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The Best Hotel Credit Cards of May 2024

Written by: Jeanine Skowronski | Edited by: Tracy Stewart | Reviewed by: Stephanie Zito
|

May 23, 2024

CreditCards.com’s Best Hotel Credit Cards of 2024:

Additional Options:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card: Best for free night awards
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card: Best no annual fee card for Marriott loyalists
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best for sign-up bonus
BEST FOR LUXURY TRAVEL PERKS
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Our rating:4.8 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply
Clicking “See your approval odds” will authorize us to run a soft credit pull, which we’ll need to estimate your approval odds. Approval Odds serve as a guide to help you find the right credit card and will never affect your credit score.

Rewards rate

5X
Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5X
Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

At A Glance

Intro offer
Earn 80,000 points Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
Annual fee
$695
Regular APR
See Pay Over Time APR
Your approval oddsClicking “See your approval odds” will authorize us to run a soft credit pull, which we’ll need to estimate your approval odds. Approval Odds serve as a guide to help you find the right credit card and will never affect your credit score.
BEST FOR TRAVEL MILES
Discover it® Miles
Our rating:4.1 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Rewards rate

1.5X
Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase.

At A Glance

Intro offer
Discover Match® Unlimited Bonus: Unlimited Mile-for-Mile match for all new cardmembers—only from Discover. Discover gives you an unlimited match of all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. You could turn 35,000 Miles to 70,000 Miles. There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
17.24% - 28.24% variable
BEST FOR IHG HOTEL STAYS
IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card
Our rating:4.7 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Rewards rate

26X
Earn up to 26 total points per $1 spent when you stay at IHG Hotels & Resorts.
5X
Earn 5 points per $1 spent on purchases on travel, at gas stations, and restaurants.
3X
Earn 3 points per $1 spent on all other purchases.

At A Glance

Intro offer
Earn 140,000 bonus points Earn 140,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Annual fee
$99
Regular APR
21.49% - 28.49% variable
BEST FOR LUXURY MARRIOTT TRAVELERS
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card
Our rating:4.3 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply

Rewards rate

6X
Earn 6X Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®
3X
3X points at restaurants worldwide and on flights booked directly with airlines
2X
2X points on all other eligible purchases

At A Glance

Intro offer
Earn 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points Earn 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
Annual fee
$650
Regular APR
20.99% - 29.99% variable
BEST FOR HILTON BONUS POINTS
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
Our rating:4.7 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply

Rewards rate

12X
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.
6X
Earn 6X Points for each dollar of purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations.
4X
Earn 4X Points for each dollar on U.S. Online Retail Purchases.
3X
Earn 3X Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.

At A Glance

Intro offer
Earn 130,000 points Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points plus a Free Night Reward after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. Offer Ends 7/31/2024.
Annual fee
$150
Regular APR
20.99% - 29.99% variable
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The information about the Citi Prestige® Card, the Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card, Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card, World of Hyatt Credit Card and Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.


Comparing the best hotel credit cards

Credit cardBest forHotel rewards rateIntro bonusAnnual feeCreditCards.com rating
Wyndham Rewards Earner® Plus CardGas6X points per dollar on eligible purchases made at Hotels by Wyndham and on qualifying gas purchases45,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days$754.1 / 5
Hilton Honors American Express Card
Hilton Honors Silver status7X points at Hilton properties 70,000 bonus points plus a Free Night Reward after you spend $2,000 in purchases in the first 6 months. (Offer Ends 7/31/2024)$04.3 / 5
Wyndham Rewards Earner® CardBalance transfers5X points per dollar on eligible purchases made at Hotels by Wyndham and on qualifying gas purchases30,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days$04.2 / 5
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressLuxury travel perks5X points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel80,000 points after spending $8,000 on purchases within the first 6 months$6954.8 / 5
Discover it® MilesTravel miles1.5X miles for every dollar spentDiscover Match®: Discover will automatically match all the miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year$03.9 / 5
IHG One Rewards Premier Credit CardIHG hotel staysUp to 26X total points per $1 spent on IHG Hotels and ResortsEarn 140,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.$994.7 / 5
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® CardLuxury Marriott travelers6X points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of account opening.$6504.7 / 5
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
Hilton bonus points12X points at Hilton properties130,000 bonus points plus a Free Night Reward after spending $3,000 on eligible purchases within the first 6 months. (Offer Ends 7/31/2024)$1504.7 / 5
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit CardFree night awardsUp to 17X points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotelsEarn 5 Free Night Awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $5,000 on purchases in your first 3 months$95 4.5 / 5
World of Hyatt Credit CardHyatt enthusiastsUp to 9X points on Hyatt hotel stays30,000 points if you spend $3,000 within your first 3 months plus, up to 30,000 more points by earning 2 points total per $1 spent in the first 6 months on purchases that normally earn 1 point, on up to $15,000 spent$954.3 / 5
Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit CardNo annual fee card for Marriott loyalistsUp to 14X points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels30,000 points after you spend $1,000 in your first 3 months$03.7/ 5
Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardSign-up bonus5X points on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠ and 2X points on other travel (including hotels)75,000 points after spending at least $4,000 within the first 3 months$954.9 / 5

Editor’s picks: Hotel credit card details

Best for gas: Wyndham Rewards Earner® Plus Card

  • Best features: This card’s terrific rewards rate in everyday categories including gas, groceries and dining mean it should be easy to rack up Wyndham points, even if you don’t spend a ton on travel and hotels. The card’s anniversary bonus is also valuable enough to nearly offset the annual fee on its own.
  • Biggest drawbacks: The card’s sign-up and anniversary bonuses are on the low side compared to some other mid-tier hotel cards. Plus, you can only redeem points with Wyndham and its partners, severely limiting the card’s flexibility.
  • Alternatives: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card should offer comparable rewards value with much more flexible rewards (you can use points for travel, transfer to partner airlines and hotels or opt for cash back, to name a few redemption options). You’ll also get up to $50 back each year in statement credits for hotel stays booked through Chase Travel℠.
  • Bottom line: This card is likely the best option out there if you’re looking for an easy way to earn Wyndham-specific points and perks, especially if gas makes up a big portion of your budget. Read our full Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus Card review.

Read our Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for Hilton Honors Silver Status: Hilton Honors American Express Card

  • Best features: The welcome offer of this card is impressive, as are the ongoing rewards and there’s no annual fee. You’ll earn 70,000 Hilton Honors bonus points plus a Free Night Reward after you spend $2,000 in purchases in the first six months (Offer Ends 7/31/2024). For base rewards, you earn 7X points on eligible purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio, 5X points on U.S. restaurant, U.S. supermarket and U.S. gas station purchases and 3X points on general purchases.
  • Biggest drawbacks: The transfer rate for points to airlines isn’t the greatest.
  • Alternatives: For a $150 annual fee, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass card comes with more benefits than the Hilton Honors American Express card, including a free weekend night each year you spend $15,000, and automatic gold status.
  • Bottom line: The Hilton Honors American Express Card offers complimentary Silver status, meaning you can automatically receive a 15% bonus on all the Hilton Honors Base Points you earn from Hilton hotel stays. Plus, you get express check-in and late check-out, which is a great perk for any traveler.

Read our Hilton Honors American Express Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for balance transfers: Wyndham Rewards Earner® Card

  • Best features: This is one of the only no-annual-fee hotel cards that offers an intro APR on balance transfers. It’s also one of the few to come with an annual bonus (7,500 points each anniversary year after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases). These bonuses are typically only available on mid-tier hotel cards that charge an annual fee.
  • Biggest drawbacks: This card leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to flexibility since points can only be redeemed with Wyndham and its partners (all of which have very poor transfer ratios). The card’s anniversary bonus spending requirement is also relatively high, so the card may not be a great fit if you don’t plan on using it as your primary rewards card.
  • Alternatives: The Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus Card could end up being more valuable overall, despite its $75 annual fee. It not only offers a higher rewards rate in all of the Earner card’s bonus categories, but also a higher sign-up bonus and the same anniversary bonus with no spending requirement.
  • Bottom line: Occasional travelers who want to earn Wyndham perks and points while avoiding an annual fee should enjoy solid value with the Earner card.

Read our Wyndham Rewards Earner Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for luxury travel perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • Best features: You’ll automatically receive Gold status with Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy Gold elite status, both of which can net you room upgrades upon check-in where available (enrollment required for both benefits). Cardholders earn 5X points on flights booked directly with an airline or through American Express Travel (capped at up to $500,000 in these purchases per calendar year), 5X points on eligible prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, and 1X points on general purchases. As a welcome offer, you can earn 80,000 points if you spend $8,000 on purchases in your first six months of card membership.
  • Biggest drawbacks: The annual fee on The Platinum Card from American Express is a whopping $695, which is higher than some other luxury travel cards.
  • Alternatives: The American Express® Gold Card charges a lower annual fee and its high rewards rate in everyday purchase categories means you may be able to earn rewards much faster than with the Platinum card. Cardholders can earn 4X points at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year in U.S. supermarket purchases, then 1X point), 3X points spent on flights booked with amextravel.com or directly through the airline, as well as 1X point on general purchases.
  • Bottom line: This card is packed with travel features that make it worth your while if you feel the need to travel in style, like airport lounge access and complimentary benefits with Fine Hotels & Resorts. There’s also up to a $200 airline fee statement credit per calendar year (in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline) and up to a $100 statement credit on annual purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue (enrollment required for both benefits).

Read The Platinum Card from American Express review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for travel miles: Discover it® Miles

  • Best features: Not only will Discover match all of the miles you earn at the end of the first year of account opening automatically, but you can also earn unlimited 1.5X miles for every dollar spent on all purchases, making this card our top pick for best travel miles.
  • Biggest drawbacks: This card offers a ton of first-year value thanks to its generous first-year bonus, but after the first 12 months, the benefits decrease greatly. Also, you can’t transfer miles you’ve earned to airline loyalty programs, so you may need to sacrifice a lot of value you might find with other cards.
  • Alternatives: Though it earns slightly less per dollar spent, the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card is similar to the Discover it® Miles except that it allows you to transfer your miles directly to its many international airline and hotel partners. Although the list might not include airlines you travel frequently with, it does provide added flexibility for you to plan a trip.
  • Bottom line: With this general-purpose travel credit card, there are a plethora of ways to redeem the miles that you earn, including airline travel, hotels, car rentals and public transportation.

Read our Discover it® Miles review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for IHG hotel stays: IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card

  • Best features: You’ll automatically receive platinum elite status with IHG. That comes with late checkout, guaranteed room availability, a 50%-point bonus on hotel stays, room upgrades when available and more. You’ll also earn up to 26X total points per $1 spent on IHG Hotels and Resorts, 5X points per $1 spent on travel, at gas stations, and restaurants, and 3X points on other purchases. As part of a big sign-up bonus, you can earn 140,000 points if you spend $3,000 in your first three months. There’s also an annual bonus of 10,000 points available each anniversary year you spend $20,000 and make one additional purchase.
  • Biggest drawbacks: There’s an $99 annual fee. As with most co-branded hotel credit cards, you won’t really reap the rewards if you don’t frequent IHG hotels.
  • Alternatives: The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass card charges a slightly higher annual fee ($150), but offers a ton of extra perks, including up to $200 in statement credits each year on eligible direct Hilton Hotel purchases (up to $50 in statement credits each calendar quarter). That’s enough to offset the annual fee all on its own and could be more appealing to occasional travelers than a general travel bonus category.
  • Bottom line: This card touts a large sign-up bonus, generous rewards rate and a free night each year at a participating IHG hotel on your membership anniversary, offering a lot of value to the chain’s loyal guests.

Read our IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for luxury Marriott travelers: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card

  • Best features: You can rack up Marriott Bonvoy points quickly thanks to the card’s high rewards rate on both travel and the popular bonus category of restaurants. You can also earn 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you make $6,000 in purchases within the first six months of card membership. You’ll also get a Free Night Award with a redemption level up to 85,000 points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program each year after your card renewal month (certain hotels have resort fees).
  • Biggest drawbacks: You’ll have to use your free anniversary night certificate quickly as it expires after 12 months. There’s a hefty $650 annual fee for this premier Marriott Bonvoy credit card, which is hard to recoup if you’re not a Marriott diehard. Plus, Marriott points are worth around 0.8 cents each based on Bankrate’s valuations. While this is a decent value for hotel rewards, you’ll want to take that into consideration when you look at how many points you accrue compared to with a general rewards card†.
  • Alternatives: For those who want to stick to a Marriott Bonvoy branded card but don’t want to shell out $650 for the annual fee, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card makes for an excellent alternative. Cardmembers receive automatic Silver Elite status along with a generous intro bonus.
  • Bottom line: This top-tier Marriott Bonvoy credit card touts luxury benefits, including automatic Platinum elite status, a statement credit towards Global Entry or TSA Precheck and complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, which gives you access to more than 1,200 airport lounges, restaurants and Minute Suites worldwide.

Read our Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for Hilton bonus points: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

  • Best features: Your non-hotel spending is mightily rewarded, so purchases in categories other than travel can help you earn points. You’ll also receive automatic Gold status with Hilton Honors with the chance to receive an upgrade to Diamond elite status through the end of the next year after a $40,000 spend in a calendar year.
  • Biggest drawbacks: Hilton Honors points valuation is only 0.6 cents per point† which is a lower value than Marriott Bonvoy points. As such, the inflated amount of points you earn from spending may make the card seem more lucrative than the estimated redemption value of its rewards implies.
  • Alternatives: You’ll still get Silver status with the Hilton Honors American Express Card which doesn’t charge an annual fee and still offers a decent rewards rate.
  • Bottom line: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card is our top pick for Hilton bonus points. You’ll be awarded a Free Night Reward after spending $15,000 in a calendar year. You can also earn 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points plus a Free Night Reward after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first six months of membership (Offer Ends 7/31/2024).

Read our Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for Hyatt enthusiasts: World of Hyatt Credit Card

  • Best features: You’ll get automatic Discoverist Elite Status, which includes late checkout, premium Wi-Fi, a free bottle of water every day, room upgrades when available and more. The current welcome offer is uniquely generous, offering 30,000 bonus points if you spend $3,000 in your first three months. You’re also eligible for up to 30,000 more bonus points by earning 2X points on purchases that normally earn 1X point, for up to $15,000 in your first six months.
  • Biggest drawbacks: There’s a $95 annual fee, though you can offset this by taking advantage of the card’s perks. The Hyatt hotel network is also smaller than those of the Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy loyalty programs, limiting your travel options a bit.
  • Alternatives: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card also has an annual fee of $95 but isn’t affiliated with a hotel loyalty program, which means the points you earn can be used at a broader swath of properties around the world. Points could also be used for a variety of travel purchases, not just hotel stays.
  • Bottom line: Despite its cost and smaller hotel network, this is one of the most lucrative hotel credit cards on the market, given the potential value of World of Hyatt points, the generous welcome offer and the bevy of perks you’ll enjoy as a cardholder.

Read our World of Hyatt Credit Card review.

Best for free night awards: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

  • Best features: Earn 5 Free Night Awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $5,000 on purchases in your first three months. You earn 6X points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels and 2X points on general purchases.
  • Biggest drawbacks: The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless doesn’t waive the $95 annual fee the first year — a perk available on some other hotel rewards cards.
  • Alternatives: The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card offers a similar annual bonus along with Priority Pass airport lounge access (enrollment required), and automatic platinum elite status.
  • Bottom line: With 15 Elite Night credits per calendar year, a Free Night Award every year after your account anniversary and a generous rewards structure, this card is fantastic for earning free nights – especially if your account anniversary benefits roll over in time for your next trip.

Read our Marriott Bonvoy Boundless review.

Best no annual fee card for Marriott loyalists: Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card

  • Best features: Marriott loyalists can rack up Bonvoy points via a generous welcome offer and decent base rewards rate without having to pay the pricey annual fees associated with the hotel chain’s other co-branded credit cards.
  • Biggest drawbacks: Marriott cards earn points at inflated rates but points are worth just 0.8 cents each† and redemption options outside of room awards generally have poor value. Depending on how often you travel, you might be better served by one of the premier Marriott Bonvoy credit cards. (Learn how to determine what Marriott card is right for you.)
  • Alternatives: The Hilton Honors American Express Card offers a higher rewards rate with 7X points on Hilton hotel stays, 5X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets and 3X points on other eligible purchases. Plus you still get automatic Silver status without paying an annual fee.
  • Bottom line: You’ll earn a generous welcome offer with no annual fee. As base rewards, you earn 3X points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 2X points on other travel and 1X points on other purchases.

Read our Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card review.

Best for sign-up bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Best features: Its generous 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3X points on dining and 2X points on other travel, coupled with Chase Travel℠ 25% redemption boost, make this card a choice value for travelers. You’ll also receive 1X points on general purchases.
  • Biggest drawbacks: Less frequent travelers might not want to pay this card’s $95 annual fee, not waived the first year.
  • Alternatives: Very frequent travelers, conversely, might want to consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which comes with beefed-up benefits, including a $300 annual credit for eligible travel purchases, in exchange for a pricey $550 annual fee. (Learn how to decide between the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Sapphire Reserve.)
  • Bottom line: The Chase Sapphire Preferred is at the top in flexibility, with a 25% bonus on travel bookings through the Chase Travel℠ portal, and 1:1 redemption on many travel partners. Ultimately, Sapphire Preferred is a great long-term rewards card, should you be saving rewards for a future getaway.

Read our Chase Sapphire Preferred review.


What are hotel credit cards?

Hotel credit cards are often co-branded cards, but they could also be everyday rewards cards that happen to earn generous rates for hotel stays. The right branded hotel card for you will reward you for loyalty to the brand you prefer or stay most frequently with, as well as reward you for loyalty to airline and car rental partners. In some cases, you are rewarded for using the card on everyday purchases, such as grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants.

How do hotel credit cards work?

With a hotel credit card, you can get rewarded with points for your purchases and eventually turn those points into discounts, exclusive experiences or a free night here and there. On top of the purchase rewards, loyal travelers can take advantage of numerous hotel benefits with the right card.

Some hotel credit cards come with sign-up bonuses, ongoing rewards and special perks, depending on the category of membership that you qualify for. Others even give annual bonuses to reward their long-standing guests. When it comes time to exchange your points, rewards programs usually offer a different redemption amount depending on the category of hotel property you choose.

Credit cards that allow redemptions for hotel stays include co-branded cards and general-purpose cards. While co-branded cards reward loyalty for spending at the specified hotel chain, general-purpose travel cards reward you for a variety of spending on a number of airline and hotel brands.

Pros and cons of hotel credit cards

Hotel credit cards can bring a ton of value to the right traveler, but there are reasons some guests should think twice before checking in with a new card. See below for the advantages and disadvantages of hotel cards:

Pros

  • Free night rewards: An undoubtedly valuable feature for frequent travelers, many hotel credit cards will give out free nights stays as a sign-up or anniversary bonus, or you can accumulate points to then redeem for a hotel stay.
  • Loyalty status: Hotel cards offer ways for guests to climb certain chains’ loyalty programs faster, giving an expedited route to elite status and the exclusive benefits that come with it. Sometimes there are stipulations, but select cards may boost your status just for signing up.
  • Substantial sign-up bonuses: With many hotel credit cards, you can get a massive amount of points soon after opening your account and spending the required amount in a certain timeframe. This creates a great opportunity to immediately feel the impact of your new card.
  • Sweeten your stays: Some hotel cards come with perks that’ll improve both your hotel stays and vacations, such as free wi-fi, concierge service, complimentary items, VIP entertainment, pre-sale access to exclusive events and more.

Cons

  • Annual fees: Hotel cards offer plenty of high-end benefits, so it’s no surprise that they typically come with a cost. You can find affordable options, but some hotel cards have yearly fees as high as $500 to $700.
  • Travel restrictions: There are plenty of exceptions that give you some leash on who you book with and when you want to travel, but some hotel cards can be restraining when it comes to blackout dates, using your rewards, busy seasons and size of rooms available.
  • Lack of flexibility: There can be more options for redemptions with general rewards cards. Hotel credit cards are often co-branded with hotels that limit your rewards to that particular chain, which keep you stuck to a certain travel network.

How to choose a hotel credit card

Hotel cards often come loaded with attractive benefits and seemingly lucrative welcome offers. It can be tempting to leap headfirst at the card with the biggest bonus, but make sure it’s a good match for your financial profile and travel style. Make realistic assessments of how often you travel, reasons for traveling, your budget, and consider hotel chains that align with your needs. If you’re not sure if a hotel credit card is even right for you, consider these traits:

Who should get a hotel credit card

  • The business traveler. If you often travel to a specific area, you may have the opportunity to frequent the same hotels. You can maximize your savings by pulling your hotel card out whenever you travel on business.
  • The loyal traveler. If you are loyal to, for example, Hilton, then look at the Hilton cards to see which one suits your travel habits best, such as the Hilton Honors suite through American Express.
  • The luxury traveler. You can enjoy a bevy of fine benefits like complimentary breakfast and refreshments, room upgrades, elite status benefits and free night rewards with some luxury hotel or general travel rewards cards.

 

Who should skip a hotel credit card

  • The homebody. If you don’t do much traveling or rarely stay in hotels, you won’t get much use out of a hotel credit card and its full range of benefits. And don’t think that suddenly having a hotel card in your wallet will motivate you to travel more. If you don’t travel now, a credit card won’t change matters. For those who love to travel but do so infrequently, you may find more value with a general travel card that lets you earn rewards on routine expenses.
  • Airbnb enthusiasts. If you prefer to stay at Airbnbs when you travel, then a hotel rewards card can’t do much for you. Few hotel cards earn boosted rewards for purchases made with Airbnb, so frequent Airbnb guests won’t get to enjoy many of the key perks and benefits typically associated with branded hotel credit cards.

 

How to make the most of your hotel credit card

  • Join hotel loyalty programs. Hotel loyalty programs work similarly to hotel credit cards: Enroll and you can earn points or credits on your stays that you can use to book future stays. Some brands also offer elite status to members after they spend a certain amount at its hotels. An added bonus for signing up? Elite status generally entitles you to free perks and extra benefits, including room upgrades, early check-in, late checkout, free Wi-Fi and complimentary water or snacks.
  • Rack up credit card rewards. As we mentioned earlier, hotel credit cards let you earn points that you can redeem for free stays. Some of the best hotel credit cards offer a free stay on your account anniversary and many of them come with welcome offers that let you earn the equivalent of one free night or more if you spend a certain amount of money on your card within your first few months.
  • Pool your points. If you want to earn free hotel stays faster, look into whether you can pool points earned across credit cards. For instance, Chase will let you combine the points you earn across cards in its network through its Ultimate Rewards program. So, if you have points with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, for instance, you can combine them with any points earned with the Chase Freedom Unlimited before you redeem. More often than not, you can also combine points earned with a travel credit card with points earned through a hotel’s loyalty program to hit redemption thresholds and book award nights more quickly.
  • Stay at least four nights. Many hotel loyalty programs or hotel credit cards also offer a free night to members who book a certain number of consecutive nights with their points. The Citi Prestige® Card, for instance, lets cardholders get their fourth night free on any hotel stay (offer capped at two uses per year). Meanwhile, both Marriott Bonvoy and elite Hilton Honors members are eligible for a fifth night free (terms apply). Sometimes, you don’t need to have a hotel credit card or even belong to a hotel loyalty program to get a fifth or fourth night free. Hotels frequently offer discounts on longer stays. You can look for these deals on their websites or call the hotel directly to inquire about current fourth- or fifth-day-free promotions. Learn more strategies for scoring free hotel stays.

How we picked the best hotel credit cards

With so many branded options, selecting which hotel card best accommodates your spending habits can be difficult. That’s why we analyzed over 340 travel credit cards to identify the top hotel credit card offers currently on the market. The main factors we considered include:

  • Base rewards rate and points value: Co-branded hotel credit cards can offer anywhere between 3X and 10X points on brand purchases. General purpose travel cards offer between 1.25X and 2X rewards on general purchases. We looked at where a card’s return rate fell in those applicable categories. We also considered how much points were worth within a hotel’s loyalty program or the issuer’s rewards program.
  • Welcome bonus and/or anniversary bonus: The best hotel credit cards often offer extra points worth a free night’s stay or simply a free night’s stay in exchange for spending a certain amount of money on the card within a set timeframe, usually your first three months. Some also offer a free night or big bonus points on your account anniversary. We more heavily weighted cards that touted these benefits.
  • Ancillary perks and amenities: Common “extras” associated with top hotel credit cards include elite status within the brand’s loyalty program, which entitles you to room upgrades, free Wi-Fi, late checkout, early check-in, complimentary bottles of water and more.
  • Rates and fees: Hotel credit cards are rewards credit cards, which tend to carry higher APRs than low interest credit cards. They also sometimes charge an annual fee for membership. We still considered whether the APR was reasonable for this card category and if an annual fee was justified or easily recouped via the card benefits.

Full criteria used: Rewards rates, rewards categories, welcome 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.


All information regarding credit card point valuations is provided by The Points Guy

Additional information on hotel credit cards


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