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How to choose the Best Hotel Credit Cards of 2018

We’ve reviewed a lot of credit card offers with different hotel rewards perks to give you the best of the best. Hotel rewards credit cards can earn you free nights and elite perks, among other benefits. Below you will find credit cards that cover a variety of hotel rewards programs. Looking for overall travel rewards credit cards? Try this guide.

Here are the Best Hotel Credit Cards of 2018 based on my valuations:

Ranking Criteria

I ranked these cards based on numerous criteria: Points program value, sign up bonus, perks and more. Some travelers have strong brand loyalty to a certain hotel group, if you know that you only want a certain hotel then that can make your choice very easy. A popular feature of these hotel credit card offers is the statement credit that you can receive when you stay a certain length, make sure to read the fine print for each offer.  When choosing the right hotel credit card always take into account the spending requirements for the sign up bonus.

Best Hotel Credit Cards: Detailed Rankings

Below you will find detailed analysis of each individual card found on my list.  I review the annual fee, sign-up bonus, earning rates and more in-depth specifics.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture will get you 10x miles on hotel stays booked through Hotels.com
Capital One Venture will get you 10x miles on hotel stays booked through Hotels.com. (Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)

Sign-up 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 become much more exciting for those of you looking to book hotels. Now, it will get you 10x miles on hotel stays booked and paid through Hotels.com, specifically at the Hotels.com/venture URL — equal to a 10% return. But pair that with the one free night that the Hotels.com Rewards program offers you for every 10 nights you book through the site, and you’re looking at a total of 20% back on hotel stays. The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card also offers 10x miles at Hotels.com — and keep in mind with both that this bonus is available 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, and you might not enjoy benefits that come with any current status you hold on stays booked through OTAs, either. But if you’re simply looking for the best possible return on hotel bookings, you can’t beat the Venture and VentureOne.

Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card

The new SPG Luxury Card. Photo courtesy of American Express.

Annual fee: $450

Welcome bonus: 100,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months. (Offer ends October 31, 2018)

Earning rates: 6 points per dollar at Marriott and SPG properties; 3 points per dollar at US restaurants and on flights booked directly with the airlines; 2 points per dollar on everything else.

This recently launched card can be quite valuable if you have plans to book stays at properties in the newly combined Marriott program. The card includes perks like up to $300 in statement credits each year of cardmembership for eligible purchases at Marriott and SPG hotels, and a free award night every year after your account anniversary for properties that cost up to 50,000 points. The SPG Amex Luxury Card also gets you complimentary Gold elite status in the Marriott program, plus the ability to earn Platinum status after you spend $75,000 on the card in a calendar year. Note that the points you’ll earn with this card are Marriott points — as the SPG program is no more.

Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express

Annual fee: $450

Bonus: Earn 150,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

Earning rates: 14 points per dollar at Hilton hotels; 7 miles per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, car rentals booked directly from select car rentals and at US restaurants; and 3 points per dollar on everything else

Hilton released three new cards with Amex in early 2018, and the Aspire is now the most rewarding option in the co-brand 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.

World of Hyatt Credit Card

Park Hyatt, Bangkok.
Park Hyatt, Bangkok.

Annual fee: $95

Sign-up bonus: 40,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months. Plus earn an additional 20,000 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

This card was relaunched with a higher welcome bonus and additional bonus categories, such as 2x for gym memberships. It offers automatic Discoverist status in the World of Hyatt program, plus 5 qualifying nights toward your next tier status every year, and 2 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 cardmember anniversary year.

IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Intercontinental Hong Kong.

Annual fee: $89

Sign-up bonus: 100,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months, plus another 5,000 points after you add an authorized user and they make a purchase in the first three months

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

If IHG’s portfolio of properties aligns with your travel plans, this card could be a great pick. In addition to a generous sign-up bonus (worth $630 when you factor in the authorized user bonus), you get a free night after each account anniversary, which can alone outweigh the annual fee. Unfortunately, when IHG introduced this card it also announced that the annual free night would limited to properties that cost 40,000 points or less, but there are still plenty of great options for redeeming it. Plus, as a cardholder you also get automatic Platinum elite status, and a fourth night free on award stays.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

You can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott and redeem for award stays.
You can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott and redeem for award stays.

Annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $95

Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That’s $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

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

Best Hotel Credit Cards: Full Details

Card Bonus for Hotel Purchases Return on Spending (Based on TPG Valuations) Limitations
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card 10x 10% Must book and pay through Hotels.com link
Hilton Amex Aspire 14x 8.4% 14x only at Hilton properties
World of Hyatt Credit Card 4x 7.2% 4x only at Hyatt properties
Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card 6x 5.4% 6x only at Marriott and SPG properties
Chase Sapphire Preferred 2x 4.2% None
IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card 10x 6% 10x only at IHG properties

If you’re trying to decide on a hotel chain to commit to and earn elite status with, check out our in-depth analysis of The Best Hotel Loyalty Programs in the World.

On the other hand, 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 2 points per dollar on the card for a wide range of travel purchases and dining purchases, which equals a 4.2% 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. And if you can stack the 10x miles on Hotels.com bookings with the one free night for every 10 nights through Hotels.com Rewards, the Capital One Venture Card could be a great option as well.

To recap our selections…

Here are the Best Hotel Credit Cards for 2018

Featured photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

New! Earn unlimited 10x miles on hotel stays booked and paid through hotels.com/venture. Pair that with the Hotels.com Rewards program and you'll essentially be getting 20% off of hotel bookings! With the 50,000 mile sign-up bonus you'll be getting the equivalent of $500 and you'll have the flexibility to redeem those miles on any purchase for airfare, hotel stays, car rentals and more.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
Annual Fee
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Balance Transfer Fee
$0
Recommended Credit
Excellent, Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are 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.