Rocketmiles vs Kaligo vs PointsHound (Part 3) – Miles Earning Opportunities (USA)

Rocketmiles v Kaligo x PointsHound

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This is the third in a series of six posts in which I’m taking a closer look a the 3 big “miles for hotel stays” websites.

Part 1 – A look at the choice and quality of loyalty programs offered and a look at the selection of hotels available on the sites.

Part 2 – A look at the prices the sites are offering.

Part 3 – A look at mileage earning opportunities – USA Centric Analysis

Part 4 – A look at mileage earning opportunities – UK Centric Analysis

Part 5 – A look at what miles you should be electing to earn

Part 6 – A look at other benefits offered, positives/negatives to using these sites & a summary of the findings with conclusions.


Rocketmiles v Kaligo x PointsHound

What are Rocketmiles, Kaligo and PointsHound?

These are hotel booking sites which allow you to earn miles, in a variety of loyalty programs (predominantly airline loyalty programs), when you book hotel stays.

Which one of the sites offers the best miles earning opportunities?

The honest answer to this question is that it may vary from day-to-day. These sites often offer bonus points and other incentives that could sway a user’s decision on any given day. The best I can do for the purposes of this exercise is compare them right now and show you what the results look like.

Your decision on which site to use may be guided by which loyalty program’s points/miles you’re most interested in earning, but what happens if more than one site offers your choice of loyalty program?

This test was conducted from a US centric standpoint (if you’re reading this as a UK based reader this may still be of use but a more UK focused post is coming in part 4 of this series).

Notes:

  1. The two major/useful US airline miles that are offered on PointsHound, Kaligo and Rocketmiles are American’s AAdvantage miles and Alaska’s Mileage Plan miles so those are the ones I chose to focus on first.
  2. Earnings for United Airlines were also tested and come later.
  3. As these tests look to compare miles earning opportunities over the longer term I have ignored any one-off bonuses available for first time users of the sites.
  4. The same hotels, resorts and locations that used for the tests in parts 1 & 2 of this review were used here.

The Results:

For American Airlines AAdvantage Earning (double click to enlarge):

aadvantage-miles-earned

  • Rocketmiles offered the most miles in 18 out of 24 instances
  • Rocketmiles tied with Kaligo for most AAdvantage miles offered in 1 instance
  • Kaligo offered the most AAdvantage miles in just 5 out of 24 instances.
  • PointsHound failed to offer the most AAdvantage miles for any of the properties sampled.

To say that Rocketmiles won this one would be something of an understatement. Yes, its possible that, on another day, one of the other two sites might be offering a bonus that would see the results change…but I suspect that Rocketmiles would win this test on most days.

For Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Earning (double-click to enlarge):

alaska-miles-earned

  • Rocketmiles offered the most miles in 20 out of 24 instances
  • Kaligo offered the most AAdvantage miles in just 4 out of 24 instances.
  • PointsHound failed to offer the most Alaska miles for any of the properties sampled.

Just like with the results for AAdvantage miles earning, Rocketmiles comes out way ahead on this test – in fact the results are even more emphatic.

For completeness, I checked how many United Airlines MileagePlus Miles were on offer for the same hotels/resorts despite the fact that only 2 out of the 3 sites offer MileagePlus miles as an option. I wasn’t expecting the results to be significantly different from what we’ve already seen…..and I wasn’t disappointed.

(Double-click to enlarge)

MileagePlus-Miles-Earned

The trouncing continued.

  • Rocketmiles offered the most miles in 20 out of 24 instances
  • Kaligo offered the most AAdvantage miles in just 4 out of 24 instances.

Once again, I’m more than happy to concede that a sample this small is not going to be statistically significant. Having said that, it’s hard not to think that if you’re looking simply to earn the most points from a stay then Rocketmiles is almost certainly going to be the place to start your search.

WINNER – Rocketmiles
Second: Kaligo
Third: PointsHound

What happens if we factor price into the equation?

Another way of looking at the return you can get from the miles-earning hotel sites is to see how many miles are offered per $ spent. This is probably a more meaningful bit of analysis for someone shopping for vacation accommodation as it will show if you’re actually earning more miles with a particular site or if you’re just paying for them.

American Airlines AAdvantage Miles Earned Per Dollar Spent:

aadvantage-miles-per-dollar

Alaska Mileage Plan Miles Earned Per Dollar Spent:

alaska-miles-per-dollar

United Airlines MileagePlus Miles Earned Per Dollar Spent:

united-miles-per-dollar

The wins for Rocketmiles keep coming but this time it was a little bit more of a surprise.

I knew from the analysis in part 2 of this series that PointsHound was, more often then not, the cheapest option so I was expecting a better performance from them in the miles/$ test. Instead, with the exception of one resort, the results were pretty much the same as in the previous test –  a comfortable win for Rocketmiles.

It would appear that the sheer number of miles being offered by Rocketmiles is, in this case, negating the cheaper prices offered by PointsHound.

Without the miles/$ analysis it would be quite easy to assume that you don’t so much earn more miles with Rocketmiles as you pay for them – but the miles/$ spent figures would seem to disagree with that notion. You get more miles for your dollar with Rocketmiles.

WINNER – Rocketmiles
Second: Kaligo
Third: PointsHound

There is one inescapable conclusion to be drawn from this data – if you’re booking a hotel based purely on how many miles you can earn (in AAdvantage, Alaska’s Mileage Plan or United’s MileagePlus), or how many miles you can earn (in those programs) per dollar spent, then Rocketmiles will probably be the site you book with.

Results so far:

  • Number of loyalty programs – Rocketmiles
  • Quality of loyalty programs offered – Rocketmiles
  • Number of hotels offered – Kaligo
  • Quality of hotels offered – PointsHound
  • Prices of hotels offered – PointsHound
  • Number of miles earned per reservation – Rocketmiles
  • Number of miles earned per dollar spent – Rocketmiles

Look out for part 4 of this series in which I take a look at the mileage earning opportunities from a UK centric point of view – looking at earning Avios and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles.