Best credit card strategy for random hotels?

Archived From: Finance
  • Page :
  • 1
  • Text Only
Voting History
Can I do better than 2% on hotels?  Even a 3% promo offer would be better than what I'm getting now.  I'm a blackjack card counter, and as a result, I spend quite a bit per month on hotels.  Chain loyalty programs don't do me much good because each stay is in a different hotel each time.  It could be a Super 8 one night, Harrah's the next, and then I'll wind up on an indian reservation with no loyalty program at all.  I do belong to Wyndham Rewards, but blowing 15k WR points on Super 8 seems like a serious waste.  I've got the Chase Freedom and Discover it for when those quarters are active.

There's gotta be a better play here than 2% cash back.

Member Summary
Staff Summary
  • Also categorized in:
Thanks for visiting Join for free to remove this ad.

Depending on how many cards you have acquired in the past couple of years or how much of your pot money you part at a Chase bank, you may want to look at a Chase Sapphire Reserve. 

You may want to look at Chase Freedom Unlimited which at first glance does not meet your goal, but you can combine your Chase Ultimate Rewards points among the various Chase cards you have or acquire.  It  sounds like you know how to play the Chase Travel points game which increases the face value of the Ultimate Rewards. 

Currently, I am all in for a US Bank FlexPerks Travel Card due to the Olympic promotion bonus. Decision clock is ticking on this one.
Apply for a new U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Card no later than 9/3/2016. I would recommend action by Sept 1 to insure you meet the trigger.
It takes some study and maybe some practice, but I think you can do better than the advertised 1.4 cents per point on hotels given you may be there a few nights at a time. Like counting cards, it takes some analysis for best odds. 

Given this is your profession, you may want to look at Chase INK versions or Barclays Arrival+  ... two popular cards that I am not qualified to comment on.
I am not qualified to comment on AMEX possibilities. Therefore, I am suggesting with a stacked deck missing any AMEX options.

Chase won't let me in with yet another card, as I'm _way_ over the 5/24 limit. By like 3 times that! Heh.

I'm looking at the US Bank FlexPerks deal. So far I've kinda been avoiding points cards, as I can't really spend the points on anything? Most of these casinos are just single-location deals and aren't listed in CC companies' booking portals.

The few that do show up on travel sites, often times the rates are way higher than what I can get directly from the casino. For example the cheapest I can find online might be $100, but if I go directly to the casino and book with my player's card it's only $69. If I have to pay $30 extra just to use my points, I'm not really saving anything? I guess I could just book via Chase's site (or whoever) and ask the front desk for the lower rate when I check in. That might work. Errr... no it wouldn't, because these are points not dollars, and they can't give me a discount on points that aren't even theirs to give. I think I'd come out _way_ behind by paying with UR points or whatever.

Look at the last link by Frequent Miler whose analysis of the hotels and points values. I agree this is a YMMV given the value of Casino comps and rewards programs.
The links that I gave for the first Chase card gives hope for bypassing the 5/24 rule. YMMV, but may be worth reading.
There has been chatter about converting any spare Chase cards you have for a different card which may meet your stated goals.  Again, I am not qualified to advise you which Chase cards are the best way to meet your stated goals.

I am unsure of the value to you of your credit bureaus hard pulls.  Some cards have promo periods that are better than 2% for a limited period of time.  Wells Fargo comes to mind.  Sometimes they give 5% for the first six months you use their cards.  After that, it gets ugly at only 1% rewards.

In all cases, study the pros and cons of new cards effect on your FICO overall.
Length of Credit History
average age
New Credit 

If you stay at random hotels and also wish to get your rewards back in travel, take a look a the Orbitz Visa.

Also, not directly related to credit card rewards, will give you one night free for every 10 paid nights (the value of the free night is the average of the 10 paid). If you don't want your rewards in the form of hotel stays, obviously this isn't worth anything to you.

Both of these suggestions come with caveats, so do your research before acting on either of these. Both options can be quite rewarding in niche areas.

Priceline Visa is good for hotel purchases, even if you're not grandfathered at the 2% general rate. You get 5% back on Priceline purchases, and they "discount" the number of points you need to redeem by a third if you do so against a Priceline purchase.

In addition, you are usually getting a very good rate by booking through Priceline... I've been very happy with this card, although I'm grandfathered in at the 2% rate.

The Costco VISA is 3% on travel, including airfare and hotels, if you are a Costco member. It's the card I'm using nowadays for travel expenses.

I think the premium Citi card is 3x on air and hotel. That's more than 3% depending on your redemption patterns.

Former pro gambler here. Online casinos and video poker promos. Not much straight counting.

Using some of the suggestions above, I ran the numbers on a hypothetical stay where I played last. These numbers are inclusive of taxes and fees, and are for a 1 night Wednesday stay about 3 weeks out from now.

Priceline: $121.99 $123.09
Chase UR: 10,771 pts + $10 resort fee.  Call it $117.71 at least
Booked directly at casino w/ brand new players card: $89.08

That's kind of a huge difference in price, no?  And keep in mind that's with a casino card with 0 points on it... no discount for being in a higher tier.  Even if Chase magically gave me a 10x points card, that still wouldn't come close to making financial sense unless my math is off.  Same thing with buy 10, get 1 free arrangements.

The discounts aren't always that good, but they are always non-trivial.  I just don't see how any points card in the world is going to be able to come close to that. 

Even when the casino doesn't have an affiliated hotel and I'm forced to stay at a Super 8 or something, the AAA discount usually works out to be 10-15% at these cheap hotels.  (They never seem to ask to see your AAA membership card when you check in, by the way.)  I haven't run the numbers on that scenario yet, but I think that would also exceed any possible benefits a points card or portal would give you.

so mr high roller, im going to vegas for thanksgiving, any tricks to get a cheap 4+ star hotel there?

irate_retro said:   Using some of the suggestions above, I ran the numbers on a hypothetical stay where I played last. These numbers are inclusive of taxes and fees, and are for a 1 night Wednesday stay about 3 weeks out from now.

Priceline : $121.99 : $123.09
Chase UR: 10,771 pts + $10 resort fee.  Call it $117.71 at least
Booked directly at casino w/ brand new players card: $89.08

  but there's nothing stopping you from booking directly with the CSR and getting 267UR for future use.  Those 267UR are either $2.67 as cash, $4 booked through chase travel portal (Which from your example, which is probably mostly correct, comes out to ~7181 Pts for 79.08 value, or 1.1cents/point or 3.3% rebate which is still not as good as later options in list), up to ~$4.30 in southwest airlines flights or variable higher amounts at other travel partners.

rufflesinc said:   so mr high roller, im going to vegas for thanksgiving, any tricks to get a cheap 4+ star hotel there?

I'm not sure if you were talking to me, but I've only been to Vegas once and don't know much about it, so I'd be the wrong person to ask.  If I was to go back, I'd be far more interested in 4 star ladies of negotiable virtue than 4 star hotels.  They seem to grow on trees down there.  I once saw one of the peddlers hand an X-rated advertisement right to a priest on the street!

I do know that blackjack is terrible on the strip.  BJ only pays 6:5 in most places?  I had to walk a _long_ ways to find a decent game, and it was in a hole in the wall.  That was like 15 years ago and I haven't been back since.

I got caught counting at the Venetian, where I was staying for the night.  Dealer got pissed (guess he was having a bad day) and yelled out to the pit that I was counting.  The pit critter didn't care much (I guess because I was a hotel guest?) and instead of kicking me out, just kept feeding me more free drinks.  Fun times!

I'm definitely not a high roller.  I bet $5 a hand most of the night, except when the count gets high and then I go up to $150+.  But the pit critters usually don't see these large bets because they don't last long, so I rarely get much in the way of comps.

You should be able to play as much as you want if you're spreading in red. On the strip, you'd probably be better off Wonging in with $150 than sitting down and spreading, if you can still get away with it.

If you have the bankroll to do some low-level video poker- you could generate a pretty good stream of midweek comped room offers. or two plus two is probably a better forum for this.

You're going to hard pressed for your expected value spreading in red to beat your expenses. I'm assuming this isn't your sole means of support?

Correct, I'm not doing it for the money, as my primary means of support is MSing and other similar schemes. (My household expenses are almost nill because my house is paid off.) I just like the casino atmosphere and it's something to do. If I can cover all the room expenses, I'm pleased. There's a native american casino here where once you reach elite status, all of your rooms are 100% free whenever you want them. If I can manage to not get kicked out, I should be able to meet that tier this year. That would be a blast even if I had to tone down the spread in order to stay there on good terms.

Wonging in tends to piss off other players here. And then mid-week when the tables are pretty dead, the dealers and pit wonder why in the heck you're standing there not playing. They'd have to be pretty stupid not to figure out what's going on in no time flat. I prefer to play for 8-10 hours a day rather than hit & run, because it's a 2+ hour drive to the next casino. Usually I don't get much heat even with those long sessions. (Having drinks that whole time is a pretty good disguise.) But after 4 days solid, I definitely have worn out my welcome most of the time.

They usually use shuffling machines here, which means no hand-shuffling break between shoes. No bathroom or drink breaks! But this does provide a perfectly legit excuse to leave the table during negative counts which helps profits a bit.

I am looking into video poker just for the room offers. Near-100% machines are pretty rare here in the midwest though, from what I hear.

I kind of went the opposite way. Full-time gambling and now I'm doing MS in semi-retirement. PM me if there's anything I help you with.

Disclaimer: By providing links to other sites, does not guarantee, approve or endorse the information or products available at these sites, nor does a link indicate any association with or endorsement by the linked site to

Thanks for visiting Join for free to remove this ad.

While FatWallet makes every effort to post correct information, offers are subject to change without notice.
Some exclusions may apply based upon merchant policies.
© 1999-2017