Whatamuji wrote:Well I could change my hotel usage to match the card. I typically just stay at the more economical hotels. But if I got the card I'd be more inclined to be loyal to a single brand if I'm getting benefits from it. Do you know of any other good cards that offer free nights?
IHG, Marriott, and Hyatt cards all offer a free night. I got IHG because the free night can, with a little flexibility in planning, be used in a high-cost area.
Put more directly, if I want my annual free night to be even a small, simple room somewhere in Manhattan, (I think) I have fairly good odds of getting that with IHG. I cannot possibly get that with the Hyatt or Marriott cards, since those companies have decided that rooms at some of their properties are too valuable to give away as annual free nights (but they can still be booked with regular points). For Marriott and Hyatt, those "too valuable" rooms include every room in Manhattan. Therefore, the IHG card seems like it will make more sense for me in the long run.
Look at the hotels where you've stayed before and/or might stay in the future. For Marriott and Hyatt, the hotel category matters immensely since many properties can never be used for the annual free night. Marriott and Hyatt can still have great options for an annual free night if you can use a room within the hotel categories they allow. The signup bonuses can be very good, too.
Also consider whether a stay is determined by short-term convenience or careful advanced planning. When I'm driving a long distance, I just like to stop when I get tired. I've liked staying at the numerous Holiday Inns in rural areas, so extra rewards/perks from those stays are a nice plus with the IHG card. If I were to try to book one of those nights in advance as an award/annual free night, though, I think it would be a big headache since I might end up wanting to drive further (or not so far) before resting for the night. A stay in an urban area is more likely to involve advanced planning, and will allow me to use free and award nights more easily.
So if you're picking a hotel at the last minute, planning award nights may be a hassle. IF you're doing sightseeing for the day, though, then it could be worth it.