Best Hotel Credit Cards

Reward credit cards come in all shapes and sizes, from those aimed at frequent travelers and businesspersons, to those tailored towards big families. All these cards fall under the umbrella of “rewards credit cards”, but from there they are often grouped in different categories based on the type of rewards they provide and the consumers they appeal to.

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One of the most popular types is a hotel rewards credit card. As the name suggests, these cards award points and cash back for money spent on hotel stays, while also providing benefits themed around accommodation. 

Perks Offered by The Best Hotel Credit Cards

Hotel credit cards offer a wealth of perks and benefits that you won’t necessarily get with other reward cards. Here is just a small selection of the perks and benefits offered by these cards.

  • Free Night Stays: Many hotel cards offer a free night award when certain criteria are met, and there are also room upgrades available to bump you up to the next level.
  • Reimbursement: Get compensation when you lose baggage, have your hotel stays canceled, and more. Each card is different, but these reimbursements often come from both the card network and the issuer.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees: Many of the people who use hotel reward cards spend a lot of time on the road and in the air, which means they’re in different countries all the time. Having a card with no foreign transaction fees is therefore very important, otherwise, things could get very expensive very quickly.
  • Premium Services: From late checkout and gym memberships to free Wi-Fi and in-room services, hotel rewards programs offer a host of premium services to account holders and, in most cases, you don’t need to redeem points to get them.
  • Attractions: Sample city life with museum trips or get a taste for country life with wine tours and bicycle tours. Hotel credit cards provide a host of attraction-related benefits.
  • Travel Rewards: Many of the best credit cards in this category offer additional travel rewards, including car rentals, airfare, local transit, baggage checks, TSA Precheck credit, and more.

The Best General Hotel Credit Cards

What follows is a list of the best hotel cards not tied to a specific hotel chain. These cards offer big rewards every time you spend money on accommodation and travel in general, and when it comes time to redeem, you can choose from an array of redemption options.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

You need to spend a lot of money every month to make the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card a viable option, as it has a monstrous annual fee of $550. However, anyone spending over $5,000 will likely benefit much more from this card than those with weaker reward programs and smaller annual fees.

It’s one of Chase’s best travel cards and has won several accolades over the years, with fans highlighting its generous welcome offer as well as the high unlimited rewards rate. If redeemed for travel rewards, you’ll get $750 worth of credit for your welcome bonus, and the card also offers a return of 3x every time you spend on travel and dining.

And that’s not all. The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers $300 in annual travel credit, airport lounge access, rental car benefits, travel insurance and a statement credit of $100 with TSA Precheck or GlobalEntry. You can also get a bunch of special rewards and perks at select destinations:

  • Free room upgrades
  • Free meals for cardholders and a guest
  • Late check-out and early check-in options available
  • Free gifts
  • A host of special discounts and credits
  • Up to 7x points on Lyft rides until 2022
  • 12 months of Lyft Pink membership
  • DashPass subscription from DoorDash + extra DoorDash credit

It is truly one of the best reward credit cards on the market, assuming you have the income and the expenditure to make it worthwhile. But don’t worry if you just fall short, as the Chase Sapphire Preferred can fill a hole without requiring you to pay such a high annual fee.

  • Credit Card Issuer: Visa
  • Annual Fee: $550
  • Regular APR: 17.49% to 24.49% variable APR
  • Account Opening Bonus: 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 in first 3 months
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Rewards Program: Earn as much as 3x points for all eligible travel purchases
  • Extras: Insurance coverage, gifts, perks, upgrades, credit, application fee credits, more
  • Redemption: Statement credit; a higher rate of return for travel purchases

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is not as impressive as the Reserve, but it doesn’t cost as much and it still offers a long list of benefits, all of which are geared towards frequent flyers. Cardholders can secure 2x membership points when they spend on travel and dining and if they spend $4,000 in the first three months of card membership, they’ll secure 60,000 points, or $750 worth of credit when redeemed on travel purchases.

There is 24/7 online account access available, airport lounge access, no foreign transaction fees or blackout dates, and a referral scheme that awards you additional bonus points when you refer friends to the card.

If you don’t spend enough to make the Chase Reserve worthwhile, then this might be a better option, but there are a few other travel reward cards worth considering, so don’t sign on the dotted line just yet.

  • Credit Card Issuer: Visa
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Regular APR: 17.49% to 24.49% variable APR
  • Account Opening Bonus: An award of 60,000 points when you spend $4,000 in first 3 months
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Rewards Program: Earn as much as 5x points for all eligible travel purchases
  • Extras: Insurance coverage, transfers, more
  • Redemption: Statement credit; a higher rate of return for travel purchases

Capital One Venture Rewards

The Capital One Venture Rewards is one of our personal favorite Capital One credit cards and one that should be included in your comparison search. It pays double air miles on every dollar that you spend, and these are fixed for the life of the card, with no limits and no bonus categories or rotating categories to worry about.

What’s more, the Capital One Venture Rewards card offers a host of additional rewards, perks, and benefits, including VIP event tickets, meals, TSA credits, and restaurant reservations. Your Capital One card can open doors for you all over the world, and once you’ve accumulated enough points, you can spend them with over a dozen different partners.

If you don’t want to spend those points on travel, you can spend them in the Amazon checkout instead, using them to make a host of purchases and save yourself some cash on everyday products.

  • Credit Card Issuer: Visa
  • Annual Fee: $95 (nothing to pay for first year)
  • Variable APR: 13.49% to 23.49%
  • Account Opening Bonus: Get 50,000 air miles after spending $3,000 in first 3 months
  • Introductory APR: 0% intro APR on purchases for first 12 months
  • Rewards Program: Travel rewards program offering 2x unlimited rewards
  • Extras: TSA Precheck or GlobalEntry credit, VIP tickets/meals courtesy of Capital One Premium Experiences
  • Redemption: Statement credit, Amazon checkout, travel purchases

American Express Platinum Card

You can’t have a list of the best travel and hotel cards without including at least one offering from American Express. This is where all the best premium travel cards can be found, and the AmEx Platinum is a direct competitor to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, with an annual fee and bonuses to match.

You’ll need to cough-up a fee of $550 to keep this card active, but in return, you’ll get a huge list of benefits. The Platinum American Express card offer is based on an air mile reward program and you can earn as many as 5x of every time you spend with American Express Travel or AmExTravel.com.

Cardholders will be given access to the Fine Hotels and Resorts Program, where they’ll get benefits to the tune of $550, covering the cost of the annual fee. These benefits include hotel stays, breakfast, evening meals, room upgrades, late check-in and check-out, and more. Members will also be offered access to a host of VIP airport lounges all over the world, as well as options to earn statement credit. 

  • Credit Card Issuer: American Express
  • Annual Fee: $550
  • Regular APR: 17.49% to 24.49% (depends on credit score)
  • Account Opening Bonus: 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 in first 3 months
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Rewards Program: Earn up to 5x points when you use your card
  • Extras: TSA Precheck or GlobalEntry credit, access to VIP airport lounges and the Fine Hotels and Resorts Program
  • Redemption: Statement credit, flights, accommodation

Other Top General Reward Cards

We’ve only just scratched the surface with regards to the best general travel cards and hotel cards. There are many more out there, from those tied into the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, to the Discover It Miles, which offers a solid rewards rate and doubles all cash back after 12 months of account opening. Keep these in mind when shopping for a new hotel credit card.

The Best Chain Specific Cards

In addition to the general hotel reward credit cards, you have cards offered by specific hotel chains. These cards still work like traditional credit cards and can be used all over, but the biggest rewards are offered for purchases made with a specific company and redemption options are also tied to that company.

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card

There are over 5,000 Hilton Hotels around the world, making this a very solid hotel card with lots of earning and redemption options. You can get 125,000 points in the first three months when you spend just $2,000 on your card, and if you spend $15,000 in a year, you’ll get a Weekend Night Reward as well.

Hilton Honors Bonus Points don’t have a high value, so the fact that you can earn up to 12x points for every $1 you spend sounds better than it is. However, it’s still a very strong reward scheme and there are lots of ways to earn and redeem those points.

  • Credit Card Issuer: American Express
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Regular APR: 17.24% to 26.24% Variable APR
  • Account Opening Bonus: Make $2,000 in eligible purchases within 3 months to get 125,000 points
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Rewards Program: Hilton Honors Bonus Points; earn between 3x and 12x
  • Extras: Advance through several levels, reaching Diamond Status when you spend more than $40,000 a year.
  • Redemption: Spend your money on stays at Hilton Hotels

IHG Rewards Club Premier

The IHG Rewards Club Premier has one of the best reward rates on paper, but in practice, it isn’t that much different from the other cards on this list. While you can get 25 points for every dollar that you spend in IHG hotels, these points don’t have a tremendously high value and there are limited options when it comes to redeeming them.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though, as points can be earned on every dollar you spend regardless of what you buy or where you buy it. The IHG Rewards Club Premier is one of the better hotel specific Mastercards and offers several promising perks.

  • Credit Card Issuer: Mastercard
  • Annual Fee: $89
  • Regular APR: 17.74% to 24.74% Variable APR
  • Account Opening Bonus: Earn 140,000 points after spending $3,000 in three months
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Rewards Program: 1x to 25x points, with the highest rate paid for money spend at IHG hotels
  • Extras: Automatic Platinum Elite status, free fourth-night stay 
  • Redemption: Points can be redeemed at IHG hotels

The World of Hyatt Credit Card

The World of Hyatt Credit Card offers a generous welcome bonus that rewards you with 25,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months of account opening and an additional 25,000 points if you reach a spend of $6,000 in the first six months.

There are free night credits available at the end of the cardmember anniversary and members can earn as many as 6x bonus points when spending money on Hyatt Hotel stays.

  • Credit Card Issuer: Visa
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Regular APR: 17.49% to 24.49% Variable APR
  • Account Opening Bonus: 50,000 bonus points after you spend $6,000 in first 6 months
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Rewards Program: 2x points when you spend at restaurants and other eligible locations; 6x points when you spend in Hyatt Hotels
  • Extras: Free nights available when you spend certain amounts, free night credits and World of Hyatt Elite Status
  • Redemption: Can only be redeemed with Hyatt Hotels

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card is fixed to the Marriott Bonvoy Hotels brand and has both a Silver Elite Status and a Gold Elite Status, with an upgrade when you spend a minimum of $35,000 in a single year. 

All account holders are awarded a free night stay in a Marriott Bonvoy hotel every year and can earn as many as 6x points when spending at Marriott Bonvoy and 2x points for everything else. 

There is an annual fee, but there’s also a sizeable welcome offer and this, along with the reward night and the many other perks, is more than enough to offset the $95 fee.

  • Credit Card Issuer: Visa
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Regular APR:  17.49% to 24.49% Variable APR
  • Account Opening Bonus: Spend $5,000 in first three months to unlock 100,000 bonus points
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Rewards Program: Earn 2x points for standard purchases and 6x points for money spent with the hotel brand
  • Extras: Free night stay after account anniversary; 15 Elite Night Credits every calendar year
  • Redemption: Redeem at Marriott Bonvoy hotels

More Hotel Chain Credit Cards

As with general travel cards, there are many more great hotel chain cards than the ones we have listed. The ones that didn’t make the cut, but deserve a look nonetheless, include:

  • Best Western Rewards Premium Mastercard: A good option for fans of the chain, but one that is somewhat limited in terms of bonus offers and rates.
  • Wyndham Rewards Visa: A high APR, but no blackout dates, no foreign transaction fees or annual fee, and decent earning and redemption opportunities.
  • Citi Expedia Credit Card: Unlimited points and a few worthwhile perks are offset by a rewards time limit and limited redemption options.

How to Compare the Best Hotel Credit Cards

What should you look for in a hotel credit card, what do you need to compare and how do you know whether one card is better than another? First and foremost, you have to look beyond the initial offer and perks and actually calculate how much the card will earn you and cost you.

Take a look at your previous year’s credit card statement and focus on how much you spent every month. You don’t have to worry about exact expenses, as that would take hours to calculate. A rough idea is enough.

For instance, you may calculate that you spent $20,000 over the year and made 1 late payment. You may also calculate that you make roughly 1 cash advance and 2 foreign transaction fees  every month. Using this data, and estimating how much you spend on flights and hotels, as well as gas stations, grocery stores, and supermarkets, you can calculate how much a card is likely to cost/earn you and compare this to another.

When making these calculations, consider all the following.

Annual Fees

The annual fee is arguably the most important fee on any credit card. Many cards don’t charge an annual fee, others charge anywhere from $35 to $95. The more premium cards kick this up a notch and charge as much as $550. 

In all cases, however, you typically get what you pay for, with the more expensive credit cards offering endless perks, cash bonuses, free night rewards, and more.

Other Fees

Annual fees aren’t the only credit card fees you need to account for. There are cash advance fees and foreign transaction fees, as well, and both of these can be seriously detrimental to your finances. 

A cardholder making several payments in foreign currency every month should look for cards with no foreign transaction fees, and while zero cash advance cards are rare, there are cards with smaller fees and more favorable terms.

For instance, some credit card issuers define a cash advance as withdrawing money from an ATM using your credit card. Others charge these fees every time you buy lottery tickets, money orders, gift cards, casino chips, foreign currency, and more.

Regular Interest and Intro Rate

The interest rate is essential if you don’t repay your balance in full every month. That’s when interest starts to accumulate and compound, and it’s when a small and insignificant debt can grow into something that leaves a lasting mark on your credit report.

The problem with credit card debt is that it’s easy to convince yourself to make the minimum and deal with the balance next month. But if you continue to use that card, the balance will grow, you’ll fail to clear it for another month, and before you know it, you have a debt that you just can’t shift, a debt that grows with every month.

This can happen to anyone, so no matter how confident you are in your ability to pay the balance in full, make sure you get the lowest interest rate possible. Don’t settle for something much higher just so you can secure a better rewards rate, as that could cost you in the future.

In addition to the regular interest rate, check to see if the credit card has an introductory rate. These rates are often fixed at 0% for a few months and can prevent you from paying interest on purchases and transfers throughout this time.

General or Specific

As discussed above, there are two types of hotel credit card: Those aimed at general use, more often referred to as “travel reward cards”, and those offered by single hotel chains. Most cardholders will benefit more from the former, as these cards give them the freedom to use their points with several reward programs and to accumulate travel credit that can be spent on everything from baggage checks to flights, hotels, and more.

However, if you spend a lot of money with a particular chain and enjoy all the services and products they have to offer, a specific hotel credit card may be better suited. It’s a similar story with store/retail and branded credit cards.

For instance, general reward credit cards like the Chase Freedom and Discover It will likely offer you the best benefits and the highest reward rate, but if you spend all your money at Amazon, you’ll likely be better off with their credit cards due to the increased rewards rate and improved redemption options.

Rewards and Redemptions

The rewards you earn and the rate at which you earn them are essential, as are the ways that they can be redeemed. For instance, if you’re a big family then you’ll likely benefit from a rewards rate that gives you more when you spend at US gas stations, US supermarkets, and US restaurants. But the same can’t be said for rewards that offer the highest rates for rideshares.

Don’t be tempted purely by the size of the highest reward rate, focus on whether or not you’ll actually spend enough to benefit from it. 

As for redemptions, these typically vary depending on the credit card issuer. Some will allow you to exchange your rewards for flights and hotel stays, others offer statement credit, gift cards, and more. 

The best programs offer redemption across multiple categories and give you a boost every time you redeem on specific services, such as hotel stays, meals, and car rentals.

Account Opening Offer

An account opening offer, or welcome offer, is used to lure new cardholders and to encourage them to spend freely on their card. Many reward card users have multiple credit cards, and issuers want them to focus their time and money on their new card. To do this, they will often create spending goals and rewards, such as offering a point or cash bonus when they spend $3,000 over the first few months.

These bonuses nearly always focus on the first few months of use and often set a rate that the average cardholder will not struggle to reach. In fact, many common reward cards require a quarterly spend of just $500 to activate the bonus, which is well under the $2,400 that the average cardholder spends during this time.

Perks and Benefits

Many credit card offers focus purely on the fees, interest rate, and rewards, all of which we’ve discussed already. These are the perks that take center stage as they help to differentiate one card from another and help consumers choose the right one for them.

However, there are many more perks offered by these cards, and while they don’t always get the spotlight, some of them are more deserving than the best sign-up offers, and no-fee promises. 

For instance, some hotel credit cards promise to reimburse you if you ever lose substantial sums of money while on vacation or if your flight or accommodation is canceled. Others provide car rental and cellphone insurance, and there are also those that will give you a free night stay in a glitzy hotel, access to the best airport lounges, and cash bonuses for your account anniversary.

Do You Need a Hotel Credit Card?

Hotel credit cards aren’t for everyone. If you don’t spend money on eligible purchases, don’t stay in many hotels, and rarely travel, these cards probably aren’t for you. By the same token, if you have bad credit, don’t clear your balance in full or don’t spend enough to meet the sign-up bonus, you should look elsewhere. 

If any of the following statements are true, then a hotel credit card may not be your best option.

You Don’t Clear Your Balance

It’s easy to get distracted by rewards points, welcome bonuses, as many credit card offers focus entirely on cash back and travel rewards. But if you don’t clear your balance in full every month, none of this really matters.

Your main goal, therefore, should be to find a credit card with a low interest rate.

By focusing on rewards first and foremost, you could end up paying a few more interest points than you could get elsewhere, and depending on the size of your balance, these points may be enough to offset all the benefits that the rewards provide.

You Have Bad Credit

A rewards card may be out of reach if you have bad credit. These cards are generally targeted to consumers with Good or Excellent credit, and you will likely be refused if you don’t meet that criteria.

The best option for applicants with bad credit is a secured credit card. These cards require an initial security deposit which can be refunded when the account is closed, or the card is upgraded to an unsecured card. 

It’s one of the best ways to build credit, and while secured cards don’t offer big reward programs, extensive intro APR rates, and other perks, they can lead you towards cards that tick all those boxes.

You Have a Lot of Credit Card Debt

Cardholders who already own several credit cards, with balances on most of them, should consider a balance transfer card. The last thing you need in this position is yet another card and another balance. Instead, find a balance transfer credit card that has a 0% intro APR, move all your current balances across, and keep meeting those monthly minimum payments.

You will clear more of the principal with every payment that you make, taking you ever closer to a $0 balance, so that when the regular APR kicks in, you won’t accumulate extra fees or charges.

You Spend a Lot of Money

Hotel credit cards can be a good option if you spend a lot of money every month, but this only really applies if you’re spending that money at a specific hotel or on accommodation. If most of it is going on general travel, then a normal travel card may be a better option; if you’re only traveling once or twice a year and spend fewer than 5 nights in a hotel, you should look into cash back credit cards instead.

You Don’t Travel

There’s no doubt about it: if you don’t travel regularly then you won’t benefit from a hotel or travel rewards card. You may get a few bonus points to use on the occasional trip and travel purchases, but you’ll likely make much more money with a cash back credit card.

What Credit Score is Needed for a Hotel Card?

Most of the credit cards we have listed above require a credit score that is Good or Excellent, which generally refers to scores that are above 670. As soon as you creep into that “Good” range, these cards become available, but you may be offered higher interest rates. 

However, the closer you get towards that “Excellent” range, the lower the interest rate will be and the better the card will become as a result. The rewards rate will stay the same, as will the fees, but the interest rate will change and it’s one of the most important features of any credit card.

Bottom Line: Do You Need Another Card?

A hotel rewards card can be a great addition to your card collection, one you can use every time you make flight and accommodation purchases. However, it’s important not to get too many credit cards, especially if they’re all offering similar rewards and providing you with similar benefits.

Don’t get too tempted by the sign-up bonus and the prospect of owning a new card. Be realistic. Check the rates and the rewards, calculate if it will earn you money or cost you money, and be realistic about whether you can afford to maintain it alongside other credit cards.

Many Americans own three or four credit cards and the world record is over 1,500, so it’s not abnormal to own several cards and it won’t do any serious long-term damage to your credit score if you use them responsibly. However, you shouldn’t apply on a whim, especially if the card has an annual fee or similar benefits to a card you already have.