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.
Best hotel credit cards
Here are our picks for the top hotel credit cards in the following categories.
The World of Hyatt Credit Card not only earns big rewards on Hyatt purchases, but offers a variety of everyday spending categories that can help you earn your next free night even when you're not traveling.
Signup bonus. Spend $3,000 on purchases in the 3 months following your account opening and get 25,000 bonus points. Spend an additional $6,000 on purchases in the first 6 months to earn another 25,000 bonus points.
Earn points. Earn 4x bonus points at all Hyatt hotels and get an additional 5x base points just by being a World of Hyatt member for a total of 9x points. Earn 2x points on fitness club and gym memberships, local transit and commuting purchases, at restaurants and on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline. On all other purchases, earn 1x points.
Free award nights. Earn a free night stay at at a category 1 to 4 Hyatt hotel or resort each card anniversary. You can also earn a free night for spending $15,000 in a given year .
Annual fee. To use the card and its perks, you'll pay $95 each year.
15.99% to 22.99% variable
Foreign transaction fee
25,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. 25,000 points after spending another $6,000 in the first 6 months
4x total points at Hyatt hotels as a World of Hyatt member, 2x on gyms, commuting, dining and airlines and 1x on all other purchases
Best hotel credit card for free nights IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Few cards can match the free nights offered by the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. Best of all, the card's free nights are not restricted to a welcome offer.
Signup bonus. Earn 140,000 bonus points once you spend $3,000 in your first 3 months of account opening. Most credit cards that offer such generous signup bonuses usually require a higher spend of around $4,000 in the first three months.
Earn points. Earn 25x points on IHG stays, 2x points at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants and 1x points on everything else you buy.
Fourth reward night free. Redeem your points for four or more reward nights and get an additional reward night.
Annual fee. To use the card and its perks, you'll pay $89 from the second year.
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($89 thereafter)
15.99% to 22.99% variable
Foreign transaction fee
140,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
25x points at IHG hotels, 2x on gas, groceries and dining and 1x on all other purchases
When it comes to travel credits, few cards can match the sheer value offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve® credits. Other cards may offer less, or place greater restrictions on how you use your credit.
Signup bonus. Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in your first 3 months of card membership. This is worth $750 if you redeem through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
Earn rewards points. Earn 3x points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide and 1x points on all other purchases. The 3x points can be worth 4.5% back if redeemed on travel purchases through the Chase Ultimate Rewards. You also earn 10x points on Lyft purchases until March 2022. This can be worth up to 15% back in travel purchases via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
Annual travel credit. Get $300 in statement credit as reimbursement for your travel purchases every year on your card account anniversary.
Annual fee. Awesome perks come with a high annual fee. You'll pay $550 annual fee for the card.
16.99% to 23.99% variable
Foreign transaction fee
50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
10x points on Lyft rides, 3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 1x points on all other purchases
Best hotel card with no annual fee Hilton Honors American Express Card
If you're looking for a dedicated hotel credit card with point transfer flexibility, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card fits the bill nicely. Plus, this luxury card offers an array of hotel perks.
Get a 100,000-point welcome offer after you spend $5,000 in purchases within your first 3 months of account opening. This is worth at least one free night. You'll also earn 25,000 bonus points after the first anniversary of card membership. This welcome offer ends on January 13, 2021.
Earn 6x points on eligible Marriott purchases, 3x points at US restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines, and 2x points on everything else.
Get strong hotel perks, including a Marriott credit.
Get a hefty $450 annual fee.
Get a potentially higher than average purchase APR, up to 24.74% variable.
15.74% to 24.74% variable
Foreign transaction fee
100,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months, plus earn 25,000 after the first anniversary of card membership (offer expires 1/13/2021)
6x points at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3x at US restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines and 2x for all other purchases
The Surpass card is unique in offering limited access to Priority Pass lounges despite its status as a hotel card. Plus, the card's earning potential is solid.
Earn 12x Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
Earn 6x Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your card at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations.
Earn 3x Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your card.
Pay a $95 annual fee to use this card.
Use this card in limited places as it's not as widely accepted overseas.
15.74% to 24.74% variable
Foreign transaction fee
130,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
12x points on Hilton Portfolio spending, 6x at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations, 3x on all other purchases
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 2020
Our best hotel cards for 2020 remained relatively the same this year. The biggest addition is the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, which combined pure hotel earning value with the ability to transfer points.
Why trust us? The Finder credit card crew spends hundreds of hours each week reviewing and writing about the latest credit card news and guidance. That research extends to every type of credit card available, from reward cards to airline cards to hotel cards. With so many travel reward cards to choose from, we know that consumers want help cutting through the chaff and finding the right card for them. This is our primary goal at Finder and one we take seriously: we follow strict editorial guidelines that keep our content unbiased, accurate and positioned to help our readers as best as possible.
A hotel credit card offers rewards for purchases that can then be redeemed on hotel stays and other related purchases. Just as airline credit cards earn more miles on airline-related purchases, hotel credit cards earn more points on hotel-related purchases.
Like airline cards, hotel credit cards also come in two varieties: cobranded, which are branded with a specific hotel, and general which aren’t.
1. Compare & apply for a card
Review your travel needs and compare which of the two hotel card varieties fit your needs. From there, you can apply as normal.
2. Earn points
Once you have your hotel card, start spending on eligible categories to earn points. While both types of cards earn points on hotel stays, cobranded cards tend to earn more on hotels associated with that specific card.
3. Redeem points
After you’ve earned enough points, you’ll be able to redeem them on nights at eligible hotels. Depending on the card, you might be able to use these points on other hotel-related purchases as well.
When is a hotel credit card worth it?
Whether a hotel credit card is worth grabbing depends on a few factors, including whether you actually stay at hotels during travel. Here are a few reasons why it might be a good idea to pick up a hotel card:
You have a preferred hotel brand. A hotel card is often worth it if you regularly stay at a specific hotel chain when you travel. If you stay at different hotels each time you take a trip, however, a general travel card might be the better choice.
You take long hotel stays. Several hotel credit cards offer a free night if you stay for a certain number of days and pay with your card. This value can add up quickly.
You’re chasing elite status. Similarly, many hotel cards can boost your elite status gains or outright grant a status level altogether.
You spend rewards on travel. If you only plan on spending your points on hotel stays, a hotel card is your best value. If you want a bit more flexibility, you’re better off with a general travel card.
You want perks. Hotel cards offer specific perks associated with the card’s hotel brand. These are often lucrative and can make your stays more comfortable.
If most of these reasons don’t apply to you, a general travel card is likely the better choice.
How to compare hotel credit cards
Here’s a quick overview of the major card features you’ll want to look at when comparing hotel credit cards:
If you have a preferred hotel chain, you’ll want to see if they offer a cobranded credit card. Otherwise, a general hotel card might prove more useful.
Many hotel credit cards offer a sizable signup bonus that you can use toward several free nights.
Beyond the signup bonus, a high earning rate or an earning rate on categories you often spend in are important to keep generating value through the lifetime of the card.
Travel cards that offer perks often require you pay an annual fee to use them.
A hotel credit card only makes sense if you spend a significant amount of time and money at hotels during your travels.
In addition to rewards rates, hotel cards often come with additional perks to sweeten the deal, such as complimentary elite status, resort credits and free award nights.
You asked, we listened: Top 5 common questions
Unsung heroes in the travel card space, hotel cards have a lot to offer. Here are the 5 most common questions we receive on the subject.
How much are credit card hotel points worth? The average value of your accrued hotel points ultimately vary depending on the specific hotel loyalty program.
Can I get a hotel credit card with bad credit? Generally, most hotel credit cards require a good or better credit score. With that said, there are a few credit cards that may offer rewards on hotel spending that you can obtain with bad credit.
What kinds of hotel cards are there? Hotel credit cards come in two varieties: cobranded, which are released under the umbrella of a specific hotel chain, and general, which can be used on any hotel.
What is the best hotel credit card? The “best” hotel credit card ultimately comes down to your hotel and spending preferences.
What’s the difference between hotel credit cards and travel credit cards? Hotel credit cards offer points, perks and rewards on hotel related purchases. Travel credit cards offer general reward points that can be used on hotels as well as other travel options, such as airlines and cruises.
Read more about hotel credit cards
Megan Horner Credit Cards Publisher
Hi, I’m Megan! I recently opened a hotel credit card to get staus as well as stellar perks. I had lots of questions before I picked the right card for me. Below are some of the articles that helped me make my decision.
Which hotel has the best rewards program? Or is there a best? There is no best for everyone. However, each individual needs to examine her consumption behavior to decide what is best for her. Cards with no annual fees are favored usually, but some fees can be seen as risk-free too. For instance, a card with a $75 annual fee is perfectly fine if it comes with one-night free stay per year. One needs to be careful about the locations of the hotel though. Does the hotel operate in a location you want to or tend to visit? Some hotels operate in only few places.
Ph.D., Assistant Professor in-Residence
School of Business at University of Connecticut
When is a hotel credit card worth it? There are a few circumstances where hotel card could be worth it to a consumer: 1. They travel frequently to the same locations 2. They find a hotel chain with the right balance of room availability, amenities and price 3. They intend to use the hotel program reward points for travel, staying at the same chain at locations that offer the same balance of room availability, amenities and price 4. They choose to stay at the same hotel chain whenever possible
To sum up, the answer is in the usage. If the hotel card is used frequently for stays at that specific hotel chain, the hotel credit cards may be better. If it is used as a more general card, a wider-use general card may be better.
University of North Dakota
What is the best way to earn hotel stays? Careful planning is the best way to earn hotel stays. Having traveled the world over the past 20 years for business, I’ve come to appreciate being a member of a hotel chain’s rewards program and taking advantage of the free stays that come with it. In selecting the best program for you, it’s important to identify a chain offering properties in locations you frequently visit and at a price point that’s competitive with competing offers. I’ve tried using some of the online aggregator sites but in my mind, they don’t offer the same benefits as sticking with one of the majors. With the majors you get the free nights and other benefits like room location and special checkout times.
Professor of Marketing & Director
Old Dominion University
Are hotel cards for a specific chain worth it versus a general travel card? A general travel card is more flexible, allowing you to earn points wherever you stay or whoever you fly with. However, most chain-specific cards do offer pretty valuable extra benefits, such as:
Elite status upgrade. For example, the Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ credit card offers enough elite night credits to qualify the cardholder for Silver status.
Higher point ratio for purchases at the chain. An example is the
Hilton Honors American Express Card that offers 7x points for every dollar spent at Hilton properties, compared to 3x points on all other purchases.
Professor of Marketing
Penn State Altoona
When is a hotel credit card worth it? I typically try to take advantage of the best offers by any of my credit cards during a given time period. I use the American Express-Hilton Honors cobranded card to earn hotel points and also to take advantage of the additional rewards offered by Amex. For example, I can maintain gold member status regardless of how many nights I stay in a year by just using my Amex.
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 no-annual-fee hotel cards or check out hotel loyalty brands for more in-depth information.
Our team evaluates credit cards to determine their value against similar cards on the market.
We rank card types — travel, cash back, business — on a set of factors that are most relevant to that type of card. We create these rankings to help you narrow down a credit card that best suits your spending and budget.
Kevin Joey Chen is a credit cards, banking and investments writer whose work and analysis have appeared on CNN, U.S. News & World Report, Business.com, Lifehacker and CreditCards.com. He's passionate about helping you get your finances in order by expertly navigating cutting-edge financial tools — including credit cards, apps and budgeting software.
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