Recommended Credit Card for Hotel Rewards

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by tzoom84, Mar 7, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. tzoom84
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    tzoom84 Silver Member

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    Hey everyone,

    Over the past year I've been collecting on all the airline mile credit card promotions. I focused on airfare mainly because I didn't value hotel rewards as much. I'm more of a budget traveler, staying in hostels, so getting 4 free nights stay had less relative bang for the buck (for me) than an international flight.

    But now that I've acquired a few hundred thousand miles, I'm interested in a hotel rewards card so I can treat myself occasional during my budget travelling.

    Right now I am considering:
    1) Starwood SPG Credit Card (for regular day-to-day spend + initial bonus), or
    2) Hilton 100k promotion (if it is still 100k...)

    - Any others to recommend?
    - I've heard some policy changes in SPG makes it less appealing. Any thoughts?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Toula
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    Toula Gold Member

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    I'm one of those boring peeps who believes you need to define your goals so you can work out how you are going to get there.

    Take a look at the various programs and work out who has hotels it the locations you would like to stay. Define what you consider a nice hotel. Maybe a Holiday Inn is nice compared to what you are after or are dreaming of St Regis or Hyatt.

    Then I would build a spreadsheet and work out how many points you think you can earn taking into account your expenditure pattern. Once you have a figure for how many points you will earn in a year work out how many nights that will get you at the hotels you desire.

    This might seem like a lot of work but it isn't really.

    For me, the first card I would get would be the Priority Club visa which has the 60k sign up bonus, plus the free night annually.

    The second card I would get would be the Hyatt visa which offers 2 free nights. However I would not bother getting that one until you know you are going somewhere where you could utilise the nights at a high end property.
     
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  3. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    I'm in a similar situation, with more than 600K air miles and about 100K hotel.
    I also prefer the mid-price chains/programs, or the programs that include both mid-priced and luxury hotels.
    I agree with starting with PC. The 60K points gives you platinum status, which some other programs will match. Goldpoints (Carlson) and Best Western have matched me so far, and I am waiting to her from Choice. Priority Club includes a wide variety of hotels/motels.
    I also keep an eye out for special promos. I've received free nights for as little as one or two stays, and probably will garner a free night from Choice from two stays this Spring.
    Good luck!
     
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  4. deant
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    deant Milepoint Guide

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    You might also want to look at HHonors. They have all categories of hotels. You can also get the AMEX HHonors card AND the Visa HHonors card. Both come with signup bonus'. In fact the Visa card (30K bonus) has no annual fee whereas the AMEX card is free for only the first year.
     
  5. kyunbit
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    kyunbit Silver Member

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    Amex has 2 versions of the card. The surpass has a fee of 75$. However there is a free version which only does not offer extra points on hilton expenditure.
     
  6. samonyc
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    samonyc Silver Member

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    I can't recommend any single hotel affinity program for budget travelers, but like everything, it depends where you like to travel. You'd have a fair range of redemption options for US travel with most of the big chains, but if you like to go abroad, you may learn your hotel family has only a limited number of high-end properties where you want to visit—or none at all. So, for instance, 100,000 Hilton HHonors points may get you only 2.5 nights at a Hilton in Central London. And if you want to use your Hyatt points in Spain, forget about it, because their nearest property is in Morocco!

    Like the OP, I'm a budget traveler. For the places I like to go, I think the Intercontinental card would have been a better choice, even though I rarely pay to stay in one of their properties (usually a few times a year at a Hilton or Hyatt for work). I find that a flexible travel reward card like AmEx Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards (or even Delta SkyMiles, which I think uses the AmEx booking system) offers many more hotel redemption options than any single brand can offer.
     
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  7. Sandy
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    Sandy Silver Member

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    I have been really happy with the SPG Amex. I use it as my primary card, and have had a great number of free nights that way. I also like that Starwood has a wide variety of chains with different price points.
     
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  8. Mapsmith
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    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    SPG also has the decent advantage(s) of the bonus for transferring to Airlines, and the redemption levels are a bit lower than most of the other cards.

    But I have both SPG and HHonors so that I do have options (There are places out here in the west without Starwood Properties.)
     
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  9. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    The big selling point for me getting that card was the 0% foreign exchange fee. If you're out of the U.S. a few months a year like I am, that alone is worth the card. My other cards range from 2.7% to 3% if I use them outside the U.S. so I am literally saving that much each time I make a foreign transaction.

    Most of my Holiday Inn/Holiday Inn Express stays are outside the U.S., including Madrid, Lisbon, London and Dublin in the last few weeks where their hotels have been competitively priced. For comparison, I have not had a single domestic stay with them this year as I try to focus on Hyatt in the U.S.
     
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  10. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Have you looked at any of your recent destinations and seen what hotel franchises are available there? You really do need to factor that in.

    I finally stopped staying at hostels about two years ago when I spent a sleepless night in a normally-quiet London hostel . I checked out in the middle of a stay and moved to a Holiday Inn with a good weekend rate and haven't done a hostel stay since.
     
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  11. Toula
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    Toula Gold Member

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    Tom, I totally agree with you. Holiday Inn + HIE offer some good options overseas when you don't want to shell out big bucks. Personally we are saving our points for the big splurges when we go to Europe but when it is on our dime we will likely go to HI.
     
  12. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    I have 4 upcoming award nights at the Crowne Plaza in Darwin, Australia, a place with limited hotels to begin with, and hotel rates that were $200 a night when I booked (they're higher now). I'm hooked on points and cash (15,000 points plus $60). I may do some other nights in Australia using AA miles (at $1.01 for an Australian dollar I'm trying to spend as little as possible for this trip) and my last night will likely also be cash and points.
     
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  13. tzoom84
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    tzoom84 Silver Member

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    Hey everyone. Just wanted to stop in and say thank you for all the great tips. I think I am going to do some research and decide on a game plan. I won't be able to travel for several months so it gives me the freedom to wait it out a bit.
     
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  14. jaw_24
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    jaw_24 Silver Member

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    If considering the PC Visa, I put together a calculation of the possible rewards earning rate in the IHG forum. Maybe this is common knowledge and possibly better with other brands, but thought it was helpful to put down on paper how much you can earn. Might be useful to do a similar analysis with others as well.

    BTW, this doesn't account for bonus promotions.
     
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  15. kenbo
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    kenbo Silver Member

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    Does anyone use the Chase Sapphire Preferred card? I don't, but I was curious if anyone had any experiences with transferring their points to hotel programs since it's a 1:1 ratio. On the surface, it seems cool that you wouldn't have to be tied down to one specific program or you could transfer to your program of choice.
     
  16. travelingmore
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    travelingmore Gold Member

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    The Starwood Amex card is our favorite - we like the 5000 extra miles given when you transfer 20,000 SPG points to miles. We also have done a few Cash and Points hotel stays - that helps to cut down on travel costs.

    Next favorite hotel card is the Marriott Premier card - you get Silver Elite Status, one free night per year at a Category 1-4 Marriott hotel, and 15 nights counted toward annual elite eligibility - a leg up towards the Gold or Platinum levels. Charges to this card when staying at Marriott properties earn 10 Marriott Reward points per dollar.

    Starwood and Marriott have the greatest number and variety of hotels for us when traveling, and the quality is pretty consistent. We'll stay sometimes at Hilton's too, but we don't find as many of them.
     
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  17. Sandy
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    Sandy Silver Member

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    I don't use it, but they seem to send me an application every day. Sheesh!
     
  18. samonyc
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    samonyc Silver Member

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    Lucky you! I've been a Chase banking customer since 1998 and have had a Chase card since my existing Visa was purchased by Chase in 2005. They have never, ever tried to upsell me or offer me another card. (I'm still debating what to do with my never used Slate card.)

    Citi and AmEx, on the other hand…
     
  19. Sandy
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    Sandy Silver Member

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    I'll trade you a few Chase offers for an Amex one! ;)
     
  20. Gary Steiger
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    Gary Steiger Silver Member

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    Priority Club points have been very useful to me in Europe. Holiday Inns are everywhere. Currently there is a 60,000 point offer for first use of its credit card. That could get you at least 2 nights lodging, and perhaps more if you get lucky to find a points finder 5,000/night award. You can read about the card on my website below in the Credit Cards > Free Cards page.

    I would use the Priority Club card only for its bonus. I would spend on the Starwood American Express card (20,000 points get you 25,000 Airline miles), or a cash back card. You can read about these on my website below in the Credit Cards > Free Cards page.
     
  21. PC are offering 80K now so you may want to hang out for that offer or ask Chase for it when applying.
     
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  22. the good news for amex plat no foreign exchange fees from end of March but I'm a bit skeptical, I really wonder whether they just get it back with unfavorable exchange rates, setting the logarithm to pick the exchange rate most favorable to the issuer within a reasonable time frame of the transaction?
     
  23. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    I've looked at the exchange rate which is based on when the purchase hits your statement and it does appear pretty close to the posted rate that day on sites I use.

    For example, I made a 10 euro purchase on February 28 at Dublin Airport on the way home. Priority Club VISA processed it on March 2, when it hit my statement, at $1.385 for a euro. Xe.com lists the midmarket rate at $1.387 that date (midpoint between what the currency buys and sells at) which is pretty close to the rate my purchase processed at.

    For comparison, if I was charged the 3% forex fee that some of my cards charge, the rate would be $1.427 that day
     
  24. Toula
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    Toula Gold Member

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    We stayed at that hotel back in Jan, only paid $130 a night. My siblings live in Darwin so I am a regular visitor. However, have to agree, hotel options are limited and I actually think the CP is best value for money in town. The rooms were nice and if you have a car there is no need to pay the parking fee. With a bit of effort you can do street parking for free.
     
  25. tzoom84
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    tzoom84 Silver Member

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    I looked into redemption of my current miles a bit more recently: Continental, AA, Delta, etc. Silly me, I didn't realize all of them have hotel redemption options! It didn't seem like any of them were too inflated with respect to redemption. I tested each of the three against expedia prices, doing exact matches to hotel names in San Juan Costa Rica. All three seemed to match a 1 cent/point rate. The exception is delta had a minimum redemption of 10,000 miles for ALL hotels, even if they cost less than $100. But once that $100 hotel price threshold was met, it maintained a 1 cent/point ratio.

    I know that miles tend to be more valuable than the 1 cent/point, especially for international flight redemptions. But for less valuable miles like Delta, this seems like a way to go for me. I've also considered just redeeming my Delta miles for $100 Amex cards @ 110,000 miles/each too.

    At a minimum, the 200k in Capital One miles that my wife and I hope to get from the match promo can be used for cheap hotel stays.

    Any thoughts on if this is a good or bad idea?
     

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