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Sonesta may not be as ubiquitous as other hotel brands, but its footprint has grown in recent years. And while it's becoming easier to find a Sonesta hotel, the company remains a small player in the hospitality industry. In turn, only a small number of travelers will benefit from its co-branded credit card.
The Sonesta World Mastercard, issued by Bank of America®, could be valuable for those who are loyal and frequent guests of Sonesta hotels. The card has a $75 annual fee, but it’s waived in the first year. For everyone else, other hotel credit cards — or general travel cards — can offer more value and flexibility.
Here’s what else you need to know about the Sonesta World Mastercard.
» MORE: Sonesta hotels guide
1. The sign-up bonus isn't as generous as it sounds
New cardholders of the Sonesta World Mastercard will earn the following bonus, phrased this way: "Earn 60,000 points after spending at least $1,000 in purchases within 90 days of the account opening date, and you’ll get 5,000 more points if you add an authorized user to the credit card, also within the first 90 days of account opening." A potential 65,000 points is a solid welcome bonus.
The card's application, though, touts a bonus "up to 95,000 points." And while you could earn that much in your first year, the remaining 30,000 points aren’t actually tied to signing up for the card. Rather, you get 30,000 points every year on your account anniversary if you meet certain spending requirements (more on that below).
The Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Credit Card, by comparison, also offers anniversary bonus points if you meet spending thresholds. But the card doesn't add those anniversary points to the sign-up bonus to make it sound larger.
» MORE: Best credit card sign-up bonuses
2. The anniversary bonus comes with a catch, too
You’ll receive 30,000 points on your account anniversary — as long as you spend at least $7,500 in purchases every year with the Sonesta World Mastercard. A spending requirement isn’t the standard among hotel credit cards.
For example, the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card offers a free night’s stay every year you renew the card, regardless of how much you spend.
3. You earn the highest rewards rate for eligible Sonesta purchases
As is the norm on co-branded credit cards, you'll earn the most credit card rewards from purchases made at that brand. The Sonesta World Mastercard earns:
3x points per $1 spent on eligible Sonesta purchases.
2x points per $1 spent on eligible car rental, airfare and dining purchases including catering and restaurants.
1x points per $1 spent on everything else.
As a member of the Sonesta Travel Pass program, you'll earn 10 Sonesta Travel Pass points for every eligible dollar spent on properties booked through Sonesta, on top of the earnings from the card.
If you already have a Sonesta Travel Pass membership when you apply for the card, then you need to enter the number when you apply. If you don’t have one, you're automatically enrolled and issued a membership number.
4. Redeeming points is complex
Earning points is relatively straightforward, but redeeming them is more complicated. Sonesta hotels are organized into a dizzying 12 tiers, and the hotel’s tier determines how many points are required for a free night’s stay. A night at a Tier 1 hotel costs 10,000 points, while you’ll have to shell out 60,000 points for a night at a Tier 12 hotel. Rewards points expire if you don’t accrue or redeem any points within a 24-month period.
Rewards points can be redeemed only by calling the Sonesta Travel Pass Redemption Reservations line at 855-622-2160. There's no option to book online. Additionally, not all properties under the Sonesta umbrella may be eligible for rewards bookings. According to a Sonesta representative, a revamped Travel Pass program will launch in late 2022.
» MORE: Best travel credit cards
5. It gives automatic elite status
The Sonesta Travel Pass loyalty program has three tiers, the highest of which is aptly called Elite. You’ll automatically gain Elite status when approved for the Sonesta World Mastercard. Elite status confers some decent perks including a complimentary daily continental breakfast, room upgrades and a 15% discount on dining and resort amenities.
Other co-branded hotel credit cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card and World of Hyatt Credit Card also give you an automatic status bump in their rewards programs, but they don’t elevate you to the highest level like the Sonesta World Mastercard does.
» MORE: Best hotel credit cards