The Best Hotel Credit Cards in 2019
The Best Hotel Credit Cards in 2019
Hotel credit cards are specialized co-branded cards that offer rewards and perks with a specific hotel brand or set of brands. But those co-branded cards aren’t the only way to turn your regular spending into future hotel stays, because many credit cards offer flexible rewards that you can either transfer to select hotel rewards programs or use to book any hotel property, regardless of the brand. Either way, you have options when it comes to the best credit cards for earning hotel points.
The best hotel credit cards of 2019
Co-branded hotel credit cards tend to offer less flexible redemption options than general travel credit cards, but they offer valuable perks and rewards that you can leverage for lucrative redemptions.
If you prefer one or two hotel brands over others, getting their co-branded credit card may make sense. Even if you’re not, it could be beneficial to have one or two to give you benefits that can easily outweigh the card’s annual fee. Here’s what you need to know about hotel credit cards and our top choices.
But some of the best hotel credit cards on our list are those that aren’t associated with any specific hotel chain, but rather those rewards cards that allow you to convert points toward a stay at any hotel.
As you consider each of our top options, think about what benefits you’re looking for in a hotel credit card, as well as the value you may get from having added the flexibility of a general rewards program versus a hotel loyalty program. Here are our top picks:
- Best for flexible rewards and a modest annual fee: Chase Sapphire Preferred®
- Best for flexible rewards and premium perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Best for rewards on hotel stays: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
- Best for Hyatt stays: World of Hyatt Credit Card
- Best for premium perks and elite status: Platinum Card® from American Express
- Best for business owners: Chase Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
- Best for Marriott stays: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
- Best for IHG stays: IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
- Best for Hilton stays: Hilton Honors Aspire American Express Card
- Best for no annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
What to look for in a hotel credit card
Hotel credit cards can offer a lot of value, whether they’re co-branded or not. As you try to decide which one is best for you, it’s important to think about hotel-specific perks, the value of the program’s rewards points, flexibility, the hotel brand’s footprint and annual fees.
Among our top picks for the best hotel credit cards, here are the main highlights to consider and compare.
Not all hotel credit cards are created equal, and some cards that are great for booking free hotel stays won’t offer any added perks you can use during your stay.
Among co-branded credit cards, complimentary elite status is common, and some cards even provide a way to earn a higher status based on your spending. Check the rewards programs to find out what that level of status comes with before you commit.
Also, many hotel credit cards offer a free anniversary night when you renew your card and pay the annual fee. In most cases, that free night can be worth more than the annual fee, making it easy to determine whether the card is worth the cost. Also, some cards will add in a second free night award if you spend a certain amount during the year.
That said, some cards limit the value of this free night, so consider that as you try to maximize the value you’re getting out of your new credit card.
Finally, premium hotel credit cards offer annual statement credits you can use for purchases with that hotel brand, and you may even get on-property credits on some stays. Be sure to read the fine print to make sure you don’t leave money on the table with these benefits.
Some general travel credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® may give you more flexibility when redeeming your points for hotel stays. But many won’t offer any hotel-specific perks on top of that. One exception is the Platinum Card® from American Express, which provides complimentary elite status with not one, but two hotel loyalty programs.
Unlike general travel rewards programs, hotel loyalty programs have points with dynamic value. This means that the value you get out of each point can vary with each redemption you make.
While this makes maximizing the value of your rewards more complicated, it also makes it possible to squeeze more value out of each point than you would if they had a static value.
That said, some hotel programs offer better average value than others. While Hilton makes it easy to rack up rewards within its program, each point is worth just half a cent each, on average. Hyatt, on the other hand, gives you an average of 1.6 cents per point, which makes up for the fact that they’re harder to amass.
Hotel rewards points can potentially have more value than general travel rewards points or miles with a fixed value. But beyond redeeming your rewards for free hotel stays, you won’t get much value out of them.
On the flip side, general travel rewards programs give you a lot of flexibility with redemption. With the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, for instance, you simply use your card to book travel just about anywhere you want, then use your miles to get a statement credit for the expense.
And if you have a card that offers Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you can book a stay with many hotels through the program’s travel portal, or transfer them to one of three hotel rewards programs at a 1:1 ratio. That kind of versatility could be worth more in the long run for some travelers.
Having valuable points is nice, but only if you can use them. Hyatt points are worth a lot on average, but the hotel brand only has more than 850 properties worldwide. Compare that to Marriot, with roughly 7,000 properties, and IHG, which has more than 5,500 hotels in its portfolio.
Depending on your travel plans, having fewer options may not better. If you want a wider selection of hotels almost everywhere you go, some hotel brands are better than others.
Most hotel credit cards charge annual fees. And while many of them offer perks valuable enough to more than make up for the yearly cost, it’s still important to consider what you’re going to be paying for the privilege of holding the card.
What are the best hotel credit card offers?
Hotel credit card offers are a lot more than just their sign-up bonuses. Instead, consider the value of the full package of the card. To find out which offer is best, you’ll need to run the numbers on the value you might get from each card.
It’s also important to note that some benefits are easily quantifiable, while others aren’t. It’s hard to put a price tag on complimentary elite status, for instance. But if you stay at one hotel brand often, having that status could hold more value to you than to someone who’s more of a free agent.
Also, cards that offer an extra free night when you meet a minimum spending amount can make an offer sweeter, but only if you can meet that spending requirement.
So, unfortunately, it’s impossible to say which hotel credit card is objectively best. It may take some time to figure out which one is best for you, but the effort is worth it.
What’s the best hotel credit card sign-up bonus?
Hotel credit cards tend to offer higher sign-up bonuses than other travel credit cards, but it’s important to remember that the actual value you get from a sign-up bonus depends on how much the points are worth.
For example, a 150,000-point sign-up bonus from Hilton is worth roughly $750, while a 50,000-point incentive from Hyatt is worth about $850.
As with many other travel credit cards, hotel credit card sign-up bonuses can change throughout the year, and you’ll often see limited-time offers from different cards. As you compare hotel credit cards, check the current bonus offers, and do the math to find out their true value before you pick one.
What are the best credit cards for hotel rewards?
If you’re looking for straight value per point, the World of Hyatt Credit Card is one of the better options, giving you 1.6 cents per point in value, on average. But if you want a credit card that offers flexible hotel rewards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred®, Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Chase Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card may be your best bet.
Remember, there’s no single best hotel credit card out there, so it’s important to know what you want in a hotel card and which features are most valuable to you.
Which are the best credit cards for hotel points?
The World of Hyatt Credit Card will give you one of the best average values for hotel points, with 1.6 cents apiece. But depending on your spending habits and loyalty, you could potentially get more effective value from another card.
For example, if you often stay at Hilton hotels, you’ll get 14 points per dollar on those purchases with the Hilton Honors Aspire American Express Card, which is more than what you’d get if you were to book a Hilton hotel with the World of Hyatt Credit Card.
Also, some hotel credit cards offer varying rewards rates on other bonus categories, so consider where you spend the most money and which credit card will give you the most points on those purchases.
Getting the right hotel credit card for you depends on what you’re looking for. As you consider the various features we’ve covered, take some time to think about what your priorities are and which card will give you the most value based on your spending habits and travel plans.
Also, keep in mind that because many co-branded hotel credit cards offer a free anniversary night, which is usually worth more than their annual fees, it may be worth considering having multiple hotel credit cards to diversify your rewards across multiple programs and take advantage of more perks overall.
More details on the best hotel credit cards
As you shop around and compare different hotel credit cards, here are some more highlights from our top choices.
Chase Sapphire Preferred®
Annual fee: $0 the first year, then $95
APR: 17.99% to 24.99%
Bonus: 50,000 points
Rewards rates: Earn 2X points on travel and dining and 1X points on everything else.
Hotel perks: You can transfer your rewards to Hyatt, IHG and Marriott on a 1:1 basis.
Pro/strength: Rewards are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through Chase.
Con/weakness: Despite a lot of redemption flexibility, its rewards rates aren’t as generous as some of the other cards on our list.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Annual fee: $450
APR: 19.24% to 26.24%
Bonus: 50,000 points
Rewards rates: Earn 3X points on travel and dining worldwide, plus 1X points on everything else.
Hotel perks: Enjoy special benefits on stays at properties in The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection and Relais & Châteaux. You can also transfer your rewards to Hyatt, IHG and Marriott on a 1:1 basis.
Pro/strength: The card offers several premium travel benefits, including a $300 annual travel credit, complimentary airport lounge access, an application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, complimentary rental car privileges, and more. Plus, your points are worth 50% more when you redeem them for travel through Chase.
Con/weakness: The card has a steep annual fee, which may be more than some credit card users can stomach.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Annual fee: $0 the first year, then $95
APR: 17.99% to 25.24%
Bonus: 50,000 miles
Rewards rates: 2X miles on every purchase, and 10X miles on hotels booked through hotels.com/venture.
Hotel perks: None.
Pro/strength: The card offers a high rewards rate on every purchase you make, and allows you to transfer your rewards to multiple airline rewards programs. You’ll also get an application fee credit for TSA or Global Entry.
Con/weakness: It doesn’t offer any hotel-specific perks, and you’ll get slapped with an annual fee after the first year.
World of Hyatt Credit Card
Annual fee: $95.
APR: 18.24% to 25.24% variable.
Bonus: Earn up 50,000 bonus points — that’s 25,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months and another 25,000 points when you spend $6,000 total in the same period.
Rewards rates: 4X points on purchases at all Hyatt hotels, 2X points at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, local transit and commuting as well as fitness club and gym memberships, and 1X points on everything else.
Hotel perks: Complimentary Discoverist status, plus free elite night credits toward your next status level each year. You’ll also get a free night’s stay each year, which you can use at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel, plus a second free night when you spend $15,000 or more on the card during your cardmember anniversary year.
Pro/strength: The rewards points are worth a lot, and getting up to two free nights each year will easily make up for the card’s annual fee.
Con/weakness: Hyatt doesn’t have a lot of properties worldwide like some of the other popular hotel brands.
Platinum® Card from American Express
Annual fee: $550
APR: None. Card requires payment in full each month.
Bonus: 60,000 points
Rewards rates: 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines and through Amex Travel, and on prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel, and 1X points on everything else.
Hotel perks: Complimentary Gold Elite status with Marriott Bonvoy and Gold status with Hilton Honors. You’ll also get complimentary benefits on certain stays at properties in the Fine Hotels & Resorts Program and The Hotel Collection. You can also transfer your points to Choice Privileges, Hilton and Marriott.
Pro/strength: The card offers several premium benefits, including a $200 annual airline credit, up to $200 in annual Uber credits, complimentary airport lounge access with multiple lounge networks, car rental privileges with Avis, Hertz and National, an application fee credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, and more.
Con/weakness: The card has a steep annual fee, and its rewards program doesn’t provide as much value as the others on the list.
Chase Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Annual fee: $95
APR: 18.24% to 23.24%
Bonus: 80,000 points
Rewards rates: 3X points on the first $150,000 spent each account anniversary year on travel, shipping, internet, cable and phone services, and advertising with select social media sites and search engines, and 1X points on everything else.
Hotel perks: You can transfer your points to Hyatt, IHG and Marriott.
Pro/strength: The card offers a huge sign-up bonus, and also comes with a high rewards rate on several common business spending categories and various trip protections. Also, your points are worth 1.25 cents apiece when you use them to book travel through Chase.
Con/weakness: It doesn’t offer any hotel-specific benefits or other travel perks beyond the trip protections.
Mariott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
Annual fee: $450.
APR: 17.99% to 26.99% variable.
Bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
Rewards rates: 6X points on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3X points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2X points on everything else.
Hotel perks: You’ll get a $300 annual credit for eligible purchases at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, automatic Gold Elite status, free anniversary night worth up to 50,000 points, and a $100 credit for qualifying charges when you book a minimum two-night stay at a Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis hotel.
Pro/strength: The card offers several valuable benefits — between the annual credit and the free night, you can easily make up for the card’s annual fee. The rest is gravy.
Con/weakness: Despite the card’s benefits, some credit card users may not want to pay such a high annual fee on a hotel credit card.
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Annual fee: $89.
APR: 18.24% to 25.24% variable.
Bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months.
Rewards rates: 25X points on IHG hotels (10X points with the card and 15X points as an IHG Rewards Club member), 2X points at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants, and 1X points on everything else.
Hotel perks: The card offers complimentary Platinum Elite status, a free anniversary night worth up to 40,000 points, and a fourth night free when you use points to book a stay of four or more nights.
Pro/strength: Like other co-branded cards, the free anniversary night alone can be enough to make up for the card’s annual fee. And the card’s fourth-night free feature isn’t something you’ll find with other hotel credit cards.
Con/weakness: IHG points aren’t worth a lot on average, and your free anniversary night is limited.
Hilton Honors Aspire American Express Card
Annual fee: $450.
APR: 17.74% to 26.74% variable.
Bonus: Earn 150,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months.
Rewards rates: 14X points on eligible purchases at participating Hilton hotels and resorts, 7X points on flights booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel, car rentals booked directly with select car rental companies, and at U.S. restaurants, and 3X points on everything else.
Hotel perks: Automatic Diamond status, $250 annual Hilton Resort credit, free anniversary weekend reward good for any participating hotel or resort, plus a second weekend night award when you spend $60,000 in a calendar year, and a $100 on-property credit with a two-night minimum stay at Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotels & Resorts.
Pro/strength: The card offers valuable perks with Hilton, plus several other travel benefits, including a $250 annual airline fee credit, complimentary airport lounge access, and various trip protections.
Con/weakness: The card’s annual fee is steep, and Hilton points don’t carry a lot of value compared with other programs.
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
Annual fee: $0
APR: 0% for 12 months, then 14.74% to 27.24%
Bonus: 30,000 points
Rewards rates: Earn 3X points on eating out and ordering in, gas, rideshares, and transit, flights, hotels, homestays, and car rentals, and popular streaming services. All other purchases will net you 1X points.
Hotel perks: None.
Pro/strength: The card offers 1 cent per point in value on both travel and cash-back redemptions, giving you a little more flexibility than some other general travel credit cards. There’s also no annual fee.
Con/weakness: The card doesn’t provide any hotel perks and limited travel-related perks.