Hotels.com, part of Expedia, uses their own homegrown rewards program for hotel bookings made on their site, and I just did my first ever redemption using it.
The deal is that you get a free night for every ten nights you book using Hotels.com and your Welcome Rewards account. The free night can be worth up to the average daily rate you paid for the ten nights. You can choose a more expensive hotel and pay only the difference + taxes/fees. Before the change in March, the free night could be up to $400 in value regardless of the value of the ten nights stayed.
The catch is that the “free” night is not really entirely free. You need to pay the taxes/service fees associated with the “free” rate. In some countries these might be in excess of 20% or so.
Overall my redemption experience was painless. I was in Taipei, and all the usual hotels were on the more expensive side. Hyatt is one of the few hotels that still honor all the status benefits, even on stays that are booked using a third party like Hotels.com, so I ended up booking the Grand Hyatt there.
This program is good for someone who really doesn’t care about the hotel statuses. I do, but sometimes need to book hotels that are not affiliated with any of the major chains. Then, going through a service like Hotels.com makes sense for me. You do need to make sure that you are not over paying for the room, however.
You can also earn cash back for hotel purchases made through Hotels.com. Currently eBates is offering 3.25%, MrRebates 5%, BigCrumbs 5.2%, and FatWallet 5%. There are other cash back sites out there, so it does pay to check them all. These are the four that I personally use the most.