When we choose an airline to earn miles with, we have to consider which carrier has the best service from our home airport to our destination. After all, few travelers would consider earning miles with a carrier that would force them to fly thousands of extra miles and make an unnecessary change of planes to reach their destination.
But with hotels, travelers do have the choice of staying with one of many top brands that compete directly with each other in most major markets. Here are my two favorite hotel loyalty programs for reward travelers:
Starwood Preferred Guest – Starwood properties include Westins, Sheratons, and several other smaller brands. Reward credit card holders can use the Starwood American Express card to earn one point per dollar on all purchases.
Award night redemptions start at just 2,000 points for a weekend night at a category one hotel and go up to 35,000 points for a night at an ultra-exclusive category seven property. And unlike other chains that have some very low end, budget properties, I have always enjoyed using just a few thousand points to stay in a Sheraton Four Points or Aloft branded hotel. There is also a cash and points option that allows cardholders to use fewer points while making a modest co-payment. When redeeming four nights in a row at a category 3-7 hotel, the fifth night is free. Starwood points can be redeemed for award nights in any standard room for sale. In addition, Starpoints are extremely valuable as they can be transferred to miles with the programs of over 30 different carriers.
Hyatt Gold Passport Chase offers its Hyatt rewards card that earns one point per dollar spent. In addition, Hyatt is a transfer partner with Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program and there are many business and personal credit cards that earn these points. Award nights in standard rooms start at 5,000 points for a category one property and top out at only 22,000 points. For a few thousand extra points each night, travelers can stay in Regency Club level rooms that offer free breakfasts. Award nights in suites cost from 8,000 to 33,000 points. As with the Starwood program, Hyatt points can be redeemed for award nights in any standard room for sale.
By focusing on the best hotel loyalty programs, credit card users can earn the most value from their credit card rewards.