The best hotel credit cards that come with an annual free night

Apr 30, 2020

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with current information.

Many hotel credit cards don’t just offer a sweet bonus when you first get the card, but also a valuable incentive to keep the card in your wallet — an annual free night award. In most cases, this annual free night can justify the card’s annual fee without even considering the card’s other benefits.

Here are the best hotel credit cards that come with an annual free night award — or an anniversary bonus of points large enough to get a free night.

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Best hotel credit cards with an annual free night

The information for the Radisson Rewards Premier Visa has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related reading: The best hotel credit cards for 2020

In This Post

Comparing hotel credit cards that offer an annual free night

Hotel credit card Best for Annual free night details Annual fee
The World of Hyatt Credit Card Hyatt loyalists One free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort every year after your cardmember anniversary

Earn one extra free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort if you spend $15k during your cardmember anniversary year

$95
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card Hilton loyalists One Free Weekend Night Reward with the welcome bonus and again every year after renewal

One additional Free Weekend Night Reward after you make $60k in card purchases in a calendar year

$450 (see rates and fees)
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card Hilton loyalists looking for a lower annual fee One Free Weekend Night Reward after you make $15k in card purchases in a calendar year $95 (see rates and fees)
The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card Business travelers who are Hilton loyalists One Free Weekend Night Reward after you make $15k in card purchases in a calendar year

One additional Free Weekend Night Reward after spending $45k in card purchases in that same calendar year

$95 (see rates and fees)
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card Marriott loyalists One Free Night Award every year after your card account anniversary that can be used for one night costing 50k points or less $450 (see rates and fees)
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card Marriott loyalists looking for a lower annual fee One Free Night Award every year after your card account anniversary that can be used for one night costing 35k points or less $95
Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card Business travelers who are Marriott loyalists One Free Night Award every year after your card account anniversary that can be used for one night costing 35k points or less

One additional Free Night Award that can be used for one night costing 35k points or less after you spend $60K in purchases on your card in a calendar year

$125 (see rates and fees)
Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature Card Radisson loyalists 40k points when you renew your card

One free night e-certificate for each $10k in spend (up to $30k) each account anniversary year

$75

Best hotel credit cards that offer an annual free night

The World of Hyatt Credit Card: Best for Hyatt loyalists

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: 25,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening, plus an additional 25,000 bonus points after you spend $6,000 total on purchases within the first six months of account opening. Based on TPG’s valuation of Hyatt points at 1.7 cents each, the full 50,000-point bonus is worth $850.

Rewards rate: 4x Hyatt points with Hyatt including participating restaurants and Exhale locations; 2x points on local transit and commuting, at restaurants, cafes and coffee shops, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline and on fitness club and gym memberships; 1x points on everything else

Annual fee: $95

Annual free night benefit: The World of Hyatt Credit Card offers a free night at a Category 1-4 hotel each year after your cardmember anniversary. You can also receive a second free night at a Category 1-4 hotel each year when you spend $15,000 on the card during your cardmember anniversary year.

Related reading: Why The World of Hyatt credit card is great for family travelers

Why this benefit is valuable: Hyatt has an attractive list of Category 1-4 properties, and most of them don’t play around with award inventory. This means that if a standard room at a Category 1-4 property is for sale with cash, you can use your free night certificate. Additionally, you don’t pay resort fees at Hyatt when using an award certificate.

You’ll find plenty of Hyatt Places and Hyatt Houses in the Category 1-4 list, but there are also higher-tier Hyatt brands, including Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Centric, Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt and Andaz. There are even some solid Hyatt Category 1-4 properties in the U.S. as well as some properties that would be good for a family vacation. But, Hyatt has a limited footprint which means you may not find any Category 1-4 options in some regions.

Other card details:

Check out the full card review for The World of Hyatt Credit Card.

Official application link: The World of Hyatt Credit Card

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Best for Hilton loyalists

(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Welcome offer: 150,000 Hilton points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases on the card within the first three months of card membership. If you’re approved by May 31, 2020, you’ll get an extra three months to meet card spending requirements. Based on TPG’s valuation of Hilton points at 0.6 cents each, the bonus is worth $900.

Rewards rate: 14x Hilton points at participating hotels or resorts within the Hilton portfolio; 7x points on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies and at U.S. restaurants; 3x points on everything else

Annual fee: $450 (see rates and fees)

Annual free night benefit: You receive one free Weekend Night Award with your new card and every year after renewal. You can earn an additional night after you spend $60,000 on purchases on your card in a calendar year.

Related reading: Maximizing Hilton Amex free night certificates

Why this benefit is valuable: As far as redemption of your free Weekend Night Award, the sky’s the limit. There is no category cap, so you can redeem your free night at some truly exceptional Hilton properties. There are a few excluded properties, and you can only use your free night on weekend nights, which is Friday, Saturday or Sunday night in most regions. Like Hyatt, Hilton doesn’t charge resort fees on award stays.

Other card details:

Check out the full card review for The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

Official application link: The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card: Best for Hilton loyalists looking for a lower annual fee

(Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)
Conrad New York Midtown. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: 125,000 Hilton points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases on the card within the first three months of card membership. If you’re approved by May 31, 2020, you’ll get an extra three months to meet card spending requirements. Based on TPG’s valuation of Hilton points at 0.6 cents each, the bonus is worth $750.

Rewards rate: 12x Hilton points on eligible purchases at a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio; 6x points at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets and at U.S. gas stations; 3x points on everything else

Annual fee: $95 (see rates and fees)

Annual free night benefit: Receive a free Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors when you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year.

Related reading: Hilton Surpass vs. Hilton Aspire: Which card is right for you?

Why this benefit is valuable: Use the free Weekend Night Reward at almost any Hilton property around the world. However, you’ll need to spend at least $15,000 on your card in a calendar year to get this benefit, there are a few excluded properties and you can only use your free night on weekend nights. So this benefit won’t provide any value if you don’t spend $15,000 or more on your card in a calendar year.

Other card details:

Check out the full card review for the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card.

Official application link: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card: Best for business travelers who are Hilton loyalists

Hilton Tel Aviv (Photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points guy)
Hilton Tel Aviv. (Photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: 125,000 Hilton points after you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases on the card within the first three months of card membership. And, if you’re approved by May 31, 2020, you’ll get an extra three months to meet card spending requirements. Based on TPG’s valuation of Hilton points at 0.6 cents each, the bonus is worth $750.

Rewards rate: 12x Hilton points on eligible purchases made directly with hotels or resorts in the Hilton portfolio; 6x points on flights booked directly with airlines or Amex Travel, on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies, at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service provider and on U.S. purchases for shipping; 3x points on everything else

Annual fee: $95 (see rates and fees)

Annual free night benefit: Receive one free Weekend Night Award after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your card in a calendar year. You can earn a second free Weekend Night Award after spending an additional $45,000 in that same calendar year.

Related reading: Maximizing redemptions with Hilton Honors

Why this benefit is valuable: Like the weekend-night certificates issued by the other Hilton cobranded credit cards, this one can also be redeemed at almost any Hilton property around the world. This means you can spend the night at one of many amazing Hilton properties with just the payment of a $95 annual fee — assuming you spend at least $15,000 on your card in a calendar year. You can only use your free night on weekend nights, which is Friday, Saturday or Sunday night in most regions.

Other card details:

Check out the full card review for The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card.

Official application link: The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card: Best for Marriott loyalists

(Photo by Eden Batki / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eden Batki/The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: 75,000 bonus Marriott points after you use your new card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first three months. If you’re approved by May 31, 2020, you’ll get an extra three months to meet card spending requirements. Based on TPG’s valuation of Marriott points at 0.8 cents each, the bonus is worth $600.

Rewards rate: 6x Marriott points on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels; 3x points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines; 2x points on everything else

Annual fee: $450 (see rates and fees)

Annual free night benefit: The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card offers one Free Night Award every year after your card account anniversary. The award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel.

Related reading: 13 great ways to redeem the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant 50k free night award

Why this benefit is valuable: 50,000 Marriott points are valued at $400 based on TPG’s valuations. There are some excellent Marriott properties costing 50,000 points or less, including some Category 7 properties on off-peak nights. Although I’d prefer if the card just gave me 50,000 points to use as I liked every year, the positive of the Free Night Award is that it forces you to plan a luxury night into a trip each year even if 50,000-point properties would generally be too rich for your points (or cash) budget.

Other card details:

Check out the full card review for Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card.

Official application link: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Best for Marriott loyalists looking for a lower annual fee

(Photo by Eden Batki / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eden Batki/The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: 75,000 bonus Marriott points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first three months from your account opening. Based on TPG’s valuation of Marriott points at 0.8 cents each, the bonus is worth $600.

Rewards rate: 6x Marriott points at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy; 2x points on everything else

Annual fee: $95

Annual free night benefit: The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card offers one Free Night Award every year after your account anniversary, valid for a one-night stay at a property with a redemption value up to 35,000 points.

Related reading: How to use a Marriott Bonvoy 35,000-point certificate

Why this benefit is valuable: Marriott’s portfolio contains many desirable 35,000-point or less hotels that qualify for this certificate, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding a property that fits the bill even if you’re traveling as a family. However, some Marriott Bonvoy properties limit the number of standard rooms available for award redemptions and Marriott charges resort fees on award stays. This being said, it should be easy to get at least $95 of value from your 35,000-point certificate.

Other card details:

Check out the full card review for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card.

Official application link: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card: Best for business travelers who are Marriott loyalists

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: 75,000 bonus Marriott points after you use your new card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first three months. And, if you’re approved by May 31, 2020, you’ll get an extra three months to meet card spending requirements. Based on TPG’s valuation of Marriott points at 0.8 cents each, the bonus is worth $600.

Rewards rate: 6x Marriott points on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels; 4x points at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping; 2x points on everything else

Annual fee: $125 (see rates and fees)

Annual free night benefit: The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card offers one Free Night Award every year after your card account anniversary, plus you can earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel.

Related reading: Here’s why you need both a personal and business Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Why this benefit is valuable: TPG’s valuations peg the value of 35,000 Marriott points at $280. There are certainly some impressive Marriott properties costing 35,000 points or less per night that qualify for this reward. So even if you’re taking your family along for the night, there are some great options. In short, it should be easy to get at least $125 of value from your 35,000-point certificate.

Other card details:

Check out the full card review for the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card.

Official application link: Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card

Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature Card: Best for Radisson loyalists

Radisson RED in Cape Town, South Africa (Photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy)
Radisson RED in Cape Town, South Africa (Photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: 50,000 points after your first purchase plus 35,000 points once you spend $2,500 on your card within the first 90 days. Based on TPG’s valuation of Radisson points at 0.4 cents each, the full 85,000-point bonus is worth $340.

Rewards rate: 10x Radisson points at participating Radisson Family of Hotels; 5x points on everything else

Annual fee: $75

Annual free night benefit: You’ll get 40,000 renewal points each year when you renew your Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature Card. Plus, you’ll earn one Free Night E-Cert for each $10,000 in spend each cardmember year (up to $30,000) once you renew your card by paying the annual fee. Each E-Cert is valid for one night in one standard room for double occupancy at any Radisson Blu, Radisson, Radisson RED, Park Plaza, Park Inn by Radisson or Country Inn & Suites by Radisson hotel located in the United States.

Related reading: 7 jaw-dropping Radisson hotels and how to book them on points

Why this benefit is valuable: Based on TPG’s valuations, 40,000 points are worth about $160. So, you should be able to get more value from the renewal points each year than your annual fee. The opportunity to earn Free Night E-Certs for use in the United States also may be valuable if you have some expensive cash nights that you can instead pay for using E-Certs.

Other card details:

  • Radisson Gold elite status or 15 qualifying nights for those who already hold Gold or Platinum status
  • 2% foreign transaction fee if charged in U.S. dollars or 3% foreign transaction fee if charged in a foreign currency

How we chose the best hotel credit cards that offer an annual free night

When choosing the best hotel credit cards that offer an annual free night, we considered various factors. First, we considered whether the annual free night is provided to all cardholders or only to cardholders that meet a specific spending threshold. We also considered whether an additional free night could be obtained by reaching a spending threshold. Finally, we took into account other card benefits such as elite status and high bonus categories as well as the annual fee.

Related reading: The best travel credit cards

How hotel credit card free nights are awarded

Each of the hotel cards featured in this guide offers you at least one free night every year either when your statement closes following the anniversary of your account opening or when you pay the annual fee. A couple of the cards have a minimum spending requirement for earning this free night though — so it’s important to read the fine print to fully understand what’s possible.

Free-night certificates are usually restricted to the lower tier of the hotel program’s reward categories, but there are exceptions. You usually have one year to use the certificate, so don’t let them go to waste.

Related reading: How to choose the best hotel loyalty program for you

How to maximize credit card annual free nights

A free night award can be used by itself for a one-night stay or it can be tacked onto a longer stay booked with points or cash. If you string it together with a longer stay, let the hotel know so you can remain in the same room.

It makes sense to redeem awards for the highest category possible and compare the cash rate to the value of the certificate. However, don’t wait so long into the year that it goes to waste. Once you find a “good enough” use, redeem the certificate and don’t look back.

As with other hotel award nights, you typically don’t pay taxes when redeeming the free night. Whether or not you pay resort fees will depend on the program. Generally speaking, Hyatt and Hilton waive resort fees on award nights, while Marriott and IHG do not, making those award nights better to use at places that don’t tack on fees.

Related reading: How expiring credit card free night certificates led me to book a points and miles trip to Japan

For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire Amex card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Surpass Amex, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Business Amex, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Brilliant Amex, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex, click here.

Additional reporting by Julian Kheel, Dia Adams and Jason Steele.

Featured photo of the Hilton Tel Aviv by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy.

The World Of Hyatt Credit Card

 

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend $6,000 total within 6 months of account opening.
  • Free nights start at 5,000 points
  • Receive 1 free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort after your Cardmember anniversary
  • Earn an extra free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel if you spend $15,000 during your cardmember anniversary year
  • Get automatic World of Hyatt Elite status and 5 qualifying night credits every year as long as your account is open
  • Earn 2 qualifying night credits towards tier status everytime you spend $5,000 on your card
  • Earn 9 points total for Hyatt stays - 4 Bonus Points per $1 spent at Hyatt hotels & 5 Base Points per $1 you can earn as a World of Hyatt member
  • Earn 2 Bonus Points per $1 spent at restaurants, on airlines tickets purchased directly from the airlines, on local transit and commuting and on fitness club and gym memberships
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.99% - 22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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.