Credit Cards

Would You Pay a Higher Annual Fee if a Hotel Credit Card Uncapped Its Anniversary Night?

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Several hotel credit cards offer annual complimentary “anniversary” nights: a free one-night stay each year at a participating hotel in the brand’s chain. The benefit begins the second year of card membership.

For example, Marriott Bonvoy Boundless and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant cardholders can spend the night for a room at an eligible Marriott hotel each year they renew their card.

But each hotel credit card — at least, that I know of — sets limits as to which properties are available for the free anniversary nights.

For example, the World of Hyatt credit card ($95/year annual fee) gives cardholders a free night at Hyatt properties in the 1, 2, 3, or 4 categories.

A room with two beds at the MGM Grand (an MGM Resorts property) on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada. World of Hyatt credit card members can redeem their annual free night to stay at several Las Vegas properties, including the MGM Grand.
World of Hyatt credit card members can redeem their annual free night to stay at several Las Vegas properties, including the MGM Grand.

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless ($95) limits redemptions to awards of 35,000 points and under. It’s expensive sibling, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant ($450), ups the limit to 50,000.

And the IHG Rewards Club Premier Mastercard ($89) sets a 40,000 point max for their eligible properties.

But would you be willing to pay a higher annual fee for these cards if you could stay at any of their respective hotels?

The $49 a year IHG Rewards Club Select card (#RIP) used to carry that benefit — and it was glorious. But even when that card became defunct and IHG introduced the $89 a year Rewards Club Premier Mastercard, redemptions were capped at properties valued at 40,000 points max. (I recently argued IHG should re-introduce the uncapped night.)

The IHG Rewards Club Premier Mastercard credit card from Chase

I think hotel credit cards are good to hold simply because of their anniversary nights perks. But it’s frustrating to search for a hotel to redeem your night — only to find out it’s over the cap.

But what you fork over — realistically — for a hotel credit card to uncap its free room nights?

As I mentioned, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant is $450 a year and sets a to 50,000 point limit for redemptions. However, that card also comes with $300 in incidental credit at Marriott properties.

Personally, I’d shell out $150 — maybe $175 — for a card that lifted the cap.

What are your thoughts?

— Chris

 

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

4 Comments

  1. So, you are willing to pay $150-$175 for a “free” night? I don’t think so. If you are fortunate enough so that you can always use the cert every year at an aspirational property, then it might work for you. I currently hold three hotel-affiliated cards. Many tears, I was not able to use the free night(s) just because I was so busy with work travel. I got may value from the other card perks (guaranteed status, points bonus etc.) so I didn’t consider it a waste. I agree that the old IHG perk was sweet and I usually used it for a staycation at the local Intercontinental. Now with Covid-19, any of these free nights are of dubious value.

  2. Due to the outbreak I dropped my cards for hotels. Secondly those redemptions are really a “bait & switch”. Offer the room and make redemption hard to execute or so low in value you can only redeem at a Fairfield in Iowa on a Sunday night. They are near worthless in my estimation. Also, you can even combine them to “buy up” to a decent room. Near worthless perk in my mind.

  3. I used one only once. It is easy to forget. No way would I be interested in paying more for any of these credit cards.

  4. I would probably cough up an extra $25-$50 annually to have an uncapped night. We like to vacation in NYC and it would make it infinitely more useful there and other large cities and in Europe.

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