Travel rewards are more than just earning free flights. Hotel credit cards offer valuable rewards and perks with a hotel brand. Not only can you earn points towards free accommodations, but many hotel cards offer luxuries like elite status for loyal customers. 

Whether it’s a co-branded card for a specific hotel brand or a general travel card, hotel credit cards offer tons of value for the right traveler.

What to Look for in a Hotel Credit Card

When looking for the best hotel credit card, consider the welcome offer and how much you need to spend to earn the bonus. Also, verify you qualify for the welcome bonus before applying. If you’ve already had the card previously, you may not be eligible to earn the bonus again.

Most hotel cards charge an annual fee, so make sure the card offers enough value to outweigh the fee each year you have it. 

Think about what types of perks you want from a hotel credit card and find a card that aligns with your expectations. Benefits vary between cards, and what one card offers may be more valuable to you than others. Look for benefits like free award nights and elite status upgrades.

You should also look for a card that earns points towards stays with a hotel brand you either frequent already or plan to in the future. Hotel rewards are only valuable when used, so only earn rewards where you will use them. 

At a Glance

 Best For Annual FeeWelcome Bonus
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® CardHilton Stays$95180.000 bonus points after spending $2,000 in the first three months
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit CardMarriott Stays$953 Free Night Awards after spending $3,000 in the first three months
The World Of Hyatt Credit CardHyatt Stays$9560,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months
Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardFlexible Rewards$95100,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressLuxury Perks$695100,000 bonus points after spending $6,000 in the first six months

Best Hotel Credit Cards

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Best for Hilton Stays

The Hilton Honors Amex Surpass Card doesn’t come with quite the list of perks offered by Hilton’s premium Aspire card, but you still get access to several valuable perks at a much lower price tag. This card is perfect for those who only stay at Hilton properties occasionally but still want access to some of the hotel brand’s benefits. Don’t forget the massive welcome bonus you can earn by hitting the card’s spending requirements.

Intro Offer: Earn 130,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on your new card in the first three months. Plus, earn an additional 50,000 bonus points after you spend $10,000 total on your new card in the first six months. 

FeatureDetails
Annual Fee$95
Regular APR15.74% to 24.74% 
Intro APRN/A

Highlights 

  • 12X points on eligible purchases at select Hilton hotels and resorts.

  • 6X points at U.S. restaurants.

  • 6X points at U.S. supermarkets.

  • 6X points at U.S. gas stations.

  • 3X points on all other purchases.

  • Complimentary Hilton Gold status.

  • Free weekend night award.

  • Ten complimentary Priority Pass visits.

  • Car rental loss and damage insurance.

  • No foreign transaction fees.

Apply for the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card here

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card: Best for Marriott Stays

Marriott is home to some of the most luxurious properties around the globe. The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card features automatic Silver Elite status and an opportunity to earn three free nights by hitting a relatively low spending requirement. Plus, you’ll get another free night each year you own the card. 

Intro Offer: Earn three free night awards after spending $3,000 on your new card in the first three months.

FeatureDetails
Annual Fee$95
Regular APR15.99% to 22.99%
Intro APRN/A

Highlights 

  • 10X points on up to $2,500 in combined purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants within your first six months.

  • Up to 17X points at Marriott: 6X points at select Marriott hotels, up to 10X points for being a Marriott Bonvoy™ member, and 1X points with Silver Elite Status.

  • 2X points on all other purchases.

  • Automatic Silver Elite status.

  • Free night award each anniversary.

  • No foreign transaction fees. 

Apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card here

The World Of Hyatt Credit Card: Best for Hyatt Stays

Loyal Hyatt fans should look no further than the World of Hyatt Credit Card. This Chase card comes with a decent welcome bonus, a free night each year, and automatic Discoverist status. Plus, you can quickly build up Hyatt points through the card’s spending categories. The World of Hyatt Credit Card is well worth the $95 annual fee. 

Intro Offer: Earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on your new card in the first three months. Plus, earn up to 30,000 more bonus points by earning 2X bonus points total per dollar spent in the first six months (that would normally earn 1X) on up to $15,000 spent.

FeatureDetails
Annual Fee$95
Regular APR15.99% to 22.99%
Intro APRN/A

Highlights 

  • Up to 9X points at Hilton: 4X points on all purchases at Hyatt hotels and 5X points for being a World of Hyatt member. 

  • 2X points at restaurants, airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, local transit and commuting, and fitness club and gym memberships.

  • 1X points on all other purchases. 

  • Free night annually. 

  • Extra free night if you spend $15,000 in a calendar year. 

  • Automatic World of Hyatt Discoverist status.

  • No foreign transaction fees.

Apply for the World of Hyatt Credit Card here

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Best for Flexible Rewards

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card comes with access to Chase Ultimate Rewards, one of the most versatile rewards programs around. You can use points to book hotels worldwide directly through Chase’s travel portal or transfer them to more than a dozen travel partners, including three hotel programs — IHG® Rewards Club, Marriott Bonvoy™, and World of Hyatt®.
You can also redeem points for flights, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, and more. 

Intro Offer: 100,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within three months of opening your account. 

FeatureDetails
Annual Fee$95
Regular APR15.99% to 22.99%
Intro APRN/A

Highlights 

  • 5X points on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards. 

  • 3X on select streaming services. 

  • 3X points on select online grocery purchases. 

  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide.

  • 1X points on all other purchases.

  • Your Ultimate Rewards points carry 25% more value when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. 

  • Points are transferable to 13 travel partner programs, including IHG® Rewards Club, Marriott Bonvoy™, and World of Hyatt®.

  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. 

  • No foreign transaction fees.

Apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card here

The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for Luxury Perks

Don’t let the hefty annual fee for the Platinum Card® from American Express scare you away. 
This Amex card is packed with value everywhere, including automatic Marriott Gold and Hilton Gold status. The card features a laundry list of luxury hotel and travel perks that make it one of the world’s top travel rewards credit cards. 

Intro Offer: 100,000 bonus points after spending $6,000 on your new card in the first six months

FeatureDetails
Annual Fee$695
Regular APR15.99% to 22.99%
Intro APRN/A

Highlights 

  • 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first six months of Card Membership.

  • 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.

  • 5X points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

  • 1X points on all other purchases.

  • $200 Fine Hotels + Resorts hotel credit.

  • Access to American Express Global Lounge Collection.

  • $200 airline fee credit.

  • $200 Uber cash.

  • $179 Clear credit.

  • Fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck.

  • Marriott Bonvoy™ Gold Elite status.

  • Hilton Honors Gold status.

  • No foreign transaction fees.

Apply for the Platinum Card from American Express here

How Hotel Credit Cards Work

Hotel credit cards earn points that can be redeemed for free stays and other valuable rewards. 

Co-branded hotel cards offer exclusive hotel perks like loyalty status upgrades, late checkout, and room choice and upgrades. Often, these cards earn the highest bonus rewards on spending at the affiliated hotel. 

For more versatile rewards, there are general travel rewards cards that earn points you can redeem for hotel stays along with a myriad of other redemptions, like flights, car rentals, vacation packages, and more. 

How to Maximize Hotel Credit Cards

To build up your points balance quickly, make sure to meet the card’s spending requirements to earn the welcome bonus if one is available. Usually you have three to six months to meet the requirement. 

Another way to earn points fast is to use your card whenever you spend, especially in any spending bonus categories. Usually, the highest category is for paid stays at the hotel, so make sure you use your card whenever you book a room with the hotel brand. 

Some loyalty programs also offer an online shopping portal that lets you earn extra points whenever you shop at one of its affiliated stores. This is an easy way to boost your point total for shopping you already planned to do anyway. 

You can also maximize the card’s value by taking advantage of the hotel card’s other benefits. Hotel credit cards offer so much more value than just free stays. Sometimes a room upgrade can be worth just as much as saving money on your hotel stay, especially at luxury resorts or hotels. 

What Credit Score is Needed for a Hotel Credit Card

Credit score requirements vary depending on the card, but typically you’ll need good to excellent credit to qualify for a hotel credit card. A good to excellent FICO credit score is a score of 670 or higher.

Who Hotel Credit Cards are Best for

Hotel credit cards are a good choice for travelers who are loyal to a particular hotel brand and will travel enough to earn points towards future stays. Co-branded cards often provide a shortcut to perks that you may not earn otherwise if you don’t travel enough throughout the year, like hotel status and free award stays. 

A general travel rewards credit card is a great option for individuals who want to redeem rewards for future hotel stays and other travel redemptions. These types of cards typically also allow you to book award travel directly or transfer your points to partner hotels’ loyalty programs. 

Summary

Even for the occasional traveler, having a hotel credit card that earns you a few free nights a year is typically worth more than any fees incurred. Don’t forget all of the fringe benefits that a good hotel card provides, like elite status. 

A hotel card opens the door to upgraded or luxury travel experiences that normally cost more than most people like to pay. 

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