Most of you are familiar with Agoda, an OTA booking site for hotel and flight bookings. Earlier this year, Agoda launched PointsMAX, which enables members to earn frequent flyer miles on hotel bookings. I was recently asked by Agoda to test out PointsMAX provide feedback in exchange for a $300 booking credit. I booked two nights at the Crowne Plaza Foster City/San Mateo, which came up to $399.77 and was fully reimbursed. Nonetheless, my intent is to present the facts so that you can decide for yourselves whether Agoda PointsMAX is worth checking out. Here is an overview of the program with answers to questions you may have about how it all works:
How Does Agoda PointsMAX Work?
PointsMAX is a booking option offered by Agoda that allows members to earn frequent flyer miles on their hotel bookings, while foregoing hotel points and elite night credits. All visitors can search PointsMAX rates, but you’ll need to login and link your frequent flyer account in order to book a qualifying hotel stay.
To link a frequent flyer number to your Agoda account, simply follow these steps after logging in:
- Click on your profile icon/name and select“PointsMAX”
- Click on “Link another miles program”
- You’ll be prompted to select a frequent flyer program from a dropdown menu and provide your membership ID.
- Hit save and repeat this process for any other programs you want to link to your Agoda account.
Designate your preferred airline program to earn miles with from the menu bar up top, search for hotels, and select the PointsMAX rate. As long as your frequent flyer account is linked, you will be earning miles on your hotel booking. Keep in mind that you cannot link someone else’s frequent flyer number to your PointsMAX reservation. The name on your Agoda account has to match the one linked to your frequent flyer account.
Which Airlines Does Agoda PointsMax Partner With and How Many Miles Can I Earn?
Agoda PointsMAX currently partners with 31 rewards programs:
- AirAsia BIG
- Airberlin Topbonus
- Air China
- American Airlines AAdvantage
- Asia Miles
- British Airways Executive Club (Avios)
- China Airlines Dynasty
- Delta Skymiles
- Eastern Miles
- Etihad Airways Etihad Guest
- Fortune Wings Club
- Garuda Indonesia GarudaMiles
- Hawaiian Miles
- Iberia Plus
- Malaysia Airlines Enrich
- MAP Club
- Meridiana Club
- Oman Air Sindbad
- Philippine Airlines Mabauhay Miles
- Ping An Wanlitong
- Plus! LinksPoints Programme
- Qatar Airways Privilege Club
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- SkyPearl Club
- SM Advantage/BDO Rewards
- Thai Airways Orchid Plus
- The1 Card
- United Mileage Plus
- Velocity Frequent Flyer
Mileage earnings vary by program. You can find out how many miles you’ll earn with each rewards program by selecting the one you’re interested in during your hotel search. The option to do this is at the top of the page, next to the website feedback bubble. Simply click on the rewards program icon to see a complete list of partners or to turn off PointsMAX all together.
When Does it Make Sense to Book a Hotel With Agoda PointsMAX?
Not every hotel in the world is part of a rewards program, but by making a booking through Agoda PointsMax, you can still earn rewards for those bookings. Additionally, not every hotel rewards program is generous when it comes to paying out points for paid stays, so rather than end up with a bunch of orphan points, you might want to earn miles from your favorite airline program instead. Lastly, Agoda lists rental properties as well as hotels in their search results, which also qualify for mileage earnings. This alleviates a major reservation (no pun intended) some of us have about foregoing rewards when booking rental properties.
Are Agoda PointsMAX Rates Higher Than Regular Hotel Rates?
Agoda displays both PointsMAX and regular rates in their search results. In some cases, Agoda PointsMAX rates are higher than regular rates, while other times you’ll find them to be the same – or even cheaper than rates displayed on hotel websites. Depending on how much you value each rewards currency, it might make sense to pay extra for the PointsMAX stay. Agoda’s rates are generally pretty competitive and there were instances during my test bookings where the PointsMAX rate was better.
At one point I was researching hotels in Bali and found some terrific deals. Both the regular and PointsMAX rates for a 2-night stay in a Club Room at the Grand Hyatt Nusa Dua were $60 cheaper than the rate displayed on the Grand Hyatt website ($641.86 vs. $701.80 after taxes). In addition to being cheaper, the Agoda PointsMax rate earned the following number of frequent flyer miles per stay:
- 460 United MileagePlus miles
- 519 American Airlines miles
- 597 Delta SkyMiles
- 682 HawaiianMiles
Paying an extra $22 per night would earn the following bonuses:
- 2,300 United MileagePlus miles
- 2,550 American Airlines miles
- 2,950 Delta Skymiles
- 3,400 HawaiianMiles
- 4,050 Avios
For some people, paying an extra $22 per night for 4,050 Avios will make sense if that bonus can be put to good use on a short-haul award redemption.
The same 2-night stay would earn 3,505 points through the Hyatt Gold Passport program (excluding elite bonuses), though you would be paying an extra $60 over two nights for those points. Most people value Hyatt points at around 1.5 cents each, which would make 3,505 Hyatt points worth $52.58. If you’re earning points via gift card churning, you can actually generate 3,505 points for less than $16. In this case, I’ll gladly choose $60 worth of savings over 3,505 Hyatt points.
Are Agoda PointsMAX Bookings Eligible for Cash Back Portal Rewards?
When I was doing the aforementioned test booking for the Crowne Plaza, I tried to use a cash back portal after verifying that my preferred dates were available. However, when I clicked through TopCashBack and restarted my hotel search, the hotel kept showing up as sold out. I tried opening a new window and restarting my search and had the same problem. The IHG website, on the other hand, was showing lots of availability. I eventually looked through my browser history, found the URL for the previously valid booking page, and was able to reserve a room with no issues. I did report this to Agoda along with the rest of my feedback, so hopefully it gets resolved.
Other than that, I don’t think PointsMAX bookings are eligible for cash back portal rewards, since PointsMAX is kind of a rewards portal in and of itself.
In my personal experience, I found it actually is worth incorporating Agoda PointsMAX into my hotel research process. As I outlined above, there were instances where PointsMAX rates were lower than those displayed on hotel websites and in addition to the cash savings, I would be earning frequent flyer miles on bookings. I suggest you check PointsMAX rates during the research phase of your travel planning as well, compare them to other websites you’re searching, and determine which rate offers the best value.
Have you used Agoda’s PointsMAX to book any hotel stays? I’d love your feedback in the comment section.
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