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

Jun 15, 2021

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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 Card 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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In This Post

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.

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 two hotel reward nights worth $250 total (max. $125 per night) after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. If you treat the $250 in reward nights as if it was $250 in cash, this is a solid sign-up bonus considering the $1,000 in spend required.

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.

Featured photo by John Gribben/The Points Guy. 

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.