If you love to travel, applying for a rewards credit card makes a lot of sense. Signing up for the right card can help you earn valuable rewards that you can redeem for future travel arrangements, and you can even snag great benefits like free hotel stays and room upgrades. When you pair a hotel credit card with a hotel loyalty program, the rewards and freebies can pile up fast.
We’ve rounded up the eight best travel credit cards co-branded by hotels available now. Here’s a breakdown of each card’s rewards and benefits, plus tips on how to decide which is the best new card for you.
8 of the best hotel credit cards
When it comes to choosing a hotel credit card, it’s important to keep your spending habits and typical travel plans in mind.
If you like to comparison shop, it may be best to sign up for a card that isn’t associated with a specific hotel chain — such as the American Express Platinum Card — so that you can pick the best deal. But if you love a certain hotel brand, signing up for a specific chain’s card can help you earn valuable rewards and gain elite status even faster.
Here are eight of our favorite hotel credit cards:
|Card||Annual fee||Best for...|
|Amex Platinum||$550||Frequent travelers who want to indulge in luxury accommodations|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||$95||People who spend a significant amount of money per year on travel and dining out|
|Hilton Honors Aspire Card||$450||Hilton devotees who travel several times a year|
|Hilton Honors Card||$0||Those who enjoy Hilton-branded hotels but balk at the Aspire’s high annual fee|
|Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card||$450||Frequent travelers who are Marriott loyalists|
|Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card||$95||Marriott fans who don’t want to pay the Bonvoy Brilliant’s high annual fee|
|IHG Rewards Club Premier||$89 (waived first year)||Budget-conscious travelers who frequently stay at hotel chains like Holiday Inn or Staybridge Suites|
|World of Hyatt Credit Card||$95||Hyatt fans, including those who stay at Thompson Hotels or Hyatt Regency resorts|
The Platinum Card from American Express
Annual fee: $550
Welcome offer: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months.
Despite this charge card’s high annual fee, the Platinum Card from American Express is outstanding for earning rewards at hotels. You’ll earn 5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare and hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases.
Your Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for future travel arrangements, including hotel stays; you can also redeem them for merchandise or gift cards.
While you can earn valuable rewards, the Platinum Card also offers premium hotel benefits. You’ll get access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program, where you’ll get $550 worth of complimentary benefits, on average. Perks include daily breakfast for two, complimentary Wi-Fi, and free room upgrades when available.
You’ll also get benefits through The Hotel Collection, a network of more than 600 properties all over the globe. When you book a stay of two consecutive nights or more, you’ll enjoy perks like a $100 hotel credit and room upgrades.
Additionally, you’ll get immediate Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status and Hilton Honors Gold status — without needing to meet minimum stay requirements.
The perks don't stop with your hotel stay with this card either. Cardmembers will receive a statement credit for either a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every 4.5 or 4 years, respectively. You'll also enjoy airport lounge access to more than 1,200 locations in over 130 countries through the American Express Global Lounge Collection. And finally, you'll get an airline fee credit every calendar year, a Saks Fifth Avenue credit twice per year, and a monthly Uber credit.
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Annual fee: $95
Welcome offer: Earn 80,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you can earn 5X on Lyft rides, 2X points on eligible dining and travel, and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases. You can also get up to a year of free DoorDash DashPass benefits on eligible food orders.
But what makes the Chase Sapphire Preferred such a great rewards card is its redemption options. Points are generally worth $0.01 each. However, if you redeem them through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal for travel arrangements, your points are worth 25% more. That means your 80,000 points from the welcome bonus are worth $1,000 toward travel.
You can also complete a point transfer to one of Chase’s travel partners at a 1:1 value. There are three hotel travel partners as of August 2019:
- IHG Rewards Club
- Marriott Bonvoy
- World of Hyatt
Hilton Honors Aspire Card
Annual fee: $450
Welcome offer: Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.
With its high annual fee, the Hilton Honors Aspire Card is geared toward frequent travelers who almost always stay at Hilton-branded hotels.
With it, you’ll earn 14X points on eligible purchases within the Hilton portfolio, 7X points on qualifying travel purchases made directly with airlines/select car rental companies or Amextravel.com, 7X points at U.S. restaurants, and 3X points on all other purchases.
You can redeem those points for hotel stays at over 5,100 hotels worldwide, and you’ll also get two Weekend Night Rewards. Depending on where you stay, that free weekend night alone can be worth hundreds of dollars.
After your first year as a cardmember, you’ll get a $250 Hilton resort statement credit to cover the cost of incidental purchases when you stay at an eligible resort. You can also qualify for a $100 property credit if you book a stay of two nights or more through HiltonHonors.com/AspireCard.
As a cardmember, you’ll be given complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status, allowing you to enjoy a 100% bonus on points earned on stays, free room upgrades, executive lounge access, and your fifth night free on standard room reward stays.
Hilton Honors American Express Card
Annual fee: $0
Welcome offer: Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months.
If you enjoy Hilton hotels but are scared off by the Aspire’s high annual fee, consider the Hilton Honors American Express Card. It has no annual fee, but you’ll still earn valuable rewards, including 7X points at participating hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio; 5X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 3X points on all other eligible purchases.
You can redeem your points for hotel stays at over 5,100 hotels around the world.
As a Hilton Honors cardmember, you’ll also get complimentary Silver status. That entitles you to a 20% bonus on Hilton Honors base points earned from your Hilton Honors stays. Plus, you’ll get a fifth night free on standard room reward stays of five nights or more.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card
Annual fee: $450
Welcome offer: Earn 75,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy points when you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card has a high annual fee, but it offers luxurious rewards and benefits. You’ll earn 6X points on eligible purchases at participating Marriot Bonvoy hotels, 3X points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2X points on all other eligible purchases.
You can redeem those points for free nights, including the cost of a standard room and applicable taxes.
Each year, you’ll also get a $300 statement credit to reimburse you for purchases made at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. And you’ll get a free night award every year after your cardmember anniversary. If you book a stay of at least two nights at The Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis with your card, you’ll qualify for a $100 property credit.
You’ll also qualify for Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status, giving you access to perks like free room upgrades and late checkouts.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card
Annual fee: $95
Welcome offer: Earn 5 free nights after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months.
If you enjoy Marriott hotels but don’t want to spend hundreds on a card’s annual fee, check out the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card.
You’ll earn 6X points at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy and 2X points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases. You can redeem your points for free hotel stays.
As a cardholder, you’ll get one free night each year after your cardmember anniversary. You’ll also receive automatic Silver Elite status, so you can get priority late checkout and access to a dedicated elite reservation line.
IHG Rewards Club Premier
Annual fee: $89 (waived first year)
Welcome offer: Earn 140,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
With a low annual fee, the IHG Rewards Club Premier Card is perfect for fans of hotel chains like Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, and Staybridge Suites.
You’ll earn up to 25X points per $1 spent on stays at IHG hotels and resorts; 2X points at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants; and 1X points on other purchases Those points can be redeemed for hotel stays at IHG-branded hotels.
Each year, you’ll also get a free night’s stay at an IHG hotel. And if you redeem your points for a stay of four or more nights, you’ll get your fourth night free.
You’ll also get Platinum Elite status, allowing you to save 20% when you purchase points with your IHG Rewards Club Premier Card.
World of Hyatt Credit Card
Annual fee: $95
Welcome offer: Earn up to 50,000 Bonus Points: 25,000 after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, plus an additional 25,000 after spending a total of $6,000 in the first 6 months of account opening.
While it does have an annual fee, the World of Hyatt Credit Card offers a valuable welcome bonus. According to Hyatt, the bonus is enough to cover the cost of 10 nights at a category 1 hotel.
It also has a valuable rewards structure. You’ll earn 9X points per $1 spent at Hyatt hotels; 2X points per $1 spent on eligible travel, dining, and health purchases; and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else. So if you're an exercise enthusiast and you like the idea of earning hotel rewards on your fitness club or gym membership, this card could be a good fit for you.
Each year, you’ll also get a free night at a category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort after your account anniversary. If you spend $15,000 or more during your account anniversary year, you’ll earn an additional free night.
You’ll also get automatic World of Hyatt Discoverist status, giving you benefits like premium internet, a bottle of water daily, and 10% more points on eligible purchases.
Frequently asked questions
Which hotel points are worth the most?
Analysis pins Hyatt points as the most valuable, at about 2.0 cents per point. But that doesn’t take into account the free nights you can get when you book longer stays with points at other hotel brands.
Every hotel loyalty program is a little different, so it's best to do your homework when it comes to their value. You'll also want to watch out for limitations like blackout dates that might make a program feel less valuable due to when you can and can't use your rewards.
Are hotel points worth buying?
There are a few scenarios in which buying hotel points might be worth it. You should buy hotel points only if:
- You’re close to earning a free night and need to buy some points to top off your balance.
- You can get a great deal on the points through a bonus offer from the hotel.
- You have your heart set on an expensive hotel and can get a better deal by paying with points.
- You want to keep your existing points from expiring.
How many Hilton points equal a free night?
The number of points needed for free night stays at a Hilton hotel starts at just 5,000, but the actual number required will vary by hotel. You can also use a combination of money and points in 1,000 point increments to book your Hilton stay.
Which hotel rewards program is best?
That depends on where you stay when you travel and how long your typical trip lasts. While Hyatt points are worth the most per point, other hotel brands have more properties and offer free nights with extended bookings. So what is best for you may be different than what is best for someone else. For example, if you love staying at Wyndham properties, then the Wyndham rewards program will be the best for you, but they might not be right at all for someone else.
What credit score do I need for a Marriott credit card?
You’ll need good to excellent credit to qualify for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card, the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card, or the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Credit Card.
What is the best travel credit card with no annual fee?
That depends on your needs, where you spend the most money, and how you plan to redeem your travel rewards. One of the overall top picks is the Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card, since it offers 3X points on eligible dining, transportation, travel, and streaming services, which includes ordering in and using rideshare services.
But if you’re more likely to spend your money at supermarkets to earn travel rewards, you might be better off using the American Express EveryDay Credit Card, which earns you 2X points on purchases at U.S. supermarkets (up to 6,000 per year), or the Chase Freedom Card, which gets you 5% back in rotating bonus categories (up to $1,500 quarterly).
If you’re looking for a new travel rewards credit card so you can earn free hotel stays, there are many options available from a variety of credit card issuers. When deciding which is best for you, consider your own travel preferences and habits, each card’s annual fee, and the extra perks these credit cards provide. By doing your homework, you can find the right new card, enjoy numerous free stays, and possibly even travel in luxury.