Upon learning about WelcomeRewards offered by Hotels.com, I got really excited about the concept. It seems to work pretty much like a punch card system: for every 10 nights paid, you get 1 free. No points to collect. No blackout dates. It even works hand-in-hand with their price match guarantee.
Skeptically waiting for the catch? I was, too. So I called a friend who used to work for them. It seems like it's pretty above board. She's been using their points program for years and loves it.
My next step was to dig up the budget European hotels I hope to use this year, knowing if these cheap properties qualify for the free night, just about everything will qualify. And lo and behold, they do.
I'm convinced, I'm signing up. Hotels.com, you've won me over.