We’re always searching for the best hotel credit cards so that we can maximize our travel, but stay for free as often as we can with the best perks available. Banks are always coming up with great new offers, so we made this list of the best hotel credit cards to help you narrow down the choices. Some of the best hotel credit cards are co-branded with the specific hotel, while others great cards use points from banks to pay for your room.
Best Hotel Credit Cards
Below are the best hotel credit cards from our favorite hotel brands. I have many of these cards for the annual free night benefit, the automatic upgrade to loyalty status, and the free perks that come with having their card.
Step #3 of my 5 simple steps to start travel hacking is to pick a hotel brand and focus all of your spend and stays with that hotel brand. You will earn free nights and elite status faster, and reap the rewards of that loyalty with upgraded rooms, better availability, and more appreciation of your loyalty from the hotel staff.
American Express offers multiple Hilton Honors cards. Hilton cards range from a no-fee version to a luxury version that offers complimentary top-tier Hilton Honors Diamond Elite status. There’s even a Hilton card for business owners. The no-fee card is good to hold long-term to build your credit history, but the real value is with the annual fee cards.
With the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card you automatically receive Hilton Honors Gold status, earn 12x points on eligible Hilton purchases, and 6x points at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations. Plus, all other purchases earn 3x points. And, if you spend $40,000 within a calendar year, you’re upgraded to Hilton Diamond status. You also earn a free weekend night reward each year that you spend $15,000 on the card. This free night can be used at almost any Hilton property, including the high-end Waldorf Astoria brand.
World of Hyatt
Hyatt now offers a personal and a business version of its credit card. The World of Hyatt Credit Card includes automatic Discoverist elite status and one free night at a Category 1-4 hotel each year. You can earn a second free night when you spend $15,000 in a calendar year. I just used my free night certificate at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando which would have cost over $200.
You’ll earn 4x points on Hyatt purchases and 2x points when dining out, gym memberships, local transit, rideshares, and buying flights directly from the airlines. You get five qualifying night credits towards elite status each year. And for every $5,000 you spend on the card, you earn two additional qualifying night credits.
IHG One Rewards
Chase offers multiple credit cards to earn IHG One Rewards points. The IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card card offers some of the best value of any card on this list. Cardholders get an annual free night worth up to 40,000 points, and they get the 4th night free when redeeming points for stays at IHG properties.
The card earns an extra 10x points per dollar for purchases at IHG hotels and resorts, 5x on travel, dining, and at gas stations, and 3x points on all other purchases. Cardholders get automatic Platinum elite status and are reimbursed up to $100 every four years for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS application fees.
I’ve had both the personal and business version of the Chase Marriott Rewards Visa for many years because of the free annual night benefit, which more than offsets the annual fee. If you get these cards at the right time, I’ve seen bonuses of up to 80,000 Marriott Rewards points!
Marriott points can be useful for more than just hotel stays. Many people don’t know about its air and hotel packages. And with these packages, you can actually receive more using fewer Marriott Rewards points!
Wyndham’s loyalty program is pretty interesting because they have a flat price of 15,000 points per night, regardless if you’re staying at a bargain basement property in the middle of nowhere or one of their all-inclusive properties in the Caribbean. Wyndham recently announced that you can redeem their points for stays at their timeshare properties as well, but they charge 15,000 points PER BEDROOM per night, which can get really expensive!
Barclaycard offers two versions of the Wyndham Rewards Visa credit card – a no-fee version and a paid version. The paid version has a higher sign-up bonus and earns more points per $1 spent at Wyndham or at their chosen category bonuses of gas, utility, and grocery purchases. The no-fee version provides automatic Wyndham Rewards Gold status, while the paid version provides Platinum loyalty status and 6,000 bonus points each anniversary.
Credit cards that transfer to hotel points
In addition to the hotel co-branded cards described above, the best hotel credit cards can sometimes be cards that offer bank points that can transfer into hotel loyalty programs or be used the same as cash when booking a reservation.
American Express Membership Rewards
American Express Membership Rewards are flexible points that can be used to pay for reservations directly with hotels or you can transfer them to Amex’s hotel partners to redeem for hotel stays.
There are many personal and business Amex cards that earn Membership Rewards points, which is a good thing because you can only receive the bonus from each one once thanks to Amex’s current “once per lifetime” bonus rules.
Membership Rewards can also be redeemed for cash, statement credits, or to make purchases at stores like Amazon. You have the option to transfer Membership Rewards to Hilton Honors (1,000 MR = 2,000 Hilton) or Marriott (1,000 MR = 1,000 Marriott).
Bank of America Travel Rewards
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card is one of the lesser used credit cards among the travel community. But, there can be value found in their points. First off, the good thing is that this card has no annual fee and it earns an unlimited 1.5x points for every $1 you spend.
For customers with larger combined balances with their bank and investment companies, you will receive up to an extra 75% bonus points on each purchase so you can really maximize your rewards for travel redemptions. That means that you can earn up to 2.62x points on every purchase.
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Chase Ultimate Rewards can be earned from multiple cards in the Chase portfolio. The personal versions are under the Freedom or Sapphire brand names, while the business versions are known as Ink. Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer to 14 airline and hotel partners on a 1:1 basis, including Hyatt, Marriott, and IHG.
Pro Tip: If you and your spouse have multiple Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards, you can household and transfer points to your Chase Sapphire Reserve® Credit Card to get $0.015 per point on all of them, even if some of those points were earned with other cards that earn Ultimate Rewards.
Citibank ThankYou Points
Citibank’s ThankYou points can be earned from several personal credit cards. ThankYou points can be redeemed for cash, statement credits, gift cards, or shopping at $0.01 or less in value per point. When you redeem ThankYou points for travel, they are worth $0.01 per point. However, the best value is to transfer them to one of the 16 airline or hotel partners. Currently, Citi ThankYou Points transfer to Choice Privileges and Wyndham Rewards.
US Bank FlexPerks
FlexPerks from US Bank are one of the lesser-known points programs in the mileage community, but I’ve found great value in them. The points that you earn are worth up to $0.02 each, and you can earn 2x on grocery spending. That means that you’re earning up to 4% in value when you redeem your points for travel!
And there is a little extra benefit when you use your points to book flights… you get a credit of up to $25 for baggage fees, upgrades, or in-flight food or drink.