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This is a multi-series post with the best credit card to use when paying at the following major hotel chains:
- Club Carlson
I am constantly being asked “What is the best credit card to use when I stay at a certain hotel chain?” While most hotels have their own co-branded credit card, there are also other cards out there that provide bonus points for hotel spend. So let’s compare to see which card is best to use when staying at a Marriott property.
There are currently three Marriott co-branded credit cards (2 personal and 1 business):
- Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card: This card offers 5x points at Marriott hotels
- Marriott Rewards Credit Card: This card offers 3x points at Marriott hotels
- Marriott Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card: This card offers 5x points at Marriott hotels
So with the co-branded cards you can earn either 3x or 5x points depending on which card you have. Aside from the points you earn on your spend, the main difference is that the Premier cards have a higher annual fee (personal card $85 and business card $95) then the non-premier card ($45) and the Premier cards come with a free night annually (category 1-5).
Marriott points are worth about .75 cents per point. Of course you can get a higher or lesser value based on your redemption, but this seems to be the average in the points and miles world. So if you want to think of how much cash back you are getting from using your credit card, with the Premier card you are getting 3.75% cash back and with the non-Premier card 2.25% cash back.
I personally wouldn’t recommend the non-Premier card as I’d prefer using a card that gives you a 2% cash back return and have money in my pocket now since it is a slight difference and points devalue over time. I actually see no value in the non-Premier version as it is only a $40 less annual fee then the Premier version and it does not come with the annual free night certificate (category 1-5). I am a Marriott Premier card member because of the annual free night certificate, although I hardly use the card for purchases.
Other cards to use instead the Marriott Premier card:
If you currently use the Marriott credit card, I’d suggest looking into your most recent redemptions and see what value you are getting from your points. If you typically redeem during peak times (Christmas, New Years, school vacations, etc.) then most likely you can get closer to .9 cents – 1 cent per point. Those redemptions make putting Marriott hotel spend on the Premier credit card worthwhile. But if you redeem because “free is free” and don’t really look at the valuation, then chances are you are getting a much lesser value. If you are getting more then .6 cents per point (which gives you a 3% cash back return – if you want to think of it like that), then using the Premier card for Marriott spend is still a good option (along with the cards listed below). If you are getting less then that, there are other options that will provide you with a better value.
- SimplyCash® Business Card from American ExpressThis card comes with a bunch of bonus category options and you are able to select 1 category out of the 7 given to get 3% cash back. If you select Hotels as your category you will get the 3% cash back on all hotel spend, including Marriott. This could be a better option as it is cash in your pocket now and you do not need to worry about limiting yourself to only a Marriott hotel for a future stay or having the points devalue even more. Also remember, when you pay for a stay instead of using points you earn points on your reservation, so there is an opportunity cost as well when using points.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred: This card gives you 2x points on all hotel spend. And if you were a card member prior to 7/20/2014 you’ll earn a 7% annual bonus on all points earned, meaning you’ll get 2.14x points at Marriott hotels. I value my Chase Ultimate Reward points at 2 cents per point (when transferring to an award partner), so the cash value you are getting is 4% back (or 4.28% back if you are entitled the 7% bonus). At the lowest value you can always redeem your points through Chase’s travel portal and cash in at a fixed 1.25 cents per point, giving you a cash value of 2.5% back (or 2.675% back if you are entitled the 7% bonus). When going through the portal to redeem your points you also earn points on your stay.
For me personally, I already have a bunch of Marriott points so I prefer using my Chase Sapphire Preferred card when staying at Marriott hotels. I typically get more then 2 cents per point value when redeeming my Chase Ultimate Reward points and I find the Marriott program to constantly devalue. I also like that I have more flexibility with my Ultimate Reward points.
What credit card do you use at Marriott hotels?
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links only for the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card. As always, thanks for supporting the blog and enjoy traveling on a deal!