7 of the best hotel credit cards that come with an annual free night

Mar 21, 2021

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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.


Many hotel loyalty programs, including World of Hyatt, Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors, offer cobranded credit cards. And even if you only stay with a particular hotel loyalty program a few times each year, you may still benefit from signing up for that program’s credit card. After all, some of the best hotel credit cards offer valuable benefits that far outweigh the fees.

One of my favorite perks frequently offered by hotel credit cards is an annual free night certificate. This anniversary night can often justify the card’s annual fee before you even consider any of the card’s other perks. As such, I typically don’t hesitate to open a new hotel credit card that offers an annual award night. And I’ve never closed a credit card that provides one. After all, I always get more value from the annual free night and other perks than the annual fee I pay.

If you’re looking to restart travel this summer or fall, now is a great time to add one or more of the best hotel credit cards to your wallet. So today, I’ll introduce some of the best hotel credit cards that provide an annual free night to cardholders.

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Best hotel credit cards with an annual free night

The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex and 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: Battle of the mid-tier hotel cards: Which card outshines the others?

In This Post

Comparing hotel credit cards that offer an annual free night

Hotel credit card Best for Annual free night details Annual fee
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 your new card 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)
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card Marriott loyalists One free night award every year after your card account anniversary that you can use for one night costing 35k points or less $95
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card Marriott loyalists who want extra perks One free night award every year after your card account anniversary that you can use for one night costing 50k points or less $450 (see rates and fees)
Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card Business travelers who are Marriott loyalists One free night award every year after your card account anniversary that you can use for one night costing 35k points or less

One additional free night award that you can use 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)
IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card IHG loyalists One anniversary night valid at IHG hotels with a current point redemption level of 40,000 points or less after your account anniversary each year $89
Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature Card Radisson loyalists 40k points each year 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

World of Hyatt Credit Card: Best for Hyatt loyalists

World of Hyatt Credit Card
(Photo by John Gribben/The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: Earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 more bonus points by earning two bonus points total per $1 spent on purchases that usually earn one bonus point (on up to $15,000) in the first six months of account opening. Based on TPG’s valuation of Hyatt points at 1.7 cents each, the total 60,000-point bonus is worth $1,020.

Rewards rate: 4x Hyatt points with Hyatt including participating restaurants and Exhale locations; 2x points on local transit and commuting, at restaurants, 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: 5 reasons I went all-in on the World of Hyatt Card

Why this benefit is valuable: Hyatt has an attractive list of Category 1-4 properties. You’ll find plenty of Hyatt Places and Hyatt Houses in the Category 1-4 list. Still, 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. Plus, you don’t pay resort fees at Hyatt when staying on a free night award.

Other card details:

  • World of Hyatt Discoverist status for as long as your World of Hyatt Card is open
  • Five qualifying night credits toward your next tier status every year. Plus, earn two additional qualifying night credits toward your next tier status every time you spend $5,000 on your card
  • No foreign transaction fees

Check out TPG’s review of the World of Hyatt Credit Card for more information.

Official application link: World of Hyatt Credit Card

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Best for Hilton loyalists

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Welcome offer: Earn 150,000 Hilton points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases on the card within the first three months of card membership. Based on TPG’s valuation of Hilton points at 0.6 cents each, the bonus is worth $900.

Rewards rate: 14x Hilton points on eligible purchases at hotels or resorts in the Hilton portfolio; 7x points on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel, car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies and at U.S. restaurants; 3x points on other eligible purchases.

Annual fee: $450 (see rates and fees)

Annual free night benefit: The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card provides 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: Hilton Surpass vs. Hilton Aspire: Which card is right for you?

Why this benefit is valuable: When redeeming Hilton free weekend night award certificates, the sky is the limit. There is no category cap. So, you can redeem your free night at some genuinely exceptional Hilton properties. For example, TPG’s Nick Ellis plans to use his two Hilton free-night certificates at Zemi Beach House in Anguilla. There are several excluded properties, though. You can typically only use your free night on weekend nights (Friday, Saturday or Sunday night in most regions), but Hilton is waiving this restriction for certificates issued through Dec. 31, 2020. Finally, Hilton doesn’t charge resort fees on free night rewards.

Other card details:

Check out TPG’s review of The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card for more information.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Best for Marriott loyalists

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card
(Photo by John Gribben/The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Based on TPG’s valuation of Marriott points at 0.8 cents each, the bonus is worth $800.

Rewards rate: up to 17x Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels; 2x points on all other purchases

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 of up to 35,000 points.

Related: 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. As such, it should be easy to get at least $95 of value from your 35,000-point certificate.

Other card details:

Check out TPG’s Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card review for more information.

Official application link: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card: Best for Marriott loyalists who want extra perks

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
(Photo by Eden Batki/The Points Guy)

Welcome offer: Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Based on TPG’s valuation of Marriott points at 0.8 cents each, these bonus points are worth $800. Plus, earn up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases made on your new card at U.S. restaurants within the first six months of card membership.

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

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. You can use the free night award for one night (redemption level at or under 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel.

Related: 15 ways to redeem the Marriott 50k free night award

Why this benefit is valuable: TPG’s valuations peg the value of 50,000 Marriott points at $400. And many excellent Marriott properties are bookable for 50,000 points or less. You can even use the free night award at Category 7 properties on off-peak dates. Although I’d prefer if the card 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 enjoy a luxury night each year even if 50,000-point properties would generally be too rich for your points (or cash) budget.

Other card details:

Check out TPG’s card review for Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card for more information.

Official application link: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card

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

Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Welcome offer: Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $150 back in statement credits on eligible purchases made within the first three months of card membership. Based on TPG’s valuation of Marriott points at 0.8 cents each, the75K bonus is worth $600.

Rewards rate: 6x Marriott points on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels; 4x points on eligible purchases 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 all other eligible purchases

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. You can use your free night award for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel.

Related: 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. And 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 TPG’s review of the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card for more information.

Official application link: Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card

IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card: Best for IHG loyalists

The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
(Photo by The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: Earn 125,000 bonus points plus a Reward Night after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Based on TPG’s valuation of IHG points at 0.5 cents each, the bonus is worth $625.

Rewards rate: 10x points on purchases at IHG Hotels & Resorts worldwide; 2x points on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants; 1x points on all other purchases

Annual fee: $89

Annual free night benefit: The IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card offers an anniversary night every year at one of IHG’s eligible Hotels & Resorts worldwide. You’ll get this anniversary night on your account upgrade anniversary date each year and then you’ll have 12 months to book and complete your stay. You can use this anniversary night at IHG Hotels with a current point redemption level of 40,000 points or less.

Related: Why I’m happy to pay the annual fee on the IHG Premier Card

Why this benefit is valuable: Thanks to IHG’s dynamic pricing, you can currently book many IHG hotels using the IHG Premier Card’s anniversary reward night. So, it’s worth checking whether you can use your anniversary night to snag some of IHG top hotels. For example, I was recently able to book the amazing InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort using two of the IHG Premier’s anniversary night certificates.

Other card details:

Check out TPG’s IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card review for more information.

Official application link: IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature Card: Best for Radisson loyalists

Radisson Blu Hotel in Kyiv
(Photo by Gelia/Shutterstock)

Sign-up bonus: Earn 100,000 bonus Radisson Rewards points once you spend $3,000 on your card within the first 90 days. Based on TPG’s valuation of Radisson points at 0.4 cents each, the 100,000-point bonus is worth $400.

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. That’s enough for a free night (or multiple nights) at many of Radisson’s properties across the world.

Additionally, you can 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 a Radisson Blu, Radisson, Radisson RED, Park Plaza, Park Inn by Radisson, or Country Inn & Suites by Radisson hotel located in the United States.

Related: 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 can typically get enough value from the renewal points each year to justify your annual fee. Since Radisson free night awards start at 9,000 points, you could get up to three free nights from the 40,000 renewal points each year. Plus, the opportunity to earn free night e-certs for use in the United States may also 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 if you already hold Gold or Platinum status
  • This card charges foreign transaction fees

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

When selecting the best hotel credit cards that provide an annual free night, I considered various factors. Most importantly, I only included cards that offer a free night (or enough points for a free night) to all cardholders at least once per year. As such, I excluded any cards, such as the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, that only provide an annual free night if the cardholder meets specific spending thresholds.

For cards that offer an annual free night (or enough points to cash in for a free night), I also considered whether cardholders could obtain an additional free night after reaching a spending threshold. And I also considered other valuable card benefits such as elite status and high bonus categories as well as the annual fee.

Related: 5 ways to maximize free hotel night rewards in the new era of COVID-19

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. The free night will typically appear as an award or perk in your account. But some programs, such as Hilton, instead provide a certificate number that you must call to use.

Hotel loyalty programs often restrict free-night certificates to the lower half of the program’s reward categories, but there are exceptions. And you typically have only one year to use each certificate (although some programs have extended free night certificates due to the coronavirus pandemic).

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

How to maximize credit card annual free nights

You could use your free night award by itself for a one-night stay. Or, you could tack it onto a more extended stay booked with points or cash. You could even book multiple nights using free night awards if you have multiple yourself or are traveling with others who also free night awards. However, if you book consecutive reservations, it’s best to let the hotel know so you can remain in the same room.

It typically makes sense to redeem awards for the highest category possible and compare the cash rate to the certificate’s value. However, don’t focus on maximizing a free night award so much that it goes to waste. Remember that you must both redeem and stay before the expiration date with most free night awards.

Typically, you don’t need to pay taxes when redeeming a free night. And Hyatt and Hilton typically waive resort fees on award nights. But you may still need to pay fees on award nights. In particular, if you’re traveling to a destination like French Polynesia or the Maldives, you’ll almost always still need to pay expensive transfer fees.

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

Bottom line

Now is a great time to add a new travel rewards credit card to your wallet. Although some of the best hotel credit cards only provide an annual free night starting on your first cardmember anniversary, some offer the first annual free night shortly after you become a cardmember. Plus, all of these cards provide elite perks and valuable sign-up bonuses to eligible new cardholders. So, adding one or more of these cards to your wallet now could be just what you need for your first fully vaccinated trip.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire Amex card, 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.

Featured photo of the Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort courtesy of Marriott.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Aside from the welcome offer you'll earn up to $300 in statement credits each year and 1 free night (worth up to 50k points) every year after your cardmember anniversary. Terms apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $200 in Statement Credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Enjoy up to $300 in statement credits each year of Card Membership for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
  • Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy Hotels. 3 points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines. 2 points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive 1 free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy unlimited airport lounge visits when you enroll in Priority Pass™ Select membership.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $450 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$450
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
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.

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.