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Best Western Rewards Mastercard: Good for Best Western Stays, but Not General Travel

If you want free nights at Best Western, the no-annual-fee Best Western Rewards Mastercard could help you get there.

Best Western Rewards® Mastercard®

6/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
CNET’S PICK
Best Western Rewards® Mastercard®
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Best Western Rewards® Mastercard®

6/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
Intro Offer
40,000 Points 40,000 points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 billing cycles after the account is opened
Annual fee
$0
APR
25.24% or 29.24% Variable APR
Rewards rate
2x – 13x 13 Points per $1 spent on Best Western purchases; 2 Points per $1 spent on other purchases
Rewards Rate
13x
13 Points per $1 spent on Best Western purchases
2x
2 Points per $1 spent on other purchases

The Best Western Rewards® Mastercard®* is one of many co-branded credit cards. Best Western partnered with the First National Bank of Omaha to give cardholders an opportunity to earn rewards by staying at Best Western hotels.

Best Western loyalists will find a lot to like about this no-annual-fee hotel credit card, including a generous 40,000-point welcome bonus for spending $1,000 in the first three billing cycles, plus the opportunity to earn an additional 20,000 bonus points with $5,000 of spending every 12 billing cycles. Although the rewards are less flexible than those of a generic travel credit card, and redemption values are low for anything outside of Best Western hotel chain bookings, travelers are likely to find something that suits their needs within Best Western’s luxury and economy brands. 

Given that the rewards rate for purchases outside of Best Western hotel stays is lackluster, you may want to pair this card with another travel card or cash-back card that earns more on everyday spending. 

Here’s what you need to know before you apply.

Rewards

The Best Western Rewards Mastercard offers 3x points on Best Western purchases. If you’re also a member of the free-to-join Best Western Rewards Program, which earns 10x points on Best Western purchases, you can effectively earn 13x points with this card. Your card grants you automatic gold status -- which otherwise requires five qualifying nights to earn -- that boosts your point earnings on eligible stays by an additional 10%.

You’ll earn 2x points on all other purchases. 

Points can be redeemed for free nights at Best Western hotels. Points don’t expire and there are no blackout dates, though your redemption options are subject to the availability of reward stays for your desired hotels and dates. Award bookings at Best Western’s 18 hotel brands (approximately 4,500 hotels across 100 countries) can cost anywhere from 5,000 to 70,000 points, but the average free night stay costs 16,000 points, according to Best Western. The Pay with Points program, which lets you pay for part of your stay with points and pay cash for the rest, offers flexibility to redeem some of your rewards toward a stay even if they don’t cover the full price.  

If you’re not interested in redeeming your points for free nights, you can convert them to miles with one of Best Western’s airline transfer partners, including Southwest Rapid Rewards, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, Air Canada Aeroplan and more. Be aware that your points may convert at lower than a 1:1 ratio, making this one of the less valuable redemption options.

You can also redeem your points for charitable donations and gift cards, though we don’t recommend these methods since the redemption values are very low.

Welcome bonus

The Best Western Rewards Mastercard offers a welcome bonus of 40,000 points when you spend at least $1,000 in the first three billing cycles after opening your account. This bonus could be worth up to three free nights according to Best Western’s point valuations, and about $240 according to The Points Guy’s valuations of 0.6 cents per point. (Like CNET, The Points Guy is owned by Red Ventures.) This welcome bonus is pretty standard for a no-annual-fee card and offers good value if you plan to stay at a Best Western hotel. 

In addition to the welcome bonus, you also have the opportunity to earn 20,000 points if you spend at least $5,000 every 12 billing cycles, and you can earn this bonus multiple times. The first billing cycle qualification period begins when you open your card, and it ends 12 cycles later. Taking advantage of this bonus can help you earn free stays faster and make the card a worthwhile addition to your wallet even after the first year. 

Benefits and perks

Best Western Rewards cardholders automatically earn Best Western Gold Status, which normally requires five qualifying nights to earn. This loyalty program tier gives you access to exclusive room rates, an exclusive reservation line, early check-in and late check-out. As a Gold Status member, you’ll also earn 10% bonus points on eligible stays. 

Finally, the Best Western Rewards Mastercard has no foreign transaction fees, though this is standard among top hotel and travel cards.

Annual fee

The Best Western Rewards Mastercard doesn’t charge an annual fee. 

Other cards to consider

Best Western Rewards® Premium Mastercard®

The Best Western Rewards® Premium Mastercard®* is an upgraded version of the Best Western Rewards Mastercard. With a $89 annual fee, you can earn up to 20x points on Best Western purchases (10x points with this card and 10x points if you’re a Best Western Rewards member), 2x points on all other purchases, exclusive member room rates and automatic Platinum Status -- which normally requires seven nights of qualifying stays to earn. 

There’s a welcome bonus of 80,000 when you spend $3,000 in the first three billing cycles, plus 40,000 points if you spend $5,000 every 12 billing cycles. That means after your first year as a cardmember, you could earn up to 120,000 bonus points (worth approximately $720 by The Points Guy’s calculations), which could qualify you for up to seven free overnight stays per Best Western’s valuations.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of our favorite travel credit cards. With the opportunity to earn one of the most valuable point currencies in the credit card world, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers nearly unparalleled opportunity and flexibility for frequent travelers.

Cardholders earn 5x points on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on dining, 3x points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs), 3x points on select streaming services, 2x points on travel purchases not booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 1x point on everything else. 

You can also earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Those 60,000 points are worth $750 when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, or potentially more if you transfer them to one of Chase’s 14 airline and hotel transfer partners. You’ll also get access to numerous high-value travel perks, including up to $50 in statement credits each account anniversary year for hotel stays purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Keep in mind that Best Western is not a Chase transfer partner, meaning you can’t directly convert your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Best Western points, although you may still be able to book Best Western hotels through the Chase travel portal. So, if you’re a Best Western loyalist, it might make more sense to stick with the co-branded Rewards or Rewards Premium Mastercards. 

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card comes with a $95 annual fee, which is easy to offset if you can take advantage of its higher rewards categories and travel credits.

IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card

If you want your hotel credit card to offer some of the biggest perks in the industry and you’re open to exploring a different hotel brand, take a look at the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card, issued by Chase. This card charges a $99 annual fee and automatically grants you Platinum Elite Status -- its second highest status -- within the IHG hotel network (Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Kimpton Hotels and more). Platinum status comes with benefits like room upgrades, priority check-in and complimentary amenities. 

Platinum Elite members also earn a fourth free night every time they redeem points for a consecutive four-night IHG hotel stay. And you may find yourself redeeming free stays quickly -- this card earns you up to 26x points on IHG hotel stays (10x points with this card and up to 16x points if you’re an IHG rewards club member with Premium Elite Status), 5x points on travel, gas stations and restaurants and 3x points on all other purchases.

You can also earn a welcome offer of 165,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months of account opening, fast-tracking you to those free stays.

How Best Western Rewards® Mastercard® compares to other cards

CNET’S PICK
Best Western Rewards® Mastercard®
Learn More

Best Western Rewards® Mastercard®

6/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
Intro Offer
40,000 Points 40,000 points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 billing cycles after the account is opened
Annual fee
$0
APR
25.24% or 29.24% Variable APR
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Rewards rate
2x – 13x 13 Points per $1 spent on Best Western purchases; 2 Points per $1 spent on other purchases
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Learn More

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

9/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
Intro Offer
60,000 bonus points Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Annual fee
$95
APR
21.49% – 28.49% Variable
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Rewards rate
1x – 5x 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.; 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries.; 2x on all other travel purchases.; 1x on all other purchases.
American Express® Gold Card
Apply Now

American Express® Gold Card

7.5/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
See Rates & Fees Terms apply
Intro Offer
60,000 Membership Rewards® Points Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
Annual fee
$250
APR
See Pay Over Time APR
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Rewards rate
3x – 4x Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.; Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).; Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
Apply Now
On American Express’s secure website

FAQs

If you’re thinking about applying for a hotel credit card, consider how often you plan to stay at the hotel chain’s properties each year. It doesn’t make sense to apply for the Best Western Rewards Mastercard, for example, unless you plan to stay at Best Western hotels often. If you like to frequent different hotels or don’t have a hotel preference, a generic travel card that transfers to multiple hotel partners, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, might be a better choice.

If you’re deciding between a hotel travel card and a general travel credit card, ask yourself what kind of rewards you’d like to earn and how you’d like to redeem them.

If you want to earn rewards toward free hotel stays, a hotel credit card may be a good option. If you’d prefer to earn rewards on different kinds of purchases, including everyday expenses like gas and groceries, a travel credit card might be a better choice. Travel credit cards also tend to offer more flexible redemption options, although you’ll generally get the most out of your rewards if you redeem them for travel purchases.

It might also benefit you to apply for both a hotel credit card and a travel credit card if you travel often enough. You can use the hotel credit card for your hotel bookings, and the travel credit card for flights, rental cars, dining and other high-earning purchases. If your travel credit card doesn’t reward everyday expenses like gas and groceries, consider adding a cash-back credit card to your wallet.

If you stay at Best Western hotels on a regular basis, the Best Western Rewards Mastercard is a good no-annual-fee option. That said, the Best Western Rewards Mastercard did not make CNET’s ranking of the best hotel credit cards, and neither did the Best Western Rewards Premium Mastercard. Depending on your travel habits, you might be better off with a top travel card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

*All information about the Best Western Rewards® Mastercard® and Best Western Rewards® Premium Mastercard® has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

Nicole Dieker has written about personal finance for nearly a decade. In addition to CNET, her work has appeared on Bankrate, CreditCards.com, Vox, Lifehacker, Popular Science, The Penny Hoarder, The Simple Dollar and NBC News. Dieker also spent five years as a writer and editor for The Billfold, a personal finance blog.