The Stash Hotel Rewards® Visa® Card is a hotel rewards credit card with an $85 annual fee (waived in the first year) and a rewards program that favors frequent, heavy-spending travelers who prefer to stay at independently owned properties whenever possible. It includes complimentary membership in the Stash Hotel Rewards program, whose members earn points for staying at participating boutique properties. It also offers favorable point-earning rates on dining, gas, and spending at non-Stash hotels, plus modest baseline earnings on general spending.
The Stash family includes 150 to 200 independently owned hotels, resorts, and inns in the continental United States, Caribbean, and Latin America. Its properties include distinctive urban boutiques, beach resorts, historic country inns, and more, none of which are associated with major hotel chains such as Hilton or Starwood. An interactive map of participating hotels, all of which allow Stash Hotel Rewards members to redeem points for free nights, is available on Stash’s website.
This card has some noteworthy perks, including a 10% point bonus on all redemptions, no foreign transaction fee, and no blackout dates. Its modest, relatively easy-to-attain sign-up bonus is welcome, but probably isn’t a make-or-break consideration for most new cardholders.
When you spend at least $1,500 within 3 months of opening your account, you get 10,000 bonus Stash points. During periods of low demand at lower-end hotels, that could be enough for a free night, though you shouldn’t expect it to be sufficient by itself at most Stash properties.
Earning Stash Points
In addition to the 5 base Stash points per $1 spent that all Stash Hotel Rewards members earn on paid stays at participating Stash properties, this card earns unlimited 3 points per $1 spent on paid Stash Hotels stays, for total earnings of 8 Stash points per $1 spent on Stash Hotels stays.
Spending at restaurants, non-Stash hotels, and on gas earns unlimited 2 points per $1 spent. All other spending earns unlimited 1 point per $1 spent, including purchases at non-Stash hotels using the Stash portal.
There is no limit to the number of points that can be earned with this card, and points never expire.
Redeeming Stash Points
You can redeem your accumulated Stash points for free nights at any participating Stash property, with no blackout dates. There’s no hard redemption minimum, though it’s rare to find room nights for less than 10,000 points. Points have no fixed value – instead, their redemption value varies based on the redemption property, dates, room configuration, demand, and other factors.
As a rule, redemptions at higher-end hotels and busy travel periods (such as spring break or summer holiday weekends) require more points than redemptions at lower-end hotels and less chaotic times of year. Points are generally worth $0.01 to $0.02 apiece at redemption, but can vary outside that range. Popular, high-end properties tend to produce lower redemption values, while slower, lower-end properties tend to offer the best redemption values.
Notably, Stash points can’t be combined with cash to accelerate redemption – if you don’t have enough points to redeem for a free night at a given property, you need to wait for the required number of points to drop, accumulate more points, or look for a lower-cost property. Also, Stash points can’t be redeemed for anything other than free hotel nights – not for other travel items, general merchandise, gift cards, or cash.
Every time you redeem your points, you get a 10% boost to the total point value of the redemption. For instance, a 15,000-point redemption produces a bonus of 1,500 points. The bonus points are credited back into your Stash Hotel Rewards account within a few days and can be used on any future redemption.
This card has an $85 annual fee that’s waived in the first year. There is no foreign transaction fee. Cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%, and late payments cost up to $37.
Stash Hotel Rewards Visa Signature requires excellent credit. If you have any notable issues in your credit history, your application may be disqualified.
- Bonus Points on Dining, Gas, and Non-Stash Hotel Spending. Stash Hotel Rewards Visa Signature has a 2-points-per-$1 spending category that includes dining, gas, and non-Stash hotel purchases. These are broad categories that can really come in handy for frequent travelers, especially those who can’t stay at Stash hotels every time they hit the road.
- No Redemption Tiers. Stash Hotel Rewards doesn’t classify properties by tier or category, a confusing and sometimes seemingly arbitrary feature of most other hotel rewards programs. As a Stash member and Stash Hotel Rewards Visa Signature cardholder, you don’t have to worry about earning a specific number of points to clear a tier or category threshold. At any given property, the number of points required to redeem for a free night is a function of the underlying dollar cost of and demand for its rooms.
- 10% Point Bonus at Redemption. Every redemption made with this card comes with a 10% bonus. For instance, if you redeem 20,000 points, you get 2,000 points back in your account – getting you that much closer to your next free hotel stay. Many competing cards offer no such bonus.
- No Foreign Transaction Fee. This card has no foreign transaction fee. That’s great news for cardholders who travel abroad frequently, perhaps to Stash properties in the Caribbean. Some entry-level travel cards have foreign transaction fees ranging up to 3%, severely cutting into (or eliminating altogether) their earning power.
- No Blackout Dates. The Stash program doesn’t have blackout dates, meaning you can redeem your points at the time and place of your choosing, provided your chosen property has rooms available. Larger hotel rewards programs often limit redemptions to off-peak periods, limiting travelers’ choice and flexibility.
- Supports Distinctive, Independent Hotels. This credit card, and the Stash program itself, support distinctive, independently owned boutique hotels – giving you a chance to support independent businesses. The same can’t be said for credit cards tied to huge international hotel chains, such as the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express.
- Has an Annual Fee. Stash Hotel Rewards Visa Signature charges an $85 annual fee. Though it’s waived in the first year, this fee still cuts into cardholders’ point earnings. Those who stay at Stash hotels infrequently, and those who don’t spend much in general, are likely to struggle to earn points quickly enough to offset the annual fee. By contrast, some entry-level travel rewards credit cards eschew annual fees altogether, while other hotel-specific cards charge lower annual fees – for example, the Club Carlson Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card costs just $50 per year.
- Can’t Combine Points and Cash. Stash doesn’t allow you to combine points and cash at redemption, meaning you need to wait to redeem your points until you have enough to cover the full cost of a night at your chosen hotel. If you’re an infrequent, light-spending traveler, this can be a major problem, as it significantly lengthens time to redemption and possibly renders the card impractical altogether. Most other hotel rewards credit cards allow you to combine points and cash for faster redemptions.
- Can’t Redeem for Cash or Other Non-hotel Items. Stash points can’t be redeemed for anything other than free hotel nights. That’s a big blow to this card’s – and the program’s – flexibility, and a major drawback for cardholders who value the ability to redeem for other forms of travel, cash equivalents, or merchandise.
- No Annual Loyalty Bonus. This card doesn’t offer an annual loyalty bonus. Such bonuses are fairly common in the hotel credit card niche, and often generous – for instance, the Club Carlson Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card’s annual loyalty bonus is worth up to 3 free nights.
- Thin Selection of Participating Hotels. Though the Stash program continues to add new boutique hotels, its selection of participating properties remains thin. Fewer than 200 Stash hotels operate in the U.S. and Caribbean, compared with more than 3,000 worldwide in the Marriott family and more than 4,000 worldwide in the Hilton family. Even in popular destinations, such as New York City and San Francisco, Stash Hotel Rewards Visa Signature cardholders have far less choice than those with cards tied to larger hotel families, such as the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card.
The Stash Hotel Rewards® Visa® Card definitely isn’t the most generous hotel rewards credit card around. Nor is it the most flexible or versatile. But maybe it doesn’t need to be. When you use this credit card to pay for stays at any of the 150-plus (and growing) independent boutique hotels in the Stash family, you support distinctive businesses that, in turn, support local communities in ways big hotel chains simply can’t. If you value dynamic local economies powered by real people like you, then this card – along with the Stash Hotel Rewards program – is calling your name.