How to Decide Which Hotel Chain Is Right For You

There are a lot of hotel programs out there, and sometimes it can be hard to figure out which one best suits your needs. While it’s a good idea to open an account with each of these programs in case of unexpected hotel stays or special promotions, each program has some particular areas of strength.

If you like earning lots of points for your hotel stays: IHG

If you enjoy earning boatloads of points for your paid hotel stays, IHG may be a good fit for you. Its quarterly Accelerate promotions offer targeted offers for account holders, often offering tens of thousands of bonus points for as few as 3-4 stays or nights.

IHG also has a wide global presence – you can go just about anywhere in there world and find at least one IHG property, and you can count on a consistently solid experience across each brand anywhere in the world.

The IHG Rewards Club Select credit card from Chase offers instant Platinum status and a free night usable at almost any IHG property every year upon payment of the $49 annual fee. The card also gets you a 10% rebate when you redeem your points for hotel stays.

If you want to use Ultimate Rewards points for hotel stays: Hyatt

Although its footprint is more limited, Hyatt offers some excellent properties, including highly rated all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean. Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio, which can be an excellent value for aspirational properties. And if you travel enough to reach top-tier Globalist status, you can count on excellent treatment at Hyatt properties across the world, including amazing breakfast spreads, complimentary upgrades, and 4 confirmed suite upgrades. The program also offers bonus free nights for achievements like staying at every Hyatt brand.

The Hyatt Credit Card from Chase offers complimentary Discoverist status, a free night at a category 1-4 property every year, 3 points per dollar spent at Hyatt properties, and 2 points per dollar spent on restaurants, airlines, and car rentals.

If you’re a frequent flier: Marriott/SPG

Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest remain separate programs, but they offer reciprocal elite benefits across both programs. The two programs offer a wide range of properties and price points, from the glitzy Ritz Carlton, St. Regis, or JW Marriott to the more humble Towneplace Suites and Four Points properties.

Points are freely transferable between the two programs, and you can get some excellent deals on airline miles by transferring points from Starwood Preferred Guest to your favorite airline with a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer, or by redeeming a Marriott Rewards Flight and Hotel Package which will get you a boatload of frequent flier miles plus a 7-night certificate to redeem at a Marriott property of your choice.

Both programs also have unique frequent flier partnerships. Marriott Rewards has a partnership with United, where gaining Premier Gold status or higher with United can also get you Marriott Gold status, and achieving Marriott Platinum status will get you complimentary Premier Silver status on United.

On the SPG side, they have partnerships with Delta, Emirates, and China Eastern which allow airline elites to obtain frequent flier miles for their hotel stays, and Starwood elites to obtain Starwood points for flights credited to the respective airline programs. You can also earn Starwood points from Uber rides once you have stayed at least one night during the year.

The Starwood Preferred Guest credit card from American Express and the Marriott Rewards Premier credit card from Chase (and the corresponding business credit cards) are an excellent way to accrue points in their respective programs. You can also gain complimentary SPG Gold status with the Platinum Card from American Express, which will also get you Marriott Gold status.

If you like racking up points from credit cards: Hilton

Hilton used to offer four different types of personal credit cards from two different banks (Citi and American Express), so you could get a large balance of points very quickly with a few credit card signups. Although Citi has stopped issuing Hilton cards, you can still earn 175,000 Hilton points (or more!) by signing up for both the Hilton Honors Card from American Express and Hilton Honors Surpass cards from American Express. Those cards have some great earning bonuses too – 7 points per dollar spent at Hilton, and 5 points per dollar spent at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations.

You can also transfer points to Hilton from Virgin Atlantic (check out the Virgin Atlantic Mastercard from Bank of America for another hefty signup bonus) or Hawaiian Airlines, as well as American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points. And if that somehow still doesn’t give you enough points for your dream redemption, Hilton’s flexible Points & Money redemptions let you make up the difference with cold hard cash.

Caroline Lupini
In 2011, with a four-week trip around Europe, Caroline became a true road warrior. Caroline likes to mix roughing it and luxury on her travels, sometimes staying in five-star hotels and other times in hostels. Her mantra: splurge…
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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Annual Fee: $95 fee waived for the first year
  • Foreign Fees: No
  • Card Type: Bank

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  • Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption – Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions – as long as there’s a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Breakdown

Earn (pt.)

Spend


First 3 months

50,000

$4,000


Travel Purchases

2.00

$1


Restaurants Purchases

2.00

$1


Coffee Shops Purchases

2.00

$1


Fast Food Purchases

2.00

$1


Alcohol & Bars Purchases

2.00

$1


All Purchases

1.00

$1


Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Annual Fee: $95 fee waived for the first year
  • Foreign Fees: No
  • Card Type: Bank
FTG Review Reward Breakdown Points Breakdown
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption – Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions – as long as there’s a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Breakdown

Earn (pt.)

Spend


First 3 months

50,000

$4,000


Travel Purchases

2.00

$1


Restaurants Purchases

2.00

$1


Coffee Shops Purchases

2.00

$1


Fast Food Purchases

2.00

$1


Alcohol & Bars Purchases

2.00

$1


All Purchases

1.00

$1


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