Of 1,000 participants in a survey by Best Western Hotels & Resorts and U.S. News & World Report, 86 percent use hotel loyalty points toward hotel stays.

MEMBERS OF HOTEL loyalty programs prefer to spend their accumulated points to pay for stays.

The finding is part of a study by Best Western Hotels & Resorts and U.S. News & World Report that looks at how program members use their points.

More than half of the 1,000 survey respondents closely watch their points accumulation, and 86 percent consider points a third currency to be used toward a free room night, said the report, The Potential With Points, released Tuesday.

Many hotel loyalty programs allow members to spend their rewards on goods and services outside the hotel industry realm, which has rankled franchisees who pay a percent of gross room revenue of a loyalty member’s stay.

The study shows, however, most loyalty program members value their points and invest them back into the hotel business. “Even with loyalty program features like gift cards or dining and entertainment options, nothing compare to free nights,” said the report that notes 39 percent of respondents said the primary reason they’re active in hotel loyalty program is to earn free nights.

The study found the expiration of points, ease of point redemption, guaranteed room availability and brand trust are important factors shaping the current hotel loyalty landscape.

In addition, the study indicated the ability to earn points that never expire is a key benefit of loyalty programs, with one-third of respondents stating that expiring points is their biggest pet peeve.