More bang for your buck — Hotel credit card bonuses with low spending requirements

Dec 19, 2019

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card and the current card offers. It was originally published on June 26, 2018.

Some hotel credit cards, such as the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express, offer sky-high welcome bonuses of up to 150,000 points (Annual fee $450, see rates and fees). However, you’ll usually need to spend several thousand dollars in the first few months to earn the biggest bonuses. If that’s not ideal for you, not to worry — these hotel card bonuses require spending $1,000 or less, and the bonuses are nothing to sneeze at either.

These bonuses are ideal if you’re opening your first travel credit card and are nervous about being able to meet the minimum spending requirement. You’ll be able to earn a valuable bonus without spending more than you normally would.

Best hotel credit cards with low spending requirements

Comparison of the best hotel credit cards with low spending requirements

Card Bonus Annual fee
Hilton Honors Card from American Express 75,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after spending $1,000 in purchases within the first three months. Terms apply. $0 (see rates & fees)
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card 140,000 IHG points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months. $89
Choice Privileges Visa Signature Card 32,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days. $0
Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature Card Earn up to 30,000 points; 15,000 points after your first purchase in the first 90 days and another 15,000 points after spending $1,000 in the same timeframe. $75
Best Western Rewards Premium Mastercard 50,000 points after spending $1,000 within the first three billing cycles after account opening. $59
(Photo By Phillip B. Espinasse/Sh
Easy to earn bonuses, like these, could save you on your next stay in Waikiki. (Photo by Phillip B. Espinasse/Shutterstock.)

Hilton Honors Card from American Express

Current welcome bonus: 75,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after spending $1,000 within the first three months. According to TPG’s valuations, this bonus is worth $450. Award night redemptions range from 5,000 points to 95,000 points (up to 120,000 points at a couple of hotels). This bonus isn’t available to those who currently have or have had this card.

Other benefits: Earn 7x points at participating Hilton hotels and resorts, 5x at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations and 3x for all other purchases. Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status. Earn Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year after spending $20,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year.

Annual fee: $0 (see rates and fees)

Quick take: The Hilton Honors American Express card offers complimentary Hilton Silver status, which gets you access to Hilton’s 5th night free on award stays. It also has solid earning potential at Hilton properties and a healthy welcome bonus that can get you up to 18 award nights (if you take advantage of the 5th night free). This is the only Hilton credit card with no annual fee (see rates & fees), so if you like Hilton properties this is an an easy card to hold long term.

Apply here: Hilton Honors Card from American Express

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)

Current welcome bonus: 140,000 IHG points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This bonus is worth $700 according to TPG’s valuations.

Other benefits: IHG Platinum status as long as you keep the card and earn 10x points at IHG hotels and resorts, 2x points at gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores and 1x on all other purchases. Every year you’ll get a reward night certificate valid at hotels costing up to 40,000 points per night. Fourth night free on award stays of 4+ nights.

Annual fee: $89

Quick take: The IHG Premier credit card has the biggest annual fee and the largest minimum spending requirement of any card on this list, but it has the goods to back it up. The cheapest IHG hotels normally cost 10,000-20,000 points per night, but with the quarterly PointBreaks promotion you can book hotels for as little as 5,000 points a night. The annual free night alone can get you a stay easy worth $100+.

Apply here: IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Choice Privileges Visa Signature Card

The Bluegreen Vacations Solara Surfside, Ascend Resort Collection, a member of the highest tier in Choice Hotels Program. (Photo courtesy of Bluegreen Vacations Solara Surfside, Ascend Resort Collection)
The Bluegreen Vacations Solara Surfside, Ascend Resort Collection, a member of the highest tier in Choice Hotels Program. (Photo courtesy of Bluegreen Vacations Solara Surfside, Ascend Resort Collection)

Current welcome bonus: Earn 32,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days. That’s worth $192 based on TPG’s valuations, but I’d personally value it higher due to the great deals that can be found in Europe and Japan. Award night redemptions range from 6,000 points to 75,000 points. Bonus points are only available for those who haven’t previously had this card.

Other benefits: Earn 15x at Choice Privileges properties, 5x on purchases of Choice Privileges points or Choice Hotel gift cards and 2x on other purchases. Enjoy complementary Elite Gold Status, which gets you a 10% point bonus every time you purchase a stay with Choice Hotels. Earn 8,000 anniversary bonus points every year you spend at least $10,000 by your account anniversary date.

Annual fee: $0

Quick take: This card offers complimentary Elite Gold status, good earning potential at Choice properties and a welcome bonus worth up to five award nights. With no annual fee, it’s a card that’ll earn a long-term place in my wallet. Choice Hotels may not be as popular (or nice) in the U.S., but overseas in place like Norway or Japan they can be great deals. And Choice Privileges often has solid promotions for buying Choice points, matching elite status or easily earning points.

Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature Card

The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel, Charleston, SC. (Photo courtesy of The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel)
The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel, Charleston, SC. (Photo courtesy of The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel)

Current welcome bonus: Earn 15,000 bonus points after making one purchase or balance transfer and earn an additional 15,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days. According to TPG’s valuations, 30,000 Wyndham Rewards points are worth $330. Award night redemptions at all Wyndham properties cost 7,500-30,000 points, or you can redeem 1,500-6,000 points plus a variable amount of cash.

Other benefits: Earn 5x on eligible purchases at Wyndham properties, 2x on eligible gas, utility and grocery store purchases and 1x on other purchases. Enjoy Wyndham Rewards Platinum status, which provides many benefits including early check-in, late check-out, upgrades on Avis and Budget car rentals and you can match your status to Cesars Rewards status. No foreign transaction fees. Earn 6,000 bonus points — which TPG values at $66 — annually after your account anniversary.

Annual fee: $75

Quick Take: This card provides Wyndham Platinum elite status, good earning at Wyndham properties and a bonus that can get you up to four award nights or up to 20 nights of points plus cash. The 6,000 anniversary bonus points essentially cover the annual fee, so this could be a long-term card if you like to stay at Wyndham properties.

Best Western Rewards Premium Mastercard

Current welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 points after spending $1,000 within the first three billing cycles. Based on TPG valuations, 50,000 Best Western points are worth $350. Award night redemptions range from 8,000 points to 70,000 points.

Other benefits: Earn 10x on eligible Best Western room night purchases and 2x on all other purchases. Earn 20,000 points during each period of 12 complete, consecutive billing cycles in which at least $5,000 is spent. No foreign transaction fees and automatic Platinum status.

Annual fee: $59

Quick take: If you stay at Best Western properties — including some of the company’s more upscale brands — the welcome bonus can get you one to six nights. But on popular dates, you might not even have enough points for a single night because recently Best Western nearly doubled the maximum amount an award night can cost overnight with no prior warning.

Pros and cons of hotel cards with low minimum spending requirements

Hotel cards with low spending requirements open the world of booking free nights with points to just about anyone with a moderately healthy credit score. You don’t need to be a big spender to get value from opening any of the cards on this list. And with such small spending requirements you could even open more than one card and earn several different intro bonuses.

The downside of the small spending requirements is that they are rarely attached to the best welcome offers (worth over $1,000). So while these cards are great to get your feet wet, eventually you’ll want to graduate to cards with better ongoing benefits and bigger rewards. And the jump isn’t as big as you’d think, many of the best rewards credit cards have minimum spending requirements of $5,000 or less. There are even TPG staff and TPG readers that find outsized value in premium travel credit cards with annual fees that top $400, in addition to having bigger spending requirements.

Summary Best hotel credit cards with low spending requirements

Bottom line

Staying in hotels doesn’t have to break the budget, there are plenty of hotel rewards credit card options that can help you defray the costs. Many of the best credit cards offer valuable welcome bonuses that can be worth $100s or $1,000+, but you’ll have to spend a certain amount (aka the minimum spending requirement) to earn these bonuses.

These spending requirements don’t have to stand between you and a hefty card bonus. There are hotel credit cards with reasonable minimum spending requirements. These cards provide the best of both worlds by giving you the chance to reward yourself for your everyday purchases without having to commit to putting a lot of expenses on a card.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Amex Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Aspire Card, click here.

Feature image courtesy of the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa, A Waldorf Astoria Resort.

Additional reporting by Jason Stauffer.

Hilton Honors American Express Card

 

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Honors portfolio of brands.
  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases 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.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with your Card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$0
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.

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