Hotel rewards programs are important, both to the travelers who join them and to the chains that run them. Roughly 18 percent of frequent travelers become loyal to a given hotel brand primarily because of its rewards program, according to Deloitte. And hotel chains reap an average of 50 percent more revenue from customers who belong to their loyalty programs than those who do not, according to a study from the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University.

Nevertheless, questions remain in the minds of many consumers. For instance, is it really worth pledging allegiance to a specific hotel chain when travel-comparison websites and disruptive peer-to-peer rental services could yield lower prices on a case-by-case basis? And how does one go about identifying the most-rewarding option amidst the maze of varying point values, confusing status tiers, and exhaustive terms and conditions pages? Much ultimately comes down to personal preference and geography, but it is possible to cut through the complexity and compare options on equal footing. So in the interest of helping consumers make more-informed travel decisions and ultimately maximize their savings, WalletHub did just that. They compared the rewards programs operated by the 12 largest U.S. hotel chains using 21 key metrics, ranging from point values and expiration policies to booking blackout dates and brand exclusions. These metrics collectively speak to each program’s expected value for travelers with three different hotel spending profiles: light ($487 per year), moderate ($779 per year) and heavy ($1,461 per year).

For the full descriptions and charts as well as a custom calculator that will allow you to personalize the results based on your own budget, visit WalletHub's complete report.