Some travelers avoid hotel credit cards for chains like Marriott or Hilton because they’d prefer to earn more flexible rewards to use across a wide variety of properties.
With the $0-annual-fee Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card, you can redeem rewards at more than 500,000 properties. But does all that flexibility make the card worth getting? Here’s a closer look.
Here’s an overview of the benefits you’ll get as a cardholder:
Annual fee: $0.
Sign-up bonus: Get 2 reward nights worth $250 total (max $125 per night), when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Ongoing rewards: Earn one “stamp” for every $500 spent on purchases on the credit card (10 stamps equals one reward night).
Automatic Silver status with Hotels.com: When you open your new account, you’ll automatically receive Silver status for 12 months from date of opening. Cardholders who already have Silver status will receive an additional 12 months. Silver status entitles you to free breakfast, spa vouchers, airport transfers, VIP access and more at eligible properties.
Foreign currency conversion fee: None.
Cell phone protection: Pay your phone bill with this card and you’ll be covered in the event of damage to or theft of your phone, for up to $1,200 per year ($600 per claim) after paying a $25 deductible.
Travel protection benefits: Cardholders get trip cancellation and interruption coverage, car rental collision damage waiver, roadside dispatch and other protections.
» Learn more: 5 benefits of booking with Hotels.com
Capped value of reward nights
Upon earning 10 stamps ($5,000 in purchases on your card equals 10 stamps), you’ll have the ability to redeem a reward to save on your next hotel stay. But don’t get your hopes up for a luxurious 5-star hotel, because the current redemption value of a reward is $110. You can book a more expensive hotel and still use the reward, but you’ll have to pay the difference.
Hotels.com Rewards members also earn one stamp every time you book and stay one night at an eligible property. This benefit is available to all rewards members, not just Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card holders. The maximum value of this type of reward night is equal to the average daily rate of your 10 nights collected, excluding taxes and applicable fees. This means if you tend to book more expensive hotel stays, your reward will have a higher value.
It is possible to earn the required 10 stamps for a reward by combining the stamps you earn from spending on the credit card with those you earn from booking paid stays through Hotels.com as a rewards member.
No bonus categories for ongoing spending
Many travel rewards cards, including those with no annual fee, offer the ability to boost the number of rewards you earn by spending in certain categories, such as travel, grocery stores or gas stations. The Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card doesn’t pay extra for spending in bonus categories, meaning your options for earning rewards are more limited.
Limited choices for redeeming rewards
Unlike cards offering flexible rewards, the stamps you earn using this credit card are redeemable only for Hotels.com bookings. Plus, you can’t redeem the rewards you’ve earned until you have 10 stamps.
This card will count toward your Chase 5/24 limit
If you want to open other credit cards in the next two years, beware: Chase, issuer of some of the most coveted travel rewards and cash-back cards in the business, could hold it against you if you open too many other cards, including this one. Chase’s 5/24 rule says you’re unlikely to get approved for a Chase card if you have five or more approvals for credit cards over 24 months. Even though this card is issued by a different bank, opening it will count toward your five-card limit for future Chase accounts.
Alternatives worth considering
If you’re looking for more flexibility with a $0-annual-fee rewards credit card, you may want to consider the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card or Chase Freedom Unlimited®. Both of these cards offer valuable sign-up bonuses and the ability to redeem rewards for travel with fewer restrictions.
» Learn more: The best hotel credit cards right now
The bottom line
While the Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card’s $0 annual fee and ability to save on a huge selection of hotels is appealing, you may want to consider an alternative no-annual-fee travel credit card due to the limitations and complications of redeeming your rewards.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card