17 Best Hotel Rewards Credit Cards – Reviews & Comparison

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Travel rewards credit cards take many different forms. Airline rewards cards offer opportunities to fly for free or on the cheap, reducing the cost of your vacations and business trips. Dining rewards cards reduce the cost of restaurant meals, often a major expense on trips. Many cash back credit cards give you a percentage back on all of your most important purchases, while gas rewards credit cards literally pay you to buy gasoline and make other purchases at gas stations.

If you travel frequently, one or more of these card types have a place in your wallet – and so do hotel rewards credit cards. Virtually every major hotel company or brand family has at least one rewards credit card. Some cater to individual travelers, and others are meant for business owners.

Every hotel rewards card is a little different, but the basic premise is consistent: purchases earn you points that can be redeemed for free or discounted nights, incidental hotel expenses (such as meals or spa treatments), and sometimes other travel expenses, such as airfare. Several hotel credit cards have more expansive rewards programs, offering merchandise, gift cards, and other valuable items that have nothing to do with hotels. Most hotel credit cards have extensive perks and benefits, and many have enticing promotions and sign-up bonuses.

Best Hotel Credit Cards (Branded)

Keep in mind that the majority of these cards come with annual fees. While the lack of an annual fee is certainly nice, no-annual-fee cards often come with foreign transaction fees – meaning they’re less than ideal for frequent international travelers. Plus, they tend to have fewer fringe benefits than annual-fee cards.

1. Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

5 Starpoints Per $1 Spent at Starwood Properties; 1 Point Per $1 Everywhere Else; 20% Transfer Bonus to Frequent Flyer Programs

american express starwood preferred guest credit cardThe Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express earns you 5 Starpoints per $1 spent at participating Starwood properties, including Sheraton, Westin, and W, with no spending limits or restrictions. All other purchases earn an unlimited 1 point per $1 spent, with no spending limits or restrictions. There is a $95 annual fee that is waived during the first year.

Starpoints can be redeemed for free nights and room upgrades at Starwood hotels. You can also transfer Starpoints to participating frequent flyer programs – about 30 in all, covering 150 airlines. If you transfer at least 20,000 points, you get a 5,000 Starpoint bonus (20%). Whether you redeem Starpoints for hotel stays or airfare, there are never any blackout dates.

The Starwood Preferred Guest Card has an excellent sign-up bonus too: 25,000 bonus Starpoints points when you spend at least $3,000 in 3 months. Free global WiFi access and a lack of foreign transaction fees are nice perks.

Note that there’s a business version of this card: Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card from American Express. The cards are very similar, with the biggest difference being the the sign-up bonus: 2 free nights at a category 1-5 SPG property after spending $5,000 in 3 months for the business card.

  • Sign-up Bonus. Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints when you spend at least $3,000 ($5,000 for the business card) within the first 3 months of card membership.
  • Hotel Rewards. 5 Starpoints per $1 spent at Starwood properties, including Westin, W, and Sheraton, and 1 Starpoint per $1 spent on all other purchases. No spending limits or restrictions.
  • Redemption. Starpoints can be redeemed for free nights and room upgrades at Starwood hotels with no blackout dates, transferred to frequent flyer miles, and used to book flights directly with airlines. It takes 3,000 Starpoints to redeem for a Category 1 (lowest property tier) night and up to 35,000 for a Category 7 (highest tier) night. You can combine points and cash to redeem faster: 1,500 points plus $30 for a Category 1 property, up to 15,000 points plus $275 for a Category 7 property. Category 1 room nights often cost less than $100. Category 3 hotels are generally moderately priced – for instance, a midweek standard room at the Category 3 Sheraton Birmingham (Alabama) Hotel costs $187 per night. Category 7 hotels are super pricey, but very luxurious – for example, the ultra-luxe St. Regis Residence Club Aspen’s rooms start at $1,099 per night. Note that category tiers don’t always correlate with room prices – in Birmingham, the Category 4 Aloft Birmingham Soho Square is actually cheaper per night ($169 and up) than the Category 3 Sheraton Birmingham ($187 and up). Starpoints can be transferred to frequent flyer miles at a 1-to-1 ratio with most participating airlines, and you get a 5,000-point bonus for every 20,000 miles you transfer. Direct airline redemptions are based on flights’ dollar value, with cost ranges corresponding to fixed point requirements. For instance, flights that cost less than $150 require 10,000 points, flights priced between $410 and $475 require 35,000 points, and flights priced between $995 and $1,060 require 80,000 points.
  • Preferred Customer Status. This card automatically comes with Starwood Preferred Guest status. Benefits include 2x point earnings per $1 spent at Starwood hotels during your stay (in addition to the 5x points earned when you use your Starwood Preferred Guest credit card, for a total of 7 points per $1 spent), complimentary in-room Internet access, and 30% savings at restaurants and bars within Starwood properties. Also, every year, you automatically receive credit for two stays and five nights toward SPG Elite status. You need a total of 10 stays or 25 nights for SPG Gold Status, and 25 stays or 50 nights for SPG Platinum status. You earn additional nights and stays by staying at Starwood properties. Gold benefits include 3x point earnings per $1 spent at Starwood hotels (in addition to 5x points earned when you use your Starwood Preferred Guest credit card to pay for your rooms, for a total of 8 points per $1 spent), late checkout, free room upgrades where available, and premium in-room Internet. Platinum benefits include complimentary health and executive club access, guaranteed availability when you book at least 72 hours in advance, and automatic upgrade to the best available room at check-in.
  • Key Fees. The card’s annual fee is $95, waived during the first year. There are no foreign transaction fees. Late and returned payments cost $37, and balance transfers and cash advances cost the greater of $5 or 3%.
  • Introductory APR. There is no introductory APR.
  • APR. The purchase and balance transfer APR is 15.49% to 19.49%, depending on your creditworthiness and prevailing rates. The cash advance APR is 25.49%, and the penalty APR is 29.49%.
  • Other Perks. This card comes with a host of fringe benefits, including free access to thousands of Boingo WiFi hotspots worldwide. Also comes with American Express’s return protection, which pays up to $300 per item and $1,200 per calendar year for rejected merchandise returns.

See our American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Card Review for more information. Find out how you can apply for this card here.


2. Chase Sapphire Preferred

2x Points on Travel & Dining at Restaurants; 1-to-1 Transfer to Participating Frequent Traveler Programs

credit-card-lockThe Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is simple, elegant, and powerful. Purchases on travel and dining at restaurants earn 2 Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent, with no spending caps or restrictions. All other purchases give you 1 point per $1 spent. You can also transfer points to participating frequent traveler programs, such as Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards and IHG Club Rewards, at a 1-to-1 ratio. For instance, 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points equal 1,000 IHG Club points. This card does have a $95 annual fee, though it is waived in the first year.

When redeemed for airfare and hotel purchases through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal, you get 20% off, making your Ultimate Rewards points worth up to $0.0125 apiece. You can also redeem for gift cards, cash (statement credits, direct deposits, or checks), and merchandise, mostly at a $0.01-per-point rate. The redemption minimum is 2,000 points for cash redemptions.

Finally, Chase Sapphire Preferred has a solid sign-up bonus: 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points when you spend at least $4,000 within 3 months.

  • Sign-up Bonus. Earn 50,000 bonus points, worth up to $625 on airfare and hotels purchased through Ultimate Rewards, when you spend at least $4,000 within 3 months. Earn an additional 5,000 points (worth up to $62) for adding an authorized user to the account and making one purchase within 3 months.
  • Hotel Rewards. Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 2 points per $1 spent at restaurants and on travel, with no spending caps or restrictions. All other purchases earn 1 point per $1 spent, again with no caps or restrictions.
  • Redemption. You can redeem your accumulated points for anything offered through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal, including general merchandise, cash, and statement credits, usually at a value of $0.01 per point. However, travel (including hotel) redemptions offer the best deal, and aren’t subject to blackouts. When you book hotels through Ultimate Rewards, you get 20% off your order, boosting the value of your Ultimate Rewards points to $0.0125 apiece. You also don’t need to accumulate enough Ultimate Rewards points to pay for an entire room night or stay – simply use whatever points you have and pay the rest with your Sapphire Preferred card. Since Ultimate Rewards points have fixed values, there is no financial advantage to booking at higher-priced (e.g., Category 7) or lower-priced (e.g., Category 1) hotels. If you prefer, you can turn your Ultimate Rewards points into frequent traveler points with hotel brands and airlines such as Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Marriott, Intercontinental Hotel Group, and more. Point transfers are made on a 1-to-1 basis.
  • Preferred Customer Status. Chase Sapphire Preferred doesn’t confer any special status.
  • Key Fees. The card’s annual fee is $95, but it is waived the first year. There are no foreign transaction fees. Late payments range in price from $15 to $35, depending on balance size, while returned payments always cost $35. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%, and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%.
  • Introductory APR. There is no intro APR.
  • APR. The purchase and balance transfer APR is 16.24% to 23.24%, variable with prevailing rates, and the cash advance APR is 25.24%. There is no penalty APR.
  • Other Perks. Cardholders get VIP packages, early access, exclusive deals, and concierge treatment at entertainment and sporting events, including the PGA Championship.

See our Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Review for more information. Find out how you can apply for this card here.


3. Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard

Unlimited 2 Miles per $1 Spent on All Purchases

barclaycard-arrival-plusThe Barclaycard Arrival Plus Card is a general-purpose travel rewards credit card with an $89 annual fee (waived in the first year) and a great baseline earning rate: 2 miles per $1 spent, with no caps or restrictions. You can redeem your miles for statement credits to offset virtually any travel purchase, including hotel stays, with no blackout dates.

Miles are always worth $0.01 apiece at redemption, which makes it easier to keep track of your accumulated rewards’ value. However, there is a $100 minimum (10,000 miles) for travel redemptions, including hotels. On the bright side, you always get a 5% rebate when you redeem, so a 10,000-mile redemption produces a 500-mile deposit back into your account. Also, this card comes with a solid signup bonus: 40,000 miles when you spend $3,000 in 3 months.

If you don’t qualify for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard, consider applying for its cousin, Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard. Arrival has a less generous rewards program and sign-up bonus, but it lacks an annual fee and boasts somewhat less restrictive creditworthiness requirements.

  • Sign-up Bonus. When you spend $3,000 within the first 90 days of card membership, you receive 40,000 bonus miles. That’s worth $400 in hotel redemptions.
  • Hotel Rewards. This card earns a flat, unlimited 2 miles per $1 spent on all purchases, with no caps or restrictions.
  • Redemption. You can redeem your accumulated miles as statement credits against virtually any travel-related purchase, including hotel stays. Miles are always worth $0.01 at redemption, so the amount of miles needed to redeem is directly proportional to the cost of your hotel stay. You need at least 10,000 miles ($100 value) to redeem for travel statement credits.
  • Preferred Customer Status. This card doesn’t come with preferred customer status at any hotel.
  • Key Fees. This card has an $89 annual fee that’s waived during the first year. There is no foreign transaction fee. Late and returned payments cost $37, while balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%. Cash advances cost $10 or 5%, whichever is greater.
  • Introductory APR. There is a 0% APR on balance transfers for 12 months.
  • APR. Depending on your personal creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates, the regular purchase APR is a variable 16.24% to 20.24%. After the intro period, balance transfers fall within the same range. The cash advance APR is 25.49%. There is no penalty APR.
  • Other Perks. This card comes with 24/7 concierge service, baggage delay insurance, and travel accident/trip cancellation insurance.

See our Barclaycard Arrival Plus Card Review for more information. Find out how you can apply for this card here.


4. Capital One® Venture Rewards Credit Card

Unlimited 2 Miles for Every $1 Spent; Redeem for Virtually Any Travel Purchases or Cash Back Equivalents

capital one venture rewards credit cardCapital One Venture Rewards is a straightforward, no-surprises card with a $59 annual fee (waived in the first year). For every $1 you spend, you earn 2 No Hassle Miles. These miles are always worth $0.01.

The Capital One Venture Rewards Card has a nice sign-up bonus: 40,000 bonus miles when you spend at least $3,000 in the first 3 months of membership. And, if you don’t qualify for the Capital One Venture Rewards card, consider the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Card, which has more lenient creditworthiness requirements and less generous rewards.

Like Barclaycard Arrival Plus, Capital One Venture Rewards isn’t a straight-up hotel rewards card. In fact, you can redeem points for statement credits on virtually any travel purchases: hotels, flights, rental cards, vacation packages, cruises, and more. Because of this, there are no blackout dates – you can stay at any hotel, any time, and just redeem your miles as a statement credit (known as Purchase Eraser) after your stay (within 90 days of purchase). You can also use accumulated miles to make travel purchases directly through Capital One’s booking center, and for general statement credits or paper checks. Redemption minimums vary depending on redemption method – for instance, Purchase Eraser requires 2,500 miles, while direct travel bookings don’t have minimums.

  • Sign-up Bonus. Earn 40,000 bonus miles, good for up to $400 in travel purchases, when you spend at least $3,000 within 3 months of account opening.
  • Hotel Rewards. This card earns 2 miles for every $1 spent on all purchases, with no spending caps or restrictions.
  • Redemption. You can redeem your miles for virtually any travel purchase, including hotel stays, with no blackout dates. Redemptions can be made via statement credit (Purchase Eraser), provided you have at least 2,500 miles to redeem, or by direct booking through Capital One (no minimum required). You don’t get a bonus for redeeming for hotel nights. Points are always worth $0.01 apiece at redemption, so there’s no financial advantage to booking at lower-priced (e.g., Category 1) or higher-priced (e.g., Category 7) hotels.
  • Preferred Customer Status. This card doesn’t come with any special status.
  • Key Fees. The card carries a $59 annual fee, waived for the first year. There is no foreign transaction or balance transfer fee. Cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 3%, and late payments cost $35.
  • Introductory APR. There is no intro APR.
  • APR. The purchase and balance transfer APR is a variable 13.24% to 23.24%, depending on creditworthiness and prevailing rates. There is no penalty APR, and the cash advance APR is 23.24%.
  • Other Perks. You get free, unlimited access to your FICO credit score and access to useful credit-building tools with Capital One Credit Tracker.

See our Capital One Venture Rewards Card Review for more information. Find out how you can apply for this card here.


5. Hilton HHonors Surpass® Card from American Express

12 Points per $1 Spent at Hilton Hotels; 6 Points per $1 Spent at Restaurants, Supermarkets & Gas Stations

The Hilton HHonors Surpass Card from American Express is a powerful travel rewards card with great benefits for frequent Hilton guests. It earns an unlimited 12 points per $1 spent at select Hilton properties; 6 points per $1 spent at supermarkets, restaurants, and gas stations; and 3 points per $1 spent on everything else. It also comes with a generous sign-up bonus: 75,000 HHonors points when you spend $3,000 within 3 months. However, this card does come with an annual fee of $75 – though that’s probably worthwhile if you use it frequently.

You can redeem your HHonors points for free room nights at Hilton properties, starting at 5,000 points per night at Category 1 properties and rising to as many as 95,000 points per night at high-end Category 10 properties. You can also transfer to airline rewards programs, such as Delta SkyMiles, often at a 10-to-1 ratio.

Hilton HHonors Surpass has some other important perks, including complimentary Hilton HHonors Gold status and complimentary Private Pass membership ($99 value), which entitles you to discounted access to more than 700 airport lounges worldwide.

  • Sign-up Bonus. When you spend at least $3,000 within 3 months of opening your account, you get 75,000 HHonors points – good for as many as 15 nights at a Category 1 property.
  • Hotel Rewards. Earn an unlimited 12 points per $1 spent at Hilton hotels and an unlimited 6 points per $1 spent at supermarkets, restaurants, and gas stations. All other purchases earn an unlimited 3 points per $1 spent.
  • Redemption. You can redeem your Hilton HHonors points for free nights and upgrades at Hilton properties, with no blackout dates. You can also exchange your HHonors points for miles with many popular airlines, including Virgin Atlantic and Delta Airlines. However, point-mile exchange rates aren’t as good as some other programs’, as ratios can reach or even exceed 10 points to 1 mile, far lower than the 1-to-1 or 5-to-1 deals found elsewhere. Hotel night redemptions start at 5,000 points for Category 1 (usually $100 and under per night) and rise to as much as 95,000 for Category 10 (usually $500 and over per night, and sometimes significantly more). To stretch your points further, you can use Hilton’s Points + Money feature, which lets you combine HHonors points and cash. Combinations vary by hotel category, location, and other factors, but Hilton offers a common example on its website: a Category 3 hotel for 8,000 points plus $30 per night, instead of 20,000 points per night.
  • Preferred Customer Status. Cardmembers get automatic Gold status, which comes with complimentary high-speed in-room Internet access, complimentary room upgrades when available, and a 25% boost to points earned on Hilton stays.
  • Key Fees. This card has a $75 annual fee. Foreign transactions cost 2.7%, while balance transfers and cash advances both cost the greater of $10 or 3%. Late and returned payments cost $37 each.
  • Introductory APR. There is no intro APR.
  • APR. Purchases and balance transfers come with a 15.49% to 19.49% APR, depending on prevailing rates and your personal creditworthiness. The cash advance APR is 25.49%, and the penalty APR is 29.49%.
  • Other Perks. You get 500 extra Hilton HHonors points for using your credit card to reserve a room online and pay for it upon arrival. You also get American Express’s complimentary baggage protection (up to $1,250 for carry-on baggage and $500 for checked baggage) and 24/7 roadside assistance.

See our Hilton HHonors Surpass Card Review for more information. Find out how you can apply for this card here.


6. Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card

10 Gold Points Per $1 Spent at Carlson Hotels; 5 Points Per $1 Spent Everywhere Else

The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card earns 10 Gold Points per $1 spent at more than 1,000 participating Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group hotels (whose brands include Radisson and Country Inns & Suites) and 5 points per $1 spent everywhere else. Neither category comes with caps or spending restrictions. This card has a great sign-up bonus too: up to 85,000 points when you spend at least $2,500 in the first 90 days.

You can redeem your accumulated Gold Points for free nights and room upgrades at Carlson Rezidor hotels, starting at 9,000 points for a lower-tier room night. You can also convert your points to airline miles with more than 20 participating airlines, typically at a 10-to-1 ratio. The card does come with a $75 annual fee, but that may be worthwhile if you use this card often and travel frequently.

The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card is similar to the Club Carlson Platinum Rewards Visa, which has a somewhat less generous rewards program and sign-up bonus, and a lower annual fee ($50).

  • Sign-up Bonus. Earn 50,000 Gold Points simply for making your first purchase, and 35,000 additional Gold Points when you spend at least $2,500 within the first 90 days. This total bonus is worth up to 9 free nights.
  • Hotel Rewards. This card earns 10 Gold Points per $1 spent at participating Carlson Rezidor hotels, with no caps or restrictions. All other purchases earn an unlimited 5 points per $1 spent.
  • Redemption. You can redeem your Club Carlson Gold Points for free nights and room upgrades, with no blackout dates, at participating Club Carlson hotels. You can also exchange your points for airline miles at more than 20 participating airlines. Free night redemptions start at 9,000 points per standard room night for Category 1 (lowest) properties and rise to 70,000 per standard room night at Category 7 properties. Category 1 properties often cost less than $100 per night – for example, the Country  Inns & Suites Atlanta Airport (Georgia) costs $99 per standard midweek room. The cost of higher-end properties varies widely, so they don’t always offer great redemption deals – for instance, the Category 7 Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown requires 70,000 points for a free night, but costs just $228 per night for a standard midweek room. Club Carlson also lets you combine cash and points (called Gold Points + Cash). The amount of points and cash required varies by property and category – for example, the Category 1 Country Inns & Suites Atlanta Airport requires 5,000 points and $59.40, and the Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown requires 20,000 points and $161.40. If you want to convert points to airline miles, you can do so automatically (as they’re earned) or manually, typically at a ratio of 10 points to 1 mile – which isn’t as great a value as some other conversion schemes, which offer 5-to-1 or even 1-to-1 transfer.
  • Preferred Customer Status. This card automatically qualifies you for Gold Elite status, whose benefits include a 15% discount on food and beverages purchased at Carlson hotels and 35% faster point earnings on hotel stays. If you were a Gold elite member prior to signing up for this card, you get 15 qualifying nights toward Concierge Elite status. With this bonus, you need 25 more nights to reach Concierge Elite status, whose benefits include a 25% food and beverage discount and 75% faster point earnings on stays.
  • Key Fees. This card has a $75 annual fee. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3% of the transferred amount, while cash advances cost up to the greater of $10 or 4%. Foreign transactions cost 2% if denominated in U.S. dollars, and 3% if denominated in foreign currency. Late payments cost $37, while returned payments cost $35.
  • Introductory APR. There is no intro APR.
  • APR. The regular purchase and balance transfer APR ranges from 14.24% to 23.24%, depending on prevailing interest rates and your personal creditworthiness. The cash advance APR is 25.24%, and there is no penalty APR.
  • Other Perks. You get a 40,000-point loyalty bonus each year when you renew your card. When you charge at least $10,000 in a 12-month period and then renew your card, you get a free night’s stay. Also, this card comes with 24/7 concierge assistance and travel/emergency services.

Find out how you can apply for this card here.


7. Wyndham Rewards® Visa Signature® Card

5 Points Per $1 Spent at Wyndham Hotels; 2 Points Per $1 Spent Elsewhere; Easily Attainable Sign-up Bonus

Powered by Barclaycard, the Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature Card earns an unlimited 5 Wyndham Rewards points per $1 spent at participating Wyndham Hotels, whose brands include Wyndham, Microtel, Ramada, Days Inn, and Super 8. It also earns an unlimited 2 points per $1 spent on all other purchases. Its sign-up bonus is solid: 30,000 bonus points after your first purchase, good for two free nights at any Wyndham hotel. There is a $69 annual fee.

You can redeem your accumulated Wyndham Rewards points for free nights at any Wyndham hotel, with no blackout dates. You always need 15,000 points to redeem for a free night, regardless of property or room rate. If you want to combine points and cash, you can redeem with just 3,000 points, though not all hotels permit this redemption method. You can also exchange your Wyndham Rewards points for airline miles at variable ratios.

If you don’t qualify for the Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature Card, consider applying for the Wyndham Rewards Platinum Visa, which has a somewhat less generous rewards scheme and doesn’t come with an annual fee.

  • Sign-up Bonus. When you make your first purchase, you get 30,000 bonus points. That’s good for two free nights at any Wyndham hotel.
  • Hotel Rewards. This card earns an unlimited 5 points per $1 spent at Wyndham hotels, as well as an unlimited 2 points per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Redemption. You can redeem your accumulated Wyndham Rewards points for free nights at any Wyndham hotel or resort, with no blackout dates, and exchange your points for frequent flyer miles with approximately 20 participating airlines (including American Airlines). 15,000 points equals 1 Go Free Award, good for a free night at any hotel or resort, regardless of its nightly room rates. Since you always need 15,000 points to redeem for a free night, it’s usually a better deal financially to redeem for stays at higher-end hotels and resorts. Alternatively, you can redeem 3,000 points plus variable amounts of cash for a Go Fast Award, good for a free night at participating (usually lower-end) Wyndham hotels and resorts. The amount of cash required to complete a Go Fast Award varies based on the property and normal room rate. Airline point transfers typically start at 6,000 points.
  • Preferred Customer Status. Currently, this card does not come with any preferred status.
  • Key Fees. This card comes with a $69 annual fee. Foreign transactions cost 3% of the transaction amount. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3% of the transferred amount, while cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%. Late and returned payments cost $37 each.
  • Introductory APR. There is no regular intro purchase APR, but Wyndham Timeshare purchases come with a 0% APR for 6 months. There is also a 15-month 0% APR balance transfer promotion on all purchases.
  • APR. The regular purchase APR ranges from 15.49% to 20.24%, depending on your personal creditworthiness and prevailing rates. After the balance transfer promotion ends, the same rate range applies. The cash advance APR is 25.49%, and there is no penalty APR.
  • Other Perks. This card earns 5,500 bonus points on your account anniversary each year, as long as your account remains open and in good standing.

Find out how you can apply for this card here.


8. Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express

7 Hilton HHonors Points Per $1 Spent at Hilton Hotels; 5 Points Per $1 Spent on Supermarket, Gas Station & Drugstore Purchases; No Annual Fee

The Hilton HHonors Card from American Express earns you 7 Hilton HHonors points per $1 spent on hotel stays within the Hilton portfolio; 5 points per $1 spent on supermarket, gas station, and drugstore purchases; and 3 points per $1 spent on everything else. All categories have no spending caps or restrictions, making this a great card for frequent travelers who want to earn points on everyday purchases too. You can redeem points for hotel stays and incidental charges at variable rates and minimums, depending on the hotel property.

This card has some nice fringe benefits. For example, you enjoy Hilton HHonors Silver status, which entitles you to a free night on stays of 5 days or longer and automatically boosts your total point earnings by 15% (unlimited), for as long as you remain in good standing. Furthermore, the sign-up bonus is very solid: 40,000 bonus points for spending just $750 within 3 months of account opening.

  • Sign-up Bonus. Earn 40,000 HHonors points when you spend at least $750 within 3 months of account opening.
  • Hotel Rewards. Earn 7 Hilton HHonors points for every $1 spent at Hilton Hotels; 5 points per $1 spent at the supermarket, gas station, and drugstore; and 3 points per $1 spent on everything else. There are no spending caps or restrictions. You can also earn 500 bonus points per stay when you use your card to both reserve your hotel online and subsequently pay for your room upon arrival.
  • Redemption. Point redemption follows the same guidelines as the Hilton HHonors Surpass Card from American Express. Category 1 redemptions require 5,000 points, while Category 10 redemptions require 70,000 to 95,000 points, depending on the property. You can transfer to a number of popular airline frequent flyer programs, typically at a 10 points to 1 mile ratio, and can use Points + Money to earn free room nights faster.
  • Preferred Customer Status. This card automatically qualifies you for Hilton HHonors Silver status. Silver benefits include a 15% bonus on all Hilton HHonors base points earned on Hilton stays, complimentary fitness center access, and a free fifth night on stays of five nights or longer.
  • Key Fees. There is no annual fee. Foreign transactions cost 2.7% of the total transaction amount. Balance transfers and cash advances both cost the greater of $5 or 3%, and late and returned payments cost $37.
  • Introductory APR. There is no intro APR.
  • APR. The purchase and balance transfer APR ranges from 15.49% to 19.49%, depending on creditworthiness and prevailing rates. The cash advance APR is 25.49%, and the penalty APR is 29.49%.
  • Other Perks. Includes American Express’s baggage protection plan (up to $1,250 for lost or damaged carry-ons and $500 for checked bags) and 24/7 roadside assistance availability.

See our American Express Hilton HHonors Card Review for more information. Find out how you can apply for this card here.


9. Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card

6 Hilton HHonors Points Per $1 Spent at Hotels; 3 Points Per $1 Spent at Supermarkets, Drugstores & Gas Stations; No Annual Fee

citi hilton hhonors visa signature cardThe Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card earns 6 Hilton HHonors bonus points per $1 spent on hotel stays within the Hilton portfolio; 3 points per $1 spent on drugstores, supermarkets, and gas stations; and 2 points per $1 spent on everything else. There are no restrictions on how many points you can earn.

This card comes with a great sign-up bonus: 75,000 bonus points when you make at least $2,000 in purchases within 3 months.

Points can be redeemed for hotel stays and incidental expenses at variable rates and minimums, usually starting at 5,000 points and rising to 95,000 points. Point values at redemption vary by property. As long as you remain in good standing, you enjoy Hilton HHonors Silver Status, which entitles you to a free night on stays of 5 days or longer and automatically boosts your total point earnings by 15%, with no maximums or restrictions.

  • Sign-up Bonus. Earn 75,000 bonus points when you make at least $2,000 in purchases within 3 months of account opening. That’s good for up to 15 free nights.
  • Hotel Rewards. Earn 6 Hilton HHonors bonus points per $1 spent on hotel stays at Hilton properties; 3 points per $1 spent at drugstores, supermarkets, and gas stations; and 2 points per $1 spent on everything else. There are no caps or restrictions in any categories.
  • Redemption. Point redemption follows the same guidelines as Hilton HHonors Surpass and Hilton HHonors from American Express: redemptions require 5,000 to 95,000 points, depending on the category and property. Points + Money earns free nights faster, and you can transfer to several popular airline rewards programs, usually at a 10-to-1 ratio.
  • Preferred Customer Status. Like the Hilton HHonors Card from American Express, Citi Hilton HHonors cardholders automatically qualify for Hilton HHonors Silver status, whose benefits include a 15% bonus on all Hilton HHonors base points earned on Hilton stays, a free fifth night on stays of five nights or longer, and complimentary fitness center access. You can upgrade to Gold Status, which comes with a points boost of 25%, when you stay 4 times within 3 months of account opening or spend $20,000 in your first year.
  • Key Fees. There is no annual fee. Foreign transactions cost 3% of the total transaction amount. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%, and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%. Late and returned payments cost $35 each.
  • Introductory APR. There’s no intro APR.
  • APR. The purchase and balance transfer APR ranges from 15.49% to 19.49%, depending on creditworthiness and prevailing rates. The cash advance APR is 25.49%, and the penalty APR is 29.99%.
  • Other Perks. This card comes with Citi’s Private Pass benefits, including VIP treatment and special access at popular events.

See our Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card Review for more information.


10. Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card

10 Hilton HHonors Points Per $1 Spent at Hilton Hotels; 5 Points Per $1 Spent on Airfare & Car Rentals

citi hilton hhonors reserve cardThe Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card earns 10 Hilton HHonors bonus points per $1 spent on hotel stays within the Hilton portfolio, 5 points per $1 spent on airfare and car rentals, and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else. Points can be redeemed for hotel stays and incidental expenses at variable rates and minimums. As long as you remain in good standing, you enjoy Hilton HHonors Gold status, which automatically boosts your base HHonors point earnings by 25%, with no maximums or restrictions. This card does have a $95 annual fee.

This card comes with a great sign-up bonus: When you spend at least $2,500 within 4 months of signing up, you earn 2 weekend nights at select Hilton portfolio hotels and resorts. Also, the Private Pass Program – which includes a host of VIP deals and concierge services – is a great fringe benefit.

  • Sign-up Bonus. When you spend at least $2,500 within 4 months of account opening, you get 2 weekend nights (standard room, double occupancy) at one of more than 4,000 Hilton portfolio hotels worldwide. That’s a value of $400 or more, depending on where you stay.
  • Hotel Rewards. Earn 10 Hilton HHonors points per $1 spent on hotel stays at Hilton properties; 5 points per $1 spent on airfare and car rentals; and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else.
  • Redemption. This card’s redemption framework follows the other Hilton HHonors cards on this list. You need 5,000 points to redeem for a free night at a Category 1 property, and as many as 95,000 to redeem at a Category 10 property. Airline program redemptions are typically possible at a 10-points-to-1-mile ratio. Points + Money earns free nights faster – for instance, 8,000 points plus $30 earns you a free night at a hotel that normally requires 20,000 points per night.
  • Preferred Customer Status. Cardholders in good standing qualify for Gold status, which boosts your base Hilton HHonors point earnings by 25%.
  • Key Fees. There’s a $95 annual fee, but no foreign transaction fees. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%, and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%. Late and returned payments cost $35 each.
  • Introductory APR. There is no intro APR.
  • APR. The purchase and balance transfer APR is a variable 15.49%, depending on prevailing rates. The cash advance APR is 25.49%, while the penalty APR is 29.99%.
  • Other Perks. Extra perks include Citi’s Private Pass program, which gives you special access, VIP treatment, and other benefits at sporting events and concerts. Cardmembership also comes with 24/7 travel and event booking. And when you spend $10,000 in a given year, you get an additional free weekend room night on your cardmember anniversary.

See our Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card Review for more information.


11. Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Credit Card

5 Points Per $1 Spent at Choice Hotels, Choice Hotels Gift Cards & Additional Choice Privileges Points Purchases

Powered by Barclaycard, the Choice Privileges Visa Signature Card earns an unlimited 5 Choice Privileges Points per $1 spent on stays at more than 5,500 Choice hotels (including Comfort Inn and Cambra Hotels & Suites) worldwide. It also earns an unlimited 5 points per $1 spent on hotel gift cards and additional purchases of Choice Privileges points. Finally, it earns an unlimited 2 points per $1 spent on all other purchases. The generous signup bonus gives you an extra 32,000 points when you spend at least $1,000 within 3 months of sign-up – good for up to four free nights.

You can redeem your accumulated Choice Privileges points for hotel stays at Choice Hotels, starting at 8,000 points per night and rising to 35,000 points per night, depending on property brand and regular room rate. You can also redeem for point transfers to select frequent flyer programs, including Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards and American Airlines AAdvantage, usually at a 5-points-to-1-mile ratio.

  • Sign-up Bonus. When you spend at least $1,000 within the first 3 months, you get 32,000 bonus points. That’s good for up to four free nights.
  • Hotel Rewards. This card earns an unlimited 5 points per $1 spent at more than 5,500 Choice Hotels International locations and on additional Choice Privileges points purchases and hotel gift card purchases; and an unlimited 2 points per $1 spent on everything else.
  • Redemption. You can redeem your accumulated Choice Privileges points for free nights at more than 5,500 Choice hotels worldwide, starting at 8,000 points per night and rising to 35,000 points per night (excluding Australasia, where room nights require up to 75,000 points). Generally speaking, lower-tier properties (such as EconoLodge and Rodeway Inn) require fewer points, while higher-tier properties (such as Cambria Hotels & Suites) require more points. However, exact point requirements vary by brand and room rate. You can redeem faster by combining points ad variable amounts of cash, starting at just 6,000 points. You can also redeem for point transfers to more than 20 frequent flyer programs, typically at a 5-to-1 ratio.
  • Preferred Customer Status. This card automatically comes with Elite Gold status, whose benefits include the ability to make advance reservations 50 days out (instead of 30) and 10% faster point earnings on Choice Hotels stays.
  • Key Fees. This card does not have an annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is 3%. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%, while cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%. Late and returned payments cost $37 each.
  • Introductory APR. There is no intro purchase APR, but balance transfers come with 0% APR for 15 months.
  • APR. The regular purchase and balance transfer (after the intro period) APR ranges from 15.49% to 25.24%, depending on your personal creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates. The cash advance APR is 25.49%. There is no penalty APR.
  • Other Perks. If you spend at least $10,000 during the previous 12 months, you get 8,000 bonus points on your cardmember anniversary.

Find out how you can apply for this card here.


12. BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card

1.5 Points per $1 Spent on Every Purchase

bankamericard travel rewards credit cardThe BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card is a very simple hotel rewards card. It earns an unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no caps or restrictions. You can redeem your points for statement credits, subject to a $25 (2,500 point) minimum, on virtually any travel purchase (including hotel purchases) with no blackout dates. Points are worth $0.01 apiece upon redemption.

The BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card also has a great sign-up bonus: When you spend at least $1,000 in 90 days, you get 20,000 bonus points – a $200 value. Another bonus: This card has no foreign transaction fees.

  • Sign-up Bonus. You get 20,000 bonus points, worth up to $200 when redeemed for travel purchases, for spending at least $1,000 within 90 days of opening your account.
  • Hotel Rewards. This card earns a flat 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no spending caps or restrictions. If you’re a Bank of America Preferred customer, you can earn anywhere from 25% to 75% extra points per year. However, you need to keep a minimum balance of at least $25,000 to get the 25% bonus and $100,000 to earn the 75% bonus. If that’s not realistic for you, you can still open a Bank of America deposit account and earn an annual 10% point bonus – so, if you earn $10,000 this year, you’d begin next year with 11,000 points.
  • Redemption. You can redeem your points for statement credits to offset virtually any travel purchase, including hotel stays, as long as you’ve accumulated at least 2,500 points. Points are always worth $0.01 at redemption, so if you spend $150 at a hotel, your stay’s redemption value would be 15,000 points.
  • Preferred Customer Status. This card doesn’t confer preferred customer status with any hotel brand.
  • Key Fees. There are no foreign transaction fees or annual fees. Balance transfers cost the greater of $10 or 3%, while cash advances run the greater of $10 or 5%. Late and returned payments cost $37 and $27, respectively.
  • Introductory APR. This card offers a 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for 12 months.
  • APR. After the introductory APR period ends, the APR for purchases and balance transfers is 15.24% to 23.24%, depending on your personal creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates. The penalty APR is always 29.99%, and the cash advance APR ranges from 18.24% to 25.24%, also depending on prevailing rates and creditworthiness.
  • Other Perks. If you’re a Bank of America deposit account customer, you can link this card to your account and use it as an overdraft protection fallback. A $12 fee applies to each overdraft transfer.

See our BankAmericard Travel Rewards Card Review for more information.


13. Marriott Rewards Premier Card

5 Marriott Rewards Points For Every $1 Spent at Marriott & Ritz-Carlton Hotels; 2 Points for Airline & Rental Car Purchases

credit-card-lockThe Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card earns you 5 Marriott Rewards points for every $1 spent at Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels worldwide. Additionally, you earn 2 points per $1 for purchases made directly with airlines and rental car agencies (purchases through online portals like Kayak and Expedia don’t count). Restaurant purchases also earn 2 points per $1 spent. All other purchases earn a single point per $1 spent. There are no spending caps on any category, and the card carries an $85 annual fee.

Redemption minimums vary by hotel class, but start at 7,500 points (6,000 points if you book with PointSavers, which offers discounts at a limited, rotating slate of hotels) and range up to 45,000 points. You get your fifth night free on award bookings of at least four nights in a row.

The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card also has a very generous sign-up bonus: When you spend just $3,000 in the first 3 months of card membership, you get 80,000 Marriott Rewards points. You also get 7,500 bonus points when you add your first authorized user and make at least one purchase within 3 months.

  • Sign-up Bonus. Earn 80,000 bonus Marriott Rewards points when you spend at least $3,000 within 3 months of account opening. Additionally, you can get 7,500 Marriott Rewards points simply for adding your first authorized user within 3 months of account opening and making a purchase.
  • Hotel Rewards. You earn 5 Marriott Rewards points for every $1 spent at Marriott & Ritz-Carlton hotels; 2 points per $1 for purchases made directly with airlines, rental car agencies, and restaurants; and 1 point per $1 on everything else.
  • Redemption. You can redeem your Marriott Rewards points for free stays and upgrades at Marriott-branded hotels, to transfer to frequent flyer programs, and to make direct purchases with travel merchants (such as airlines and rental cars). Category 1 properties (the lowest level) require 7,500 points (6,000 with PointSavers) per night, while Category 9 properties (the highest level) require 45,000 points. When you redeem at least four nights in a row, you get the fifth night free. Category 1 properties tend to cost less than $100 per night – for instance, a midweek standard room night at TownePlace Suites Little Rock West (Arkansas) costs $99. Category 9 properties are much pricier – midweek stays at the JW Marriott San Francisco Union Square (California) start at $569. The Marriott Rewards Premier Card’s frequent flyer transfers aren’t as generous as the Starwood Preferred Guest card’s – most transfers require 5 points or more to earn 1 mile, much less than Starwood’s 1-to-1 deal. Direct travel bookings are highly variable depending on destinations, merchants, and travel times – for instance, a nonstop midweek flight from San Francisco to Denver requires 22,500 points with Virgin America, and 45,000 points with United Airlines.
  • Preferred Customer Status. This card comes with 15 annual credits toward Marriott Elite status. This guarantees you Silver status every year. Silver status’s benefits include a 20% bonus on base points earned during Marriott stays, 10% off all purchases made at Marriott-operated gift shops, and 10% discounts on Friday and Saturday night stays at participating Courtyard and SpringHill Suites locations. You also get 1 additional credit toward Elite status for every $3,000 you spend with the card, with no limit on how many credits you can earn.
  • Key Fees. The card’s annual fee is $85. There are no foreign transaction fees. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%, and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%. Late payments range from $15 to $37, depending on the balance. Returned payments are $37 each.
  • Introductory APR. There is no intro APR.
  • APR. The purchase and balance transfer APR is 16.24% to 23.24%. The cash advance APR is 25.24%, and there is no penalty APR.
  • Other Perks. You get a free night’s stay at select Marriott hotels (Category 1 through 5) on your account anniversary each year.

See our Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card Review for more information. Find out how you can apply for this card here.


14. IHG Rewards Club Select Card

5 IHG Rewards Points Per $1 Spent at Intercontinental Hotels; 2 Points Per $1 on Gas, Groceries & Restaurants

credit-card-lockThe IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card earns you 5 IHG Rewards points per $1 spent at Intercontinental Hotel Group hotels, which includes properties such as Staybridge Suites and Holiday Inn. You also earn 2 points per $1 spent at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants, and 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else. There aren’t any spending caps or restrictions, and the card has a $49 annual fee that is waived in the first year.

The IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card also has a nice sign-up bonus: When you spend $1,000 within 3 months, you get 60,000 bonus points.

You can redeem points for hotel stays at select Intercontinental properties, including most Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express locations. Redemption minimums vary by property brand and redemption date, but typically start at 10,000 points per night and range up to 60,000 points per night.

You also get a 10% rebate when you redeem points. The bonus points drop back into your account – so if you redeem all 30,000 points in your account, you’re left with a point balance of 3,000.

  • Sign-up Bonus. Earn 60,000 IHG Rewards points – good for up to $300 in stays at select InterContinental Hotels (including Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza) – when you spend at least $1,000 within 3 months of account opening.
  • Hotel Rewards. You earn 5 IHG Rewards points per $1 spent at Intercontinental Hotel Group hotels, such as Holiday Inn and Staybridge Suites. You also earn 2 points per $1 spent at grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations, plus 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else.
  • Redemption. You can redeem your IHG Rewards points for free hotel rooms and upgrades, with no blackout dates. You can also transfer to frequent flyer programs with several dozen major airlines, including Delta and Singapore Airlines, typically at a ratio of 5 IHG Rewards points to 1 frequent flyer mile. Per-night hotel redemption requirements range from 10,000 to 60,000 points, depending on the property brand and quality level. The amount of points required for redemption doesn’t always correspond to a hotel’s nightly rates – for instance, the Crowne Plaza Denver’s standard midweek rooms start at $161 or 30,000 points per night, while the nearby Holiday Inn Express Denver Downtown’s standard midweek rooms start at $198 or 20,000 points per night, which is a much better deal. Hotels in popular areas tend to require more points – for example, the Intercontinental: New York Times Square costs at least $399 (or 60,000 points) for a midweek single-night stay. You can also combine points and cash – for instance, you can get a free standard room at the Holiday Inn Express Denver Downtown for 10,000 points plus $70, or a free standard room at the Intercontinental: New York Times Square for 50,000 points plus $70.
  • Preferred Customer Status. Cardholders in good standing automatically qualify for Platinum Elite status. Benefits include a 50% bonus on base IHG Reward point earnings on hotel stays, priority/flexible check-in and check-out, 72-hour guaranteed room availability, and complimentary room upgrades where available.
  • Key Fees. The card carries a $49 annual fee, waived for the first year. There are no foreign transaction fees. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 5%, and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%. Late payments cost $15 to $37, depending on balance size, and returned payments always cost $37.
  • Introductory APR. There is no intro APR.
  • APR. The regular purchase and balance transfer APR is 16.24%, variable with prevailing rates. The cash advance APR is 25.24%, and there is no penalty APR.
  • Other Perks. In addition to the 10% redemption rebate, you get one free night per year at select IHG hotels for as long as you remain in good standing.

See our IHG Rewards Club Select Card Review for more information. Find out how you can apply for this card here.


15. Hyatt Credit Card

3 Points Per $1 Spent at Hyatt Properties; 2 Points Per $1 Spent on Car Rentals, Direct Airline Purchases & Restaurants

credit-card-lockThe Hyatt Credit Card is a Chase card with a $75 annual fee (waived during the first year) and a solid rewards program that favors regular Hyatt guests. It earns an unlimited 3 Hyatt Gold Passport points per $1 spent at Hyatt properties; an unlimited 2 points per $1 spent on direct car rental and airfare purchases, as well as restaurant purchases; and 1 point per $1 on everything else. It has a generous signup bonus too: 2 free nights at any Hyatt property, including high-end hotels and resorts, when you spend at least $1,000 in the first three months of card membership.

You can redeem your points for free nights at Hyatt properties worldwide. Redemption minimums start at 5,000 points (2,500 when you combine points and cash) for basic Category 1 hotels and rise to 30,000 points for luxurious Category 7 hotels. Other card benefits include automatic Hyatt Gold Passport Platinum membership.

  • Sign-up Bonus. When you spend at least $1,000 within 3 months of sign-up, you get two free nights at any Hyatt property worldwide – a potential value of $1,000 or more. You also get 5,000 bonus Hyatt Gold Passport points when you add your first authorized user and make a purchase within 3 months.
  • Hotel Rewards. This card earns an unlimited 3 Hyatt Gold Passport points per $1 spent at Hyatt properties; an unlimited 2 points per $1 spent at restaurants and on direct airline and car rental bookings (not through third-party sites such as Expedia); and an unlimited 1 point per $1 spent on everything else.
  • Redemption. You can redeem your Hyatt Gold Passport points for free room nights and upgrades at Hyatt properties worldwide. The free night redemption threshold starts at 5,000 points for standard rooms in Category 1 (lowest) hotels and rises to 30,000 points for standard rooms in Category 7 (highest) hotels. You can combine points and cash (called Points + Cash) to earn free night faster – for instance, 2,500 points plus $50 earns a free Category 1 night, while 15,000 points plus $300 earns a free Category 7 night. Point values vary based on category and property – for instance, the Category 1 Hyatt Place Phoenix-North (Arizona) starts at $110 per night for a standard midweek room, while the ultra-luxe Category 7 Park Hyatt New York starts at $917 per night for a standard midweek room. Points are generally more valuable when redeemed at higher-end properties.
  • Preferred Customer Status. This card automatically comes with Hyatt Gold Passport Platinum membership, which includes late check-out flexibility, 15% bonus on points earned on Hyatt stays, and complimentary in-room Internet access.
  • Key Fees. The $75 annual fee is waived during the first year. There is no foreign transaction fee. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 5%, and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%. Late and returned payments cost $37 each.
  • Introductory APR. There is no intro APR promotion.
  • APR. The purchase and balance transfer APR is 16.24%, variable with prevailing interest rates. The cash advance APR is 25.24%, and there is no penalty APR.
  • Other Perks. You get a free award night (valid at Category 1 through 4 properties) on your cardmember anniversary, provided your account remains open and in good standing.

See our Chase Hyatt Card Review for more information. Find out how you can apply for this card here.


16. Best Western Rewards® Premium MasterCard

10 Best Western Rewards Points Per $1 Spent; Solid Sign-up Bonus

Powered by First Bankcard, the Best Western Rewards Premium MasterCard earns 10 points per $1 spent at more than 4,000 Best Western properties worldwide, with no caps or restrictions. It earns 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. You can redeem for free Best Western stays, starting around 8,000 points, and transfer your points to participating frequent flyer programs, usually at a 5-to-1 ratio. There is a $59 annual fee that’s waived during the first year.

This card comes with some great perks, including a sign-up bonus worth 50,000 points (good for at least two nights at most Best Western properties), automatic Platinum Elite status, and a 10% discount when you book your room at a special website. It’s also part of a broader card family with a number of other participants, including the Best Western Rewards MasterCard, Best Western Secured MasterCard (a secured credit card), and Best Western Rewards Business MasterCard.

  • Sign-up Bonus. You get 25,000 bonus points when you spend at least $2,500 during the first three billing cycles, and an additional 25,000 points when you spend at least $5,000 during the first six billing cycles. This combined bonus is good for at least 2 nights at most Best Western hotels.
  • Hotel Rewards. This card earns 10 Best Western Rewards points for every $1 spent at Best Western hotels, with no caps or restrictions, and an unlimited 1 point per $1 spent on everything else. Also, for every year in which you spend $10,000 or more with this card, you receive 20,000 bonus points.
  • Redemption. You can redeem your Best Western Rewards points for free nights at Best Western properties worldwide and make point-to-mile transfers to participating frequent flyer programs, including American Airlines AAdvantage. At redemption, Best Western Rewards points aren’t worth as much as some competing programs’ points – often less than $0.01 per point. For instance, the Best Western Morton Grove Inn, a hotel in suburban Chicago, charges $77 or 12,000 points for a standard midweek room. The Chicago Grant Park Hotel, in downtown Chicago, charges $188 or 24,000 points for a standard midweek room. Airline point-mile transfers typically occur at a 5-point-to-1-mile ratio.
  • Preferred Customer Status. Best Western Rewards Premium MasterCard users automatically earn Platinum Elite status. Platinum Elite status comes with a 15% bonus on point earnings for Best Western stays, free room upgrades at check-in when available, and priority customer service (including a dedicated toll-free phone number).
  • Key Fees. The annual fee of $59 is waived for the first year. Balance transfers cost the greater of $10 or 3% for the first 6 months, and the greater of $10 or 5% thereafter. Cash advances cost the greater of $15 or 5%. Foreign transactions cost 3% of the total transaction amount.
  • Introductory APR. There is a 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 6 months after account opening.
  • APR. Once the introductory period ends, purchase and balance transfer APR ranges from 15.24% to 20.24%. The cash advance APR is 25.49%, and there is no penalty APR.
  • Other Perks. Cardholders get a 10% discount on Best Western stays booked through bwrcarddiscount.com.

Find out how you can apply for this card here.


17. Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card

5 Points Per $1 Spent at Ritz-Carlton and Marriott Properties; 2 Points Per $1 on Airfare, Car Rentals & Restaurants

credit-card-lockThe Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card earns you 5 points per $1 spent at Ritz-Carlton and Marriott properties; 2 points per $1 spent on airfare, car rentals, and restaurant purchases; and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else, all with no limits or restrictions. At the end of each year, your annual points earnings get a 10% boost.

The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card’s sign-up bonus is very nice: 2 free nights at select Ritz-Carlton hotels (Tiers 1 through 4) when you spend at least $4,000 in 3 months.

You can redeem your points for free nights at Ritz-Carlton and Marriott properties (except Ritz-Carlton EDITION properties), as well as for gift cards, airline miles with Lufthansa and other airline partners, and vacation packages. Redemption minimums vary by redemption method.

The biggest drawback of this card is the eye-popping annual fee – at $395, it’s several times higher than most other cards on this list. However, it has tons of benefits that offset this cost: a $300-per-year travel credit good for airline seat upgrades, airport lounge access, and other perks; a $100 annual credit for hotel incidental expenses; and more.

  • Sign-up Bonus. Earn 2 free nights at participating Ritz-Carlton Hotels (Tiers 1 through 4) when you spend $4,000 within 3 months of account opening.
  • Hotel Rewards. This card earns 5 points per $1 spent at Ritz-Carlton and Marriott properties; 2 points per $1 spent on restaurant, car rental, and airfare purchases; and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else. Every year, you get a 10% bonus on the previous year’s point earnings.
  • Redemption. You can redeem your Ritz-Carlton Rewards points for free nights and room upgrades at participating Ritz-Carlton hotels. You need 30,000 points for one night at a Tier 1 (lowest) hotel and 70,000 points for one night at a Tier 5 (highest) hotel. Room don’t always directly correlate with tier – for instance, standard rooms in the Tier 2 Ritz-Carlton Cleveland start at $329 per night and require 40,000 points, while standard rooms in the Tier 2 Ritz-Carlton St. Louis start at $359 per night and require 40,000 points. You’re allowed to combine points and cash, though rates vary widely – at the Ritz-Carlton Cleveland, 20,500 points plus $145 gets you a standard room. When you redeem for at least 5 nights, your fifth night is free. You can also exchange your Ritz-Carlton Rewards points for frequent flyer miles with several dozen airline partners, including Southwest Airlines and United Airlines. Exchange ratios vary, but usually range between 10 points to 1 mile and 5 points to 1 mile.
  • Preferred Customer Status. You automatically get Gold Elite status during your first year as a cardmember. Gold Elite benefits include complimentary room upgrades when available and flexible check-out times. To maintain Gold Elite status in subsequent years, you need to spend at least $10,000 per year.
  • Key Fees. The annual fee is $395. There are no foreign transaction fees. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%, and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%. Late payments range in price from $15 to $37, depending on balance, and returned payments cost $37 each.
  • Introductory APR. There is no intro APR.
  • APR. The purchase and balance transfer APR is a variable 16.24%. Cash advances come with a 25.24% APR, and there is no penalty APR.
  • Other Perks. Cardmembership comes with a $300 annual travel credit to offset seat upgrades, baggage fees, and airport lounge access at one selected airport lounge. It also comes with a $100 hotel credit, for use toward dining, recreation, and spa services, with any two-night paid stay at participating Ritz-Carlton properties. You’re entitled to an upgrade to Ritz-Carlton Club Level thrice per year on paid stays of up to 7 nights, subject to availability.

See our Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card Review for more information. Find out how you can apply for this card here.


Final Word

With so many great hotel rewards credit cards out there, it’s hard to pick a favorite. When you throw the attractive sign-up bonuses that so many cards feature into the mix, the category gets even more exciting.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to throw caution to the wind and apply for new cards as fast as your fingers can type. Opening multiple credit card accounts within short time-frames can damage your credit score, sometimes with dramatic consequences. If you’re not careful, you could find yourself applying for a secured credit card in an effort to rebuild your credit. Plus, if you’re not paying off your entire statement balance each month, the interest you end up paying will likely exceed the value of any rewards you earn.

What is your favorite hotel credit card?

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