The website hotels.com just sent out an email to its users to push them towards using their app. They announced that starting in November there would be a $5 fee per free night redeemed unless it was done via their app. They try to justify it by saying that they need to cover the costs of the program (keep in mind that this website is getting 15-25% of what you pay per night already for just showing you what rooms are available). Clearly if it was only about covering costs then the fee would also apply to using the app. Regardless of what they write this is all about pushing people to use their app likely so they are able to get even more data on their users.
Below is the email which they just sent out within the hour:
We want to let you know we’re making some changes to our loyalty programme, Hotels.com™ Rewards.
From 27/11/2019, there’ll be a redemption fee of USD 5 for every reward night1 redeemed; however no redemption fee will apply if reward nights are redeemed using the Hotels.com app.
We’re making this change to cover some of the costs of running the programme, so more than 43 million Hotels.com Rewards members can continue to benefit from the programme.
So, every time you collect 10 nights, you’ll get 1 reward night. You pay the redemption fee, as well as the usual taxes and fees. Also, remember, you won’t have to pay a redemption fee when you redeem on the Hotels.com app.