In the miles and points world, there is a line where there is a good understanding of what they get you. That is with miles. When we hear miles, we know that is generally understood that you can fly domestically for 25,000 miles on the low end (there are some exceptions like JetBlue, Southwest, and Avios). The legacy domestic airlines are also pretty standardized when it comes to the various zones around the world for award travel.
But, when it comes to points, all hotel points are truly not created equal. It is really all over the board about what a point will get you and what the value is. Since there is not a standardized award chart for hotel points and programs, are all hotel credit card bonuses equal?
Are All Hotel Credit Card Bonuses Equal?
In this post, we will look at and breakdown the points and credit cards for these hotel chains: Club Carlson, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, and SPG. There are other offers, such as the current high offer of 140,000 points for the Ritz-Carlton card, but since it comes with a very high fee, we will keep it to the more standard cards that either have no fee for the first year or are low fee cards.
This chart below looks at the points you receive for the highest, current credit card offer for each hotel. It also looks at how many nights you would get at the lowest category and highest categories with the credit card bonus. The Bonus Points area assumes you have met the spending for the whole bonus offer.
If you are interested in a credit card, you can click on the name of the credit card to be taken to the card application. The only card I receive a referral on is the Marriott Premier card.[table “” not found /]
Which Hotel Credit Card?
If you stay for two or more nights, the value of the Club Carlson card goes up substantially since you get the last night of a 2+ night award stay for free. This fantastic perk is only available to Club Carlson credit card holders.
Lowest Category Redemptions
As you can see, the offers on the cards vary widely on both ends of the redemption spectrums – from 25,000 points all the way up to 80,000 points. There are also offers that give nights instead of points. When we look at the points it would take to stay at the lowest categories, that ranges from 2 weekend nights (with the Citi Hilton Reserve) to 9.5 nights (Club Carlson Premier Card)!
Highest Category Redemptions
For the highest category at each hotel, that ranges from less than one night (SPG Amex) to 2 free nights (Chase Hyatt Visa). The Citi Hilton Reserve and Chase Hyatt Visa are definitely more skewed towards the traveler who wants to stay at a high-end hotel as you get 2 free nights with those cards. If your travel goals will place you at mid-tier or lower hotels, you would be better off going with a credit card that issues points as you would get more nights.
Middle Category Redemptions
When you look at redemptions at the middle category hotels in each chain, the redemptions do look more standardized. They offer anywhere from 2 nights to 2.6 nights at the middle hotels. This can be surprising when you think that some of the cards give access to at least 80,000 points and the SPG Amex only gives 25,000 points. But, the hotel credit card bonuses are tiered to match their redemption rates which is why they do begin to align.
Points or Free Nights?
It is never a good idea to just pick a hotel based on the amount of points you will receive. It is a smart idea to examine the redemption options with each hotel based on the bonus you will be receiving. Also, consider the cards that offer free nights instead of points. In the case of the Hilton Reserve card, you will receive 2 free nights at almost any Hilton. That is fantastic! But, if you were looking only at points, you might be persuaded to go for the current Hilton Surpass offer that gives you 80,000 points. The problem with that is that those points will not even get you 1 night at a top category hotel during the peak season! The Hilton Reserve gives you the potential of 2 free nights at that same hotel.
You may have noticed that I did not tell you exactly which hotel credit card to apply for! That is because there are other factors that can come into the selection – what is your destination, how many nights you plan on staying in the same location, will you be looking to stretch your points with points and cash options, etc. But, hopefully, this little chart helped to show what is possible with the various hotel credit card bonuses so that you might realize a little more about why the bonuses are so different.