Full Review of Best Western Rewards Premium Mastercard
Decent one-time offer
Large anniversary bonus
High earning rate on Best Western stays
Automatic platinum elite status
Points value is substandard
Annual fee after the first year
- Decent One-Time Offer: This card offers 50,000 bonus points if you spend $1,000 in the first three billing cycles after you open your account. That spending threshold is relatively low for a bonus of 50,000 points, although the value of the points earned isn't outstanding.
- Large Anniversary Bonus: You can earn an additional 20,000 bonus points by spending at least $5,000 during each 12-billing-cycle period, technically called a "qualification period." The qualification period begins with the start of the first complete billing cycle after the account is enrolled in the rewards program and concludes at the end of the 12th complete billing cycle. This is essentially an account anniversary bonus, and it’s a pretty decent one at that. The bonus points will be added to your account four to eight weeks after the end of the qualification period.
- High Earning Rate on Best Western Stays: You earn 10 points per dollar spent for using your Best Western Rewards Premium Mastercard to pay for Best Western stays. While the value of each point is relatively low, earning 10 points per dollar spent more than compensates for the low valuation.
- Automatic Platinum Elite Status: With this card, you receive automatic platinum elite status in Best Western's rewards program. The only major difference between platinum elite status and gold elite status is you get a 15% point bonus for eligible stays as a platinum elite member versus a 10% point bonus as a gold elite member. Other benefits above the base status, called blue, include your choice of a thank-you gift or points upon arrival, and room upgrades. Points upon arrival may not be available at some international locations, and room upgrades may not include specialty rooms or suites.
- Points Value is Substandard: The value of the points you earn is important with any rewards program. Unfortunately, Best Western rewards points are usually worth less than 1 cent each and in many cases much less than that. Thankfully, the large bonus, anniversary bonus, and high earning rate on Best Western stays offset this.
- Annual Fee After the First Year: You don't have to pay an annual fee the first year with this card, but the annual fee is $59 each year thereafter. If you don’t earn the anniversary bonus each year, the annual fee may not be justified. If you do earn the anniversary bonus, the value of the anniversary bonus can easily justify the $59 annual fee when you redeem the points for free Best Western hotel stays.
This Card is Best For
Seeks to maximize points or miles earnings across spending categories
Seeks the recognition and perks of branded travel partner status
Flies often for business or leisure
Dines out regularly while traveling or in home city
This card could be a good fit for people who frequently stay at Best Western hotels. If you can earn the bonus of 50,000 points and the 20,000 annual anniversary bonus points, those can more than justify the costs of this card over the long run. This card can offer outsized value if you redeem your rewards at Best Western hotels that provide the highest value per point.
While the points aren't as valuable as those on some other credit cards, the high bonus amounts and 10 points per dollar spent on Best Western stays make up for the lower points value. After you spend at least $5,000 on this card to earn the anniversary bonus, using a cash-back card that pays more than 1% for your non-Best Western purchases could earn you larger rewards.
Best Western Rewards Premium Mastercard Bonus
This card offers 50,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first three complete, consecutive billing cycles after your account is opened. To earn the bonus, your account must be open and enrolled in the rewards program. The bonus points should arrive in your account six to eight weeks after they’re earned.
That bonus could be used to book six award nights at a Best Western hotel that charges 8,000 points per night, although such hotels may be difficult to find in some areas. It could also be used for four award nights at a 12,000 points per night hotel, which can be a bit easier to find, or for three award nights at a hotel charging 16,000 points a night.
Rewards Earning Details
The rewards on this credit card can be a little confusing if you go solely by its marketing materials. They state that you can earn 20 points per dollar spent on Best Western stays. But the information immediately below that statement clarifies that you earn 10 points per dollar with your card plus another 10 points per dollar as a result of your membership in Best Western’s rewards program, which is free to join even without the credit card.
Best Western purchases qualify only if made at BestWestern.com, by calling Best Western directly, or by booking through a Best Western branded hotel. You’ll also earn 2 points per dollar on all other purchases.
Earning 10 points per dollar on Best Western stays is still a great value even after you consider the relatively low value per point you get when redeeming your rewards. However, the 2 points per dollar all other purchases can typically be outearned with a 2% cash-back credit card.
There are no limits to the number of points you can earn on purchases, and the points you earn never expire. That said, Best Western can limit the number of points you can earn from bonuses. The program doesn't have blackout dates, but it does have capacity controls, and awards are subject to room availability.
If you'd rather earn airline miles than Best Western points, the rewards program does offer this option. However, opting to earn airline miles means you won’t earn any Best Western points on those stays. The earning rate for miles depends on the specific program you choose.
Considering that you can also transfer your Best Western points to airline programs, you will have greater flexibility if you take the Best Western points and transfer them later. The only drawback to this would be needing to save up at least 5,000 points before you can transfer points to a partner loyalty program. That could take a while, depending on your spending patterns.
Rewards Redemption Details
Best Western offers a number of ways to redeem your points. To get the most value for your points, you're likely best off booking stays at Best Western hotels. An award night starts at 8,000 points and can cost up to 36,000 points.
If you don't want to use your points for an award night at a Best Western hotel, you can redeem them for special promotions, Best Western Travel cards, gift cards, merchandise, or charitable donations. Or, you can transfer your points to select airline loyalty programs. The value you’ll receive per point for these redemption options is almost always less than redeeming for awardstays at Best Western hotels.
Best Western partners with quite a few airlines that allow you to transfer your Best Western points to their loyalty programs. Unfortunately, the transfer rates are extremely poor in most cases. Even so, the option to transfer points can be useful if you’re close to having enough rewards in another loyalty program to book an award flight. In order to transfer points, you need to build up a balance of at least 5,000 Best Western points. These are the transfer ratios for each transfer partner:
- AerClub: 5,000 Best Western points to 1,000 Avios points
- AeroMexico Club Premier: 5,000 Best Western points to 1,600 kilometers
- Aeroplan: 5,000 Best Western points to 1,000 miles
- AIR MILES: 5,000 Best Western points to 80 AIR MILES
- Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan: 5,000 Best Western points to 1,000 miles
- Alitalia: 6,000 Best Western points to 1,000 miles
- American Airlines AAdvantage: 5,000 Best Western points to 1,000 miles
- Asia Miles: 5,000 Best Western points to 1,000 miles
- Asiana Club: 5,000 Best Western points to 1,000 miles
- British Airways Executive Club: 5,000 Best Western points to 1,000 Avios
- FlyingBlue: 6,000 Best Western points to 1,000 miles
- Iberia Plus: 5,000 Best Western points to 1,000 Avios
- LifeMiles: 5,000 Best Western points to 1,000 Lifemiles
- Meridiana Club: 5,000 Best Western points to 1,000 Avios points
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards: 5,000 Best Western points to 1,200 points
- Vueling Club: 5,000 Best Western points to 1,000 Avios
How to Maximize Your Rewards
Maximizing the rewards on this card takes some planning. As far as earning points goes, you’ll want to make sure you collect the bonus of 50,000 points by spending $1,000 within the first three billing cycles after you open the account. You should also take advantage of the 20,000 anniversary bonus points for spending at least $5,000 during each 12-billing-cycle period.
You'll want to charge all of your Best Western purchases to this card and collect those 10 points per dollar spent. But after you've satisfied the annual $5,000 annual spending requirement for the additional bonus points, you'll likely come out ahead if you use a 2% cash-back credit card for your non-Best Western purchases.
When you're ready to redeem your Best Western points, booking award nights at Best Western hotels usually offers the best value. The value per point will vary according to the hotel you pick, so look for hotels that offer the best point valuations.
For example, you could use 48,000 of the points from your bonus to book a two-night stay at the Lincoln Hotel SureStay Collection by Best Western in Monterey Park, Calif (for a stay beginning on November 11, 2019). The same stay would cost $274.29 if you booked at Best Western's flexible rate. This reward redemption would result in a value of roughly 0.6 cents per point.
Or, if you wanted to get more value out of your points, you could book a four-night stay (begining November 11, 2019) at the Best Western Plus Dallas Hotel & Conference Center in Dallas for those 48,000 points. You’d otherwise pay $443.62 with Best Western’s flexible rate. Using your points for this hotel stay would result in a value per point of about 0.9 cents.
Best Western Rewards Premium Mastercard's Outstanding Benefits
- Automatic platinum elite status
- Auto rental insurance
The Best Western Rewards Mastercard is issued by First Bankcard, a division of First National Bank of Omaha, which was not rated in J.D. Power's 2019 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study.
You can contact First Bankcard 24/7 by calling the number on the back of your card or 888-295-5540. The card issuer also offers mobile and online account access.
As a cardholder, you’ll also receive free access to your FICO Bankcard Score 9 credit score.
This card's security features are standard for the industry.
Fees to Watch Out For
This card doesn't charge an annual fee in the first year, but you will have to pay $59 each year thereafter. The card’s balance transfer fee ($10 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater) and cash advance fees ($15 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater) are higher than many competing cards. On a positive note, this card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees or a penalty APR.
The Best Western Rewards Premium Mastercard offers a decent value for people who often stay at Best Western hotels. As long as you can earn the bonus of 50,000 points for spending $1,000 in the first three billing cycles and the 20,000 point anniversary bonus for spending at least $5,000 each year, the rewards this card offers should more than justify the cost of the annual fee after the first year. And while Best Western points aren't as valuable as some other credit card rewards, the opportunity to earn an additional 10 points per dollar spent on Best Western stays helps make up for that.
Even so, after you spend at least $5,000 on the card to collect the anniversary bonus each year, consider putting your non-Best Western purchases on other credit cards to earn more value from your spending.