Editorial Review

Best Western Rewards Card: Status and Perks for No Annual Fee

This card comes with a sign-up bonus and automatic Gold elite status. It earns decent rewards on Best Western stays, but they're not as valuable as some other hotel rewards currencies.

Melissa LambarenaMay 26, 2020

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  • Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

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Our Take

2.6

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: The card's lack of an annual fee and the status it grants you are nice features. But for luxury perks or greater value on rewards, look elsewhere.

Barclaycard Best Western Credit Card

Best Western Rewards® Mastercard®

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

20.24% - 24.24% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • High rewards rate

  • No annual fee

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • High APR

Alternate Pick: Flexible, no-fuss rewards

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Redeem for a variety of travel-related purchases

Get 1.5 points per dollar on all purchases. Points can be redeemed for credit on your statement against a wide variety of travel expenses. There's a $0 annual fee, plus a bonus offer for new cardholders: 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

Annual Fee

$0

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 14 months and 10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 14 months

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

Full Review

The Best Western Rewards® Mastercard® — issued by a division of First National Bank of Omaha — is a frugal choice that offers rewards and perks for Best Western loyalists. But the value of those rewards falls short in comparison to the offerings of some other no-annual-fee hotel credit cards and general travel credit cards.

This card does come with a sign-up bonus, and you'll also get automatic Gold elite status, which means additional incentives like 10% bonus points per stay and room upgrades (when available). And with 4,700 Best Western properties in nearly 100 countries worldwide, you won't have much trouble finding places to use those perks.

But if Best Western isn't always your first choice for travel, plenty of other cards can offer more value and flexibility.

Nerd tip: If you are a Best Western devotee, you might do better with this card's cousin, the Best Western Rewards® Premium Mastercard®. It has an annual fee of $59, but it offers more robust rewards and perks (although neither card offers a free anniversary night, a common perk among many hotel cards). See a full review of the Best Western Rewards® Premium Mastercard®.

Key benefits of the Best Western Rewards® Mastercard®

Card type: Hotel.

Annual fee: $0.

Sign-up bonus: Earn up to 32,000 Bonus Points: Earn 16,000 bonus points after your first purchase and 16,000 bonus points on your first stay.

APR: The ongoing APR is 20.24% - 24.24% Variable APR.

Ongoing rewards:

  • Earn 13 points per $1 spent on Best Western stays: 10 points as a Best Western Rewards member, 3 points with the card. (The Best Western Rewards program is free to join, and cardholders are automatically enrolled.)

  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent everywhere else.

NerdWallet values Best Western points at 0.7 cent each. This is a baseline value, drawn from real-world data, not a maximized value. In other words, you should aim for award redemptions that offer 0.7 cent or more in value from your Best Western points.

Redemption options include nights with Best Western, airline miles, gift cards, merchandise and charitable donations. The value of points varies depending on which option you choose.

Foreign transaction fee: None.

Other benefits:

  • Automatic Gold status, which gives you perks like 10% bonus points per stay and room upgrades when available.

Why you might want the Best Western Rewards® Mastercard®

$0 annual fee

The Best Western Rewards® Mastercard® packs reasonable value for a $0-annual-fee credit card. Its relative, the Best Western Rewards® Premium Mastercard®, offers better benefits and perks, but it has a $59 annual fee.

Here's how the two cards stack up:

Solid sign-up bonus

The card’s sign-up bonus can be enough to jump-start your travel goals. Earn up to 32,000 Bonus Points: Earn 16,000 bonus points after your first purchase and 16,000 bonus points on your first stay. According to Best Western's website, the average free night requires 16,000 points, so this bonus alone could potentially snag you two free nights. However, the company also notes that the range is from 8,000 to 36,000 points per night, so it will depend on which Best Western property or location you choose for redemption.

Automatic Gold status

By becoming a cardholder, you automatically get bumped up to Gold elite status. Members at this level receive perks such as a 10% points bonus, a welcome gift at check-in and room upgrades when available. To reach this tier without the card, you would have to accumulate eligible stays or nights, or earn 10,000 points from eligible stays only. With the Best Western Rewards® Mastercard®, you don’t have to put in that work to reap the status benefits.

Why you might want to go with another card

Other cards offer Greater rewards value

True, the Best Western Rewards® Mastercard® offers a hefty number of points for spending with the hotel chain: 3 points per $1 spent on Best Western stays, on top of the 10 base points you already earn as a Best Western Rewards program member, on top of the 10% points bonus at the Gold status level. But based on NerdWallet valuations, those point values aren't as rich as they are for other hotel chains like Marriott or Hyatt. And general travel credit cards will earn you points that are both more valuable (worth at least a penny apiece) and more flexible, meaning they can be used on things other than stays with a single hotel brand. A good example is the $0-annual-fee Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card. It earns triple points on things like dining, gas stations, transit, travel and eligible streaming services, and points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for travel or cash back. It also features a welcome offer: Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $200 cash redemption value. Terms apply.

You’re not loyal to Best Western

Earning rewards will be a slow process if you don’t frequently stay at Best Western properties, and redemption values are a mixed bag, depending on what you choose. If you prefer a card with more flexibility, consider the Discover it® Miles credit card. It has a $0 annual fee and earns 1.5 miles per $1 spent. You can redeem miles for cash back or as credit toward travel purchases made with your card, including airline tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals, travel agents, online travel sites and other commuter transportation. No matter how you redeem, 1 mile equals 1 cent. If you’re brand-agnostic and you’re OK booking hotels via an online travel site, take a look at the Orbitz Rewards® Visa® Card. It can offer up to 10% back in rewards on Orbitz hotel bookings that span a variety of brands. It has a $0 annual fee.

You want some interest-free breathing room

Like many hotel cards, the Best Western Rewards® Mastercard® does not offer an interest-free promotional period. If you’re looking to finance a vacation or your purchases, the aforementioned Discover it® Miles would again be a good pick. Or you could consider the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card, which also offers a lengthy 0% introductory APR period. That card earns 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases and 3 points per $1 spent on eligible travel booked through the Bank of America® Travel Center. It has a $0 annual fee.

Is the Best Western Rewards® Mastercard® right for you?

The Best Western Rewards® Mastercard® is right for you if you want to earn automatic Gold elite status for a $0 annual fee. If you aren't loyal to a particular hotel chain, however, and you want flexibility in how you redeem your rewards, another travel credit card can offer more value.

To see how your options stack up, visit NerdWallet's roundup of the best credit card offers.

Information related to the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card and the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuers of these cards.

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