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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.

TPG featured card

Best for the well-traveled foodie
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
Go to review
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
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Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
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

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
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
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • 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
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees