Keep an eye out for the following key terms and potential restrictions when looking into a hotel rewards program. Doing so will simplify your search for a hotel credit card and help you get the most from whichever card you choose.
1. Earning Rate – The number of points that you’ll earn for each $1 that you spend is obviously quite important. And hotel credit cards generally offer different earning rates for different purchase categories. Some credit cards also require you to sign up for bonus rewards in certain categories on a quarterly basis.
2. Rewards Tiers – With certain credit cards, you earn rewards at a particular rate until you’ve spent a predetermined amount, at which point the rewards will come in at a faster or slower pace. While this type of tiered rewards program is not that common with hotel loyalty programs, it’s something to watch out for as it can affect your overall earning rate.
3. Cost of a Free Night – How quickly you’ll earn hotel points doesn’t mean much if you don’t know how much they’re worth. So find out how much a free night costs, in terms of both points and dollars.
4. Redemption Limitations – Do you have to cover the full cost of a reservation with points, or can you use “cash,” too? Do you need more points for nights at nicer hotels? Are any dates, hotels, or types of rooms off-limits? It’s important to ask yourself these sorts of questions because they speak to the usability of a given hotel’s rewards.
5. Initial Rewards Bonus – Many hotel rewards credit cards offer a large number of bonus points for spending a certain amount during the first few months your account is open. This can get you at least a couple free nights right off the bat.
6. Expiration Dates – Oftentimes, hotel points will expire if there’s no activity on your account for a certain period of time. This is one reason why only frequent travelers should get hotel credit cards. Regularly making purchases and redeeming your rewards keeps you safe from expiration dates.
7. Status Points – Some hotel chains have multiple credit card offers. The number of status points each provides, both initially and on an ongoing basis, could be a deciding factor between them. But annual fees generally rise along with status-point earning rates. So only focus on this feature if you stay at a particular hotel chain regularly. Doing so will allow you to get value from fringe benefits like complimentary breakfast and room upgrades.
WalletHub Answers is a free service that helps consumers access financial information. Information on WalletHub Answers is provided “as is” and should not be considered financial, legal or investment advice. WalletHub is not a financial advisor, law firm, “lawyer referral service,” or a substitute for a financial advisor, attorney, or law firm. You may want to hire a professional before making any decision. WalletHub does not endorse any particular contributors and cannot guarantee the quality or reliability of any information posted. The helpfulness of a financial advisor's answer is not indicative of future advisor performance.