Free nights or free flights? What’s best for you?
Major airlines pioneered the concept of rewards travel but, in many ways and for many travelers, the big hotel chains are now flying high in popularity.
Which credit cards and which awards programs to choose are obviously matters of personal choice, but here’s the case that many seasoned travelers make in favor of a card that’s associated with hotel rewards. Especially if you often stay at hotels.
You get to use them
One of the biggest complaints about airline programs is that it is getting harder and harder to actually cash in your miles. Not so with hotels. While booking a seat using miles might require planning ahead several months—even longer for international travel or popular routes—booking a hotel room can often be done at short notice.
Keep Reading: Who should get a hotel rewards card?
Compare the difference between trading points for your flight or for the nights at a hotel. Chances are if you’re taking a week’s vacation the cost of the hotel stay is going to be greater than the airfare. Do a cost analysis between the options and don’t forget to factor in some of the additional freebies that hotels may include.
What kind of “freebies” can you expect? How about complimentary room upgrades, and free wi-fi and parking? How about free breakfast on members-only floors? Maybe late check-out, too.
No hassles and no hidden fees
Sometimes the airlines seem to make you jump through hoops to use your miles. They have all kinds of black-out dates and other restrictions. And then they make you pay a fee to process your award. It’s different with hotel programs.
Even promoters of frequent flier plans say that they make a point of acquiring hotel points instead of airline miles. Really! The reasons? You can usually use hotel points to go towards airline miles but just try switching your airline miles into hotel nights. While you’re staying at the hotel you can also use your points for additional purchases charged to your room—meals, upgrades, a game of golf, or whatever. And, unlike with airlines, the credits you build in most hotel rewards programs never expire.
Keep Reading: How to choose the best travel rewards credit card
The large hotel chains have thousands of hotels. You can hop from city to city and enjoy tremendous variety.
Which one to choose?
Each card has its own unique blend of special benefits. So carefully examine all of your options. Some hotel reward credit card plans offer massive “signing bonuses” of up to 40,000 points, but you’ll probably have to spend several thousand dollars within several months to make sure you get them. Very much worth it, if you can do it.
The bottom line is this: become a savvy traveler and get the credit card rewards program that best fits your lifestyle.
Keep Reading: Travel destinations that give you the most bang for your buck
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