This series of articles about credit cards, points and miles, and budgeting for travel is brought to you in partnership with The Points Guy.
Choosing the right hotel means you can immerse yourself in a destination. Beautiful design, events and tours that bring in local culture and amazing food can make you feel less like a tourist and more like a traveler. The best travel credits for hotels can help get you there faster, with plenty of perks to boot.
The best travel credit cards provide exclusive benefits and rewards to cardholders, often elevating you to VIP status when traveling. The perk lists range from early check-in and extended to check-out times, complimentary breakfast and free upgrades, and coveted free nights. Your ascent to VIP has never been easier to obtain with the best hotel credit cards, making getaways that much more enjoyable.
You don’t have to pay a high annual fee to get valuable benefits from a hotel credit card. Annual fees range from $0 to $695, with the best cards often falling in the middle of that range and offering plenty of perks to offset their annual fee. The market is saturated with hotel credit cards, so how do you narrow down the best options? If you’re in the market for a hotel credit card and don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered with our hand-picked list.
While “the best” card is subjective, we’ve narrowed it down based on criteria that include the card’s welcome bonus, recurring benefits, travel protections and elite status perks. All the cards we chose carry no foreign transaction fees, so you can use them abroad without incurring a 3% fee. Beyond that, each card we chose fits a different traveler and brand loyalist type.
Here’s a look at the best travel credit cards for hotels:
Best travel credit cards for hotels
- Best Hilton card: Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
- Best Hyatt Card: World of Hyatt Credit Card
- Best Marriott Card: Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card
- Best IHG Card: IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card
- Best for families: Wyndham Rewards Earner Card
- Best for hotel perks at multiple brands: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Best for flexibility: Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
Best Hilton card: Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is hands down the best Hilton credit card – and is arguably the best hotel credit card. The Hilton Aspire is the only hotel credit card offering automatic top-tier elite status, which comes with valuable perks like complimentary food and beverage credit, club lounge access and 100% bonus points on paid stays, to name a few. The card also has a high welcome bonus, which you can swap for up to 30 free nights at Hilton hotels.
Most importantly, the Aspire Card comes packed with several recurring perks that offset the $450 annual fee: A $250 annual Hilton resort credit, up to a $250 airline fee credit, an annual free night award and Priority Pass Select membership for airport lounge access. The card also earns up to 14 points per dollar on eligible purchases at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio, making it an excellent way to earn Hilton points.
Welcome bonus: 150,000 points after you spend $4000 in the first three months of card membership.
Rewards: Earn 14X points at Hilton hotels and resorts; 7X points on flights booked with airlines or American Express Travel, 7X points on rental cars booked with rental companies; 7X points on dining at U.S. restaurants; 3X points on all other purchases.
Travel benefits: Automatic Hilton Diamond status, Priority Pass Select membership, annual $250 Hilton resort statement credit and up to $250 in airline fee credit, annual free night award, secondary rental car coverage (excludes certain international destinations), baggage insurance plan.*
Credit score: Good to Excellent.
Annual fee: $450. See rates and fees.
- A substantial welcome bonus gets you up to 30 free nights at a Hilton hotel.
- This is the only hotel credit card that awards top-tier elite status.
- Hotel and airline fee credits can justify the $450 annual fee.
- High annual fee.
- Limited redemption options outside of the Hilton portfolio.
All information about Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by Lonely Planet. Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is no longer available through Lonely Planet.
Best Hyatt Card: World of Hyatt Credit Card
World of Hyatt is arguably the most popular hotel rewards program, thanks to a portfolio of unique hotel brands, excellent elite status benefits and reasonable award redemption rates. The World of Hyatt Credit Card is an excellent hotel card for earning more Hyatt points and elite status perks. The card’s welcome bonus isn’t the highest, but it can still go a long way since free nights at Hyatt hotels start at 3500 points.
The card includes an annual free night award valid at Category 1-4 hotels and is easily worth the $95 annual fee. Cardholders receive automatic Hyatt Discoverist status, with the option to earn additional elite night credits through card spending (all the way up to Globalist). Overall, the World of Hyatt Card is excellent for loyalists who want to earn free nights and fast-track to elite status.
Welcome bonus: 30,000 bonus points after you spend $3000 in the first three months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 more points by earning 2 bonus points total per $1 spent in the first six months on purchases that normally earn 1 point per dollar (on up to $15,000 spent, then 1X).
Rewards: Earn 4 points per dollar spent on purchases at all Hyatt hotels; 2 points per dollar spent at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, local transit and commuting, as well as fitness club and gym membership; 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Travel benefits: Annual free night award valid at a Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel; automatic Hyatt Discoverist status, plus 5 annual elite night credits towards the next status tier; two elite night credits for every $5000 spent; trip cancellation and interruption insurance; baggage delay insurance; lost luggage reimbursement; secondary rental car insurance; no foreign transaction fees.
Credit score required: Good to excellent.
Annual fee: $95. See rates and fees.
- Welcome bonus of up to 60,000 bonus points.
- The annual free night award can offset the $95 annual fee.
- Big spenders can earn top-tier Diamond status entirely from credit card spending.
- Earning the full welcome bonus requires $15,000 in credit card spending.
- The annual free night is restricted to just four of eight Hyatt categories.
- Subject to Chase’s 5/24 policy. You likely won’t be approved if you’ve opened five cards at any banks in the last 24 months.
Best Marriott Card: Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card
As the world’s largest hotel chain, Marriott offers more hotel credit cards than anyone else. There are currently four personal co-branded credit cards, but the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card is the best option for most consumers. The card strikes the perfect balance in offering meaningful benefits at a reasonable annual fee.
Cardholders earn 175,000 bonus points as a welcome bonus and up to 6 points per dollar spent in various categories. Cardholders also receive an annual free night award after spending $15,000 on the card. The free night is valid for hotels requiring 50,000 points or less, which is generous.
The Bonvoy Bevy provides automatic Marriott Gold Elite Status, which normally requires 25 nights. Bonvoy Gold Elite members receive 25% bonus points on paid stays, space-available room upgrades, late checkout, 250-500 points per stay and other perks. The card also comes with 15 elite night credits annually to help you fast-track your way to higher status.
Welcome bonus: Earn 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after spending $5000 in the first six months of card membership. Plus, earn 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after staying six eligible paid nights at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy through 1/31/24. Offer ends 8/9/2023.
Rewards: Earn 6X points at Marriott hotels; 4X points at U.S. supermarkets and restaurants worldwide (on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, then 2X points); 2X points on all other purchases.
Travel benefits: Automatic Bonvoy Gold Elite Status; 15 annual elite night credits towards the next status tier; annual free night award after spending $15,000 per calendar year (valid on award nights at or under 50,000 points; earn 1000 bonus points per stay; trip delay insurance; baggage insurance plan; secondary rental car insurance*; No foreign transaction fees.
Credit score required: Good to excellent.
Annual fee: $250. See rates and fees.
- Automatic Gold Elite Status, with the option to spend your way to a higher tier.
- Elevated welcome bonus and earnings on common spending categories.
- 1000 bonus points per eligible Marriott stay.
- High spending requirement to earn the full welcome bonus.
- Bonus category earnings are limited geographically and in terms of how many points you can earn.
- High annual fee.
Best IHG Card: IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card
IHG One has three credit cards issued by Chase, but the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card strikes the best balance. The card offers a large welcome bonus and high earnings on travel and everyday spending categories. The annual free night is capped at 40,000 points but can still provide value exceeding the card’s $99 annual fee.
Cardholders can stretch their points further with the fourth night free on award bookings and a 20% discount on IHG point purchases. IHG regularly sells points at 0.5 cents each, so it can make sense to buy points for a specific award redemption.
The IHG One Rewards Premier card rewards credit card spending generously, with up to 10 points per dollar spent and a $100 statement credit and 10,000 bonus points when you spend $20,000 in a calendar year. An automatic upgrade to Platinum elite status will get you valuable perks like 60% bonus points, guaranteed room availability, late check-out, welcome amenity and more.
Welcome bonus: Earn 140,000 bonus points after spending $3000 in the first three months from account opening. Plus, earn up to $100 in statement credits on purchases at IHG Hotels and Resorts during the first 12 months of account opening.
Rewards: Earn 10X points on IHG hotel stays; 5X points on travel, dining and at gas stations; 3X points on all other purchases.
Travel benefits: Annual free night award (valid on award nights of 40,000 points or less); IHG Platinum status; fourth night free on award night bookings; $100 statement credit and 10,000 bonus points after you spend $20,000 each calendar year; 20% discount on IHG point purchases; no foreign transaction fees; trip cancellation and interruption insurance; lost luggage reimbursement; baggage delay insurance.
Credit score required: Good to excellent.
Annual fee: $99. See rates and fees.
- Annual free night is valid at hotels requiring 40,000 points per night or less.
- Fourth night free on consecutive award nights can save you 25% on point bookings.
- IHG Platinum elite status comes with valuable benefits.
- IHG doesn’t release an award chart, so finding out which hotels fall at or under 40,000 points per night is challenging.
- IHG points can often be purchased for around 0.5 cents each, so earning them via credit card spending isn’t the best way to maximize your expenses.
Best for families: Wyndham Rewards Earner® Card Card
The Wyndham Rewards Earner® Card is a great hotel credit card for families. Wyndham makes free night awards attainable, starting at just 7500 points per bedroom. Families can use their points at hotels, vacation home rentals, condos and other family-friendly properties. This versatility is great for families that need multiple rooms since Wyndham provides more space and affordable redemption rates.
The Wyndham Rewards Earner Card also provides automatic Platinum elite status, so families can enjoy extra perks during their hotel stays. The card offers up to 4X points on common spending categories, making free nights even more attainable. When you redeem your Wyndham points, you’ll receive a 10% discount to help you stretch your points even further. With a $75 annual fee, this card is a budget-friendly option for families.
Welcome bonus: 75,000 bonus points after spending $1000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
Rewards: Earn 6X points on eligible purchases at Hotels by Wyndham, qualifying gas purchases; 4X points on eligible dining and grocery store purchases (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®); 1X point on all other purchases (excludes Wyndham Timeshare resort down payments).
Travel benefits: Upgrade to Wyndham Rewards Platinum elite status, cardmember booking discount, annual 7500-point bonus, no foreign transaction fees.
Credit score required: Good to excellent.
Annual fee: $75. See rates and fees.
- Large welcome bonus that can be redeemed for up to ten nights at Wyndham hotels.
- Points can be stretched further with a 10% rebate on award bookings.
- The card offers high bonuses in common spending categories.
- With the Platinum status upgrade, families can enjoy useful perks like early check-in and late checkout.
Best for hotel perks at multiple brands: The Platinum Card® from American Express
If you want hotel perks without being tied to a single hotel loyalty program, then The Platinum Card® from American Express is a great choice. The card offers Gold Elite Status with both Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy. In addition, cardholders can get elite-type perks at select hotels through a program called American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts. Benefits vary by property but generally include free nights, complimentary breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, room upgrades, hotel credits and more.
The Amex Platinum card has a high annual fee but includes multiple statement credits, including $200 annually towards American Express Travel hotel bookings. If you’re not loyal to a single hotel chain and want to earn flexible points you can transfer to Hilton, Marriott or Choice Hotels, the Amex Platinum is a great choice. The Gold status upgrades are even extended to authorized user on the card.
Welcome bonus: 80,000 points after $6000 spent within six months of account opening.
Rewards: Earn 5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel on amextravel.com (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, then 1X); 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel; 1 point per dollar on everything else.
Travel benefits: Hilton and Marriott Gold Elite Status; $200 annual hotel credit valid on American Express Travel bookings; $240 annual digital entertainment credit; up to $200 annual airline fee credit, $200 annual Uber cash distributed in monthly increments; $300 annual Equinox credit; $155 Walmart+ Credit; $100 annual credit at Saks Fifth Avenue; $189 annual CLEAR® Plus credit; Amex Global Lounge Collection access; elite status with Avis, Hertz and National rental car; trip delay insurance; trip cancellation and interruption insurance.
Credit score required: Excellent.
Annual fee: $695. See rates and fees.
- Hotel status benefits apply to both the primary cardholder and authorized users.
- Annual $200 hotel credit when booking through American Express Travel.
- Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts benefits provide added perks at thousands of hotels across various chains.
- High annual fee, plus $175 for up to three authorized users.
- The current welcome bonus isn’t the highest we’ve seen for this card.
- Approval is subject to Amex’s once-per-lifetime rule. If you’ve already earned a welcome bonus for this card, you won’t be eligible for another one.
Best for flexibility: Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is a great option for those wanting a hotel credit card without being tied to a single currency. The Venture X card earns Capital One miles, which can be used towards travel purchases (including hotel stays) at one cent each. Alternatively, miles can be transferred to over a dozen airline and hotel programs, providing ultimate flexibility. Capital One’s 1:1 hotel transfer partners include Accord, Choice Hotels and Wyndham.
While transferring miles usually results in the best value, redeeming them for hotel bookings is straightforward and simple. If you prefer the latter, you’ll appreciate the Venture X over a co-branded hotel credit card. The card also comes with an annual $300 travel credit that can be applied towards hotel stays booked through Capital One Travel, where you’ll earn 10 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars.
Welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4000 in the first three months of account opening.
Rewards: Earn 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel; 2X miles on all other purchases.
Travel benefits: $300 annual credit for travel booked through Capital One Travel; 10,000 bonus miles every card anniversary; access to Capital One Lounges and Priority Pass Select membership; $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years; complimentary PRIOR subscription, 6-month Cultivist membership; $300 towards Gravity Haus social club membership; cell phone protection (up to $800); Hertz President’s Circle status; access to Premier Collection hotels for discounts and perks; primary rental coverage; trip cancellation and interruption; trip delay reimbursement; travel accident insurance; lost luggage reimbursement; travel and emergency assistance services.
Credit score: Excellent.
Annual fee: $395. See rates and fees.
- Generous welcome bonus and high earnings on everyday spending.
- Points are worth 1 cent each towards travel purchases or transferable to airline and hotel partners.
- Annual $300 travel credit can be applied toward hotel bookings.
- Capital One hotel transfer partners are limited to Accor Live Limitless, Choice Privileges and Wyndham Rewards.
- The $300 annual travel credit is limited to bookings made with Capital One Travel.
Who should get a hotel credit card?
Anyone who frequently stays in hotels should consider getting a hotel credit card. These cards typically offer rewards such as free nights, bonus points on stays, elite status and hotel credits. They can also provide additional perks like airport lounge access and travel protections. Hotel credit card annual fees range from $0 to $650, so there are options for every budget.
Even if you only book one hotel stay a year, you might benefit from having a hotel credit card.
How to choose the best hotel credit card
When choosing the best hotel credit card, it’s important to consider your travel needs and spending habits. If you’re loyal to one hotel chain, it makes sense to get a co-branded hotel credit card and earn points faster. But if you like to stay at a variety of hotel brands, then you might be better off with a non-branded card like the Amex Platinum, which still offers perks at a wide range of hotel brands.
Once you’ve determined that a hotel credit card is a good fit, you should hone in on the hotel chain you most often stay with (IHG, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Wyndham, etc.). Getting a co-branded credit card can enhance your stay and help you achieve elite status faster. When a hotel chain offers multiple credit cards, it’s important to consider the annual fees and benefits to determine which might be the best fit.
Some hotel cards carry high annual fees but offer resort credits and free night awards that can make the fee worthwhile. For example, Hilton Aspire Card offers top-tier Diamond Elite Status, which usually requires spending 60 nights and spending thousands of dollars. So even though the $450 annual fee seems steep compared to the $95 annual fee of the Hilton Surpass card, it can be worth it.
Are hotel credit cards worth it?
Hotel credit cards can be worth it depending on how often you stay in hotels and the benefits the card offers. A great hotel credit card will reward you for the categories in which you spend the most money and provide recurring perks like elite status and free nights.
Why is it better to book hotels with a credit card?
Booking hotels with a credit card is beneficial because it offers more protection and security than other payment methods. Credit cards allow you to dispute charges if something goes wrong, such as a hotel overcharging you or not dropping incidental holds. Additionally, many credit cards offer extra benefits such as travel insurance, rewards and travel credits.
Hotels also put incidental holds on your credit card when you check in. Depending on the hotel, these can range from $50-$100 or more. If you pay with a debit card, that money is subtracted from your account, meaning you can’t access those funds for other purchases. On the other hand, credit card holds are temporary, making it better to book hotels with a credit card.
How much do hotels usually hold on your credit card?
The amount of a hotel credit card hold will vary by property. Generally, hotels will place a hold of up to the full amount of your stay, plus an additional amount to cover incidentals.
Do you need a credit card to book a hotel?
It depends on the hotel. Some hotels may require a credit card to book a room, while others may accept cash or other forms of payment. It is best to check with the individual hotel before booking.
*Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.