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An ideal hotel card for a brand-agnostic traveler: A review of the Hotels.com credit card

June 15, 2021
8 min read
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Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card overview

The Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card (rates & fees) offers flexibility for travelers who aren't loyal to a specific hotel brand. And with no foreign currency conversion fees and travel protection benefits, this no-annual-fee card has some decent perks going for it. However, the lack of category bonuses and an unorthodox redemption process hamper this otherwise solid offering. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐½

The information for the Hotels.com Rewards Visa has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.

Frequent travelers are generally best off booking hotels directly to earn points and status. However, those who are newer to the world of travel rewards -- or those that are free agents and brand-agnostic -- may prefer to use a third-party website.

Related: Online travel agency vs. booking direct: Your guide to the best way to book your next hotel

Hotels.com, part of the Expedia Group, is one of the largest online travel agencies (OTA) that specialize in accommodations, and they also offer a travel rewards credit card.

If you prefer the simplicity of booking hotel stays through an OTA, specifically Hotels.com, the card may be a fit for you. However, know that there are some drawbacks to keep in mind. Let's dive in.

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Who is this card for?

The Hotels.com credit card is best for those that already book through the Hotels.com platform and are familiar with its rewards program. However, infrequent travelers -- and those who don't care enough about a specific chain -- may also find this card valuable.

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This card allows you to earn Hotel.com rewards on everyday spending while bouncing between brands and even when staying at non-chain properties. Cardholders have over 500,000 properties worldwide they can choose from when booking a trip through Hotels.com. There are no blackout dates, either.

However, you can only redeem for hotel stays through Hotels.com -- there is no option to cash out your rewards any other way.

Related: How to maximize Hotels.com Rewards for rewards nights and more

Sign-up bonus

New cardholders will earn up to three hotel reward nights worth $375 total (max. $125 per night) with qualifying purchases. Earn two reward nights worth $250 total (max $125 per night), when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months. Plus, earn another rewards night worth $125 when you spend $4,000 in total purchases within the first six months.

Here's how the reward nights work.

First, you must have an open and active Hotels.com Rewards membership to receive the reward nights. Also, like all reward nights with Hotels.com, you are responsible for taxes, fees and other charges. Note that this can add up, especially if a hotel charges a resort fee, destination fee, etc.

If you do end up booking a hotel night that costs more than $125, you pay the difference. If it costs less than $125, you lose the difference.

How to earn

(Photo courtesy of Hotels.com)

The major benefit of this card is the ability to earn additional Hotels.com rewards from everyday spending. Unfortunately, there are no category bonuses to speak of -- and no bonuses for booking through Hotels.com. However, Hotels.com does offer a solid, albeit slightly confusing, loyalty program.

Hotels.com rewards function as a "stamp" system whereby 10 "stamps," — essentially 10 paid hotel nights — get you one reward hotel night.

The credit card offers the ability to earn stamps from spending. By spending $500 on the Hotels.com credit card, you earn one "stamp". That means, by spending $5,000 on your credit card, you'll earn enough for one reward hotel night.

You can also choose to mix and match some card spending and some paid hotel stays to earn a reward night. (i.e. $2,500 in card spending and 5 paid nights or any combination).

That's all simple enough, but here's the slightly tricky part. When you book 10 nights through the website or app, and you’ll earn one reward night, with the value of the reward night equivalent to the average cost of your 10 paid nights.

The stamp you earn for spending $500 isn't based on a hotel booking, so Hotels.com values one stamp from card spending at a fixed value: $110. That doesn't seem like much, but if you redeem a reward night you earned solely from purchases, your reward night is equivalent to a 2.2% rewards rate ($110/$5000).

Main benefits and perks

The Hotels.com card includes cellphone coverage. (Photo by criene/Twenty20)

Besides the ability to earn reward nights from card spending, the Hotels.com credit card has some solid perks, especially for a no-annual-fee card.

  • Cellphone insurance coverage: If you pay your monthly cellphone bill with the card, you get up to $600 protection against damage or theft (with a $25 deductible). This benefit does not cover lost cellphones.
  • Trip cancellation, interruption or delay: Your spouse and children are covered up to $2,000 each if you paid for the full cost of the trip with your card.
  • Travel accident insurance: If you pay for a trip with this card, you and your immediate family are insured up to $150,000 for a covered loss.
  • Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
  • No foreign currency conversion fee
  • Hotels.com Silver status as long as your card is open: Status with Hotels.com gets you priority customer service when calling in for assistance, early access to deals and promotions and sometimes even perks such as free breakfast or room upgrades (but these benefits aren't often seen)

Related: Best credit cards with no annual fee

How to redeem

It may make the most sense to redeem at non-chain hotels, like the Ace Hotel. (Photo by Andrew Kunesh/The Points Guy)

The best part about redeeming a reward night with Hotels.com is the ability to use it for almost any hotel stay on any date. Once you reach 10 nights, you’ll have a reward night which you can apply at checkout.

However, remember that the value of the reward night is the average value of your 10 paid nights. If any of your stamps were earned from credit card spending ($500 = 1 reward night), then the value of that stamp is fixed at $110.

The reward night value will also never cover taxes and fees, so you’ll still be on the hook for those even if your reward night average value is higher than the cost of the night you’re covering. If you want to use your reward night for a hotel that’s more expensive than the value of your reward night, you can use it and pay the difference in cost.

Which cards compete with the Hotels.com credit card?

There are other hotel rewards credit cards from specific brands that compete with the Hotels.com credit card. There are no-annual-fee options from Hilton and Marriott, for instance.

The Hilton Honors American Express Card is an entry-level hotel card with no annual fee (see rates & fees). It’s a card that is ideal for beginners and offers an array of perks for those that want to be loyal to the Hilton portfolio of brands. Meanwhile, the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card is the no-annual-fee card option in Marriott’s lineup and offers a way to start earning points and a jump start to elite status.

In addition, a no-annual-fee card such as the Chase Freedom Flex offers an impressive return across a number of spending categories, and the card becomes even more valuable when you pair it with a Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card that has an annual fee.

Bottom line

While it doesn't make sense for frequent travelers who book directly through a hotel's website, the Hotels.com credit card does fill a niche for a certain demographic. That niche includes people newer to the world of travel rewards or those that are completely brand agnostic towards a specific hotel chain.

Remember that for bookings made with online travel agencies like Hotels.com, in most cases you won’t earn hotel points or elite credit, and the properties don’t have to honor your existing elite status.

However, the 2.2% return you get is solid and all in all, the Hotels.com card is a decent option and worth investigating if it fits your specific needs.

Apply here: Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card

For rates and fees of the Amex Hilton card, click here.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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Rewards

1 - 5X points
5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.

Intro offer

Earn 150,000 points120,000 points
The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$695

Recommended Credit

670-850
Good, Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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Rewards Rate

5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 150,000 points
    120,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.