High-end reward cards offer luxury hotel perks
Tony Mecia is a business journalist who writes for a number of trade and general-interest publications. He writes "Cashing In," a weekly column about credit card rewards programs, for CreditCards.com
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Dear Cashing In,
Deep down in the list of benefits of one of my credit cards,
I saw that it says one of the features of the card is some "luxury hotel and resort
collection." What is this exactly? Is it a good benefit? -- Dennis
Like rental car insurance and warranty benefits, luxury hotel perks probably are not a reason to choose a credit card. The kinds
of benefits we're talking about here are typically included only on
top-of-the-line rewards cards, and they apply to fancy hotels that usually cost
upward of $400 a night.
If that's how you roll, you might squeeze some value from
these perks, which often include early check-in, late checkout, free Wi-Fi,
complimentary breakfast for two -- and maybe even a $50 spa credit or a lovely
fruit basket. Then again, if you're accustomed to staying at five-star hotels,
the prospect of getting those small perks for free might not be a deciding
factor in where to stay, and you might get them anyway from a hotel chain
These luxury hotel perks probably make the most sense for
people who are planning a splurge, know where they want to stay and like the
idea of receiving benefits they would not have had otherwise.
I know of four programs like this, each of which works
across multiple credit cards: Visa
Signature, MasterCard World
Express Fine Hotels & Resorts and the Chase Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection.
They all work essentially the same way: Go to an online portal to search for
hotels, reserve a room using your card that has the benefit and when you
arrive at the hotel, you get the perks. The room prices tend to be about the
same as if you booked on the hotel's website.
Say you're sick of cold weather and want to head to Miami
for two nights over Valentine's Day weekend. Visa Signature lists eight hotels
with rooms available those dates. The least expensive is the Conrad Miami, a financial-district
Hilton property with rooftop pool, at $379 a night for a "Deluxe City View
King" room. Hilton's website lists the same rate: $379 a night. But if you book
through Visa Signature, you also get a room upgrade (if available), free
continental breakfast, 3 p.m. checkout, free in-room Internet (normally $14.95)
and a $25 food or beverage credit.
Chase's program shows two hotels with availability, the
least expensive of which is the downtown EPIC Miami, at $451 a night for a
"Cityview Double Premier" room. The same room booked on the hotel's website is
$399 -- about $50 less. But booking through Chase's Luxury Hotel & Resort
Collection, you get full breakfast for two, a $100 resort credit, a "welcome
amenity" and, if available, early check-in, late checkout and a room upgrade.
The bottom line: There is some value in these programs, especially
if you are planning a trip and would ordinarily book through the hotel's
website. If you have a card that qualifies for luxury hotel benefits, it could
be worth checking out what's available for your destination before you book.
Also note that you actually have to pay for the rooms -- you
can't use hotel points for a free night and receive these perks, although you
can in most cases receive hotel points for your stay if the hotel has your
membership information. In addition, some reviews of the programs online suggest
you confirm the benefits you're receiving when you check in, as some hotels
seem to need reminding.
See related: Award charts are key when considering hotel cards,
Q&A with 'Heads in Beds' author Jacob Tomsky, 11 hidden credit card perks
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Published: February 4, 2014