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Hotel Credit Cards That Offer Free Nights Every Year

by on October 1, 2013 · 24 comments

in Credit Cards, Fairmont, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG Rewards, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton

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A big trend with hotel credit cards is to offer free nights annual- whether it be after hitting a certain spend threshold or simply for renewing the card. These annual free nights can easily justify holding onto the card, even if you don’t spend on it since most hotel cards don’t offer the best bonus categories for non-hotel spend.  For example, I just hit the $10,000 threshold on my Citi Hilton Reserve card and got the following email from Citibank and Hilton (I’ll get the certificate by e-mail in the next 6-8 weeks):

HHonors Reseve gives you a free night if you reach $10,000 spend

The Citi HHonors Reserve gives you a free night if you reach $10,000 spend

I haven’t decided where I am going to spend my free night yet, but I’m going to try to maximize its value by spending it at a hotel where rates are typically high over weekends or one where the local currency makes paying for a hotel particularly expensive, such as Europe.

In the meantime, it inspired me to take a look at the other hotel credit cards out there that offer cardholders a free hotel night annually either just based on carrying the card itself, or using it hit a certain annual spending threshold. Here are the top hotel credit cards out there that do so.

Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card

Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Visa Signature

Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Visa Signature

Free Night Benefit:

  • Receive 1 free night when you spend $10,000 or more on eligible purchases each cardmembership year. Weekend night certificate is valid for one (1) weekend night standard accommodation, double occupancy, subject to availability, at any property in the Hilton HHonors portfolio, excluding those listed at HHonors.com/weekendcertificate.

Other Benefits:

  • Get two weekend night certificates, each good for one weekend night (standard room, double occupancy) when you spend $2,500 in eligible purchases within the first four months
  • Complimentary HHonors Gold Membership. Earn an upgrade to HHonors Diamond status when you make $40,000 or more in eligible purchases each calendar year
  • Earn 10 bonus points per dollar spent on hotel stays
  • Earn 5 bonus points per dollar spent on airlines and car rental
  • Earn 3 bonus points on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees

Annual Fee: $95

For more information on the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card, check out these posts:

Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card Review
Citi Hilton Honors Reserve Free Weekend Nights Valid at Category 1-10 Hotels
Deciding Between The HHonors Reserve And The Chase Hyatt Visa

Hyatt Visa

Get 1 free night with the Hyatt Visa

Get 1 free night with the Hyatt Visa on your cardmember anniversary.

Free Night Benefit:

Receive 1 free night every year on your cardmember anniversary at any Category 1-4 property. No spending requirement. Some properties where that certificate’s value is maximized to far outweigh the card’s $75 annual fee include higher-end properties within categories 1-4 such as the Andaz West Hollywood in Los Angeles, Park Hyatt Toronto, Hyatt Escala Lodge Park City and the Grand Hyatt Shanghai. To qualify for this, your account must be open and in good standing. The award night is good for one night in any available standard room within 12 months from the issue date of the certificate.

Other Benefits:

  • Receive 2 free nights after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months with the Hyatt Credit Card (for first time Hyatt Credit cardmembers)
  • Receive automatic Hyatt Gold Passport Platinum elite membership
  • Earn 3 points for every $1 spent at all Hyatt properties with your Hyatt Credit Card. Earn 2 points for every $1 spent at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline and at car rental agencies, and earn 1 point for every $1 spent anywhere else you use your card.
  • No foreign transaction fees. Smart Chip technology and extra protections
  • Redeem for free nights with no resort fees, and with as few as 5,000 points at any Category 1 property

Annual Fee: $0 introductory fee for the first year, $75 thereafter.

For more information on the Hyatt Visa and its benefits, check out these posts:

Hyatt Visa Cardholders Now Get A Free Category 1-4 Night Upon Card Renewal
New Hyatt Visa Perks: Elite Status and 2X on Airfare and Car Rentals
What Is The Best Credit Card For Hyatt Stays?

Fairmont Visa

Fairmont-Visa-Signature-Card

The Fairmont Visa Signature card gives you 1 free night after $12,000 spend.

Free Night Benefit:

  • 1 free night stay at any Fairmont hotel or resort worldwide every year when you spend $12,000 or more. This free night can be used at any Fairmont property such as the The Plaza in New York, or the Fairmont Orchid in Hawaii, where rooms can get up to nearly $1,000 a night, meaning this benefit easily negates the $95 annual membership if you plan strategically. The free night certificate may even be used in conjunction with Fairmont President’s Club Platinum room or suite upgrade certificates.

Other Benefits:

  • Sign-up bonus of 2 free nights with breakfast for two when you spend $1,000 or more within the first three months
  • Earn 5 Fairmont Rewards per dollar spent on Fairmont stays. Earn 2 Fairmont Rewards per dollar spent on airline tickets purchased directly with airlines, at car rental agencies, and on transit and commuting, and earn 1 Fairmont Reward per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Airport lounge access with 2 free lounge visits
  • For each $7,500 of net purchases you make in a calendar year, you will receive 1 stay credit towards the next Fairmont President’s Club status level (up to 2 stay credits per calendar year).

Annual Fee: $0 introductory fee for the first year, $95 thereafter.

For more information on the Fairmont Visa check out these posts:

Fairmont Visa Card Review
Where to Spend Your Two Fairmont Visa Free Nights

Screen shot 2013-09-30 at 5.07.33 PM

Marriott Rewards Premier Visa

Free Night Benefit: Receive 1 free night upon approval and every year on cardmember anniversary. No spending requirement. After your account approval, you receive a free night stay at a category 1-4 hotel. Every account anniversary, you’ll also receive a free night stay in category 1-5 hotel.

Other Benefits:

  • Sign-up bonus of 50,000 points with $1,000 spend in the first 3 months (some readers have reported targeted offers of 60,000-70,000 points)
  • Earn 5 points per dollar spent at Marriott locations
  • 2 points per dollar spent on airfare, car rentals and dining and 1 point per dollar on everything else.
  • Receive 1 credit toward elite status for every $3,000 spent. No foreign transaction fees.

Annual Fee: $85 waived the first year.
There have been targeted offers that are higher than 50,000 points so check Marriott.com and log-in to your account to see if you’re eligible for a higher offer.

Carlson Card

Club Carlson Visa

Free Night Benefit: Receive 40,000 points (good enough for one free night at a top tier property) each year when you renew your card. No spending requirement.

Other Benefits:

  • Sign-up bonus of 50,000 points after first purchase and 35,000 more after $2,500 spent within 90 days
  • Get a free award night every time you redeem points for at least 2 nights or more (this comes out to 50% off award stays when you stay for two nights!)
  • Earn 10 points per dollar spent at Club Carlson properties (Radisson, Radisson Blu, Country Inn and Suites, Park Inn)
  • 5 points per dollar on everything else.
  • Instant Gold Status

Annual Fee: $75

Priority Club/IHG Rewards Club Visa (See this thread for information on how to get an 80,000 point offer for this card)

IHG Rewards Club Visa

The IHG Rewards Club Visa gives you a free night stay after a year.

Anniversary Bonus:

  • 1 free night stay every year of membership. No spending requirement. Cardholders can use their free night at any Priority Club property, including Intercontinentals, without category restrictions, so that’s like getting a 50,000-point bonus every year since high-end Intercontinental properties like the Intercontinental Hong Kong require 50,000 Priority Club points for free night redemptions and room rates can easily run well into the $400-500 range, more than making up for the card’s $49 annual fee, which is waived for the first year anyway.

Other Benefits:

  • Earn 5X points per dollar spent at participating hotels
  • Earn 2X points per dollar spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants
  • Earn 1X point per dollar spent spent on all other purchases
  • Automatic 10% point rebate
  • No foreign transaction fees

Annual Fee: $0 introductory fee for the first year, $49 thereafter.

Always remember that before getting a new card, always make sure you can meet the minimum spending requirements and pay your cards off on time, or else the interest and fees will likely negate the points and benefits you earn as a cardholder.

For more information on hotel credit cards, check out these previous posts:

Top 10 Hotel Credit Card Perks
Maximizing Travel Credit Cards Calendar Year Spending Threshold Bonuses

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Newbie N

    This is a really helpful post. I was just this morning thinking about which hotel card to sign up for. I’m most interested in sign up bonuses leading to free nights right now. Do I get more bang for my spend with a card like sapphire preferred and transferring points to a hotel or should I go straight to a hotel card? Which card overall do you think has the best sign up bonus for free nights (of the hotel or general points cards)? I have the following status already: Hilton Gold, Marriott Silver, Hyatt Platinum, and SPG gold, so cards helping attain those statuses wouldn’t mean much to me. But I would be excited about new status also. Many thanks in advance!

  • The Montane Vole

    Some of the Marriott 60K (and over?) offers are bogus. Last week I received an email from Marriott containing the 60K offer, and when I tried to sign up for it yesterday afternoon.The email showed my account balance and was dated “September 2013,” so it was apparently not a phishing scam. The link took me to a Chase quick-sign-up site that required a 12-digit authorization code and a 3-digit one as well, plus zip code and last name. There were no such numbers anywhere in the email. A call to Chase (using the number on my Sapphire Preferred card) brought me an 800-number for Marriott (no contact number is listed in their email), but their agent could find no record of my having been offered the 60K at all. The Marriott website offers me the 50K deal, however. So if you don’t find a 12-digit code and 3-digit offer code in the 60K invitation, don’t waste your time.

  • Patrick Beard

    Great post! I was just thinking about adding a hotel or two card to my portfolio. Question: is there any harm in getting one or two of these cards that don’t have a spend requirement and then just leaving them in a drawer? Obviously the annual certificate is worth the annual fee, but if I sparingly or never use them, will the CC cancel them? Thanks!

  • thepointsguy

    As long as you pay the fee, you should be fine. Can’t hurt to put a couple small purchases on them just to keep it active

  • thepointsguy

    Sapphire Preferred is really great for Hyatt, but not much else in the hotel world (too many points required). Plus you don’t get an annual free night w the preferred so getting a lucrative hotel card will likely get you more bang for your point if hotel stays are what you want

  • Newbie N

    Ok that is very helpful! Thanks! So if I don’t care about hotel brand, which card do you think would get me the possibility for the most free nights for the required sign-up spend? It looks club carlson to me, perhaps followed by IHG/hyatt/marriott. Thanks.

  • RobertBarron

    I used my free night with Priority Club to stay at the Montreal Intercontinental on my way to Newfoundland (on an Air Canada award ticket, of course)….it would otherwise cost me US $200…and that’s not even counting the taxes. Can’t beat that with a stick.

  • Patrick Beard

    I went into my marriott account and found the offer on the left hand side of the screen. I had an offer of 60,000 points. I applied and was approved for the 60,000. I’ll let you know if I have any issues receiving the points after my $1,000 spend, but you might want to give that try.

  • Ken Paynter

    Brian, How longer after you hit your cardmember anniversary on the Citi Hilton Reserve did you receive this email about the free night certificate? I’m due as well.

  • Traveler

    Brian, I have the same question as Ken Paynter. Thanks.

  • NYCBK123

    Wow, this list is fantastic and really helpful! I didn’t even know about some of these cards. I currently have the Hyatt Visa. Does anyone know how long it took for their anniversary credit to hit their account? I signed up in 10/12/12 and got a letter from them awhile ago saying it would post in October. I’m eager to make a booking. :)

  • Fv Ille

    Mine was credited within 2 weeks of my anniversary date.

  • NYCBK123

    Great. Thanks for letting me know!

  • thepointsguy

    I signed up for the card in the end of August 2012, reached the 10k spend in January 2013 and just received the free weekend night certificate email at the very end of September. It says the certificate should arrive in 6-8 weeks so I’ll be looking out for it!

  • jasonyip

    Hilton has a brand called Conrad. Do you think the free night can be redeemed at that brand? Or strictly “Hilton”

  • thepointsguy

    Absolutely- I used my citi reserve free nights at the Conrad Maldives !

  • Ken Paynter

    OK. thanks

  • Anne – Music and Markets

    One of your most helpful posts, Brian. We sure appreciate your insights – this post will cause us to hold onto a few hotel cards we’ve recently gotten (couldn’t resist a 70K point offer from Marriot!), and look into getting an IHG as well.

  • Ken Paynter

    I decided to give Citi a call. Took about 10 min. They told me I’d receive the certificate within a week. I never received the same email you did. Makes me think this is a manual process on their side.

  • Pattytravels

    I would like to open a Citi Hilton Hhonors signature card thru your portal but I can’t find a link. I have received a offer through the mail for 50,000 points so maybe it is an individual offer. The best I see on your site is 40,000 points, please advise if I can get the 50,000 points bonus thru your site.

  • Amanda

    I am thinking about getting the ihg card how long are the free night certificates good for? Can you save them for a trip a few years down the road so you have multiple free nights?

  • AJ

    Did you ever receive your anniversary certificate? I’m overdue also, and I just talked with customer service for over 45 min and they agree that I qualify and should have received it by now, and they are looking into it….curious if I’m not the only one having trouble getting the certificate…

  • http://www.2beerqueers.com infomofo

    Hey Brian- this post is tagged with “Ritz-Carlton” but i don’t see a mention of them. Is there a card listed here that offers free Ritz Carlton nights or points?

  • Nik

    They are part of the Marriott program, but I agree that it shouldn’t have listed them on the article tag, because I don’t think there is a single Ritz in category 1-5.

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