Eighty thousand points isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? A hundred thousand points.
That’s what the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card, issued by Chase, is offering for a limited time after you spend $5,000 on the card in the first three months. And if you add an authorized user and swipe the card in that same period, you’ll score an additional 7,500 points.
As our review of the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card notes, the card is ideal for fans of the hotel chain. Cardholders earn five points for every dollar spent at any of the more than 5,700 Marriott and Starwood properties worldwide, and points can easily be transferred between brands such as Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance, Sheraton and Westin.
As an added incentive to keep swiping the card, double points are awarded for purchases on airfare, rental cars and restaurants, and cardholders earn one point per dollar on everything else. The card also carries no foreign transaction fees, so it’s perfect for long stays abroad.
Other Noteworthy Perks
Cardholders also receive other perks. They earn 15 credits toward their next Elite membership level and one Elite credit for every $3,000 spent. Points won’t expire so long as they swipe the card at least once every two years, and each cardholder anniversary they receive a free night stay.
The card also features travel security features like trip delay reimbursement, trip cancellation insurance, purchase protection and lost luggage reimbursement.
Before You Apply
If the 100,000-point bonus has put the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card on your radar, you’ll want to make sure you’ll actually use it. The card carries an $85 annual fee, and its variable APR is 16.49% to 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Some may find that rate a little too high, especially if they tend to carry a balance from month to month or have difficulty paying their bills off.
Before you apply, we advise checking your credit to make sure you’re likely to qualify. You can do that on Credit.com, where you’ll get two of your credit scores for free, with useful updates every two weeks. Checking your credit scores won’t hurt them one bit and is a great way to keep tabs on your finances.
Now through May 31, 2017, new Hilton Honors cardholders can earn 80,000 points after spending $2,000 in their first three months. Hilton Honors Surpass cardholders can earn 100,000 points after spending $3,000 in their first three months and a free night on their one-year membership anniversary.
Before the big change, cardholders could earn 50,000 points and 75,000 points, respectively.
There’s also a Member-Get-Member bonus on the table — meaning if a friend applies and gets approved, Hilton Honors cardholders will get an extra 20,000 points while Surpass cardholders get 25,000.
The sweeter signup bonuses are launching alongside some recently announced upgrades to Hilton’s loyalty program. Point redemption is now much more flexible, with pricing adjusting alongside rates and, starting April 2017, members will be able to pool points with family and friends. Plus, beginning Summer 2017, you’ll be able to shop with Hilton Honors points on Amazon.
So Should I Sign Up?
If you’re a big fan of Hilton hotels and travel often, then, sure, consider signing up. Both cards are solid as far hotel rewards credit cards go. The Hilton Honors Surpass even made our list of the best cards for hotel hoppers, as it offers 12 points per dollar on eligible Hilton purchases, six times the points at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations and three times the points (mostly) everywhere else.
If you’re not interested in paying the card’s $75 annual fee, the Hilton Honors credit card is a solid alternative: seven times the points at Hilton hotels, five times the points at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations, three times the points everywhere else and no annual charge.
Both cards tout a variable purchase annual percentage rate (APR) between 15.99% and 19.99%, depending on your credit. (You can get an idea of where you might fall by viewing two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)
Have Credit Card, Will Travel?
If you’re booking it all over town and beyond, a good hotel rewards credit card can make you some money back on all those stays. (Just be sure to pay any balances off in full; otherwise, you’re just kissing those points goodbye to interest.) But the right credit card for you depends on your travel preferences.
Stay solely at Starwood properties? Well, its Preferred Guest credit card, also from American Express, might give you the biggest bang for your buck. Wind up at Wyndhams? Its Barclaycard Visa is worth checking out. And, if you travel often, but don’t like to limit your stays to just one hotel chain, there are plenty of general-purpose travel credit cards out there that’ll earn you points, miles or cash back on all your flights and nights.
A bit more Credit Card 101: Be sure to read the full fine print of any card you’re considering to learn exactly what you’re signing up for. And get ready to do some math — a lot of travel credit cards carry steep annual fees (think $450 or higher) that are only worth paying if you travel and/or spend a certain amount each year.
At publishing time, the American Express Platinum and Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).
If you’re like most travelers, you’re probably going to travel search engine websites to find the best prices on hotel rooms. While you’re probably finding great deals, chances are you’re passing up on some pretty cool perks that you can only get when you book directly with the hotel.
Finding these deals can require some extra research, and even phone calls. And some hotels don’t list all of their best perks on their websites, so it could also behoove you to enlist the help of a travel agent. Also keep in mind that if you find a hotel you love, it’s probably worth calling to see what kind of enticement they might offer you to book. In all cases, you’ll want to make sure you confirm during your booking that you are getting the perk on offer.
Here are some examples of what you might be able to score.
If your kids are into Hollywood glitz and glamor, the Peninsula Beverly Hills red carpet experience could turn into a truly memorable stay. The package includes a red carpet VIP entrance where paparazzi will photograph the kids upon their arrival, a personal butler to cater to their needs, a personal photographer, a green-screen studio film shoot, red carpet premiere at The Paley Center for Media and, of course, swag bags for all.
Even if you’re an unskilled novice, the golf deal from Grand Hilo Naniloa Hotel on the Hawaiian island Maui is pretty sweet. The hotel offers guests nine free holes of golf every day at the adjacent Naniloa Volcanoes Golf Course. TeeOff.com describes the course as one of the finest in East Hawaii.
If you’re interested in learning the basics of diving with underwater gear, Aston Kaanapali Resorts on Maui offers guests free daily SCUBA diving lessons in their main pool. Students must be at least 10 years old to take part.
Lite Hotels is an economy group of hotels from Aqua-Aston Hospitality, that touts its “when clean and comfortable is enough” service. They clearly forgot “well-caffeinated” in that description, as that’s what you’ll be when you stay at the group’s Maui location, where the hotel’s offer of daily $20 Starbucks gift cards means a 5-night stay will net you $100 toward your java needs.
9. Empire State Building Express Passes, Free Shake Shack Burgers & Cocktails
For guests booking at least two nights, Hotel Giraffe in New York offers guests a taste of the city that never sleeps through its Summer Fling package, which includes a pair of express passes to the Empire State Building, a $20 gift card to Shake Shack and two complimentary cocktails at the hotel’s Rooftop Lounge.
Book a room at New York’s Kitano hotel and you’ll get a room upgrade, plus a discount at the Michelin-star restaurant, Hakubai, where chef Yukihiro Sato’s take on Kaiseki cuisine can run $190 per guest.
The Maison 140 is a boutique hotel in Beverly Hills that was once home to actresses Dorothy and Lillian Gish. There’s no gym, so the hotel offers a daily complimentary pass to Equinox gym, a quick, 10-minute walk from the hotel.
Casablanca Hotel in the heart of New York’s Times Square offers guests who pre-pay for their stay two tickets aboard Manhattan by Sail’s Clipper City Twilight Cruise, for an evening view of the city skyline from the water.
Of course, if you’re using a hotel rewards card to book your hotel, you’ll get even more bang for your buck than the previous perks alone can provide.
Remember, when you’re looking for a hotel rewards credit card, it’s good to find a card that offers rewards and benefits worth more than the annual fee. The best cards will offer points toward free night stays that are worth 2% or more than the cost of the purchases. Also, top hotel credit cards will offer you elite status in the hotel’s loyalty program, as well as credit toward reaching the next level sooner.
Co-branded credit cards can be a great way for frequent fliers to pool loyalty and rewards points, maximize earnings, enjoy perks like a free checked bag or hotel Wi-Fi, and score upgrades like a first-class seat or a night in a suite.
In fact, for travelers who don’t carry a balance (and, subsequently, lose points to interest), the biggest dilemma is often the choice between using an airline miles credit card or a hotel rewards credit card. Here are some ways to determine which option may be right for you.
Airline Credit Cards vs. Hotel Credit Cards: The Pros & Cons
Credit cards that earn airline miles are tremendously popular, but not necessarily for their miles. For the past several years, many airlines have devalued their frequent-flier programs by requiring more miles for award flights, making fewer seats available for awards at the lowest mileage levels and changing up earnings so you get miles for dollars spent and not distance traveled. Nevertheless, these cards still offer valuable benefits, such as checked baggage fee waivers, priority boarding and discounts on in-flight food, beverages and entertainment. In addition, skilled travelers may still be able to realize exceptional value from their miles when redeeming them for last-minute award flights or for international awards in business or first class.
While hotel credit cards may not be as popular as airline credit cards, they can offer terrific value. Several of the top hotel loyalty programs offer award nights for any unsold standard room, so you don’t have to hunt for award availability like you do with many airline credit cards. (Hotel programs with this policy include Hyatt Gold Passport, Starwood Preferred Guest, Hilton HHonors and Wyndham Rewards.) At the same time, some hotel programs have also devalued their points in the past few years by increasing the number required for a free night’s stay. So, cardholders have to carefully review a card’s terms and conditions to make sure they understand its true earnings potential.
Hotel credit cards can also offer elite status, which entitles guests to perks such as late checkouts, room upgrades, free Internet service and even complimentary breakfast. Another benefit is that award stays may actually be free, since hotels tend to be taxed based on the rate paid, with award nights frequently escaping all taxes. In contrast, an airline award almost always involves paying some money, as these programs generally require the payment of any required government taxes, and will sometimes add their own surcharges.
If you could only use either an airline or a hotel credit card, you should choose the one that will offer you the most value towards your travel needs. For example, if you usually fly somewhere and stay with family or friends or stay at destinations without major hotel chains, then a hotel credit card will not offer you much value. Conversely, if you like to take road trips (or use trains or buses), then an airline credit card would be a poor fit for your travel habits. Likewise, if you need to use your airline miles for award flights during peak travel periods, then you are likely to be disappointed by the availability of airline mileage awards, and you might be better off with a hotel credit card. (Remember, if you choose a card affiliated with a program that offers any unsold room as an award, then you can use your hotel points for award stays at popular destinations during peak travel periods, so long as the property isn’t already sold out of standard rooms.)
For some consumers, it may be beneficial to have both an airline credit card and a hotel credit card. Holding multiple credit cards can increase your credit score by reducing your ratio of debt to available credit. But if holding additional credit cards gives you incentive to incur more debt, or becomes difficult to manage responsibly, then you are better off with fewer credit cards.
You also need to consider any costs associated with cards to determine which — or how many — you should carry. Many travel credit cards have annual fees that could be financially burdensome, particularly if you have more than one in your wallet. And you want to refrain from applying for too many credit cards in a short window of time, since each application generates a hard inquiry on your credit report, which could, in turn, ding your credit score. To see if you credit can handle an inquiry and another card, you can pull your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and view your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.