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

CreditCards.com's Best Hotel Credit Cards for 2019:

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

Show Less

Highlights

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • 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.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $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

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Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply

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 American Express's Secure Site

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
75,000 points
?

Earn 75,000 bonus points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee
$95, waived first year
Regular APR
17.74% - 26.74% variable

See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply

Show Less

Highlights

  • Earn 75,000 bonus points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 6 points for each dollar of eligible purchases at over 6,700 participating SPG® and Marriott Rewards® hotels across 29 brands.
  • Earn 4 points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers, and on U.S. purchases for shipping. Earn 2 points for all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary (redemption level at or under 35,000 points) at a participating hotel. Select hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy complimentary Silver Elite status with your Card.
  • Plus, earn Gold Elite status after spending $30,000 or more in eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Note: effective January 1, 2019, the spend threshold will increase to $35,000.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on international purchases and $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.74% - 26.74% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

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Discover it® Miles

Discover it® Miles

322 Reviews

See Rates & Fees

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 Discover's Secure Site

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
Discover Match®
?

Discover will match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles. That's $600 towards travel!

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
13.99% - 24.99% variable

See Rates & Fees

Show Less

Highlights

  • Intro Offer: Discover will match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles. That's $600 towards travel!
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases all with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates – fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
  • Redeem your Miles as a statement credit towards travel purchases.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Receive Free Social Security number alerts— Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No Annual Fee.

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$0
Intro Purchase APR
0% for 14 months
Regular APR
13.99% - 24.99% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
10.99% for 14 months

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The World Of Hyatt Credit Card

The World Of Hyatt 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
60,000 points
?

Earn up to 60,000 Bonus Points - 40,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Annual Fee
$95
Regular APR
17.99% - 24.99% variable

Show Less

Highlights

  • Earn up to 60,000 Bonus Points - 40,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn an additional 20,000 Bonus Points after you spend a total of $6,000 on purchases within the first 6 months of account opening - free nights start at 5,000 points
  • Earn 9 points total per $1 spent at Hyatt - 4 Bonus Points per $1 when you use your card at Hyatt hotels & 5 Base Points per $1 you can earn as a World of Hyatt member
  • Plus, earn 2 Bonus Points per $1 spent at restaurants, on airlines tickets purchased directly from the airlines, on local transit and commuting and on fitness club and gym memberships
  • Receive 1 free night every year after your cardmember anniversary at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort
  • Earn an extra free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort if you spend $15,000 during your cardmember anniversary year
  • Get automatic World of Hyatt Discoverist status for as long as your account is open and 5 qualifying night credits toward your next tier status every year
  • Earn 2 qualifying night credits towards your next tier status every time you spend $5,000 on your card

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$95
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

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The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

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
125,000 points
?

Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases in the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee
$95
Regular APR
17.74% - 26.74% variable

See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply

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Highlights

  • Welcome Offer: Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases in the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card: 12X at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio, 6X on Select Business & Travel Purchases, 3X Everywhere Else. Terms & Limitations Apply.
  • Enjoy complimentary Gold status with your Hilton Honors Business Card.
  • Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • Earn another Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend an additional $45,000 in purchases on your Card in the same calendar year.
  • Relax with 10 free airport lounge visits each year once enrolled in complimentary Priority Pass™ Select membership, which offers access to over 1,000 lounges in over 120 countries.
  • Terms apply.

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$95
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.74% - 26.74% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

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Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit 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 Bonus Points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.

Annual Fee
$95, waived first year
Regular APR
17.74% - 26.74% variable

See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply

Show Less

Highlights

  • Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 6 points for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating SPG® and Marriott Rewards® hotels and 2 points on all other eligible purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 points) at a participating hotel. Select hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy complimentary, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide. Enrollment required.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms Apply.

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.74%-26.74% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

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Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

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 Barclays's Secure Site

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
70,000 miles
?

Limited Time Offer: Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days

Annual Fee
$89, waived first year
Regular APR
17.99% - 24.99% variable

See Rates & Fees

Show Less

Highlights

  • Limited Time Offer: Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase
  • Book travel your way—no airline, seat or hotel restrictions—and redeem your miles for travel statement credits
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • International Chip and PIN for use at self-service chip terminals around the world
  • Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$89 (waived first year)
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.99%, 21.99% or 24.99% variable based on your creditworthiness
Intro Balance Transfers APR
0% intro for first 12 billing cycles following each BT that posts within 45 days of account opening

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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: December 11, 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 hotel credit cards and how do they work?

What are hotel credit cards?

Hotel credit cards are often co-branded cards (but not always). That means they are issued by a bank, such as Chase or American Express, and partner with a specific hotel brand. 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.

Other cards, such as the Capital One Venture cards, also reward for hotels. However, they are not associated with a specific brand. Instead, in the case of the Venture cards, cardholders earn 10X miles when booking and paying through hotels.com/venture.

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.

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 for 2019. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card tops our list because of its generous 10x miles when you book and pay at hotels.com/venture. For a co-branded hotel credit card, the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card is our top choice.

Credit CardBest For:CreditCards.com RatingAnnual FeeHotel Rewards Rate
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit CardWinner in rewards value4.3 / 5$0 first year, then $9510 miles per dollar spent at hotels.com/venture
Citi PremierSM CardRunner-up in rewards value3.8 / 5$95, waived first year3x points on travel, including hotels
Hilton Honors American Express Ascend CardBest in hotel rewards value4.3 / 5$9512x points at Hilton properties
Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit CardRunner-up in hotel rewards value3.9 / 5$956 points per dollar at Marriott and SPG hotels
Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardBest in rewards flexibility4.1 / 5$0 first year, then $952x points on travel, including hotels
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit CardRunner-up in rewards flexibility3.4 / 5$010 miles per dollar spent at hotels.com/venture
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® CardWinner in travel features3.9 / 5$03x points on travel, including hotels
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit cardRunner-up in travel features3.5 / 5$01.5 points per dollar on all purchases
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit CardWinner in hotel options & features4.1 / 5$8910 points per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
Hilton Honors American Express CardRunner-up in hotel options & features4.1 / 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

best hotel credit cards of 2019

Details on our top picks for the best hotel cards

Best in rewards value

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Earn 50,000 miles after a $3,000 spend within the first 3 months, equal to $500 in travel, and enjoy the flexibility of staying at any hotel at any time.

Bottom line – The Capital One Venture Rewards now has a bonanza offer on hotels with 10X miles toward purchases made with hotels.com/Venture. That and the 2X miles on all eligible purchases make this card a superior general-purpose hotel card. Venture Rewards partners with 14 major airlines, allowing you to transfer your miles.

CategoryRating
Hotel rewards rating4.3 / 5
Rewards value4.3
Annual percentage rate2.7
Rewards flexibility4.8
Features3.0

Runner-up in rewards value

Citi PremierSM Card

Earn 50,000 points after a $4,000 spend within the first 3 months; 3X points for travel and gas; and 2X points for restaurants and entertainment. One thing to note: Those 50,000 points become $625 when booked through the ThankYou Travel Center.

Bottom line – While the Citi Premier Card is second to the Venture Rewards in annual rewards value due to the latter's hotel.com/venture feature, the Citi card's value is still strong with its generous tiered points system.

CategoryRating
Hotel rewards rating3.8 / 5
Rewards value4.1
Annual percentage rate1.8
Rewards flexibility3.8
Features3.0

Best in hotel rewards value

Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card

You might think earning 125,000 points after a $2,000 spend within the first 3 months of card membership will be as good as it gets, but there's so much more. Earn 12X points at participating hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio; 6X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets; and 3X points on everything else.

Bottom line – The Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card is just full of surprises, including a weekend night reward after spending $15,000 in a calendar year, and upgrade to Diamond status after a $40,000 spend in a calendar year. And unique to this card – your non-hotel spending is mightily rewarded.

CategoryRating
Hotel rewards rating4.3 / 5
Rewards value4.8
Annual percentage rate0.8
Rewards flexibility4.3
Features3.0

Runner-up in hotel rewards value

Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card

The 2 Free Night Awards points earned after a $3,000 spend within the first 3 months are valued up to 35,000 points each. There's also the free night every year after your account anniversary; 6X points at participating Marriott and SPG hotels; and 2X points on all other purchases.

Bottom line – While the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus has a lower annual reward value ($453) than the Ascend ($699), it still offers excellent rewards for the Marriott enthusiast.

CategoryRating
Hotel rewards rating3.9 / 5
Rewards value3.9
Annual percentage rate1.6
Rewards flexibility4.2
Features3.0

Best in rewards flexibility

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Earn 50,000 points after a $4,000 spend within the first 3 months, and 2X points on worldwide travel and restaurants. But it's the flexibility in rewards that makes it stand out from its competition.

Bottom line – The Chase Sapphire Preferred is at the top in flexibility, with a 25% bonus on bookings through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, and 1:1 redemption on many travel partners.

CategoryRating
Hotel rewards rating4.1 / 5
Rewards value4.0
Annual percentage rate1.3
Rewards flexibility4.9
Features3.0

Runner-up in rewards flexibility

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

While you can earn 20,000 miles after a $1,000 spend within the first 3 months, and earn 1.25X miles on all eligible purchases, it's the hotel rewards that are the most impressive. When you book and pay through hotels.com/Venture, you can earn 10X points on bookings at thousands of hotels.

Bottom line – The Capital One VentureOne Rewards comes in close behind the Sapphire Preferred in rewards flexibility, with travel without blackout dates and stays at any hotel at any time. With the outrageous 10X points offer on hotels, this card is a keeper.

CategoryRating
Hotel rewards rating3.4 / 5
Rewards value2.4
Annual percentage rate4.2
Rewards flexibility4.8
Features2.0

Best in travel features

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Earn 30,000 points after a $3,000 spend within the first 3 months, as well as 3X points for travel, dining and transportation. New on the market, this card has quickly grabbed the attention of points chasers.

Bottom line – The Wells Fargo Propel American Express offers exceptional rewards for hotels, flights, homestays and car rentals – making it a favorite for travel features.

CategoryRating
Hotel rewards rating3.9 / 5
Rewards value3.8
Annual percentage rate3.2
Rewards flexibility4.3
Features3.0

Runner-up in travel features

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

This card offers 25,000 points after a $1,000 spend within the first 90 days and 1.5X points on all eligible purchases. You can also earn a 10% points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America checking or savings account.

Bottom line – The Bank of America Travel Rewards' no annual fee, straightforward redemption and easy earnings make it a smart addition to your wallet.

CategoryRating
Hotel rewards rating3.5 / 5
Rewards value3.0
Annual percentage rate2.9
Rewards flexibility4.6
Features2.0

Best in hotel options & features

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Earn 80,000 points after a $2,000 spend within the first 3 months; 10X points at IHG hotels; and 2X points at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants. Also get a free night every anniversary.

Bottom line – The IHG Rewards Club Premier offers bountiful points and is a standout in hotel options and features, with more than 5,200 properties, room upgrades, vast types of travel insurance and the famous free night after a stay of 4 or more nights.

CategoryRating
Hotel rewards rating4.1 / 5
Rewards value4.5
Annual percentage rate1.8
Rewards flexibility4.1
Features3.0

Runner-up in hotel options & features

Hilton Honors American Express Card

Earn 75,000 points after a low $1,000 spend within the first 3 months; 7X points at the Hilton brand; 5X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations; and 3X points on all other purchases. While its points are not as rich as the Ascend, there is no annual fee.

Bottom line – With the 5th night free for every consecutive stay, a 15% bonus on Honors points, and express and late check-out, the Hilton Honors American Express offers hotel options and features second only to the IHG Rewards Club Premier card.

CategoryRating
Hotel rewards rating4.1 / 5
Rewards value4.3
Annual percentage rate0.8
Rewards flexibility4.3
Features3.0

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

  1. As with other credit cards, hotel cards can help you build credit.
  2. Hotel cards are especially great for brand-loyal travelers.
  3. They often feature generous rewards and sign-up bonuses.
  4. They also often have nice benefits and perks to enhance your hotel stays.

Cons

  1. As with other credit cards, hotel cards can negatively impact your credit if you pay late.
  2. With some hotel cards, you are limited in how you can redeem your rewards points.
  3. Rewards points may not be worth as much as their nominal value suggests; take care to research point valuations.
  4. Many hotel cards require an annual fee and/or a high annual spend in order to enjoy the card's benefits.

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.

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.

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. Here are top factors to consider when choosing a hotel credit card.

  • 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.

Comparing 2 hotel credit cards...

CardThe World of Hyatt Credit CardHilton Honors American Express Ascend Card
TPG Aug point valuation$0.018$0.006
Welcome40,000 pts / $3,000 spend in 3 mths = $720
20,000 pts / $6,000 spend in 6 mths = $360
125,000 pts / $2,000 spend in 3 mths = $750
Spending at properties$2,000 * 9X pts * $0.018 = $324$2,000 * 12X pts * $0.006 = $144
Various spending$500 * 12 mths * 2X pts * $0.018 = $216$500 * 12 mths * 6X pts * $0.006 = $216
Annual fee$95$95
Total net value at end of first year$1,525$1,015

As you can see, the Hyatt card is the clear winner because of a superior point valuation – that's even with the Hilton card's special intro offer. Bottom line: Make sure you look at all of the moving parts of the cards you are eyeing before making a decision.

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. 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 World Elite Mastercard.
  • Pay monthly bills with the card. Look at which card is best for such recurring purchases as cellphone charges and utilities.

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 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 RewardsEnd of calendar year following calendar year when obtained
Hilton Honors12 months
Marriott/SPG/Ritz-Carlton2 years
World of Hyatt24 months

Source: CreditCards.com research

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.

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
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
World of HyattMore than 600 propertiesPercentage of luxury properties1.8 cents/per pointWaives resort fees on award stays; suite upgrades; guaranteed late checkout

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

Recently, Marriott International's acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts formed the largest hotel company. With it, Marriott began matching member status across Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest, as well as The Ritz-Carlton Rewards.

This means you can spend and redeem at 6,700 hotels across 30 brands in 2019. Marriott has made it easy, allowing you to have one account, one login, one profile and one points balance. And when you are an Elite member, you will be able to see your Elite status and all the benefits you get in a single account.

To achieve this, you'll want to combine your accounts into a single account and profile. With this action, you might achieve a higher tier. Your nights dating back to Jan. 1, 2018, will be counted. Also, when your SPG and Marriott are combined, your lifetime activity will be also combined.

There will be new redemption opportunities, including Marriott's new free night award chart. You'll be able to transfer points to more than 40 airlines, and starting in August, Marriott will add 15,000 points for every 60,000 points transferred to airline miles.

Detailed card reviews

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

Related Travel and Rewards Card Categories:


Laura is an editor and writer at CreditCards.com. She has written extensively on all things credit cards and works to bring you the most up-to-date analysis and advice. Laura's work has been cited in such publications as the New York Times and Associated Press. You can reach her by e-mail at laura.mohammad@creditcards.com and on Twitter @creditcards_lm.


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