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Many credit cards come with valuable benefits that you can enjoy, just for having an account. Among hotel rewards cards in particular, some offer a free night stay each year, either on a complimentary basis or when you meet certain spending thresholds.

How Credit Card Free Nights Work

Each of the cards featured below offers you a free night, in some form or another, each cardmember year. Sometimes, you’ll receive this free night automatically when your statement closes following the anniversary of your account opening. However, many cards now require you to actually renew your card by paying the annual fee before you receive the free night.

These free night certificates are usually restricted to the lower half of the hotel program’s reward categories. Sometimes you must also meet a minimum spending requirement during the previous year to earn the free night certificate.

How to Maximize the Annual Free Nights

Once the free night is redeemed, you can use your free night by itself, or as part of a larger stay with cash, points or a mixture of the two. Typically, I tend to use these free nights adjacent to another award reservation. However, there’s no reason you can’t use a free night before or after a paid stay. The biggest problem you might encounter when you’re staying several nights under multiple reservations is your key card being disabled after the first reservation ends. So while you won’t ever have to check out and check in, you should remember to have the front desk update your key card the morning after each reservation ends to avoid a frustrating experience when you return to your room.

I also try to maximize these certificates by using them at hotels in the highest category I can. For example the annual free night certificate from the World of Hyatt Credit Card is good for a Category 1-4 stay. So I’d recommend redeeming at Category 4 properties such as the Hyatt Place Keystone, the Andaz San Diego, the Grand Hyatt in San Diego and the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Resort. For more information, read Jennifer Yellin’s post on The New Best Hyatt Category 1–4 Hotels for Family Vacations.

As with other hotel award nights, you usually aren’t taxed on the value of your free night, as most cities only impose taxes on cash purchases, not awards. Nevertheless, you could still be responsible for paying any mandatory “resort fees” plus any optional charges. Thankfully, the World of Hyatt program waives resort fees for award stays, including annual free nights from its credit card.

The World of Hyatt Credit Card

Use your free night from the World of Hyatt Card at the Grand Hyatt San Diego. (Image courtesy of Hyatt.)

Annual free night benefit: This card offers a free night at a Category 1-4 hotel each year after your cardmember anniversary. The free night gets added to your account as an electronic certificate that you can redeem online, in the Hyatt mobile app or over the phone. 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 year.

Welcome bonus: 25,000 points after you make $3,000 in purchases within 3 months of account opening. You can also receive an additional 25,000-point bonus when you spend a total of $6,000 within 6 months of account opening.

Rewards: This card offers 4x points at Hyatt properties and 2x points at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, local transit and commuting as well as fitness club and gym memberships; and 1x elsewhere.

Other benefits: You receive entry-level Discoverist status in the World of Hyatt program. This offers you room upgrades, a 10% bonus points, priority service and 2pm late checkout. You also receive 5 night qualifying night credits toward the next level of elite status and 2 additional night credits for each $5,000 spent on the card.

Annual fee: $95

IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Annual free night benefit: An annual free night that’s limited to a redemption value of up to 40,000 points.

Welcome bonus: 80,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

Rewards: This card offers you 10x points for all purchases at IHG properties, 2x points at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants and 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere.

Other benefits: Card holders receive a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee reimbursement once every four years. You can also earn 10,000 bonus points if you spend $20,000 on purchases and make one additional purchase each account anniversary year. You get your fourth night free when you redeem your points for a stay of four or more consecutive nights. The IHG Rewards Club Premier includes Platinum Elite status, which offers you room upgrades, late checkouts and Raid the Bar privileges (a $10 credit at the bar or restaurant at the hotel).

Annual fee: $89

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

Annual free night benefit: Receive a free night every year after your account anniversary at a property with a redemption level up to 35,000 points.

Welcome bonus: 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Rewards: This card offers you 6x points for all purchases at Marriott Bonvoy properties and 2x on all other purchases.

Other benefits: You receive automatic Silver elite status and 15 elite night credits. Plus, you can earn Gold elite status by spending $35,000 on the card each account year.

Annual fee: $95

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

You can use a 50,000-point free night award at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne in Florida. (Photo courtesy of the hotel.)

Annual free night benefit: This card offers an annual free night award, with a redemption level at or under 50,000 points. You’ll receive this award each year after your account renewal.

Welcome bonus: 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of card membership.

Rewards: 6x Marriott Rewards points at the combined portfolio of Starwood and Marriott properties, 3x points at US restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines and 2x points for all other purchases.

Other benefits: Complimentary Gold elite status, and Platinum status after you spend $75,000 in a calendar year. $300 in statement credits for purchases at participating Marriott hotels each cardmember year and a $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA PreCheck fee credit. $100 Marriott Bonvoy property credit for eligible stays at Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis properties. Priority Pass Select membership (including two guests). 15 elite night credits (limited to once per member per year, not once per card).

Annual fee: $450 (see rates & fees)

Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card

Annual free night benefit: You receive one weekend night award your first year and every year after renewal when you spend $15,000 on purchases on your card in a calendar year

Welcome bonus: 125,000 Hilton points after you make $2,000 in purchases within 3 months of account opening.

Rewards: This card offers 12x points for charges at Hilton portfolio hotels. You also earn 6x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets, and at US gas stations. You’ll earn 3x points for all other eligible purchases.

Other benefits: Complimentary Hilton Gold status, and 10 free Priority Pass Select visits.

Annual fee: $95 (see rates & fees)

Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express

View from the Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik. (Courtesy of Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik)
View from the dining balcony of the Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik. (Photo courtesy of the hotel.)

Annual free night benefit: You receive one weekend night award your first year and every year after renewal, and you can also earn an additional night after you spend $60,000 on purchases on your card in a calendar year. This award can be used at all Hilton properties except those listed here.

Welcome bonus: 150,000 bonus points after you make $4,000 in purchases within 3 months of account opening.

Rewards: This card offers 14x points for charges at Hilton portfolio hotels. You also earn 7x points for flights booked with airlines or amextravel.com, car rentals booked directly with select companies and at US restaurants. You’ll earn 3x points for all other eligible purchases.

Other benefits: Complimentary Hilton Diamond status, $250 Hilton resort statement credit, $250 annual airline fee credit each cardmember year, $100 Hilton on-property credit. You also get Priority Pass Select membership for the primary account holder and up to two guests.

Annual fee: $450 (see rates & fees)

Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature Card 

Annual free night benefit: Earn one free night e-certificate good for any standard room when you charge $10,000 then renew your card (up to $30,000 and three free nights).

Welcome bonus: Receive 50,000 points after your first purchase, plus 35,000 points once you spend $2,500 on your card within the first 90 days.

Rewards: 10x points at participating Radisson Rewards hotels and 5x points for purchases everywhere else.

Other benefits: Gold elite status or 15 qualifying nights for those who already hold that status. You also receive 40,000 points each year when you renew your card.

Annual fee: $75

Radisson Rewards Visa Signature Card

Annual free night benefit: Earn one free night e-certificate good for any standard room when you charge $10,000 then renew your card (up to $30,000 and three free nights).

Welcome bonus: Receive 50,000 points after your first purchase, plus 10,000 points once you spend $1,500 on your card within the first 90 days.

Rewards: 6x points at participating Radisson Rewards hotels and 3x points for purchases everywhere else.

Other benefits: Silver elite status or 10 qualifying nights for those who already hold that status. You also receive 25,000 points each year when you renew your card.

Annual fee: $50

Radisson Blu Palace Resort Fiji. (Courtesy of Radisson Blu Palace Resort Fiji)
Radisson Blu Palace Resort Fiji. (Photo courtesy of the hotel.)

Radisson Rewards Visa Card 

Annual free night benefit: Earn one free night e-certificate good for any standard room when you charge $10,000 then renew your card (up to $30,000 and three free nights).

Welcome bonus: Receive 30,000 points after you spend $1,000 on your card within the first 90 days.

Rewards: 3x points at participating Radisson Rewards hotels and 1 point per dollar for purchases everywhere else.

Other benefits: Receive 30,000 points each year when you renew your card.

Annual fee: None

Radisson Rewards Business Visa Card

Annual free night benefit: Earn one free night e-certificate good for any standard room when you charge $10,000 then renew your card (up to $30,000 and three free nights).

Welcome bonus: Receive 50,000 points after your first purchase, plus 35,000 points once you spend $2,500 on your card within the first 90 days.

Rewards: 10x points at participating Radisson Rewards hotels and 5x points for purchases everywhere else.

Other benefits: Gold elite status or 15 qualifying nights for those who already hold that status. You also receive 40,000 points each year when you renew your card.

Annual fee: $60

For rates & fees of the Bonvoy Brilliant Amex, click here.
For rates & fees of the Hilton Ascend Amex, click here.
For rates & fees of the Hilton Aspire Amex, click here.

Featured image of the Hilton Moorea by Darren Murph/The Points Guy.

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Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express

This card is currently offering a welcome bonus of 150,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express after you use your new Card to make $4,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, enjoy a free Weekend Night Reward within your first year and every year after renewal.
  • Earn 14X Hilton Bonus Points when you make eligible purchases on your Card at participating hotels or resorts within the Hilton Portfolio.
  • Earn 7X Bonus Points for eligible purchases: on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies & at U.S. restaurants.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Enjoy up to $250 in Hilton Resort Credits on your Card each anniversary year, when you stay at participating resorts within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Enjoy complimentary Diamond status with your Hilton Honors Aspire Card.
  • $450 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.99%-26.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$450
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Good,Excellent
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.

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.