About La Quinta Returns Visa Card
The La Quinta Returns Visa Card is a hotel rewards credit card linked to the La Quinta Returns loyalty program. New cardmembers have a chance to earn up to four free nights in the first year of owning the card if they can meet certain spending requirements.
If you’re in the market for this card, then we applaud you for researching a credit card that isn’t a mainstream favorite. Coming into this search with an open mind is a key to discovering deals and benefits others normally wouldn’t find.
So, to help you in your search for a dark-horse candidate for your best hotel credit card, we’ve done some research in some key areas:
- Hotel benefits
- Value of Returns points
- Non-hotel benefits
- Rates and fees
- Reviews from experts
What we found will be detailed in this review. Once we help you through those topics, we’ll conclude with some general thoughts and recommendations for other cards that might work for you.
The La Quinta Returns Visa’s Hotel Benefits
When you’re getting a hotel rewards credit card, the goal is to get the best value for the kind of traveling you like to do.
In most cases, consumers who stay at La Quinta inns are looking for affordable, clean rooms. This objective is a little different than a travel-rewards blogger who is looking for the most luxury out of their hotel points.
So, while the Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express may get you a $500-a-night hotel in Paris for 12,000 points (more than 20 points per dollar), that doesn’t really mean much for a family who wants to drive from San Diego to Houston. Practical value is the key.
Possibility of 40,000 Bonus Points
You’ll earn 20,000 bonus points after making your first purchase with your La Quinta Visa, and you’ll get another 20,000 bonus points if you spend at least $10,000 in the first 12 months of owning your card.
The La Quinta Returns website says these points can get you up to four free nights. We wanted to know if this was true and what availability was like, so we did a search for rewards nights in four different cities. Keep in mind that each of these hotels includes free breakfast and complimentary wifi.
We found eight hotels: three at 8,000 points, three at 11,000 points and two at 15,000 points. Two of the hotels – a 15K and an 11K – were pretty far away from the attractions.
Our search turned up two hotels: one in Kirkland (18K points) and one in downtown Seattle (18K points). While the points price is steep for a stay in Seattle, the value of those points is actually pretty good.
Normally, 100 points on a cash reward card would get you $1. The downtown Seattle hotel cost $279 a night, which equates to about $1.50 per 100 points.
We found eight hotels in the New York/New Jersey area. Hotels ranged in points from 11,000 to 24,000, with four hotels located in Brooklyn (3 at 11K, 1 at 18K), two in Manhattan, one in Queens and one in Secaucus.
The property in Williamsburg (Brooklyn) presented the best value at $229 for an 11,000-point night.
La Quinta has six hotels within 10 miles of downtown Houston. Seven of those properties were 11,000 points and one was 18,000 points.
Our Conclusion on the Value of Your La Quinta Returns Bonus Points
Based on this research, we think the odds are against you if you want to book two nights with your 20,000 bonus points because most hotels were 11,000 points, but it would be easy to earn an extra 2,000 points in order to have enough to book two nights for free.
So, while you may not be able to get two free nights in your destination right off the bat, you can get them after one or two months of spending. How? With points you earn for every purchase you make.
Earning Points Bonuses on Purchases
You can rack up additional La Quinta Returns points on nearly every purchase you make:
- 17 points per dollar on purchases at La Quinta properties
- 2 points per dollar on car rentals, gas, and dining
- 1 point per dollar on everything else
Considering that most families can spend at least $2,000 a month on food, eating out, gas and other bills, there’s a good chance you can get at least 24,000 La Quinta Returns points every year.
When you add up the first-year bonus of 40,000 points plus your spending, it’s possible that you could rack up around 70,000 points in the first year of owning this card which is good enough, in most cities, for at least six free nights.
Now, what we haven’t told you is that you get additional points bonuses for being a La Quinta Visa cardholder, and we’ll get to that in the next section.
Free Upgrade to Gold Status
The final main hotel perk you get with this card is an upgrade to Gold status in the La Quinta Returns loyalty program. Normally, it would take 10 individual nights or 3 multi-night stays to get Gold status.
This is the middle tier, offering more benefits than Silver status but fewer than Elite status. Here’s a list of Gold status benefits, with (SG) meaning the benefits are available to Silver and Gold and (G) indicating benefits Gold members have over Silver members:
- Express check-in (SG)
- Late check-out (SG)
- Mobile checkout (SG)
- Instant free nights (SG)
- Members-only phone line (SG)
- Points never expire if account is active (SG)
- 20% bonus on points (G)
- 2 free room upgrades per year (G)
In our opinion, the Gold status’ points bonus and the pair of free room upgrades are great perks. Using our estimate of around 70,000 points earned in the first year, that 20% bonus gets you an extra 14,000 points you can put toward your stay.
While this benefit isn’t part of owning the La Quinta Returns Visa, it is a nice perk for travelers with pets.
La Quinta won’t charge you for your pets as long as you’re in the room with them or you have a crate you can put them in when you’re not in the room.
Non-Hotel Benefits of the La Quinta Returns Visa Card
The non-hotel benefits of this card are far fewer than what you’d get with a card that’s in the World Mastercard or Visa Signature programs.
The card’s issuer is First National Bank of Omaha, who offers some bare bones (yet helpful) benefits you get with most other cards out there.
Your La Quinta Returns Visa includes zero fraud liability, so you won’t be on the hook for fraudulent charges made on your card. You’ll also get 24/7 access to your FICO score and chip technology on your credit card.
These benefits are by no means unique, though – big companies like Chase, American Express and Bank of America give customers chip cards and free FICO scores.
The La Quinta Returns Visa Rates and Fees
While the La Quinta Visa’s non-hotel benefits might be weak, it actually has a pretty strong set of rates and fees.
The card’s APR of 14.49%-20.49% is among the best for hotel rewards cards, according to our Best Hotel Rewards Credit Card of 2017 rankings.
In fact, the card’s lowest APR of 14.49% is lower than the seven cards we reviewed and its high-end APR of 20.49% was middle-of-the-pack. You can get the low APR if you have excellent credit scores (740 and above) and the lower your scores go from there, the higher the APR you’ll get.
The card has no annual fee and no penalty APR, but it does have a 3% foreign transaction fee and a balance transfer fee of 5%, which is 2% higher than the usual 3% fee we see on most hotel rewards credit cards.
Your late fees will be up to $37.
In all, we’d say that the rates and fees you get with this card are average, but if you have great credit scores then you can take advantage of the low-interest rate this card has to offer.
However, we want to remind you that interest rates and late fees won’t come into play if you pay off your balance every month and you never pay late.
What Other People Are Saying About the La Quinta Returns Visa Card
Earlier in this review, we said the La Quinta Visa was a dark-horse credit card, the kind of card that doesn’t get a lot of hype.
Because of that, there aren’t too many consumer reviews of the card on any of the major credit-card sites aside from HighYa.
There are some expert reviews of the card, and here’s a summary of what they think:
- CreditCards.com: 2.5 out of 5 stars, “The La Quinta Returns Visa card offers a fair return on hotel spending.”
- BeverlyHarzog.com: “If you have a job or lifestyle where you drive from town to town and you like to stay at La Quintas, you could rack up some points in a hurry.”
- DoctorofCredit.com: This card is hard to justify considering the high spend required for the full 40,000 points … There are also better credit card options for your car rental, gas and dining purchases.
We think the first two reviews are pretty spot-on, but the last review is a little off. The $10,000 requirement to earn the extra 20,000 points isn’t too steep, considering an average family can hit that requirement without any problems.
Now, if you’re single and you don’t use your card to pay for at least $1,000 in purchases each month, the limit is probably too high. But, then again, young, single people aren’t really the type of travelers who would flock to a La Quinta.
Our Final Thoughts About the La Quinta Returns Visa Card
However, we’ve found that some lesser known cards like the Choice Privileges Visa or the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard present some pretty decent value for the right people.
This is exactly how we feel about the La Quinta Returns Visa. We know La Quintas aren’t known for their luxury, but average American families or business travelers aren’t always looking for luxury. They tend to want rooms that meet their spatial and monetary needs.
We think the first-year benefits you get with this card are well worth signing up for it if you don’t mind staying in La Quintas. You can get seven free nights – that’s a pretty amazing perk.
You could squeeze even more nights out of your first year if you could find 8,000-points-per-night hotels, but, based on our research, you should expect to spend at least 11,000 points per night.
Now, if you think that the La Quinta Returns Visa might be a good fit for you but you want to check out other budget-hotel credit cards, check out our reviews of the Choice Privileges Visa and the Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature.
The Choice Privileges is pretty similar, in terms of rewards, because the average family can rack up enough points to book up to seven free nights the first year. This card may have the slight edge because they have more locations across the country than La Quinta.
There are numerous hotels in the Wyndham chain, but their points structure is set up so that you can only get around four free nights your first year of card membership, which, in our opinion, puts this a level below the La Quinta Returns Visa and the Choice Privileges Visa.