The best hotel credit cards of 2019

Nov 25, 2019

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If you’re a road warrior loyal to a particular hotel chain, a cobranded hotel credit card can be a no-brainer. Unlike airline credit cards that often don’t offer strong enough perks to justify paying an ongoing annual fee, most hotel cards offer extremely valuable benefit packages with perks like anniversary free night certificates, complimentary elite status, bonus points and potentially even on-property credits.

While a hotel credit card might not make sense if you like to switch it up between Marriotts, Hiltons and smaller properties, you should still get a card that earns you bonus points for your hotel stays — and luckily, there are some great options that you’ll want not just for hotel spending, but for general travel purchases as well. We also take a look at the best credit cards for hotel elite status, for earning points at hotels and those with no annual fee.

In This Post

The best hotel credit cards of 2019

Comparison of the best hotel credit cards of 2019

CREDIT Card Bonus Annual Fee
American Express® Green Card Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Terms apply. $150 (see rates & fees)
The Platinum Card from American Express Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Terms apply. $550 (see rates & fees)
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. $95
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months $95
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card Limited Time Offer: 150,000 Hilton Honors Points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months, plus a $100 statement credit after your first purchase in the first 3 months. Offer ends 12/31/19. Terms apply. $95 (see rates & fees)
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex Earn 75,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Terms apply. $450 (see rates & fees)
Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express Earn 150,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Terms apply. $450 (see rates & fees)
World of Hyatt Credit Card Earn 25,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. Plus earn an additional 25,000 points after you spend $6,000 total on purchases within the first 6 months $95
Chase Sapphire Reserve Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening $450

Best hotel credit cards

American Express® Green Card

Annual fee: $150 (see rates & fees)

Welcome bonus: Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. Plus, an up to $100 statement credit towards eligible Away purchases made within the first three months (Offer ends January 15, 2020).

Earning rates: 3x miles on global restaurants and travel, including transit; 1x miles on all other purchases

Elite status: N/A

Other benefits: Up to $100 each in statement credits for CLEAR and LoungeBuddy; travel protections (starting in January 2020) and no foreign transaction fees (see rates & fees)

Analysis: The venerable American Express® Green Card has gotten a major upgrade — and a new annual fee. Cardholders now earn 3x for a broad definition of travel — including airfare, hotel rooms, car rentals, tour operators, travel agencies, campsites and home shares, plus transit covering ride hailing, buses, taxis, metros, subways, tolls and more — plus 3x for dining worldwide and 1x on everything else. The 3x for hotels , travel and transit is equal to what’s offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Current TPG valuations put the Green from Amex at 2.0 cents, making its welcome offer worth $600.

The card comes with extended warranty protection, purchase protection and return protection. When you’re on the road, you have a baggage insurance plan and secondary car rental loss and damage insurance, with the option to upgrade to primary coverage through Amex’s Premium Car Rental Protection. For travel purchases made with the card on or after Jan. 1, 2020, you’ll be covered with trip delay insurance.

When you add the annual statement credits for CLEAR, LoungeBuddy and Away, travel and purchase protections, plus the chance to earn more points in travel categories make the American Express Green card an attractive option for those who don’t want to be tied to one hotel group.

Further Reading:

APPLY HERE: American Express Green Card

The Platinum Card from American Express

Annual fee: $550 (see rates and fees)

Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Earning rates: Earn 5x on flights booked directly with airlines and through American Express travel, plus prepaid hotel bookings through amextravel.com and Fine Hotels & Resorts. Earn 1x on everything else.

Elite status: Cardmembers can register for automatic Hilton Honors Gold status and Marriott Bonvoy Gold status.

Other benefits: Almost too many to include. Access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass, Escapes and Airspace lounge lounges, plus Delta Sky Clubs on same-day Delta flights. Up to a $100 fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years. Up to $200 annual airline fee statement credits on incidental fees charged by the airline you select. Uber VIP status and up to $200 annual Uber credit split into monthly $15 credits for US rides plus a bonus $20 in December. Up to a $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit split into two $50 statement credits for the two halves of the year. Complimentary memberships in Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, Avis Preferred and National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive. Access to Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts bookings and perks. Discounted premium tickets via the Amex International Airlines Program.

Analysis: 5x points on hotel stays is a very solid return, but what makes the card stand out is the perks it offers at luxury hotels booked through the Fine Hotels & Resorts program. Every FHR stay comes with benefits such as complimentary room upgrades when available; noon check-in; 4:00 p.m. checkout; on-site food and beverage credits and more. At select hotels in the Amex FHR program, you can also enjoy a free night — usually the third or fourth — and earn hotel points as per usual.

On other hotel stays you’ll enjoy the benefits of Gold status from the Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy loyalty programs. Both of these hotel elite statuses entitle you to some solid on-property benefits, such as late checkout and bonus earnings on stays. Just note that prepaid stays booked through Amex Travel (not FHR) typically don’t get hotel points or elite benefits so you’ll need to book direct to take advantage of your status.

Further Reading:

APPLY HERE: Platinum Card from American Express

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

Annual fee: $95

Welcome bonus: 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Earning rates: 6x on eligible Marriott purchases and 2x on everything else.

Elite status: Automatic Silver elite status, plus 15 elite night credits, each calendar year toward reaching a higher status. Reach Gold status by spending $35,000 or more on your card in a calendar year.

Other benefits: Receive a free night award every year on your account anniversary when you renew your card, worth up to 35,000 points. Enjoy free premium in-room Wi-Fi.

Analysis: This card earns the same amount on Marriott stays as its premium counterpart, which is an effective 4.8%, based on TPG’s valuationsWhile you are more limited with where you can use its annual award night, you can still get terrific value from it. Just don’t expect benefits like suite upgrades and free breakfast with the Silver elite status that the card comes with.

Further Reading:

APPLY HERE: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Lux Hotel Resort Swimming Pool in the morning. (Photo by mustafagull/Getty Images)
Photo by mustafagull/Getty Images

Annual fee: $95

Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Earning rates: Earn 2x on travel and dining at restaurants and 1x spent on all other purchases worldwide

Elite status: N/A

Other benefits: In addition to waiving foreign transaction fees, this card offers primary rental car coverage, up to $500 in trip delay reimbursement if you’re delayed more than 12 hours or overnight, up to $10,000 in trip cancellation and interruption insurance and up to $100 per day for up to five days in baggage delay reimbursement if your bag is delayed more than six hours.

Analysis: If you frequently spend on travel — in general, not just at hotels — and dining, and you want to use your points to book travel with partners like British Airways and Hyatt, a Chase Sapphire card is a no-brainer. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a great pick for newbies since it has a lower annual fee and still earns valuable bonus points on broad travel and dining categories. It allows you to transfer the points you earn to nine airline and three hotel loyalty programs.

Further Reading:

APPLY HERE: Chase Sapphire Preferred

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card

Annual Fee: $95 (see rates and fees)

Welcome bonus: TPG-exclusive Limited-Time Offer: Through Dec. 31, 2019, earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months, plus a $100 statement credit after you make your first purchase in the first 3 months.

Earning rates: 12x on eligible purchases at Hilton hotels; 6x at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations; and 3x on all other eligible purchases.

Elite status: Automatic Hilton Gold status and the opportunity to earn Diamond status by spending $40,000 a year on the card.

Other benefits: Earn a weekend night reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your card in a calendar year. Get 10 Priority Pass lounge visits every year.

Analysis: This is the card to have if you can’t quite justify the high fee on the Hilton Amex Aspire. Gold status with the program is among the most valuable mid-tier hotel statuses out there, getting you an 80% points bonus, no resort fees and a fifth night free during reward stays, space-available upgrades, free in-room and lobby Wi-Fi, late check-out, free breakfast and two free bottles of water. The weekend night certificate can easily get a few hundred dollars of value and the 10 free visits to Priority Pass lounges are just enough for occasional travelers. Plus, you’re still getting a very solid return of 7.2% on your Hilton stays plus 3.6% back on your restaurant, supermarket, and gas station purchases in the U.S. And with an elevated, best-ever welcome bonus, there’s never been a better time to apply.

Further Reading:

APPLY HERE: Hilton Honors Surpass Card

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex

Annual fee: $450 (see rates and fees)

Welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Earning rates: 6 points per dollar at participating Marriott properties, 3x at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with the airline, and 2x on everything else.

Elite status: Enjoy complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold status with your card, and earn Marriott Bonvoy Platinum status after making $75,000 in eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year. Each calendar year you also receive credit for 15 nights toward the next level of Marriott Bonvoy elite status (say, if you already reach Gold status based on your stays but are within shouting distance of Platinum status without having to meet the $75,000 spending requirement).

Other benefits: Each year on your cardmember anniversary, you’ll receive a free night award worth up to 50,000 points, good for up to a standard Category 6 hotel. Each year you also receive up to $300 in statement credits for eligible purchases (including room rates) at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, and enjoy up to $100 in credits for on-property charges when booking stays of two nights or more at Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis properties. Cardmembers also get Priority Pass Select lounge access and a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit worth up to $100 every four years. Card holders can enroll for free in the Amex Boingo Preferred plan with unlimited access to over one million Wi-Fi hotspots around the world. However, as of July 1, 2020, the plan will no longer be offered as a benefit to cardmembers.

Analysis: If you want a card that earns you bonus points for booking Marriott stays and some elite perks, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex is worth a close look. The card has a $450 annual fee (see rates and fees), but the annual $300 Marriott statement credit essentially lowers that to $150.

In addition to earning you 6x points on Marriott stays, this card offers a free night award at properties that cost up to 50,000 points per night each year after your account anniversary. You also get complimentary Gold elite status, which comes with a few benefits like a 25% bonus on points and space-available upgrades to enhanced rooms, and you can upgrade to Platinum status after spending $75,000 on the card in a calendar year.

Further Reading:

APPLY HERE: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex

Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express

Annual fee: $450 (see rates and fees)

Welcome bonus: Earn 150,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Earning rates: 14x at Hilton hotels; 7x on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, car rentals booked directly from select car rentals and at U.S. restaurants; and 3x on all other eligible purchases.

Elite status: Enjoy automatic Hilton Honors Diamond status.

Other benefits: One weekend night reward every year after renewal plus an additional night at eligible properties after you spend $60,000 on purchases on your card in a calendar year. Enjoy up to $250 in statement credits each year of card membership for eligible purchases at participating Hilton resorts. Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $250 per calendar year in statement credits for incidental fees such as checked baggage and flight change fees. Get up to $100 in credits for qualifying charges at participating Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotels & Resorts on two-night-minimum stays. Unlimited Priority Pass lounge access for card holder and two guests.

Analysis: Hilton released three new cards with Amex in 2018, and the Aspire is now the most rewarding option in the cobranded lineup. It earns you the most Hilton points per dollar on paid stays with the brand (14x points), and also offers some pretty sweet annual travel credits. You get a $250 Hilton resort statement credit each year for eligible on-property purchases, plus an annual credit of up to $250 for incidental airline fees such as baggage charges. Other benefits include complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status, a free weekend night each year upon your account renewal and the ability to earn an additional free weekend night by spending $60,000 on the card in a calendar year.

Further Reading:

APPLY HERE: Hilton Honors Aspire Card

World of Hyatt Credit Card

Palacio Duhau - Park Hyatt Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo courtesy of Palacio Duhau - Park Hyatt Buenos Aires)
Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo courtesy of Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires)

Annual fee: $95

Welcome bonus: 25,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. Plus earn an additional 25,000 points after you spend $6,000 total on purchases within the first 6 months.

Earning rates: 4x at Hyatt properties; 2x on local transit and commuting, at restaurants, on airline tickets and on fitness club and gym memberships; 1x everywhere else

Elite status: Discoverist status automatically, though you also receive five qualifying night credits toward the next level of elite status each year and the opportunity to earn two additional night credits for each $5,000 spent on the card.

Other benefits: One free night at a Category 1-4 hotel each year after your cardmember anniversary plus a second free night at a Category 1-4 hotel each year when you spend $15,000 on the card during your cardmember year.

Analysis: This card comes with a modest annual fee which you can easily recoup when you redeem the anniversary free night, valid at category 1-4 hotels. Even most of Hyatt’s Category 1 properties sell for about $95 a night, so this card is break-even at the very least.

When it comes to bonus categories, you’ll earn 4x points per dollar on purchases at Hyatt. TPG values Hyatt points quite highly at 1.7 cents each, making this return worth a solid 6.8%. That’s a great return, though I personally would still opt to use a Chase Sapphire Reserve instead. Earning 3x points per dollar that could be transferred to Hyatt (or to United, or British Airways or Singapore…. get the idea?) is a better return to me than simply earning 4x Hyatt points.

Further Reading:

APPLY HERE: World of Hyatt Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Reserve

(Photo by The Points Guy staff)

Annual fee: $450

Welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Earning rates: Earn 3x travel and dining at restaurants and 1x spent on all other purchases worldwide

Elite status: N/A

Other benefits: Get a $300 annual travel credit that can be used toward a wide variety of purchases, Priority Pass lounge access, application fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck (up to $100) and a plethora of Visa Infinite Perks, including primary rental car insurance, industry-leading trip cancellation and delay coverage, lost luggage reimbursement, a concierge service and access to the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection.

Analysis: The Chase Sapphire Reserve has the same bonus categories of travel and dining as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, but it earns 3x points on these purchases (excluding $300 travel credit), and it includes several more perks like a $300 annual travel credit and an application fee credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. Unlike the Chase Sapphire Preferred which has the ability to redeem points for 1.25 cents apiece through the Chase travel portal, the Reserve lets you redeem points for 1.5 cents apiece. It has a $450 annual fee, but that’s effectively lowered to $150 when you factor in the $300 travel credit

Further Reading:

APPLY HERE: Chase Sapphire Reserve

How we choose the best hotel credit cards

These card picks are based on numerous criteria: the points program value, welcome bonus, perks and more. Popular features on some of these hotel credit cards include complimentary elite status, free award nights and statement credits. Be sure to read the fine print for each offer.

Also, when choosing the right hotel credit card, always take into account the spending requirements for the welcome bonus, since you won’t want to miss out on that. You should only apply if you’re able to comfortably meet the required spend.

How hotel credit cards work

It’s pretty simple. You earn the most points for hotel stays and activities. Some cards also offer higher points for categories including restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations. And you earn bonus points if you have hotel elite status. Once you earn the points, they can be redeemed for free rooms, room upgrades, flights, rental cars, gift cards, merchandise and special events.

Main benefits of a hotel credit card

Hotel credit cards are best for those who are loyal to one hotel brand, like Marriott Bonvoy, and travel enough to earn points that can be redeemed for future stays. Get more perks, such as bonus points, room upgrades, early check-in/late check-out and free in-room Wi-Fi, as you accumulate points that help with elite status. Be sure and choose a hotel chain that has brands at different price points and locations around the world.

Who should get a hotel credit card?

You should consider applying for a hotel credit card if you travel regularly and stay in a specific hotel chain. Look at the sign-up bonus or welcome offer, because they can be large enough to redeem for free hotel nights once to meet the required spending on the card.

If you don’t care about earning higher points for hotel stays or you don’t have elite status, you may want to choose a card that allows you to earn points that can transfer to hotels. For example, Chase Sapphire Preferred points can be transferred to IHG, Marriott or Hyatt.

Bottom line

If you spend even just a few nights per year with a particular chain, it can make sense to carry one of its cobranded hotel credit cards so you can enjoy the perks of being an elite when you travel. Many of the cards have reasonable annual fees that are more than made up for by the value card holders can reap from their complimentary elite status plus additional benefits like annual free nights, discounted award stays and bonus earning opportunities.

Even cards that only confer elite status at the lower rungs, like the Bonvoy Boundless Card or the World of Hyatt Credit Card, might be well worth it for some travelers considering that it could otherwise take you 10-15 nights of paid stays to achieve starter status and perks like a shot at room upgrades, late check-out, or even a hint of preferential treatment.

We have detailed guides on the various status levels of the major hotel programs and what benefits you can expect at each tier.

If you don’t want to commit to one hotel chain, a card that earns transferable points, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, could be the best pick for you. 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. You’ll also earn 2 points per dollar on the card for a wide range of travel purchases and dining purchases, which equals a 4% return based on TPG’s valuations.

Finally, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card also offers a wide range of travel protection benefits and primary car rental insurance, which can save the day when you’re traveling. Note, however, that the Chase Sapphire Reserve card could be an even better pick for frequent travelers. Meanwhile if you stay at luxury hotels often, you won’t want to overlook The Platinum Card from American Express either.

Related guides

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Surpass Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Green card, click here.

Additional reporting by Ethan Steinberg, Eric Rosen and Benét J. Wilson. Featured image courtesy of Regent Hotels.


This is The Points Guy’s permanent page with the best currently available hotel credit cards, so you can bookmark it and check back regularly for updates. Keep in mind you may see some reader comments referring to older offers below.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

For a limited time, earn 150,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months. Plus, a $100 statement credit after your first purchase with the card in the first three months. Terms apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn a $100 Statement Credit after your first purchase on the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus, earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 12/31/2019.
  • Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
  • Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent, Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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.