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Family vacations can be expensive, to the tune of an average of $2,076 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey. However, miles and points are a very effective avenue to stretch your family’s vacation budget. In fact, you could potentially wipe out the cost of your hotel stay entirely by using hotel points. That kind of budget makes it much easier to relax and actually feel like you are on vacation … at least for a little bit.
We’ve looked at many hotel rewards credit cards with a wide variety of different hotel rewards perks to give you our best recommendations for traveling families. Hotel rewards credit cards can earn you award night certificates, hotel points and status elite perks, among other benefits. Below you will find the best hotel credit cards for families from a variety of hotel rewards programs.
If you are looking for the best overall travel rewards credit cards for families — check out this guide.
Best Hotel Credit Cards for Families
Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)
Welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 within three months from account opening.
Earning rates: 10 miles per dollar on Hotels.com bookings, 2 miles per dollar on all other purchases
While the Venture Rewards card offers a decent return of 2% on all spending, it’s much more exciting for families who don’t want to stick with one specific chain of hotels. The Venture Rewards card provides 10x miles on hotel stays booked and paid through Hotels.com, using the Hotels.com/venture URL. This alone equates to a 10% return and is something my family has been using more and more for non-chain hotels stays (and Disney!). But it gets better than that as the Hotels.com Rewards program offers you a free night for every 10 nights you book through the site. Combined, that means 20% back on hotel stays.
This method of maximizing all sorts of hotel stays is how my in-laws turned a 9,000-mile cross-country trip into over $600 in rewards. The 10x bonus at Hotels.com is currently scheduled to run through January 2020.
This card won’t be the best choice for everyone booking hotel stays, as making purchases through online travel agencies (OTAs) such as Hotels.com generally disqualifies you from earning night and/or stay credits toward hotel elite status. You also might not enjoy benefits that come with any current elite status tiers you hold on stays booked through OTAs. But if your family is simply looking for the best possible return on hotel bookings without being tied to any particular chain, you really can’t beat the Venture and VentureOne.
Welcome bonus: 25,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months. Plus earn an additional 25,000 points after you spend $6,000 total on purchases within the first six months.
Earning rates: 4 points per dollar at Hyatt properties; 2 points per dollar on local transit and commuting, at restaurants, on airline tickets and on fitness club and gym memberships; 1 point per dollar everywhere else
Last year, this card was relaunched with more built-in perks and additional bonus categories, such as 2x for gym memberships. It offers automatic Discoverist status in the World of Hyatt program, plus five qualifying nights toward your next tier status every year, and two additional qualifying night credits toward your next tier status for every $5,000 you spend on the card.
You’ll receive one free night at any Category 1–4 property every year after your account anniversary, and can earn another free night after you spend $15,000 in a card member anniversary year. These free nights are extremely valuable for family vacations and can be used in places like the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort near San Antonio, the Hyatt Place Keystone, Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach and the Hyatt Regency Lake Washington in Seattle.
The Hyatt award chart starts at just 5,000 points per night and tops out at 40,000 points per night, though most properties are 30,000 points or less per night. If you don’t mind being tied to a specific family of hotels, The World of Hyatt Credit Card is one of my favorite hotel credit cards for families at the moment. It’s certainly the next one I want to target for my own wallet.
Earning rates: 10 points per dollar at IHG hotels; 2 points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants; and 1 point per dollar everywhere else
IHG has a wide variety of award options for families. From the quarterly PointBreaks that start at 5,000 IHG points per night, to high-end resorts like the Kimpton Seafire pictured above, you have thousands of lodging options with IHG.
In addition to the sign-up bonus, this card also offers a free night after each account anniversary at properties costing up to 40,000 points per night. Plus, as a card holder you also get automatic Platinum elite status, and my favorite perk for families is that the fourth night is free on award stays. This means you can book three nights on points near somewhere like Disney World and enjoy the fourth night on IHG!
Annual fee: $95 (See Rates & Fees)
Welcome bonus: 125,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $2,000 in the first three months.
Earning rates: Earn 12 points per dollar on Hilton purchases; 6 points per dollar at US restaurants, US supermarkets and at US gas stations; and 3 points per dollar on all other purchases.
Hilton released three new cards with Amex in 2018, which are all solid options, but the Ascend is my current top entry-level pick for families. The card conveys complimentary Hilton Gold status with top-tier Hilton Diamond status available with $40,000 in purchases on the card in a calendar year. Gold status is enough to score your family potential upgrades to rooms with lounge access, as well as complimentary breakfast at some properties. You’ll also enjoy one weekend award night each year after you spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year.
Hilton has a massive global footprint with 5,000 properties located all around the world. There are family-friendly Hilton Resorts, including all-inclusive properties, available for award stays almost anywhere you could want to travel. The all-suites Embassy Suites chain is within the Hilton Honors family, meaning that families can use the Hilton points earned by this card to book a suite with free hot breakfast and included evening appetizers with drinks — all at the standard award rate. With the Hilton Honors Ascend Card, you also are entitled to 10 free Priority Pass Select visits each year.
Families who are more frequent Hilton guests may be better served by the pricier Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card with its Hilton Diamond status, increased earnings at Hilton properties, up to $250 annual Hilton Resort statement credit, up to $250 annual airline fee credit, ability to earn two weekend award nights per year and 150,000 bonus points offer after $4,000 in spending in the first three months. If you know you will utilize the airline fee credits, the Aspire Card is a very solid choice.
Annual fee: $450 (See Rates & Fees)
Welcome bonus: 75,000 points after $3,000 in spending in the first three months.
Earning rates: 6 points per dollar at Marriott properties; 3 points per dollar at US restaurants and on flights booked directly with the airlines; 2 points per dollar on everything else.
This newly renamed premium credit card can be quite valuable for families who want to book stays at properties in the combined Marriott program. I know this is an outlier in the line-up because of the $450 annual fee that doesn’t scream family-friendly, but I’ll argue that it is a good card for those families who plan to vacation at Marriott properties. Yes, there is a $450 fee, but the card carries with it up to $300 in statement credits each year of card membership for eligible purchases at participating Marriott hotels.
It also provides your family a free award night every year after your account anniversary for properties that cost up to 50,000 points. This includes places like the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Autograph Collection in Hawaii or The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island.
On top of the points and anniversary award nights, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant also gives you a $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA PreCheck fee credit and Priority Pass Select membership (including two guests), which is very helpful when feeding a family at an airport.
If even with the credits and perks the $450 annual fee makes this card a no-go for your family, look at the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card as it is also a good choice for families with a much lower annual fee — though you are more limited with where you can use its annual award night. The Bonvoy Boundless Chase-issued card currently comes with a 75,000-point welcome bonus after $3,000 in spending in the first three months and awards an annual anniversary award night valid at properties costing up to 35,000 points per night.
Don’t Need a Degree in Hotel Points 101
If you want to learn more about hotel award programs and elite status perks, check out our in-depth analysis of The Best Hotel Loyalty Programs in the World or just jump to the best hotel chains for families. But thankfully, you don’t have to earn a degree in hotel loyalty points to maximize the value of hotel credit cards on family vacations. You can start with a very simple card like Capital One Venture Card and its ability to earn 10x miles on Hotels.com bookings and one free night for every 10 nights through Hotels.com Rewards.
You can also decide to not commit to one particular hotel chain by using a card that earns transferable points, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. It earns Ultimate Rewards points, which you can move over to Hyatt, IHG and Marriott to redeem toward award stays, so you have plenty of options when it comes time to book your family’s vacation.
To recap our selections …
Here are our favorite hotel credit cards for family vacations:
- Best for Hotels.com or non-chain hotels: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
- Best for Hyatt loyalists: The World of Hyatt Credit Card
- Best for IHG loyalists: IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
- Best for Hilton loyalists: Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card
- Best for Marriott loyalists: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
- Best for earning flexible points for hotels and travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
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NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards