Best Hotel Credit Cards in 2016-Reviews & Comparisons
If you’re at all familiar with the basic premise underlying airline credit cards then you will have no problem understanding hotel credit cards. However, if you’re not familiar then here’s a simple breakdown. Hotel credit cards were created as a rewards system for engaging in a particular set of behaviors while travelling or vacationing. These behaviors are no different from what you would normally do, but this time you have another incentive to do one thing instead of the other.
For instance, if you usually choose to stay at Hilton hotels while traveling, you may choose to sign up for a hotel credit card that rewards you for staying at Hilton owned hotels. Also, many hotel credit cards engage in partnerships with major airlines and their rewards programs so you have further incentive to stay with the same airline. You also may receive rewards for booking for partner car rental agencies, going on certain cruises, or eating out at restaurants.
These types of credit cards are a great way to earn extra benefits and make the most of your business trip or personal getaway. Also, since most people are creatures of habit and you will probably stay at the same hotels and fly the same airlines anyway, these programs give you benefits for activities you would have engaged in anyway.
For the most part, these hotel credit cards share very similar characteristics. There’s usually a sign up bonus including an awarding of points, a grace period where you pay no upfront annual fees and interest rates are waved, and you may get rewarded with free nights, free points, and so on. The key to finding the right card is to compare the details and find the one that most closely matches your ordinary spending and traveling patterns. It would make no sense to get a hotel credit card and travel more just to earn points, thus getting a negative return on your money. But rather supplement your ordinary credit card usage by switching out your primary credit card for your hotel credit card when necessary.
For the most part these cards are intended for use by people who travel quite frequently and spend quite frequently while travelling, so if your ordinary travel expenses for the year are as minimal as driving to the beach for a week or two every summer than perhaps these cards are not meant for you as high APR rates and annual fees may counteract any savings due to the card. If you’re a frequent traveler, and especially if you’re already invested in a frequent flier program these cards can be a great way to get some added perks to your travels.
In this article I will be comparing the most popular, and by many estimations, the best hotel credit cards on the market: Bank of America’s “BankAmericard Travel Rewards” card, Amex’s “Starwood Prerred Guest” card, Barclay’s “Arrival Plus” card, and JP Morgan Chase’s “Marriott Rewards” card.
BankAmericard Travel Rewards
When you first sign up for the Bank of America card you receive 20,000 points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account being open, this is one of the most lenient and lowest threshold cards on the market. These points can be redeemed for $200 worth of statement credit on all of your travel purchases.
As far as earning points there is no limit, you can earn an unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases at any time, everywhere this card is accepted, and your points will never expire. There is also no annual fee, ever, this is rare since every other card I reviewed had no annual fee for the first year but then they charged upwards of $80+ a year after that.
If you are already banking with Bank of America the rewards you get with this card are instantly multiplied. One of the best aspects of getting this card if you are already banking with Bank of America, besides familiarity, is that you don’t have to sign up for a new account, remember another username and password, or have to get to know another bank entirely.
You can get up to 10% customer bonus points on each purchase if you have a Bank of America checking’s or savings account. If you are a preferred rewards client with bank of America, the bonus customer points will multiply significantly from 25% to 75%.
Amex Starwood Preferred Guest
Upon registration for the Amex card you get 25,000 star points after you make $3,000 in purchases within 3 months of opening your account.
There’s a $0 introductory annual fee but after 12 months the annual fee is $95. This card is great for people who stay at Starwood hotels which includes but is not limited to Sheraton hotels, the W, Westin, Four Points, and Le Meridian. To give you a sense of the redemption possibilities for the Amex Starwood card consider this, 20,000 Starwood points are equivalent to 25,000 airline miles for most US airlines, that’s a conversion rate of 1:1.25.
Amex’s main partners for point exchange/redemption for the Starwood Preferred Guest card are Delta Skylines, Emirates Skywards, SPG flights, Amtrak, Avis, and Sixt rentals. So if you are already involved in any of these programs then the Amex Starwood Preferred Guest card is for you.
Barclay Arrival Plus
The first year you have your Barclay’s Arrival Plus card there’s no annual fee, then it’s $89 per annum. No foreign transaction fees with this card and 2x miles on all purchases. As a bonus for signing up you will get 40,000 points when you spend $3,000 or more within the first 90 days of opening your account.
This Barclay Arrival Plus card is great for people who travel internationally on a regular basis, also it’s flexible with many airlines and cruises. However, the Barclay Arrival Plus card isn’t good if you plan on transferring miles to other loyalty programs. Also, if you spend less than $4,200 on your credit card each year then the Barclay Arrival Plus card isn’t your best bet.
Chase Marriott Rewards
The Chase Marriott Rewards card, as the name implies, has some solid rewards and benefits for customers who frequent Marriott’s both at home and abroad. You can stay at nearly 4,000 hotels across the globe including but not limited to: Fairfield Inn & Suites, the Courtyard by Marriott, Marriott and Renaissance, and the Ritz-Carlton.
If you spend $3,000 within 3 months of opening your account with Chase, you will receive 50,000 bonus points on top of points already accumulated from those $3,000 worth of purchases. Also, on the anniversary of opening your account each year you will receive one free night at category 1-5 locations.
For every dollar spent you can earn 5 rewards points if you stay at Marriott locations, 2 points for airline tickets from partner carriers, also you will earn 2 points for using your Chase Marriott Rewards card when renting a car or eating at a restaurant, and one point for every other transaction.
There are no limits to the amount of points you earn, there are no foreign transaction fees, and there is a wide acceptance of this card abroad because it uses an embedded chip. There is a $0
annual fee for the first year but after that you pay $85 per year.
The rewards rate works out to be roughly 0.8 cents for each point that you earn. Meaning you get back around 4 cents for every dollar you spend on hotel stays, 1.6 cents for plane tickets, car rentals, and restaurants, and you pay face value for everything else.
Of course this is a great card for people who frequent Marriott hotels but it is also great for people who stay in a wide range of hotels throughout the year, from budget hotels to luxury one’s. Also, this is a great card for people who travel overseas a lot due to the wide acceptance of embedded chip technology.