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By Jason Steele
October 17, 2020
Courtesy of Wells Fargo

You know the type of person who’s a genius at using their credit card points for free travel? The truth is that navigating hotel and airline loyalty programs and redeeming rewards and miles for free flights and lodging can sometimes be complicated.

But some strategies for getting free hotel nights are easier than others. For example, Hotels.com is offering a new credit card issued by Wells Fargo that seems perfect for people who want a simple way to earn free night stays, without being tied down to one hotel brand or another.

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Key Terms

  • Welcome Bonus: Earn a reward night worth $125 after spending $1,000 in the the first three months of card membership
  • Rewards: This card offers one stamp for every $500 spent. 10 stamps = 1 reward night.
  • Annual Fee: $0

Wells Fargo Hotels.com Credit Card: How It Works

When you open an account with this card, you have the opportunity to earn a free reward night worth $125, after you spend $1,000 within three months. You also earn a rewards stamp every time you spend $500 with the card, or when you book a room through Hotels.com. When you earn 10 stamps, you get a free night’s stay.

You can think of this stamp system as a punch card that some businesses offer. For example, many restaurants offer a free meal after you purchase 10 and get your card stamped each time. Instead of a complicated rewards program run by a single hotel chain, the Hotels.com credit card offers a very simple system that allows you to earn rewards that you can redeem for free night stays at over 500,000 properties listed on their site. The options include not just hotels, but condos, vacation rentals and other non-traditional accommodations that can make social distancing a lot easier.

This card is also loaded with benefits, including Silver membership in the Hotels.com loyalty program. This can offer you benefits such as free breakfast, airport transfers, free WiFi and more at selected properties. It includes rental car insurance, trip cancellation and interruption coverage that specifically covers illness. And you receive $600 of cell phone protection. Best of all, there’s no annual fee for this card and no foreign transaction fees.

Advantages

The biggest advantages of this card are its simplicity and flexibility. It’s simple in that you just need 10 stamps to earn a free night, rather than figure out a confusing points system. And it’s flexible in that you can redeem your rewards for free nights at an almost unlimited number of hotels and other types of accommodations, without being tied to a single brand.

Silver membership with Hotels.com will also offer you valuable perks when you stay at eligible properties. Finally, there are valuable benefits and no annual fee or foreign transaction fees, so it’s a no-cost way to enjoy a travel rewards credit card.

Disadvantages

This card offers you a stamp for every $500 spent, which works out to essentially 2% back in hotel rewards. This is a good rate of return, but it would be nice to also have some bonus categories as well. And, like all reward credit cards, this one has a higher interest rate than similar cards that don’t offer rewards. So it’s best for those who avoid interest by paying their balances in full every month.

Alternatives: Credit Cards for Free Hotels or Cash Back

Hilton Honors American Express Card. This no-fee card offers you the chance to earn free nights in over 6,000 Hilton hotels and resorts. You earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with after you use your card to spend $1,000 within the first three months of account opening. It also features 7x points for Hilton purchases, 5x per dollar on eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations and 3x elsewhere. There’s no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.

Citi Double Cash. The Citi Double Cash card offers you up to 2% cash back on all purchases. You earn 1% cash back at the time of purchase, and another 1% when you pay for your purchases, for a total of up to 2% cash back on all purchases, with no limits. There’s no annual fee for this card.

U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card. The U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® card offers you 25,000 bonus points, worth $250, after spending $1,000 within three months of account opening. You earn 4x points on takeout, food delivery and dining, and 2X points at grocery stores, grocery delivery, gas stations and on streaming services. You earn one point per dollar spent elsewhere, and there’s no annual fee for this card.

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Bottom Line

Travel is down, but it’s not out. Many Americans just want to drive somewhere and stay at a hotel or vacation rental. If this sounds like you, and you’d like to earn free night stays, then perhaps you should consider the new Hotels.com credit card.

More From Money:

Best Travel Credit Cards of 2020

Best Rewards Credit Cards of 2020

These New Wyndham Rewards Hotel Credit Cards Are Designed for Road Trips

Advertiser Disclosure

Money has partnered with CardRatings.com and ConsumersAdvocate.org, among other companies, for our coverage of credit card products. Money, CardRatings.com, and ConsumersAdvocate.org may receive a commission from card issuers. For example, Money receives a commission from Citi when you apply and are approved for a Citi product through the links on this site.

Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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