The standard offer on the MBNA Best Western is 20,000 Best Western Rewards points upon your first purchase. In the past we’ve seen offers of 40,000 or even 60,000 BW Rewards points with a minimum spending requirement; however, those offers don’t seem to be available at the moment.
By applying via Great Canadian Rebates, you also get $50 cash back upon approval, which can sweeten the deal even further.
The MBNA Best Western Rewards MasterCard allows you to earn 5 Best Western Rewards points per dollar spent at any Best Western property, including the room rates, food and drink, and any incidentals. You’ll earn 1 Best Western 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 Gobi’s Kelso Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia for 20,000 Best Western 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 Best Western 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 Hilton 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 Best Western 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 20,000 BW Rewards points can save you a significant chunk of change – 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. 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.
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.
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 other cards on the market.
For example, most of the Amex cards have emergency medical insurance covering up to $5,000,000 on out-of-province travel, which the Best Western Rewards MasterCard glosses over.
To its credit, though, the Best Western 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 Best Western 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.