Are you sick of frequent flier miles? The airlines have done a great job of squeezing the value out of these valuable programs, which were once an easy path to free flights. Yet when most people think about credit cards that offer travel rewards, they tend to still picture ones that offer airline miles. By looking beyond airline frequent flier programs, you can earn more versatile, and valuable travel rewards than you may have thought possible. Here are some of the major advantages hotel points have over airline miles.
Superior award availability
While airlines have been raising the number of miles required for an award flight and cutting the number of seats they offer at the lowest mileage levels, most hotel chains have maintained blissfully simple programs that offer awards that are easy to redeem. For example, the programs offered by Hyatt, Starwood, Hilton, and Wyndham guarantee that you can redeem your points for any unsold standard room, with no blackout dates or capacity controls. This means that you can use your points for rooms at Times Square on New Year's Eve, or in the host city during the Super Bowl, as long as they are still selling standard rooms. In contrast, many airline programs will offer few, if any, award seats at the lowest mileage levels, especially during peak travel periods.
Easy ways to earn points
Major airlines such as Delta and United no longer offer miles based on the distance flown, which was the whole point of calling them frequent flier miles in the first place. Instead, they changed their programs to offer miles based on the dollars paid, using a formula that results in fewer miles being awarded to most travelers. Meanwhile, hotel programs offer huge numbers of points to guests, with tremendous bonuses for holding elite status and using their co-branded credit cards. For example, the IHG Rewards Club (the loyalty program for Intercontinental, Holiday Inn, and other properties) can offer as many as 20 points per dollar spent to members who have their highest elite status and use the IHG Rewards Club Select credit cardfrom Chase.
Better credit card offers
Credit cards that offer points with hotel programs can do much more for you than most airline credit cards. For example, the IHG Rewards Club Select credit card from Chase offers all cardholders Platinum Elite status, while Hilton offers four different versions of its HHonors credit card from Citi and American Express, each with Silver or Gold elite status. Having elite status with a hotel program can offer tangible perks such as room upgrades, late checkouts, and even free breakfasts.
Great non-hotel awards
When you want to use your airline miles for something other than flying, you might have a few choices, but they tend to be unattractive. But when you accumulate a bunch of hotel points you can have many great options—the IHG Rewards Club offers a Rewards Concierge that can help members redeem points for tours and other travel reservations. And with the Starwood Preferred Guest program, you can transfer points to miles with over thirty different carriers, so you can choose the program that offers the best reward options for your needs.
This article was written by Jason Steele, Credit Card Expert at CompareCards.com.