What Is Rocketmiles?

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A couple of days ago I made a hotel booking through Rocketmiles, and it occurred to me that I’ve never written a post about the value proposition of the site. For those of you not familiar with Rocketmiles, it’s an online travel agency which awards you miles for your hotel stays, in your choice of over three dozen airline mileage programs.

Rocketmiles

I figured I’d explain more about what they do in the form of an FAQ, and why I think they’re a fantastic option for booking your hotel stays. I don’t think Rocketmiles is for everyone under all circumstances, but there are scenarios where they’re unbeatable.

Let me start by saying that if you’re not yet a Rocketmiles member, you can earn 1,000 additional bonus miles after your first stay by registering through this link (and I earn 1,000 bonus miles after your first stay as well).

How does Rocketmiles make money/how can they afford to offer miles?

When I learn about new businesses, my first question is always “how do they make money?”

In the case of Rocketmiles, they’re an online travel agency, so they’re selling hotel rooms in the same way that Orbitz, Expedia, etc., would (Rocketmiles is owned by Priceline, so has access to much of their inventory and negotiated commissions).

Online travel agencies get a commission on hotel bookings. The industry standard is 10%, at least for major chain hotels. However, the big online travel agencies are known to get significantly bigger commissions from independent hotels.

Rocketmiles is essentially taking some of their commission and awarding you miles as an incentive for booking with them. Presumably they’ve worked out deals with major airlines to buy their miles at a discount, so that this makes sense for all parties involved.

In some cases it also seems like Rocketmiles may have worked out special promotions with certain hotels to offer more bonus miles, as a way of boosting their business.

Rocketmiles-5

Does Rocketmiles charge the same as other booking sites?

I find Rocketmiles to be rather inconsistent with pricing:

  • In some cases they charge exactly the same as the hotel directly and as other online travel agencies
  • In some cases they charge more than the hotel directly but less than other online travel agencies
  • In some cases they charge more than other online travel agencies and the hotel directly, but the miles more than justify the additional cost

As an example, below you can see the rates for the Hyatt Regency Tulsa are roughly the same through Hyatt’s website, Rocketmiles, and Orbitz.

Hyatt-Tulsa-1 Hyatt-Tulsa-2 Hyatt-Tulsa-3

So Rocketmiles isn’t a website I’d use blindly. I’d always use it in conjunction with the hotel’s website directly, an OTA (Orbitz, Expedia, etc.), and a calculator (so you can figure out if you’re actually getting a good deal).

The one thing to be aware of is that Rocketmiles doesn’t have access to all hotels, so you won’t find as many hotels there as on some other OTAs.

How many miles do you earn per Rocketmiles booking?

The only thing that’s consistent is that you can get 1,000 bonus miles if you’re referred to Rocketmiles, but other than that it’s highly variable.

Rocketmiles-1

In other words, a $300 per night hotel could offer the same number of points as a $600 per night hotel, or possibly even more. I suspect it’s all a function of the commission Rocketmiles is getting for the booking, and that determines how many miles they issue.

Rocketmiles-Value-1 Rocketmiles-Value-2

Can you earn hotel points and receive elite benefits with Rocketmiles?

Rocketmiles is treated no differently than any other OTA. That’s to say that you generally won’t earn hotel points when booking through a third party, though will often still get elite benefits. Sometimes you even earn points for third party bookings — it very much seems to be a case of “your mileage may vary.”

When does it make sense to use Rocketmiles?

When the Rocketmiles reward exceeds what you’d earn through the hotel program

Sometimes you’re not staying at your preferred hotel chain, so you’re not too excited at the prospect of earning points in their program, which may never really add up to a useful reward. Or perhaps the value is just outright better by booking through Rocketmiles, rather than the points you’d earn through a hotel chain.

For example, take the Park Hyatt Dubai, which has a pre-paid rate of $282.

Park-Hyatt-Dubai-1

That same rate is bookable through Rocketmiles, except you’d earn 6,000 bonus miles (I’m choosing Alaska Mileage Plan, for this example).

Park-Hyatt-Dubai-2

I value Alaska Mileage Plan miles at 1.8 cents each, so to me the 6,000 miles are worth $108.

Meanwhile I value Hyatt points at 1.5 cents each. As a regular Gold Passport member you’d otherwise earn five points per dollar spent, for a total of 1,410 points, which I value at ~$21. As a Diamond member you’d only earn 30% more points, which I value at ~$29. All else being equal, you come out way ahead using Rocketmiles, especially if you’re not otherwise loyal to Hyatt.

When you’re staying at an independent hotel

There are lots of independent hotels with loyalty programs, or perhaps even hotels which are technically part of a chain, but you’d never consider their loyalty program. Keeping with the Dubai theme, take a look at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Dubai, which has a rate of $250 per night.

Jumeirah-1

That same rate is bookable through Rocketmiles, and you can earn 5,000 bonus miles for a one night stay (I value those miles at $90).

Jumeirah-2

When you’re booking hotel stays for others

This is perhaps the best kept secret of Rocketmiles. I’m sure we all have friends who always book their hotel stays through OTAs, since they don’t know any better. They just assume Expedia, Orbitz, etc., have the best prices, without any regard for the number of points they’re forgoing.

With Rocketmiles, you can earn miles for other peoples’ hotel stays. Simply enter your loyalty program information, but enter the person staying as the primary guest. This isn’t some way to skirt the rules or anything, but rather this is actually encouraged, per the Rocketmiles FAQs:

Can I book for other people and earn the rewards for myself?

Absolutely. Log into your account, book the room, and enter the actual guest’s name who will be checking in as “primary guest”. If you are booking for a company, contact us and ask to be put in touch with one of our Corporate Account Managers who can explain how to fully take advantage of Rocketmiles for your business.

This is huge, as it lets you earn tons of miles for stays made by your acquaintances, family, friends, etc. It’s especially awesome for those who frequently stay in hotels but can’t be bothered to care about loyalty programs. You might as well profit off of helping them plan their travels a bit.

Rocketmiles bottom line

Should you ditch your preferred hotel loyalty program and just start booking everything through Rocketmiles? No, probably not. That being said, I do think that Rocketmiles has the potential to add a ton of value, and is a site you should check before making most hotel bookings.

If you’re a hotel loyalty program junkie, you probably won’t end up using it for most stays. However, if you’re someone who found this post through Google and doesn’t otherwise use hotel loyalty programs, Rocketmiles is for you.

Just make sure you still comparison shop and crunch numbers, to be sure you’re not overpaying. In most cases I find that Rocketmiles compares quite favorably to the competition, at least if you’re not otherwise obsessed with hotel loyalty programs.

Perhaps the greatest thing about Rocketmiles is that you can earn airlines miles for other peoples’ hotel stays. Now that’s awesome.

If you’re not yet a Rocketmiles member, be sure you sign-up so you can earn 1,000 bonus miles after your first stay (if you’re already a member, feel free to leave your referral link for Rocketmiles in the comments section below).

Have you ever used Rocketmiles before?

Comments

  1. Are purchases on Rocketmiles categorized as travel on the major credit cards (sapphire, citi premier, etc.)

  2. I’ve used Rocketmiles before and got some very nice deals through it, but I’ve got to say that Pointshound offers a generally better value and more generous points than Rocketmiles.

  3. I think the only thing that you failed to mention is that most/all of the bookings are non refundable…
    That’s the main reason I don’t use it very often…

  4. Finally Ben,
    Thanks for promoting such an awesome site
    I am a huge fan of rocketmiles as i usually get wayyyy better value in points than the traditional loyalty program.
    I always transfer mine to qatar frequent flyer!
    Am saving up miles for my first business class trip from UK to singapore for my parents.
    Too bad singapore does not have awesome credit card sign up bonuses 🙁

    Here is my my link if any of your awesome readers wanna help me out 🙂
    https://www.rocketmiles.com/refer/ANDREWGOH3993

  5. Another great site is Kaligo – often they have a much more flexible cancellation policy and wider hotel selection.

  6. I’ve used Rocketmiles since Qatar Airways sent me a promo email sometime last year. For the most part I do try and check their site and see if my preferred accommodation is being offered. Managed to rack up just under 60,000 miles. Plus I pay with a credit card that gives me miles. No complaints at all, other than a rather limited selection of hotels, and sometimes significantly higher rates than on other hotel booking sites.

  7. Always look at their taxes/fees. They have always been higher than what a hotel charges, and this is also how they pay for your miles

  8. Super useful post, thanks. For those like me, who spent a max of 15 nights/year in hotels, sites like Rocketmiles and Pointshound often represent better deals than buying into hotel loyalty programs. The hotel statuses I do have are through credit cards or airline loyalty crossovers, but they’re not top-tier and often don’t come with that much added benefit (the exception being Hilton Gold and Marriott Gold, which come with breakfast), but even then, booking a Hilton or a Marriott stay via Rocketmiles is the best way to obtain the nice loyalty freebies AND miles on top.

  9. I find that Kaligo, a very similar site, has a better range of hotels in Asia than rocket miles, and the miles earned are slightly higher for the same bookings, however the rates at least when expressed in AUD, are slightly worse which make mean they are stiffing people on currency conversion. Can be useful but YMMV.

    Here’s a link if people are interested.

    https://www.kaligo.com/refer/LZ5L8LRJ

  10. Rocketmiles can be a terrific way to pad your accounts indeed. But for what it’s worth, how good (or not) may also depends on what airline account you are crediting. I’ve consistently seen Rocketmiles offering 30% or more AC/UA miles than Krisflyer and some other programs.

  11. I’ve been using Rocketmiles for a couple of months now, and sometimes and in some cities it presents enormous benefits. In others nothing much at all. I’ve noticed it to be really excellent in Washington DC and Bangkok so far. Anyone looking to sign up, please use this link! https://www.rocketmiles.com/refer/AJARVIS

  12. Before Rocketmiles was bought out by Priceline, they offered amazing promotions. Using my RM account and my husband’s RM account, we earned 28k Rocketmiles on 10 nights on a New Year’s trip to Spain. Promotions were big – 5,000 mile bonus for booking 3 consecutive nights and such. After they were bought out, the promotions were small (500 miles) and rarely offered. It was a great ride for awhile. I agree with a previous post that Rocketmiles’ lowest rate is almost always a nonrefundable rate and I don’t like to book hotels that way. Good article though, Lucky. Keep us all learning and sharing.

  13. @Lucky Why do expedia/priceline bookings not earn hotel loyalty points the same way you would earn some if booking through a regular travel agent (i.e. commissionable rates)?

  14. Interesting article… I’m always on the lookout for this kind of program for hotels, since I don’t have enough hotel stays in a year to obtain anything worthwhile with specific hotel loyalty programs.

    I’ve been using Hotels.com, which gives one free hotel night for every ten night stays (free night of the average value of the ten nights)… I’ve found this to be the best choice at the time. I would be curious to hear from anyone who’s compared Rocketmiles, Pointshound, hotels.com, Kaligo… Are the sites that offer airline miles better than hotels.com ? Which of the sites that offer airline miles are better ?

  15. I’m in the same situation as Steph : using hotels.com but willing to hear any comparison between Rocketmiles, Pointshound, Kaligo and hotels.com!

  16. @Steph

    I’m sort of in the same position, I keep top tier in a few programs but try to use hotels.com for other bookings. Over the last year I’ve started looking at virtuoso rates as well.

    Bottom line for me is that it takes time and effort to learn a new program or site (hell, just to remember to look at 10 different sites to book a stay). I don’t want to invest that time, so I stick with just looking up my corporate rate on the hotel sites and then comparing that with virtuoso. If I’m not top tier with the hotel, I also look at hotels.com. I’m probably not getting max value for every stay, but I also save time.

  17. LOL Royal Ascot Hotel in Dubai is so not worth the $250…there is clearly some mistake here !

  18. Great post i have newer heard about Rocketmiles, and i have been looking at hotels yesterday in DE, and I can see some of the hotels is same price as on hotels.com but with avios (BA) earnings and others are few bucks more but with even more avios.

    But maybe Big Hoss dont like it, she just rolled her eyes and head 360 deg. and began talking Aramaic to me, she knows this will lengthen the booking process and not all of her wishes will be granted – extra avios but no pool i say yes she dosent, she isn’t a fan of “optimizing” bookings, she just prefer to swipe a card.

  19. It looks like you can get 13,000 miles for a one-night stay at the St Regis Aspen. So in that scenario, I’m ok forgoing the SPG points I would have otherwise received from Starwood. However, does anyone know if that night would still count as a “Stay” (ie, count towards the 25 annual stays needed for SPG Platinum)?

  20. Rocketmiles is a SCAM. Look at the fees/taxes on your bill. You are being charged an average of $42 plus extra dollars on each reservation. Compare the rate plus tax on any website and you will see that they are padding the bill and pocketing YOUR MONEY. The hotel is not charging them these outrageous fees as they would have you believe when confronted. I was charged $42 dollars in tax and fees on a $52.00 room rate in Las Vegas. The rate for tax in Nevada is 12% so you do the math. BUYER BEWARE! Check the rate on any website with the tax included and you quickly see what they are doing!!

  21. I just compared one night at the Palms Las Vegas, 12/11/16, Hotels.com v. Rocketmiles.
    Hotels.com: $59.88 + 7.19 “taxes and fees” + 33.54 “resort fee” @hotel = $100.61 total. This is for a REFUNDABLE room.
    Rocketmiles: 59.88 + 40.73 “taxes and fees” = $100.61 total. However it also lists a “local fee” of $33.54 to be paid at hotel. This is for a NON-REFUNDABLE room.

    It seems surprising that the resort fee/local fee is exactly equal to the difference in the taxes and fees. I can only assume that this is by design to deliberately look like they are competitive to hotels.com when in fact they are $33.54 more?

  22. I have been reluctant to use this thus far as my experience has shown me (and I have some insight to from a friend in the industry) that bookings at OTC’s tend to be relegated to the worst rooms in the hotel regardless of status. Quite simply the hotels want you to book through their website and avoid the third party. Room allocation is the one way they can control it by making sure you subtly notice that your options at check-in have been diluted. An example, I once booked a stay at the Four Seasons LA for which I am at monthly and normally always get an upgraded room. I booked a really great rate at Expedia that was not on the FS site (most likely rooms that were pre-purchased and sold by the OTC’s…a rarely talked about practice) and though they recognized me at check-in they gave me the dreaded 4th floor room at this property which has all of the constant traffic headed to the pool and gym adjacent.

    However, the bonus miles are amazing at some hotels and I am sitting with my finger on the button of the Sacher in Vienna (private so no loyalty points otherwise) for next week that is offering a whopping 27,000 AAdvantage miles for three nights. And the rate is the same as the Sacher website. My only fear being that the room might be located over an alley with the morning truck deliveries and dumpster.

  23. I have just used it one time and since they have an extra taxes+fees charge, which I assume is their service fee, it is way more expensive than buying from the hotel or other travel pages.

  24. Have tried many time to use this company,all fail because of the useless webb site.I am english living in cyprus Turkish,try getting into the webb site in english not turkish.It does not work.
    A regular visitor to Istanbul try bookings.com.

  25. Rocket Miles is a total ripoff and SCAM. Please don’t support or recommend them! Check out Trip Advisor. Many negative comments. Last week I received an email from what I thought was an Amazon partner, RocketMiles. I needed to book a room to attend a funeral so I hurriedly booked through this site without thoroughly researching their efficacy. Total mistake!!!!! They dangle the carrot of an Amazon gift card as a “rebate.” So you think it’s a good deal. The site charged me $167 for a one night stay at the Microtel in Ocala, Fl, not exactly a hot spot for tourists. Upon arrival, the hotel fee was $95. Plus tax. Total was $106. That is a 57% markup! I made several phone calls to RocketMiles concierge. The first guy was rude, the second person, a girl, was nice but couldn’t do anything about the price discrepancy. I asked for a manager to call me. I received that call last night. The man told me, ” we don’t claim to have the best prices.” There is NOTHING they could do to make it right. They obviously don’t care about keeping customers by offering to fix a problem. They can just go out and scam more victims. I said that their site gives the impression that they offer competitive rates. They should tell people that there is a 57% mark up/service fee!!! I actually told him that his mother would be ashamed of him!!

  26. I have a horrible experience with them. I booked for one night stay at a hotel in Germany via Rocketmiles. Rocketmiles charged my credit card in advance for that stay. However, their credit card in file did not work for the hotel, and the hotel later charged me again for my stay. When I notified Rocketmiles about the extra charge, they simply ignored my claim and did not refund me the extra payment. It is a big scam, stay away if possible.

  27. I have booked and paid for a double room for a week in Bratislava on Rocketmiles.
    However; Rocketmiles booked a Twin room in error and are refusing to change it because the price has now gone up by £8 per night and they’re not willing to cover it.
    DO NOT use Rocketmiles their customer service is appalling and they obviously don’t give a dam regarding their ‘promise’ to customers.

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