The Best Hotel Credit Cards for Travelers

·7 min read
Illustration with hotel building and credit cards
Illustration with hotel building and credit cards

Kaitlyn Collins

The best hotel credit cards make it easy to rack up points that you can use for free stays. What's more, you can often recoup your annual fee with a free anniversary night, elite status benefits, and more. If you're shopping around for a hotel credit card, here are some of the best available options, along with the benefits you can enjoy with each.

World of Hyatt Credit Card

The World of Hyatt program is renowned among travel rewards enthusiasts for its valuable points, which can be worth as much as two cents apiece — that's up to five times as valuable as the points you can earn with some other hotel loyalty programs.

With the World of Hyatt credit card from Chase, you'll get the following benefits:

  • Earn up to 60,000 bonus points — that's 30,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months and up to another 30,000 bonus points as you spend up to $15,000 over the first six months from account opening.

  • Earn four points per dollar on purchases at Hyatt hotels; two points per dollar at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from airlines, local transit and commuting, and fitness clubs and gym memberships; and one point per dollar on all other purchases.

  • Get a free night at any category one to four property each year when you renew your card, plus a second free night if you spend $15,000 or more in a calendar year.

  • Get automatic Discoverist status, which comes with bonus points on cash stays, premium internet, bottled water, preferred room upgrades, late checkout, American Airlines miles on cash stays, and Pearl status match with MGM Rewards.

  • Get five qualifying night credits toward your next status tier plus two additional night credits for every $5,000 you spend on the card.

The card has a $95 annual fee. If you're a small business owner, you may consider the World of Hyatt Business credit card.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card is a premium travel credit card with an annual fee of $450. However, you can get all of that back with just two of the card's perks: the annual Marriott credit and the free anniversary night. What's more, Marriott has nearly 8,000 properties around the world, so it should be easy to find a place to stay in popular travel destinations. Here's what the card offers:

  • Earn 75,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months from account opening.

  • Earn six points per dollar on eligible purchases at Marriott hotels, three points per dollar at U.S. restaurants, including takeout and delivery, three points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines, and two points per dollar on all other purchases.

  • A $300 annual credit toward eligible purchases at participating hotels.

  • A free anniversary night award worth up to 50,000 points (resort and parking fees aren't included).

  • Automatic Gold Elite status, which includes bonus points on cash stays, priority late checkout, an enhanced room upgrade, and a welcome gift of points.

  • Get 15 elite night credits toward your next level of Marriott Bonvoy status.

  • Priority Pass Select membership, including access to more than 1,200 airport lounges worldwide.

  • An application fee credit toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership.

If you want to earn points with Marriott, but can't stomach this card's annual fee, consider the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card from Chase.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card

Hilton is another major hotel brand with thousands of properties around the world. If you're loyal to the brand, the Surpass card offers an easy way to earn points fast:

  • Earn 130,000 bonus points when you spend $2,000 in the first three months.

  • Get 12 points per dollar on eligible purchases at Hilton hotels; six points per dollar at U.S. restaurants, including takeout and delivery, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and three points per dollar on all other purchases.

  • One free weekend night award when you spend $15,000 or more in a calendar year.

  • Complimentary Gold elite status, which comes with bonus points on cash stays, food and beverage credits, space-available room upgrades, a fifth night free, bottled water, and more.

  • The chance to get upgraded to Diamond status when you spend at least $40,000 on the card in a calendar year.

  • Get 10 complimentary visits to more than 1,200 Priority Pass Select airport lounges around the world.

Unfortunately, this card requires you to spend money to get the free anniversary night. If you want a Hilton credit card that doesn't require you to spend to earn the night, and you're willing to pay more than this card's $95 annual fee, consider the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card.

IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card

IHG Rewards Club points aren't the most valuable you can earn, but the IHG Rewards Premier credit card offers a lot for its $99 annual fee. Here's what you'll get:

  • Earn 140,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months from account opening.

  • Earn 10 points per dollar at IHG hotels and resorts; five points per dollar on travel, dining, and at gas stations; and three points per dollar on all other purchases.

  • Receive a $100 statement credit and 10,000 bonus points if you spend $20,000 and make an additional purchase each calendar year.

  • Get an anniversary award night worth up to 40,000 points.

  • Get a fourth night free on award stays of four or more nights.

  • Receive an application fee credit of up to $100 toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership.

  • Get automatic Platinum Elite status, which includes bonus points on cash stays, extended checkout, priority check-in, a welcome amenity, room upgrades, and more.

If you prefer the idea of a hotel credit card without an annual fee, consider the IHG Rewards Traveler credit card.

Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus Card

Wyndham is one of the largest hotel chains in the world, with more than 9,000 properties worldwide. Plus, the Wyndham Rewards program offers simple and straightforward redemption with just three tiers — rooms cost 7,500, 15,000, or 30,000 points per night.

Here's what you'll get with the Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus card:

  • Earn 45,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days.

  • Earn six points per dollar on eligible purchases at Wyndham hotels and gas stations, four points per dollar on eligible dining and grocery store purchases, and one point per dollar on all other purchases.

  • Receive an annual bonus worth 7,500 points, which is enough for a one-night stay at a lower category property.

  • Get a 10% discount when you redeem points for hotel stays.

  • Enjoy complimentary Platinum status, which includes bonus points on cash stays, a preferred room choice, early check-in, late checkout, status match with Caesars Rewards, and car rental upgrades with Avis and Budget.

The card's annual fee is modest, at $75, but there's also a no yearly charge option with the Wyndham Rewards Earner card.

How to Pick the Right Hotel Credit Card

Choosing a hotel credit card often comes down to where your brand loyalty already lies. If you prefer Marriott, for instance, it may not make sense to get a Hilton, Hyatt, or IHG cobranded credit card unless you want to make a switch.

This is because hotel credit cards don't offer the same flexibility as general travel credit cards — it typically only makes sense to redeem your rewards with the hotel brand.

So, take your time to shop around and consider which hotel chain you prefer, then compare that brand's cobranded cards to determine the right fit. While it may be tempting to get a hotel credit card with no annual fee because it feels like less of a risk, you generally don't get much value with these cards.

As you compare mid-tier and premium hotel credit cards, however, think about your travel habits and goals, and determine which one will give you the most value relative to the annual fee.

Also, don't be afraid to compare your hotel credit card choices with general travel cards like the Capital One Venture X and Chase Sapphire Preferred. While you won't get hotel-specific benefits with these cards, you'll have the flexibility to redeem your rewards with more hotel brands and other travel providers.