I used Rocketmiles to book a hotel for the first time this past trip – the lovely Hotel Santa Maria Inn, on the outskirts of Alajuela.
For those of you that aren’t aware of the site, Rocketmiles essentially acts as a travel agent, charges a bit extra, and throws some airline miles your way for the hassle.
Here’s my experience.
There was one reason (and one reason only) that prompted me to book through Rocketmiles. I had 5,000 Copa Airlines ConnectMiles that were going to expire this July. Being the frugal person that I am, combined with my mild miles addiction, I couldn’t let that happen!
Rocketmiles partners with a ton of airlines – Copa, Southwest, Hainan, Aer Lingus, Ethiopian, you get the idea. In reality, they’re just buying miles from these airlines, and then redistributing those miles to their customers. There’s more than just airlines though – you can also earn Uber or Amazon credit, Amtrak Guest Rewards, and other bonuses.
Realistically, I wasn’t going to be flying on Copa (or any Star Alliance carrier) in the next few months, so I had to find another way to keep those miles active. I had four options –
- Rent a car through National, Alamo, or Avis/Budget
- Book a Marriott hotel and credit the stay to my Copa ConnectMiles account
- Transfer Marriott points to ConnectMiles
- Book a hotel through Rocketmiles
For one night, the Marriotts in and around the San Jose area didn’t seem to be worth it, and I didn’t have enough Marriott points to transfer over. Though I could have transferred SPG > Marriott > ConnectMiles, I decided to keep my Starwood points. I also wasn’t going to be renting a car anytime soon, or at least not with Copa’s partners. So, that left only Rocketmiles. I got to work!
The Booking Process
Once I had set up an account with Rocketmiles and linked it to my Copa Airlines ConnectMiles account number, it was easy to find a hotel for Alajuela. At the time I booked, we already had accommodations for La Fortuna and Santa Elena. In fact, I already had a Holiday Inn near SJO booked with points too, but I opted to swap it for the Rocketmiles hotel in this experiment.
Once online and looking for hotels, Rocketmiles operates just like any other booking engine. I prefer map view for searching, so I know where I’m staying in relation to the places I want to see.
For some reason, I can’t find our Hotel Santa Maria Inn at the moment, even after checking multiple dates. Let’s go ahead and book a stay at the Hotel Casa Antigua. Similar price, and 500 miles per night, just like our stay at the Santa Maria Inn.
So, after clicking on the hotel from the map view, Rocketmiles shows the price, miles, and other important details. Next, check the price through another engine. If it’s not part of a major chain, try searching for the hotel on Google, through Priceline, or Kayak. Compare the prices. If the miles earned outweigh the price difference, go for Rocketmiles! Keep in mind other bonuses though – for example, if you regularly book on Hotels.com, you get every 11th night free, which comes out to roughly a 9% discount on your stays.
To get a true comparison of the prices, you’ll have to factor in that 9% savings. Your math would look like this:
(Rocketmiles Price – Value of Miles) – (Hotels.com x (100% – 9%)) = Difference in Price
If the “Difference in Price” is positive, book with Rocketmiles (the miles will be worth more than the premium paid). If it’s negative, you’re better off with Hotels.com. Luckily, Hotels.com has Hotel Casa Antigua in Alaujela too! $89/night for a similar room. Let’s use an average mile value of 1.5 cents per point. So…
($99.44 – (500 x 1.5 cpp)) – ($100.57 x .91) = Difference
($99.44 – $7.50) – $91.52 = Difference
$91.94 – $91.52 = Difference = $0.42
Hotels.com just barely beats out Rocketmiles! All things equal I’d book on Hotels.com. But, I had those Copa ConnectMiles that I wanted to keep alive, remember? If we factor in those additional miles, the math is a bit different. Plus, I received a 1,000 mile bonus with my first booking. Although that isn’t something you can count on regularly, it definitely factored into my decision here. My numbers looked more like this:
(Rocketmiles Price – Total Miles Value) – (Hotels.com x (100% – 9%)) = Difference
The total value from the miles I would have “earned” is as follows:
(500 miles/night + 1,000 miles bonus + 5,000 miles kept active) x 1.5 cpp = Value
6,500 Copa ConnectMiles x 1.5 cpp = $97.5
Wow, Rocketmiles enabled me to hang on to almost $100 in value! You can see why it makes sense in this scenario:
($99.44 – $97.5) – ($91.52 Hotels.com price) = Difference in Price
$1.94 – $91.52 = Difference in Price = -$89.58
So, including all of the ConnectMiles I earned/was able to keep in my wallet, booking on Rocketmiles saved me almost $90! Just remember, that $90 isn’t cold, hard cash, it’s $90 worth of Copa ConnectMiles. Very different. You’ll have to decide if the miles are truly worth it for yourself. This will largely depend on what you plan to use the miles for, what kind of miles they are, and your willingness to keep track of the currency.
This example proves that Rocketmiles can be useful in certain situations. The miles posted to my ConnectMiles account the same day we checked out of the Hotel Santa Maria Inn. Compared to other methods of earning miles through partners, or keeping miles active, that’s speedy! With the extensive list of partners that Rocketmiles boasts, I’ll definitely keep this option in my back pocket when I have miles on the chopping block. Pay a few extra dollars, and keep those miles? Sounds like a good deal!
So while I can’t give Rocketmiles two thumbs up, here’s my conditional blessing:
IF you need to keep some miles active, and IF you have no other (free) way to keep them active, and IF you actually need those miles, and IF you can swallow your pride and pay a little extra for a hotel, THEN (and only then) you’re allowed to book with Rocketmiles. Keep in mind though, different hotels seem to have different mark-ups. Sometimes it’ll only be a few extra dollars for 500 miles, and sometimes it’ll be an extra $40. Do your research, and see if it’s the right call for you.
That being the case, I’ll add my link to the Referrals Page. If you have to pay to keep some miles active, you might as well get a bonus right? If you use the link, we’ll both get 1,000 miles on top of the regular nightly miles for booking. Not bad!
I hope this helps you guys in a pinch, and good luck with your next trip!