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.

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent, Good
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • New! Earn 10 miles per dollar on hotels when you pay with your Venture card at hotels.com/venture; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
Apply Now at Capital One's
secure site
Purchases Intro APR
N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
14.49% - 24.49% (Variable)
Annual Fee
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Credit Needed
Excellent, Good

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

7,668 customer reviews

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • 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
Apply Now at Chase's
secure site
Purchases Intro APR
N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.49% Variable
Annual Fee
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Credit Needed
Excellent/Good

Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express

Apply Now Credit Needed
Good, Excellent
  • Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus, earn an additional 25,000 Bonus Points after you make an additional $1,000 in purchases with your new Card within your first 6 months.
  • Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a participating 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.
  • Terms Apply.
Apply Now at American Express's
secure site
Terms Apply
Purchases Intro APR
N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Credit Needed
Good, Excellent
See Rates & Fees

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent, Good
  • 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 unlimited 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day and pay no annual fee
  • New! Earn 10 miles per dollar on hotels when you pay with your VentureOne card at hotels.com/venture; 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
Apply Now at Capital One's
secure site
Purchases Intro APR
0% intro on purchases for 12 months
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
13.49% - 23.49% (Variable)
Annual Fee
$0
Credit Needed
Excellent, Good

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

7,875 customer reviews

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • 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%
Apply Now at Bank of America's
secure site
Purchases Intro APR
0% Introductory APR on purchases for 12 billing cycles
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
16.49% - 24.49% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Annual Fee
$0
Credit Needed
Excellent/Good

Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

1,815 customer reviews

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent Credit
  • Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $85.
  • Enjoy 1 Free Night Stay at a Category 1-5 hotel every year after your account anniversary date!
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Rewards points and get Free Night Stays faster
  • Earn 5 points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Rewards & SPG hotels
  • 2 points per $1 spent on airline tickets purchased directly with the airlines, at car rental agencies & restaurants. Plus 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else
  • The fastest way to earn Marriott Rewards Elite Status. Receive 15 Elite Credits guaranteeing Silver Elite Status or better.
Apply Now at Chase's
secure site
Purchases Intro APR
N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.49% Variable
Annual Fee
$0 Intro for First Year, then $85
Credit Needed
Excellent Credit

The Hyatt Credit Card

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent Credit
  • 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.
Apply Now at Chase's
secure site
Purchases Intro APR
N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.49% Variable
Annual Fee
$75
Credit Needed
Excellent Credit

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • 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®
Apply Now at Chase's
secure site
Purchases Intro APR
N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.49% Variable
Annual Fee
$89
Credit Needed
Excellent/Good

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • 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.
  • Terms Apply.
Apply Now at American Express's
secure site
Terms Apply
Purchases Intro APR
N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
See Rates & Fees

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent Credit
  • Welcome Offer: Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points.
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
  • You can also receive 35% points back on all First and Business class flights, with all airlines available through American Express Travel.
  • You can enjoy access to The American Express Global Lounge Collection℠ offering access to the most lounges across the globe, when compared with other U.S. credit card offerings. As of 6/2017
  • Terms Apply
Apply Now at American Express's
secure site
Terms Apply
Purchases Intro APR
N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$450
Credit Needed
Excellent Credit
See Rates & Fees

Comparing Credit Cards for Hotel Points

Updated: April 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.


CreditCards.com's best hotel credit cards of 2018

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. 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.

Top picks for co-branded hotel credit cards:

Top picks for general travel cards with good hotel rewards:

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 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.

Highlights

  • 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.

Highlights

  • 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. You can also get a free weekend night if you spend $15k on the card per year and it has a big 75,000 point sign-up bonus.

Highlights

  • Bonus categories for Hilton stays and U.S. restuarants, gas stations, supermarkets
  • Large sign-up 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.

Highlights

  • 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).

Highlights

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

Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

If you're a frequent Marriott customer, the Marriott Rewards Premier card is worth it for the sign-up bonus, one free night a year, and the 5x points rewards rate at Marriott and SPG hotel locations. This card can also help get you closer to elite status in the Marriott rewards program. Outside of hotel purchases, this card doesn't have a ton of other value.

Highlights

  • 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.

Highlights

  • 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.

Highlights

  • 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.

Highlights

  • 5x points on hotels
  • Huge sign-up bonus
  • Easy redemptions

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN

The Business Platinum card undoubtedly has one of the most attractive sign-up bonuses out there: 75,000 points. This sum of Membership Rewards® points is split into two amounts: 50,000 points for spending $10,000 in your first 3 months and a further 25,000 points if you spend an additional $10,000 in those three months. Furthermore, it comes with

Highlights

  • 5x points on hotels
  • Enormous sign-up bonus
  • Global Lounge access

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 Credit Card75,000 pts/$3,000 spend in 3 mths0.9 cents/point$675$85, waived first year
Hilton Honors Ascend from American Express75,000 pts/$2,000 spend in 3 mths; 25,000 pts/$1,000 in 6 mths (Terms Apply)0.6 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 Credit Card, you can not only earn 5X 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

Which hotel credit cards earn the most points?

All hotel points are not created equal.

For example, both the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card and the Hilton Honors Ascend from American Express offer 75,000 points for their welcome bonus. But because of the point valuation of the two, the Marriott card comes out ahead with a cash value of $675, while the Hilton Honors card's bonuses are worth the equivalent of $600.

And there are other factors to consider, such as the annual fee. Take the Hilton Honors Ascend card, which has an annual fee of $95, while the Marriott card's $85 fee is waived the first year.

Then, the Hilton Ascend card offers 12X points for purchases at a participating property and 6X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations. That means if you spend $5,000 a year at Hilton properties, that comes to a cash value of $360, and if you spend $5,000 a year at restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations, the cash value comes to another $180, bringing the total to $540.

Compare that to the Marriott card, which offers 5X points at participating properties and 2X points on airline tickets purchased through the airline, at car rental agencies and at restaurants. That means if you spend $5,000 for the year at Marriott properties, your cash value comes to $225, while by spending $5,000 on airfare, rental cars and restaurants, your cash value is $90, bring the total to $315.

That makes the Hilton Ascend card more valuable with everyday spending, but the Marriott card's sign-up bonus is more valuable. That's why it's a good idea to factor in which brand works best for you.

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 Credit Card, you could put most of the sign-up bonus toward the flight. (The sign-up bonus is 75,000 points after a $3,000 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.

Comparison Table: Best Hotel Credit Cards of 2018

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 rewards4.1 / 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 annual 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 Credit CardBest for hotel redemption variety3.4 / 5$0 first year, then $855 points per dollar at Marriott and SPG hotels
The Hyatt Credit CardBest for Hyatt stays3.8 / 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
The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPENBest for business travelers2.3 / 5$4505x Membership Rewards® points on hotels booked on amextravel.com

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