for 2 persons (I like American Airlines' AAdvantage program myself, so I selected it):

Given the small variance in exchange rates, at a cancelable rate of $326 per night, Rocketmiles' pricing in this case is right on the mark with Intercontinental and Orbitz, but with the added bonus of 5,000 AAdvantage miles per night (I can't emphasize that enough). A five-night stay for 25,000 miles would be enough for an round-trip domestic award ticket on American.

Compare this to the Intercontinental's IHG Rewards program awarding only about 3,250 points in their program (10 points per dollar), which equals a prorated amount of 650 AA miles.

And of course Orbitz has its own rewards program, Orbucks, which earns credit towards future Orbitz hotel bookings. I can redeem AA miles at 7 cents a piece, which values 5,000 miles at $350... much more valuable than $12 in hotel credit. Even at a low valuation of 1.5 cents per mile, Rocketmiles gives you a return of $75.

The same search also yields a 5,000 mile/point reward for a couple more programs that I value highly: Alaska Airlines' Mileage Plan and Avios, used by both British Airways and Iberia.

Here's another search for the Grand Hyatt New York on May 1 for one night for 2:

This time, it's the same prepaid rate of $299. Rocketmiles will give you 3,000 AA miles. Hyatt will give you only 500 AA miles or 1000 Hyatt Gold Passport points (you have to pick one). Orbitz gives you $10.40 in Orbucks.

As with any rewards program, there are some caveats to note:

  • Sometimes Rocketmiles will be more expensive; only you can decide if it's worth the extra cost.
  • Stays booked through Rocketmiles MAY NOT earn points or elite stay credit to the hotel's loyalty program, and some hotel brands even take away any elite benefits for staying at their property..
  • There is no "best rate guarantee" so if the price drops, you'd have to cancel and rebook your stay, assuming that you can still cancel your reservation..
  • They have a limited portfolio of hotels.
Rocketmiles is a great program for:
  • People who have no loyalty to any hotel, brand, or program, or don't need stay credit.
  • Business travelers whose employers allow self-booking and expensing.
  • Anyone with a longer stay at a higher-end hotel.
  • Earning rewards when there is usually none.
To that last point, there seems to be quite a number of independent hotels that don't even have their own rewards program, so it's nice to be able to earn something, even if it's just 1,000 miles.

On the flip side of the coin, Rocketmiles may not work out so well for:
  • Hotel elites looking to earn stay credit for their status.
  • Those who are required to use a corporate travel agency.
  • Some elites who want to exercise their status during their stay.
If you sign up using this referral link, you will earn an additional 1,000 miles/points after your first stay, on top of the miles you would normally earn. Of course, you don't have to use the link, but if you did, I would very appreciative.

Tell us about your Rocketmiles experience by commenting below!

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