Hotels.com Rewards Visa: Decent Rewards, but They’re Super Complex

​​It's a fine choice if you're already a devotee of the Hotels.com loyalty program, but most people will find the card’s rewards system too much effort.
Gregory KarpSep 22, 2021

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Our Take

3.7

NerdWallet rating 
Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card

on Wells Fargo's website

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

14.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Quick FactsView rates and fees

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • High rewards rate
  • Automatic elite status
  • Premium travel protections

Cons

  • Rewards have limited flexibility
  • Complicated rewards
  • Complicated redemptions
  • No free anniversary night
  • No bonus categories

Alternate Pick: Simpler rewards

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Unlimited 2 miles on every dollar spent

For an annual fee, this card gives you a high rewards rate on everything. It has a sign-up bonus, and miles are redeemable for statement credit against any travel expense, including hotel bookings.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$95

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

14.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

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

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

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Full Review

The  offers decent rewards value for your spending, coupled with an annual fee of and the flexibility of not being tied to one hotel chain.

Overall, it could be a good fit for those already using the Hotels.com loyalty program.

But what about aspirations of using rewards to book some plush room in a distant location?

Let’s just say that if this card's rewards program were a hotel, it'd be less like a beachfront luxury resort and more like a suburban office-park hotel right off the highway. And that's if you're willing to wade through the convoluted rewards program, which awkwardly marries credit card spending rewards with a "buy 10, get one free” system you’d find at a sandwich shop.

If you think you can pick a hotel group and stick with it, a co-branded would be a better fit, even if you had to pay an annual fee. Or a general travel credit card would offer versatility.

Card type: .

Annual fee: .

Sign-up bonus:

Ongoing rewards: Earn one stamp for every night you stay at any eligible property booked on Hotels.com, plus one stamp for every $500 spent on purchases on the credit card.

Redemption options: Accumulate 10 stamps for a “reward night” booking at Hotels.com. (Value varies; see details below.)

Foreign transaction fees: None.

Other benefits:

This card has a confusing rewards system (more on this below), but essentially rewards are worth 2.2% back on spending. You’ll need to spend $5,000 to earn 10 “stamps” worth $110. ($110 in rewards / $5,000 in spending = .022 or 2.2% back.)

That is a competitive rewards rate compared with some hotel cards. But, nowadays you can find  that have less complicated rewards systems. With the , you get only an extra 0.2 percentage points to earn rewards that are far more restrictive than cash.

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You get automatic Silver status with Hotels.com for 12 months from the date of account opening. If you already have Silver status, it will be extended for 12 months thanks to your new card. Silver status entitles you to free breakfast, spa vouchers, airport transfers, VIP access lines and more at eligible properties.

Note, however, if you already have status with a branded hotel chain like Marriott or Hyatt, you forgo your status benefits and elite night credits with that hotel chain if you book through a third party like Hotels.com.

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You can definitely figure out this card's rewards program. You can. But after this description, you might not want to try.

But what are the rewards stamps worth? You’ll have to remember the number $110. Here’s why.

You need to accumulate 10 stamps for a “reward night.” No partial redemptions for, say, seven stamps.

So 10 stamps, and you can book any hotel room on Hotels.com? Uh, no. Not all stamps are created equal:

The value of your 10-stamp “reward night” is the average of your 10 stamps — again, with credit card-earned stamps worth $110. So, if you didn’t book any rooms through Hotels.com and earned your 10 stamps only with the credit card, then your reward is worth $110. But if you have a mix of bookings and credit card stamps, your reward could be more or less than $110, depending on how expensive your bookings were, which affects the average of the 10 stamps.

Whew.

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Want a simpler credit card that earns rewards you can use for hotel bookings? Try a general travel card that earns a flat rate back on all spending and lets you use your rewards for multiple forms of travel, including hotels. For example, the earns 2 miles for every $1 spent, and you can redeem rewards for any hotel or flight.

With an annual fee of , you don’t expect a massive . But even still, some might be a little disappointed with this one.

The current bonus: (The reward night excludes taxes and fees, which you'll have to pay.)

To maximize this bonus, you'd need to find a room that costs exactly $125 a night. If it costs more, you'll owe the difference. If it costs less, you don't get back the difference. That’s less than you get with most other major hotel credit cards, even ones with no annual fee.

A running theme here: The card's bonus, like its rewards, is not so much a "free night," but more like a dollar credit to use at Hotels.com.

Granted, Hotels.com boasts listings of 500,000 properties in more than 200 countries. So if you’re not chasing elite status with a particular brand, the could help get you free or discounted reward nights across a wide variety of properties.

But 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 earn 10 stamps.

Also, it has no travel partners to transfer rewards to.

For more flexibility, consider the . It offers bonus rewards in several popular categories, including travel and dining. Those points can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to several desirable hotel loyalty programs: Marriott, Hyatt and InterContinental Hotels Group (Holiday Inn, Staybridge, Crowne Plaza, among others).

It also comes with a great sign-up bonus: The annual fee is .

Many co-branded hotel cards come with a free anniversary night. While those cards typically come with an annual fee in the $100 range, using the free night can easily make up for the fee.

An example: The . With an annual fee of , it offers a Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after your account anniversary.

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The rewards rate might be decent overall, but there’s no way to earn extra points, not even for Hotels.com bookings. Hotel cards typically offer bonus rewards for hotel bookings and often other spending, such as restaurant dining.

Rewards expire after 12 months of inactivity, meaning you didn’t earn a stamp or redeem a reward during that time. So make sure you spend at least $500 a year on the card to earn a stamp and reset the expiration date.

In the end, the is a way to earn credit for booking rooms on Hotels.com. Its rewards value for spending on the card is decent and would be a good addition for those already immersed in the Hotels.com loyalty program. But for most people, a co-branded card with a name like Marriott, Hilton or Hyatt might serve them better if they can commit to one hotel chain.

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