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What is the best HOTEL credit card for long-term spending? (Part 2)

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This is the 2nd part of my analysis into which of the UK hotel-branded credit cards are worth keeping for the long-term.  If you missed Part 1 yesterday, I recommend that you click here to read it before carrying on.

Today I looking at which cards perform best if you are a big spender, able to put £25,000 per year through your card.

Return for spending £25,000 (25% overseas, 5% with the hotel chain that issues the card)

Compared to our £10,000 spend analysis yesterday, there is no change to the results for the first three cards – Hilton, Marriott, free IHG card – because none of these cards offer a bonus for hitting a spend target  (click through the blue links to read my full review of each card):

Hilton HHonors Platinum Visa:
Base spend: 50,000 points @ 0.3p = £150
Extra points on £1250 of Hilton spend: 1250 points @ 0.3p = £3.75
Fee: nil
Extra benefit: Spending £10,000 triggers a free Hilton HHonors Gold card
Return to cardholder: £153.75 plus a Hilton HHonors Gold card (0.61% of spend plus the value of HH Gold, this has value as you will receive free internet and free breakfast)

IHG Rewards Club Visa (free version):
Base spend: 25,000 points @ 0.5p = £125
Extra points on £1250 of IHG spend: 1250 points @ 0.5p = £6.25
Fee: nil, you also receive IHG Gold status – this has no real value however
Return to cardholder: £131.25 (0.52% of spend)

Marriott Rewards Mastercard:
Base spend: 25,000 points @ 0.5p = £125
Extra points on £1,250 of Marriott spend: 1250 points @ 0.5p = £6.75
Extra points on £6,250 of foreign spend: 6250 points @ 0.5p = £31.25
Fee: nil, you also receive Marriott Silver status – this has only very modest benefits however
Return to cardholder: £163 (0.65% of spend)

The return on the IHG Rewards Club Black Visa falls.  It was a 2.8% return when you spent £10,000 – this is the ‘sweet spot’ because it triggers the free night voucher which is potentially worth £250.  Beyond £10,000 of spend, your return falls away.  When you spend £25,000:

IHG Rewards Club Premium Visa (paid card):
Base spend: 50,000 points @ 0.5p = £250
Extra points on £1,250 of IHG spend: 2,500 points @ 0.5p = £12.50
Extra points on £6,250 of foreign spend: 12,500 points @ 0.5p = £62.50
Fee: £99, you also receive IHG Platinum status – this has only very modest benefits however
Extra benefit: Spending £10,000 triggers a voucher for a free night at ANY IHG hotel. I assume you use this at an InterContinental for a room worth £250
Return to cardholder: £325 of points + £250 of free night – £99 fee = £476 (1.9% of spend)

The only card to improve its return at £25,000 of spending is the SPG Amex.  When you hit £25,000 in a year, you receive a voucher for a free weekend night in a Category 1-4 Starwood property.  Unfortunately these hotels are generally poor – not weekend break destinations unless the Excel conference centre is a weekend break target for you! – and I only value the voucher at £75.

Spending £15,000 also triggers a free Starwood Gold card.  This has a number of benefits but the only one of real value is free internet (you can choose between a free drink, bonus points or free internet).  At £25,000 spend the numbers are:

Starwood Preferred Guest American Express:
Base spend: 25,000 points @ 1.5p = £375
No foreign or SPG spend bonus
Fee: £75, you also receive SPG Gold status – the main monetary benefit of this is free internet
Extra benefit:  Free weekend night for £25,000 spend at a Category 1-4 hotel, valued at £75
Return to cardholder: £375 of points – £75 fee + £75 free night value = £375 (1.5% of card spend)

As you can see, even at £25,000 of annual spending, the Starwood Amex delivers £100 less of value (net of fee) than the IHG Rewards Club Premium Visa card.  In reality, though, anyone who has the IHG Black card is likely to stop using it when they hit the £10,000 target to trigger the free night and then move their spend elsewhere.

In the US, the Starwood Amex was the best loyalty credit card for many years and it is still very well regarded.  With an overhaul it could become a real winner here as well.  At the moment, if you want a hotel credit card to hold long-term alongside an airline card you should focus on IHG Rewards Club Premium Visa as these two articles show.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – April 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our April 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the other top current deals:

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these:

Amex American Express Business Gold card

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

Earn both Avios and BA On Business points with your business spending Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.  By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker.  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

Comments (16)

  • D9 says:

    I don’t have a marriott cc so do correct me if I am wrong. However, I thought the card came with 10 elite nights. Yes this gets you silver status, but more importantly they contribute to obtaining/keeping gold or platinum status, which, in Asia at least, are very worthwhile. (Eg last night in KL upgraded to a suite, and given access to an empty lounge with a 4hr cocktail/food offer)

    • Rob says:

      You are correct, I simplified things for clarity. My full review of the card does outline it correctly.

  • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    I appreciate the benefits of keeping your spend model simple, but I’d argue that anyone spending >6k abroad each year would want to invest in a no-fx card, so you should perhaps at least caveat the IHG numbers with the £180 fx fees that would be a real cash cost. In reality, I agree that you’re more likely to use the offshore spend to help hit the £10k.

    • Rob says:

      Not necessarily. I don’t have an FX free card to keep down card numbers – I know I should – and for a lot of HFP readers foreign spend is reimbursable business travel in part.

      • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

        I was half considering citing you as the exception!

        • Rob says:

          No FX fee cards have proved unsuccessful, unfortunately. I don’t actually know anyone who has one amongst my circle of heavy traveller oddly.

          Given the size of the hotel bill we will be paying in Germany in August, I should get onto it. Our last few holidays were hotel redemptions so card spend was more modest.

          • Alan says:

            Interesting – by comparison quite a lot of the folk I know have got one – perhaps the difference between Scots and Londoners though 😉 If only we could have the lovely setup they have in the US of Amex with lots of benefits AND fee-free FX!

  • Lostantipod says:

    Spot on Raffles… I have some of these cards and stop using them when I reach the £10k threshold. Fortunately the anniversary dates of my cards (including BA PP) are staggered through the year, so I just move from one to the next .

  • sandgrounder says:

    I was at the Aloft near Excel for a two day break to see Katy Perry at the O2 in May. I quite enjoyed it, we took the cable car over to the venue, had a walk round the docks and watched the planes land at LCY. It was nice and chilled for a London visit, and right next to the DLR station.

  • Adam W says:

    Given that in a previous post https://headforpoints.com/2014/06/30/double-or-triple-shangri-la-golden-circle-points-this-summer/ you state that “most readers are waiting to redeem them for a free meal in The Shard”, I wonder just how realistic this analysis can be if you are basing it on an overseas spend of 25%! It seems that you assume that most of your readers don’t actually seem to travel that much but think that 25% of their spend happens overseas. It does not compute!!!

    • Alan says:

      Although spending abroad and being able to use Shangri-La vouchers at one of their few properties (compared to most hotel chains) may not have much overlap 😉

    • Rob says:

      Shangri La hotels are few and far between. I have stayed in one in 25 years of travel!

      • Adam W says:

        That’s irrelevant as you don’t need to be a hotel guest to redeem the voucher. How many cities have you visited that have at least one Shangri-La property?

    • Scotlish says:

      Considering the lack of Shangri-La hotels that there are outside of Asia, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that most British readers (this is a largely British site I believe) would wait to get a booking at Gong/Ting at Shangri-La at The Shard rather than go to the next closest place which would appear to be in Paris or wait until they’re in Asia or the Middle East which has the highest concentrations of Shangri-La properties compared to the Americas and Europe.

      • Rob says:

        79 per cent UK readers, a figure which remains wierdly fixed month after month! US is the 2nd biggest with 8 per cent and wierldy Germany 3rd (and they are not all my wifes relatives!).

  • Paul says:

    Am I the only one having problems trying to make an application for the Hilton Visa?

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