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10 Best Hotel Rewards Credit Cards – Reviews & Comparison

By Christina Majaski

hotel stayThe best hotel credit cards reward purchases with free nights in hotels while also providing extra perks and annual bonuses that make choosing a particular hotel brand more comfortable. Special amenities such as free breakfasts, free room upgrades, and free Internet service – in addition to the opportunities to earn free night stays – often compensate for fees the card may charge. Considering these benefits, hotel credit cards can be worth several hundred dollars.

Of course, not all hotel credit cards are created equal. If you travel frequently, ensure that you get the best possible deal by selecting one of the very best hotel credit cards to earn the most free nights and the greatest perks.

Best Hotel Credit Cards

1. Starwood Preferred Guest® from American Express

Up to 5 Starpoints at Starwood Properties; 1 Starpoint Everywhere Else

amex preferred guestThe Starwood Preferred Guest is also well-known as one of the best travel rewards credit cards, as it allows you to earn and redeem points for airline and hotel stays at Starwood Properties that include Four Points by Sheraton Manhattan Chelsea and The St. Regis Rome. The Starwood card also offers a sign-up bonus that can be redeemed for up to 12 free hotel stays in a Category 1 property, as well as up to five Starpoints per dollar spent with Starwood, making it a great card for fans of SPG hotels.

  • Sign-up Bonus. The Starwood Preferred Guest card awards 10,000 bonus Starpoints after your first purchase. Category 1 properties start as low as 2,000 Starpoints for a standard weekend night, making the sign-up bonus worth 5 free nights in a Category 1 property.
  • Fees. The annual fee of $65 is waived the first year. Balance transfers are 3% or $5, whichever is greater. The foreign transaction fee is 2.7%.
  • APR. The APR is 15.24%, 17.24%, or 19.24% based on your credit worthiness, and varies with the prime rate.
  • Hotel Rewards. As a cardholder, you are enrolled in the Starwood Preferred Guest program. The Starwood Preferred Guest credit card awards four Starpoints for each dollar spent at Starwood properties or establishments, and five Starpoints if you have Gold or Platinum elite status. You are also awarded one Starpoint per dollar spent on all other purchases. In addition, the Starwood Preferred Guest card awards a bonus of 5,000 Starpoints when you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to frequent flyer programs such as American Airlines AAdvantage, Delta Airlines SkyMiles, and Miles and More. Starpoints can be redeemed for free nights at Starwood properties – Category 1 properties start at 2,000 Starpoints per night, and Category 7 hotels can range up to 35,000 Starpoints per night. Depending on the redemption, Starpoints are worth from 1.25 cents to two cents per point.
  • Bonus Stays and Hotel Perks. Starwood Preferred Guest also includes elite statuses, which are earned when you reach a required number of stays. These elite statuses provide you with extra hotel perks and benefits such as later checkout times, welcome gifts, upgrades, and complimentary Internet. You are also able to redeem Starpoints for airline miles, which can be transferred to frequent flyer programs most often at a rate of one point for one mile. When you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to a participating frequent flyer program, which include Delta Airlines SkyMiles, United MileagePlus, and US Airways Dividend Miles, you receive a bonus of 5,000 Starpoints. In fact, you may be able to earn points for airline miles faster with the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest credit card faster than you would with specific airline cards. There are also no blackout dates on free nights in standard rooms.

See our Starwood Preferred Guest From American Express Review for more information.


2. Chase Marriott Rewards Premier

5 Points at Marriott Properties; 2 Points on Restaurants, Car Rentals & Airlines; 1 Point on Other Purchases

marriott rewardsBecause of the sign-up bonus, the card’s low fees, and the easy opportunities to earn bonus free nights, the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier credit card ranks as one of the best hotel rewards credit cards available. There is also a no-fee version – but for frequent travelers, the Premier card offers multiple ways to more than make up for the $85 annual fee.

  • Sign-up Bonus. As a new cardholder, you earn a bonus of 50,000 points after spending $1,000 within the first three months of opening your account, which is enough for up to six free nights at a Category 1 Marriott hotel. In addition to the sign-up bonus, you receive an e-certificate for a one night stay in a Category 1 to 4 property when your account is approved.
  • Fees. The annual fee of $85 is waived the first year. Balance transfers are 3% or $5, whichever is greater. There is no foreign transaction fee.
  • APR. The APR for balance transfers and purchases is 15.24% which varies with the prime rate.
  • Hotel Rewards. The Chase Marriott Rewards Premier credit card awards five points per dollar spent at Marriott properties worldwide, two points per dollar spent at restaurants, car rentals, or airline tickets purchased from the airline, and one point per dollar on all other purchases. Your points can be redeemed for gift cards, merchandise, and free hotel stays at Marriott properties or Ritz-Carlton properties, from Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis to Ritz-Carlton, Beijing.
  • Bonus Stays and Hotel Perks. The Marriott Rewards Premier card also awards a free night stay in a Category 1 to 5 property each year on your cardholder anniversary. You can earn elite statuses which provide priority checkout, gift shop and weekend discounts, and bonuses on Marriott Rewards points.

See our Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Review for more information.

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3. Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve

10 HHonors Points at Hilton HHonors Properties; 5 Points on Airlines & Car Rentals; 3 Points on Other Purchases

citi hilton hhonors reserveThe Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve credit card carries an annual fee, but includes a rewards program that allows you to earn HHonors points on Hilton stays, airline tickets, and car rentals. The certificates for free Hilton stays that you receive from the sign-up bonus and the anniversary bonus are valued at approximately $300 each, which ensures that if you spend with the card, your rewards will more than make up for the annual fee.

  • Sign-up Bonus. You earn two certificates for weekend night stays in a standard room with double occupancy at select Hilton HHonors properties when you spend $2,500 within the first four months of opening your account. These are good for up to a Category 7 hotel, which is valued at approximately $300 each. Each certificate is good for one weekend night stay.
  • Fees. The annual fee is $95. Balance transfers are 3% or $5, whichever is greater. There is no foreign transaction fee.
  • APR. The APR is 15.24% on purchases and balance transfers, and varies with the prime rate.
  • Hotel Rewards. You earn 10 HHonors points per dollar spent at Hilton HHonors properties, five points per dollar spent at airlines and on car rentals, and three points per dollar on all other purchases. You can redeem your HHonors points for hotel stays and merchandise. Hotel stays start at 5,000 points per night in Category 1 properties to Category 10 properties, which can range from 70,000 to 95,000 points per night.
  • Bonus Stays and Hotel Perks. You also earn a free night certificate each year that you spend $10,000 or more with your card. This certificate is good for a weekend night in a standard room with double occupancy. Elite membership levels are also earned with the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card, which include free high-speed Internet and other amenities, as well as additional bonus points (depending on the membership level) on top of the base points that you earn from purchases.

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

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4. Choice Privileges® Visa® Signature

Up to 15 Points at Choice Privileges Locations; 5 Points on Choice Gift Cards; 2 Points on Other Purchases

choice privilegesThe Choice Privileges Visa Signature credit card awards free nights at more than 6,200 hotels in more than 30 countries and territories. If you prefer to earn rewards for free hotel stays in popular mid-level or less expensive hotels such as Comfort Inn, Sleep Inn, Clarion, or Econo Lodge, this card will be more valuable to you than other hotel cards that you may not use as frequently. The Choice Privileges Visa is among the best hotel credit cards because of the ability to earn free hotel stays and bonuses – plus, it has no annual fee.

  • Sign-up Bonus. As a new cardholder, you earn two bonuses: First, when you open the account and make your first purchase with the card, you earn a bonus of 8,000 points. Second, you receive a bonus of 24,000 points after your first paid stay at a Choice Hotel property. The 32,000 total points is enough to redeem for four free night stays at Choice Hotels.
  • Fees. There is no annual fee for the Choice Privileges Visa Signature credit card. The balance transfer fee is either $10 or 4%, whichever is greater. There is a foreign transaction fee of 3%.
  • APR. The APR, based on your creditworthiness, is either 15.24% or 19.99%, varying with the prime rate.
  • Hotel Rewards. Card ownership includes membership in Choice Privileges. You receive 10 points per dollar spent at MainStay Suites, Suburban Extended Stay, Econo Lodge, and Rodeway Inn properties, and 15 points per dollar spent at other Choice Privileges locations. You earn five points per dollar spent when you purchase additional points or Choice Hotel gift cards. All other purchases (as well as stays in China, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, New Zealand, and Fiji) earn two points per dollar. There is no limit to the amount of points that may be earned. You can redeem your points for free nights, airline and travel rewards, and gift cards. Free night stays are available for as few as 8,000 points.
  • Bonus Stays and Hotel Perks. When you become a cardholder of the Choice Privileges Visa, you automatically earn Elite Gold Status. This status gives you the ability to book your free night stays 50 days in advance, rather than 30. You also earn a 10% point bonus when you earn points for your stays.

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5. Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature®

10 Points at Club Carlson Properties; 5 Points on Other Purchases

club carlson visaThe Club Carlson family includes 1,000 Radisson and Country Inns and Suites by Carlson hotels across the globe. If you frequent these hotels, the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa card is the best card for earning rewards from purchases and redeeming for free nights. The sign-up bonus, annual bonus, and extra free nights that are awarded are worth at least seven award nights, which is among the highest available from a hotel rewards card.

  • Sign-up Bonus. There are two bonuses available when you sign up: When you make your first purchase with the card you earn 50,000 Gold Points, and if you spend $2,500 with your card within the first 90 days, you receive a bonus of 35,000 Gold Points. The entire bonus of 85,000 Gold Points is enough for up to nine free award nights at Category 1 properties. When you open your account and make your first purchase you also receive Gold Elite Status, which includes extra perks such as a 15% discount on food and beverages at participating in-hotel restaurants, free Internet, and Gold Point bonuses.
  • Fees. The annual fee for the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature is $75. The balance transfer fee is 3% or $5, whichever is greater. The foreign transaction fee is 2% for transactions in U.S. dollars, and 3% for transactions in foreign currency.
  • APR. The APR is based on your creditworthiness, and ranges from 13.99% to 22.99% on balance transfers and purchases. The APR varies according to the prime rate.
  • Hotel Rewards. You are awarded 10 Gold Points for each dollar spent at participating hotels, which include Radisson Blu, Radisson, Park Plaza, Park Inn by Radisson, Park Inn, and Country Inns & Suites by Carlson. You also receive five Gold Points per dollar spent on all other purchases. You can redeem your points for hotel stays (which start as low as 9,000 points), gift cards, airline miles with more than 20 airlines, charitable donations, and prepaid debit cards.
  • Bonus Stays and Hotel Perks. When you redeem points for at least two consecutive award nights, you can stay an additional night for free. Each year you renew your card account, you also receive an annual renewal bonus of 40,000 Gold Points.

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6. Chase Hyatt Credit Card

3 Hyatt Gold Passport Points at Hyatt Properties; 2 Points on Restaurants, Airlines & Car Rentals; 1 Point Everywhere Else

chase hyatt cardThe Chase Hyatt Card rewards purchases on Hyatt stays, restaurants, airlines, and car rentals with points that can be redeemed for free nights at Hyatt properties. As a cardmember, you also automatically gain Platinum Elite status in the Hyatt Gold Passport program, which includes hotel perks and a 15% bonus on the points you earn.

  • Sign-up Bonus. You receive two Hyatt Gold Passport free night awards when you spend at least $1,000 with your card within the first three months of opening the account. Awards are valid for one year.
  • Fees. The annual fee of $75 is waived the first year. Balance transfers are 3% or $5, whichever is greater. There is no foreign transaction fee.
  • APR. The APR is 15.24% and varies with the prime rate.
  • Hotel Rewards. You receive three Hyatt Gold Passport points for each dollar spent at Hyatt properties; two points per dollar spent at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased from the airline, and car rentals; and one point per dollar spent on everything else. Your points can be redeemed for Category 1 property stays starting at 5,000 points per night. Category 6 property stays start at 22,000 points per night.
  • Bonus Stays and Hotel Perks. Chase Hyatt cardholders automatically gain Platinum membership in the Hyatt Gold Passport program, which includes a 15% point bonus on purchases, complimentary in-room Internet, upgrades to preferred rooms, and dedicated check-in areas. You also receive one free night in a Category 1 through Category 4 property each year on your credit card anniversary date.

See our Chase Hyatt Card Review for more information.

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7. Wyndham Rewards® Visa Signature®

5 Points at Wyndham Properties; 2 Points on Other Purchases

barclaycard wyndham cardIf you prefer affordable stays at Wyndham, Days Inn, Super 8, or Travelodge hotels, the Wyndham Rewards Visa offers an opportunity for free nights and benefits in the Wyndham Hotels network. The Wyndham Rewards Visa is available without an annual fee, but the annual fee version provides more rewards on purchases, a larger sign-up bonus, and an anniversary bonus for a free night stay each year.

  • Sign-up Bonus. The annual fee version awards a sign-up bonus of 30,000 Wyndham Rewards Points when you make your first purchase or transfer a balance to the card. The bonus is enough for five nights at a Tier 1 Wyndham hotel. The Wyndham Rewards Visa without an annual fee awards 12,000 points when you make your first purchase or transfer a balance to the card.
  • Fees. The annual fee is $69. The balance transfer fee is 4% or $10, whichever is greater, and the foreign transaction fee is 3%.
  • APR. The APR is 15.24% or 19.99%, based on your creditworthiness, and varies with the prime rate.
  • Hotel Rewards. You receive five points per dollar spent on hotel stays within the Wyndham Hotels network, and two points per dollar spent on all other purchases. Points do not expire and you can earn an unlimited number of points. In comparison, the no-annual-fee version of the Wyndham Rewards card awards three points per dollar spent on Wyndham Hotel stays. You can redeem points for merchandise, gift cards, car rental discounts, airline tickets, and charitable donations, but the best value is to redeem for hotel stays. For example, one night at a Tier 1 property starts as low as 5,500 points, but a $25 gift card requires 6,500 points.
  • Bonus Stays and Hotel Perks. You receive an anniversary bonus each year of 5,500 points, which can be redeemed for one free night in a Tier 1 hotel.

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8. Chase IHG® Rewards Club Select Visa®

5 Points at IHG Properties; 2 Points at Restaurants, Gas Stations & Grocery Stores; 1 Point Everywhere Else

chase ihg rewardsThe Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) includes over 4,500 popular hotels, such as Intercontinental Hotels and Resorts, Crowne Plaza, and Holiday Inn. The Chase IHG Rewards Club Select Visa offers a sign-up bonus worth up to six free nights at affordable IHG hotels, as well as an anniversary free night and the opportunity to automatically gain Platinum Elite Status when you become a cardmember.

  • Sign-up Bonus. The Chase IHG Rewards Club Select Visa credit card awards 60,000 bonus points if you spend $1,000 in the first three months of opening the account. Award nights are available for as little as 10,000 points, making your sign-up bonus worth up to six free nights.
  • Fees. The annual fee of $49 is waived the first year. The balance transfer fee is 3% or $5, whichever is greater. There is no foreign transaction fee.
  • APR. The APR is 15.24% and varies with the prime rate.
  • Hotel Rewards. You are awarded five points per dollar spent on hotels, two points per dollar at restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores, and one point per dollar on all other purchases. In addition to hotel stays, you can redeem points for gift cards, merchandise, and travel, but the best value is to redeem for hotel stays. The IHG Rewards Club Select Visa card also awards a 10% rebate on points you redeem up to 100,000 points per year, which allows you to earn an additional 10,000 points per year.
  • Bonus Stays and Hotel Perks. You are awarded a free night each year you renew your credit card, which is good for 12 months from the date of issue. As a cardmember of the Chase IHG Rewards Club Select Visa card, you automatically earn Platinum Elite status in the IHG Rewards Club for as long as you are a cardmember. This status usually requires 50 Elite Qualifying nights or 60,000 Elite Qualifying points. Benefits of Platinum Elite include free Internet, priority check-in, guaranteed room availability, and a 50% bonus on earned base points.

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9. Fairmont Visa Signature®

5 Fairmont Rewards at Fairmont Hotels; 2 Rewards on Airlines, Car Rentals & Local Transit; 1 Reward on Other Purchases

fairmont visa signatureThe Fairmont Visa Signature rewards purchases with free nights at 67 Fairmont Hotels across the globe, as well as at Swissotel and Raffles. The card not only provides you with valuable free night stays at sign-up, but also multiple opportunities to earn free nights and extra hotel perks.

  • Sign-up Bonus. When you spend $1,000 with your card within the first three months, you receive two complimentary nights, plus breakfast for two.
  • Fees. The annual fee of $95 is waived the first year. Balance transfers are 3% or $5, whichever is greater. There is no foreign transaction fee.
  • APR. The APR is 15.24% on balance transfers and purchases, and varies with the prime rate.
  • Hotel Rewards. You are awarded five Fairmont Rewards for each dollar spent at Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and at Fairmont.com, and two Fairmont Rewards for each dollar spent on airlines, car rentals, and local transit/commuting. You earn one Fairmont Reward for each dollar spent on all other purchases. Your Fairmont Rewards can be redeemed for free night stays, which start at 25,000 Fairmont Rewards points, or for gift cards for approximately one cent per point.
  • Bonus Stays and Hotel Perks. If you spend at least $12,000 per year with your card, you will receive an anniversary bonus of one free night at a Fairmont hotel or resort worldwide. For each $7,500 that is spent annually, you receive one stay credit toward the next Fairmont President’s Club status level of Premier or Platinum, which also provide extra benefits. Hotel perks include two free hotel Lounge Club visits and Fairmont President’s Club Premier membership status, which includes complimentary free nights (one free night for Platinum status, and one complimentary third night on three night stays for Premier status), and complimentary room and suite upgrades.

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10. Hilton HHonors Surpass Card from American Express

12 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points With Hilton Brands; 6 Points at Restaurants, Supermarkets & Gas Stations; 3 Points Everywhere Else

amex hilton hhonors surpassThe Hilton HHonors Surpass Card from American Express rewards points on Hilton Hotel stays and a range of everyday purchases for valuable travel benefits, including reward nights at Hilton properties. It also offers a sign-up bonus worth up to 12 free nights at Hilton properties. In addition to the sign-up bonus, frequent travelers will love the generous perks such as complimentary Hilton HHonors Gold status, and free Priority Pass membership at airports.

  • Sign-up Bonus. The Hilton HHonors Surpass card awards a total of 60,000 HHonors bonus points – 40,000 points after your first purchase, and 20,000 points after you spend $3,000 within the first three months. These points can be redeemed for up to 12 free nights at a Category 1 property.
  • Fees. The annual fee is $75. The balance transfer fee is 3% or $5, and the foreign transaction fee is 2.7%.
  • APR. The APR is 15.24%, 17.24%, or 19.24% based on your creditworthiness, and varies with the prime rate.
  • Hotel Rewards. You are awarded 12 HHonors points for each dollar spent with a Hilton brand hotel or resort, six points per dollar spent at domestic restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, and three points per dollar on all other purchases. Points can be redeemed for hotel stays, cruises, car rentals, and entertainment parks, but hotel stays provide the best value. You also earn an additional 500 points when you use your card to book online with any Hilton Worldwide brand website.
  • Bonus Stays and Hotel Perks. As a cardmember, you automatically receive Gold status in the Hilton HHonors program. When you spend $40,000 on your card within a calendar year, you are upgraded to Diamond status. Gold status typically requires 40 paid nights in a calendar year and includes extra perks such as a 25% bonus on the base points you earn, fifth night free, and late check out. Diamond status typically requires 60 paid nights in a calendar year and includes a 50% elite status bonus on base points earned, fifth night free, complimentary Internet, and late check out. You also receive complimentary Priority Pass membership in airport lounges, which is valued at $99.

Final Word

If you stay frequently in hotels outside of the United States, a hotel credit card that charges a foreign transaction fee will be less valuable to you than to someone who travels primarily within the United States. Additionally, the best hotel card for your needs can be determined by whether you are able to earn enough free night stays through bonuses or valuable hotel perks that are worth more than an annual fee. Furthermore, an important factor in maximizing the rewards potential of hotel credit cards is avoiding paying the high interest rates – so be sure to pay your balance in full each month.

Which hotel rewards credit cards are your favorites?

Editorial Disclosure: This content is not provided or commissioned by any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, or airline. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Christina Majaski
Christina Majaski has written for online and print publications since 2003 on topics related to personal finance, legal matters, parenting, and careers. She lives in the Minnesota tundra, where in her free time she enjoys reading, writing, interacting via social media, and hanging out with her daughter.

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