The Best Cards for Summer Travel: If You’re Staying in a Hotel
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Today, TPG Points & Miles Editor Sarah Silbert concludes our series on the best credit cards for summer travel with a look at the top options for hotel stays.
We recently reviewed some of the best credit card options for summer travel if you’re flying or planning to hit the road, and today we’ll round things out with a look at the best picks for hotel stays. No matter your transportation choice, booking accommodations will likely figure into your travel plans this summer. Luckily, there are plenty of co-branded cards to choose from, all of which offer free nights as a sign-up perk or bonus points that can be redeemed for award stays. Plus, one pick helps you save on paid reservations by giving you a rebate for the fourth night.
Hyatt Credit Card
This card is a good choice if you’re looking for award nights within the Hyatt brand, since the sign-up bonus consists of two free nights at any eligible property worldwide after you spend $1,000 on the card in the first three months. You can get especially good value if you use these at higher-tier hotels like the Category 7 Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme, though you may have trouble finding award availability during the summer. Also, keep in mind that some properties may not permit shorter stays, such as the Andaz Maui, though you may be able to pair your free nights with paid stays or point redemptions. Cardholders also get one free night at a Category 1-4 property after each account anniversary. Note that in addition to the free nights, you can earn 5,000 points after you add an authorized user and they make a purchase in the first three months.
Other benefits include 3 points per dollar on Hyatt purchases; 2 points per dollar spent at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline and at car rental agencies; and 1 point per dollar everywhere else. You’ll also enjoy Hyatt Gold Passport Platinum elite status as long as you’re a cardholder, and you’ll receive 2 stay credits and 5 night credits toward Diamond status when you spend $20,000 on the card in a calendar year (plus another 3 stay credits and 5 night credits when you spend $40,000 in a calendar year). This card has a $75 annual fee that’s waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.
Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card
The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card also offers two free nights as a sign-up bonus, though in this case you get two weekend nights after spending $2,500 on the card within the first four months. You’ll also earn 10 points per dollar spent at Hilton properties, 5 points per dollar spent on airline and car rental purchases and 3 points per dollar everywhere else. Plus, every year you spend $10,000 on the card, you’ll get a bonus weekend night.
Cardmembers get automatic HHonors Gold Status, and can upgrade to HHonors Diamond status after spending $40,000 or more in a calendar year. This card has a $95 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express
With Marriott slated to acquire Starwood, you may be hesitant to open a Starwood-branded credit card, but there are several reasons to consider it. For one, it might not be available for much longer, so you should snag your chance to be grandfathered in before it’s too late. Secondly, the card earns you Starpoints, the highest-rated loyalty currency according to TPG’s monthly valuations — and even with the upcoming merger, it’s still worth earning and burning these rewards for hotel stays or by transferring them to the Starwood Preferred Guest program’s many airline partners.
That’s not even mentioning the specific benefits of the card. You can currently earn a sign-up bonus of 25,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months and you’ll earn 2 points per dollar spent on eligible Starwood purchases (and 1 point per dollar on everything else). Due to the high value of Starpoints, TPG recommends this card as one of the best options for non-bonus spending. Finally, you’ll receive 5 night and 2 stay credits toward SPG elite status — and you can earn another 5 night and 2 stay credits with the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express. This card has a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.
Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card
Now’s a great time to sign up for this card, since it’s currently offering an elevated bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months. You can also earn an additional 7,500 points for adding an authorized user and making a purchase within the first three months. In addition to the sign-up bonus, which can get you a number of different valuable redemptions, the card offers an annual free night at a Category 1-5 after your account anniversary.
Cardholders earn 5 points per dollar at Marriott and Ritz-Carlton locations; 2 points per dollar spent on airline tickets purchased directly with the airline, and a car rental agencies and restaurants; and 1 point per dollar on everything else. You get 15 credits toward elite status, which is enough for Marriott Rewards Silver, and you earn 1 elite credit for every $3,000 spent on purchases. This card has an $85 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card
Just in time for summer travel, this card is also offering a limited-time elevated sign-up bonus. You’ll earn 70,000 points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months, plus an extra 5,000 after you add an authorized user and have them make a purchase in the first three months. This bonus will take you especially far if you’re able to maximize the current PointBreaks hotels, which cost just 5,000 points per night.
Other card benefits include a free anniversary night, complimentary Platinum Elite status and a 10% rebate on points redemptions. Cardholders earn 5x points on IHG purchases; 2x points at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants and 1x points on everything else. This card has a $49 fee that’s waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.
Citi Prestige Card
The final card on this list is an especially attractive option for paid hotel stays, since its 4th Night Free benefit can help you save significantly. On eligible bookings made through the Citi concierge, you’ll get a refund for the price of the fourth night of your stay, and there’s no cap to how much you can get back. You can even stack this benefit with Hyatt suite upgrades to enjoy a larger room while still saving on your hotel bill.
While 4th Night Free is the Citi Prestige card’s standout benefit, it offers a number of other perks as well. The current sign-up bonus is 40,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months. Cardholders enjoy Admirals Club and Priority Pass lounge access along with an annual $250 airline credit that can be used toward airfare as well as incidentals. Finally, you’ll earn 3x points on air travel and hotel purchases, 2x on dining and entertainment and 1x on everything else. This card has a $450 annual fee (though the $250 air travel credit effectively cuts it to $200) and no foreign transaction fees.
The best credit card for your hotel stays depends on whether you’re looking to redeem for a free night or earn rewards (or a free night) on a paid stay. Of course, you’ll also have to decide which hotel program is most appealing to you, based on how much you value elite status with a particular brand or which selection of properties makes the most sense for your travel plans. It’s also worth mentioning that there are other great options not on this list, including the Citi Premier® Card (which, like Citi Prestige, earns 3x on hotel stays) and Chase Sapphire Preferred (which earns 2x on hotel stays). Hopefully this post has provided some inspiration as you cobble together any last-minute summer getaways!
Featured image courtesy of the St. Regis Princeville in Kauai.
Which cards will you be using for hotel stays this summer?
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