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After opening the 20th tab in your web browser and retyping the same destination, arrival, and departure dates, you'd be forgiven for thinking you’re working a full-time job rather than an enjoyable and lucrative hobby. Searching for award availability can be a frustrating experience, particularly if you are searching close to your travel dates or over a holiday weekend when award space can be scarce.

However, one of the advantages of being involved with such a forward-thinking hobby is that we are not alone, there is a massive points and miles community, and we all deal with similar issues when it comes to redeeming points. Namely, finding somewhere to spend them.

One of the biggest timesavers you can employ when hunting down award space is to use a hotel award search engine. An excellent way to discover new hotels and destinations, find award space and redemption rates, and in some cases, set alerts to notify you when award space opens up.

PEX+ Hotel Award Search
PEX+ is a new hotel award search engine that allows you to set alerts for your favorite hotels

Of the three websites we look at in this post, Hotel Hustle and AwardMapper are both relatively mature tools that have been tried and tested by loyalty members for years, with Hotel Hustle the better of the two services mainly due to the ability to set award alerts.

The third website is PEX+. Still currently in Beta testing, PEX+ can search award space and cost, and also works as a hotel search engine. PEX+ also has a fantastic search engine for airline award space, but as we’re only reviewing award search tools for hotels, we’ll cover that side of it in another post.

Hotel Hustle

Hotel Hustle Hotel Award Search

The ability to set alerts for specific hotels when there is no available award space is a real winner for Hotel Hustle. As most award bookings can be refunded up to 24 hours before check-in, if there is no award space at your chosen hotel, you can book a room in another hotel using points, so your accommodation is covered. Hotel Hustle will alert you to any award openings at your chosen destination on the lead up to your holiday. If award space opens, you can cancel and move your award booking to your desired hotel.

The search results display a visual star rating, color-coded icon, hotel name and brand, cash price, the number of points, cash + points if available, and an alert button if either Free Night or Cash & Points stays aren’t available. And, maybe the most valuable number for folk that are new to points and miles, in the top right of each listing a cent-per-point value.

If I was to split hairs, the only real downsides to Hotel Hustle are that you can’t set an alert if there is premium award availability which may sound a little backward, but if your goal is to book a premium room or suite, standard room awards are of no interest. And, the search results don’t expand when you zoom out on the map. For most people, this won’t even enter the equation, but it is one of my favorite attributes of AwardMapper and would be a fantastic feature for Hotel Hustle.

Hotel Hustle lets you set 5 alerts per month for free, and up to thirty for the paid version ($2.99/month), well worth the cost for anyone serious about scoring excellent award redemptions.

Hotel Hustle covers the following programs:

  • Choice Privileges
  • Club Carlson
  • Hilton Honors
  • World of Hyatt
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Le Club Accor
  • Marriott Rewards
  • Wyndham Rewards

AwardMapper

AwardMapper Hotel Search

One of my favorite features of AwardMapper is hotel discovery, searching for a particular destination and then zooming out to show the surrounding areas. Some of the unique properties I’ve stayed in have been destinations where the ability to zoom out and have the hotels for each chain displayed, is the only way you'd know they are there.

This can also come in handy if you are traveling by road and want to plan out your travel by a particular award program, simply filter that one program to display, and zoom out to reveal the area you are going. AwardMapper will show you each available hotel along your route.

There are some downsides to AwardMapper. Not displaying award availability and no alert to notify you of award space when it does open up. We also stumbled across some hotels with broken links or listed in the wrong category, and when using the sliding filter to isolate by minimum/maximum number of points, AwardMapper will often keep displaying hotels outside the filtered number of points. That said, it’s a valuable resource and a tool I use on a regular basis.

AwardMapper covers the following programs:

  • Best Western
  • Choice Hotels
  • Club Carlson
  • Hilton Honors
  • World of Hyatt
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Rewards
  • Starwood Preferred Guest

PEX+

PEX+ Hotel Award Search

The new kid on the block for searching hotel award availability and still currently in ‘beta release,' PEX+ is the latest company to enter the points and miles search space. While we wouldn’t typically feature Beta services, PEX+ has a talented development team behind it and with time and a little feedback from the points and miles community, we think PEX+ will hit its stride.

PEX+ is currently in “beta release” to demonstrate some of our capabilities, and we're constantly adding new features. Please feel free to use our site and give us suggestions on future improvements.

The app still has some bugs to iron out and improvements on the horizon, but it has the bones of a fantastic service that will make the award search and booking process faster and less painful. You can filter results by number of stars, chain, price, number of points, location, and amenities. From a design perspective, I prefer PEX+ over the other two as it combines the best mix of form and function.

Reaching out to the team at PEX+ they were quick to take note of the few teething pains I picked up on and elaborated on plans for future development of the service. These will eventually include a paid subscription that further extends the search functionality and frequency, and also enterprise level access that would include access to a suite of travel management and reporting tools.

One of the coolest features mentioned was the ability to sync your loyalty program accounts and have the account balances display as you browse search results. I look forward to seeing this feature in action!

PEX+ covers the following programs:

  • Choice Privileges
  • Club Carlson
  • Hilton Honors
  • World of Hyatt
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Le Club Accor
  • Marriott Rewards
  • Starwood Preferred Guest
  • Wyndham Rewards

Final Thoughts

For now, I’ve got to hand the winners going to Hotel Hustle. It has a bunch of stand-out features such as cent-per-point values and the ability to set alerts quickly for hotels where award nights aren’t available. Each website has features, however, that make bookmarking all three sites for your points and miles toolkit, well worth your while.

We’ll revisit PEX+ in a future post to give you the lowdown on using it as a flight search engine for award bookings, and in the meantime, look forward to hearing about new features and future development via their email updates.

Hotel Award Search Tools – Hotel Hustle vs. AwardMapper vs. PEX+
4.9 (98.18%) 11 votes
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