The Best Hotel Credit Cards

Let’s begin by stating the obvious: The best hotel credit card for you is the one that allows you to earn rewards or status with your favorite hotel chain. Loyalty aside, though, many of the largest chains have limitations in their reward programs.

You can get automatic Hilton Diamond status with the American Express Aspire Card, but that card comes with a $450 annual fee and doesn’t guarantee you a room upgrade. Their Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card also costs $450 annually and doesn’t provide free breakfast at full-service properties. The IHG Select Mastercard from Chase is a more reasonable $89, but also doesn’t guarantee room upgrades or give cardholders free breakfast.

Of course, the real benefit of the large chains is that you’re able to find a hotel almost anywhere you travel. Hilton and IHG have over 5,000 locations worldwide, and Marriott boasts nearly 7,000. You may have to settle for a Holiday Inn Express or Fairfield Suites, but at least you’ll earn points for your stay.

Despite all that, I’m going to argue that Chase’s World of Hyatt Visa is the most valuable hotel card you can have in your wallet, even with Hyatt’s smaller footprint of only 800+ hotels. Don’t confuse this with the regular Chase Hyatt credit card. The WOH Visa card gives members some significant benefits that other hotel cards don’t have. Let’s look at those benefits in detail:

Signup Bonus: You receive 25,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first three months after account opening, plus an additional 25,000 bonus points for another $3,000 in spending within the first six months. The card’s annual fee is $95. Remember that Hyatt points are among the most valuable rewards points you can earn, with most estimates pegging their value at nearly two cents apiece.

Free Nights: The World of Hyatt Visa gives members a free night each year on their account anniversary, which can be redeemed at any Hyatt hotel or resort, M life rewards destination or Small Luxury Hotels of The World hotel designated as Category 1 through 4 in the World of Hyatt program. In addition, primary cardholders earn an additional free night after $15,000 in purchases during an anniversary year.

Enhanced Point Earning: Cardholders earn four points per dollar spent at Hyatt hotels and resorts, as well as Small Luxury Hotels of the World that participate in the World of Hyatt program. Combined with the five points per dollar you earn as a WOH member, this gives you a total of nine points per dollar on hotel stays. Members also earn two points per dollar spent at restaurants, airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, local transit and commuting and fitness club memberships, and one point per dollar on all other purchases.

Transfer Points to Miles: Hyatt currently boasts 30 airline transfer partners—admittedly less than Marriott Bonvoy (43), but significantly ahead of Hilton (9). Even more importantly, you can earn both points and miles on hotel stays by registering your preferred airline frequent flyer number. This ability to “double dip” is unique among hotel reward programs (Hilton used to offer it, but that opportunity has been discontinued). If you’re an American Airlines elite member, you also get one AA mile for each dollar spent on Hyatt stays.

Elite Status: Holders of the WOH Visa receive Discoverist status, the first rung on the World of Hyatt elite program (the other two are Explorist and Globalist). Some of the benefits of Discoverist status include premium internet access, late checkout, free bottled water daily, room category upgrade and a 10% point bonus on eligible room charges.

Earn Your Way to Globalist Status: This is a unique benefit not offered by other hotel cards, at least not on the same scale: Cardholders receive five Tier-Qualifying Night Credits per calendar year, with the opportunity to earn more. For every $5,000 in purchase during a calendar year, the primary cardholder earns two Tier-Qualifying Night Credits. This allows big spenders, or those who engage in heavy company travel, to achieve Globalist status by a combination of paid nights and credits (the normal requirement is 60 qualifying nights or 100,000 base points in a calendar year). The perks of Globalist status include suite upgrades, an unrestricted free night and access to a dedicated Hyatt concierge.

As a reminder, World of Hyatt now encompasses Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, Park Hyatt, Miraval, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Andaz, Hyatt Centric, The Unbound Collection by Hyatt, Hyatt Place, Hyatt House, Hyatt Zilara, Hyatt Ziva, Hyatt Residence Club. Affiliated programs include M life properties, Small Luxury Hotels of the World hotels and Two Roads Hospitality (the Alila, Destination, Thompson, Joie de Vivre and tommie brands).

You cannot hold both the new WOH credit card and the older version of the Hyatt Visa simultaneously (unlike the IHG credit cards). Anyone who has earned a signup bonus within the past 24 months is ineligible to receive another one.

Runner-Up: All the major hotel chains have their own branded cards, but the most valuable single card for hotel rewards is probably either The Platinum Card from American Express or the Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN. Both versions give cardholders Gold status in both the Hilton and Marriott Bonvoy programs. Annual fees are steep ($550 and $595 respectively), but the powerful benefits also include enhanced lounge access, car rental insurance, credits for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck, airline credits and more.


[Featured Image: Shutterstock]

Source: frugal travel guy

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