Hotel credit cards are relatively few and far between when it comes to the overall sphere of Canadian travel rewards cards. There's the Chase Marriott card and the personal and business cards for American Express SPG, which we've already discussed at length on the blog. The one remaining hotel rewards card is the MBNA Best Western Rewards MasterCard, which doesn't get much of the spotlight but can still be useful to have around.
The standard offer on the MBNA Best Western is 20,000 points upon your first purchase, and there's usually an accompanying offer of an extra 20,000 points (so 40,000 points in total) upon spending $1,000 within the first three months.
However, from now until August 31, there's a promotional offer of a further 20,000 points bonus upon spending $2,000 within the first three months. That comes to a total of 60,000 Best Western Rewards points, all for no annual fee.
To reiterate: if you sign up for the card before August 31, you'll get:
- 20,000 BW Rewards points no matter what
- 40,000 BW Rewards points if you spend $1,000 within the first three months
- 60,000 BW Rewards points if you spend $2,000 within the first three months
This card is pretty unique in operating this kind of tiered welcome bonus. If you're able to meet the $2,000 minimum spending, 60,000 free points for no annual fee is a pretty sweet deal. If you don't want to bother with the spending and just want free points, the 20,000 points are yours as soon as you use the card to buy a pack of gum.
Although the promotional offer of 60,000 BW Rewards points expires at the end of August, the same deal had been available last summer during the same time, so it appears to be a recurring promotion.
Besides the signup bonus, the card also allows you to earn Best Western Rewards Gold status after your first purchase, as well as Diamond status upon spending $10,000 on the card in one calendar year.
While these status levels come with benefits such as room upgrades and bonus points, they are also pretty easy to obtain via a status match as well, so I wouldn't assign this benefit too much importance.
Rewards & Value
The MBNA Best Western Rewards MasterCard allows you to earn 5 BW Rewards points per dollar spent at any Best Western property, including the room rates, food and drink, and any incidentals. You'll earn 1 BW Rewards point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
To figure out whether or not the bonuses are compelling, though, we need a general idea of how much Best Western Rewards points are worth. Typically, a free night at a Best Western hotel costs between 8,000 and 36,000 BW Rewards points.
For example, I once redeemed two nights at the Best Western Seattle Executive Inn for 20,000 BW Rewards points a night.
The main downside is that Best Western hotels typically aren't that fancy or luxurious. There seem to be a handful BW properties around the world that do stand out, such as the BW Premier Kaiswerhof Vienna or the BW Premier Marina Las Condes Santiago.
But on the whole, you tend to associate Best Western with highway motels and cheap mid-range lodging, compared to programs like Marriott or SPG that have plenty more full-service, luxury hotels in their portfolio. That also means that cash rates at Best Western hotels are usually relatively cheap, which can make it difficult to get spectacular value out of the BW Rewards program.
Having said all that, free nights are still free nights. If you don't particularly care for staying in luxury hotels, an offer of 60,000 BW Rewards points can save you a crazy amount of out-of-pocket spending – especially at Best Western hotels in Asia, for example, where many hotels go for just 8,000 points a night.
Keep in mind that MBNA generally only does one credit inquiry every 45 days, and you might also have success applying for two of these Best Western Rewards credit cards and holding them concurrently (reports are mixed on this, though the general advice is to say you're using one of the cards for personal expenses and one for business).
If you do this, the Best Western Rewards points – and therefore your free nights – can rack up fast, and you could easily find yourself covering multiple trips' worth of lodging all for no annual fees.
Alas, should you use this card for daily spending? The answer is a resounding no. Wallet space is precious, and there are much more competitive hotel rewards credit cards to put your purchases on, like the American Express SPG Card.
As it stands, the MBNA Best Western is one of those cards where it makes the most sense to open the account(s), grab the bonus(es), and then put the card(s) away in your sock drawer without touching it again.
In general, you'll find that the insurance benefits on this card are quite run-of-the-mill. There are benefits like lost luggage assistance, travel protection, and extended warranty, though generally these benefits are outclassed by cards such as the American Express Gold Rewards Card.
For example, most of the Amex cards have emergency medical insurance covering up to $5,000,000 on out-of-province travel, which the BW Rewards MasterCard glosses over.
To its credit, though, the BW Rewards MasterCard provides a few additional minor types of coverage not found anywhere else, such as unexpected return home (up to $2,000, in the event of a death in the family while you're on a trip). Its car rental coverage is also relatively strong, offering a damage waiver, death and dismemberment coverage up to $200,000, and even personal effects coverage up to $2,000 for the duration of your car rental.
In general, I'd consider paying for a car rental with the MBNA BW Rewards MasterCard, given its comprehensive coverage in this area. For any other types of travel bookings, I'd go with one of the American Express cards.
This credit card doesn't have a minimum income requirement, so anyone can apply. You can also get the same signup bonus multiple times on this card, which makes it a little more appealing.
If you're looking for free hotel nights, this card is definitely worth a go, especially if you've already exhausted your other options in terms of hotel credit cards. Make sure you use the below link (not a referral link) to get the promotional offer of 60,000 BW Rewards points after $2,000 spending in three months.
The MBNA Best Western Rewards MasterCard isn't a hugely popular card, in large part due to the uncompetitive nature of the Best Western's loyalty program and the hotel portfolio as a whole. It's definitely not a card I would recommend for everyone.
Even so, it has to be said that the promotional offer of 60,000 points is quite generous, and that if you're looking to rack up lots of free nights quickly and cheaply, and don't particularly care about staying in glitzy 5-star hotels, this card might well make sense for you.