If you want total flexibility in where you can stay, you could try the Amex Blue Sky Preferred. You can use their travel credits toward any hotels as well as airplane tickets, car rentals, train trips, and cruises. Every 7500 points gets you a 100.00 travel credit, and you can apply it to any travel-related charge you wish.
I already have CSP, which I think may be similar to what you're talking about.
SwiftTone wrote:edit: after reading Chase's site more carefully about the Marriott Premier, it says "15 night credit every year after your account anniversary, giving you Silver Elite status or better" What does this mean exactly. I can't imagine it means that you get 15 free nights a year.
Marriott Silver Elite status normally comes after 10 qualifying stays - Gold after 50.
Owning the Marriott Premier gives you 15 qualifying stays a year (thus Silver Elite status + 5 stays) without having to actually stay in the hotel, not 15 nights free. If it gave you a free two weeks in hotel stays a year, it would easily be the best hotel card in existence.
The 15 free nights per year is towards the number of stays needed to qualify for various elite levels. It does not mean 15 actual nights for free. If you are not concerned about elite status, it won't matter.
If you are concerned about elite status, then that is another way the cards can "pay for themselves". For example, I've used my hilton surpass twice for hotel stays of 3 days each. As a "gold" elite (not much, but something), I got free wifi and free breakfast x6. If you conservatively estimate the free breakfast at a $10 value (probably 20 in most big cities) and wifi is, I believe, around $20/day, then I've already paid back the $75 AF.
But if you are really just looking for 1 or 2 free nights/year and don't care about elite status, accumulating points or aspirational hotel stays, probably priority club is your best bet.
Thanks for clarifying that up for me kekrre and Cdnewmanpac. Makes sense now.
I think I am zeroing in on Priority Club for my next app round in April.
How do the point system work for Priority Club? It says "earn 2 points per $1 spent on Purchases at Gas Stations, Grocery Stores and Restaurants". Are these points equal to UR points in value? UR points are worth $0.01 per point. Could that be said with these points? If I were to transfer UR points between my CSP and Priority Club and vice versa, how would that work and is there any benefits or drawbacks? If they do work the same as UR points in those categories it could easily replace BCE for gas and grocery. But I have a feeling it does not work the same way.
edit: As far as using the points and the free night. Do different rooms cost different amount of points. Same goes for the free night. Could I use it for different type of rooms or is it pretty much a room for "1 adult with a standup shower stall"
A great article on hotel point values that uses priority club for examples: http://boardingarea.com/blogs/loyaltytraveler/tag/priority-club-points-value/
In general, changing UR points to priority club points is a poor choice, the exception being if you are using them for one of the "point break" hotel stays (5k per night). Otherwise, you are often better off using a points + cash option, using priority club native points and the CSP for the cash component, then using UR points for a statement credit to cover the cash outlay.
All hotels have different redemption values for different properties and rooms.
Generally, you'll find you have 5-7 levels of luxury within a hotel line. Priority Club, for example, has Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites, and Candlewood Suites. (Not sure if I have them in order.) A night at an Intercontinental will cost you more points than a night at a Holiday Inn Express.
Then you have to consider status levels. The Chase Priority Club card will get you Platinum status. That gives you some perks: Late Check-Out, Newspaper, Point Bonus - 50%, Priority Check-In, Room Upgrade. Then, you can also buy Ambassador status with Intercontinental, but you can't earn it through staying there.
There are too many bits and pieces to hotel programs to list in one post, let alone a thread. You should really start exploring over at FlyerTalk to decide which program is best for you. Once you figure that out, there's a card for each program that will pay for itself if you use it properly.
From what I understand new versions of the card are being sent out now that are metal with EMV. Older versions will be phased out and replacement cards will be sent within the next few months. Some have requested it and had it sent sooner, but others have made the same request and have been told to wait until they get around to it. As usual YMMV.
Confirmed--the Marriott card is metal.
Is that metal with an EMV chip? If not, were you offered it as an option?