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Best hotel credit cards of 2019
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.
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
|Purchase APR||17.24% – 26.24% variable|
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 generous welcome offer if you meet spend criteria and a complimentary upgrade to Silver status just by being a card member.
- Reward points. Earn 7x points on eligible purchases at the Hilton hotels and resorts and 5x points at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations. All other purchases earn 3x points.
- Welcome offer Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months your account is open.
- Complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status. Silver status lets you earn additional 20% Hilton Honors Base Points, plus you get a complimentary fifth night when you book five nights or more in one stay with points.
Best hotel credit card for high reward points on hotels: Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
|Purchase APR||13.74% – 23.74% variable|
If you don’t have a preferred hotel brand, the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card could help you earn one of the highest rewards rates on booking via the hotels.com Venture website. But this offer lasts until January 31, 2020.
- Signup bonus. Earn 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in your first 3 months of card membership.
- Reward points. Earn 10x points on hotels.com purchases until January 31, 2020, and 1.25x points on all other purchases.
- Intro APR period on purchases. Save money on interest for your first 12 months when you open your account. After that, a variable APR of 13.74%, 19.74% or 23.74% applies.
Best hotel credit card for flexible rewards: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
|Purchase APR||17.74% – 24.74% variable|
The Chase Ultimate Rewards program lets you transfer your 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.
- Reward points. Earn 2x points on travel and dining at restaurants and 1x points on everything else.
- Signup bonus. Earn 60,000 bonus points when you $4,000 during your first 3 months of card membership.
- High hotel redemption value. Redeem your points for travel purchases via the Chase Ultimate Rewards program and get 25% higher value. If you decide to transfer your points to partner hotel program, you’ll get 1:1 ratio for your points.
Best hotel credit card for travel perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
|Purchase APR||N/A – Charge card|
- Welcome offer. Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 within the first 3 months of opening your account.
- Reward points. Earn 5x points on flights and prepaid hotels when you book through American Express Travel or directly through airlines. Everything else you buy earns 1x points.
- Hotel perks. Get Gold Elite status in Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors programs, and benefits at participating American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts properties, such as daily breakfast for two, room upgrades and late checkout. You can also transfer points to partner hotel programs in 1:1 ratio.
Best hotel credit card for free nights: IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
If you often stay at Holiday Inn, InterContinental or any other hotel in the IHG portfolio, you can earn the highest number of free nights than with any similar credit card.
- Reward points Earn 25x points at IHG hotel stays, 2x points at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants, and 1x points on everything else you buy.
- Signup bonus. Earn 80,000 bonus points when you spend $2,000 within your first 3 months of card membership. Spend $20,000 in a year and make an additional purchase to earn 10,000 bonus points on your account anniversary.
- Free nights. Get a reward night on your card anniversary each year, and get an additional reward night every time you redeem points for four or more consecutive nights.
Quick look: Best hotel credit cards
- Hilton Honors American Express Card: Best hotel card with no annual fee
- Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card: Best hotel credit card for high reward points on hotels
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best hotel credit card for flexibility
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best hotel card for travel perks
- IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card: Best for free nights
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 the highest rewards rate at IHG hotels and resorts purchases, free nights and Platinum status without the hefty annual fee some other premium hotel cards require.
Compare hotel credit cards
Compare hotel cards by bank or hotel program
How do hotel cards work?
A hotel credit card typically refers to any credit card offering points that can be redeemed for award nights at a hotel brand. Those released in partnership with hotels are called cobranded hotel cards. Meanwhile, a general travel card typically offers accelerated rewards on purchases such as flights and car rentals, in addition to hotels.
In the case of a cobranded card, you’ll find the highest rewards rate on spending with the affiliated hotel brand. You may find additional perks associated with the hotel’s loyalty program, such as resort credits, free night awards and elite status.
How to choose a hotel credit card
So how do you know when a hotel credit card is the right card for you? Or would a general travel card prove more beneficial? Here are a few considerations to review prior to making your choice:
- Review your travel expenses. As the name suggests, a hotel credit card provides the most value on hotel expenses, for both earning and redemption. If a majority of your travel expenses fall elsewhere, such as on flights or dining, consider cards that reward you most for those categories.
- Review your hotel preferences. Hotel credit cards come in two categories: co-branded and general. If you find yourself visiting the same hotel brand during your stays, such as Hilton or IHG, a cobranded credit card under that brand might prove most beneficial. If you switch up your hotel stays across a number of different brands, a more general choice might offer more value over the long haul.
- Look at rates and fees. Like any credit card, you should carefully examine the rates and fees prior to making a decision. Some hotel cards carry hefty annual fees thanks to their perks.
- Compare the earning and redemption rates. The bread and butter of any hotel card — and any travel card for that matter — is point earning and redemption rates. Does the card earn points on more than just hotel stays? What are points worth and how many do you need for a free stay? A big earning rate won’t help if you don’t spend much in that particular category.
- Compare welcome offers. Depending on the point bonus, a welcome offer can prove a strong reason to choose one card over another, sometimes offering enough points for several nights at a cushy hotel.
- Review the card’s travel perks. 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. Keep in mind these perks often come with higher annual fees.
Read more about hotel credit cards
Credit Cards Publisher
Ask the experts
- Nada Nasr Bechwati
- Associate Professor of Marketing
- Bentley University
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.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.
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