Like airline programs, hotel frequent-stay programs are free to join. But unlike airlines, hotels offer valuable perks to the lowest levels of membership. Hilton HHonors offers late check-out upon request; Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest members get free Wi-Fi. “Hotels have devalued their programs just like airlines in terms of making the price per night more expensive in points,” Brian Kelly, aka The Points Guy, says. “The difference is that hotels are expanding, and there are more rooms available per night.” Vertical integration makes it easier to accrue points. The Marriott portfolio, for example, offers an array of hotels running up the price ladder, from Fairfield Inn & Suites to The Ritz-Carlton, allowing members to earn and spend at any budget. Get the full story at