How to Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right for You!

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Now that you’ve earned airline miles for your flights, it’s time to figure out your accommodations.

How To Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right For You

Enjoying Our Free Nights at the Grand Wailea

How to Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right for You Series:

Have a Goal

You should have a destination goal in mind such as Hawaii, Florida, or Italy before you apply for a hotel credit card.  This way you get the right card so that you can get your accommodations for free (or mostly free)!

Most hotel redemptions are actually free because you don’t pay any taxes and fees.  In some cases, you might pay a few dollars in taxes if there is a local tax or fee.

Test Searches

Before you start applying for every hotel credit card, you should do dummy searches on the hotel websites to see:

  • The locations of the hotels
  • How many points you need
  • What types of rooms you can get for your points

And remember that hotel availability keeps changing and if a hotel is not sold out, you are likely to find award rooms closer to the time of your stay.  So keep checking back!

Hawaii

If your dream destination is a week in Hawaii on the island of Maui, your 1st step is to see which hotels are on Maui.

Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Starwood, and Wyndham all have hotels in Maui.

Choice, IHG Rewards, and Club Carlson do not, so you shouldn’t apply for a credit card from them IF your goal is free travel to Hawaii.

They’d be a consideration if you wanted to travel to Europe or another country where Choice, IHG, and Club Carlson have hotels.

Step 1 – Search For Hotels

If you stayed 7 nights, from June 29, 2014, to July 6, 2014, you have the following choices: 

A.   Hilton

The Hilton website shows 2 Hilton hotels in Maui:

How To Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right For You

There Are 2 “Hilton” Hotels in Maui

B.   Hyatt

The Hyatt website also gives you a choice of 2 hotels:

How To Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right For You

You Have a Choice of 2 “Hyatt” Hotels in Maui

C.   Marriott

There are 5 Marriott hotels in Maui:

But only the Courtyard Maui Kahului Airport, the Ritz-Carlton, and Wailea Beach Marriott have rooms available for award nights for June 29, 2014, to July 6, 2014.

How To Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right For You

Marriott Has Several Hotels in Maui

D.   Starwood

There are 3 Starwood hotels in Maui:

But none have rooms available for award nights for June 29, 2014, to July 6, 2014.

You can sometimes find SPG cash & points rooms by calling 888-625-4988 even when the website says none are available.  

How To Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right For You

Sheraton Has 3 “Starwood” Hotels in Maui

E.   Wyndham

There is only 1 Wyndham hotel in Maui, the Days Inn Maui Oceanfront.

How To Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right For You

112,000 Wyndham Points for Your Stay at the Days Inn Maui

Step 2 – Check Out Your Options

Now that you know your hotel options, you can narrow your choices.

But there are a few things you’ll want to check before deciding on a hotel:

  • Hotel reviews on Yelp, Travelocity, Flyertalk, and Milepoint to prevent any unexpected surprises
  • If award nights are available
  • Number of points needed
  • Extra costs such as resort fees and parking
  • Distance from the airport and sites

How Far is the Airport: Using Google Maps

You can use Google Maps to see how far the hotel is from the airport and sightseeing.

Step 1 –  Search for Hotel

Enter the hotel name in the Google Maps search box.  Click on one of the search results.

Using the Hyatt Regency Maui for my example, I entered “Hyatt Regency Maui” in the Google Maps search box.  Then I chose the Hyatt Regency Maui from the search results.

How To Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right For You

Step 1 – Search for Hotel

 Step 2 – Get Directions

Click on “Directions.”

How To Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right For You

Step 2 – Click on “Directions”

Step 3 – Enter Starting Point

Type in your starting point.

In this case, I would enter Maui airport.

How To Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right For You

Step 3 – Enter Starting Point

Step 4 – Click on the “Car” Icon

Immediately after you type in a starting point, you’ll get directions.  Click on the “car” icon if you’re renting a car.

How To Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right For You

Step 4 – Click on “Car” Icon

Step 5 – Click “List All Steps”

To see the detailed directions, click on “List all steps.”

How To Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right For You

Step 5 – Click “List all steps”

You’re given detailed directions from the Maui airport to the Hyatt Regency Maui.

How To Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right For You

You Won’t Get Lost Using Google Maps

Let’s say you liked reading about our stay at the Grand Wailea, but don’t have the 1,075,200 Hilton points (153,600 points x 7 nights).  Usually the Grand Wailea is 70,000 to 90,000 Hilton points a night but no standard awards are available for our dates of June 29, 2014, to July 6, 2014.

Instead, you pick the Hyatt Regency because it would only cost 140,000 Hyatt points.  And there are lots of ways to get Hyatt points, including free nights from the credit card. Or you can keep checking to see if award nights become available at the Grand Wailea.

Apply for the Cards

Once you’ve decided on a destination and know which hotel you want, the next step is to apply for the card or cards to get the points you need.

If you aren’t sure which hotels have credit cards, you can see all hotel cards and their current offers on the Hot Deals page. 

Because you’ve decided on the Hyatt Regency, the best card would be the Hyatt credit card which gives you 2 free nights at any Hyatt worldwide after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months.

You and your partner could each apply for a Hyatt card giving you 4 free nights.

For the remaining 3 nights, you have a few choices:

A.  3 More Free Nights at Hyatt

You could each apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa with a 40,000 Ultimate Rewards point sign-up bonus after spending $4,000 in the 1st 3 months.

Then you can can combine your sign-up bonuses and you’d have 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points.

Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Hyatt points at a 1:1 ratio.  You could transfer 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt and redeem 3 nights at the Hyatt Regency at a cost of 20,000 points a night.  

Here are all the ways to earn Hyatt points.

How To Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right For You

You Can Stay at the Hyatt Regency Maui for 20,000 Points a Night

B.   3 Free Nights at the Fairmont

You could break up your visit and spend 3 nights at the Fairmont Kea Lani.

Each of you could apply for the Fairmont credit card which gives you 2 free nights + breakfast at any Fairmont worldwide after spending $1,000 in the 1st 3 months.

You can’t search for award nights on the Fairmont website unless you have the Fairmont credit card.  Then you’d log into your Chase account to see the price in Fairmont points per night.  Then you’d book by calling Fairmont at 877-232-7070.

C.   Other Credit Cards

As already mentioned, both Hyatt and Fairmont offer credit cards as do most of the larger hotel chains.

How To Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right For You

Hyatt Regency Maui Ocean Front Room

1.   Starwood Credit Cards

Starwood has both a personal SPG American Express card and a business SPG American Express card.  Each card gives you 2 stays or 5 nights towards elite status.  Starwood points transfer to ~30 airline partners letting you use your Starwood points for hotels or flights.

Note: American Express may be limiting sign-up bonuses starting May 1, 2014.

2.   Club Carlson Credit Card

The Club Carlson credit card gives free Gold elite status and a free night when redeeming 2 or more nights at the same hotel.

3.   Hilton Credit Cards

Hilton has more hotels than any other chain.

How To Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right For You

The Grand Wailea Grotto Pool Is a Great Spot for a Drink

There are a variety of Hilton credit cards available:

There’s also the Citi® Hilton Reserve card that gives you 2 free weekend nights at any Hilton worldwide and Gold elite status for as long as you have the card.  This is my favorite Hilton card.

The American Express Hilton HHonors card gives you free Silver elite status.

And the American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass gives you free Gold elite status for the 1st year and Diamond status after spending $40,000 in a calendar year.

The Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature card gives you Silver elite status.

4.   IHG Credit Card

You can get the Chase IHG Rewards Club that gives you Platinum elite status and a free night on your card anniversary.

5.   Marriott Credit Card

The Marriott card has a sign-up bonus, a free night in a Category 1 to 4 hotel, a free night on your card anniversary, and 15 elite credits. 

6.   Wyndham Credit Card

Wyndham has a credit card.

7.   Choice Credit Card

The Choice credit card gives you Gold elite status.

Hotel Loyalty Programs

Like their credit cards, each hotel loyalty program offers different benefits and amenities to their guests.  Below is a list of the more familiar hotel loyalty programs with links to their reward redemption page and hotel brands.

1.   Choice Privileges

Link:   Choice Privileges 

How To Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right For YouChoice hotel brands include Ascend CollectionCambria SuitesClarionComfort InnComfort SuitesEconoLodgeMainStay SuitesQuality InnRodeway InnSleep Inn, and Suburban brand hotels.

2.   Club Carlson

Link:   Club Carlson 

How To Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right For YouClub Carlson hotels include Country Inns and SuitesRadissonRadisson BluPark Inn by Radisson, and Park Plaza.

3.   Hilton HHonors

Link:   Hilton HHonors 

How To Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right For YouHilton hotels include DoubleTreeConradEmbassy SuitesHampton InnHiltonHilton Garden InnHome2SuitesHomewood Suites, and Waldorf Astoria brand hotels.

4.   Hyatt Gold Passport

Link:   Hyatt Gold Passport 

How To Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right For You

Hyatt hotels include AndazGrand HyattHyattHyatt PlaceHyatt RegencyHyatt ResortsHyatt Summerfield Suites, and Park Hyatt brand hotels.

5.   IHG Rewards Club (formerly Priority Club)

Link:   IHG Rewards Club 

How To Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right For You

Priority club hotels include Candlewood SuitesCrowne PlazaHoliday InnHoliday Inn ExpressHotel IndigoIntercontinental Hotels & Resorts, and Staybridge Suites brand hotels.

6.   Marriott Rewards

Link:   Marriott Rewards 

How To Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right For YouMarriott hotels include Marriott Hotels & ResortsJW Marriott Hotels & ResortsRenaissance HotelsCourtyard by MarriottAC Hotels by MarriottResidence Inn by MarriottFairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott,  TownePlace Suites by MarriottSpringHill Suites by MarriottThe Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company L.L.C.ExecuStay, and Marriott Executive Apartments Grand Residences by Marriott brands.

7.   Starwood Preferred Guest

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest

How To Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right For You

Starwood hotels include AloftElementFour PointsLe MeredienSheraton,  St RegisThe Luxury CollectionWestin and W brand hotels.

8.   Wyndham Hotel Rewards

Link:   Wyndham Hotel Rewards 

How To Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right For You

Wyndham hotels include Baymont InnDays InnHawthorne SuitesHoward JohnsonKnights InnMicrotelRamadaSuper 8TravelodgeWingateWyndham Hotels & ResortsWyndham Garden, and Wyndham Grand Collection.

Bottom Line

You should have a destination goal before you apply for a hotel branded credit card.

Dummy searches on hotel websites will give you an idea if there’s a hotel located where you want to go and how many points it would cost.

Then you can figure out which hotel credit card you should apply for.

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23 responses to “How to Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right for You!

  1. I noticed your map of Maui. If anyone wants to have an ‘interesting’ and exciting ride, drive to your hotel via the north route (that turns west and south). My wife and I did that 4 years ago. Maybe you heard her yelling at me for driving to the Sheraton that way. It starts as a state road. If you look at the map, you’ll see the road breaks up to reflect a non-state road. Turns out the road is about 1 and a half lanes wide as it twists and turns it’s way to the other end.

    It was very ‘interesting’ when 2 cars had to pass (creep by very slowly) each other, with no room (or shoulder) for error. :>)
    This trip is not for the faint of heart. I’d do it again, but not with my wife. FYI, the views of the Pacific are breathtaking.

  2. It is always a good idea to have a plan. I have several hotel chain programs I use. Slowly branching out to more but I do try to consolidate so it’s easier. Not hugely popular amongst bloggers – but for our family, we are heavily skewed to the Choice program. It’s not fancy and it’s mostly Comfort Inns – but for what we value, it works. The point value does not translate well againts rack rates – but since I do not value hotels at rack rate, that’s OK. In my mind, I value hotel rooms at $40-$50 a night since I can typically get a hotel for that price on Priceline. I rarely need (or value) 5 star accommodations and free breakfast is a big moneysaver for us (typically worth at least $20-$30 for our family of 4). For 8,000 – 12,000 points a night, we get decent accommodations. It’s particularly good for road trip stops as Choice inflates their points in tourist destinations. I love that there are always Choice hotels everywhere.

    I also have Starwood, Marriott, and Hilton points. While I love Hilton Gold status, their point redemption is ridiculously inflated so we don’t stay as often as we like. (although I do love Hilton properties). I also have a hard time finding “cheap” 3000 point Starwood hotels where I need them so I have been sitting on some points for quite a while. Need to focus more on using those :)

    All about what you want from your trips and having a goal to work towards is hugely valuable rather than racking up random points all over the place and not having enough for what you want.

  3. I know a lot of you poo poo on Hilton due to their devaluation but I love HIlton because you can get premium rooms (at obviously more points) rather than just a standard room. I spent 125k points per night at the Hilton Waikoloa for their best room in the resort. 2 floors, 1600 sq feet, outdoor dining with a hot tub in front of the dolphins. Not being a top level elite status, I like the flexibility of being able to get a premium room with the Hilton.

  4. Craig Dawson

    Hi Darius. Question on the free nights with the Fairmont and Hyatt CC’s. If my Dad has unused free nights, can he book a room for my wife and I to use? Thanks

  5. My experience in rooms with points is that they do NOT give you the premium room with the ocean view, but rather a “garden view” which can be very disappointing after seeing the great ocean front views on the websites. I know that one can bump up–but usually for LOTS of points.

  6. Nice Volcom shirt Skaterboi!

    Good post though D

  7. I noticed some of the cards that offer 2 free nights say that they offer 2 free weekend nights. Can these rewards be used for non-weekend nights?

  8. I stayed at the Grand Wailea a couple times back in the early 90’s as a kid and met Don Shula at the golf course, he signed my Dolphins hat….great and friendly man, and one night Bob Saget sat next to use at dinner. Have to admit the place looks like it’s showing it’s age a bit. Looks like it’s time for a remodel.

  9. Katie, I have just booked my 2 free weekend nights on a Sunday and Monday night. The Hilton agent was really nice about it, so the free weekend nights actually work for weekdays too.

    Darius, I know you might have written about this somewhere in your blog, but may be you can repeat this again. Can you open and close any of the free nights credit cards, like Chase Hyatt and Citi Hilton Reserve, *churnable?
    I don’t know if that’s the right term for it (I’m new to all this)

  10. Hi,

    I have a trip to Tokyo planned in December. Which cards would you recommend that I apply for to help with accommodations on that trip?

    Thanks!

  11. Hi,

    I tried looking for hotel rates as you suggested, specifically I tried Singapore for Hyatt. However, I only manage to see how much $$ I need to pay. My question is: Is there anything I need to adjust on the website to see how much points I need? I went to the Grand Hyatt Singapore Official Website

    Thanks!

  12. @dhammer – I’d love to try that out, but will have to be when I’m there myself!

    @Juno – That sounds like a great room!

    @Craig Dawson – He should be able to book it and add you as the 2nd guest and you can check-in yourself.

    @ Chane – LOL! I think my mom got me that.

    @ Katie – Unfortunately, not. But doesn’t hurt to ask

    @LB – It really varies by bank, and some like AMEX are going to limit folks to only 1 sign-up bonus overt their lifetime.

    @ Jenny – I’d consider Hyatt, Starwood and Hilton. Make some test bookings online and see which hotels have rooms near the places you want to visit.

    @ fyong – You have to sign into your Hyatt account and search for a award nights.

  13. My wife and I are going to Ireland on May 22, 2014 on United Air Lines. I have a business and an excellent personal credit score. I’m looking for a business credit card that might allow free baggage shipment, and use of a club room. I also want one that has no foreign transaction fees and is good in Europe. Any suggestions?

  14. @William – The United Explorer card has no foreign transaction fee and allows 1 checked bag. It also comes with 2 free lounge passes (though you may not get them on time!). The United Club time will get you access to the lounge and has free bags, but has a higher annual fee (but try going to a local Chase branch to see if you can get the 1st year fee waived).

  15. You guys are wonderful. Thank you so much for all of your posts. Keep them coming. Love your photos. You two are quite the duo!

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  19. With a goal to amass United FF miles, which hotel cards offer the best transfer of their points to airline miles?

  20. @Kira – Thanks for reading!

    @CB – I wouldn’t get any hotel card to transfer them to United miles because the conversion is poor.

  21. Do you know how long it takes to get Club Carlson points earned from the credit card? I just got their card and my first statement closing date is July 3. I was hoping to use their reward points for a stay beginning on July 6. I sent Club Carlson an e-mail but they gave me some convoluted response that points can take 6-8 weeks to post.

  22. @scott – Usually it posts a few days after the statement in which you complete the minimum spending closes.

  23. Pingback: 70,000 Points and 2 Free Nights With the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Card | Million Mile Secrets

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