9 Best Hotel Rewards Credit Cards – Reviews & Comparison

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. Gas 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, while others are meant for business owners.

Every hotel rewards card is a little different, but the basic premise is usually the same. 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. A few 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.

Here’s a look at today’s best hotel credit cards.

Best Hotel Credit Cards

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; 5 Point Per $1 Everywhere Else; 25% Transfer Bonus to Frequent Flyer Programs

The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express earns you five 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, with no spending limits or restrictions.

Starpoints can be redeemed for free nights at Starwood hotels, at a value of up to $0.025 apiece. 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 (25%). Whether you redeem Starpoints for hotel nights or airfare, there are never any blackout dates.

The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express has an excellent sign-up bonus too: 35,000 bonus Starpoints points when you spend at least $3,000 in 3 months (for a limited time until March 30, 2016). Free global WiFi access and a lack of foreign transaction fees are nice perks.

Note that there’s a business credit card version of the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express: the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express. The cards are very similar, with the biggest difference being the spending threshold for the sign-up bonus: $5,000 for the business card versus $3,000 for the consumer card.

  • Sign-up Bonus. Earn 35,000 bonus Starpoints when you spend at least $3,000 ($5,000 for the business card) within the first 3 months of card membership (for a limited time until March 30, 2016).
  • 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 in-room premium WiFi, free access to thousands of Boingo WiFi hotspots worldwide, and 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 Credit Card Review for more information.


2. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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

chase-sapphire-preferredThe Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is simple, elegant, and powerful. Purchases on travel and dining at restaurants earn 2 Ultimate Rewards points per $1, with no spending caps or restrictions. All other purchases gives you 1 point per $1. You can also transfer points to participating frequent traveler programs, such as Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards and IHG Club Rewards, at a one-to-one ratio. For instance, 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points equal 1,000 IHG Club points.

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.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has a solid sign-up bonus: 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points when you spend at least $4,000 within 3 months. Enjoy access to VIP packages and exclusive deals at a host of sporting and entertainment events, including the PGA Championship.

  • 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.
  • 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 from $15 to $35, depending on balance size. Returned payments are always $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’s 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 the best offer on this card at CardRatings here.


3. 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 cardThe Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a straightforward, no-surprises card. For every $1 you spend, you earn 2 Venture miles. Miles are always worth $0.01.

It’s important to note that the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card 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, anytime, and just redeem your miles as a statement credit 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.

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit 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.

  • 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.
  • 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’s 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’s no penalty APR. 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 Credit Card Review for more information. Find out how you can apply for the best offer on this card at CardRatings here.


4. Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

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

marriott-rewards-premier-cardThe 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 one point per $1. There are no spending caps on any category.

The value of Marriott Rewards points varies by redemption method, but they can be worth more than $0.02 apiece when redeemed for stays at lower-cost hotels. Redemption minimums vary by hotel class, but start at 7,500 points.

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.

  • 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.
  • 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 balance. Returned payments are $37 each.
  • Introductory APR. There’s 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 1-5) on your account anniversary each year.

See our Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card Review for more information. Find out how you can apply for the best offer on this card at CardRatings here.


5. IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card

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

ihg rewards club select cardThe 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.

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. When redeemed, points are generally worth about $0.005 each, though that amount varies by brand.

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.
  • 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 are always $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’s 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. You also qualify for Platinum Elite status.

Learn more about the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card and find out how you can apply at CardRatings here.


6. 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 and 5 points per $1 spent on supermarket, gas station, and drugstore purchases. Both 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 instance, 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.
  • Key Fees. There’s 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’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 29.49%.
  • Other Perks. The card gives you Silver status (15% points boost) automatically, but you can upgrade to Gold status (25% points boost) through the end of the following year, when you spend $20,000 in a calendar year.

See our American Express Hilton HHonors Card Review for more information.


7. 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.

Points can be redeemed for hotel stays and incidental expenses at variable rates and minimums. Point values 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.

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.

  • Sign-up Bonus. Earn 75,000 bonus points when you make at least $2,000 in purchases within 3 months of account opening.
  • 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. 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. The card also 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. Find out how you can apply for the best offer on this card at CardRatings here.


8. 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 entitles you to a free night on stays of 5 days or longer and automatically boosts your total point earnings by 25%, with no maximums or restrictions.

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.
  • Key Fees. There’s a $95 annual fee but no foreign transaction fees. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%, 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. Find out how you can apply for the best offer on this card at CardRatings here.


9. Ritz-Carlton® Rewards Credit Card

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

ritz carlton rewards credit cardThe 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.

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

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 (Tier 1-4) when you spend $4,000 within 3 months of account opening.
  • 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 from $15 to $37, depending on balance. Returned payments are $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’s 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 3 times per year on paid stays of up to 7 nights, subject to availability.

Learn more about the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card and find out how you can apply 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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