The best hotel rewards program depends on the features and benefits that’re most important to you, and perhaps the roster of co-branded credit cards offered to help boost your program experience.
Hotel loyalty programs reward frequent travelers with elite status benefits and points toward free nights — and the best hotel rewards programs offer generous benefits and make it easy to qualify for elite status.
Each major hotel brand has a loyalty program with unique rewards, benefits and qualification metrics. So, what is the best hotel rewards program for the way you travel? Below, we compare five of the most popular hotel loyalty programs, the pros and cons of each, associated hotel cards to consider and tips for choosing a program.
World of Hyatt: Best for premium benefits
Why we picked it: Globetrotters seeking a premium travel experience should choose World of Hyatt based on its perks for elite members. Members earn top-tier elite status after 60 nights and receive perks that are unmatched by other hotel loyalty programs.
Rewards program perks: Top-tier elite members receive complimentary breakfast, waived resort fees and free parking on award stays. Even first-tier Discoverist members get 2 p.m. late checkout, waived resort fees on award stays and premium internet speeds.
Earnings and using World of Hyatt points: All members earn 5X base points on spending at Hyatt properties. Plus, you’ll earn up to 30 percent bonus points on eligible purchases, depending on your elite status. Points are worth an average of 2.1 cents each, according to Bankrate points and miles valuations.
Award nights start at just 3,500 points, and the highest level Category 8 rooms can be booked for as few as 35,000 points per night. Members may also redeem points for all-inclusive properties in Mexico and the Caribbean starting at 17,000 points per night. Miraval all-inclusive wellness properties in the U.S. start at 40,000 points per night for single occupancy.
Credit cards to consider: Hyatt offers one consumer and one business credit card to earn additional World of Hyatt points: the World of Hyatt Credit Card and World of Hyatt Business Credit Card. Both cards offer a generous welcome bonus, earn bonus points when paying for Hyatt stays and score cardholders automatic Discoverist elite status. Plus, the consumer card includes one free night stay each year at a Category 1 through 4 hotel, with the option to earn a second free night based on your spending.
- Free night awards start at just 3,500 points
- Earn Milestone Rewards every 10 nights stayed
- Achieve lifetime Globalist with 1,000,000 base points earned
- Points transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards on 1:1 basis
- Limited geographic footprint with 1,150 properties
- Only two Hyatt-branded credit card options
IHG One Rewards: Best for diverse hotel locations
Why we picked it: IHG Hotels and Resorts has over 6,000 locations around the world, which means that travelers can find an IHG hotel nearly anywhere they travel. The hotel has 17 brands that cater to every type of traveler, ranging from business to family to luxury.
Rewards program perks: As an IHG One Rewards member, you’ll receive exclusive member rates when booking rooms, and there are no blackout dates when redeeming points for award nights. Plus, all members receive free internet and 2 p.m. late checkout.
Earnings and using IHG One Rewards points: Members earn up to 10 points per dollar spent at IHG hotels, and elite members receive up to a 100 percent bonus points, depending on their level. Plus, you can earn up to an additional 10 points per dollar when paying for your room with an IHG co-branded credit card.
Members can redeem IHG points for rooms or use a combination of points and cash, and reward nights can be booked for as few as 10,000 points. IHG does not have a fixed award chart, so room prices vary based on property, location, time of year and occupancy levels. One of the best redemption strategies is to take advantage of the 4th night free when you have an IHG credit card. This provides savings of up to 25 percent on your trip.
Credit cards to consider: IHG offers three co-branded credit cards, including one for business owners: the IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card, IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card and IHG® Rewards Premier Business Credit Card. While the IHG Rewards Premier has a $99 annual fee, it comes with one free night each year that can be used at properties up to 40,000 points. For most travelers staying at IHG properties, that free night is worth more than the annual fee.
Similar to the World of Hyatt, Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to IHG One Rewards on a 1:1 basis — making the Sapphire Preferred worth it for IHG loyalists, as well.
- No blackout dates for reward nights
- 2 p.m. late checkout for all elite members
- Free breakfast for top-tier elites
- Dynamic award chart leaves travelers guessing
- Requires 70 nights to earn top-tier status
- Some brands earn fewer base points
Marriott Bonvoy: Best for hotel brand variety
Why we picked it: With its acquisition of Starwood Preferred Group, Marriott Bonvoy offers 30 different hotel brands. This variety allows travelers to earn and redeem points at hotels across all budgets and travel styles, including luxury, premium and longer stays.
Rewards program perks: While free breakfast is reserved for top-tier elites in other programs, Marriott Bonvoy members receive free breakfast and full lounge access beginning at the mid-tier Platinum elite status. Additionally, Platinum members and above also receive 4 p.m. late checkout and may receive upgrades to select suites.
Earnings and using Marriott Bonvoy points: Members earn 10 points per dollar spent at most Marriott brands. However, you earn 5 points per dollar at a handful of others and only 2.5 points per dollar at Marriott Executive Apartments. Elite members receive a bonus of up to 75 percent of the base points earned. Further, Marriott credit cards earn up to an additional 6 points per dollar for purchases at Marriott properties.
Marriott Bonvoy is a transfer partner with both American Express and Chase, so travelers have two additional programs that can earn points — and both flexible point programs transfer at a 1:1 ratio. Marriott offers points and “Cash + Points” award redemptions, and points also convert to airline miles. You’ll also receive an extra 5,000 miles for every 60,000 points you transfer. Lastly, you receive the 5th night free when redeeming points for your stay.
Credit cards to consider: Marriott offers five consumer cards and one business credit card: the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card, Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card, Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express Card, Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful™ Card from Chase and Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card. For Marriott loyalists, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant offers the highest rewards rates — 6X points for eligible purchases at Marriott Bonvoy properties, 3X points at restaurants worldwide and on flights booked directly with airlines and 2X points on all other purchases, for a hefty $650 annual fee. Brilliant cardholders receive automatic Platinum Elite status, an annual free night worth up to 85,000 points and more.
If you’re interested in an option outside of co-branded Marriott cards, the American Express® Gold Card is a wise choice for travelers to earn transferable Membership Rewards points. It earns rewards on flights, restaurants and U.S. supermarket purchases and comes with up to a $100 hotel credit for qualifying activities through The Hotel Collection (which Marriott is a part of).
- Premium benefits for mid-level elite members
- 5th night free on award bookings
- Transfer partner of Chase and American Express
- Too many brands can be confusing for travelers
- Requires 100 nights to reach top elite status tier
- Eliminated award chart and moved to dynamic pricing
Hilton Honors: Best for credit card benefits
Why we picked it: Hilton Honors is the only major hotel rewards program that allows members to earn top-tier elite status by holding a Hilton credit card. It offers a variety of credit card options for personal and business use, including the Hilton Honors American Express Card, Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card* and the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card.
Rewards program perks: As a member of Hilton Honors, you’ll receive free Wi-Fi, and there are no resort fees on award stays. Silver members and above receive the 5th night free on award stays, and Gold members and above get daily food and beverage credits for each guest.
Earnings and using Hilton Honors points: You’ll earn 10 Hilton Honors points for every dollar you spend at most Hilton properties. Stays at Tru and Home2 only receive 5 points per dollar. Elite members receive up to 10 additional bonus points on their spending, and when you have a Hilton credit card, you’ll earn as many as 14 extra points for every dollar spent.
Members may invite up to 10 Hilton Honors members to combine points to redeem faster, free nights can be booked starting at 5,000 points with no blackout dates, and when you have Gold elite status or higher, you’ll receive the 5th night free on award reservations.
Credit cards to consider: To maximize your benefits as a Hilton Honors member, having the Aspire Card makes sense. It earns 14X points on Hilton stays, 7X points on airfare, car rentals and restaurants and 3X points on all other purchases. Additionally, it provides automatic Diamond elite status, one free weekend night each year and an annual $250 Hilton Resorts statement credit. Although it charges cardholders a $450 annual fee, the perks easily outweigh this cost.
- Achieve Diamond elite status after 42 nights or 21 stays
- Earn up to 34X points per dollar at Hilton properties
- Get top-tier elite status automatically with Hilton Aspire credit card
- No award chart with the move to dynamic pricing
- Higher-end redemptions may offer lower value
- Amex has a once-per-lifetime rule on credit card bonuses
Choice Privileges: Best for budget travelers
Why we picked it: Choice Hotels has 12 brands and more than 7,100 hotel locations worldwide that are primarily focused on budget-conscious travelers. These affordable options allow travelers to build loyalty with a hotel brand that keeps travel affordable.
Rewards program perks: Members receive early check-in and late checkout privileges starting with Gold elite status. They’ll earn up to 50 percent bonus points, depending on their elite status, and enjoy theme park discounts, reserved parking and a welcome gift.
Earnings and using Choice Privileges points: Guests earn up to 10 points per dollar when staying with Choice Hotels. With elite status, you’ll receive bonus points of up to 50 percent on stays. And when you have the Barclay Choice Privileges Visa Signature card*, you’ll get an additional 5X points at eligible Choice Hotel properties.
Choice Hotel free nights range from 6,000 to 35,000 points at most properties. However, reward nights can go up to 75,000 points in Asia-Pacific locations. Members can also redeem points at Bluegreen Vacation resorts, over 20 casino hotels and Preferred Hotels & Resorts, a collection of independent hotels.
Credit cards to consider: Choice Privileges has one co-branded credit card for its members to use: the Barclay Choice Privileges Visa Signature. This card earns 5X points Choice Privilege hotel stays, points and gift card purchases and 2X points on general spending for no annual fee. Plus, it includes an anniversary bonus of 8,000 points each year you renew the card and spend $10,000 by your card’s anniversary date.
Travelers can also transfer points from American Express, Citi and Capital One. While Amex and Capital One transfer at a 1:1 ratio, you’ll receive more value when you transfer Citi ThankYou points. In terms of standard rewards cards, the Citi Premier® Card is a fantastic option, earning you 3X ThankYou points at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
- Achieve top-tier elite status after 40 nights
- Earn up to 50 percent bonus points
- Early check-in and late checkout for Gold members and above
- Lackluster benefits for members
- Credit card does not provide or earn elite status
- No business credit card option
Comparing the best hotel rewards programs
This chart summarizes some of the highlights of the hotels with the best rewards program. You’ll see a few of the program perks, which cards they offer and how much each hotel’s points are worth.
|Program||Best for||Program perks||Associated credit cards||Points value (according to Bankrate)|
|World of Hyatt||Premium benefits||Complimentary breakfast, waived resort fees, 2 p.m. late checkout||World of Hyatt Credit Card|
World of Hyatt Business Credit Card
|IHG One Rewards||Diverse locations||No blackout date, 2 p.m. late checkout, exclusive member rates||IHG Rewards Traveler Credit Card|
IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card
IHG Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
|Marriott Bonvoy||Brand variety||Free breakfast, lounge access, 4 p.m. late checkout, upgrades||Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful Card from Chase|
Marriott Bonvoy Bevy American Express Card
Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card
|Hilton Honors||Credit card benefits||5th night free on award stays, no resort fees on award stays, daily food and beverage credits for Gold and up||Hilton Honors American Express Card|
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card*
Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
|Choice Privileges||Budget travelers||Reserved parking, welcome gift, theme park discounts||Barclay Choice Privileges Visa Signature card*||0.6 cents (according to The Points Guy)|
How to choose a hotel rewards program
Before choosing the best hotel rewards program for your next vacation, it pays to do a side-by-side comparison of each program. Review the answers to these questions to determine whether that hotel’s loyalty program fits your lifestyle.
- Does it have locations where you want to travel? If your goal is to hone in on a handful of hotel programs in order to gain elite status or quickly rack up points, it’s best to focus on programs with locations where you travel often or are looking to travel to.
- How much does it cost to book a room with cash or rewards? This consideration is especially important if you’re on a budget or are determining the value of a particular hotel’s points.
- Do its credit cards offer attractive benefits? As you sink into a hotel rewards program, you may be interested in applying for a co-branded hotel credit card to boost your elite status or earnings. Do its cards provide added value in terms of statement credits, elite status perks or anniversary point bonuses — and for what annual fee?
- How hard is it to achieve elite status? If your hotel program of choice makes it difficult to climb the ladder of elite status, is it really worth putting effort into?
- What benefits does elite status offer? Elite status benefits vary from program to program, so be sure to compare perks offered by your top choices to see which is most enticing to you.
Which hotel chain has the best rewards program? If you ask 10 friends, you’ll likely get different answers and reasons why each believes theirs is best. Choosing the best hotel rewards program is a personal decision, and the answer depends on the features and benefits that are most important to you and how likely you are to get elite status.
Once you’ve decided, apply for a co-branded credit card with the hotel and focus your travel spending around that brand to achieve elite status and earn points toward free nights.
*Information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card and Barclay Choice Privileges Visa Signature card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.