Small Business Hotel Rewards Credit Card Basics
Many major hotel chains offer credit cards co-branded with banking partners. Most of these cards are for consumers, but there are a few specifically designed for small business owners.
Both the consumer and small business versions of these cards offer points with the hotel’s loyalty program, as well as numerous benefits. However, the small business versions typically offer bonuses for common business purchases, such as office supplies or telecommunications services, instead of bonuses for frequent household purchases like groceries.
Small business credit cards typically come with standard business-specific features. For example, most small business cards include expense tracking and reporting features, which can help business owners manage their spending and prepare their taxes. Many small business credit cards also allow you to monitor and control the spending of employee authorized cardholders.
But beyond those small business-specific features, these cards will work much like their consumer counterparts.
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- Most cards offer a generous sign-up bonus when you open a new account. Competitive sign-up bonuses are generally around 50,000 points but can be as much as 75,000. To earn this bonus, you’ll usually need to spend between $3,000 and $5,000 within three months of opening your account.
- Compared to other rewards cards, hotel points are incredibly easy to redeem. Most major hotel loyalty programs offer you the chance to redeem your points for free nights in any unsold standard room. Better yet, most awarded stays are truly free, with no hidden fees or surcharges.
- Many hotel rewards credit cards will also offer you entry-level elite status in their rewards program, along with credit towards the next highest elite level. Having elite status can offer you perks such as priority service, room upgrades, late checkouts, and even free breakfast.
The first step towards finding the right small business credit card for hotel rewards
There are many hotel credit cards, but only a few of them are designated for small business owners.
Currently, the only two options are Hilton Honors American Express Business Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card.
There is no reason that a small business owner can’t use a non-business specific hotel credit card. You’ll be giving up some of the specialized expense tracking and reporting features, and it can be more time consuming to separate your business expenses from your personal charges. However, for some small business owners, the rewards and benefits of this strategy can be worth the additional tradeoffs.
To make the best choice, you'll want to do the following:
- Choose the brand you want to earn rewards with. While Hilton and Marriot are the only ones to offer business-specific cards, several additional hotel chains offer co-branded credit cards. These include Hyatt, IHG, Wyndham, Choice Hotels, and Radisson Rewards. These loyalty programs can represent numerous brands. For example, there are currently 30 hotel brands within the Marriott Bonvoy program, which now incorporates Ritz-Carlton hotel as well as all of the former Starwood properties.
- Consider the type of properties you prefer. Some loyalty programs are focussed on the premium end of the market, some on the economy end, and others are best for mid-range hotels. For example, Choice and Wyndham hotels are mostly smaller properties in rural areas, while Hyatt and Hilton have many larger hotels in major cities. Marriott, on the other hand, has properties at nearly every price point in most major cities.
- Take into account how much value you’ll get from each rewards program. Consider the size of the card’s sign-up bonus and how many points you can expect to earn based on your business’s spending patterns. The best way to estimate the value of the points you receive is to see how many you’ll need to redeem for a night at your preferred hotel. You can typically find this information by reading the terms of each card you’re considering.
- Finally, you want to consider how valuable each benefit offered is to you and your business. For example, you may be looking for priority check-in if you frequent large and busy hotels with long check-in lines. Others may prefer room upgrades and late checkout or membership in elite programs. Compare each card’s annual fee to the types of benefits offered and be sure they meet your needs.
Alternatives to hotel credit cards
Just because there are some very good hotel rewards cards available in both personal and small business versions, there are some excellent alternatives as well.
You may choose to use a small business credit card that offers flexible reward points that can be transferred to hotel programs. For instance, Chase has several small business credit cards that offer Ultimate Rewards points that can be transferred into Hyatt, Marriott, and IHG points. Likewise, there are several American Express cards for small businesses that offer Membership Rewards points. These rewards can be transferred to points with Marriott, Hilton, and Choice hotels.
Finally, you should be aware that many travel reward cards include a hotel program benefit that offers many of the features of having elite status. Here are a few examples of what those benefits can look like:
- World and World Elite MasterCard include the World Luxury Hotels & Resorts program, which features room upgrades, free breakfast, early check-in, and late checkout, along with special welcome amenities to cardholders who book their stay through this hotel benefits program.
- Stays booked through the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection include automatic room upgrade upon arrival when available, complimentary in-room Wi-Fi, breakfast for two, and a $25 food or beverage credit.
- American Express offers The Hotel Collection and the Fine Hotels and Resorts program on several of its small business cards. These programs can also provide room upgrades, free breakfasts, and property credits.
Every time you stay at a hotel, you should be earning the most valuable rewards possible. This is especially important for small business owners. By finding the right hotel rewards credit card for your business, you can enjoy all the perks, benefits, and rewards that you deserve, every time you travel.