What's the best hotel rewards card?

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krisko
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What's the best hotel rewards card?

Postby krisko » Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:02 pm

I'm traveling a lot starting with a trip to europe in 2 weeks so time is of the essence. I'd like to get the card and build points for this trip and several others after. My fiance is a Delta employee so I'll be flying for free and looking for a card that builds rewards for hotel stays. Credit score is in the high 700s to 800s.

I'm looking for a waived annual fee for first year, no foreign transaction fees, initial points bonus or free nights, a rewards club that has lots of properties in US and europe with fair points redemption. Leaning towards a Visa/MC just because I have 2 Amex cards already.

Right now I'm leaning towards either Hhonors Visa Signature or the Marriott Visa. Thanks!


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CarefulBuilder14
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Re: What's the best hotel rewards card?

Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Thu Jul 16, 2015 5:32 pm

I have the Chase IHG card, and plan to keep it.

Pros:
1. There's no category restriction for the annual free night. This is a huge factor for me, since I often travel to high-cost areas. This is a big advantage over most other hotel cards. Marriott tends to classify even no-frills properties in high-cost areas as being high-category, and therefore off-limits for the annual free night. I may end up using an annual free night for a small room at a Holiday Inn, but it can be a Holiday Inn in the middle of Manhattan.
2. IHG has a lot of properties. They have a lot in low-cost areas, too, and they are generally a good value for paid stays. Small extras and minor room upgrades don't hurt.
3. $49 AF, waived the first year. Quite reasonable.
4. There's no minimum spending required to earn/maintain status.

Cons:
1. The value per point isn't very high. It's not a card well-suited for everyday spending. It's certainly worth using at their properties, though.
2. Unlike other cards, there aren't really any non-hotel perks or travel credits. The Ritz-Carlton card, for example, has a $300 airfare extras credit and airport lounge access. There's no annual free night with the R-C card though. *Edited for clarity.*
3. Upgrades/status perks usually are unexciting and don't mean much. There is a separate program, with higher fees, for room upgrades at their high-end properties (InterContinental). The rooms in general are not luxurious.

Other hotel cards can make sense, if you're going to be loyal to one brand or just travel a lot in general. I got IHG because it just stood out as the best value for me. Marriott Gold or Platinum status can be more meaningful, but requires a lot of travel and/or spending to maintain. Hyatt and the Starwood Amex probably offer the best values for earning free nights quickly, but they have fewer properties.

I don't know much about Hilton from Amex. US Bank's Club Carlson is also an option.

*Given that the trip is in 2 weeks, it may be too late to get automatic upgrades with the IHG card in time for your trip. It took about 3 weeks for my IHG loyalty account to reflect the effects of the Chase card.*

**If you're flying Delta (and not other airlines) then you might want to open a Hyatt loyalty account - though not necessarily a Hyatt credit card. Hyatt is probably the best non-airline way to use Chase URs. If you just got the card, though, it may be too late since the points won't post until you've done the necessary spending and been through the full statement period in which you do the spending. It sounds like this rush to get cards is a bit too late for your trip.**
Last edited by CarefulBuilder14 on Fri Jul 17, 2015 10:35 am, edited 2 times in total.
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rockyrock
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Re: What's the best hotel rewards card?

Postby rockyrock » Fri Jul 17, 2015 8:44 am

krisko wrote:
Right now I'm leaning towards either Hhonors Visa Signature or the Marriott Visa. Thanks!


Are those the hotels (brands) you like to stay at? Are they available in the places you travel most? If both are yes, then one of those cards would be fine. I know the Marriott card also gives you (extra) points at restaurants so if you eat out a lot, that may sweeten the deal. The HHonors card gives you bonus on gas, drugstores and grocery stores.

For point value, I think Marriott has a very slight edge over Hilton, not much though. Hilton has more properties though.
American Express (2005): Green & Blue Cash Everyday
Chase: Freedom & UA Club USAA: Signature Visa & American Express
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krisko
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Re: What's the best hotel rewards card?

Postby krisko » Fri Jul 17, 2015 9:07 am

So far I've gotten the Chase Sapphire because the bonus is worth $500 in travel (after 4k spend) and there is no annual fee (first year) and no foreign trans fee. Still looking for a hotel specific card I think.

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CarefulBuilder14
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Re: What's the best hotel rewards card?

Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Fri Jul 17, 2015 12:38 pm

My last post was an answer to the question you actually asked. I gave my comments on the travel rewards / hotel card I liked the most.

But I think the more relevant question here is: Are there any cards you can productively use that will actually have the rewards/perks become available in time for your trip?

Most travel cards with big bonuses have disclaimers saying that you should expect to wait several weeks for the bonuses to become available. How long is your trip?
Keeping indefinitely: IHG, SchwabPlat, CSP, Discover, Freedom, ED, BCE, Hyatt
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krisko
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Re: What's the best hotel rewards card?

Postby krisko » Fri Jul 17, 2015 1:54 pm

My trip is in two weeks, I'm only hoping to use the new card on that trip. I don't expect to get free rooms, I know there are spending requirements. I have a lot of travel planned indefinitely as I fly very cheaply, that's why I'm trying to maximize my award hotel stays long term.

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CarefulBuilder14
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Re: What's the best hotel rewards card?

Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Fri Jul 17, 2015 5:51 pm

A hotel-specific card does seem to make sense, then. I would definitely avoid any card that earns Amex MR points, or Citi TY points. Those are cards that don't transfer well to hotels. They are more for airlines.

So it's just up to you to pick the most suitable chain/card combo.
Keeping indefinitely: IHG, SchwabPlat, CSP, Discover, Freedom, ED, BCE, Hyatt
May close or PC: Prestige, Arrival, BrooksBros
AA Platinum converting into Costco

Might add: Proper business card, CSR, Ritz, Delta Gold, First Tech
Letting new accounts cool off since May

dickey1331
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Re: What's the best hotel rewards card?

Postby dickey1331 » Mon Jul 20, 2015 2:18 am

I have the Marriott card and love it but Im also a fan of Marriott. With the guaranteed sliver status and the Cat 1-5 certificate each year. It makes up for the $85 annual fee. Right now you get $70k points for either $2-3k spend.
Platinum Delta Skymiles $12,900
Marriott Rewards Premier $12,000
Discover IT $12,000
USAA Cash Rewards $11,000
American Express Blue Cash Preferred $10,000
Chase Sapphire Preferred $6,500
Best Buy $6,000
Chase Freedom $4,500
Zales $4,000
Amazon Prime $4,000

rockyrock
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Re: What's the best hotel rewards card?

Postby rockyrock » Mon Jul 20, 2015 9:03 am

I used to be a Hilton guy, had Diamond status for several years. They have a lot of properties to choose from and were in most all the places I traveled too. When I decided to break from them and switch to Marriott, it didn't work out he same. They have fewer properties and weren't in most of the places I traveled so I ended up not utilizing the perks of my Marriott card and before the CSP came on the scene I had no card to offer a bonus. On top of that I lived in Hawaii and there were NO Cat 1-5 hotels in the state so my free night cert wasn't a guaranteed perk.

You are in a good position with the CSP. If you get a hotel specific card and are times you can't use it, you will always have the CSP to fall back on.
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Discover it Bank of Hawaii Hawaiian Airlines WEMC Synchrony Sam's MC
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