Not all travel rewards credit cards are alike. In addition to the variety of perks they offer, they tend to also reward different kinds of travel.
An airline card rewards frequent flying. A gasoline card provides extra cash back when you fill up. And a hotel credit card can give you a free night's stay here and there. Sometimes, it can give you a lot more.
It not only provides hotel perks, its points can be transferred to more than 30 airline loyalty programs, usually without any loss of points. And because Starwood points are generally worth more than other card points, cardholders usually get more bang for their buck.
All about flexibility
"To me, a good rewards card is all about flexibility," says CreditCards.com senior industry analyst Matt Schulz. "While the Starwood card doesn't have the flashiest sign-up bonus in the bunch, it does give cardholders plenty of options beyond just free hotel nights."
Starwood Hotels is owned by Marriott and operates more than 1,200 hotels under 11 brands, including Westin, Sheraton, and St. Regis.
New cardholders earn 25,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 during the first three months the account is active. There's a $95 annual fee that is waived the first year.
CreditCards.com also likes the Hilton HHonors Reserve credit card from Citi. New cardholders get rewarded with two free weekend nights at a Hilton hotel after spending $2,500 in the card's first four months.
Cardholders also receive an extra weekend night certificate every year when they spend at least $10,000. Other perks include trip cancellation and interruption protection, lost baggage insurance, and other extra insurance benefits.
“The only downside is Hilton points tend to be worth significantly less than the average card rewards point,” CreditCards.com says.
A third alternative is the Club Carlson Rewards Visa Signature card. CreditCards.com is impressed with its initial sign-up bonus – 50,000 points with the first purchase and 35,000 more after spending $2,500 in the first 90 days.
Cardholders can also earn 40,000 points and a free night every year if they spend $10,000 or more. But just like the Hilton HHonors Reserve card, the points provided by the Club Carlson card tend to be valued less than the industry average.