How to save on independent hotel reservations?

To the point Discover our top tips for saving on independent hotels. By using reward points and applying a few smart strategies, you can enjoy your next vacation at discounted rates.

Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors are fantastic rewards programs for earning free hotel nights with points. However, these large hotels are not found everywhere in the world and are not suitable for all types of travel.

When booking independent accommodation, you need to look at alternative strategies to save money. Here’s a list of tips to help you save or earn more points on your next cash stay.

Hotel Rio Serrano, Chili

Save on independent hotels - Use a rewards portal

To earn more points or cash back on your hotel nights, consider booking through online rewards portals.


AIR MILES offers an online travel agency for flight, hotel and car rental reservations. Payments by credit card and/or AIR MILES Dream Miles are accepted.


When you book through AIR MILES Travel, you’ll earn approximately 1 AIR MILES per $10 on the room rate, before taxes and fees.


Promotions are frequent and change throughout the year. For example, you could receive hundreds of bonus miles or a discount on your reservations to certain destinations.


You can also use your AIR MILES Dream Miles to save on a hotel reservation. Miles are redeemed at the approximate rate of 10 AIR MILES = $1 rebate in this case. Even if you use your miles to pay for your room, you’ll receive bonus miles.

Card issuer travel agencies

Each issuer has a website or portal where you can book travel with your credit card. Most of the time, you’ll receive extra reward points. This is the case with :


You can then use the bonus points to redeem for a statement credit or to save on a future trip.

Even if your card issuer doesn’t offer bonus points when you book with their online agency, it’s worth checking whether they offer certain discounts for the hotel you’re interested in.


Rocketmiles is another rewards portal that allows you to earn points from some 40 loyalty programs with your hotel stays.

Interesting programs for Canadians include Aeroplan, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, Asia Miles, Emirates Skywards, Eithad Guest, Flying Blue, Qatar Airways Privilege Club, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and more.



Rakuten is Canada’s largest online shopping rewards portal with hundreds of partners. For accommodation bookings, you can receive cash back of :


Create your Rakuten account with the Milesopedia link and receive a $30 bonus on your first transaction over $30.

Book with an airline or airline program

Airlines also offer ways to book hotels and receive bonus points at the same time. For example, with Air Canada, you’ll receive 2 Aeroplan points for every dollar spent on hotel nights.


The Aeroplan HotelSavers program is also advantageous for luxury hotels. With this program, hotel nights can be booked using Aeroplan points, according to a fixed rate chart.

In addition, Aeroplan credit cardholders can get the fourth night free on stays paid for with points, for bookings made until December 31, 2024.

Finally, British Airways is offering 10 Avios for every £1 spent on hotels via its online booking platform. Air France offers much the same thing with its Hotels for Miles program. The bonuses are generous, so take a look!

Take advantage of online agency loyalty programs

The major online travel agencies also have loyalty programs. Such is the case with’s Genius program, which rewards members with discounts, upgrades and breakfasts.


With, you’ll receive a coupon equivalent to a free night when you stay 10 nights. Finally, Expedia’s One Key program works more like cash back on every stay. In any case, choose your favorite platform and make most of your bookings on it to earn rewards faster.

You can also double dip by going through Rakuten to receive cash back while reaping your, or Expedia benefits!

Use travel credits

Many credit cards offer annual travel credits that can be applied to accommodation expenses. Here are just a few examples:

Be sure to check the terms and conditions of your travel credit, as restrictions may apply to some cards.

Book with Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts for luxury stays

Holders of a Platinum CardMD from American Express or a Business Platinum CardMD from American Express have access to the Fine Hotels + Resorts program. When you book your luxury hotel through this platform, you’ll enjoy a host of benefits, including free breakfast for two, room upgrades, property credit and late check-out.

Learn more about this partner program with over 1,300 luxury accommodations worldwide:

Take advantage of offers and promotions

If you look hard enough, you can always find special offers on accommodation. For example, every year, the StayVancouverHotels website offers prepaid Mastercard cards on reservations for certain hotels in Vancouver.

Meanwhile, American Express often offers online accommodation packages. In the past, we’ve seen credits for reservations at Marriott, Fairmont, Shangri-La, Sofitel, or even any of the hotels available on Amex Travel. There aren’t any at the moment, but this kind of offer comes up almost every year.

To make sure you don’t miss out on any promotions, subscribe to our free newsletter!

In addition, tourism agencies sometimes run promotional campaigns. It’s worth checking your destination’s tourist office website to see if you can find a bargain.

Finally, online travel agencies such as Scene+ Travel, Expedia for TD or AIR MILES offer periodic promotions for bookings in certain cities or destinations. Such was the case this winter with Scene+ Travel, which offered discounts on accommodation at ski resorts around the world.

Save on independent hotels - Buy gift cards

The grocery store gift card technique also works for hotel reservations. In fact, gift cards can be found at IGA, and paying with an American Express Cobalt® Card or Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card will maximize your points harvest.

However, before adopting this strategy, be sure to check your insurance certificate and the conditions under which coverage applies. If the accommodation has not been paid for in full with the credit card, certain coverages may no longer be valid, such as hotel burglary or trip cancellation insurance.

Okapuka Safari Lodge, Namibie

Save on independent hotels - Use fixed-value points

The number 1 tip for saving money on independent hotel bookings is to use credit card reward points. These accumulate rapidly with your daily spending and welcome bonuses when you open a new card.

For an overview, here’s a list of Canadian programs that allow you to redeem fixed-value points for hotels. Details of each program are given in the following sections.

The vast majority of points have a variable value depending on their use. The value shown in the table is the value when redeeming points for a statement credit or for a discount on the card issuer’s online travel agency.

BMO Rewards

BMO Rewards points can be used to reimburse an accommodation reservation. The value of your BMO Rewards points redeemable for travel will be :

15,000 points = $100 (or 0.67¢/point) back on your credit card.

BMO: Credit cards

NBC À la carte Rewards

The National Bank À la carte Rewards program allows you to book an independent hotel on any platform and then apply your points as a statement credit. The redemption ratio is 12,000 points per $100 redeemed on your card or 55,000 points per $500.

Check out this article that explains how to apply your National Bank points to travel.

NBC: Credit cards

CIBC Aventura

Aventura points can be used to book an independent hotel.

It’s all about paying the way you want with a CIBC Aventura card. Then, when the transaction is pending, you can use your points to pay it off right away!

CIBC: Credit cards

TD Rewards

TD’s travel platform is called Expedia for TD. Here you’ll find a variety of products, including a large selection of independent hotels. The most cost-effective way to use TD Rewards points is by booking travel directly on this site. 200 points are worth $1 off.

TD Rewards points can also be applied as a statement credit if you book your accommodations elsewhere. The point value will be 250 points for a $1 refund on your credit card.

TD: Credit cards

RBC Avion Rewards

RBC Avion Rewards points can be redeemed for hotel nights at your convenience on the Avion Rewards site.

Your points will have a value of 100 points = $1 discount.

RBC : Credit cards

MBNA Rewards

The best way to use MBNA Rewards points is to apply them to purchases made through their online travel agency:

10,000 points = $100.

MBNA: Credit Cards


The most lucrative way to use Scene+ points is to apply them to your travel purchases (hotel, air, Airbnb, VRBO, cruise, etc.).

10,000 points = $100 less to pay on your credit card.

Scotia: Credit cards

American Express Membership Rewards

These points are accumulated with American Express credit cards.

The American Express Cobalt® Card is one of Canada’s best options for earning points fast. In fact, it offers 5 times the points for spending in restaurants, food deliveries and grocery purchases. This equates to a 5% return on these expenses.

What makes this card even more attractive is the way you can use the points you’ve accumulated. Once you have enough points, you can redeem them for a credit that will be applied directly to your statement.

10,000 Membership Rewards points translate into a $100 statement credit.

American Express: Credit cards

Cash back credit cards

All cash-back credit cards are excellent for saving on independent hotels.

Promotional offers often include cash rebates of up to 10% on expenses during the first few month after account opening. Find the best offers of the month here.

Cash Back: Credit cards

Bottom Line

To pay less on your next independent hotel reservation, consider one or more of the following strategies:

  • Using an online rewards portal ;
  • Participate in loyalty programs on sites such as, and Expedia;
  • Take advantage of travel credits on certain credit cards;
  • Book luxury hotels with American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts;
  • Keep an eye out for promotions;
  • Buy gift cards at the grocery store to earn more points;
  • Redeem fixed-rate reward points.

Savings, bonus points and budget vacations are yours!

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Always on the lookout for exotic destinations, Alexandrine shares her strategies for traveling while saving with points and miles. She's an avid cook, both at home and abroad.

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