Some credit cards have hefty annual fees and add little value after the initial sign-up bonuses so it can become a balancing act to determine which credit cards offer value beyond those initial bonuses. While some of my hotel-branded credit cards do have an annual fee, I try to keep only those that offer ongoing value for me personally based on spending habits and travel priorities. Here are the ones I plan to keep renewing going forward and the benefits I receive from each of them.
Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) Rewards Club Select Credit Card
When I was a road warrior traveling the highways of Northern Michigan for a living, I found a Holiday Inn Express property in every small town I needed to stay. My travel priorities have since changed but my love for IHG properties and their credit card lives on. The $49 annual fee is offset by an annual free night I receive by having the card. Last year we used the free night at the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand, normally costing several hundred Euros. I receive Platinum status with IHG just for having the IHG Rewards Club Select credit card so it’s a no-brainer to continue. While I do not see the value in the extra effort/expense it takes to reach their top-level Spire status, I find tremendous value in their extensive property portfolio, their promotions, a free night at renewal and their loyalty program perks.
Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express
My favorite hotel credit card is also loved by many other travelers. I particularly enjoy their luxury properties such as the Tambo del Inka and Palacio del Inka, the wonderful properties we stayed at in Peru. There is no possibility I would stay at these incredible properties otherwise. While the card does have an annual $95 fee, the complimentary lounge access at Sheraton properties and free Boingo Internet access worldwide more than compensates for it. There are also no foreign transaction fees on the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express and I use this card frequently on international trips.
||Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express
$0 first year
$0 after first year
|Earn 50,000 Hilton HHonors(TM) Bonus Points
After you spend $750 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
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|Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express|
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Hilton HHonors Credit Card
There are several options of Hilton HHonors Credit Cards and while I selected the HHonors Surpass Card initially, it does come with an annual fee of $95 and I don’t spend a lot on the card. My plan is to keep a Hilton HHonors card with American Express but at renewal move to the Hilton HHonors Credit Card from American Express that has no annual fee. Since I do stay at Hilton properties several times a year, I may also apply for a Citi Hilton HHonors Visa-Signature Card. I like the cash and points option Hilton offers its members when booking hotel rooms and earning points on the credit card helps me accumulate enough points faster.
The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card
The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card grants me Gold status with their hotel loyalty program just for having the card. Having stayed at several Radisson Blu properties throughout my travels, I find that Gold status offers valuable perks such as free breakfast, internet and late checkout. When I renew my card each year, I receive 40,000 Club Carlson points, enough for a couple free nights at a decent property. This perk has since been changed for new card holders but there is still an option to receive a free night at renewal. The annual fee is $75 but if you stay at Club Carlson properties, you’ll receive more value than the $75 just in breakfast, internet, and lounge access.
Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card
With the merger between Marriott and Starwood I’m holding on to my Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card. I like the changes announced thus far, especially the ability to transfer points between the programs, the elite status match between loyalty programs, and more redemption possibilities. All reasons to keep both my Marriott card and my Starwood card. The annual fee on this card is $85 which is offset by the annual free night I receive. Also at renewal, I receive 15 nights towards status.
While I’m looking at keeping these hotel-branded credit cards at their renewal, I’m not factoring in the value I received when I opened each of these cards. You’ll have to determine for yourself which hotel credit cards fit your own personal spending and travel patterns. You can compare sign up bonuses and benefits by visiting our hotel rewards card summary page.
Which hotel-branded credit cards are your favorites and why?
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