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Credit Cards & Hotel Rewards Programs
Which guest rewards credit card provides the best perks? Consult our chart below.
|The free stuff!||How you earn||Buying status||Annual fee||Using overseas||Browser says:|
|Marriott Rewards Premier Visa||50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000, plus 1 free night stay on approval. Free night stay each year.||1-5 points per dollar spent.||15 Elite credits (these count as hotel nights) after approval; 1 credit per $3,000 spent.||None during the first year, then $85||No foreign transaction fees; cards also now include Smart Chip, required in some foreign countries.||Solid deal for Marriott loyalists and anyone interested in becoming one.|
|Hilton HHonors Visa Signature||40,000 after $1,000 in eligible purchases.||2-6 points per dollar spent.||Get bumped to Gold (Tier 3) status after 4 stays within 90 days of joining.||None.||There is a 3% fee (in dollars) on every foreign purchase.||2 points per dollar as a base benefit is good stuff. Ditto the Gold bump after 4 stays (it usually takes 20 stays or 40 nights) is great. Yay no annual fee; boo foreign transaction fees.|
|The Hyatt Credit Card||2 free nights after spending $1,000 within the first three months.||1-3 points per dollar spent.||You'll get Platinum status for the life of the card; there are a couple incentives towards Diamond status as well.
||$75||None. Card is also smart-chipped, which makes foreign use that much easier.||The lower point grab per dollar seems weak, but redemption amounts are also lower than in some rewards programs.|
|Club Carlson Rewards Visa Signature||Up to 60,000 points when you spend $1,500 within 90 days, plus 25,000 more points every year you renew.||3-6 points per dollar spent.||Membership grants you Silver Elite status – that's the second tier of membership, out of four.||$50||3% on foreign purchases and 2% on foreign purchases made in US dollars.||Free bonus night on stays of two nights and other good stuff make this card a must if you're a Radisson brand fan.|
|Starwood Preferred Guest American Express||Up to 25,000 points when you sign on and spend $5,000 within the first six months.||1-5 points per dollar spent.||You get five nights / two stays credit towards elite status each year you're a member.||$0 for first year, then $65.||2.7%
||Many insist this is the best card on the market. It does have its points, but other brands are gaining on this one. (We do like their points for air miles scheme, it must be said.) Note that Starwood properties can be priced higher than others in their competitive set; loyalty can get pricey.|
|Fairmont Visa Signature||2 nights w/ breakfast after $1,000 spent in first three months.||1-5 points per dollar spent.||Cardholders receive Premier status, plus an annual Gold Floor upgrade and dining certificate. Receive two stay credits per year towards Platinum status when you spend $15,000.||$95||None.||For Fairmont loyalists, this card offers a fairly good incentive to remain so. Everyone else might want to seek out a more easily available brand to throw their loyalty towards.|
|Priority Club Visa Signature||60,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first three months.||1-5 points per dollar spent.||Cardholders receive Platinum Elite status – that's the top tier.||$0 first year, then $49.||None.||Great value? Sure sounds like it! Here, though, you see that a card is as only as good as the program – when you are shelling out 20k points for a Holiday Inn Express (that's a lot!), suddenly the benefits don't seem so robust.|
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