best hotel credit cards
Updated June 15, 2020

8 Best Hotel Credit Cards for 2020

Credit Cards

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A hotel credit card is a co-branded card option with similarities to airline credit cards, at least as far as how the rewards work. If you are a frequent traveler, you might consider a hotel credit card, although there are specific things to keep in mind to determine if it’s right for you and if so, the card that’s the best fit for your needs.

What Is a Hotel Credit Card?

A hotel credit card is a co-branded card between the hotel brand and the card brand. What’s unique about a hotel card, as compared to some airline cards, is that many people find the rewards are appealing enough to justify the annual fees. They tend to offer a lot of benefits and perks that you can’t get without having the card.

The concept of a hotel credit card is usually simple — you earn points or rewards for booking nights with a hotel or spending with the hotel brand in other ways. Some cards also include higher point categories for spending in other areas, such as supermarket or restaurant spending.

Hotel credit cards help you work toward hotel elite status, and then your points can be redeemed for free nights, upgrades on rooms, and even gift cards, rental cars, flights, and event tickets. With hotel cards you do have to be careful as far as redemption because redeeming points outside of hotel spending can mean you lose quite a bit of value.

Basic Hotel Credit Cards

With a basic hotel credit card, you’ll earn points for all your spending with the hotel brand. You have to keep in mind that many hotel brands include different property brands within their portfolio, which can leave you with a wide range of options.

With a basic hotel credit card, you’re usually going to only get the maximum reward earning options with the co-branded hotel chain, rather than other spending categories. You’d need to make sure you’re actually spending enough with the hotel to justify the card and any associated fees.

Bonus Hotel Cards

Some cards will offer bonus categories, so if you spend on certain things, you may be able to get more rewards points as well. For example, you might find a hotel co-branded card that offers rewards on restaurant spending in addition to hotel spending.

Some of these cards may include rotating bonus categories that change every quarter. One quarter you might earn higher rewards on categories like grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and the next month that could shift to dining and entertainment as an example.

General Travel Cards

Another option, if you do travel frequently but aren’t necessarily loyal to one hotel brand or want more redemption flexibility is a general travel rewards card. Some cards will let you redeem the miles that you earn for different hotel stays as well as airline tickets and cruises.

When It Makes Sense to Get a Hotel Credit Card

There are so many available rewards cards that it can be tough to determine which is right for you. The following are scenarios where it could be a good idea to get a co-branded hotel credit card.

You’re Loyal to One Hotel Brand

If you’re loyal to one brand and you only stay at their properties, whether for work, leisure, or a combination, a hotel credit card can be a good option. You’ll have access to a lot of perks with that hotel chain. For example, many cards will give you an automatic status upgrade when you open a new account. Elite status with a hotel loyalty program can include things like room upgrades and complimentary breakfast.

You Book At Least Several Nights a Year with the Same Hotel Brand

If you have a hotel chain or property you’re not only loyal to but also spend at least a few nights a year with, a hotel-branded card can be good for you. You’re already going to be staying there anyway, so having the card can give you more comforts and perks and make your stay better.

You Travel For Work

If you travel a lot for work, it can be valuable to have a hotel credit card that will unlock free access to things like in-room Wi-Fi. This can make your stay a lot more productive and convenient.

When It Doesn’t Make Sense to Get a Hotel Credit Card

A hotel credit card isn’t right for everyone. In the following scenarios, you might be better off looking for something like a general cash back or rewards card versus a co-branded hotel card.

You Choose Hotels Based on Price

If your primary determining factor as to what property to stay in when you travel is based on price, a hotel credit card may not be ideal. The prices will fluctuate, and you might not always find the best deal with the company the card is co-branded with. This would leave you either spending more on a hotel than you would ordinarily to get card rewards or not using your card enough to justify the annual fee.

You Don’t Spend Many Nights a Year in a Hotel

Some hotel credit cards will include an annual fee, and it can be hundreds of dollars a year, depending on the card. If you’re someone who stays in a hotel often, the perks and things like free nights and elite status that come with the card can easily justify that fee. Otherwise, you may be paying more on the annual fee than you’re getting in value from having the card.

You Rarely Travel to the Same Place More Than Once

If you often travel to the same destination, then a co-branded card can be a good option because you know your preferred hotel chain will be available. If you rarely travel to the same place more than once, you have to make sure you’re choosing a card co-branded with a hotel chain that has a wide global footprint. Otherwise, you could find that you have trouble booking hotels from that brand, depending on your destination.

If your schedule isn’t flexible — for example, if you have kids in school — a hotel card might not be optimal. Many times there are blackout dates and limitations on when you can travel when you redeem points.

 8 Best Hotel Credit Cards

If you know you are loyal to a hotel chain and you’d like to experience significant perks, the following are some of the best hotel credit cards available.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card

  • Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card
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    Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card: Best for Frequent Hilton Travelers Who Want a Status Bump
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    • Basics: The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card is good for the moderate to frequent Hilton traveler. You’ll earn 12X Hilton Honors bonus points for each dollar you spend on your card on a hotel or resort within the Hilton property portfolio. Earn 6X points on eligible purchases made at restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets in the U.S. and 3X points for every dollar spent on everything else. You receive complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Status with the card, and you can earn Diamond Status if you spend $40,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year. These status upgrades make it a good option for someone who typically stays at a Hilton property but might not otherwise have the opportunity to get Gold Status.
    • Pros: The annual fee on the Surpass Card is a low $95, which is easily offset by perks like the Free Weekend Night Reward, available if you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year. It’s also offset by the Priority Pass Select perk, which includes ten free lounge visits each Priority Pass Membership year that you’re enrolled with the card.
    • Cons: If you want to redeem for anything outside of hotel stays, you’re going to get minimal value for your points. According to some cardholders, there is also a tendency for hotels to rebrand their standard rooms and say they’re premium rooms, and then you pay a lot more points that you theoretically should for that room.
    • Welcome Offer

      130,000 points with $2,000 spend in the first three months.

    • Annual Fee

      $95

    • Perks

      • Complimentary Gold Status
      • Free weekend night reward with $15,000 annual spend on card
      • Upgrade to Diamond Status with $40,000 annual spend on card
      • 10 free annual visits to participating Priority Pass lounges every year
      • No foreign transaction fee

Hilton Honors Credit Card from American Express

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    Hilton Honors Credit Card from American Express: Best No Annual Fee Hotel Card
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    • Basics: The Hilton Honors Credit Card from American Express lets you dip your toe into the world of hotel co-branded cards without having to pay an annual fee. It’s a good card for newbies to the world of hotel rewards credit cards. Cardholders earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar they spend on eligible purchases with their card at a property that’s part of the Hilton portfolio. Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar spent at restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets in the U.S. and 3X points on all other purchases. Complimentary Silver Status comes with the card and if you spend $20,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year you may be upgraded to Hilton Honors Gold status. After spending $1,000 in purchases in the first three months of card membership, you earn 80,000 Hilton Honors bonus points.
    • Pros: The primary perk of the Hilton Honors Credit Card is the fact there’s no annual fee. There’s no foreign transaction fee and a high rewards rate with this card as well.
    • Cons: The perks that come with the Hilton Honors Card from American Express are minimal. There aren’t many luxury travel perks or added bonuses that come with the card, but you don’t have to pay the annual fee or jump through spending hoops to make sure it’s offset either.
    • Welcome Offer

      80,000 points with $1,000 spend in the first three months.

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • Perks

      • Complimentary Silver Status
      • Upgrade to Gold Status with $20,000 annual spend on card
      • No foreign transaction fee

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Visa Signature Credit Card

  • marriott bonvoy boundless
    Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Visa Signature Credit Card: Best for Marriott Fans and Certain Airline Travelers
    • Basics: The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Visa Signature Card is a good mid-level hotel credit card. It offers value if you book Marriott properties, and benefits include things like free breakfast and upgrades to suites. If you fly Korean Air, Alaska Airlines or Japan Airlines, you may also get good value for transferring points. Earn unlimited 6X points for every dollar spent at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy and 2X points for every dollar spent on other purchases. There is a $95 annual fee.
    • Pros: Get automatic Silver Elite Status with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card, and a free night award every year after your anniversary as a cardholder. This means you can earn a one-night hotel stay with properties of redemption levels up to 35,000 points. For a limited time, earn 100,000 bonus points if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months and 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year. You can transfer your points not only to three airlines above, but there’s also a 3:1 ratio on redemption at more than 40 airline partners total.
    • Cons: As is the case with other Bonvoy-branded cards, you may find redemption at the properties complex because there are limitations on rewards-eligible rooms at some properties. There are also different reward categories. You can also only use one of the main perks, the free night certificate, if there’s a standard room available at your hotel of choice.
    • Welcome Offer

      100,000 bonus points with $3,000 spend within first three months from opening account.

    • Annual Fee

      $95

    • Perks

      • Free night award (valued up to 35,000 points) given every anniversary of opening your account
      • Automatic Silver Status
      • Upgrade to Gold Status with $35,000 annual spend on card
      • 15 Elite Night Credits per year
      • No foreign transaction fee

The World of Hyatt Credit Card

  • world of hyatt credit card 2020
    The World of Hyatt Credit Card: Best for Someone Who Stays at a Hyatt at Least Once a Year
    • Basics: Since the World of Hyatt Credit Card has only a $95 annual fee, it could be a card worth considering even if you only spend one or two nights at an eligible property a year. You get an annual free night certificate on any Category 1-4 Hyatt properties, so that makes up for the annual fee, and you can also earn a second free night if you spend $15,000 in a year, which is a lower threshold than many other hotel cards. Earn nine points per dollar spent on Hyatt stays and experiences, including restaurant and spa spending. Earn two points per dollar spent on local transit, dining out, and flights purchased directly from airlines. You can also earn two points per dollar for fitness club and gym membership spending.
    • Pros: There is the potential to earn up to 50,000 bonus points, which could be enough to get ten nights free at a Hyatt Category 1 hotel. First, earn 25,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 within the first three months of opening an account. Then, you can potentially earn another 25,000 bonus points once you spend $6,000 in the first six months after opening your account. The World of Hyatt Card can put you closer to hard-to-earn Hyatt Elite Status, of which there are five tiers. You get automatic Discoverist status when you receive this card, so that means a 10% bonus on points you earn on certain room rates and availability-based upgrades. There are waived resort fees on free night awards and expedited check-in along with late check-out, when available.
    • Cons: There are a relatively small number of Hyatt properties available around the world, so you’re limited in that aspect. There are also no worthwhile or valuable ways to redeem points outside of hotel spending or upgrades.
    • Welcome Offer

      25,000 bonus points with $3,000 spend within first three months from opening account plus an additional 25,000 bonus points with $6,000 total spend within first six months from opening account.

    • Annual Fee

      $95

    • Perks

      • Automatic Elite Status
      • Free night at certain Hyatt properties each cardmember anniversary year
      • Additional free night at certain Hyatt properties with $15,000 annual spend on the card
      • 5 qualifying night credits per year
      • 2 additional qualifying night credits with every additional $5,000 in spending
      • No foreign transaction fee

IHG Rewards Club Travelers Credit Card

  • IHG Rewards Club Travelers Credit Card
    IHG Rewards Club Travelers Club Credit Card: Best for Moderate IGH Travelers
    • Basics: The IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card earns you 15X points when you spend at IHG Hotels and resorts and combine your card benefits with your IHG Rewards Club benefits. You can earn 5X points when you stay at any hotel that’s part of the IHG portfolio and 10X points if you’re an IHG Rewards Club member. Earn 2X points for every dollar spent on groceries, gas, and dining out.
    • Pros: There is no annual fee, and the points you earn with the IHG Rewards Club Traveler Card don’t expire as long as your card is active. You can redeem for reward nights as well as other travel purchases, and there aren’t blackout dates on reward nights. Earn IHG Rewards Club Gold Elite benefits if you spend $10,000 on purchases with your card every calendar year. Enjoy extended check-out and free Internet as a cardmember as well.
    • Cons: If you want to redeem points for anything outside of reward nights, expect to get a minimal value and the rewards chart for IHG is frequently devalued.
    • Welcome Offer

      Expired Offer -- 60,000 bonus points with $2,000 spend within first three months from opening account.

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • Perks

      • Free reward night upon any stay of 4 or more nights purchased with points
      • No foreign transaction fee

IHG Rewards Club Premier Card

  • IHG Rewards Club Premier Card
    IHG Rewards Club Premier Card: Best for Consistent IHG Travelers
    • Basics: The IHG Rewards Club Premier Card is a Chase card that gives up to 25 points earned per dollar spent when you stay at IHG hotels. You can also earn an additional 10X points if you’re an IHG Rewards Club member and 5X points with Platinum Elite Status, which is a benefit of the card. Earn 2X points per dollar on purchases at restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations, and one point per dollar on everything else.
    • Pros: When you have the IHG Rewards Club Premier Card, you get an anniversary night after each yearly anniversary as a cardmember. If you redeem points for a stay of four nights or more, you can earn a fourth reward night. The current new cardmember bonus is 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in purchases in the first three months after opening an account, and the annual fee is only $89 (waived for the first year), which is easy to offset with perks of the card.
    • Cons: As is the case with the majority of hotel rewards cards, if you want to redeem points outside of IHG purchases, there is no real good value and there are limits on the inventory of available rewards options.
    • Welcome Offer

      140,000 bonus points with $3,000 spend within first three months from opening account.

    • Annual Fee

      $89, waived for the first year.

    • Perks

      • Automatic Platinum Elite Status
      • Up to $100 credit every 4 years for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓
      • Free reward night each cardmember anniversary year
      • Free reward night upon any stay of 4 or more nights purchased with points
      • No foreign transaction fee

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card

  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
    Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card: Best for Infrequent Marriott Travelers
    • Basics: The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card lets you earn six Marriott Bonvoy Points for each dollar spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. You can earn three Marriott Bonvoy points when you book flights directly with airlines or at U.S. restaurants, and two points per dollar on other Marriott Bonvoy points for all other purchases. There is a $450 annual fee, but you wouldn’t have to travel that often to make up for this with the card. You could stay at a Marriott property just once or twice a year, and you’d find that it offset the fee.
    • Pros: With the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card, your points never expire, there are no blackouts and there are no limits on the points you can earn. You can transfer points to different airline partners at a ratio of 1:1 and redemption options include not only hotel stays and room upgrades but also vacation packages, cruises, airfare, gift cards and more. The Marriott Bonvoy portfolio is the largest in the world. Earn up to $300 in statement credits for each year of your Card Membership that you can use on Marriott Bonvoy eligible purchases, and you earn one free night every year after your account anniversary. Once you make $75,000 in eligible purchases in a calendar year, earn Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status.
    • Cons: As is the case with other hotel points, Marriott points are inflated. You can only redeem your points for travel purchases through the Marriott rewards program, and if you were to redeem outside of hotel stays, you’re going to find you don’t get a good value.
    • Welcome Offer

      75,000 points with $3,000 spend in the first three months.

    • Welcome Offer

      $450

    • Welcome Offer

      • Complimentary Gold Elite Status
      • Upgrade to Platinum Elite Status with $75,000 annual spend on card
      • Free night reward each card anniversary year
      • $300 hotel statement credit from participating Marriott Bonvoy properties
      • No foreign transaction fee

Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

  • Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
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    Hilton Honors American Express Business Card: Best Business Hotel Card
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    • Basics: The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card is one of the top-rated hotel cards. The card features 12X points when you stay at hotels and resorts that are part of the Hilton portfolio. There are 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points available on some travel and business purchases, and the card gets you complimentary Gold Status. The 6X points earning opportunity is available if you spend at U.S. restaurants, book flights directly with airlines or by using Amex travel, and if you rent cars booked directly from certain car rental companies. You also earn impressive 3X points on all other purchases with this card. If you make $3,000 in eligible purchases in the first three months after opening a new card account, you can earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points.
    • Pros: The The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card excels in quite a few ways. First, there are the options to earn a high number of points for spending even outside of Hilton purchases. The card includes a Free Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors with $15,000 in eligible purchases made in the first year of getting your card, and you can also earn a second Weeknight Reward if you spend $60,000 on your card in a calendar year. You get ten free visits to Priority Pass-eligible airport lounges each year, and if you spend $40,000 on your card in a calendar year you get bumped up to Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the following calendar year. The Hilton Honors program also covers more than 5,600 hotels in 100 countries around the world, so the footprint is extensive.
    • Cons: There are a few downsides to consider with the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, primarily as far as points redemption. First, Hilton points are worth only about half of what other loyalty points are worth. You can only redeem your points through the loyalty program website even though you can redeem to different hotel and airline partners. If you do redeem for anything outside of Hilton hotel stays, however, you are not getting a good value. There is also a $95 annual fee.
    • Welcome Offer

      130,000 points with $3,000 spend in the first three months.

    • Annual Fee

      $95

    • Perks

      • Complimentary Gold Status
      • Free weekend night reward with $15,000 annual spend on card
      • Upgrade to Diamond Status with $40,000 annual spend on card
      • Second weekend night reward with $60,000 annual spend on card
      • 10 free annual visits to participating Priority Pass lounges every year
      • No foreign transaction fee

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Ashley Sutphin Watkins

Ashley is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill where she studied journalism. She has worked as a journalist, content creator, and copywriter for nearly a decade, with a focus on personal finance, real estate, and healthcare. She now lives in Knoxville with her husband and young kids. During her free time, she enjoys traveling and enjoying the outdoors in East Tennessee.

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