While most people think of airline reward cards as being a great tool for earning free travel, products co-branded with hotel chains can offer outstanding values of their own. Among the major hotel chains, Marriott and Starwood offer some of the leading hotel rewards cards. And although many frequent travelers will have a natural preference for the airline with the best service to their home city, they are free to be loyal to whichever hotel chain offers the best rewards available.
The Marriott Rewards Visa Cards from Chase
Chase offers two different Marriott Rewards credit cards. The standard card offers a 30,000 point sign up bonus plus two additional free night stay certificates as long as $1,000 is charged on the card within three months. Cardholders earn three points for every dollar spent at Marriott locations and one point per dollar on most other purchases. This card also offers a 10 night stay credit towards elite status and another night’s stay for every $3,000 spent. There is a $45 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year.
The Premier Rewards card offers 50,000 bonus points and one free night stay certificate as a sign-up bonus ($1,000 of spend within three months is also required). In addition, cardholders receive another free night stay certificate each year when they renew their card. Premier Rewards cardholders earn five points per dollar spent at Marriott locations, two points per dollar spent on airlines, dining, and car rentals, and one point per dollar on all other purchases. They will also receive a 15 night credit towards elite status as well as the additional night stay credit for each $3,000 spent. There is an $85 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year, and this card has no foreign transaction fees.
You can learn more or apply for these offers below:
The Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express
The Starwood hotel chain offers its Preferred Guest card from American Express. It offers up to 30,000 Starpoints as a sign-up bonus, plus the $65 annual fee is waived. Cardholders receive 5 nights or two stays as credit towards elite status. Also, card members who spend $30,000 in a calendar year are automatically upgraded to Gold status. Starpoints can be redeemed for a free night stay at any available standard room with no blackout dates or capacity restrictions. In addition, points can be transferred to miles with over 30 different airlines as well as Amtrak Guest Rewards. Unfortunately, American Express charges a 2.7% foreign transaction fee on all charges processed outside of the United States.
The Marriott Premier Rewards card makes the most sense for international travelers who need the guaranteed acceptance of a Visa card and no foreign transaction fees. It is also superior in that it offers bonus points for airfare, dining, and car rental purchases since the Starwood card features no bonus categories of any kind. Starwood’s card has superior airline transfer options and unlike Marriott’s program, award rooms are not limited by capacity controls. So while some hard-core mileage hoarders will always prefer the Starwood card, many business and international travelers will be better off with the Marriott Premier Rewards card from Chase.