Planning your year-end holiday? Here are 3 credit cards that offer free hotel stay

Planning your year-end holiday? Here are 3 credit cards that offer free hotel stay

Many people plan their annual vacation in December. They prefer to take a break from office work in the last week of December as kids also have their Christmas vacation during that time. The weather is also favourable for taking a vacation. What if you could enjoy your annual vacation stay at a 5-star hotel free of cost by transferring your credit card reward points to a hotel loyalty program? Let us understand how.

What are hotel loyalty programs?

A hotel loyalty program is a membership program that offers you various benefits during your stay at a property that is part of the hotel group. It is used to get new customers as well as retain existing ones to stay at the various hotel properties within the group. Some of the well-known hotel loyalty programs in India include:

  1. Marriott Bonvoy
  2. Accor Live Limitless (ALL) and Accor Plus
  3. Taj Epicure
  4. Club ITC etc.

Benefits of hotel loyalty programs

Some of the member benefits offered by various hotel loyalty programs include the following:

  1. Discount on room rate
  2. Discounts on food & beverages, spa and other facilities offered on the property
  3. Early check-in and late check-out
  4. Early access to hotel promotions, member-exclusive deals and offers, invitations to member-only events, etc.
  5. Earning reward points on eligible spends such as the amount spent for room booking, food, etc.
  6. Usage of reward points to pay for room booking, food, etc.
  7. Room upgrades
  8. Lounge access
  9. Bonus points, free night stays, etc.
  10. Facility to transfer reward points to other hotel loyalty programs or frequent flyer programs (FFPs)
  11. Other benefits include a welcome gift, complimentary breakfast and/or other meal(s), etc.

The above are some of the general benefits of a hotel loyalty program and not specific to a particular hotel loyalty program. Please note that each hotel loyalty program has its own set of benefits. Some hotel loyalty programs have membership tiers such as silver, gold, platinum, etc. The tier is based on criteria such as number of nights stayed or the amount spent in a year. The benefits of each tier vary. The higher the tier, the higher the benefits.

Membership in hotel loyalty programs, such as Marriott Bonvoy and Accor Live Limitless (ALL), is free. Membership in hotel loyalty programs such as Accor Plus, Taj Epicure, etc., has an annual cost.

Transferring credit card reward points to hotel loyalty programs

Some banks have tie-ups with various hotel loyalty programs, allowing customers to transfer their credit card reward points to hotel loyalty programs. The reward points can be transferred in a specific ratio.

For example, you can transfer HDFC Infinia Credit Card reward points to the Accor loyalty program in a 1:1 ratio. On the other hand, you can transfer Axis Atlas Credit Card reward points to the Accor loyalty program in a 1:2 ratio.

Some banks that allow you to transfer credit card reward points to hotel loyalty programs include the following:

HDFC Bank credit card reward points can be transferred to:

a) Accor Live Limitless (ALL)

b) Wyndham Rewards

c) IHG One Rewards

2. Axis Bank credit card reward points can be transferred to:

a) Accor Live Limitless (ALL)

b) Marriott Bonvoy

c) Wyndham Rewards

d) IHG One Rewards

e) Club ITC

3. American Express credit card reward points can be transferred to:

a) Marriott Bonvoy

Sometimes, you get a bonus for transferring your credit card reward points to a hotel loyalty program. For example, from 16th November to 15th December 2023, American Express is running a promotion that gives you a 30% bonus for transferring your credit card reward points to Marriott Bonvoy. So, for every 100 American Express credit card reward points you transfer, you will receive 130 Marriott Bonvoy points.

How to enjoy free hotel stays with credit card reward points

You can enjoy free hotel stays with credit card reward points in the following ways:

Transfer to hotel loyalty programs: You can transfer your credit card reward points to any of the above hotel loyalty programs. You can then use the hotel loyalty points to book hotel stays for your vacation.

Redemption for purchase of hotel gift vouchers: Some banks allow you to redeem credit card reward points for the purchase of gift vouchers of various hotels. For example, American Express allows you to redeem credit card reward points for purchasing gift vouchers of various hotels like Taj Hotels, Marriott Hotels, Hyatt Hotels, ITC Hotels, Postcard Hotels, etc. The hotel gift vouchers can then be redeemed for hotel stays.

Redemption for purchase of OTA gift vouchers: Banks also allow you to redeem credit card reward points to purchase gift vouchers of various online travel aggregators (OTAs). For example, American Express allows you to redeem credit card reward points for purchasing gift vouchers of OTAs like Cleartrip, EaseMyTrip, MakeMyTrip, Yatra, etc. The OTA vouchers can then be redeemed for booking hotel stays on the OTA platform.

Redemption for hotel booking: Some banks allow you to redeem credit card reward points for booking hotel stays. For example, HDFC Bank allows redemption of reward points for booking hotel stays through their SmartBuy platform.

Pack your bags for a free hotel stay on your next vacation

Now you know how to use your credit card reward points for free hotel stays. With the upcoming Christmas and New Year holidays, where do you plan to stay? Make the most of your credit card reward points and enjoy memorable free hotel stays on your vacation. Lastly, a word of caution: Use credit cards only for need-based spending, and always pay the entire credit card bill before or on time.

Gopal Gidwani is a freelance personal finance content writer with 15+ years of experience. He can be reached at LinkedIn.

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Published: 09 Dec 2023, 11:01 AM IST

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