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There are a lot of benefits to picking the right credit card if you are a frequent hotel guest. Whether you’ll be away from home for a month-long work assignment or if you have a few nights booked an upcoming family vacation, the right card could offer convenient perks, discounts, or rewards points. With so many credit cards out there, it’s hard to know which ones are worthwhile and which ones aren’t.
I’m a travel writer who has been writing about credit cards for the last six years and studying card benefits for many years longer, so I know this space well. Some chains have teamed up with credit card providers to offer points and cash back options that increase the value of your stay. Other banks have travel rewards cards that could make your time away from home a little more convenient. But, if you’re about to spend a few nights away from home, which card would be right for your situation?
We think these six cards are worth your consideration. All of them offer bonuses and benefits that save you money and can make your stay a little more convenient. These are the best credit cards we evaluated to optimize your hotel stay, in order.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
- IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
- Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express
- The World Of Hyatt Credit Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Best Overall: Chase Sapphire Preferred
If you are somewhat brand loyal, the Chase Sapphire Preferred can give you the option to stick with your hotel brand of choice while also providing quite a bit of flexibility. The card has a $95 annual fee which is not waived the first year.
Points: The Chase Sapphire Preferred has long been a favorite travel and hotel credit card for its great benefits and flexible points. Chase created a proprietary reward system called Ultimate Rewards points, and the Sapphire Preferred card offers 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on all travel and dining purchases and 1 Ultimate Reward point per dollar spent on everything else. Ultimate Rewards points can then be used to book hotels directly through Chase’s travel portal at a rate of 1.25 cents per point or points can be transferred to Ultimate Rewards partners like Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, and Marriott (plus a number of airline partners) where they won’t be worth a constant amount (but could be worth much more). If you just want the cash back, Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for cash at a rate of 1 point for $0.01.
Perks: The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers car rental insurance and doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. But the best perk might be peace of mind. The Sapphire Preferred offers trip delay insurance when your flights are delayed by 12 hours or more, or overnight, which can be a lifesaver when you have to pay for an expensive hotel at the last minute.
Learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred
Best Value: IHG Rewards Club Premier
If you stay at IHG hotels, which includes chains like Holiday Inn, InterContinental, and Kimpton, the Chase IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is a great option. It only has an $89 annual fee, but one benefit alone—the free night certificate—can easily cover the cost.
Points: In terms of earning points with your IHG credit card, you’ll get 10 IHG points per dollar spent at IHG hotels and 2 IHG points at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. All other purchases will earn 1 IHG point per dollar spent.
Additionally, with the IHG Rewards Club Premier card, you’ll get your fourth night free when you redeem your IHG points (in effect, a 25% discount). If you redeem IHG points for stays that are at least four nights, your savings will really add up!
Perks: The Chase IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card automatically gives you high-level Platinum Elite status with InterContinental Hotels Group. Platinum Elite gives you benefits like late checkout, 50% more points when you stay at IHG hotels, and room upgrades. Even though Platinum Elite isn’t the chain’s most elite hotel status, that late checkout especially can come in handy. The IHG Premier Card also offers a TSA PreCheck/Global Entry fee credit of up to $100 every four years when you charge your application fee to your card and doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.
Finally, there’s one perk that elevates this card to our value pick. Every year you’ll be given a credit for a free night that can be used for rooms that cost up to 40,000 points, which can easily be worth $200 per night. Just by using your free night certificate each year, this card could pay for itself.
Learn more about the IHG Rewards Club Premier
How We Evaluated
My name is Caroline Lupini and I’ve been a travel writer covering credit cards for the last six years. When picking the right cards for this list, I considered major credit cards that are co-branded with hotels, cards with points that can be transferred to hotels, and cards that offer bonus points or perks at hotels. The best cards were chosen based on the value of rewards (both points and perks), fees, and general accessibility.
Things to Know About Credit Cards
1. You only need to stay in a hotel one night to get your money’s worth, at least with some of these cards. While all of these cards come with an annual fee, some cards offer perks each year that are worth more than the fee total. The IHG Rewards Club Premier card is probably the best example of this.
2. APR rates and credit limits vary based on your individual credit. Credit limits and interest rates for each card are determined based on each cardholder’s personal situation, so we did not take that information into account when evaluating these cards. One thing to remember is that if you pay your card off in full every month, you will not be charged interest.
3. Banks have final say on who they accept for a credit card. These recommendations were put together with the assumption that applicants would have average credit or above. That being said, banks decide who they will issue credit cards to using criteria including, but not always limited to, an individual’s credit score when evaluating each applicant.
Other Credit Cards We Recommend
Hilton Honors Aspire from American Express
If you’re loyal to Hilton properties—which includes brands like Doubletree, Embassy Suites, and Waldorf-Astoria—or find yourself staying at a Hilton hotel at least once a year, the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express is a tough option to beat. This card does come with a hefty $450 annual fee that isn’t waived the first year, but it is packed full of benefits that could make it worth it if you stay at Hilton hotels.
Points: The Hilton Aspire Card will help you rack up Hilton points that you can redeem for free stays. For every dollar you spend at Hilton hotels, you’ll earn 14 Hilton points per dollar spent at Hilton hotels, 7 Hilton points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with the airline or through American Express’ travel portal, car rentals, and at US restaurants. All other purchases will earn 3 Hilton Points per dollar spent.
Perks: First off, just by having the Aspire Card, Hilton will give you their top-tier Diamond status. Hilton Diamond status comes with quite a few perks including no resort fees on award stays (which could save $25 or more per night at Hilton Resorts), premium Wi-Fi that’s faster than the free option that everyone gets, late checkout, complimentary breakfast, Executive Lounge access at the hotel where there will often be free drinks and snacks, and complimentary room upgrades when available. Just getting free breakfast could save you $30 per person, per day on a stay at a mid-level Hilton property.
In addition to Diamond status, every year you’ll get a statement credit of up to $250 when you spend $250 or more on your Hilton Aspire Card at Hilton Resorts. Every year when you renew your card, you will also be given a free weekend night award certificate and you have the ability to earn another one if you use your card to spend $60,000 within a calendar year.
Learn more about for the Hilton Honors Aspire American Express
World of Hyatt
The World of Hyatt Credit Card is a good option for Hyatt loyalists, those looking for a good once-a-year vacation card, and everything in-between. The card comes with a $95 annual fee that is not waived the first year.
Points: We’ll start off with the goods: Hyatt points are extremely valuable—much more so than other types of hotel points. This is because Hyatt’s most expensive hotels cost only 40,000 points per night while other hotel chains charge 80,000 or more points per night for their top hotels. Hyatt also offers an option where you can redeem a lower number of points and some cash that can help stretch your points even further while still offering a high-value redemption.
Hyatt hotels have relatively low hotel prices, so you should be able to rack up enough points pretty quickly and start redeeming for free nights. The Hyatt Card earns 4 Hyatt points per dollar spent at Hyatt hotels and 2 Hyatt points per dollar on local transit, commuting, restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, and fitness club and gym memberships. All other purchases earn 1 Hyatt point per dollar spent.
Perks: Every year when you renew your card, you’ll automatically be given a free hotel night that is valid at low to mid-tier Hyatt properties. Keep in mind that this doesn’t include Hyatt’s best properties, so it might not be as useful if you want to splurge on your vacation. Plus you’ll get automatic Hyatt Discoverist status earning you a 10% bonus on points earned at Hyatt hotels and access to faster premium internet at no additional cost when you stay with Hyatt.
If you’re loyal to Hyatt brands, which include chains with the Hyatt name like Hyatt Regency as well as luxury brands Andaz and Miraval, you’ll be happy to know that having and spending on your Hyatt card can also help you earn status beyond the Discoverist status that comes with the card. Every year, you will automatically be given five nights toward qualifying for a higher level of elite status with Hyatt and you can earn two additional night credits toward status for every $5,000 you spend on your card. Higher levels of elite status offer additional benefits like free breakfast, more points earning at hotels, and better room upgrades.
Learn more about the World of Hyatt Credit Card
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant
If you stay at any Marriott hotel in any given year, there’s a good chance that you’ll find this card to be worthwhile. The Bonvoy card comes with a $450 annual fee, which is not waived the first year.
Points: As far as earning points goes, you’ll get 6 Marriott points per dollar spent at Marriott Bonvoy hotels and 3 Marriott points per dollar on flights booked directly with the airline and at US restaurants. All other purchases will earn 2 Marriott points per dollar spent.
Perks: There are two main benefits of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card that will easily help cover its annual fee. Every year, you’ll receive up to a $300 statement credit for eligible purchases at Marriott hotels, which, in addition to traditional Marriott brands, include the St. Regis, Ritz-Carlton, and W hotels. Eligible purchases include food, drinks, and even the room rate itself. Basically, this $300 statement credit acts as a $300 rebate, refunding you on Marriott purchases until the $300 max is reached. Each year on your account anniversary, you’ll also be given a free night stay certificate that is valid on rooms costing up to 50,000 points. The Bonvoy Brilliant card also offers cardholders complimentary Marriott Gold status with benefits like 25% bonus points on stays, enhanced room upgrades, and 2 PM late checkout. If you spend $75,000 per year on your card (an average of $6,250 per month), you’ll be upgraded to Marriott Platinum status.
Learn more about the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express
Capital One Venture Rewards
The Capital One Venture card is a solid all-around travel card, and it’s a great credit card if you’re not loyal to a specific hotel brand. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year.
Points: This card offers 10 miles per dollar spent on all reservations made through Venture partner Hotels.com and via the dedicated link Hotels.com/Venture—that’s a 10% return—and two miles per dollar (or 2%) spent on all other purchases.
And needing to book through Hotels.com isn’t a bad thing at all. Hotels.com has its own loyalty program and it’s a pretty nice loyalty program. After you stay 10 nights, you’ll get a certificate for a hotel stay that is valued at the average cost of those 10 nights – effectively an additional 10% back. As of now, the Venture Card’s partnership with Hotels.com is slated to run through January 2020, but hopefully, that will get renewed.
Perks: In addition to offering you a great return on your hotel purchases, the Venture Card also offers a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit of up to $100 when you charge your application fee on your card, no foreign transaction fees, and car rental insurance.
Learn more about the Capital One Venture Rewards Card
When you sign up for one of these cards, Reviewed may receive an affiliate commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Guy Network.
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