A hotel credit card can be the golden key that unlocks a world of benefits usually reserved for elite loyalty program members. The best hotel credit cards offer hefty welcome bonuses, automatic elite status and VIP perks that range from complimentary room upgrades to late check-outs and so much more.
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Best for HiltonRates & Fees
The Hilton Honors American Express Credit Card is an entry-level card with no annual fees that offers an enticing welcome offer, generous category bonuses, and travel protections.
The Hilton Honors American Express Card is a solid option for cardholders loyal to the hotel chain. Their Honors program extends to over 6,400 hotels in 119 countries, allowing international travelers to redeem points. The card also automatically enrolls members to Hilton Honors Silver status, allowing you to earn a 20% bonus on your Hilton spending.
This American Express credit card can be perfect for newcomers who want to achieve Hilton Honors status but haven’t logged in enough stays. The card has limited elite benefits, but offers solid reward rates with no annual fee. If you’re looking for more luxury perks, you can upgrade to Gold status by spending $20,000 on other eligible purchases within a calendar year.
Hilton Honors American Express card offers competitive rewards, especially for a hotel card with no annual fee. Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for every dollar spent on eligible Hilton purchases, 5x points per dollar on eligible restaurant, grocery store, and gas station purchases, and 3x on all other purchases.
The welcome offer allows you to earn 80,000 Hilton Honor bonus points and a Free Night Reward after only spending $1,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. On top of that, you can earn an additional 50,000 points by spending $5,000 in the first 6 months.
Best for Marriott
This credit card is best for travelers who are Marriott loyalists who want the perks of a high-end hotel credit card status with lower yearly costs. Each account anniversary year gets you a free stay that can save you more than the $95 annual fee.
You automatically earn Silver elite status when you join, with the ability to earn your way to Gold status for even more benefits.
The Marriott Bonvoy provides a straightforward reward chart based on points categories that reflect off-peak, peak, and standard dates. As a cardmember, you only need to search for hotel rates based on your current Marriott points to redeem them.
This card offers a sign-up bonus of 125,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first three months. However, there are many more ongoing perks to consider when applying for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® card.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® offers many ways for you to start earning hotel points. There are over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®, and you can earn 17x points per dollar spent at any of them. Purchases at grocery stores, gas stations, and dining earn you 3x points on the first $6,000 spent each year, and everything else will earn 2x.
This hotel credit card also offers numerous additional rewards for meeting certain spending thresholds. 3 free nights, 15 Elite Night credits, and gold status can all be earned this way.
Best for Hyatt
The World of Hyatt Credit Card offers generous benefits, a rewarding loyalty program, and much more. As a cardholder, you automatically earn Discoverist status which grants access to perks such as late checkouts and an additional 10% bonus points on all eligible purchases.
On top of its lucrative rewards system, the World of Hyatt card offers many luxury perks. Lost luggage reimbursement, trip cancellation insurance, and car rental collision damage waivers are a few of the benefits you can expect. If you are a Hyatt loyalist or are interested in spending at least a few nights a year there, this hotel card could be a great addition to your wallet. The high value rewards and generous perks come with a comparatively low $95 annual fee, making this a great choice for a hotel credit card
The World of Hyatt card is one of the most valuable hotel credit cards available, with each point being worth approximately 1.7 cents. Cardholders earn 4x points on all purchases at Hyatt properties and 2x purchases in other categories such as restaurants, airfare, transportation, and gym memberships. You’ll earn 2x points on all other purchases up to $15,000 in the first 6 months, then 1x.
As a World of Hyatt cardholder, you’ll get 5 elite nights every year, with the chance to earn 2 additional elite nights for every $5,000 spent. You’ll also earn 1 free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel each year on your membership anniversary.
Best for Holiday Inn
The IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card carries a welcome offer of 125,000 plus a complimentary night. As most cards with an annual fee, the IHG Rewards card provides enticing perks and benefits, but you’ll get the most out of this card if you are a frequent traveler who primarily stays with IHG.
On top of a complimentary night each year, you can earn a fourth-night-free perk for every fourth night when you redeem points. The IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card offers a lot of perks for travelers who frequently stay with IHG. For example, you’ll get automatic Platinum Elite status as long as you’re an IHG Premier cardholder. This free stay, worth 40,000 points, already justifies paying the $89 yearly fee.
Therefore, the IHG Premier Card is best suited for IHG loyalist travelers who can take advantage of its rewards.
With the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card you can earn up to 25 points per dollar spent when staying at an IHG hotel. This flexible rewards program also lets you earn 2X points for every dollar spent at grocery stores, gas stations, and U.S. restaurants, and 1X point on all other purchases.
New cardholders can earn even more points when they sign up with a generous bonus offer of 125,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 within the first three months of account opening.
Best for Adventurers
The Hotels.com Credit Card through Wells Fargo isn’t the most straightforward card when it comes to rewards. Instead of offering cashback or points per dollar spent, it allows you to earn stamps. These stamps can be used towards earning a free night. Bear in mind that a rewards night requires ten stamps, which comes out to at least $5,000 in spending before you can redeem your rewards.
Despite this drawback, we do like this card for the variety of options you get. Instead of being loyal to one hotel brand, you expand your options with Hotel.coms hundreds of thousands of locations and properties.
If you’re an adventurer who likes the idea of earning hotel rewards without being tied to one brand, you might be interested in this card, which allows you to explore independent hotels, bed and breakfasts, inns, and other properties.
Plus, this card doesn’t have a yearly fee or international transaction fees, which can save you money as a traveler.
The stamp system can be a bit confusing compared to other hotel cards reward programs. Cardholders earn one stamp for every $500 spent. Once you’ve earned 10 stamps, you can redeem them for your free reward night.
With the amount you need to spend to earn a free night, the welcome offer is a great value. Earn two free nights worth up to $250 after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening.
Additionally, you can earn up to 2.2% back toward future bookings with Hotels.com.
Hotel-specific credit cards provide numerous benefits and perks, such as free hotel stays, room upgrades, travel discounts, and brand loyalty rewards.
If you are loyal to a specific hotel chain, co-branded hotel cards could be perfect in your wallet.
A co-branded hotel credit card often rewards those with card memberships with hotel-specific perks like a free anniversary night certificate, complimentary elite status, free breakfast, bonus points, on-property rewards, etc. However, you may not get the same reward flexibility as a general card or travel card.
If you travel frequently and prefer a particular hotel chain, then a co-branded card is a logical choice. Most options for hotel credit cards offer enough valuable perks to justify an annual fee, plus many also have hefty welcome offers that allow you to start earning points right away.
Not everyone should get a hotel card, but if you travel or are loyal to a particular hotel brand, it makes sense.
If you’re not particular about where you stay, it might be better to get a flexible general travel credit card that allows you to transfer points to hotel programs.
The main advantage of having a hotel card lies in earning hotel rewards points and enjoying premium services and travel-specific perks. You can earn points just by booking and staying at a hotel.
Hotel-related credit cards are easy to understand, and they often carry a surprising number of perks. Many established hotel brands offer their own branded credit card.
Depending on the type of hotel credit card you apply for, you may be automatically bumped into a higher tier in their rewards program, allowing you access to complimentary concierge services, free breakfast, room upgrades, and much more.
They also provide points toward travel activities such as TSA PreCheck reimbursement, airport lounge access, trip cancellation insurance, lost luggage insurance, and other luxury perks.
Hotel credit cards allow you to earn points and rewards, but how much you can earn depends on the hotel’s rewards policy and the type of card you carry.
Every dollar you spend can earn you hotel points, and these points add up within your card’s hotel loyalty membership. Hotel credit cards assign different point structures at different rates; some give you a flat $1 spent = 1 point earned, while others will multiply your points per dollar in certain categories. You almost always earn the most points when using your card for purchase at the specific hotel.
The World of Hyatt Card, for example, earns one point for every dollar spent, but cardmembers can earn double points at restaurants, local transit services, gyms, airline tickets, and more. Plus, you can get nine points per dollar when you use the card at a Hyatt location. These points can be redeemed for a free hotel stay or a room upgrade, saving you money while providing luxury perks.
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card allows you to earn up to 17 points per dollar spent worldwide at any of their locations. You have many opportunities to earn points in grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants.
Most cards follow similar structures using their own rates, so it’s important to understand what the rewards rate looks like on the hotel card you’re interested in.
For frequent travelers, hotel-specific cards can be a powerful tool to collect reward points, especially if you have a co-branded card from a hotel you are loyal to.
Often, the best cards offer enticing sign-up offers, VIP status, and luxury perks that can range from late check-outs to complimentary room upgrades.
While general travel cards can reap flexible rewards, a co-branded hotel card gives you access to luxury perks like concierge services, complimentary meals and tastings, travel protection, and more. There are dozens of hotel-oriented credit cards available, so it’s important to do your research before applying.
If you are not a frequent hotel visitor or are not loyal to a specific hotel brand, you might be better suited for a non-branded card or a more general travel rewards card.
Many hotel loyalty programs, such as World of Hyatt, Marriott Bonvoy, and Hilton Honors, come with co-branded credit cards.
For many cardholders, a valuable perk offered by hotel-branded cards is a free hotel stay certificate every year. This complimentary stay often justifies the cost of an annual fee outside of all the other perks.
It could be worth your time and money to open a co-branded hotel card even if most of your purchases are non-travel related since many of them offer hotel reward points for everyday purchases.
Each of these following hotel credit cards will offer you at least one free hotel stay annually:
Your free night generally appears as an award on your account, but some programs provide a certificate that you can call to redeem. Typically, you have one year to redeem this certificate, although check with your program to see if the deadline has been extended due to COVID-19.
You can redeem your free hotel stay on its own or extend it by using points or payment.
Just like with any card, there are pros and cons you should consider first.
Not paying your balance in full monthly could lower the value a hotel-access card can bring. Before you know it, late fee penalties and interest rates can outweigh the value it offers.
If the card you’re interested in does have an annual fee, the value of your points should exceed the annual cost. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has a pretty steep annual fee of $450. But the points you get in return when you spend at participating Hilton properties are lucrative, along with a free weekend night award. You can earn $250 in statement credits at participating Hilton Resorts, essentially erasing half the fee by the end of the year.
Other cards have low or no annual fees, like the Wyndham Rewards® Visa® Card or the Hilton Honors American Express Credit Card. But even a zero annual fee credit card should be carefully considered before applying. Only you can decide if the rewards and perks of a hotel credit card are worth it.
Hotel credit cards reward you for staying and spending at participating properties, but many also offer points for spending in bonus categories like gas stations, grocery stores, home improvement stores, and more. If you don’t make a lot of travel purchases but are interested in earning hotel points, look for a card that offers these everyday bonus categories.
Many hotel credit cards offer you one free night with a participating hotel. Many cards with low or no annual costs tend to provide free night certificates, and other cards allow you to earn another free night after meeting spending requirements. A free night can save you more money than the card’s annual fee, in many cases, especially if the room is over $250.
Many hotel loyalty programs offer elite status to frequent guests, which can come with a variety of perks. These perks can include: Room upgrades, bonus rewards on your hotel bookings, complimentary breakfast, free Wi-Fi, earlier check-in and late check-out It can be difficult to attain these elite status tiers as a regular guest, but hotel credit cards often include automatic enrollment in an elite tier level.
Most hotel credit cards offer new cardholders bonus points when they spend a certain amount in a specified time period. Some offers are more competitive than others.
Understanding annual fees and weighing the cost vs. benefits can make a huge impact when choosing a hotel credit card. Beyond annual fees, foreign transaction fees can rack up quite a cost if you aren’t expecting them.