If you’ve ever had to spend the day at a coffee shop with Wi-Fi because your hotel’s official check-in time isn’t until 3 p.m., or had to spend a few extra hours at the airport because you were booted from your room at 11 a.m., you know how valuable early check-in and late check-out can be.credit cards for late checkout

Elite status with various hotel chains often includes check-in/out perks. But if you aren’t able to complete the number of stays necessary to earn elite status, you might consider a credit card that gives you it automatically.

As with many benefits, though, there’s plenty of fine print associated with early check-in and late check-out perks. Here are some stipulations to look out for followed by a chart that summarizes which cards can let you check in earlier — and let you sleep in on check-out day.

Check-in benefits are rare

Some hotel-affiliated cards give you access to an expedited check-in line in the lobby. Others go a step further and allow you to check in before the hotel’s standard check-in time. Early check-in is rare, however, and no hotel chain or affiliated card guarantees the ability to use this perk. That makes sense, as there’s no guarantee the previous guest will vacate your room before you arrive – especially if they’re availing themselves of any late check-out perks they have.

Late check-out is more common – but terms are often vague

You’ll notice the terms and conditions for cards and chains providing late check-out are almost always vague — many mentions of “upon request,” and very few concrete mentions of just how late you can stay. In general, you have to notify the front desk of your departure plans and hope for the best. You might request 4 p.m. check-out only to have the property give a counter offer of 1 p.m.

If you want to get into which properties are most likely to grant you late check-out and exactly how much longer they’ll let you occupy the room, comb through the lengthy discussions on FlyerTalk.

Late check-out is rarely guaranteed – and will cost you

Most hotels and cards that advertise late check-out won’t guarantee it. After all, if the hotel is booked solid, the property can’t overburden its housekeeping staff by letting you occupy the room longer.

If guaranteed late check-out is a must for you, the only plastic that will give it to you is the Platinum card (personal and business version) from American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner). However, you must also book within AmEx’s Fine Hotels & Resorts portfolio. That means you’re paying $450 per year for the card plus however much it costs to stay at a property in AmEx’s portfolio (which includes some of the most luxurious properties in the world).

It’s not a make-or-break benefit

Check-in/out perks are nice to have, but are far less important than the return on spending the card gives you and perks that have a calculable monetary value (such as free nights). If you frequently fly into your destination late in the evening and depart early in the morning, early check-in and late check-out probably won’t be that important to you anyway. So, rather than factoring them in to your application decision, they’re perks to be aware of so you don’t miss out once you have the card.

Cards that offer early check-in / late check-out benefits
Hotel chainThe card you’ll need for check-in/out benefitsAutomatic status granted with cardCheck-in benefitsLate check-out benefitsLate check-out guaranteed?
IHGIHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card ($49 annual fee)Platinum ElitePriority check-in lane“Extended” check-out. Time depends on property. No, subject to availability. Not available in all regions.
MarriottMarriott Rewards Card ($95 annual fee)Silver EliteN/A“Priority” late checkout. Notify front desk of your planned departure time, and they’ll try to accommodate you.No, subject to availability.
HiltonHilton HHonors Visa Signature, Hilton HHonors card from American Express (no annual fee)Silver EliteN/ALate check-out. Schedule with front desk.No, subject to availability.
Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card ($95 annual fee); Hilton HHonors Surpass card from American Express ($75 annual fee)Gold Elite
American Express Platinum cardGold Elite
Choice HotelsNo card required – check in/out benefits granted to all Choice Privileges membersElite Gold Status (again, not required for check-in/out benefits)Express check-inAs late as 2 p.m. Request with hotel before posted check-out time passes.No, subject to availability
StarwoodAmerican Express Platinum Card and Business PlatinumGold Preferred Guest. You must request enrollment via your Platinum card.N/A4 p.m. late check-outNo, subject to availability
Hotels in American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts portfolioAmerican Express Platinum Card and Business Platinum. Must book with Fine Hotels & Resorts program.N/AEarly noon check-in, when available4 p.m. late check-outYES
Hotels in Visa’s Luxury Hotel CollectionEligible Visa cards (Visa Signature, Signature Preferred, Signature Business). Must book via Visa’s travel program.N/AN/A3 p.m. late check-outNo, subject to availability
Hotels in MasterCard’s Luxury Hotels and Resorts portfolioWorld Elite MasterCard. Must book with MasterCard’s travel service.N/AEarly check-in, when availableLate check-out No, subject to availability.
Chase Luxury Hotel & Resort CollectionMileagePlus Club card ($95 annual fee), MileagePlus Club card ($450 annual fee)N/AEarly check-in, when available, at select propertiesLate check-out at select propertiesNo, subject to availability
Ritz-CarltonRitz-Carlton Rewards credit cardGold EliteN/APriority late check-out. Contact front desk with desired departure time.No, subject to availability

Your first credit card may not have been perfect. After all, cards designed for credit-builders often come with low limits, no rewards and annual fees. So how long do you need to keep the thing around? Are you stuck with it forever?

We asked credit expert John Ulzheimer and Can Arkali, principal scientist at FICO, about the credit consequences of moving on from your credit-building card.throwing away a credit card

No, it won’t immediately mess up your average age of accounts (AAoA)

It’s true that the length of your credit history makes up 15 percent of your FICO score. It’s also true that FICO’s algorithm rewards you for long-standing accounts. What’s not true is that, once you close an account, it stops being factored into your length of credit history.

According to FICO’s Arkali, a closed account is factored into your credit history “for as long as this account is captured in the credit file.” That’s 10 years for the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion).

More good news – “As long as the closed account is reported to the credit bureaus and captured in the credit file, it will continue to age,” Arkali wrote in an email to CreditCardForum.

That means, if you closed a two-year-old account today, in five years it will be considered a seven-year-old account for purposes of FICO scoring.

Yes, you’ll lose the benefit of that old account 10 years later (when it falls off your reports).

“But by then, all your other accounts will be 10 years older,” Ulzheimer says. “So it’s not worth spending time worrying about that part of the issue.”

Yes, it might affect your credit utilization

Thirty percent of your FICO score is determined by “amounts owed,” and part of that is your credit utilization – how much you owe compared to how much credit you have. Eating up as little as possible of your total limit is rewarded by FICO’s algorithm.

When you cancel a card, its limit no longer factors in to that equation, which could cause your utilization to jump. The damage done, however, depends on how big your balance is and the limit on the cancelled card.

If the card you want to cancel has a paltry $200 limit, “that’s probably a no-harm-no-foul type of situation,” Ulzheimer says. However, closing a card with a $5,000 limit could upset your utilization balance.

Even if you pay in full every month, you’re not necessarily dodging the utilization bullet, Ulzheimer says. For credit-reporting purposes, you probably do have a balance, as the card issuer likely reports your balance to the credit bureaus when your statement is cut.

“So even though you pay it in full every month, the fact you used the card in the interim means you’re going to have a balance show up on your credit reports,” Ulzheimer says.

All this stuff about utilization doesn’t mean you should never cancel a card. However, if your available credit is lowered significantly because you closed an account, you have to be a lot more careful about making big purchases – or make sure you always bring your balances back to zero before your statement cuts.


Number of active accounts may make a difference

“Payment history” is a big one for FICO. It makes up 35 percent of your score and represents your ability to make credit payments on time. So does having, say, five open active accounts you’re making payments on look more impressive to FICO than four? Should you keep that fifth account open to boost your score?

Showing you can juggle numerous accounts can indeed help your FICO score.

“Number of accounts with no late payments can be factored into the FICO Score calculation,” Arkali explained by email. “Our research has shown that all else held equal, consumers with a large number of accounts consistently paid on time represent a lower risk of default relative to consumers with a small number of accounts consistently paid on time.”

That said, a closing single account (going from five cards to four, for example) probably won’t make a significant difference.

“All else held equal, small variations in the precise number of accounts consistently paid on time between two consumers is unlikely to cause a significant change in the FICO Score,” Arkali wrote.

So can I cancel this card or not?

To borrow a popular phrase from our forums, your mileage may vary.

“There are a different answers to the question,” Ulzheimer says. “It’s not as clean as, ‘Yeah go for it’ or ‘No, never do it.’”

If the card has an annual fee, consider how much that fee is compared to the credit limit. If, say, you have a credit-building card with an affordable annual fee and a $1,000 limit, it might be worth keeping if $1,000 is a big deal to your credit utilization ratio, Ulzheimer says. If the limit is small change compared to your other cards’ limits and the fee is too high for you to justify, don’t feel bad about closing the card.

Another reason to cancel: You qualify for much better cards now that you have better credit. Say you’re thinking of cancelling a $1,000-limit card with an annual fee that’s no longer worth it to you — and you get approved for a no-annual-fee card with a $15,000 limit. Don’t fret about cancelling the lower-limit card, because you’ve more than replaced it.

“It’s really simple math,” Ulzheimer says. “You’re swapping out $1,000 for $15,000 and that’s a net benefit of $14,000 to your utilization. That’s a great trade-in.”


Amtrak Credit Card Review (UPDATED)

Amtrak has gone through a bit of a credit-card rewards slump this past year. First, Chase axed its Amtrak rewards card in 2015. Then, near the end of 2015, Chase announced that it would no longer allow Ultimate Rewards transfers to Amtrak’s Guest Rewards program.Amtrak rewards credit card

But Bank of America picked up the mantle in 2016 and launched its own co-branded Amtrak rewards cards – the Amtrak Guest Rewards World MasterCard ($79 annual fee) and the Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum MasterCard (no annual fee). The card is an improvement over the previous product and rewards those who commute or travel frequently with Amtrak.

Earning rewards

Both cards are offering a sign-up bonus right now. For the Amtrak Guest Rewards World MasterCard ($79 annual fee), you can get 20,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on the card in the first 90 days. For the Platinum MasterCard version ($0 annual fee), you get 12,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days.

Beyond that, you’ll earn rewards as follows:

 Amtrak Guest Rewards World MasterCard ($79 annual fee)Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum MasterCard
Amtrak travel and onboard purchases3 points/$12 points/$1
Other travel purchases (airlines, car rental agencies, hotels, motels, inns, resorts, cruises, travel agencies)2 points/$1N/A
Other purchases1 point/$11 point/$1

Note that you will also be earning the regularly rewarded points that come from being a member of Amtrak Guest Rewards — 2 points per dollar spent on tickets (with bonuses for Business and First-Class travel).

Our analysis:

We like travel rewards cards that allow you to earn rewards in categories other than the co-branded partner – and the World MasterCard version allows you to do just that. However, if you’re playing the credit-card rewards game, you probably have another dedicated travel rewards card you’re using for travel purchases.

If that’s the case, the no-annual fee version of the card may be a better fit (especially if you’re not going to use any of the other World MasterCard benefits, which we’ll get to in a moment).
The Platinum version allows you to rack up points with Amtrak at a rate of just 1 fewer point per dollar than the World MasterCard. That means, with the no-annual-fee Platinum version, you don’t have to fret about recouping an annual fee and can just use your rewards whenever it’s convenient.

Redeeming rewards

Amtrak’s rewards program gives the following redemption options:

Amtrak travel: You can reliably get 2 cents per point with this option, but your value varies, depending on the fare.

For example, say you’re traveling from Chicago to New York. Here’s the cash cost of one route:

Amtrak reservation cash

And here’s the cost in rewards:

Amtrak reservation reward points

If you book the Saver rate (worth $85), you’re getting a value of 2.3 cents per point. If you book the room, your value goes up to 2.9 cents per point.

Gift certificates and points toward other travel: You can redeem for Hertz gift cards and cruise gift cards (for a value of nearly 1 cent per point to slightly more than 1 cent per point). You can also redeem for Starwood stays (starting at 10,000 points for one night at a Category 1 hotel).

Retailer, restaurant and movie theater gift cards: The redemption value varies but maxes out at 1 cent per point. For example, you can get a $100 Regal Entertainment Group gift card for 10,000 points (a 1-cent-per-point value) and a $50 Olive Garden gift card for 6,000 points (a 0.8-cents-per-point value) as of April 2016.

Our analysis: No surprise here — your best bet is to redeem for Amtrak travel, and a value of 2 cents per point is competitive among travel rewards cards. The other options fetch a smaller value. However, in other travel rewards programs, gift card redemption values =can be much lower (sometimes as low as half a cent per point). So, if you can’t redeem for Amtrak tickets, you at least have other options.

Other benefits

The following benefits might make the World MasterCard version worth the annual fee:

Amtrak Guest Rewards card benefits
Amtrak Guest Rewards World MasterCardAmtrak Guest Rewards Platinum MasterCard
Redemption bonus5 percent rebate when you redeem for Amtrak travel
Elite status benefits1,000 Tier Qualifying Points toward status each time you reach $5,000 in eligible spending in a calendar year (up to 4,000 TQPs per year)N/A
Companion ticketComplimentary companion coupon upon account opening and annually after you renew your card membership. Blackout dates apply.N/A
UpgradesA one-class upgrade upon account opening and annually after you renew your card membership. Not valid for sleeping card upgrades. Blackout dates apply.N/A
Lounge accessSingle-day ClubAcela pass, upon account opening. This gets you into lounges at stations that have them (including CubAcela, Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge or First Class lounges)N/A

Our analysis:
If you travel with Amtrak frequently, these perks could make the $79 annual fee worth it. In fact, the companion ticket alone could cancel out the annual fee, assuming the fare is more than $79.

The value of the upgrade and lounge perks are harder to quantify. The lounge pass is a one-time thing (you don’t get it every year), but it could make a long transfer more comfortable (assuming the station has a lounge).

As for the annual upgrade perk, not all trains have business or first class. But, if you frequently use a route that offers the possibility of upgrades, it can help justify the annual fee. For example, upgrading from coach to business when traveling from Washington, D.C. to New York is worth $45 on a regional train. And upgrading from business to first on an Acela Express train is worth $123:

amtrak upgrade costs

The bottom line

It’s a shame that Amtrak is no longer an Ultimate Rewards transfer partner. If you don’t use Amtrak for regular daily and business commutes (or don’t live in an area well served by Amtrak), train travel probably isn’t something you do that often. Having Amtrak in the Ultimate Rewards transfer family allowed you to transfer in UR points when you needed to – and use them for a variety of other travel programs in the meantime.

Now that UR transfers are no longer possible, the co-branded Amtrak card is a compelling option. However, getting any co-branded card requires committing to the associated program. Assuming Amtrak travel is in your future, which version of the card to get depends on your level of commitment:

  • If you plan to take Amtrak for the occasional vacation or commute (as a back-up to flying), the no-annual-fee card is likely your best bet. You’d be hard pressed to use the benefits that justify the annual fee (especially considering Amtrak’s blackout dates). Plus, if you put your travel spending on another travel card, the only other “advantage” of the World MasterCard is the 1 extra point you get per dollar on Amtrak purchases.
  • If you are a hard-core Amtrak business commuter or spend your vacations traversing the country by rail, the annual-fee card may be worth it, especially if you don’t travel alone; just one use of the companion pass can knock out the annual fee.

    If you’re looking for a more generalized, flexible rewards card that allows you to earn and redeem rewards on Amtrak (albeit at a lesser per-point value) and other travel purchases, consider one of the following travel rewards cards:


Blispay is a new credit product that promises an alternative to store cards for those who want to finance large purchases — and earn rewards.

As with any intriguing new product, though, it’s vital to understand how it works and how to use it responsibly.

The basics

Blispay screenshotUsually, if you want get 0 percent financing on large purchases across multiple stores, you’d need to apply for multiple store lines of credit (one at Best Buy for the TV, one at Home Depot for the bathroom fixtures, one at Ashley Furniture for the sofa, etc.).

But Blispay allows you to apply for one card (a Visa issued by First Electronic Bank, Utah) and then always get automatic 0 percent financing for six months on all purchases over $199 (see the screen shot to the right).

Blispay founder Greg Lisiewski says he aims to bring to the brick-and-mortar realm some of the financing flexibility that his former employer (PayPal’s Bill Me Later) brought to the online-shopping realm.

“Big merchants for sure have financing programs,” Lisiewski says. “But Main Street stores, regional stores, service business don’t typically have access to financing as a way to help them move more product. And, on the other side, customers may not always have access to financing at stores they’d otherwise like to shop at.”

If you don’t pay financed purchases off in full within six months, you’ll be charged interest (at 19.99 percent APR), including interest that has accrued from the date of purchase – more on that in a moment. Standard purchases (ie, those under $199) not paid off by the end of the monthly grace period are also subject to a 19.99 percent APR.

All purchases earn 2 percent cash back – which is redeemed automatically as a statement credit each billing cycle.

How to apply

Stores that partner with Blispay will display signage inviting you to apply for the card – which you can do on the spot with your own mobile device. If you’re approved, you’ll immediately get a digital card (the merchant will key in the number manually when you make your purchase). Later, a physical card will be mailed to you. Blispay is also compatible with Apple Pay.

Offering and advertising the service costs merchants nothing beyond the normal costs of processing Visa transactions. However, Lisiewski says Blispay may offer value-added services down the road.

How the interest works

Blispay’s APR is 19.99 percent. That’s higher than the national average (which hovers just above 15 percent), notes Bruce McClary, National Foundation for Credit Counseling spokesman. According to Blispay’s website, the APR is priced between the usual rate on rewards cards and that of financing cards (which tend to have higher APRs).

In any case, McClary says, it’s wise to compare the product’s interest rate to other rates you may qualify for, especially if you intend to carry a balance over a longer period. Check your mailbox for offers. Ask your current bank what it offers. Or use an online soft-pull credit tool to see the APRs available to you.

“You want to make sure you’re saving as much as possible,” McClary says. “Even though we advise people not to roll purchases over into another billing cycle, you still want to make sure you’re getting a card with a competitive interest rate in case you have to for some reason roll the balance over into another month.”

The purchases qualifying for six months of 0 percent financing have a particularly important stipulation: The interest is retroactive, the go-to model among store-financing cards. That means, if you don’t pay off the purchase in six months, you’ll be charged back interest, starting from the purchase date.

Retroactive interest can appear to be a “double whammy” to customers who don’t understand it, McClary says.blispay online experience

“You really have to scrutinize your ability to repay within the interest-free time,” McClary says. “If you can’t, you have to have a contingency plan. What are the dollars and cents when it comes to that retroactive interest you’re now going to have to pay off in addition to whatever principal is left over?”

Blispay’s online experience, Lisiewski says, is designed ensure its interest model catches nobody off guard. In addition to providing guidance to consumers, partner merchants don’t want consumers’ dissatisfaction to recoil on them.

“My big goal is that I don’t want anyone to feel like they were surprised,” Lisiewski says.

When you view your Blispay account online, there are clear demarcations that differentiate standard purchases from those qualifying for 0 percent financing. When you click on your financed purchases, you can see how long is left on the promotion and the remaining balance (see the image to the right).

“My history with these programs has shown me that the vast majority of customers manage these programs well, or they manage them strongly in their favor,” Lisiewski says. “The majority of customers who use Blispay for the financing will, in fact, take advantage of the financing and pay it off in full before we collect any interest or fees. A meaningful but minority group of customers will choose to revolve it, but they won’t do it unknowingly.”


How your payments are applied

One of the most confusing parts of cards with promotional interest rates is how your payments are applied. After all, if a promotional 0 percent rate (with retroactive interest) on a $500 purchase is about to expire in a month, you’d like to think your payment would go toward zeroing that out instead of the $50 balance from last week’s bar tab.

Ever since the CARD ACT went into effect in 2010, issuers are required to earmark payments above the minimum for high-interest balances. The minimum payment is allocated at the issuer’s discretion.

Here’s how it works with Blispay: The minimum payment will go toward fees and interest on your account first and then to your highest-interest balance, Lisiewski says. Anything above the minimum and below the full amount due will be applied as follows:

  • If you have a balance with promotional interest that expires in two months or less, your payment will be routed to that first, Lisiewski says.
  • In other situations, your payment will go first to your higher-interest balances.

The credit limit

Bankcards from major issuers (Citi, Chase, Bank of America et al.) give credit lines that are at the intersection of your credit worthiness and what you’re likely to spend, Lisiewski says. Store card limits, meanwhile, determine your limit based on your creditworthiness and how much you’re willing to spend at that store – so they tend to be lower.

The limits Blispay gives, Lisiewski says, are more in line with those on major banks’ cards. The maximum limit possible is $12,000, but yours will be determined by your credit profile.

While super-prime customers used to $20,000 limits may be let down, “We’re trying to give people a reasonable limit so they’re not surprised when they compare it to their Chase card,” Lisiewski says.”

Credit rating required

Store-financing cards are often considered a leg up for consumers with shaky credit. Blispay isn’t that kind of product.

“It’s definitely for good credit and above,” Lisiewski says. “It’s for a prime audience.”

Should you consider it?

As with all credit decisions, weigh all your options McClary says. If you are looking for financing for a cluster of purchases, all within a short window of time, other cards may give you 0 percent on purchases for the first several months (or year, in some cases) of card ownership. And that interest won’t be retroactive.

Also take an honest look at your repayment habits. Are you the type to constantly carry balances – or who might get consistently zinged by retroactive interest?

“If you really want to be fair to yourself, you should shop around and compare,” McClary says. “Because there still could be a credit card product that could be used for large purchases but with a much lower interest rate, without the prospect of retroactive interest on unpaid balances.”

If you can carefully track your financed purchases, though, Blispay offers something no other bank card currently does – ongoing 0 percent financing for all large purchases. The fact that you have to worry about only one credit pull (instead of multiple pulls at multiple stores) is also compelling. Finally, 2 percent cash back on all purchases is competitive among cash back cards.

For those reasons, Blispay could very well be a good fit for responsible, strategic consumers.

6 point-stretching techniques for better rewards redemption

As with money, the best way to spend your rewards is at a discount.

However, you won’t find “20 PERCENT OFF!” signs when it comes to redeeming miles and points, as you would when browsing the racks at the store. Read on for some of our favorite point-stretching techniques.point stretching techniques

Discounted gift cards

Several cash-back rewards programs (including Discover, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou) allow you to redeem your rewards for gift cards (as an alternative to cash back). In many cases, you’ll still get the 1-cent-per-point value you’d get with cash-back redemptions. But in some cases, you’ll get a discount on the face value of the gift card. For example, you might be able to redeem 2,000 reward points (which would normally get you a $20 gift card) for a $25 gift card (which would normally require 2,500 points). You can probably put those extra 500 points to use somewhere.

Transfer bonuses

This is most common for the Membership Rewards program from American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner). Arguably the best value for your MR points is transferring them into AmEx’s partner travel programs. A certain number of MR points (it varies) yields a certain number of loyalty points in whatever program you’ve transferred into.

Occasionally, the MR program will offer a bonus for transferring. For example, you can usually convert MR points into Hawaiian Airlines miles at a 1:1 ratio. So, you’d need 30,000 MR points to get 30,000 Hawaiian miles (enough for a one-way flight from North America to Hawaii at the Coach Saver level). However, if the Membership Rewards program is offering a 25 percent transfer bonus (which it has in the past), you’d need to spend only 24,000 MR points.

Transfer bonuses in the Membership Rewards program tend to be spontaneous and available for a limited time only, so they can be difficult to plan for in advance. However, especially if you’re
transferring a large number of MR points, they are a savvy way to stretch the value of your points.
Here are a few cards that earn transferable Membership Rewards points:


Hotel rewards discount programs

Some hotel rewards programs will discount the number of rewards needed at certain properties. It’s a rare option, and only two major chains currently offer it (Hilton discontinued its Point Stretcher program in 2012):

  • Marriott PointSavers: Up to a 33 percent discount on point redemptions for certain stays. Find out if your stay is eligible by entering your hotel location and dates.
  • IHG PointBreaks: Redeem for only 5,000 points per night at various properties worldwide. IHG keeps an update list here.

Generally, hotels rotate properties in and out, so, even if the property you want to stay it isn’t discounted, it might later. There are plenty of restrictions as well, so read the terms carefully.

Reduced-mileage rewards

The airline equivalent of hotel rewards discount programs (see above), airline reduced mileage programs give deep mileage discounts on some (emphasize on “some”) itineraries.

Delta rolled out 5,000-mile reward flights in 2015 for limited routes. United has been known to run limited-time mileage discounts for certain types of tickets to certain destinations.

However, the longest-standing reward flight discount program is American’s MileSAAver program. If you have one of its co-branded credit cards, you’ll get a discount of up to 7,500 miles round trip, depending on which American Airlines rewards card you have and how long the flight is. American keeps a list of destinations eligible for this discount.

Free hotel nights

Buy-one-get-one deals are de rigueur at supermarkets and department stores. But several hotel rewards programs and credit card rewards programs offer essentially the same thing: Four nights for the price of three, for example.

When you do the point-value math, you’ll learn how beneficial this discount can be – especially if you’re into staying at luxury properties.

For example, if you have the Hilton HHonors Surpass card, you get automatic Hilton HHonors Gold status, which entitles you to a five-nights-for-the-price-of-four special on rewards bookings.

If you stay at the Hilton Times Square in mid-September, a five-night stay would cost $1,990 or 400,000 points, yielding a per point value of 0.49 cents per point:

hilton rewards booking

The free rewards night, however, would your point value to 0.62 cents per point and save you 80,000 points that you can redeem for a free night later.

Credit card redemption bonuses

This discount is easy and automatic, so there’s no bargain-hunting required. It’s like walking into a store and seeing a “10 percent off on all merchandise” sign.

Some cards simply give you a percentage of your miles back every time you redeem. For example, the BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Card from Bank of America gives you 10 percent back whenever you redeem into a Bank of America account. That means each of your rewards points will be worth 1.1 percent each instead of the standard 1 cent.

The Starwood Preferred Guest card, meanwhile, offers a particularly advantageous redemption bonus. Whenever you redeem by transferring 20,000 Starpoints into any one of Starwood’s airline partner programs, you get a 5,000-point bonus. The Points Guy values Starpoints at 2.5 cents each, so it’s especially lucrative to get some back every time you use them.

Check out our list of other cards that offer an immediate redemption bonus.