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If you’re a road warrior loyal to a particular hotel chain, a hotel cobranded card can be a no-brainer, since it often grants you complimentary elite status, along with bonus points and potentially even on-property credits. If you like to switch it up between Marriotts, Hiltons and smaller properties, a co-brand card might not make as much sense, but 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.
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.
Finally, 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 — but should only apply if you’re able to comfortably meet the required spend.
Below you’ll find detailed analysis of each individual card on the list, including the annual fee, welcome bonus, earning rates and more in-depth specifics.
Annual fee: $450 (See Rates & Fees)
Welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.
Earning rates: 6 points per dollar at Marriott properties, 3 points per dollar at US restaurants and on flights booked directly with the airline, and 2 points per dollar on everything else.
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 & Fees), but each year you get up to $300 in statement credits toward Marriott purchases (including room rates), which essentially lowers the annual fee 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.
Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)
Welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 within 3 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/venture — 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, you can now 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: $95
Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That’s $750 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
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 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.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve has the same bonus categories of travel and dining, but it earns 3x points on these purchases, and it includes several more perks like a $300 annual travel credit and an application fee credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. It has a $450 annual fee, but that’s effectively lowered to $150 when you factor in the $300 travel credit.
Annual fee: $450 (See Rates & Fees)
Welcome 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 points 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
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
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 card member anniversary year.
Annual fee: $89
Welcome 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 card holder you also get automatic Platinum elite status, and a fourth night free on award stays.
|Card||Bonus for Hotel Purchases||Return on Spending (Based on TPG Valuations)||Limitations|
|Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card||6x||4.8%||6x only at Marriott properties|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||10x||10-14%||Must book and pay through Hotels.com/venture link|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred Card||2x||4%||None|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||3x||6%||None|
|Hilton Amex Aspire||14x||8.4%||14x only at Hilton properties|
|World of Hyatt Credit Card||4x||7.2%||4x only at Hyatt properties|
|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 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. 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…
Featured photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy
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.
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
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
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.