Posted by William Charles on April 27, 2015
Credit Card Review

Published on April 27th, 2015 | by William Charles

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Best Western Rewards Premium MasterCard From FNBO Review – Up To 50,000 Points + 20,000 Point Anniversary Bonus

The Best Western Premium Mastercard is issued by First National Bank of Omaha. In this review we will be looking at the benefits & negatives to this card and who it’s best suited to. Along with the minimum credit score we’d recommend you have before applying.

Application Information

This is a brand new card, so we have very little application information on this card at the moment. If you’re approved for this card, please let us know what your credit scores are and the credit limit you received in the comments.

What Credit Score Is Required

 Credit BoardsCredit Karma
Lowest approved scoreN/AN/A
Average approved scoreN/AN/A

Common Reasons For Denial:

  • Too many recent inquiries
  • Too many new accounts
  • Bankruptcy on file
  • High credit utilization (40%+)

What Credit Bureau Does First National of Omaha Bank Pull?

First National Bank of Omaha will almost always pull Experian, although in some cases they’ll pull Equifax or TransUnion instead. If you have the credit bureau they want to pull frozen, they will deny you.

What Credit Limit Will I Receive?

Minimum Credit LimitHighest Reported Credit LimitAverage Credit Limit
N/AN/AN/A


This card comes with three major card benefits that we’re going to have a look at in a bit more depth. Platinum Elite Status, 10% off Flexible Rate Stays and the free FICO Score.Card Benefits

Platinum Elite Status

Best Western has four loyalty tiers: Best Western, Gold Elite, Platinum Elite & Diamond Elite. Having this card gives you access to Platinum Elite which would usually require you to have 15 nights or earn 15,000 points. That benefits all elites are as follows:

  • Earn 10 points for every U.S dollar spent or airline/partner rewards with each stay
  • Points never expire, no black out dates
  • Exclusive guest service phone
  • Ability to purchase points for award redemption ($10 per 1,000 point)

The following are only for Platinum Elite:

The only difference between platinum elite and diamond elite is that Diamond Elite members get a 30% bonus per stay instead of 15%. To me the only real benefits of Platinum Elite are the 15% bonus points, the room upgrades and the welcome snack/beverage or the points.

Welcome Snack/Beverage

The welcome snack/beverage doesn’t seem to be anything too special. Here are examples the hotels are given, taken from this Flyertalk thread.

  • One Complimentary Beverage – Minimum 12 ounces (see examples below)
    • 12-oz. Soda
    • 16-oz. Bottled Water
  • One Complimentary Snack Item (see examples below)
    • One pre-packaged 1-oz. snack of your choice (Examples: cookies, pretzels)
    • One piece of whole fruit (Examples: banana, apple)
  • One package of Best Western Rewards candy (Examples: M&Ms, Jelly Beans, Chocolate Raisins, Gummy Bears)
  • One package of Best Western Rewards chocolates (Examples: Truffle Box, Chocolate Bar)
  • Two mini-packages of Best Western Rewards chocolates (Examples: small milk or dark chocolate squares)

Remember you’re supposed to get one drink and one of those snack items, not all of the snacky items. According to a manager, it’s up to the hotel if they offer you the points or welcome drink/snack but you should be able to request the points even if you’re offered a beverage/snack. With the 250 points, you should also get your 15% point bonus meaning you’ll actually get 287.5 points.

Room Upgrades

If there is a better room available when you check in at any U.S or Canada property, you’re supposed to be automatically upgraded to that room. In actuality, this doesn’t seem to happen very often. There are a lot of reports of people checking in and not being offered an upgrade, even when better rooms were still available for booking online.

To have any chance of an upgrade, you’ll need to ask and cross your fingers and toes for luck. It really depends on the individual property as they are independently owned and operated. If you don’t receive an upgrade when one is available you can try complaining to corporate, some people have received 2,500 points as compensation.

Free FICO Score

Like all FNBO credit cards, this card comes with a free FICO score. FNBO uses the Experian Bankcard Enhanced 2008 model, which has a range of 250-900. The score is updated once monthly, although if you don’t use your card over a six month period it will not be updated.

10% off Flexible Rate Stays on bestwestern.com

FNBO advertises this benefit on all of their Best Western cards, but this benefit is actually available to anybody who is a Best Western rewards member and there is no fee to join, so it’s a bit disingenuous to describe this as an actual benefit. You can find more information on this benefit by clicking here.

best western 10 percent discount

Rewards Program

Earning Rewards

This card earns Best Western points at the following rates:

  • 10 points per $1 spent at Best Western properties
  • 1x points per $1 spent on all other purchases

There is also an annual spending bonus, if you spend $10,000 or more during each 12 billing cycle period (e.g one card member year) you’ll receive 20,000 bonus points. These points will be awarded 4-8 weeks after the end of the qualification period (12 billing cycles). This means you’ll actually need to pay the annual fee in year two to receive these points.

Sign Up Bonus

The sign up bonus on this card has always been the same.  You can earn up to 50,000 points, as follows:

  • Receive  25,000 bonus points after you spend $2,500 in the first three billing cycles
  • Receive an additional 25,000 bonus points after you spend a total of $5,000 within the first six billing cycles

Redeeming Your Rewards

Rewards can be redeemed for the following:

Award Nights

Most people will want to use their Best Western points for award nights at Best Western properties. There are eight different tiers, if you don’t have enough points for a full nights stay you can use a cash + points option to purchase additional points at a rate of $1 = 1,000 points (1¢ per point). Here are the different categories and their cost:

  • Category one: 8,000 points
  • Category two: 12,000 points
  • Category three: 16,000 points
  • Category four: 20,000 points
  • Category five: 24,000 points
  • Category six: 28,000 points
  • Category seven: 32,000 points
  • Category eight: 36,000 points

Unfortunately Best Western does not provide a list of what properties fall into what category. I think the easiest way to view how much a property will cost is by using a third party tool, unfortunately Hotel Hustle doesn’t contain Best Western data – but Award Mapper has you covered.

I looked at a couple of completely random hotels and dates and this is is what I found:

  • Category three property (16,000 points), cash rate was $89 (0.556¢)
  • Category six property (28,000 points), cash rate was $63.09 (0.225¢)
  • Category seven property (32,000 points), cash rate was $150.87 (0.471¢)
  • Category eight property (36,000 points), cash rate was $173.73 (0.483¢)

As I said, this is a pretty small sample size and just completely random but gives you some idea of the value of these points (which I’ll touch on more later)

Giftcards/Travel Partners

You can redeem rewards for a variety of gift cards at different merchants (they also have other dining gift cards here and gas cards here). The value you receive per point depends on the value of the gift card ($25USD – $100USD) and the merchant (e.g Target, Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy etc etc). Let’s have a look at a few options:

  • $25 gift card: 5,400 points (0.463¢ per point) – 7,000 points (0.357¢ per point)
  • $100 gift card: 26,000 points (0.385¢ per point)

They also let you redeem your points for giftcards with their travel partners (as well as gift cards for Best Western themselves). It’ also possible to receive a discount of 500-1,000 points on some of these offers as they are for elite members only.

  • Best Western gift cards: 6,000 points per $25USD (0.417¢ per point) available in different denominations.
  • Alamo, National & Carnival: 13,000 points for $50 gift card (0.385¢ per point)
  • Avis & Budget: 11,600 points for $50 gift card (0.431¢ per point)

Airline Miles

It’s possible to turn your Best Western points into Airline miles, although the exchange rates are not very favorable. Let’s have a look at your options, below is a list of the airline partners and how many miles you’d receive with that partner if you exchange 5,000 Best Western points.

  • Aeroplan miles: 1,000 miles
  • Alaska Airlines: 1,000 miles
  • AAdvantage American Airlines/US Airways Dividend Miles: 1,000 Miles
  • Asiana Airlines: 1,000 miles
  • MultiPlus Miles: 1,000 miles
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards: 1,200 points
  • AeroMexico Club Premier Kilometers: 1,600 miles
  • AIR MILES: 80 miles

Other Options (Charity, Merchandise, Memberships, Entertainment)

Our Verdict

The sign up bonus is basically 50,000 Best Western points with an annual spending bonus of 20,000 points. If we give points their highest value (0.5¢) then this is a sign up bonus of $250 with an annual spending bonus of $100, when you take into account the annual fee of $59 this drops to $41. This means that in year one + two, you’d earn a total 80,000 points worth (remember the extra 10,000 points for spending $10,000) $400 and pay an annual fee of $59 for a profit of $341.

If we instead put that $10,000 in spending on a card that earns 2% cash back, we’d earn $200. So this card is really only providing a maximum value of $141. Given that there are a lot of cards that offer more than $141 cash as a sign up bonus, this card doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

If you have paid stays at Best Western, the value proposition quickly changes as this card earns 10x points (this is in additional to the 10x points you’d earn for paid stays as a rewards member, and another 15% for being a platinum elite). For example, if you put that whole $10,000 in spending on Best Western, you’d earn a total of 170,000 points (plus whatever you’d normally earn on those paid stays) which would be worth up to $850.

apply now big

We Recommend This Card For:

  • People who have regular paid stays at Best Western
  • People that get more than 0.5¢ per point in value from Best Western points

We Don’t Recommend This Card For:

  • Everybody that doesn’t regularly have paid stays at Best Western. You can view the best hotel credit cards here.

F.A.Q’s & Tips

Does keeping this card long term make sense?

That really depends on what you’re using it for. In my mind the platinum elite benefits and free beverage/snack benefits are both absolutely worthless. This means you’re stuck paying an annual fee of $59 for 20,000 bonus points if you spend $10,000+ in a card member year.

If you’re not putting any spending on Best Western stays this basically boils down to earn 3x points on all purchases for the first $10,000 in spend. If we compare this to a 2% cash back card you’d need to value Best Western points 0.67¢ each or more to be better off and that’s before accounting for the annual fee. If we add in the annual fee of $59 you’d need to get more than 0.86¢ in value per point.

I personally think you’re going to really struggle to get anywhere near those point values with Best Western. Obviously if you have paid stays with Best Western the value proposition completely changes as you’ll also be getting 10x points per $1 spent.

Keeping the card in that situation will really depend on how much you’re spending annually at Best Western.

How much are Best Western Rewards points worth?

This really depends on what you’re planning on using them for. If you just want to turn them into cash, your best bet is to turn the points into a gift card and then resell that gift card. You could turn 26,000 points into a $100 Target gift card, you could then resell that gift card for 90.5% of face value ($90.5) which would make each point worth 0.348¢ each. This gives us a solid base rate of the minimum value you should expect for points (yes, you do need to save up 26,000 points and you’d receive a slightly worse value if you redeem points – but I think this is offset by the fact most people will get the full 100% value out of the gift cards they choose).

If you’re redeeming points for hotel stays, the sky is really the limit, for example I saw one hotel in the center of Madrid that was priced at 800€ – although you couldn’t book it with points (so much for no blackout dates). In reality it seems like usually you can get 0.45-0.5¢ per point in value without too much searching. Although it’s important to keep in mind, if you weren’t using points – would you really have booked a Best Western hotel at full cash value? I think most people would answer no.

TL:DR, points are worth anywhere from 0.348-0.5¢ per point.



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[…] Europe BW could be a good value. Here is a more detailed review of the best of the four cards: the BW Premium Mastercard. (Both posts at Doctor of […]

Taryn
Taryn

I received a prequalified offer for this card about 6 months but I passed.

Curmudgeon
Curmudgeon

I got the BW Rewards Premium card earlier this year, which gave me platinum elite status. I used that to get a status match with Hilton to Diamond, then sent proof of Hilton Diamond status back to Best Western, getting me upgraded to Diamond status with BW, so now I get a 30% bonus on my BW stays instead of just 15%.

I don’t recall ever having the check-in clerk mention anything about my elite status when I check in – I don’t know if they don’t see it or don’t care. I’ve never been offered the drink / snack, but I do get 250 bonus points. After the first year I think it will be difficult to keep the card, unless I can get the annual fee waived next year.

I had opened about 5-6 new credit cards in the 12 months before getting approved for the card, which was instantly approved on application. FICO at the time was around 800-820

Curmudgeon
Curmudgeon

Also, if you fill out the survey form they send after each stay you’ll get a bonus 250 points. It’s not worth much, but it only takes a minute or two to click through the questions – less time than watching another cat video on YouTube.

Curmudgeon
Curmudgeon

There are some good changes to the Best Western rewards system.

1. Free nights paid with points now count towards your elite status

2. Gold members now get upgraded room or welcome gift (was limited to Platinum and higher)

3. Platinum, Diamond, Diamond Select get 10% off points redemptions

4. Diamond/Diamond Select are guaranteed to get free night with points as long as the hotel has an available room (must call customer service 800-444-7646 to take advantage of this)

Curmudgeon
Curmudgeon

One more thing, since I’m monopolizing the comments. Both the fee and no-fee personal BW credit cards are earning 2x points on all non-Best Western purchases.

This is double what’s listed above, so I’m guessing this is a recent change, but significant enough to update the post.

PG
PG

Just applied for both personal and business cards for my wife and got the reply “You’ll be notified by mail of our decision in 2 to 4 weeks.” What is this, the dark ages?

Charles
Charles

Same just happened to me.

Josh
Josh

Any update here? Did you get approved in the end?

WYglobetrotter
WYglobetrotter

DP: I applied recently. 804 credit score 10/24 and 7/12, 6 figure income. I got a message saying that I will be notified in 2-4 weeks. I am going to try calling in. I will update if anything changes.

D
D

Anything change?

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