• The TUGBBS forums are completely free and open to the public and exist as the absolute best place for owners to get help and advice about their timeshares for more than 30 years!

    Join Tens of Thousands of other Owners just like you here to get any and all Timeshare questions answered 24 hours a day!
  • TUG started 30 years ago in October 1993 as a group of regular Timeshare owners just like you!

    Read about our 30th anniversary: Happy 30th Birthday TUG!
  • TUG has a YouTube Channel to produce weekly short informative videos on popular Timeshare topics!

    Free memberships for every 50 subscribers!

    Visit TUG on Youtube!
  • TUG has now saved timeshare owners more than $21,000,000 dollars just by finding us in time to rescind a new Timeshare purchase! A truly incredible milestone!

    Read more here: TUG saves owners more than $21 Million dollars
  • Sign up to get the TUG Newsletter for free!

    60,000+ subscribing owners! A weekly recap of the best Timeshare resort reviews and the most popular topics discussed by owners!
  • Our official "end my sales presentation early" T-shirts are available again! Also come with the option for a free membership extension with purchase to offset the cost!

    All T-shirt options here!
  • A few of the most common links here on the forums for newbies and guests!

[ 2011 ] What's the best hotel credit card

Nolathyme

TUG Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2007
Messages
363
Reaction score
12
Points
378
Location
MD
I've always had airline credit cards , now I'm thinking of picking up a hotel credit card. I plan on spending 10-20K per year on the card.

I would like a card that does not have black out dates or black out cities for big events.

I would use/redeem points for a 2 night stay at a high demand event (weekends mostly) or a mid-week stay in a convention city.


Any recommendations?
 

heathpack

TUG Review Crew: Veteran
TUG Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2008
Messages
4,659
Reaction score
3,763
Points
598
Location
Los Angeles
Resorts Owned
Hyatt High Sierra and Highland Inn
Disney’s Grand Californian and Hilton Head Island
Marriott Barony Beach and Mountainside
MVC Points
Sheraton Broadway Plantation
I've always had airline credit cards , now I'm thinking of picking up a hotel credit card. I plan on spending 10-20K per year on the card.

I would like a card that does not have black out dates or black out cities for big events.

I would use/redeem points for a 2 night stay at a high demand event (weekends mostly) or a mid-week stay in a convention city.


Any recommendations?

Starwood.

No blackout dates ever. Very useful. Here's what I routinely do with my SP:
1. Book hotel rooms for free, especially useful since I have an odd work schedule, if I take a week off, I don't have to be back to work for 10 days. I commonly add a few nights on either end of a TS trip.
2. Book high-end hotels rooms using "Cash & Points," where you pay a small fee plus a reduced number of points. This can save SP when you are going somewhere swank. If you didn't mind spending the points, you could always get this room free as well.
3. Transfer points out to (almost any) airline FF program, getting a 5k point bonus for each 20k you transfer
4. Use SPG flights to buy a ticket. When you exercise this option, SPG just buys you a plane ticket and you earn FF miles on it. This is a great option if there is a killer fare sale on a long route, eg Hawaii.

The Starwood program is an awesome complement to TS ownership IMO. Sometimes I just need to add a few nights at my destination. Sometimes, however, my best TS deal occurs on a timeframe in which my FF tix are "overpriced." If I don't have enough miles in whatever program for 2 tix, I commonly obtain one "overpriced" FF ticket and the second free ticket using SP. That way I don't pull my hair our trying to balance TS availability and FF ticket availability.

H
 

x3 skier

TUG Review Crew: Veteran
TUG Member
Joined
Apr 17, 2006
Messages
5,299
Reaction score
2,336
Points
649
Location
Ohio and Colorado
Resorts Owned
Steamboat Grand, The West,
Raintree and, formerly, The Allen House
Starwood is probably the best branded Hotel card but I use ones that allow for either cash back or transfer into any program.

Cheers
 

Cathyb

Tug Review Crew: Rookie
TUG Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2005
Messages
4,935
Reaction score
0
Points
36
Location
Carlsbad, CA
Thanks

Starwood.

No blackout dates ever. Very useful. Here's what I routinely do with my SP:
1. Book hotel rooms for free, especially useful since I have an odd work schedule, if I take a week off, I don't have to be back to work for 10 days. I commonly add a few nights on either end of a TS trip.
2. Book high-end hotels rooms using "Cash & Points," where you pay a small fee plus a reduced number of points. This can save SP when you are going somewhere swank. If you didn't mind spending the points, you could always get this room free as well.
3. Transfer points out to (almost any) airline FF program, getting a 5k point bonus for each 20k you transfer
4. Use SPG flights to buy a ticket. When you exercise this option, SPG just buys you a plane ticket and you earn FF miles on it. This is a great option if there is a killer fare sale on a long route, eg Hawaii.

The Starwood program is an awesome complement to TS ownership IMO. Sometimes I just need to add a few nights at my destination. Sometimes, however, my best TS deal occurs on a timeframe in which my FF tix are "overpriced." If I don't have enough miles in whatever program for 2 tix, I commonly obtain one "overpriced" FF ticket and the second free ticket using SP. That way I don't pull my hair our trying to balance TS availability and FF ticket availability.

H

H: Appreciate your tips on cash and points. We travel to Hawaii often and sometimes their ffmile requirements (like during Christmas) is outrageous!
 

heathpack

TUG Review Crew: Veteran
TUG Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2008
Messages
4,659
Reaction score
3,763
Points
598
Location
Los Angeles
Resorts Owned
Hyatt High Sierra and Highland Inn
Disney’s Grand Californian and Hilton Head Island
Marriott Barony Beach and Mountainside
MVC Points
Sheraton Broadway Plantation
H: Appreciate your tips on cash and points. We travel to Hawaii often and sometimes their ffmile requirements (like during Christmas) is outrageous!

CathyB, the SPG Flights program rocks IMO. We booked Mr. H's Hawaii flights on Delta in Feb 2011 for Jan 2013, paid an outrageous 65k miles for his RT flight.

Later in the summer, there was an airfare sale, the same flights were only $455 RT, with SPG flights that would have been 35k points, plus we would have earned FF miles on the trip. Unfortunately, we had already paid cash for my flights, the best we could do at that point was rebook my Delta flights at the lower fare.

However this will not be a great option is airfares are high, like over Christmas. If the flights are $850 RT, for example, SPG flights will charge you 65k points for them. Still marginally better than using a FF ticket because you earn miles on the flights, but not as awesome a deal by any means.

H
 

x3 skier

TUG Review Crew: Veteran
TUG Member
Joined
Apr 17, 2006
Messages
5,299
Reaction score
2,336
Points
649
Location
Ohio and Colorado
Resorts Owned
Steamboat Grand, The West,
Raintree and, formerly, The Allen House
I did Starwood cash and points in Oct for a night at the Hotel Pulitzer (5*) in Amsterdam for $60. Rack rate was >$250. Love that system but since my travels have diminished, I use Hilton almost exclusively.

Cheers
 

linsj

TUG Review Crew: Veteran
TUG Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2006
Messages
2,216
Reaction score
447
Points
443
Location
Indianapolis
Resorts Owned
HGVC
While the Starwood card is good for all the reasons mentioned above, at least look at the Hilton Amex. If you spend $20,000/year on it, you'll get gold status that gets you free breakfast and Internet, among other benefits. Hilton also has far more hotels than Starwood. Hilton also has a Visa card for places that don't take Amex.
 

PigsDad

TUG Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2006
Messages
10,116
Reaction score
7,150
Points
898
Location
Colorado and SW Florida
Resorts Owned
HGVC Elite: SeaWorld, Surf Club, Charter Club, Valdoro
I have been very pleased w/ my Hilton Amex. As linsj mentioned, you can obtain program status just by credit card use -- I don't know of other cards that provide that perk. That perk alone (obtaining Gold status) was worth about $30-40/day on free breakfasts and internet when we traveled to Italy. With Gold, you get free upgraded rooms, and access to the executive lounge (free drinks, snacks, happy hour, etc.).

HHonors is in the process of rolling out points+cash option, I think in response to the popularity of the Starwood program. I have not really looked into that yet, so I'm not so sure how it compares.

If you stay at some more expensive places (NYC, Europe, for example), you can get very good value from the points earned via the credit card -- way more value than a mileage card, in my experience.

Kurt
 

heathpack

TUG Review Crew: Veteran
TUG Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2008
Messages
4,659
Reaction score
3,763
Points
598
Location
Los Angeles
Resorts Owned
Hyatt High Sierra and Highland Inn
Disney’s Grand Californian and Hilton Head Island
Marriott Barony Beach and Mountainside
MVC Points
Sheraton Broadway Plantation
You do get gold status in the SPG program with $30k in annual AMEX spending. However in SPG that basically gets you butkus. Except for a pretty gold card.

H
 

PigsDad

TUG Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2006
Messages
10,116
Reaction score
7,150
Points
898
Location
Colorado and SW Florida
Resorts Owned
HGVC Elite: SeaWorld, Surf Club, Charter Club, Valdoro
You do get gold status in the SPG program with $30k in annual AMEX spending. However in SPG that basically gets you butkus. Except for a pretty gold card.

H
With the HHonors Surpass Amex ($65? annual fee), you can obtain HHonors Diamond status -- the highest HHonors status -- with $40K annual purchases. On FlyerTalk, frequent travelers are generally upset that people can obtain that status w/o the stay requirements (diluting the "prestige").

Kurt
 

heathpack

TUG Review Crew: Veteran
TUG Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2008
Messages
4,659
Reaction score
3,763
Points
598
Location
Los Angeles
Resorts Owned
Hyatt High Sierra and Highland Inn
Disney’s Grand Californian and Hilton Head Island
Marriott Barony Beach and Mountainside
MVC Points
Sheraton Broadway Plantation
With the HHonors Surpass Amex ($65? annual fee), you can obtain HHonors Diamond status -- the highest HHonors status -- with $40K annual purchases. On FlyerTalk, frequent travelers are generally upset that people can obtain that status w/o the stay requirements (diluting the "prestige").

Kurt

Kurt, is there usefulness to HHonors program beyond hotel stays? Anything like the transfer to airline FF programs or SPG flights? I find those so useful, would hate to give them up.

But, could totally make $40k in spending per year, might be nice to have real status with some hotel chain.....

H
 

MichaelColey

TUG Review Crew: Expert
TUG Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2010
Messages
4,924
Reaction score
112
Points
299
Location
Mansfield, TX
Resorts Owned
Palace View Branson (4 Lockouts), Grandview (Points), CMV (UDI), DVC (SSR 25)
I normally suggest the Starwood AmEx as the best hotel credit card, but for the OP I think the base (not Surpass) Hilton AmEx might be best. $20k in spending gets Gold, and there are many more Hilton family hotels (especially Hampton Inns) around the US than the Starwood family hotels. Plus, they just started a cash & points plan similar to Starwood's, which lets you stretch your points. And there's no annual fee.

For most others, I would still suggest Starwood. The option to transfer to miles (with a 5k bonus per 20k transferred) is a great value.

Hilton does block for some large, major events, but generally they have excellent availability.
 

PigsDad

TUG Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2006
Messages
10,116
Reaction score
7,150
Points
898
Location
Colorado and SW Florida
Resorts Owned
HGVC Elite: SeaWorld, Surf Club, Charter Club, Valdoro
Kurt, is there usefulness to HHonors program beyond hotel stays? Anything like the transfer to airline FF programs or SPG flights? I find those so useful, would hate to give them up.

But, could totally make $40k in spending per year, might be nice to have real status with some hotel chain.....

H
No, HHonors is basically just for hotel stays. They used to transfer to FF miles on some airlines, but I seem to recall their conversion rates were not that good. Certainly not like the good deal you get w/ your Starwood card. HHonors does have some decent "VIP" codes that can be used to discount the number of points needed on 4+ night stays.

But having Diamond has been a nice benefit (we have had it for 2 years now w/ the Surpass card). Having access to the "Diamond Desk" (special customer service center) is nice, and there are additional little perks over Gold status (extras in the rooms, bonus points for cash stays, etc.).

The main reason we keep using the Hilton card is due to number of hotel location, and we are good about using the points for good value (more expensive stays).

Hilton does block for some large, major events, but generally they have excellent availability.
Hilton advertises the "no blackout dates" as well for using HHonors points.

I did use the "force" option of my Diamond status once. This option guarantees a room, even if the hotel is "sold out". We were making a last-minute trip to Phoenix, and the hotel we wanted to stay in had no availability when checking online. I called the Diamond desk, and the next day they called me back with my reservation. To top it off, I could even use points (it was Thanksgiving weekend, and the cash rates were high for that weekend). They even manipulated my reservation so that it used less points than I was expecting. Now that was customer service, and will likely keep me loyal to Hilton!

Kurt
 

travelguy

TUG Member
Joined
Jun 8, 2005
Messages
938
Reaction score
0
Points
226
Note that the Starwood SPG card has an annual fee ($65?). I have been successful in getting them to at least reduce the fee through the "retention" dept when the fee comes due. Although this year I was told that they cannot give me a credit on the annual fee since I received a credit against it last year. :confused:

I love the SPG card and use it as a primary card. I use the SPG points for airline FF miles but it is a GREAT hotel use card. It may also be one of the most flexible cards for use across many sectors.
 

MichaelColey

TUG Review Crew: Expert
TUG Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2010
Messages
4,924
Reaction score
112
Points
299
Location
Mansfield, TX
Resorts Owned
Palace View Branson (4 Lockouts), Grandview (Points), CMV (UDI), DVC (SSR 25)
Hilton advertises the "no blackout dates" as well for using HHonors points.

I did use the "force" option of my Diamond status once. This option guarantees a room, even if the hotel is "sold out".
Maybe I'm confusing those two programs. I know that I was refused on a Diamond force once because of extraordinary demand due to an event. (There are a NASCAR race at the same time as a funeral we were attending.)
 

Talent312

TUG Review Crew: Veteran
TUG Member
Joined
Jul 4, 2007
Messages
17,629
Reaction score
7,470
Points
948
Resorts Owned
HGVC & GTS
I dunno much 'bout Starwood -- nice place at the Frankfurt airport.

However, using HH-points, my gold status with the "VIP" discount for stays of 4+ nights, I stayed for a week at a Hilton in D.C. with breakfast daily, two blocks from the White House... and barely noticed the dent in my account.
 
Last edited:

Nolathyme

TUG Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2007
Messages
363
Reaction score
12
Points
378
Location
MD
Best Hilton or Starwood Credit Card - What's the math?

Thanks for all the replies from my earlier post.

Can someone give me an idea on actually using the points in the first two years?

Also, what sign up bonus points offer should I wait for?

For instance , here is my example for justifying my SW Airlines card:

First year - 25K sign up points + $20K usage = 45K points
1 pt = .016 , so 45K points = $720
(point value based on 25K points = $400 plane ticket. All other airlines I would put the value of 25K at a $200 - $300 plane ticket, but SWA tickets are fully refundable)

Annual Fee = $99
Value : $720 - $99 = $621

Second Year $20K usage + 6K renewal bonus = 26K points
1 pt = .016, so 26K points = $416
 

slomac

TUG Review Crew: Veteran
TUG Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2008
Messages
541
Reaction score
14
Points
379
Location
Carlsbad
Resorts Owned
The Ridge Tahoe x2

Grand Pacific Palisades

Marriott Shadow Ridge

SDO

Kauai Beach Villas
No one mentioned the marriott visa card but I will since i have it. You get a free cat 5 night stay every year. Also 15 nights towards elite status and for evey $3000 you spend you get another night added to elite status. I have been able to obtain gold status since I have the card. Also you get 5 points for every dollar spent on the card at Marriott. I really only use it when I stay at Marriott and and pay my marriott maint dues but I think it is welll worth the $65 annual fee considering you get the free night every year.
 

Talent312

TUG Review Crew: Veteran
TUG Member
Joined
Jul 4, 2007
Messages
17,629
Reaction score
7,470
Points
948
Resorts Owned
HGVC & GTS
Can someone give me an idea on actually using the points in the first two years?

Fixing a point-value for a hotel-affinity card is not easy 'cuz it depends on variables, such as:
-- the number of points earned per $$ spent and various bonuses;
-- the points needed for the hotel class (Hilton has 7) and applicable discounts.

HHonors' Am-Ex card earns from 3 to 6 points (hotels & listed consumer items) per $$ spent + bonuses.
Most Hilton rooms can be had for 25-50K/night, depending on the class of hotel.
So you see the problem. But use the card for most daily activities and the points add up quickly.

The signing-bonus for the HHonors Am-Ex card is 40K for spending $750 in the first 90 days.
There is no annual fee, unless you go for the "surpass" card with the extra perks.
 
Last edited:

wackymother

TUG Review Crew: Veteran
TUG Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2005
Messages
5,664
Reaction score
1,387
Points
598
Location
NJ
No one mentioned the marriott visa card but I will since i have it. You get a free cat 5 night stay every year. Also 15 nights towards elite status and for evey $3000 you spend you get another night added to elite status. I have been able to obtain gold status since I have the card. Also you get 5 points for every dollar spent on the card at Marriott. I really only use it when I stay at Marriott and and pay my marriott maint dues but I think it is welll worth the $65 annual fee considering you get the free night every year.

I have this too, and I like it--the black card. But I think my free night is categories 1-4? No? Also, the annual fee is going up to $85 next year, don't know if you saw that letter.

Another good thing about the Marriott card is that they often have promos where you get a free night for every two stays.
 

IngridN

TUG Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2005
Messages
1,610
Reaction score
200
Points
423
Location
San Francisco Bay Area
Resorts Owned
Marriotts: Aruba Surf Club, Grand Chateau, Shadow Ridge
I have this too, and I like it--the black card. But I think my free night is categories 1-4? No? Also, the annual fee is going up to $85 next year, don't know if you saw that letter.

Another good thing about the Marriott card is that they often have promos where you get a free night for every two stays.

I think it's a cat 5...unless they have recently downgraded to cat 4.

Ingrid
 

slomac

TUG Review Crew: Veteran
TUG Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2008
Messages
541
Reaction score
14
Points
379
Location
Carlsbad
Resorts Owned
The Ridge Tahoe x2

Grand Pacific Palisades

Marriott Shadow Ridge

SDO

Kauai Beach Villas
The renewal on the card gives you a category 1-5 stay. When they have the promos that give you a free night stay for every second stay it is category 1-4. I love those free nights, I get about 3 -4 per year.
 

sfwilshire

TUG Review Crew: Expert
TUG Member
Joined
Jun 7, 2005
Messages
4,146
Reaction score
250
Points
448
Location
Clinton TN
Resorts Owned
Tristram's Landing, Tree Tops Gatlinburg, Mystic Dunes, Sheraton Vistana Spas & Fountains
I have this too, and I like it--the black card. But I think my free night is categories 1-4? No? Also, the annual fee is going up to $85 next year, don't know if you saw that letter.

Another good thing about the Marriott card is that they often have promos where you get a free night for every two stays.

The free night for every two stays (and other promotions) are open to all Marriott Rewards members. The credit card makes no difference on those. This week will complete my Fall Megabonus nights and give me 50K points.

I can't say that I'm happy about the increase in price, but since you don't pay any taxes on the free nights, it's the same as paying about $60 - $65 + tax if it costs you $85. Can't find many Marriotts at that price point. We use these in transit between home and distant timeshares.

I did wind up cancelling my card and applying for another one at a different time of year. My original card had a Fall renewal date, which made our free cert which expires in 6 months difficult to use. The second time I signed up in the late Spring, so we can use the cert anytime in the summer.

Sheila
 

Nolathyme

TUG Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2007
Messages
363
Reaction score
12
Points
378
Location
MD
Fixing a point-value for a hotel-affinity card is not easy 'cuz it depends on variables, such as:
-- the number of points earned per $$ spent and various bonuses;
-- the points needed for the hotel class (Hilton has 7) and applicable discounts.

HHonors' Am-Ex card earns from 3 to 6 points (hotels & listed consumer items) per $$ spent + bonuses.
Most Hilton rooms can be had for 25-50K/night, depending on the class of hotel.
So you see the problem. But use the card for most daily activities and the points add up quickly.

The signing-bonus for the HHonors Am-Ex card is 40K for spending $750 in the first 90 days.
There is no annual fee, unless you go for the "surpass" card with the extra perks.

My quick math for the Hilton AmEX card is:

1st year - 40K sign up + $20,000 * 3 = 60K points = 100K

cat 4 hotel = 30K per night
cat 4 hotel = $300 per night

Value : 100K = $1,000
 

PigsDad

TUG Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2006
Messages
10,116
Reaction score
7,150
Points
898
Location
Colorado and SW Florida
Resorts Owned
HGVC Elite: SeaWorld, Surf Club, Charter Club, Valdoro
My quick math for the Hilton AmEX card is:

1st year - 40K sign up + $20,000 * 3 = 60K points = 100K

cat 4 hotel = 30K per night
cat 4 hotel = $300 per night

Value : 100K = $1,000
It gets better. As a Silver, Gold or Diamond member, you can use the VIP awards. For 102K points, you can stay 4 nights at a cat 3 or 4 hotel (see VIP awards chart).

However, I think your $300/night valuation for a cat 4 hotel is high. Of course, there are high-demand locations, but I think they tend to be cat 5 or 6. The other thing I would mention is that I average closer to 4 points per $, due to the bonus points on several categories. I think the last time I calculated it I was at 3.8 points per $. YMMV.

For more information than you will ever need to know regarding Hilton HHonors rewards, see this thread on FlyerTalk -- it is a wealth of information!

Kurt
 
Last edited:
Top