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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:
- Best for Hotels.com: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
- Best for Marriott: Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card
- Best for Hilton: Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express
- Best for Hyatt: The World Of Hyatt Credit Card
- Best for IHG: IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
- Best for earning on hotels and travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
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.
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. Plus, starting in December 2018, you’ll be able to transfer Venture miles to a variety of airline partners, including Aeroplan, Avianca and Etihad, so you can get more than the flat 1 cent per mile in value that you’d get by redeeming miles to cover travel purchases (though that’s still an option).
Annual fee: $450
Welcome bonus: 75,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
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.
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.
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.
Annual fee: $89
Sign-up bonus: 80,000 points after you spend $2,000 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, 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.
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||10-14%||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%||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
- Best for Hotels.com or non-chain hotels: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
- Best for Marriott/SPG loyalists: Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card
- Best for Hilton loyalists: Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express
- Best for Hyatt loyalists: World Of Hyatt Credit Card
- Best for IHG loyalists: IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
- Best for earning on hotels and travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Featured photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy
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 transfer those miles to participating airline partners or redeem those miles on any purchase for airfare, hotel stays, car rentals and more.
- 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