Edited by: Juan Ruiz
The 14 Best Hotel Credit Cards in September 2023
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If you have a preference for one hotel brand over another — and many travelers do — you’ll find immense value in carrying that hotel’s branded credit card.
A hotel rewards credit card is the fastest way to earn hotel rewards points and gain elite status to ensure an elevated experience during your hotel stays. Over and above the on-site benefits offered with hotel-branded cards, you may also enjoy free hotel nights at renewal and earn additional free nights by hitting specific spending levels.
To illustrate the value of these rewards cards, we’ve put together a breakdown of our choices for the best hotel-branded personal and business credit cards, including cards that offer complimentary elite status and free nights. If you’re not loyal to a specific hotel brand, we have you covered with recommendations as well.
Best Personal Hotel Credit Cards
Best Personal Hotel Credit Cards Comparison Table
|Card||Welcome Bonus and Annual Fee||Hotel Rewards and Benefits|
Best Personal Hotel Credit Cards To Maximize Your Rewards
One fantastic card when it comes to automatic elite status is the Hilton Aspire card, which offers Hilton Honors top Diamond elite status just for holding the card. Usually, you need to stay 60 nights in a year to qualify for Diamond status, and it offers perks like executive lounge access, complimentary suite upgrades, a daily food and beverage credit, 100% bonus points on stays, and more.
The Hilton Aspire card’s Free Night Reward is uncapped, meaning it can be used at virtually any Hilton hotel worldwide. Given that many of the very best Hilton hotels can cost up to 95,000 points per night, these Free Night Rewards can be very useful!
The World of Hyatt card is the perfect option for Hyatt loyalists as it helps you earn more points on all of your Hyatt stays and gives you a free night certificate each year. It also offers automatic Hyatt Discoverist status and helps you achieve higher levels of elite status by offering 5 complimentary Elite Night Credits and another 2 for every $5,000 spent on the card.
Another great option is the annual free night award offered on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, as it can be used at any Marriott hotel costing up to 50,000 points per night. While Marriott Bonvoy no longer offers an award chart, you can find many fantastic hotels worldwide that fall within this pricing. Further, Marriott Bonvoy will allow you to apply up to 15,000 points on top of your Free Night Award if you wish to use it at a more expensive property costing up to 65,000 points per night.
If you regularly stay at IHG hotels, then the IHG Premier card is the perfect complement. Thanks to the automatic Platinum Elite status, it offers late checkout, early check-in, and complimentary room upgrades. Cardholders also get their fourth night free on award nights, which is 1 night better than the fifth-night free perk offered with Hilton and Marriott.
Those who frequent Marriott hotels would benefit from a card like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card thanks to its 6x points per $1 on spend, automatic Silver Elite status, and annual free night certificate. When you factor all of those benefits together, they can more than make up for the card’s annual fee.
The Hilton Surpass card is great for helping people earn extra Hilton points on all of their stays, plus it offers automatic Hilton Honors Gold status which offers space-available room upgrades, a daily food and beverage credit, a fifth night free on award stays, and more.
Best Personal Cards for Earning Rewards at Any Hotel
Best Personal Cards for Earning Rewards at Any Hotel Comparison Table
|Card||Welcome Bonus and Annual Fee||Hotel Rewards and Benefits|
Best Personal Cards for Earning Rewards at Any Hotel To Maximize Your Rewards
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is another stellar option with its 3x Ultimate Rewards points on all travel purchases, 10x points on hotels booked through the Chase travel portal, complimentary Priority Pass lounge membership, and a 50% boost in value when redeeming Ultimate Rewards points for travel. If you spend a lot on hotels, you’ll find that this card will serve you well — both on the earnings side and when it comes time to redeem your points. You’ll also receive a $300 annual travel credit (which can be used for hotels) just for having the card.
Another fantastic option is the Capital One Venture X card thanks to the $300 in annual travel credits on bookings made through Capital One Travel, 10x Capital One miles per $1 on hotels booked through Capital One Travel, and 2x miles per $1 on all other non-bonused purchases made with the card. Plus, the card offers access to Priority Pass lounges, Plaza Premium Lounges, and Capital One Lounges to keep you traveling comfortably.
The Amex Platinum card earns 5x Membership Rewards points per $1 on prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel. Add premium lounge access, travel statement credits, access to Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts along with a $200 annual credit for Fine Hotels & Resorts and The Hotel Collection bookings, and a long list of other perks, and it’s clear this card is a leader in travel rewards credit cards.
- 5x Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 2x Ultimate Rewards points on all other travel purchases
- $50 annual statement credit towards hotel purchase through Chase Travel
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card, one of the most popular travel rewards cards, is a solid option that earns 2x valuable Ultimate Rewards points on every travel purchase, along with 5x points on travel booked through the Chase travel portal, and 25% extra value when redeeming in the Chase travel portal. Cardholders also receive a $50 annual credit toward hotel bookings made through the Chase travel portal.
Hot Tip: It’s important to note that booking hotels from any third-party site such as Amex Travel, the Ultimate Rewards travel portal, or Capital One Travel will generally cause you to forfeit hotel loyalty program elite benefits.
Best Business Hotel Credit Cards
Best Business Hotel Credit Cards Comparison Table
|Card||Welcome Bonus and Annual Fee||Hotel Rewards and Benefits|
Best Business Hotel Credit Cards To Maximize Your Rewards
Cardholders get automatic IHG One Rewards Platinum Elite status which offers them complimentary upgrades, early check-in, and late checkout. You’ll also earn 10x points per $1 on IHG stays, your fourth night free on award stays, and a free night certificate that can be redeemed at any IHG hotel costing up to 40,000 points per night.
For those looking to help reach high levels of World of Hyatt elite status, the World of Hyatt Business card offers automatic Hyatt Discoverist status, plus 5 Elite Night Credits for every $10,000 spent on the card. You’ll also get a $100 annual Hyatt statement credit, access to the Hyatt Leverage program, and 10% of your redeemed points back after you spend $50,000 on the card in a calendar year.
The Marriott Bonvoy Business card is great for business owners that regularly stay at Marriott hotels thanks to its complimentary Marriott Gold Elite status, 15 Elite Night Credits each year, and annual free night certificate that can be redeemed at any Marriott hotel costing up to 35,000 points per night.
The Hilton Business Amex card doesn’t offer an annual free night certificate like the other hotel business cards, unless you spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year. However, it does offer 12x points per $1 on Hilton stays, complimentary Hilton Gold status, and 10 Priority Pass lounge visits each year.
How Do Hotel Credit Cards Work?
Hotel credit cards are credit cards that earn points with a specific hotel chain, along with offering perks and benefits when you stay with that hotel chain. These benefits can include complimentary elite status, late checkout, room upgrades, free breakfast, and more.
What Are Hotel Points?
Hotel points are the reward currency of hotel loyalty programs. You can earn them when you stay at one of the hotel chain’s properties or when using a co-brand hotel credit card, and then redeem these points for award nights.
How Much Is a Hotel Point Worth?
The value of a hotel point can vary based on the hotel chain, and determining an exact figure can be difficult based on the variety of redemption options.
Some hotel loyalty programs offer a fixed award chart, like World of Hyatt, where you’ll know exactly how many points you need for an award night at a specific hotel depending on whether it is an off-peak, standard, or peak night.
Other hotel chains, like Hilton Honors, do not publish an award chart and instead price their awards closer in line with the cash price of the stay, but not exactly.
As with other types of points in the world of points in miles, your value will ultimately come down to how you decide to redeem your points, as certain redemption options can be significantly more lucrative than others.
When we set our hotel points valuations at Upgraded Points, we do so based on what our redemption experience shows that one can reasonably expect to receive on a regular basis.
Pros and Cons of Using a Hotel Card
The pros of using a hotel card are that they can help enhance your stays at a certain hotel group by offering you complimentary elite status, which might get you room upgrades, free breakfast, late checkout, and other perks. Not to mention that hotel cards will also help you earn more points on each stay, getting you closer to your next free night redemption.
The downside to hotel cards is that the rewards you earn are tied to that specific hotel group. You aren’t able to redeem them for hotels outside of the specific hotel chain, for flights, or for any other travel-related items.
Who Should Get a Hotel Credit Card?
You should consider getting a hotel credit card if you regularly stay at a hotel chain such as Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, or Marriott, and are looking to get more value out of each of those stays.
Hotel cards can help you gain instant status with a hotel chain, which offers immediate benefits on your future stays. Plus they can offer elite night credits to help you achieve a higher level of status, and help you earn more points on each of your stays.
How We Selected the Best Hotel Credit Cards
At Upgraded Points, we evaluate the best hotel credit cards based on the amount of value the card can offer to travelers. Our evaluation process analyzes each card based on important factors including its benefits, earnings structure, welcome bonus, redemption value/rewards program, fees, and more.
Here is some insight into our thought process when selecting the best hotel cards:
The best hotel cards should offer great benefits when staying at that hotel chain. This can include automatic elite status, which might offer room upgrades or late checkout, an annual free night certificate, hotel statement credits, and more.
At the end of the day, a hotel credit card is still a travel rewards credit card, so the amount of points it can earn you towards future stays is very important. That said, a good hotel rewards card shouldn’t just reward you for hotel says … it should also offer bonus categories for everyday purchases.
The welcome bonus on a hotel card can give your points balance a nice boost early, which will help kickstart future award redemptions. Given that welcome bonuses are a one-time bonus and can be lucrative, they are a factor in how we evaluate cards.
We’ll provide you with the current welcome bonus information available for each card, but we encourage you to confirm the welcome bonus and review earnings offers before applying for any card.
Most hotel cards have fees, so take these into account as well. Many will charge an annual fee for holding the card, so make sure you’re getting enough value from the card each year to justify it.
Considering the hotel chain’s points redemption values is vitally important, as this will tell you about how much value you can expect to get from the hotel points you’re earning. The more valuable the hotel’s points are, the more valuable its credit card will be!
Hot Tip: While the most desired benefits and features of a card will vary by person, our holistic approach gives readers the full picture of what they can expect from every card we review. To learn more about how we review cards, read through our methodology page.
If you spend significantly on hotels, it makes sense to earn rewards and enjoy the associated benefits for an expense you’re incurring. Not doing so means you may be walking away from free hotel nights, complimentary elite status, and other associated hotel perks.
The brand you stay at frequently will likely determine the hotel-branded credit card you select. However, you may benefit equally from a travel rewards credit card that earns multiple points or miles on any hotel purchase.
We haven’t focused on the generous sign-up bonuses offered with the best hotel credit cards since they frequently change, but these bonuses can result in several free hotel nights just for meeting minimum spending requirements (usually in the first 3 months after you’re approved for the card).
Whether you’re staying at a major brand hotel, frequenting small boutique lodging, or booking budget hotels, there’s a way to earn rewards and free nights with a hotel rewards credit card.
The information regarding the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding The World of Hyatt Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® card, click here.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Card, click here.
Featured Image Credit: Nick Ellis / Upgraded Points
Frequently Asked Questions
Hotel-branded credit cards earn points for all purchases made on the card, with spending at the branded hotel earning the most points. Points earned on these credit cards are deposited into your hotel loyalty account each statement period and are then available for redemption. Points can usually be redeemed for the best value when used for free nights, but can also be redeemed for other rewards (such as transferring to travel partners or purchasing gift cards). Hotel-branded credit cards can also offer elite status, which qualifies the cardholder for benefits such as early check-in, late checkout, upgraded rooms, bonus earnings, special rates, free nights, breakfast, and other perks.
The best hotel credit card for you will depend on your hotel brand of choice. This is because hotel-branded credit cards come with elevated earnings and additional benefits when spending at the associated brands. For example, if you stay at Hilton hotels, you’ll earn the most points and receive benefits at Hilton-affiliated properties by holding a Hilton Honors-branded credit card. If you don’t frequent a specific hotel brand, selecting a general travel rewards-earning credit card can assure you earn the most points on generic lodging.
Each hotel loyalty program has several levels of elite status, and each level requires a specific number of nights to qualify. Many hotel loyalty programs offer elite status for staying as few as 10 nights per year, but top elite status can require 50 to 75 nights per calendar year depending on the hotel loyalty program. However, many hotel-branded credit cards come with elite status, and you do not have to stay a minimum amount of nights per year to keep that status. It is good as long as you hold the credit card.
Yes, even entry-level elite status can make a positive difference in your hotel stay. Entry-level elite status can give you early check-in, late checkout, a free newspaper, free Wi-Fi, and even a room upgrade. You may also receive additional bonus points for your stays, special member rates, and a dedicated reservation phone line. Another benefit of even entry-level elite status is the ability to use a combination of points and cash when booking a hotel room. Achieving top hotel elite status brings even more benefits, such as suite upgrades, guaranteed reservations even if the hotel is full, free breakfast, lounge access, and more. Top elite status is, of course, much more difficult to achieve.
Whether or not you’ll be approved for a hotel credit card will largely depend on your credit score, stated income, and your history with the credit issuer you are applying with. Assuming you have a credit score of 670 or better, you should feel reasonably good about your odds of getting approved for the best hotel credit cards.
The most important things to consider when comparing the best hotel credit cards are whether or not you enjoy staying at the hotel chain, what sort of benefits the card offers, and whether or not those benefits justify the fees the card charges.
The best hotel credit cards with no annual fee depend on which hotel chains you stay at most, as those are the ones that you will get the most value out of. For Hilton fans, that is the Hilton Honors American Express Card. For Marriott fans, that is the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card. For IHG fans, it’s the IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card, and for Wyndham fans, it’s the Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Card.
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