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Best Western Rewards® Mastercard® Review

At a Glance
best western rewards mastercard
3.6 / 5
Rating

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Best Western Rewards® Mastercard®

  • Sign-up Bonus: 10,000 bonus points for spending $1,000 within 3 months; 10,000 additional bonus points for spending $3,000 within 6 months
  • Rewards: Unlimited 3 points per $1 spent on Best Western stays; unlimited 2 points per $1 spent on everything else
  • Loyalty Status: Automatic Best Western Gold Elite Status, regardless of spending or stay frequency
  • Fees: Foreign transaction fee 3%; balance fee 5% of amount transferred ($10 minimum); cash advance fee 5% of amount advanced ($15 minimum)
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Credit Needed: Good/excellent

Advertiser Disclosure: This post includes references to offers from our partners. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. However, the opinions expressed here are ours alone and at no time has the editorial content been provided, reviewed, or approved by any issuer.

The Best Western Rewards® Mastercard® is a hotel rewards credit card with no annual fee. Users earn Best Western Rewards points on every dollar they spend: 3 points per $1 spent on stays within the Best Western family of hotel and resort properties, and 2 points per $1 spent on everything else.

Best Western Rewards Mastercard cardholders are automatically enrolled in the Best Western Rewards loyalty program, and cardholders in good standing automatically earn and keep Best Western Rewards Gold Elite Status for as long as their accounts remain active. Though it’s the lowest of Best Western’s four status tiers, Gold Elite is still great – its benefits include a 10% point bonus on all paid stays (so a 1,000-point stay would earn 1,100 points) and access to a dedicated reservation hotline.

Best Western Rewards points can be redeemed for free nights at more than 4,000 Best Western properties worldwide. In addition to the standard Best Western marque, there are 5 additional brands in the Best Western family: upscale Best Western Plus, long-term Best Western Plus Executive Residency, hip Vib, luxurious Best Western Premier, and luxury boutique Best Western Premier Collection. Points can also be redeemed for gift cards issued by Best Western and other vendors, entertainment, general merchandise, memberships in organizations such as AAA, and more. However, non-Best Western redemptions tend to undervalue points.

Key Features

Sign-up Bonus

When you open your account and make your first purchase, you get 16,000 bonus Best Western points. That’s worth up to 2 free nights at budget-friendly Best Western hotels.

You get an additional 16,000 Best Western points when your first Best Western purchase posts to your account. That’s worth another 2 free nights, for a total potential sign-up bonus of 32,000 points and up to 4 free nights.

Earning Best Western Rewards

This card earns 3 Best Western Rewards points per $1 spent on Best Western stays, with no restrictions or earning caps. All other purchases earn 2 points per $1 spent.

Redeeming Best Western Rewards

The most common way to redeem Best Western Rewards points is for free nights at approximately 4,000 Best Western International properties worldwide. Best Western’s most budget-friendly properties, where basic rooms generally cost less than $100 per night, require at least 8,000 points for 1 free standard room night. Its most expensive properties, where basic rooms can cost well over $300 per night, require at least 36,000 points for 1 free standard room.

Unlike some competitors, Best Western does not segment its properties by category or tier – the number of points required for a free night at a given property is roughly equivalent to the property’s quality level and price point. When redeemed for free room nights, points are typically valued at less than $0.01 apiece.

Points can also be redeemed for gift cards (including Best Western gift cards that can be used for purchases at Best Western properties), general merchandise, entertainment, organization memberships, and other items. However, these methods typically devalue points relative to Best Western redemptions, so they’re not ideal unless you accumulate more Best Western Rewards points than you can redeem within any reasonable time-frame.

Airline Point Transfer

Best Western Rewards members can transfer the points they’ve accumulated to more than a dozen airline partners, including popular U.S. carriers such as Southwest Airlines and American Airlines. The minimum number of Best Western Rewards points required to execute a transfer is usually 5,000, and transfer ratios vary by airline – for instance, 5,000 Best Western points gets you 1,000 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan points or 1,200 Southwest Rapid Rewards points.

Best Western Gold Elite Status

As long as your Best Western Rewards Mastercard account remains open and in good standing, you automatically enjoy Best Western Gold Elite Status, the lowest of Best Western Rewards’ four status tiers. Gold Elite Status entitles you to a 10% point bonus (turning a 1,000-point stay into a 1,100-point stay, for instance) on paid Best Western stays and access to a special toll-free number for hotel reservations, changes, and customer service requests.

Higher status tiers come with additional benefits, such as larger point bonuses on Best Western stays (up to 50%) and complimentary room upgrades at check-in. To achieve Platinum Elite Status, the next-highest tier, you need to earn at least 15 nights, 10 stays, or 15,000 Best Western Rewards points within a calendar year.

Discount on Best Western Stays

All Best Western Rewards Mastercard cardholders receive a discount of 10% off paid Best Western stays reserved at bwrcarddiscount.com, regardless of stay length, date, cost, or brand.

Important Fees

There is no annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is 3%. For the first 6 months your account is open, balance transfers cost the greater of $10 or 3% of the transferred amount – and after 6 months, they cost the greater of $10 or 5%. Cash advances cost the greater of $15 or 5% from the outset. Returned payments cost $35, while late payments cost $37.

Credit Required

This card requires good to excellent credit. Your application is likely to be disqualified by any notable credit issues in the recent past.

Advantages

  1. No Annual Fee. This card doesn’t have an annual fee. That’s great news for frugal cardholders and those who don’t spend heavily enough to offset a recurring fee with earned rewards.
  2. Automatic Gold Elite Status Means Faster Rewards Earning and Other Perks. Best Western Rewards Mastercard automatically confers Best Western Gold Elite Status, which normally requires at least 10 paid nights, 7 paid stays, or 10,000 Best Western Rewards points earned through paid stays only. Gold Elite Status holders enjoy 10% faster point earnings and priority service – both great perks for frequent Best Western guests. Some competing cards don’t confer any automatic loyalty status at all.
  3. Lots of Hotel Choices. The Best Western hotel family includes more than 4,000 properties distributed throughout the Americas, Asia, and beyond. If you’re traveling to a popular (or even not-so-popular) destination, there’s a good chance you’ll find a Best Western where you’re going. The same can’t be said for smaller hotel families with associated credit cards.
  4. Solid Sign-up Bonus. This card’s sign-up bonus is good for 4 free nights at budget-friendly Best Western properties and requires relatively little spending – just one regular purchase in any amount and one Best Western purchase, which could cost you as little as $50 or $60.
  5. Best Western Discount Reduces Cost of Paid Hotel Stays. This card’s 10% discount on Best Western stays is a welcome bonus for frequent Best Western guests – on hotel rooms worth $100 per night, cardholders pay just $90. The 10% rate is far better than the effective return offered by award nights at Best Western properties, as points are generally worth less than $0.01 apiece upon redemption.
  6. No Penalty APR. This card has no penalty APR. If you occasionally miss payments due to liquidity issues or other problems, you won’t be penalized here. Some competing cards indefinitely charge penalty APRs as high as 30% following a single missed payment.

Disadvantages

  1. Modest Point-Earning Power. Best Western Rewards Mastercard earns just 3 Best Western Rewards points per $1 spent on Best Western stays. That’s better than the baseline earning rate of 2 points per $1 spent on non-hotel purchases, but given the relatively low value of Best Western Rewards points (typically less than $0.01 apiece), it’s not a great rate overall. If you’re a regular Best Western guest, you’re better off with the Best Western Rewards Premium Credit Card, whose 10-point-per-$1 earning rate on Best Western stays goes a long way toward offsetting its $59 annual fee.
  2. Airline Point Transfers Offer Mediocre Value at Best. Best Western Rewards Mastercard’s airline point transfers are certainly welcome for frequent flyers, but they don’t offer great value. Transfer ratios generally hover around 5 Best Western points to 1 airline loyalty point – for instance, you get 1,200 Southwest Rapid Rewards points for 5,000 Best Western points. Some popular travel rewards cards, including Chase Sapphire Preferred, offer 1-to-1 point transfers to popular airline and hotel loyalty programs – a far better value.
  3. No Anniversary Bonus. This card doesn’t provide an anniversary bonus, a common feature on branded airline and hotel credit cards. Some cards offer 1 to 2 free nights per year as a gesture of goodwill.
  4. Has a Foreign Transaction Fee. This card charges a 3% fee on all foreign transactions. That’s a big drawback for international travelers, including those who’d like to stay at Best Western’s many overseas properties. Many competing cards waive foreign transaction fees.

Final Word

Since it has no annual fee, there’s no real downside to keeping the Best Western Rewards® Mastercard® around, as long as you remember to use it every time you stay at a Best Western property and avoid using it on other purchases, such as gas and dining, on which other cards offer better rewards. The automatic Gold Elite Status and 10% discount alone justify the extra weight in your wallet.

On the other hand, if you’re a serious traveler who wishes to maximize the value of your various loyalty program memberships, or if you stay at Best Western hotels every couple of weeks, this card doesn’t have enough firepower for your needs. Upgrade to the Best Western Rewards Premium Mastercard, and stomach the $59 annual fee – or, if you’re not a Best Western diehard, shop around for other branded hotel cards instead.

Verdict
best western rewards mastercard
3.6 / 5
Rating

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Best Western Rewards® Mastercard®

Best Western Rewards® Mastercard® is designed for regular Best Western guests who don’t spend heavily enough to offset the annual fee. However, due to the low per-point value and poor transfer options, it’s not ideal for travelers seeking great value at redemption or favorable integrations with other loyalty programs. In fact, many cash back or general travel rewards credit cards offer better returns, so you may be better off using one of those and using your cash or travel points for Best Western award nights if you so choose.

The Best Western Rewards Mastercard’s advantages include its lack of an annual fee, automatic Gold Elite Status for all cardholders, lots of choice and geographical diversity for Best Western travelers, the 10% Best Western stay discount, the introductory APR promotion, and the lack of a penalty APR.

They’re offset by the high APR and fees, modest point-earning power, generally poor point values overall, mediocre sign-up bonus, poor airline point transfer values, the lack of an anniversary bonus, and the foreign transaction fee.

Overall, this is a decent card for frugal travelers who stay at Best Western hotels regularly, but it’s not useful for heavy spenders and super-frequent Best Western guests.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci writes about frugal living, entrepreneurship, and innovative ideas. When he’s not interviewing small business owners or investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, he’s probably out exploring a new trail or sampling a novel cuisine. Find him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

Comments Disclosure: The below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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