Full Review of Sonesta World Mastercard
Opportunity to earn a strong card-anniversary bonus
Automatic upgrade to elite status
One-time offer is relatively easy to earn
Low rewards value
Points can only be redeemed for Sonesta stays
$75 annual fee after the first year
- Opportunity to Earn a Strong Card-Anniversary Bonus: You can earn 30,000 bonus points on your account anniversary if you spend at least $7,500 on purchases each anniversary year. With Sonesta points worth an average of $0.0075 each based on our estimates—three-quarters of a cent—that bonus hands you an estimated $225 in spending power for stays at Sonesta. That’s triple the card’s annual fee of $75. Put another way, reaching the spending level required to earn the bonus more than doubles the rewards your earn on every dollar spent. (See How To Maximize Your Rewards for the detailed math.)
- Automatic Upgrade to Elite Status: As a cardholder, you’ll qualify for Sonesta Travel Pass’s top elite membership level called Elite. Benefits include an exclusive priority reservations line, guaranteed room bed type, early check-in, late check-out, priority self-parking, a $15 sip 'n snack credit for each visit to a Sonesta ES Suites, complimentary room upgrade, choice of welcome amenity, complimentary non-alcoholic beverage, discounted suite upgrades and complimentary club lounge access (or continental breakfast daily). These benefits may be based on availability.
- One-Time Offer is Relatively Easy to Earn: You can earn both parts of the one-time offer for this card with relative ease and simplicity. You simply have to add an authorized user in the first 90 days to earn one part—5,000 points we estimate are worth $37. The other bonus (30,000 points worth an estimated $225) requires spending only $1,000 in the first 90 days after account opening. By contrast, some other cards require $3,000 or $5,000 of spending to earn their bonuses, although the value of those benefits is usually higher than this one.
- Low Rewards Value: According to Investopedia's valuation, Sonesta points are worth about three-quarters of a cent each when used for Sonesta stays, which is the only option for redeeming them. That isn’t the lowest point value we’ve calculated; we estimate Hilton and Radisson points are worth less than a half-cent each. But cards from those other chains tend to offer a far higher number of points per dollar spent on stays and other chain spending than the 3 points per dollar of the Sonesta World Mastercard. For example, the Hilton Amex Surpass, which does have a slightly higher annual fee ($95 rather than $75), offers 12 points per dollar spent at Hilton, which works out to more than twice the overall value of the Sonesta rewards.
- Points Can Only Be Redeemed for Sonesta Hotel Stays: Many other hotel rewards programs offer several redemption options in case you don’t want to use your points to book an award night stay. Sonesta rewards can be used only for stays at the chain’s hotels and resorts. And where many other chains have thousands of properties, Sonesta has fewer than 100 hotels and resorts around the world.
- $75 Annual Fee After the First Year: The Sonesta World Mastercard has an introductory $0 annual fee during the first year. Unfortunately, the fee increases to $75 each year thereafter.
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
The Sonesta World Mastercard is for people who stay at Sonesta-brand hotels and want to easily enjoy the benefits of the chain’s highest status level, Elite, when they do so. Without having to accumulate the 12 nights a year needed to earn Elite, you immediately earn its extras, including free continental breakfast, a welcome gift, and priority parking.
It’s also a card for people prepared to use it to charge at least six hundred dollars or so a month in purchases, in any category. Such spending allows you to earn the 30,000-point anniversary bonus awarded if your annual spending reaches at least $7,500. That spending delivers a bonus that’s worth more than $200 in value for Sonesta stays.Even with its anniversary- and one-time offers, the Sonesta World Mastercard is a card for those for whom rewards value not a top priority. At best, when used for Sonesta purchases, the points earned equate to a value of 2.25 cents (3 X 0.75 cents) per dollar spent, which is significantly below the value of other major hotel co-brand cards provide for hotel purchases.
Sonesta World Mastercard Bonus
This card offers a bonus in two ways. First, you can earn 60,000 bonus points by spending at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account. Next, you can earn 5,000 points for adding an authorized user within the first 90 days of account opening. Together, these points are worth an estimated $488 in value for Sonesta stays. Put another way, they might get you four award night stays in a tier 1 hotel, three award nights in a tier 3 hotel, or one award night in a tier 9 hotel.
As with most cards, you are limited to one bonus offer per new account and the bonus does not apply when converting existing accounts. Expect points to take 8 to 12 weeks to post to your account after qualifying for the bonuses.
Rewards Earning Details
You earn 3 points per dollar spent on eligible Sonesta purchases; 2 points per dollar spent on eligible airfare, car rental, and dining purchases; and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. We calculate the average value of each Sonesta point at $0.0075—three-quarters of a cent. That means you earn the equivalent of 2.25 cents per dollar spent at Sonesta, 1.5 cents on other travel purchases, and three-quarters-of-a-cent on all other spending.
Points earned do not expire and do not have any black-out dates. That said, redemption reservations are based on availability. The Sonesta Travel Pass program also states they can terminate, modify, revise or change the program at any time, including reducing the value of benefits or points and changes may result in forfeiture of unused points.
Rewards Redemption Details
Redeeming the points you earn is a bit more complex than with most hotel programs. Points can be redeemed for hotel stays based on the tier rating of the Sonesta property. Redemption amounts are as follows:
- Tier 1: 15,000 points per night
- Tier 2: 17,500 points per night
- Tier 3: 20,000 points per night
- Tier 4: 22,500 points per night
- Tier 5: 25,000 points per night
- Tier 6: 27,500 points per night
- Tier 7: 30,000 points per night
- Tier 8: 40,000 points per night
- Tier 9: 50,000 points per night
Most hotel chains allow you to book reward nights online, directly using their booking engines. To redeem rewards with Sonesta, though, requires you to either fill out an online form or to call 855-622-2160. This adds an extra step in the process which can be frustrating to those used to redeeming rewards seamlessly with other rewards programs.
You can’t transfer points from your Sonesta rewards account to any other person or program.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
Making the most of the Sonesta World Mastercard begins, unsurprisingly, with using the card for all purchases at the chain, which earn the best rewards. You can, of course, also use it for other travel purchases, to earn the next-best rewards rate, or even for miscellaneous purchases, which earn the least. Despite their modest returns, consider using these purchases as needed to reach the $7,500 in annual spending required to earn the 30,000-point anniversary bonus. Worth more than $200, that points boost essentially adds an extra 4 points (worth 3 cents) in rewards to every dollar you spend to reach the spending limit--which is a hefty bonus indeed.
When it comes to redeeming rewards for stays at Sonesta (the only option, remember), focus on redemptions that maximize the value of your points. As with many loyalty programs, that value can vary by the property you choose for your stay. And try to be flexible with your schedule, since awards nights may sell out for certain periods.
Here are examples of how much value can vary by property. A one-night stay at the Sonesta ES Suites Montgomery in a studio suite, using the Sonesta Travel Pass member rate, would cost $110 including taxes and fees. If you use points, the stay would cost 15,000 points. That tab yields a value per point of roughly 0.7 cents, which is almost exactly the average we calculated from researching numerous redemptions. By comparison, a night in a standard room at the Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island would cost $446 per night including taxes and fees using the Sonesta Travel Pass member rate. You can book this hotel for 30,000 points per night. This redemption would yield a per-point value of about 1.5 cents, which is double our average value and of the cost per point of the Sonesta Montgomery property.
As you research redemption options, then, be ready to calculate the per-point value you’d get for each by dividing the cash price of the hotel room by the number of points you’d have to use for an award night. Multiply the resulting number by 100 to get the value of your points in cents for each redemption option. The higher the value per point, the better the value of the redemption.
Sonesta World Mastercard's Outstanding Benefits
- 30,000 bonus anniversary points with $7,500 in purchases during an anniversary year
- Elite status with Sonesta Travel Pass
- 5% off on purchases at locations worldwide
- $15 sip ‘n snack credit for each stay at Sonesta ES Suites locations
- 15% discount on dining and resort amenities
- Complimentary room upgrades, when available
- Discounted suite upgrades, when available
Bank of America earned a rating of 798 out of a possible 1,000 in J.D. Power's 2019 Credit Card Satisfaction Study, which is about average. Overall, it ranked seventh in satisfaction among credit card issuers.
Bank of America cardmembers can manage their accounts online or through the Bank of America mobile app. This card can also be added to digital wallets to shop in-store or in-app using Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and Apple Pay.
If you have questions about your account or need help with something, customer service is available by phone at 800-732-9194. You can also connect with a customer service representative through live chat.
The security features this card offers are standard for the credit card industry. The card does offer the capability of making chip-and-PIN purchases which may be your only option when making purchases at unattended terminals in other countries.
With its points redeemable only at the 100 or so Sonesta properties around the world, the Sonesta World Mastercard obviously has limited appeal, especially if none of those hotels or resorts is located where you would like to visit. If you’re a Sonesta regular, though, you should be able to earn more value through this card’s points and benefits than with any other card. That’s certainly the case if you spend the average of $625 a month required to earn the card’s annual bonus of 30,000 points—which we recommend reaching even if it requires some spending at the lowest rewards rates. However, other than the spending needed to reach the required “spend” for the annual bonus, the Sonesta World Mastercard is a dubious choice for anything except Sonesta spending. Its rewards for non-Sonesta purchases are so low that you should be able to earn more value from other cards, including one that earns 2% in cash back and has no annual fee.