Best Hotel Credit Cards

Do you live for continental breakfast and mints on your pillow? Earn complimentary stays and room upgrades at your favorite hotel chain with a hotel credit card. Like to hotel hop? If you aren't loyal to one hotel brand, consider a flexible travel rewards card that lets you redeem points for hotel expenses. We researched and analyzed 42 hotel cards and 300 general travel credit cards to find you the best recommendations - here are the 10 best hotel credit cards from our partners.

See the best hotel rewards credit card offers from our partners below. If you aren't loyal to one hotel brand, consider a flexible travel rewards card that lets you redeem points for hotel expenses.

Summary

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

7,759 Reviews

Good to Excellent Credit Recommended (670-850) ? CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
at Chase's Secure Site

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
50,000 points
?

Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee
$95, waived first year
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.49% variable

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Highlights

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.49% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

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Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express

Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express

See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply

Good to Excellent Credit Recommended (670-850) ? CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
at American Express's Secure Site

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
100,000 points
?

100,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee
$95
Regular APR
17.49% - 26.49% variable

See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply

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Highlights

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus, earn a free weekend night award after your first anniversary of Card Membership. Offer ends 06/27/2018.
  • Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
  • Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$95
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.49%-26.49% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

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Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
Good to Excellent Credit Recommended (670-850) ? CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
at Capital One's Secure Site

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
20,000 miles
?

20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
13.49% - 23.49% variable

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Highlights

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day and pay no annual fee. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Enjoy a low intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 13.49%-23.49% variable APR after that
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$0
Intro Purchase APR
0% intro on purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
13.49% - 23.49% (Variable)
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

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Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

11,756 Reviews

Good to Excellent Credit Recommended (670-850) ? CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
at Bank of America's Secure Site

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
20,000 points
?

20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
16.49% - 24.49% variable

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Highlights

  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
  • 20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want – you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases, then 16.49% - 24.49% Variable APR
  • Get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$0
Intro Purchase APR
0% Introductory APR on purchases for 12 billing cycles
Regular APR
16.49% - 24.49% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

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Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card

Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card
Excellent Credit Recommended (740-850) ? CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
at Chase's Secure Site

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
100,000 Bonus Points
?

Earn 100,000 Points after spending $5,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening with the new Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card

Annual Fee
$95
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.29% variable

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Highlights

  • Limited Time Offer! Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
  • Earn 6 points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Rewards & SPG hotels.
  • 2 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year.
  • Path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.
  • Coming in 2019, 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Rewards points and get Free Night Stays faster.

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$95
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.49% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

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The Hyatt Credit Card

The Hyatt Credit Card
Excellent Credit Recommended (740-850) ? CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
at Chase's Secure Site

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
40,000 points
?

Earn 40,000 Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases with the Hyatt Credit Card in the first 3 months after account opening.

Annual Fee
$75
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.49% variable

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Highlights

  • Earn 40,000 Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases with the Hyatt Credit Card in the first 3 months after account opening.
  • Get 5,000 Bonus Points after you add an authorized user to your account and make a purchase with your card during the first 3 months as a cardmember.
  • Plus, receive 1 free night every year after your cardmember anniversary at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort.
  • Get Bonus Points on every purchase. Free nights start at just 5,000 points.
  • 3 Bonus Points for every $1 spent at Hyatt hotels and resorts.
  • 2 Bonus Points per $1 spent at restaurants, on airlines tickets purchased directly from the airlines and at car rental agencies, Plus 1 Bonus Point per $1 spent on purchases elsewhere.
  • Keep all the points you earn - your points do not expire as long as your Hyatt Credit Card account is open.
  • As a Hyatt Cardmember, you'll enjoy Discoverist status in World of Hyatt for as long as your Hyatt Credit Card account is open.

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$75
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.49% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

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IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Good to Excellent Credit Recommended (670-850) ? CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
at Chase's Secure Site

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
80,000 points
?

Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Annual Fee
$89
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.49% variable

Show Less

Highlights

  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add your first authorized user and make your first purchase in the first three months from account opening
  • Enjoy a Free Night after each account anniversary year at eligible IHG hotels worldwide. Plus, enjoy a free reward night when you redeem points for any stay of 4 or more nights
  • Earn 10 points per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Platinum Elite status as long as you remain a Premier card member
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card
  • IHG Rewards Club Bonus points are redeemable at hotels such as InterContinental®, Crowne Plaza®, Kimpton®, EVEN® Hotels, Indigo® Hotels & Holiday Inn®

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$89
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.49% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

View All Card Details

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The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply

Good to Excellent Credit Recommended (670-850) ? CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
at American Express's Secure Site

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
60,000 points
?

Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.

Annual Fee
$550
Regular APR
N/A

See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply

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Highlights

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Up to $200 for Uber rides annually. Credit and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$550
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

View All Card Details

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Hilton Honors Card from American Express

Hilton Honors Card from American Express

See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply

Good to Excellent Credit Recommended (670-850) ? CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
at American Express's Secure Site

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
75,000 points
?

Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 06/27/2018.

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
17.49% - 26.49% variable

See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply

Show Less

Highlights

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 06/27/2018.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Honors portfolio of brands.
  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with your Card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$0
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.49%-26.49% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

View All Card Details

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Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by CreditCards.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank's website for the most current information.

Comparing Credit Cards for Hotel Points

Updated: June 19, 2018

A great hotel card can help you log free hotel nights, add a touch of luxury to your hotel stays and even take the stress out of travel with convenient perks and upgrades. Many hotel cards combine generous rewards programs with ample perks for loyal guests.

Hotel credit cards, like airline cards, pair a travel brand with a bank, encouraging loyalty. They are a great way to build points on a specific loyalty brand. But, it's important to make sure you are going to spend enough to benefit from the card.

We researched more than 40 co-branded hotel cards and more than 300 general travel rewards cards, using a lot of the criteria outlined in this guide, to get down to our list of the best hotel cards. Strong rewards values, sign-up bonuses, and flexible redemption options were a big factor in our choices. Here, we look at:

Whether you are wondering how hotel cards work or you want to know who should get one, we can help.


What are the best hotel credit cards?

After analyzing over 40 different hotel rewards credit card offers (and even more general travel cards), here is our list of the 10 best hotel credit cards of 2018. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card tops our list because of its generous 10x points when you book at hotels.com/venture. For a co-branded hotel credit card, the Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express is our top choice.

Credit CardBest For:CreditCards.com RatingAnnual FeeHotel Rewards Rate
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit CardBest for Hotels.com purchases4.3 / 5$0 first year, then $9510 miles per dollar spent at hotels.com/venture
Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardBest for flexible travel rewards4.0 / 5$0 first year, then $952x points on travel
Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American ExpressBest for Hilton customers4.3 / 5$9512x points at Hilton properties
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit CardBest for no foreign transaction fee3.6 / 5$010 miles per dollar spent at hotels.com/venture
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit CardBest for easy to hit sign-up bonus3.4 / 5$01.5 points per dollar on all purchases
Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit CardBest for hotel redemption variety3.9 / 5$956 points per dollar at Marriott and SPG hotels
The Hyatt Credit CardBest for Hyatt stays3.7 / 5$753 Bonus Points for every dollar spent at Hyatt hotels
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit CardBest for IHG staysN/A$8910 points per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressBest for Membership Rewards® points multiplier2.8 / 5$5505x Membership Rewards® points on hotels booked on amextravel.com
Hilton Honors Card from American ExpressBest for no annual fee3.1 / 5$07x points at Hilton properties

Research methodology: how we chose the best cards

Hotel credit cards analyzed: 42

Criteria used: Rewards rates, rewards categories, sign-up bonuses, size of hotel network, transfer partners, point values, other travel benefits, annual fee, other rates and fees, redemption options and flexibility, customer service, credit needed, elite status, ability to upgrade and downgrade

Details on our top picks for the best hotel cards

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

With the release of their new partnership with Hotels.com earlier this year, the Capital One Venture is easily one of the top hotel rewards cards out there, giving you 10x points when you book and pay with your card at hotels.com/venture. Pair this card with the Hotels.com rewards program and you're essentially getting 20% off all hotel bookings.

Top Benefits

  • Hotels.com partnership
  • Easy redemptions
  • Large sign-up bonus

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you get 2x points on all travel purchases, including hotels. Chase Ultimate Rewards points are valued at over 2 cents per point according to The Points Guy and you get a 1:1 point transfer with some of the top hotel loyalty programs.

Top Benefits

  • Points multiplier on travel purchases
  • Easy to transfer points
  • Large sign-up bonus

Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express

If you're a frequent Hilton customer, this card is a good one to have in your wallet. Although Hilton points are not worth as much as some other hotel loyalty programs, their multipliers on certain bonus categories are large. Plus, earn a free weekend night after your first anniversary of Card Membership. Offer ends 06/27/2018.

Top Benefits

  • Bonus categories for Hilton stays and U.S. restuarants, U.S. gas stations, and U.S. supermarkets
  • Large welcome bonus
  • Opportunity for free weekend night and Diamond status

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

This is the younger, no annual fee sibling of the Venture card. You still get the great 10x miles rate when you book at hotels.com/venture and it comes with a meaningful sign-up bonus of 20,000 miles after $1,000 in spend over the first 3 months.

Top Benefits

  • Same great hotel rate
  • Decent sign-up bonus
  • 1.25x miles on every purchase

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

If you're a Preferred Rewards customer with Bank of America, this card has some lucrative bonuses. You get 1.5 points on every purchase and you can increase that by 25-75% for Preferred Rewards customers. Redemptions are easy - you get your rewards in the form of a statement credit, which you can redeem for hotel stays (among other things).

Top Benefits

  • Good for Bank of America customers
  • Easy redemptions
  • Flat-rate travel rewards

Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card

If you're a frequent Marriott customer, the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus card is worth it for the sign-up bonus, one free night a year, and the 6x points rewards rate at Marriott and SPG hotel locations. This card will also grant you automatic Silver Elite status in the Marriott rewards program upon your account anniversary. Outside of hotel purchases, this card has solid reward value with 2x points per dollar spent.

Top Benefits

  • Strong hotel rewards rate
  • Annual free night
  • Large sign-up bonus

The Hyatt Credit Card

For frequent stayers at Hyatt hotels, this card has a number of benefits outside of just a good rewards rate when you book. You get a free night each year (at certain categories of hotels), bonus points for adding an authorized user, instant Discoverist status with Hyatt, and bonus points for purchases with airlines and car rental agencies. It also comes with a generous 40,000 point sign-up bonus for $2,000 in spend in the first 3 months.

Top Benefits

  • Annual free night
  • Authorized user bonus
  • Large sign-up bonus

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

At a price tag of $89 a year, you get a lot of extra benefits with the IHG Rewards Club Premier card. The sign-up bonus is lucrative at 80,000 points for $2,000 in spend (first 3 months) and it has bonus categories for expenses other than hotel bookings (gas, grocery, restaurants). In addition, you get instant Platinum Elite status with IHG, a Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check fee credit, and an annual free night. If you're a frequent customer at IHG hotels, this card is worth looking into.

Top Benefits

  • Free annual night
  • Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check fee credit
  • Big sign-up bonus

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card is a great luxury travel card with solid rewards for hotel bookings. It comes with a steep $550 annual fee, but their $200 annual airline credit, $200 annual Uber credit, and other benefits help cut the annual cost down significantly, so it actually makes sense to keep this card in your wallet for the long term. You get 5x points when you book hotels through their portal at amextravel.com and other complimentary benefits with the Fine Hotels & Resorts program.

Top Benefits

  • 5x points on hotels
  • Huge welcome bonus
  • Easy redemptions

Hilton Honors Card from American Express

The Hilton Honors Card is a great alternative to its Ascend version for those who wish to forego an annual fee. While the rewards rates are a little lower than on the Ascend, they are still substantial: 7X points on Hilton Honors properties, 5X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations, and 3X points on all else.

Top Benefits

  • High rewards rate at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations
  • Large limited time offer of 75,000 Hilton Honors bonus points
  • No annual fee

What are hotel credit cards and how do they work?

What are hotel credit cards?

In most cases, hotel credit cards are co-branded cards, which means they are issued by a bank, such as Chase or American Express, then a specific hotel brand is associated with the card. As you can imagine, the hotel card will reward you for loyalty to that brand, as well as reward you for loyalty to airline and car rental partners. In some cases, you are rewarded for using the card on general-purpose purchases, such as grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants.

How hotel cards work

Typically, hotel credit cards come with sign-up bonuses, ongoing rewards and special benefits, depending on the category of membership that you qualify for. Then, the rewards programs usually offer a different redemption amount depending on the category of hotel property you choose. For example, a Category 1 Marriott property requires 7,500 points for a one-night stay, while a Category 7 property runs 35,000 points.

There are 2 types of hotel credit cards, co-branded cards and general-purpose cards. Each has its advantage.

  • Co-branded cards. Most hotel cards, called co-branded products, are aligned with specific hotel companies, such as IHG. These cards reward you for loyalty to specific brands, giving bonus points for spending at properties and sign-up bonuses in the hundreds of dollars. In many cases, the brand will have partnerships with airlines or other companies that you can benefit from.
  • General-purpose cards. Some travel cards reward you for a variety of spending that you can use on a number of airline and hotel brands. In some cases, your points are boosted for using a travel portal operated by the card issuer, such as the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. For example, with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you get an increase of 25% and with the Reserve, you get an increase of 50% on your points when you book through the portal, which makes it worth a look.

Pros and cons of hotel credit cards

Hotel credit cards are great for loyalty, whether with a specific brand or its partners. Depending on your category of membership, hotel cards and loyalty programs often offer benefits such as early check-in, late check-out, breakfast and more. There are a number of advantages to these cards, including generous sign-up bonuses, but there can be some downsides as well.

Pros and cons of hotel cards...

ProsCons
Build creditCan impact credit if pay late
Great for loyaltyMay be limited in how use points
Generous sign-up rewardsPoints may not be as rewarding as other card types
Nice benefitsMay require high annual spend
Benefit from other brandsWill likely pay an annual fee

Point valuations vary

When hotel cards are a good choice:

Here, we take a deeper dive into the advantages of hotel credit cards:

  • Getting rewarding benefits. David Bakke of Money Crashers points out that the big advantage of hotel credit cards is the rewards program. You can earn everything from points good for purchases and statement credits to free nights and room upgrades.
  • Finding a strong sign-up bonus. Many of the available hotel cards offer sign-up bonuses in which you spend a certain minimum within a specific amount of time, usually 3 months or 90 days, and in return, you earn thousands of points, which can be worth hundreds of dollars.
  • Enjoying credits for other brands. As Bakke points out, some hotel cards allow you to convert points into credits for flights as well.
  • Great for loyalty. If you have a favorite hotel brand, it's worth your while to look at hotel cards, because with them, you can earn excellent bonus points toward the brand, as well as the benefits we mentioned.

When hotel cards may not work for you:

There are a number of reasons, however, why a hotel card may not be the best choice:

  • Paying an annual fee. Most hotel cards have an annual fee, which you need to be aware of, because if you don't pay full attention to your spending and earning, you can actually end up spending more than you save.
  • Finding that the card is of limited use. Bakke points out that some cards' rewards are only good at the brand's hotels, limiting how you use the card's points. A hotel card may not be the best choice if you aren't supremely loyal to a single brand, in this case.
  • Varying points valuations. It may not be readily apparent how much your card's points are worth. The Points Guy looks at points valuations for the different brands that will help inform your decision.
  • Carrying a balance. If you carry a balance, you defeat the purpose of a rewards card. Plan to not pay in full each month? Don't get a hotel card. Also, it can impact your credit score if you carry too high of a balance.

Biggest factors when deciding to get a hotel card

When we choose a hotel brand, there are a number of factors at play – location, amenities, convenience. Well, a surprising number of travelers look to technology for inspiration in choice. Software Advice polled travelers to gauge where they stand on technology and choice in hotel:

Travelers love their hotel technology...

  •  60%
  • More likely to choose smartphone-enabled phone
  •  63%
  • Prefer hotels with smartwatch technology
  •  63%
  • Prefer hotel with tech-enabled lobby
  •  41%
  • More likely to choose hotel with facial recognition technology
  •  40%
  • Say technology should reduce travel costs

Source: Software Advice survey

So, technology appears to influence our preferences in hotel choices, but the fact remains that there are other, more traditional issues at hand with your choice in hotel card. Here are top factors to consider when choosing a hotel credit card.

Biggest factors when choosing a hotel credit card

  • Which card do you qualify for? There's no point in applying for a card you likely won't get because your credit score is too low. It can impact your credit score temporarily and if you apply for too many, it can seem to lenders that you are desperate. Instead, access your score and research which cards you can most likely get.
  • Where do you travel most? If your summer vacation each year is to Fernandina Beach, Florida, where beachfront chains don't abound, you may decide on the Ritz-Carlton, with wifi, a breakfast buffet and 18 rounds of golf at your door. Travel often on business to New York? Your options are endless.
  • Is there a brand you prefer? When choosing a card, consider whether you tend to gravitate toward a specific hotel brand.
  • What amenities are offered? Look at the benefits of both a card's program and the hotel brand's program. While cards can give you a rental car waiver, you can get some pampering at the hotel once you arrive safely.
  • What is the annual fee? While you don't want this to be the deciding factor, it's something to keep in mind. You'll want to factor in how long you plan to keep the card, as well - some cards' annual fees are waived the first year, while others' are not.
  • What are the point valuations? Brands vary with their point valuations, so compare them to the sign-up bonuses and the ongoing rewards. As you can see here, while the Hyatt card has considerably fewer sign-up points, it has more cash value:

Value of hotel credit cards...

CardIntro bonusPoint valuationCash value of bonusAnnual fee
The Hyatt Credit Card40,000 pts/$2,000 spend in 3 mths1.8 cents/point$720$75
Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card100,000 pts/$5,000 spend in 3 mths0.9 cents/point$900$95
Hilton Honors Ascend from American Express100,000 pts/$3,000 spend in 3 mths0.6 cents/point$600$95

Can hotel credit card points be used for flying?

By transferring your hotel card points to an airline partner, you can fly with those points. But do your homework, because the transfer may not be the best you can get. That said, there are advantages to marrying airlines with hotel cards, such as bonuses for points transferred and points earned for airline tickets purchased. Ideally, check the hotel brand's partnerships if that's a deal-breaker for you.

With the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card, you can not only earn 6X points for each dollar spent at participating Marriott Rewards & SPG hotels, but you can also earn 2X points per dollar on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline.

You can also convert Marriott Rewards points to United MileagePlus miles with RewardsPlus, allowing you to get 10,000 MileagePlus miles with 24,000 points.

In the case of Chase's Hyatt Credit Card, you can get 2X points for every dollar spent at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly at airlines and at rental car companies. You can also convert Hyatt points for miles with partner airlines and car rental awards.

Popular hotel loyalty programs

With many hotel loyalty programs out there, it can be hard to decide which is the best. Well, The Points Guy does the heavy lifting for you by establishing criteria on which to assess programs, and ranking them. Here, we reveal popular hotel loyalty programs and what they can offer members:

Favorite hotel loyalty programs...

Hotel loyalty programNumber of propertiesStrongest criteriaValuationSelect features
Wyndham Rewards8,000Ease and value of redemption1.2 cents/per point10 pts/dollar; free internet; rental upgrade; late check-out; early check-in
World of Hyatt750Strong co-branded card1.8 cents/per pointFree internet; late check-out; room upgrade; select complimentary parking
Hilton HonorsMore than 5,000Strong co-branded cards0.6 cents/per point48-hour room guarantee; 5th night free; free internet; late check-out
Marriott Rewards5,300Geographic spread0.9 cents/per point48-hour room guarantee; late check-out; free internet; breakfast for two

Source: TPG's top hotel loyalty programs, TPG valuations, CreditCards.com research

Do hotel points expire?

Typically, points for hotel-brand loyalty programs can expire if you don't keep the account active, but there are a number of ways to make sure that doesn't happen.

For example, you can use a co-branded credit card that earns hotel points, you can transfer points from the American Express' Membership Rewards program for Best Western, Choice, or Hilton, or do the same from Chase Ultimate Rewards for Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton or Priority Club.

By keeping your accounts active, the points won't just go away. Here are top brands and their expiration policies:

Hotel loyalty programs' points expiration policies...

Hotel brandPoints expiration policy
Wyndham Rewards18 months with no activity, and 4 years overall
World of Hyatt12 months
Hilton Honors12 months
Marriott Rewards/Ritz-Carlton24 months

Source: CreditCards.com research

How many hotel points do I need for a free flight?

Translating hotel points to airline miles may not be the most efficient use of your points. But, it's worth a look.

Marriott Rewards

For example, if you have 70,000 Marriott Rewards points, you'll be able to get 25,000 Delta SkyMiles, which on April 15, 2017, would have gotten you a flight from LAX to JFK in the main cabin.

Now, if you back things up and look at what it took to earn those Marriott Rewards points, with a Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card, you could put most of the sign-up bonus toward the flight. (The sign-up bonus is 100,000 points after a $5,000 spend within the first 3 months of card membership.)

Because the flight would have cost $301 in cash, that translates to a value of 0.43 cents by our estimation. That may not be the most generous use of your points. For example, you can put those 75,000 points toward 2 nights at a Tier 7 property, which requires 35,000 points each night. Also, when you redeem 4 nights, you get a 5th complimentary night.

That said, the Marriott card can be a good card for the traveler who frequents Marriott properties, in part because of the 1 free night at Category 1-5 properties at the end of each of your anniversaries.

How to maximize rewards on your hotel credit card

Choosing a hotel card is a deeply personal experience, because where you travel and which brands you favor informs your decision about which card to get. But no matter which card you use, there are a few basic ground rules for how to maximize your rewards, such as:

  • Look at your travel habits. Do you have a favorite brand? How often do you use it? If you love the Hilton Portfolio, then go with that. If you are open to options, look at which brand is prevalent in the areas where you tend to travel.
  • What are the benefits? When choosing a hotel card, look at the different membership tiers, what they offer and ascertain which one you can realistically meet based on your travel habits. This will help you decide whether you prefer the complimentary lounge access of SPG or the 48-hour room guarantee of Hilton Honors.
  • Take a look at the annual fee. Many hotel cards have an annual fee. You'll want to make sure that you will surpass that fee each year with your rewards. Keep in mind that some cards waive the charge the first year.
  • Make sure you comply with the sign-up rules. Hotel cards typically offer a one-time sign-up bonus in exchange for a required spend, such as the Hyatt Credit Card, which offers 40,000 points after a $2,000 spend within the first 3 months of card membership. Don't let that deadline pass you by.
  • Put big purchases on it. Planning to get some work done on your car? Pull out that plastic and enjoy such rewards as 3X Hilton Honors points with the Hilton Honors Ascend from American Express. Keep in mind that you may get a better deal with a different card in your wallet that has a flat rate, such as the Barclaycard Arrival Plus.
  • Pay monthly bills with the card. Look at which card is best for such recurring purchases as cellphone charges and utilities.

Who should get a hotel credit card?

An incredible 40% of cardholders have always used the same card or haven't changed cards in at least 10 years, our March 2018 survey shows. That's a lot of points, miles and cash we are leaving on the table, including those from hotel cards.

When consumers did switch, it looks like it was for the right reason, with people on the hunt for rewards at the top of the list.

Reasons cardholders switched cards...

  •  27%
  • Points, miles or cash
  •  12%
  • Low interest rate
  •  9%
  • Easy to get
  •  8%
  • Card brand

Source: CreditCards.com survey

If you make the choice to transition to a rewards card, keep in mind that with the right hotel card, you can maximize points through business and personal travel alike. Also, they are worth your while if you like to play the points game.

A hotel card is right for...

Wondering if a hotel credit card is right for you? If you are one of these 4 types of people, they might be a good choice.

  1. If you travel often for business. With the right hotel card, you can maximize your savings by pulling the card out whenever you travel on business.
  2. If you have a favorite hotel brand. If you are loyal to say, Hilton, then look at the Hilton cards that are available to see which one suits your travel habits best, such as the Hilton Honors suite through American Express.
  3. If you enjoy playing the points game. Hotel cards are great for people who like to take full advantage of rewards programs.
  4. If you'll enjoy the finer benefits. With the right hotel card, you can get, for example:

    • Early check-in
    • Late check-out
    • Complimentary breakfast
    • Free bottles of water

How to compare two hotel credit cards

Hotel cards come in a choice of flavors, with widely varying benefits, different point valuations and differing expiration rules. Curious how to make it work for you? Here, we look at the different factors to consider, then we compare hotel cards as an example.

  • Which is easier to earn points with? Daniel Wesley, of Credit Loan, points this out – study your spending habits to decide which card you are more likely to use.
  • Which has fewer restrictions? Wesley notes that you need to be mindful of restrictions on usage as well as points redemption.
  • What are the expiration rules? Hotel rewards programs vary in their expiration rules, starting with 12 months and going even to 4 years. Make sure they are requirements that suit your lifestyle.
  • What about benefits? Hotel cards often offer features that are not apparent at first glance. For example, you might be able to get free breakfast for two or free late check-out.
  • Do the annual fees outweigh the potential perks? If so, don't get the card.
  • How useful are the rewards, really? Look at whether you are really going to have an opportunity to redeem the points, says Wesley. Be sure to compare the sign-up bonus, as well as the ongoing rewards.
  • Am I familiar and comfortable enough with one hotel chain over the other? Look at which brand you are most loyal to, says Wesley.
  • What are the points actually worth? Yes, 100,000 points seems like a lot, but you need to look at the cards' points valuation to compare apples with apples. The Points Guy's monthly points valuation assessment can help.

Related Travel and Rewards Card Categories:

Detailed card reviews

For more information and to see more cards, see our hotel credit card reviews.

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