The best hotel credit cards for 2020
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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 such as 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, earning points at hotels and those with no annual fee.
The best hotel credit cards for 2020
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Best for travel insurance
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: Best overall card for Marriott
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card : Best low-cost card for Marriott
- IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card: Best for IHG
- American Express® Green Card: Best for travel, including hotels
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for luxury hotels
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Best low-cost card for Hilton
- Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express: Best overall for Hilton
- The World of Hyatt Credit Card: Best for Hyatt
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best non-cobranded card for earning on hotels
If you’re looking for the best card for hotel stays across all top hotel brands, it doesn’t get much better than The Platinum Card® from American Express. You’re getting 5x Membership Rewards points (a 10% return based on TPG valuations) on all prepaid hotels booked via Amex Travel and through Amex and Fine Hotels & Resorts. Plus, you get automatic Gold elite status with both Hilton and Marriott. Let’s take a look at our best card picks.
Comparison of the best hotel credit cards for 2020
|Credit Card||Bonus||Annual Fee|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred Card||60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.||$95|
|Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex||Earn 100,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening (terms apply)||$450 (see rates & fees)|
|Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card||75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.||$95|
|IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card||140,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening your new card.||$89|
|American Express® Green Card||30,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in your first three months from account opening (terms apply)||$150 (see rates & fees)|
|The Platinum Card from American Express||60,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. (terms apply)||$550 (see rates & fees)|
|Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card||125,000 bonus points after after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership (terms apply)||$95 (see rates & fees)|
|Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express||150,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. (terms apply)||$450 (see rates & fees)|
|World of Hyatt Credit Card||25,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months plus an additional 25,000 points after you spend $6,000 total on purchases within the first six months of account opening.||$95|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening||$450|
Best hotel credit cards
Annual fee: $95
Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
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 secondary 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 including United 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 ten airline and three hotel loyalty programs.
APPLY HERE: Chase Sapphire Preferred
Annual fee: $450 (see rates and fees)
Welcome Bonus: Earn 100,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
Earning rates: 6x 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.
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. Plus, 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 claim your Priority Pass Select lounge access and a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit, worth up to $100 every four years.
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, but the annual Marriott statement credit of up to $300 essentially lowers that to $150.
In addition to earning you 6x points on eligible 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 benefits like a 25% bonus on points and space-available upgrades to enhanced rooms. You can upgrade to Platinum status after spending $75,000 on the card in a calendar year.
APPLY HERE: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex
Annual fee: $95
Welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three 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. While you are more limited with where you can use the annual award night, you can still get terrific value from it. Just don’t expect benefits such as suite upgrades and free breakfast with the Silver elite status that the card comes with.
APPLY HERE: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card
Annual fee: $89
Welcome bonus: Earn 140,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening your new card.
Earning rates: 10x at IHG properties; 2x at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants; 1x everywhere else
Elite status: Enjoy automatic IHG Rewards Platinum Elite status.
Other benefits: A fourth night reward on award stays of four or more nights, an annual award-night certificate worth up to 40,000 points, a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit of up to $100 and no foreign transaction fees.
Analysis: Even if you only stay at IHG properties once each year, the award night certificate alone can usually justify the card’s annual cost. Stack that with the automatic Platinum Elite status and you’re sure to come out ahead. And with the card’s highest-ever sign-up bonus, now is a great time to add it to your wallet.
APPLY HERE: IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Annual fee: $150 (see rates & fees)
Welcome bonus: Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases within three months from account opening. Current TPG valuations put Membership Rewards points at 2 cents, making this welcome offer worth $600.
Earning rates: 3x points on travel, including flights, hotels, transit taxis and rideshare services; 3x points at restaurants worldwide; 1x miles on all other purchases.
Elite status: N/A
Analysis: The venerable American Express® Green Card got a major upgrade and a new annual fee in 2019. Cardholders now earn 3x points 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. You’ll also earn 3x points 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. Terms apply.
Beyond the earning potential, 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, you’ll be covered with trip delay insurance.
APPLY HERE: American Express Green Card
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 three months of account opening; check the CardMatch Tool to see if you’re targeted for a 100,000-point bonus (offer subject to change at any time).
Other benefits: Almost too many to include. Access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass, Escape and Airspace 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 in annual airline fee statement credits on incidental fees charged by the airline you select.
Cardholders also receive Uber VIP status and up to $200 annual Uber credit split into monthly $15 credits. There’s also 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 will earn hotel points with most programs as 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.
APPLY HERE: Platinum Card from American Express
Annual Fee: $95 (see rates and fees)
Welcome bonus: 125,000 bonus points after after you use your new card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership.
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.
Analysis: This is the card to have if you can’t quite justify the high fee on the Hilton Amex Aspire. Hilton Honors Gold status is among the most valuable mid-tier hotel statuses out there, getting you free breakfast, a fifth night free (plus no resort fees) during award stays, space-available upgrades, free in-room and lobby Wi-Fi, late check-out and more.
The weekend night reward can easily get you 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. (all based on TPG’s most recent valuations).
APPLY HERE: Hilton Honors Surpass Card
Annual fee: $450 (see rates and fees)
Welcome bonus: Earn 150,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
Earning rates: 14x at participating 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.
Cardholders also get up to $100 in credits for qualifying charges at participating Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotels & Resorts on two-night-minimum stays. Plus, 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 eligible paid stays with the brand (14x points) and also offers some pretty sweet annual travel credits. You get an up to $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.
APPLY HERE: Hilton Honors Aspire Card
Annual fee: $95
Welcome bonus: Earn 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 6 months of account opening.
Earning rates: 4x at Hyatt properties; 2x on local transit and commuting (including rideshares), restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly and on fitness club and gym memberships; 1x everywhere else.
Elite status: Automatic Discoverist status. 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 low-tier properties can go for $100+ a night, so you should be able to easily break even with the card.
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.
APPLY HERE: World of Hyatt Credit Card
Annual fee: $550
Welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Earning rates: Earn 3x travel and dining at restaurants and 1x spent on all other purchases worldwide
Elite status: N/A
Other benefits: Get an up to $300 annual travel credit that can be used toward a wide variety of purchases, Priority Pass lounge access and an application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck (up to $100) every four years. Enjoy numerous protections such as 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.
You’ll also now receive up to $120 in DoorDash credits ($60 in 2020 and $60 in 2021), free Door Dash DashPass membership and a Lyft Pink membership, which includes ride discounts and priority airport pickups.
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 the $300 travel credit). Other perks include an application fee credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry every four years. Unlike the Chase Sapphire Preferred — which allows you 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 $550 annual fee, but that’s effectively lowered to $250 when you factor in the $300 travel credit.
APPLY HERE: Chase Sapphire Reserve
How we choose the best hotel credit cards
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 and aren’t barred from earning a welcome bonus based on an issuer’s application restrictions.
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.
How hotel credit cards work
It’s pretty simple. With hotel credit cards, you earn the most points for hotel stays and activities. Some cards offer more points for categories like 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.
If, however, you choose a card that’s not directly connected with a hotel loyalty program, you’ll have additional redemption options when it’s time to use the points.
Main benefits of a hotel credit card
The main benefits of a hotel credit card include generous welcome bonuses, extra points on hotel spending and annual free nights. Premium cards even offer statement credits that can be used to offset on-property spending or even cover airline incidental fees. Annual free nights ensure that you get your money’s worth for the annual fee, assuming you actually redeem it every year.
Who should get a hotel credit card?
Hotel credit cards are typically 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.
These cards can also be a great fit for a traveler who is loyal to a chain but doesn’t stay enough in a year to earn elite status through the normal qualification requirements. These cards often provide shortcuts to status through spending, so they can be a great way to unlock valuable perks for a leisure traveler.
If you don’t care about earning points for hotel stays or you don’t have elite status, you may want to choose a card that allows greater flexibility, including the ability to use points directly for hotel stays or transfer to hotel programs. For example, Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to IHG, Marriott or Hyatt — or they can be put to use for other valuable redemptions.
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 elite status when you travel. Many of the cards have reasonable annual fees that more than made up for by the value cardholders can reap from complimentary 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 Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card or the World of Hyatt Credit Card — might be well worth it for some travelers. Even these low-tier levels typically take 10-15 nights of actual hotel stays to earn, so grabbing a card and unlocking perks like a preferred room upgrades, late check-out and preferential treatment could be worth it.
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 like the Chase Sapphire Preferred could be the best option for you. It earns Ultimate Rewards points, which you can move transfer to Hyatt, IHG and Marriott to redeem for award stays.
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 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, thanks to its higher earning rates and additional perks. Meanwhile if you stay at luxury hotels often, you won’t want to overlook The Platinum Card from American Express either — especially since it also provides Marriott and Hilton elite status automatically.
- Best airline credit cards
- Best rewards credit cards
- Best credit cards for airport lounge access
- Best credit cards for restaurants and dining out
- Best credit cards for everyday spending
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 Zemi Beach House/LXR Hotels & Resorts
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.
WELCOME 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
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- 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®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- 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
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.