While a hotel credit card might not make sense if you like to switch it up between Marriotts, Hiltons and smaller properties, you should still get a card that earns you bonus points for your hotel stays — and luckily, there are some great options that you’ll want not just for hotel spending, but for general travel purchases as well. We also take a look at the best credit cards for hotel elite status, for earning points at hotels and those with no annual fee.
In This Post The best hotel credit cards of 2019 Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express® Card: Best overall for Marriott Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Best low-cost for Marriott Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best for Hotels.com Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Best mid-tier card for earning on hotels Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best premium card for earning on hotels Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express: Best overall for Hilton Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Best low-cost card for Hilton The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for luxury hotels The World of Hyatt Credit Card: Best for Hyatt Research Methodology
These card picks are based on numerous criteria: the points program value, welcome bonus, perks and more. Popular features on some of these hotel credit cards include complimentary elite status, free award nights and statement credits. Be sure to read the fine print for each offer.
Also, when choosing the right hotel credit card, always take into account the spending requirements for the welcome bonus, since you won’t want to miss out on that. You should only apply if you’re able to comfortably meet the required spend.
Below you’ll find a detailed analysis of each individual hotel credit card on the list, including the annual fee, welcome bonus, earning rates, complimentary elite status and more in-depth specifics.
Best hotel credit cards Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex
Annual fee: $450 (see rates and fees)
Welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.
Earning rates: 6 points per dollar at Marriott properties, 3 points per dollar at US restaurants and on flights booked directly with the airline, and 2 points per dollar on everything else.
Elite status: Enjoy complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold status with your card, and earn Marriott Bonvoy Platinum status after making $75,000 in eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year. Each calendar year you also receive credit for 15 nights toward the next level of Marriott Bonvoy elite status (say, if you already reach Gold status based on your stays but are within shouting distance of Platinum status without having to meet the $75,000 spending requirement).
Other benefits: Each year on your cardmember anniversary, you’ll receive a free night award worth up to 50,000 points. Each year you also receive up to $300 in statement credits for eligible purchases (including room rates) at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, and enjoy up to $100 in credits for on-property charges when booking stays of two nights or more at Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis properties. Cardmembers also get Priority Pass Select lounge access and a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit worth up to $100 every four years. Card holders can enroll for free in the Amex Boingo Preferred plan with unlimited access to over one million Wi-Fi hotspots around the world. However, as of July 1, 2020, the plan will no longer be offered as a benefit to cardmembers.
Analysis: If you want a card that earns you bonus points for booking Marriott stays and some elite perks, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex is worth a close look. The card has a $450 annual fee but the annual $300 Marriott statement credit essentially lowers that to $150.
In addition to earning you 6x points on Marriott stays, this card offers a free night award at properties that cost up to 50,000 points per night each year after your account anniversary. You also get complimentary Gold elite status, which comes with a few benefits like a 25% bonus on points and space-available upgrades to enhanced rooms, and you can upgrade to Platinum status after spending $75,000 on the card in a calendar year.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card Review
APPLY HERE: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card
Annual fee: $95
Welcome bonus: Limited Time Offer: earn 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
Earning rates: 6 points per dollar on eligible Marriott purchases and 2 points per dollar on everything else.
Elite status: Automatic Silver elite status, plus 15 elite night credits, each calendar year toward reaching a higher status. Reach Gold status by spending $35,000 or more on your card in a calendar year.
Other benefits: Receive a free night award every year on your account anniversary when you renew your card, worth up to 35,000 points. Enjoy free premium in-room Wi-Fi (beginning in August).
Analysis: This card earns the same amount on Marriott stays as its premium counterpart, which is an effective 4.8% based on TPG’s valuations. While you are more limited with where you can use its annual award night, you can still get terrific value from it. Just don’t expect benefits like suite upgrades and free breakfast with the Silver elite status that the card comes with.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card Review
APPLY HERE: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)
Welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 within three months from account opening.
Earning rates: 10 miles per dollar on Hotels.com bookings, 2 miles per dollar on all other purchases
Elite status: N/A
Other benefits: This card offers a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit up to $100 every four years and waives foreign transaction fees.
Analysis: 10x miles on hotel stays booked and paid through Hotels.com, specifically at the Hotels.com/venture URL, is one of one of the best, if not the best, bonuses on hotel spend on any credit card in the market today. That’s equal to 10% back when redeeming miles at a fixed value to cover travel purchases or an effective 14% when you transfer your miles to airline partners. But it gets even better than that — when you pair this bonus with the one free night that the Hotels.com Rewards program offers you for every 10 nights you book through the site, you’re looking at a total of 20-24% back on hotel stays. The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card also offers 10x miles when booked and paid via Hotels.com/venture — and keep in mind with both that this bonus is available through January 2020.
This card won’t be the best choice for everyone booking hotel stays, as making purchases through online travel agencies (OTAs) such as Hotels.com generally disqualifies you from earning night and/or stay credits toward hotel elite status. And you might not enjoy benefits that come with any current status you hold on stays booked through OTAs, either. But if you’re simply looking for the best possible return on hotel bookings, you can’t beat the Venture and VentureOne.
Capital One Venture Card Review
APPLY HERE: Capital One Venture Rewards Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card You can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott and redeem for award stays.
Annual fee: $95
Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That’s $750 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Earning rates: Earn 2x points on travel and dining at restaurants and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide
Elite status: N/A
Other benefits: In addition to waiving foreign transaction fees, this card offers primary rental car coverage, up to $500 in trip delay reimbursement if you’re delayed more than 12 hours or overnight, up to $10,000 in trip cancellation and interruption insurance and up to $100 per day for up to 5 days in baggage delay reimbursement if your bag is delayed more than six hours.
Analysis: If you frequently spend on travel — in general, not just at hotels — and dining, and you want to use your points to book travel with partners like British Airways and Hyatt, a Chase Sapphire card is a no-brainer. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a great pick for newbies since it has a lower annual fee and still earns valuable bonus points on broad travel and dining categories. It allows you to transfer the points you earn to nine airline and three hotel loyalty programs.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Review
APPLY HERE: Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Annual fee: $450
Welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That’s $750 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Earning rates: Earn 3x points on travel and dining at restaurants and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide
Elite status: N/A
Other benefits: Get a $300 annual travel credit that can be used toward a wide variety of purchases, Priority Pass lounge access, application fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck (up to $100) and a plethora of Visa Infinite Perks, including primary rental car insurance, industry-leading trip cancellation and delay coverage, lost luggage reimbursement, a concierge service and access to the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection.
Analysis: The Chase Sapphire Reserve has the same bonus categories of travel and dining as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, but it earns 3x points on these purchases (excluding $300 travel credit), and it includes several more perks like a $300 annual travel credit and an application fee credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. Unlike the Chase Sapphire Preferred which has the ability to redeem points for 1.25 cents apiece through the Chase travel portal, the Reserve lets you redeem points for 1.5 cents apiece. It has a $450 annual fee, but that’s effectively lowered to $150 when you factor in the $300 travel credit
Chase Sapphire Reserve Review
APPLY HERE: Chase Sapphire Reserve
Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express
Annual fee: $450 (see rates and fees)
Welcome bonus: Earn 150,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months.
Earning rates: 14 points per dollar at Hilton hotels; 7 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, car rentals booked directly from select car rentals and at US restaurants; and 3 points per dollar on all other eligible purchases.
Elite status: Enjoy automatic Hilton Honors Diamond status.
Other benefits: One weekend night reward every year after renewal plus an additional night at eligible properties after you spend $60,000 on purchases on your card in a calendar year. Enjoy up to $250 in statement credits each year of card membership for eligible purchases at participating Hilton Resorts. Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $250 per calendar year in statement credits for incidental fees such as checked baggage and flight change fees. Get up to $100 in credits for qualifying charges at participating Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotels & Resorts on two-night-minimum stays. Unlimited Priority Pass lounge access for card holder and two guests.
Analysis: Hilton released three new cards with Amex in early 2018, and the Aspire is now the most rewarding option in the cobranded lineup. It earns you the most Hilton points per dollar on paid stays with the brand (14x points), and also offers some pretty sweet annual travel credits. You get a $250 Hilton resort statement credit each year for eligible on-property purchases, plus an annual credit of up to $250 for incidental airline fees such as baggage charges. Other benefits include complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status, a free weekend night each year upon your account renewal and the ability to earn an additional free weekend night by spending $60,000 on the card in a calendar year.
Hilton Honors Aspire Card Hub
APPLY HERE: Hilton Honors Aspire Card
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card
Annual Fee: $95 (see rates and fees)
Welcome bonus: 125,000 Hilton Honors Points after you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months.
Earning rates: 12 points per dollar at Hilton hotels; 6 points per dollar at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations; and 3 points per dollar on all other eligible purchases.
Elite status: Automatic Hilton Gold status and the opportunity to earn Diamond status by spending $40,000 a year on the card.
Other benefits: Earn a weekend night reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your card in a calendar year. Get 10 Priority Pass lounge visits every year.
Analysis: This is the card to have if you can’t quite justify the high fee on the Hilton Amex Aspire. Gold status with the program is among the most valuable mid-tier hotel statuses out there, getting you an 80% points bonus, no resort fees and a fifth night free during reward stays, space-available upgrades, free in-room and lobby Wi-Fi, late check-out, free breakfast and two free bottles of water. The weekend night certificate can easily get a few hundred dollars of value and the 10 free visits to Priority Pass lounges are just enough for occasional travelers. Plus, you’re still getting a very solid return of 7.2% on your Hilton stays plus 3.6% back on your dining, grocery and gas purchases.
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card Review
APPLY HERE: Hilton Honors Surpass Card
The Platinum Card from American Express
Annual fee: $550 (see rates and fees)
Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months.
Earning rates: Earn 5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines and through American Express travel, plus prepaid hotel bookings through amextravel.com and Fine Hotels & Resorts. Earn 1 point per dollar on everything else.
Elite status: Cardmembers can register for automatic Hilton Honors Gold status and Marriott Bonvoy Gold status.
Other benefits: Almost too many to include. Access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass, Escapes and Airspace lounge lounges, plus Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta. Up to a $100 fee credit for Global Entry or an $85 fee credit for TSA PreCheck every 4 years. Up to $200 annual airline fee statement credits on incidental fees charged by the airline you select. Uber VIP status and up to $200 annual Uber credit split into monthly $15 credits for US rides plus a bonus $20 in December. Up to a $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit split into two $50 statement credits for the two halves of the year. Complimentary memberships in Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, Avis Preferred and National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive. Access to Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts bookings and perks. Discounted premium tickets via the Amex International Airlines Program.
Analysis: 5x points on hotel stays is a very solid return, but what makes the card stand out is the perks it offers at luxury hotels booked through the Fine Hotels & Resorts program. Every FHR stay comes with benefits such as complimentary room upgrades when available; noon check-in; 4pm checkout; on-site food and beverage credits and more. At select hotels in the Amex FHR program, you can also enjoy a free night — usually the third or fourth — and earn hotel points as per usual.
On other hotel stays you’ll enjoy the benefits of Gold status from the Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy loyalty programs. Both of these hotel elite statuses entitle you to some solid on-property benefits, such as late checkout and bonus earnings on stays. Just note that prepaid stays booked through Amex Travel (not FHR) typically don’t get hotel points or elite benefits so you’ll need to book direct to take advantage of your status.
American Express Platinum Review
APPLY HERE: Platinum Card from American Express
World of Hyatt Credit Card Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo courtesy of Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires)
Annual fee: $95
Welcome bonus: 25,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months. Plus earn an additional 25,000 points after you spend $6,000 total on purchases within the first six months.
Earning rates: 4 points per dollar at Hyatt properties; 2 points per dollar on local transit and commuting, at restaurants, on airline tickets and on fitness club and gym memberships; 1 point per dollar everywhere else
Elite status: Discoverist status automatically, though you also receive five qualifying night credits toward the next level of elite status each year and the opportunity to earn two additional night credits for each $5,000 spent on the card.
Other benefits: One free night at a Category 1-4 hotel each year after your cardmember anniversary plus a second free night at a Category 1-4 hotel each year when you spend $15,000 on the card during your cardmember year.
Analysis: This card comes with a modest annual fee which you can easily recoup when you redeem the anniversary free night, valid at category 1-4 hotels. Even most of Hyatt’s Category 1 properties sell for about $95 a night, so this card is break-even at the very least.
When it comes to bonus categories, you’ll earn 4x points per dollar on purchases at Hyatt. TPG values Hyatt points quite highly at 1.7 cents each, making this return worth a solid 6.8%. That’s a great return, though I personally would still opt to use a Chase Sapphire Reserve instead. Earning 3x points per dollar that could be transferred to Hyatt (or to United, or British Airways or Singapore…. get the idea?) is a better return to me than simply earning 4x Hyatt points.
The World of Hyatt Credit Card Review
APPLY HERE: World of Hyatt Credit Card
Best hotel credit cards for earning elite status
One of the hallmarks of hotel credit cards is offering some level of automatic elite status (not to mention annual free nights) as part of their benefits packages. Even cards that only confer status at the lower rungs might be well worth it for some travelers considering that it could otherwise take you 10-15 nights of paid stays to achieve starter status and perks like a shot at room upgrades, late check-out, or even a hint of preferential treatment.
Here’s a rundown of the best credit cards that come with hotel elite status within their cobranded hotel programs, or via partnerships. We’ve restricted our list to personal (not business) credit cards that are currently available for new applications.
Hotel Credit Card Annual Fee Automatic Status Spend to Status Hilton Honors Card from American Express $0 (see rates and fees) Hilton Silver Spend $20,000 for Gold Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card $95 Hilton Gold Spend $40,000 for Diamond Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card $450 Hilton Diamond World of Hyatt Credit Card $95 Hyatt Discoverist Earn 2 additional elite night credits per $5,000 spent
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant $450 Marriott Gold Spend $75,000 for Platinum Marriott Bonvoy Boundless $95 Marriott Silver Spend $35,000 for Gold Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature $75 Radisson Gold Radisson Rewards Visa Signature $50 Radisson Silver Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature
$75 Wyndham Platinum Wyndham Rewards Visa
$0 Wyndham Gold The Platinum Card $550 Hilton Gold, Marriott Gold Best credit cards for earning points at hotels
While the best credit card to use when booking a hotel varies heavily by which hotel chain you’re staying with, there’s another important theme to remember. Much of the value is in the eye of the beholder redeemer, so it’s up to you to look at your past redemption history and figure out which points will get you the most value. Remember that even if the hotel points appear to be the most valuable on paper, you’re sacrificing a lot of future flexibility by locking yourself into a single program.
With that in mind, here are the best credit cards to earn points when booking hotels.
Credit Card Bonus for Hotel Purchases Return on Spending (Based on TPG Valuations) Limitations Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card 10x 10-14% Must book and pay through Hotels.com/venture link The Platinum Card from American Express 5x 10% 5x only on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com or americanexpress.com/fhr Hilton Honors Amex Aspire 14x 8.4% 14x only at Hilton properties Hilton Honors Amex Surpass 12x 7.2% 12x only at Hilton properties World of Hyatt Credit Card 4x 7.2% 4x only at Hyatt properties Chase Sapphire Reserve 3x 6% None, although points earned on the card can be transferred to IHG Rewards Club, Marriott Bonvoy and World of Hyatt
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant 6x 4.8% 6x only at participating Marriott properties Marriott Bonvoy Boundless 6x 4.8% 6x only at participating Marriott properties Chase Sapphire Preferred 2x 4% None, although points earned on the card can be transferred to IHG Rewards Club, Marriott Bonvoy and World of Hyatt Best hotel credit cards with no annual fee
Between perks like automatic elite status, annual free night certificates and annual on-property credits, it’s easy to justify paying an annual fee for a hotel credit card. Still, the only way to keep out-of-pocket costs to $0 is by using card that has no annual fee. And fortunately, there are many no-annual-fee cards that still earn valuable rewards. For instance, the no-fee Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card and Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card both earn the same amount of points as their paid versions.
Credit Card BONUS FOR HOTEL PURCHASES RETURN ON SPENDING (BASED ON TPG VALUATIONS) LIMITATIONS Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card 10x 10-14% Must book and pay through Hotels.com/venture link Hilton Honors Card from American Express 7x 4.2% 7x only at participating Hilton properties Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card 3x 2.4% 3x only at participating Marriott properties Wyndham Rewards Visa 3x 3.3% 3x only at participating Wyndham properties Using hotel credit cards for family vacations
If you are eyeing a new hotel credit card for a big family vacation, the best hotel card options aren’t significantly different than for other groups of travelers. However, there are a few nuances based on where you want to go, if you’d like to extend elite status to everyone in the group and how much booking flexibility your crew requires. Here are a few of our top picks if you have a whole family along for the journey:
World of Hyatt Credit Card
Hyatt has an outstanding line-up of family-friendly resort destinations, such as the Grand Hyatt Kauai or the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point (with included waterpark). This means that having World of Hyatt points at the ready can make family vacation dreams a reality.
The Category 1–4 awards you receive on each cardmember anniversary (earn a second free night after spending $15,000 in a card member year) are also extremely valuable for family vacations and can be used in places like the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort near San Antonio, the Hyatt Place Keystone, and the Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach.
If you can use the spending you put on the card to get you closer to Hyatt Globalist status, your family vacations can become sweeter with club lounge access, potential suite upgrades, free breakfast, waived resort fees and more.
Grand Hyatt Kauai (Summer Hull / The Points Guy)
Hilton Honors Amex Aspire
Getting truly useful top-tier hotel elite status with just one credit card is very unusual, but the Hilton Diamond status that comes with the Hilton Amex Aspire can unlock Hilton lounge access, breakfast benefits and potential upgrades on Hilton stays all thanks to a credit card. When you have a whole family along, those perks are suddenly much more valuable. The annual fee on this card can look scary at first, but between the welcome bonus points, Diamond elite status and $500 in annual credits, this card is a winner when family vacations are on the agenda.
Hilton Waikoloa (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
If your family is extremely tied to a school calendar and can only travel during peak times, flexibility with your rewards is key. In that case, the Capital One Venture Cards is hard to beat. This card allows you to use your points at one cent per point against travel charges so your family can stay at an Airbnb, book a suite, or even a whole house and then use the points on the card to offset the charge. You can also earn 10x miles per dollar spent on bookings made via Hotels.com/Venture, so this is a great way to maximize your spending on non-chain properties and resorts at places like Disney World that don’t participate in traditional hotel loyalty programs.
If you spend even just a few nights per year with a particular chain, it can make sense to carry one of its cobranded hotel credit cards so you can enjoy the perks of being an elite when you travel. Many of the cards have reasonable annual fees that are more than made up for by the value card holders can reap from their complimentary elite status plus additional benefits like annual free nights, discounted award stays and bonus earning opportunities.
Even cards that only confer elite status at the lower rungs, like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless or the World of Hyatt Credit Card, might be well worth it for some travelers considering that it could otherwise take you 10-15 nights of paid stays to achieve starter status and perks like a shot at room upgrades, late check-out, or even a hint of preferential treatment.
We have detailed guides on the various status levels of the major hotel programs and what benefits you can expect at each tier.
Marriott Bonvoy Hilton Honors World of Hyatt IHG Rewards Club
If you don’t want to commit to one hotel chain, a card that earns transferable points, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, could be the best pick for you. It earns Ultimate Rewards points, which you can move over to Hyatt, IHG and Marriott to redeem toward award stays, so you have plenty of options. You’ll also earn 2 points per dollar on the card for a wide range of travel purchases and dining purchases, which equals a 4% return based on TPG’s valuations.
Finally, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card also offers a wide range of travel protection benefits and primary car rental insurance, which can save the day when you’re traveling. Note, however, that the Chase Sapphire Reserve card could be an even better pick for frequent travelers. And if you can stack the 10x miles on Hotels.com bookings with the one free night for every 10 nights through Hotels.com Rewards, the Capital One Venture Card could be a great option as well. Meanwhile if you stay at luxury hotels often, you won’t want to overlook The Platinum Card from American Express either.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Surpass Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express, please click here.
Additional reporting by Sarah Silbert, Ethan Steinberg and Eric Rosen. Featured photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy.
This is The Points Guy’s permanent page with the best currently available hotel credit cards, so you can bookmark it and check back regularly for updates. Keep in mind you may see some reader comments referring to older offers below.
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