Enjoy travel perks, free nights and more.
Whether you’re a die-hard loyalist to a particular hotel chain or you stay wherever it’s most convenient, there’s a hotel credit card for you.
Hotel credit cards can help you earn points that can be redeemed for free nights at the hotel of your choice, or they can even propel you through the ranks of a hotel’s elite program. This guide will help break down some of the best hotel credit cards out there so you can choose one that’s right for you.
What is a hotel credit card?
A hotel credit card typically refers to any credit card designed to help you earn points that can be redeemed for a reward night at a hotel brand. Among hotel cards, those released in partnership with a hotel are called cobranded credit cards.
When using a hotel credit card, you’ll earn a certain amount of points when making purchases in eligible spending categories. In the case of cobranded cards, you can also expect additional perks or benefits associated with the hotel’s loyalty program.
Best hotel credit cards
Here are our picks for the top hotel credit cards in the following categories.
- Best hotel card with no annual fee: Hilton Honors American Express Card
- Best hotel credit card for flexibility: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Best hotel card for travel perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Best hotel card for overall earning: Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard®
- Best for free nights: IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Best hotel card with no annual fee: Hilton Honors American Express Card
Among the hotel cards with no annual fee (see Rates & Fees), the Hilton Honors American Express Card card pulls ahead thanks to its incredible point earning potential. It has a welcome offer of 75,000 bonus points and a complimentary upgrade to Silver status if you spend $1,000 using the card within your first three months of card membership. Its travel benefits are nothing to sneeze at either — especially for a card without an annual fee.
- High earning rates for a no-annual-fee card
- Complimentary silver status
- Travel protections
Best hotel credit card for flexible rewards: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Ultimate Rewards program is well-known for its flexibility in travel rewards, which can be used for hotel redemptions. You can choose to transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to three hotel brands, including World of Hyatt, IHG Rewards Club and Marriott Bonvoy. Since these points transfer at a 1:1 ratio, you’ll have a great redemption option no matter your hotel preference.
- Three hotel transfer partners to choose from
- Option to transfer points to airlines
- Solid welcome offer and earning rates
- Travel insurance
Best hotel credit card for travel perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Great welcome offer and reward rate
- Access to Centurion® Lounges
- $500 in credits during your first year
- Elite status on two hotel programs
Best hotel credit card for overall earning: Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard®
Whereas the Chase Sapphire Preserve® offers great flexibility, the Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® offers raw earning power across all purchases. You’ll get 2x miles on all purchases, with no cap and no expiration on miles earned.This card also lets you earn 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases within your first 90 days of account opening. And the cherry on top is you’ll get a flat 5% miles back on all reward redemptions.
- Earn 2x miles on all purchases with no cap
- Earn 5% miles back when you redeem on rewards
- A solid signup bonus comparable to other high-end travel cards
Best hotel credit card for free nights: IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
While there are several cards that offer a free night on your account anniversary – including the Hilton Honors™ Aspire Card – the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card hits the sweet spot between entry-level and premium hotel cards.You’ll receive a free night on each anniversary date that you spend on hotel stays worth up to 40,000 points in value. This card also grants Platinum elite status for as long as your account is open — a great boon considering not all cards grant immediate elite status.
- Anniversary free nights with solid value
- Get a free reward night when you book four or more nights in a row
- Platinum elite status so long as your account is open
How we selected our top cards
We looked at a variety of factors consumers might weigh when selecting a hotel card, including hotel brand, welcome offer value, bonus point earning rates, additional travel perks, annual fee, redemption options and other hotel or travel concerns. We chose the credit cards that stood out among the rest in a given category or fulfilled a specific niche.
What’s changed in 2019
The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card joined the list this year thanks to its mid-range status, offering free nights and Platinum status without the hefty annual fee some other premium hotel cards require.
How much are hotel points worth?
A single point carries different value across each hotel program. Here are the current average values according to our calculations as of April 2019.
Hotel booking without a credit card
Booking a hotel without a credit card can cause you to miss out on a few perks that can make your stay more comfortable – or cheaper. Some of the more common hotel perks associated with hotel credit cards include:
- Free reward nights
- Concierge services
- Elite status
- Discounts on eligible stays
- Travel insurance
There are numerous great hotel credit cards out there, but it’s hard to go wrong with one of the five we’ve highlighted above. If you need more help choosing what’s right for you, compare hotel loyalty brands for more in-depth information.
If you’re looking for more flexible options, consider a travel credit card designed for airline travel to find one that suits your needs.