What are hotel credit cards?
Some hotels issue credit cards to their customers. By purchasing such a card, you pay a pre-decided annual fee to the hotel company and get points for enjoying services during your stay at the hotel. Different services have different levels of points, for example, restaurants and supermarkets gain you relatively higher points as compared to the gym and other facilities. This, however, is different for every individual hotel. Later, you can redeem these points for special luxuries like rental cars, special events, and room upgrades.
There are two main types of hotel cards: Co-branded and general travel cards.
Co-branded cards are ideal for people who are regular customers to a particular chain of hotels, while general travel cards are best suitable for people who like more leniencies in terms of where they travel and wish to stay.
What are the pros and cons of the hotel cards?
The biggest pro of having a hotel credit card is that you get random luxuries, like complimentary breakfasts, free stays, and WiFi, that otherwise would have been very expensive for you to afford. Saving up points and bonus treats can help you save loads of bucks during your next trip. The welcome bonuses and free services added to your card on special events, like Christmas, can be a good reason to take annual trips with your family and enjoy some free services.
However, some cons still exist in this concept. The major one is being restricted to a single brand of the hotel to stay. Even though general travel cards offer more relaxation in that sense but not all hotels have the facility available.
Another con of a hotel card is the number of people it entertains. For example, if you have a bigger family, the bonus points and free services may not be enough for everyone. These services usually entertain only one or two people. If you plan to go with your kids or friends, your stay might not be the most affordable after all.
Also, it can sometimes be very difficult to keep track of your points and free perks. And if you are busy during the special events throughout the year, you may not be able to enjoy these free services at all.
Why you should or should not own a hotel credit card?
The best reason to own a co-branded hotel card is that you are loyal to a particular hotel chain and stay there quite often. If you pay regular visits to a particular hotel, having a card will definitely pay off. You can take the bonus free nights as an opportunity to take a break from your routine and spend a night in the comfort of a hotel room to relax or work in peace. However, if you don’t travel much and are busy through most of the year, paying an annual fee for a card you don’t even use often may not be the best idea. If that is so, and you only take a trip annually to a different location and hotel each time, save up for the trip instead of paying for a card.
Which hotel cards are the best and why?
- Chase Sapphire has the best cards in terms of travel insurance as well as the best non-co-branded cards. (chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve)
- American Express also has some great hotel credit cards for traveling and for luxury hotels. (The Platinum Card and the Green Card)
- Uber credit cards are another good option as general traveling cards.
- Hilton has Hilton Honors cards for both high and low costs. (Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card and Hilton Honors Aspire Card)
- Marriot, similarly, has both of these options available. (Marriot Bonvoy Brilliant Amex and Marriot Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card)
The reason why these cards are supposedly the best is that not only do they provide luxurious facilities all around the year, they have both, expensive and affordable options, for all of their customers with different financial preferences and backgrounds.
What strategies work best while finding the best hotel card?
The first thing to look for when you are signing up for a hotel credit card is the welcome bonus. Check the requirements for it and the bonuses that they offer. You do not want to punch a hole in your wallet if it doesn’t seem to be worth it for you. If it seems fair, affordable, and exciting, move on to the rest of the perks they are offering. Read through and make sure their annual events and services match your lifestyle and plans. For example, if you spend the Christmas at work or at home, an annual Christmas bonus dinner may not be in your favor at all. Read about the particular requirements and limitations of all the tiers, as well. Make sure that the annual fee does not exceed the overall rewards you are getting in return.
What are the best deals during this economic downturn?
The American Express is probably the best choice for you during this time. Not only does it have both Co-branded and general traveling options, but it also has both high and low-cost options available as well. To top it off, their new policy gives you an extension of three months to purchase your welcome bonus.
The bottom line is:
If you travel frequently, and are a loyal, regular customer to a hotel company, getting a hotel card may be a good way of saving some bucks here and there or enjoying luxuries that you, otherwise, wouldn’t get for yourself. You can stack up points and bonuses and even plan your trips according to the hotel’s card calendar.
However, if you don’t travel much, or if you do but are not particular to a single hotel chain, paying an annual fee for a service that you are not going to use may not be the smartest idea.