Aug222008

Comparison of Hotel Loyalty Program Affinity Credit Cards

Comparison of Hotel Loyalty Program Affinity Credit Cards

Over the years in my conversations with travelers it seems to me that many people develop hotel loyalty based initially on their acquisition of a hotel loyalty program affinity credit card.  I frequently state that I don’t consider credit card earnings in my analysis of hotel stay promotions. 

Loyalty Traveler took a look at hotel loyalty credit cards for the major upscale hotel programs of Hilton HHonors, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) Priority Club Rewards, Marriott Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest.  The new card member bonuses and interest rates are based on the affinity card offer presently shown on the hotel loyalty program website on 8-22-08.

My analysis shows American Express affinity cards for Hilton HHonors and Starwood Preferred Guest have the greatest earning power based on a sample scenario of $15,000 in annual spending.  The Hilton HHonors American Express card has the best earning power for non-hotel spending as it awards a generous 5 points per $1 for restaurants, wireless phone payments, groceries, and gas.

Hilton HHonors VISA  (no annual fee)  Signature card (14.99%); Gold Card (16.99%)

Automatic upgrade to HHonors silver elite membership

·         Earn 6 HHonors points for every dollar spent at Hilton Family hotels.

·         3 HHonors points for purchases made at grocery stores, drugstores, and gas stations.

·         2 HHonors points for purchases made at other sites.

·         Enrollment bonus of 15,000 points for a purchase within two months of card membership.

 

Hilton HHonors American Express (no annual fee) (14.99%)

Automatic upgrade to HHonors silver elite membership and cardholder will be upgraded to Gold membership if $20,000 is charged to card in calendar year.

·         Earn 5 HHonors points for every dollar spent at Hilton Family hotels.

·         5 HHonors points for purchases made at grocery stores, drugstores, gas stations, restaurants, US postal service, and wireless phone bills.

·         3 HHonors points for purchases made at other sites.

·         Earn 500 points online booking bonus when booking your stay on a Hilton website with your HHonors American Express.

·         10,000 points bonus for first purchase within the first year of card membership.

·         2,500 points bonus for each of first four Hilton Family hotel stays paid with Hilton HHonors American Express card.

 

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) Priority Club Rewards VISA (12.99%)

·         $29 per year after no-fee first year

·         Earn 3 points per $1 spent at IHG hotels

·         Earn 1 point per $1 spent at other locations.

·         Receive a 10,000 points bonus for first purchase made after spending $15,000 or more in the card member’s year.  [LT note: The card member’s annual year is based on the enrollment date as a card member and subsequent anniversary dates – not the calendar year.]

·         One-time upgrade to Gold membership (a $50 value) through December of the year after the year of card member activation.  [LT note: This rule favors waiting until the beginning of a calendar year for maximizing the length of complimentary elite status.]

·         One-time bonus offer of 30,000 points after first purchase for first-time card members with new accounts.

·         One-time $20 credit on statement after first card purchase.

·         Priority Club VISA Business Card has same earning power except the spending bonus is 15,000 points bonus for first purchase made after spending $20,000 or more in the card member’s year. 

 

Marriott Rewards VISA (14.99%)

 

·         $30 per year after no-fee first year

·         Earn 3 points per $1 spent at Marriott Family hotels

·         Earn 1 point per $1 spent elsewhere.

·         10 nights credit toward elite status every year of card membership.

·         One-time bonus offer of 20,000 points after first purchase or balance transfer for first-time card members with new accounts.

·         One-time bonus offer of 5,000 points after first purchase for first-time card members with new accounts.

·         One-time free night certificate valid for a Category 1 to Category 4 hotel property.

 

Starwood Preferred Guest American Express (14.99%)

·         $45 per year after no-fee first year

·         Earn 2 points per $1 spent at Starwood brand hotels

·         Earn 1 point per $1 spent elsewhere.

·         One-time bonus offer of 10,000 points after first purchase during first year of card membership for first-time card members with new accounts.

 

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Comparison of hotel points earned annually by a new cardmember

Assume annual spending includes $3,000 at the hotel chain, $6,000 at grocery stores, drugstores, and gas stations, and $6,000 elsewhere during the membership year.

 

Hilton HHonors VISA

63,000 points for new member; ($630 value based on $10/1,000 points)

48,000 points without new member bonuses ($480 value)

New member bonus = 15,000 points

Hotel stays = $3,000 x 6 points = 18,000 points

Groceries and gas = $6,000 x 3 points = 18,000 points

Other charges = $6,000 x 2 points = 12,000 points

 

Hilton HHonors American Express

89,000 points for new member;  ($890 value based on $10/1,000 points)

69,000 points without new member bonuses ($690 value)

 

New member bonus = 10,000 points

Hotel stays = $3,000 x 5 points = 15,000 points

Groceries, gas, restaurants, wireless phone bill = $9,000 x 5 points = 45,000 points

Other charges = $3,000 x 3 points = 9,000 points

First four Hilton Family hotel stays = 10,000 points

 

 

Priority Club VISA

61,000 points for new member;  ($610 value based on $10/1,000 points)

31,000 points without new member bonus and spending $15,000+ annually  ($310 value)

21,000 points without bonuses for $15,000 in spending ($210 value)

 

New member bonus = 30,000 points

Hotel stays = $3,000 x 3 points = 9,000 points

Other charges = $12,000 x 1 points = 12,000 points

Bonus points for $15,000+ spending = 10,000 points

 

 

Marriott Rewards VISA

66,000 points for new member ($660 value based on $10/1,000 points)

21,000 points without new member bonuses ($210 value)

New member bonus = 25,000 points

Hotel stays = $3,000 x 3 points = 9,000 points

Other charges = $12,000 x 1 points = 12,000 points

One-time free night at Category 4 hotel = equivalent to 20,000 points

10 nights elite credit may or may not have significant value depending on member’s hotel lifestyle.  Mid-tier elite status requires 50 nights for Marriott Rewards Gold membership.

 

Starwood Preferred Guest American Express

28,000 points for new member ($980 value based on $35/1,000 points)

18,000 points without new member bonuses ($630 value)

New member bonus = 10,000 points

Hotel stays = $3,000 x 2 points = 6,000 points

Other charges = $12,000 x 1 points = 12,000 points

 

 

This is a simple analysis of the different affinity cards currently being offered through links on the hotel loyalty program websites.  Please provide comments to enlighten the Loyalty Traveler readers to other considerations not addressed in this summary.

 

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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Pingbacks

  1. […] I overlooked the AXON hotel stay option in this analysis.  I have a post from May 15, 2008 about the HHonors American Express AXON awards.  The HHonors American Express card, along with SPG AmEx, also came out on top in earning potential in my analysis of hotel co-branded credit cards in this post “Comparison of Hotel Loyalty Program Affinity Credit Cards“. […]

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