The general rule for me is that I always want to earn hotel points, so that I can have enough to redeem for a free night. I will put in the work to keep my account active and wait until I have enough points to redeem for a free night. However, there are some people may not constantly stay at the same hotel over and over again, so they may not feel it is worth the trouble to sign up for a hotel loyalty program just to earn a few points that will end up expiring anyway.
That being said, there are two options to consider. To help me with the explanation, I will use the Best Western Rewards program.
You can set your hotel loyalty program to directly earn other loyalty points instead. If you happen to stay with Best Western one time and do not play to stay with them again, you can set your loyalty account to earn another specific program instead, such as Air Miles. For every night at a Best Western hotel, you will earn 20 Air Mile points. Sometimes there are even bonus promotions to earn more Air Miles for a night. This way, you do not have to worry about figuring out how to use Best Western points in the future.
In Best Western’s case, I prefer to earn Best Western points because those points never expire and I like to add up my points for elite status. So you just have to determine your spending and travelling habits to help you make your decision.
Another option is to earn the hotel points first, to keep the option of being able to use them on a free hotel room in the future. But if you end up changing your mind, you can still transfer them to another loyalty program. Hotel points are generally quite flexible and sometimes have transfer bonuses. That being said, be cautious of the minimum points transfer requirements. In Best Western’s case, you will need a minimum of 5,000 Best Western points before you can transfer to an airline partner.
As usual, always do your own calculations. Determine your own strategy and then implement it!