Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card review: Best hotel redemption selection?

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Snapshot

Bottom line

While occupying a unique niche in the hotel credit card space that offers infrequent guests reward nights stays through everyday spending, this card lacks the overall flexibility and value of general travel or cash back cards.

Wells Fargo Image

Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card

Rewards rate

1 Stamp

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

Limited Time Offer! Get 3 reward nights worth $375 total (max $125 per night)*

Regular APR

17.99% to 25.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)

Hotels.com Rewards Visa Credit Card Overview

Guests looking for a more flexible alternative to brand-focused hotel credit cards can earn and redeem reward nights at over 500,000 locations with the Hotels.com Rewards Visa Credit Card.

The Hotels.com Rewards card from Wells Fargo doesn’t carry a boatload of travel bells and whistles like annual hotel credits or room upgrades. However, Hotels.com reward nights are perhaps the most versatile hotel rewards available since they can be used with any brand or vacation rental in Hotels.com’s vast catalog. This card’s ability to earn such flexible reward nights through everyday spending makes it plenty valuable for a no-annual-fee credit card.

Ultimately, this card is an excellent fit for both occasional travelers and people with multiple hotel cards. Some hotel cards may tie your reward earning and redemption opportunities to stays with one hotel chain, but the Hotels.com Rewards card’s unique stamp system means you can earn rewards on your usual purchases. You can then redeem your stamps for free nights at the most convenient brand for your trip — or even at properties that don’t usually offer reward stays.

What are the pros and cons?

Pros

  • Users can redeem reward nights at over 500,000 properties worldwide, including non-hotel options and properties that typically don’t offer reward nights
  • Cardholders can earn stamps toward a reward night on all spending
  • Offers several valuable perks for a no-annual-fee card, including trip cancellation and interruption protection and up to $600 cellphone protection against damage or theft (up to two claims per year minus a $25 deductible)
  • This card doesn’t pose an annual fee, foreign currency conversion fee or redemption blackout dates

Cons

  • Unless you frequently spend on hotel stays, you must spend $5,000 for a reward night worth $110 or less
  • Your rewards will expire if you haven’t booked with Hotels.com in 12 months
  • The only redemption option available is a Hotels.com-eligible reward night

A deeper look at the current card offer

Quick highlights

  • Rewards rate: 1 stamp per $500 in purchases with your card, plus 1 stamp earned as a rewards member per night at an eligible Hotels.com property (10 stamps = 1 reward night for Hotels.com bookings)
  • Welcome offer: (Limited-time offer) Up to 3 reward nights* worth a total of $375: Earn 2 reward nights after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months, plus another reward night after spending $4,000 in total purchases in the first six months. *Each night worth up to $125, excluding taxes and fees. If a night costs less than $125, you won’t get the difference.
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Purchase intro APR: N/A
  • Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 17.99 percent to 25.99 percent (Variable APR)

Current welcome offer

The latest limited-time welcome offer on the Hotels.com Rewards Visa offers decent value for a no-annual-fee rewards card. With qualifying purchases, you can earn a total of 3 reward nights worth up to $375 in hotel stays, with each reward night carrying a maximum value of $125 (excludes taxes and fees, and if a night costs less than $125, you won’t get the difference).

The bonus breaks down into two tiers: You’ll earn the first two reward nights after spending $1,000 in your first three months and an additional reward night if you spend a total of $4,000 in your first six months. This is a huge step up from the card’s previous offer of a single reward night after a $1,000 spend in your first three months.

While the limited-time offer is impressive considering it normally takes spending $5,000 to earn 1 reward night worth $110 with this card, it may still fall short of other popular no-annual-fee travel cards’ bonuses. This is due mostly to the high spending required to earn all of the reward nights. For example, though it may offer a lower total bonus value, the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card bonus is much more attainable, only requiring a $500 spend in your first three months to earn 20,000 miles (worth $200 when redeemed through the Capital One travel portal).

That said, if you’re considering the Hotels.com Rewards Visa, the current bonus makes now a great time to apply. This limited-time offer is one of the most valuable intro bonuses available for a general-purpose hotel card with no annual fee.

Rewards rate

The Hotels.com Rewards Visa card offers a simpler way to earn rewards than many other hotel rewards programs. Instead of loyalty points that you can redeem for reward nights, you earn “stamps” toward a reward night at any eligible property in Hotels.com’s vast catalog.

This limits what your rewards can be used for, but it might be easier if you don’t want to keep track of differing rewards values and hunting down the best redemption option. Another benefit of this program is that you may be able to earn reward nights for properties that don’t normally offer complimentary stays, including bed and breakfasts, boutique hotels and vacation rentals.

How you earn

There are two ways to earn 1 stamp. First, any rewards program member who stays a night at an eligible hotel or vacation rental through Hotels.com earns a stamp per eligible night. Then, cardholders can earn an additional stamp for each $500 in purchases made with the card.

This means that you can earn stamps faster by using your card to pay for your stay. For example, if you book a $175 room for three nights, you’ll earn 4 stamps (since you spent $525 on your stay).

How to redeem

Stamps can only be redeemed for reward nights at the cost of 10 stamps per night. Your reward night is valued according to the average value of all 10 stamps, which doesn’t include taxes or fees. That means that if you choose to use a reward night on a stay that costs more than the reward night value, you’ll have to pay the rest out of pocket.

On the flip side, if you book a night that costs less than the value of your reward, you won’t get the difference back. That means it’s best to save your rewards for higher-value stays.

There are no blackout dates on your reward nights, but there are a few caveats you should consider if you’re a less frequent traveler. For example, your rewards expire if you haven’t booked a stay or earned a stamp in 12 months. You also can’t transfer your stamps or pool them with another person’s account. Plus, you can’t use more than one reward night each night of your booking. That means if you wanted to book a second room for your family during your stay, you can only cover one of the rooms with your rewards.

How much are rewards worth?

Your stamp’s value is different depending on how you earned it. Each stamp earned for a night stay is valued at the price of your room (not counting taxes and fees), while each stamp earned from spending $500 on other purchases is currently worth $110 according to Hotels.com.

Since stamps earned via hotel stays don’t have a value limit, stamps and reward nights earned with stays can be worth much more.

You’re getting a 2.2 percent return with a reward night earned solely through your spending, Bankrate industry analyst Ted Rossman says. However, you’re getting a return of approximately 10 percent with the reward night earned from a 10-night hotel stay. That reward night can also be more valuable — a $799 per night honeymoon stay nets you another $799 night, for instance.

Other cardholder perks

The Hotels.com Rewards Visa card doesn’t carry many extra perks, let alone the luxury travel features and annual credits several other hotel credit cards offer.

However, the card carries a handful of useful perks, including cellphone protection, complimentary mid-tier elite status and trip interruption and cancellation protection. These features stand out as particularly impressive compared to those you’ll find on many no-annual-fee rewards cards.

Cellphone protection

Cellphone protection is a signature Wells Fargo credit card benefit, and it’s especially handy to have on a card that you use for your everyday expenses. In fact, the Hotels.com Rewards Visa is one of the few hotel cards that offer this perk.

If you pay your cellphone bill with your card, you can get reimbursed up to $600 per claim if your phone was stolen, lost or accidentally damaged (maximum of $1,200 in reimbursement each 12 months, subject to a $25 deductible).

Silver membership status

Hotels.com Rewards Visa cardholders will receive Silver membership status. Silver status is helpful for a smoother booking experience, but it doesn’t offer much in the way of luxury. Nevertheless, select properties offer Silver members free breakfast, Wi-Fi, airport transfers and spa vouchers (at “VIP Access” hotels).

The biggest perks revolve around priority customer service, including the “Price Guarantee Plus” and the “Hassle-free Travel Guarantee.” These two benefits allow you to change or cancel your booking if you find a better deal, and Hotels.com will match the price and refund the difference with minimal cancellation fees.

Fortunately, the card’s high rewards rate on everyday spending should make it easier to earn stamps that take you to even higher membership status. After you’ve earned 30 stamps, you’ll qualify for Gold membership status, which comes with better benefits including free room upgrades, early check-in and guaranteed late check-out (when available).

Travel interruption and cancellation protection

Travel interruption and cancellation protection is one of the more valuable types of travel insurance that you normally see on higher-end travel cards. Generally, this perk on premium cards reimburses you for non-refundable travel tickets or activities in the case of an accident or other qualifying personal reasons — like if you decide it isn’t safe to travel.

It’s rare for a no-annual-fee credit card to carry this kind of insurance, so that’s a plus. But this card’s particular interruption and cancellation coverage comes with a few caveats that may make it less helpful in many travel cancellation cases.

For example, the Hotels.com Rewards card won’t reimburse your tickets (up to $2,000 or the ticket total per covered traveler per trip, if lower) if you change your mind or cancel your travel for reasons including personal scheduling issues, inclement weather or concerns developing about your destination. Your interruption and cancellation reimbursement won’t even cover accidents, injury or illness if a doctor doesn’t specifically tell you to return home.

Rates and fees

There are no annual fees or foreign currency conversion fees, which is great news if you’re a casual traveler. You can still count any vacation purchases toward your stamps without worrying about fees eating into any reward nights you earn while traveling overseas.

Unfortunately, the Hotels.com Rewards Visa doesn’t currently offer zero-interest periods for new purchases or balance transfers like several other no-annual-fee rewards cards provide. The ongoing APR is 17.99 percent to 25.99 percent variable, depending on your creditworthiness.

How the Hotels.com Rewards Visa compares to other hotel cards

The Hotels.com card’s main appeal compared to other hotel credit cards is that it can earn rewards at 500,000+ properties around the world. Instead of having to stick with specific hotel chains just for the rewards, travelers get a remarkable amount of flexibility — since Hotels.com also allows beach resort, villa and even apartment bookings.

Although the Hilton Honors American Express Card and other brand-specific hotel cards may earn more valuable rewards and elite status benefits, the Hotels.com card could be a better choice for occasional guests less worried about luxury.

Wells Fargo Image

Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

Limited Time Offer! Get 3 reward nights worth $375 total (max $125 per night)*

Rewards rate

1 Stamp

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent(670 - 850)
Citi Image

Citi Premier® Card

Annual fee

$95

Intro offer

80,000 points

Rewards rate

1X–3X

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent(670 - 850)
American Express Image

Hilton Honors American Express Card

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 points

Rewards rate

3X–7X

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent(670 - 850)

Hotels.com Rewards Visa Credit Card vs. Citi Premier® Card

The Citi Premier® Card is one of the best general-purpose travel cards for occasional hotel guests. In fact, this card’s annual $100 hotel discount on a hotel stay of $500 or more can make up for the $95 annual fee on its own.

The Citi Premier earns 3X ThankYou Points on restaurant, supermarket, gas station, air travel and hotel purchases, plus 1X points on all other purchases. Although its 1X points on all other spending might not beat the Hotels.com card’s flat-rate 2.2 percent return value on the stamps it earns, the Citi Premier card’s excellent bonus category coverage and versatile redemption options make it a better pick if you’d like the flexibility to use your rewards for options other than hotels, including cash back, airfare and more.

However, the types of properties available for booking in Citi’s travel portal may be more limited than the range of vacation rentals and non-hotel properties you can find on Hotels.com. Plus, Hotels.com’s rewards-eligible bookings may also offer lower room rates than credit card issuer portals.

Hotels.com Rewards Visa Credit Card vs. Hilton Honors American Express Card

Hilton loyalists or people looking to get into the hotel elite status world will be amazed by the flexibility and well-roundedness of this no-annual-fee credit card. While not the most lucrative travel-related credit card on the market, its rewards program and array of perks can offer tremendous value. Cardholders attain Hilton Honors Silver elite status automatically, which provides benefits like digital check-in, free internet access and a fifth night free on award stays. On top of that, you’ll have an opportunity to earn an even better welcome offer: 80,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of card membership.

The Hilton Honors American Express Card earns 7X points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio, 5X points at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and U.S. restaurants and 3X points on all other purchases, giving its rewards program a bit more leeway than the Hotels.com Rewards Visa card if most of your spending comes through non-hotel purchases.

Few hotel cards with no annual fee offer the level of value that these two do, but the Hotels.com Rewards Visa card offers more in the way of additional benefits through its equivalent Silver membership status (free breakfast and Wi-Fi, spa vouchers at VIP Access properties and airport transfers) and Wells Fargo’s staple cellphone protection and a swath of travel insurance coverages like travel interruption and cancellation protection. On the other hand, the Hilton Honors American Express Card offers boosted rewards in a variety of categories that may better suit your spending preferences.

Best cards to pair with Hotels.com Rewards Visa

Your best choices to pair with the Hotels.com Rewards card depend on how often you travel, how you prefer to travel and what you spend the most money on.

If you picked the Hotels.com card for its versatility, then the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card can give you the same freedom with air travel. It earns unlimited 2X bonus miles per dollar on any purchase, though it does come with a $95 annual fee. You can redeem miles for travel with Capital One, transfer to an airline or hotel partner or redeem for a statement credit to cover any travel purchase made in the last 90 days.

On the other hand, cards that earn rewards on essentials — like the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express — are a great match since their reward rates can offer a better return on your biggest day-to-day expenses, like U.S. supermarket purchases. Meanwhile, you can use the Hotels.com card to earn stamps on all other purchases.

Bankrate’s Take: Is Hotels.com Rewards Visa worth it?

The Hotels.com Rewards Visa card is unique among branded hotel cards because it allows people that don’t stay at hotels often to earn rewards nights on day-to-day spending and use them at whatever property works best for them — including accommodations like privately-owned or luxury properties that wouldn’t offer complimentary stays otherwise.

But if you don’t visit hotels often, its limited travel features and lack of non-hotel redemption options may make it hard to get a lot of value out of the card. If that’s the case, a general travel card or a cash back card might be a more valuable and flexible option for occasional travelers.

The information about the Hotels.com Rewards Visa Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.