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Summer Churn-i-versity Day 5: Hotel Credit Cards

We’re just about there! Let’s take a look at the major hotel credit card offers that are available for your churning and bonus pleasure.

Club Carlson Premier (US Bank)

Pro: There are 2 versions. The “Premier” version earns you 50,000 points after first purchase then 35,000 additional points after spending $2,500 in 3 months. Plus you get 1 free night when you redeem 2 nights. And you’ll get Gold Elite status. $75 fee is not waived ($60 fee on their Business version). The “Rewards” card gets you 50,000 points after first purchase and 10,000 points after you spend $1,500 in 3 months. You’ll also earn Silver elite status. $50 annual fee is not waived.
Con: They’re redeemable at Radissons, which in the US are generally quite average 3-star properties. However, overseas they’re generally nice hotels.
Overall thought: It’s actually a really good bonus that, unless you’re planning on using it overseas, will get you free nights at hotels you can pick up on Priceline for $60.

Fairmont Credit Card (Chase)

Pro: 2 free nights after with breakfast after spending $1,000 in 3 months. Fairmont Premier elite status.
Con: $95 annual fee isn’t waived. Though if you apply through this link the first year fee is waived.
Overall thought: Also a really solid bonus. Shame there are barely any Fairmonts. I would only get this card if you plan on actually staying at a specific Fairmont in the next year.

Hilton (there are a bunch of cards)

Hilton Amex: 50,000 points after $750 spend in 3 months. Silver elite status. No annual fee
Hilton Amex Surpass: 40,000 points after first purchase, 25,000 after $3,000 in 3 months. Gold Elite status first year (free breakfast and Internet). $75 fee is not waived. You can only get the bonus on one of these cards.
Citi Hilton Hhonors Reserve: 2 free weekend nights at any Hilton after $2,500 in 4 months. Gold status. $95 fee not waived.
Citi Hilton Visa: 50,000 points after spending $1,000 in 4 months. No annual fee.

Pros: Really easy to earn Hilton points through credit card signups. You can churn the Citi versions of the card (2 cards in 65 days)
Cons: Hilton recently changed their program so top properties now cost a wayyyyy lot more than they used to. Not a ton of great properties, but plenty of solid 4-star options.
Overall thought: I used to be very hot on Hilton points, but considering the recent devaluation I’m staying away from them.

Hyatt Credit Card (Chase)
Pros: 2 free nights at any Hyatt after $1,000 spend in 3 months. Platinum Status.
Cons: $95 fee not waived. There aren’t a ton of Hyatts (compared to Marriott, Hilton or Starwood).
Overall thought: Hyatt’s top properties are only 22,000 points a night (32,000 for a suite) so it’s great to transfer Ultimate Rewards points into here.

Marriott Rewards Visa (Chase)
Pros: 70,000 points PLUS 1 night at a category 1-4 hotel after you spend $1,000 in 3 months. $85 fee is waived the first year.
Cons: Perhaps that the regular offer is 50k, but this 70k deal has been around for a while. And that the extra free night is only at category 1-4 hotels.
Overall thought: Marriott’s program is solid, but not spectacular. You do have a wide range of property options, though.

Priority Club Visa (Chase)
Pros: 80,000 points (through this link) after $1,000 spend in 3 months. $49 fee waived the first year. Platinum Status.
Cons: Crowne Plaza? Holiday Inn?
Overall thought: Generous initial bonus, but I can get most of these hotels cheap on Priceline. No thanks.

Starwood American Express Cards

Pros: The granddaddy of all hotel cards and widely considered to be the best hotel program (if not the best loyalty program) out there. 10,000 points after first purchase then another 15,000 points after $5,000 spend in 6 months. $65 annual fee waived the first year. A huge range of properties, including some incredible ones.
Cons: Those 25,000 points are basically 1 night in a top hotel. That bonus is good, not great. Also earning points via stays will get you nowhere – what they give you (5 points per dollar at Starwood Hotels) is horrible.
Overall thought: This was my day-to-day card for quite a while. They allow you to transfer points into a whole bunch of airline programs and you get a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer. That’s a huge benefit. Add that to the incredible array of properties they have, and this program is a winner.

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  1. This is a wonderful and very helpful series! I did, however, want to point out that the Citi HHonors Reserve card requires a $2,500 minimum spend in four months before the two free weekend nights issue, per the official landing page.

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