Living with credit, Rewards

3 ways to use your cards to stay at boutique hotels

Jenny Hoff

Credit card reward points are a great way to travel the world and stay in hotels with well-known brands, but it’s sometimes hard to use your rewards points to stay at a boutique hotel.

If you prefer luxurious small, independent, boutique hotels, such as the Riverside Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where I stayed recently, you have options.

The historic Riverside Hotel on Las Olas Boulevard is on Fort Lauderdale’s premier shopping street of restaurants, boutiques and art galleries. The Riverside preserves a lot of the old charm of the area, and it has a top-notch restaurant with live music in the evenings (the singer often brings his daughter along as he works).

How can you use your card points and perks to stay at a unique, boutique hotel? Here are three ways:

  1. The Stash Hotels Rewards Visa lets you earn points toward stays at more than 150 privately owned membership hotels (including the Riverside) across the U.S. and Caribbean. Stash includes a sign-up bonus like most reward cards, and the card’s terms aren’t bad with 3 points earned per dollar spent at any membership hotel, 2 points per dollar spent on gas, dining or other hotels, and 1 point for all other purchases. There are no blackout dates, no points expiration, no foreign transaction fees, and you get 10 percent back in points every time you redeem some of your rewards (for example, if you redeem 10,000 points for a stay, you’ll get 1,000 points credited back to your account).
  1. American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts is another option if you’re looking for unique luxury hotels where you can use your Membership Rewards points. The program includes 900 exclusive, specially selected luxury properties worldwide. An added benefit: If you book a qualifying prepaid hotel rate on, the cost includes the lowest hotel rate guarantee.
  1. The website Virtuoso is also a good option to find deals at unique and luxury hotels, and while it doesn’t have a points system unto itself, you can use points you have for hotels even if you book through the site. Also, when you stay at Virtuoso partner properties, you qualify for perks that can range from free breakfast and free Wi-Fi to a resort or spa credit, depending on availability, and you don’t need a special rewards card to qualify.

For the discerning traveler who likes a more intimate hotel experience, these options could help make those stays even more enjoyable with free perks and free points at unique properties that don’t belong to the major chains, like the Riverside.

While the Riverside is not on the beach like many of the chain hotels in Fort Lauderdale, it is the only option for a luxury stay on Las Olas, making it an attractive alternative for the more art-loving visitor.

And the hotel is on the Intracoastal Waterway, where you can catch a water taxi to go on a sightseeing tour of some of the beautiful villas owned by celebrities and business moguls (I consider Fort Lauderdale the Beverly Hills of the Southeast).

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