In the Hotel Credit Card game your choices are endless. Go into any big city and you’ll have at least 10 or more global brands to pick from, and that doesn’t even include boutiques. So how do you decide which one to apply for?
The answer in my humble opinion is to chase the best sign-up reward offers. In the past year many hotel credit cards have tried to get more customers with some amazing sign-up bonuses. This happened to tie perfectly with me planning a big road-trip.
I admit, even as a huge fan of credit card reward points I rarely thought much about applying for Hotel Credit Cards. I’ve been more than happy collecting Chase Ultimate Reward or Amex Membership Reward Points. Still, I knew that I was missing an entire niche that could put me into some luxury hotels I would never spend out of pocket on. With that said, here are the three Hotel Credit Cards I applied for this year and the benefits of them all.
1) Hilton Honors Surpass Card
Annual Fee: $75
Why I got the Card: At the time I applied for the card, Hilton Surpass was offering its biggest bonus ever (100,000 Hilton points) if you spent $3000 in three months. With a west coast road-trip coming up I wanted to maximize free stays. Thanks in part to the 100,000 points, I was able to book five free nights in Del Mar, CA at the Homewood Suites. It included breakfast daily, and even a small dinner Monday-Thursday.
Another perk of the Hilton Honors Surpass Card is that it gives you Hilton Gold Status. What does this do for you exactly? Well, lets breakdown a few of the perks I got at the Double Tree Hilton in Modesto, CA.
1) Free Buffett Breakfast daily for 2- This alone cost $15 dollars per person, so in one stay I got $30 dollars back off the $75 dollar yearly fee. I must say the buffett was pretty varied, and had a good assortment of Eggs, Fruits, Potatoes, and Veggies.
2) Room Upgrades- In both Modesto and Del Mar I was upgraded to a corner room. These are almost always larger and considered preferred rooms, which to me is worth at least $20-25 dollars per night.
Finally, on the one year anniversary of receiving the card you receive a free weekend credit to nearly any Hilton in the world. Check this list for a complete breakdown of exclusions.
Even with $150 spent over 2 years on annual fees on the card, I will come out WAY ahead.
Here is an example free weekend night at the Conrad Tokyo:
At $823 a night plus 15 percent tax you’d be looking at an over $1000 dollar room for free. That’s a huge steal IMO.
2)The Hyatt Credit Card
Annual Fee: $75
Why I got The Card: The second card I got in the last several months was the Chase Hyatt Credit Card. I applied for it weeks before one of the best hotel reward offers out there expired. With $2,000 dollars in spend over 3 months I was able to receive 2 free Hyatt nights at ANY Hyatt world-wide; no properties are blacked out if available.
My idea was to use it for two nights during my road trip at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands in Carmel, CA. At $500 a night it would have been $1000 dollars in value, plus the views below:
Hyatt Carmel Highlands
Alas, it was not meant to be. The hotel was sold out one of the two nights, so I wasn’t able to use it. The perils of peak season travel.
I am still holding onto the two free nights and have a year to apply them. I may wait and put them to use on some all-inclusive properties in Mexico :).
Other perks exist with the card. It gives you automatic Discoverist Status, which during my stay at the Grand Hyatt Seattle included: a free water bottle daily, a 2 pm checkout, and the option of a preferred room with a view of Elliott Bay.
Like the Hilton Card, the Hyatt Credit Card comes with a free anniversary night. You are limited to only a category 1-4 property. However, looking at the category 4 list there are still some pretty nice deals, especially during peak season. The Grand Hyatt Seattle is Category 4 and was retailing at $350 a night when I stayed there.
With all these perks attached, its a no-brainer to keep this card in your wallet long-term.
3) The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card
Annual Fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Why I Got The Card: This was an aspirational credit card choice. I didn’t have a specific use for SPG points during my trip, but liked the idea of collecting 25,000 SPG points after spending only $3,000 in 3 months.
SPG points are quite valuable (in fact American express values them at a 1:3 transfer rate from membership reward points ). They can also be transferred to Marriott for a 3X point bonus.
Category 1 properties can be had for as little as 2000 points a night! While most of these properties are in South East Asia, there are some nice properties in North America.
The Westin Portland Harborview.
One spot I can see myself going in the fall is Portland, Maine. This is by no means a cheap area to stay during the peak autumn season. However, Portland is home to the Westin Portland Harborview – a category 4 SPG property that costs only 10,000 points a night . With the $3,000 spend you will nearly be at enough to book 3 free nights. At the end of September it would cost around $300 a night to get a room there on the weekend, so those SPG points really come in handy.
Since getting some awesome bonus points and free nights over the past several months, I think I am in it for the long-run on expanding to different hotel cards. I have my eyes set on the Marriott Card and potentially SPG Business card down the road. I believe these points are ultra valuable, as the two brands are merging in 2018 and will have a huge global footprint combined.
Tell me what your favorite Hotel Reward Card is in the comments and which card you are thinking about applying for in the near future!