One of the services I used during my recent trip was Rocketmiles. Rocketmiles offers airline miles in exchange for prepayment of hotel bookings. The main draw, for me, is the ability to earn United MileagePlus miles for hotel stays. And not just small bonuses — I earned 9000 United MileagePlus miles for a three-night stay at the Hilton Vienna Danube. The hotel rate was about $150 per night.
The going rate for 9000 miles on United’s website as a flight add-on is about $180-190. So, in exchange for paying a few weeks in advance, I received those miles for essentially $0. (I often use miles for business-class flights, so this starts to look even better.)
Rocketmiles is simple to use. Enter your destination, number of guests, dates of stay and airline loyalty program, and it produces a list of hotels offering at least 1,000 miles per night in exchange for your prepayment. Refundable rooms are often available (with cancellations required about a week before the stay begins), and prices are often the same as those on other travel sites.
Certain cities appear to offer better Rocketmiles deals than others, on average, though this can vary according to your dates of stay. I saw good deals in Vienna, Prague and Montreal when I was looking.
To me, Rocketmiles is a no-brainer if:
- You’re planning to stay at a hotel anyway;
- You’re staying with someone else, so your costs will be even lower; and
- You can find a refundable room at a hotel that appeals to you.
In my mind, it becomes even more of a great deal if the value of miles received approaches 30% of the total hotel bill.
So, what are the caveats?
- All hotels tend to sound good on Rocketmiles. Double-check the user reviews on TripAdvisor before you book.
- Double-check the price on other travel sites to make sure it’s the same.
- If you’re booking business travel, make sure you’re following your company’s procedures (i.e., are allowed to book your own hotel).
For four separate stays in November, the miles credited to my account quickly, and there were no hassles. I was treated well by the hotels and the rooms I was assigned were fine.
This service seems a little too-good-to-be-true, but I’ll be using it as long as it’s available.