The Best Hotel Credit Cards of 2024

Traveling can be expensive, especially when it comes to booking hotel rooms. Thankfully, hotel credit cards make it possible to earn free nights, points and other rewards that can help offset these costs. But with so many hotel credit cards available, how do you know which one is right for you?

The Best Hotel Credit Cards of 2024

In this post, we’ll cover some basic thing you need to know about hotel credit cards.

How Do Hotel Credit Cards Work?

Hotel credit cards function similarly to other rewards credit cards. You’ll earn points or miles each time you purchase with the card. The main difference is that the rewards are tied specifically to a hotel loyalty program.

For example, the Hilton Honors American Express Card allows you to earn Hilton Honors points. These can then be redeemed for free nights at Hilton properties or other rewards.

When you open a hotel credit card, you usually link your rewards account with that hotel chain to your card. You earn points on purchases that are automatically deposited into your hotel rewards account.

Hotel cards offer accelerated point earning on purchases with the partner hotel. For instance, you may earn 5x points per dollar spent with a specific hotel brand. They also often offer bonus rewards on other travel purchases or dining.

Benefits of Hotel Credit Cards

There are several advantages to using a hotel credit card:

  • Earn free nights faster: Hotel cards allow you to rack up points quickly, especially when you use them for hotel spending. This enables you to earn free nights faster.
  • Elite status: Premium hotel cards provide automatic elite status with the partner hotel. This gives you perks like room upgrades, late checkout, free breakfast and more.
  • Anniversary free night: Many hotel cards offer a free night certificate each year on your cardmember anniversary. The certificate is valid at certain hotels, allowing you to get a free night annually.
  • Property credits: Top-tier hotel cards may offer statement credits that can be used on property at the hotel chain’s resorts or for on-site dining and more.
  • Airline fee credits: Some premium hotel cards provide annual airline fee credits that can be used for checked bags, in-flight amenities and other incidentals.

The Best Hotel Credit Cards of 2024

Based on rewards earning potential, benefits, annual fees and more, here are our picks for the top hotel credit cards:

Best Overall: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • 60,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 1:1 point transfers to hotel loyalty programs
  • $50 annual hotel credit
  • $95 annual fee

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card isn’t a hotel branded card, but you can consider it one of the most rewarding and flexible options. You earn valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points which transfer 1:1 to World of Hyatt, Marriott Bonvoy and IHG Rewards. Or you can redeem points directly for hotel stays in the Chase travel portal at 1.25 cents per point.

Best for Free Nights: IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card

  • 140,000 point sign-up bonus
  • Up to 26x points total per dollar spent at IHG hotels
  • Anniversary free night valid at hotels up to 40,000 points
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit
  • $99 annual fee

This IHG Rewards Premier Credit card allows you to earn points quickly with lucrative earning rates at IHG hotels. Each account anniversary, you get an annual free night certificate valid at hotels costing up to 40,000 points per night. This can get you a free night at most Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and InterContinental hotels worldwide.

Best Luxury: Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

  • 150,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 14x points on Hilton purchases
  • Up to $250 Hilton resort credit
  • Free weekend night reward annually
  • Hilton Diamond status
  • $450 annual fee

The premium Hilton Aspire card gives you the ultimate in luxury benefits. You’ll enjoy Hilton Diamond status along with up to $250 in Hilton resort credits each year and a free weekend night reward. The hefty annual fee is offset by the many perks this card provides.

Best No Annual Fee: Hilton Honors American Express Card

  • 100,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 7x points on Hilton purchases
  • 5x points at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations
  • No annual fee

This Hilton Honors American Express card has no annual fee, making it easy to earn Hilton Honors points over time. The sign-up bonus alone nets you enough points for up to 20 free nights at Hampton Inn hotels. Ongoing earning rates make racking up more free nights simple.

Best for Small Business: Marriott Bonvoy BusinessTM American Express® Card

  • 75,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 6x points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • 4x points at U.S. restaurants, gas stations, wireless providers and on shipping
  • Free night award each year (up to 35,000 points)
  • $125 annual fee

This Marriott Bonvoy Business® Credit Card is ideal for small business owners who frequently book hotel stays. You’ll enjoy lucrative bonus categories relevant to business spending along with a free night certificate each card anniversary. Automatic Marriott Silver Elite status provides perks like late checkout and priority Wi-Fi.

How to Pick the Right Hotel Credit Card

Choosing the best hotel credit card involves some key considerations:

  • Where you stay: Make sure to select a brand where you frequently stay to maximize point earnings and redemption value.
  • Elite status: Cards that offer automatic status provide significant value if you’ll reach the requirements otherwise.
  • Annual certificates: Analyze if you’ll use annual free night certificates with hotels in your travel plans.
  • Annual fee: Premium cards have high fees but may be worth it for heavy travelers who will use the luxury benefits.
  • Sign-up bonus: Compare each card’s new member bonus relative to the annual fee.
  • High-spend categories: Seek out cards with bonus earnings in categories where you spend a lot monthly.

Are Hotel Credit Cards Worth It?

For frequent travelers who prioritize hotel stays, hotel credit cards can certainly provide value. Those who rarely stay in hotels may be better off with a general travel credit card.

You’ll need to look at each card’s earning rates, benefits and annual fee to determine if it aligns with your hotel spending and travel goals. Hotel cards are most worthwhile when you stay often with a specific brand and can maximize perks like free nights and elite status.

Other Types of Credit Cards to Consider

If you want more flexibility or have varied travel preferences, here are some other credit cards to consider:

  • General travel rewards cards: Offer transferable or fixed-value points with redemption options beyond just hotels, like the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
  • Airline credit cards: Help you earn miles for flights along with airline-specific perks. Can be combined with hotel cards as part of a mixed earning strategy.
  • Cash back credit cards: Provide flat-rate rewards that aren’t tied to any one travel brand. Allows you to earn rewards on all purchases and redeem as you wish.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you use hotel points?

Most hotel loyalty programs allow you to redeem points for free night stays at their properties. The number of points required varies based on the hotel, room type and date. You can typically book award stays directly on the hotel chain’s website.

Are all hotel points equal in value?

Not necessarily. Hotel points can vary significantly in their redemption value with some being worth around 0.5 cents per point or less while more valuable ones are worth up to 2 cents or more per point depending on redemption options.

What credit score is required for hotel cards?

Hotel credit cards generally require good to excellent credit (FICO scores of 670 and above) for approval. Those with lower scores may need to build credit first before qualifying. Some hotel cards have lower requirements around 640 though.

Can you transfer hotel points between programs?

You cannot typically transfer hotel points between loyalty programs. You need to earn and redeem points within the same hotel chain. However, with flexible cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can transfer Chase points to multiple hotel programs.

Conclusion

Hotel credit cards provide a shortcut to earning free nights quicker along with other loyalty perks. But it’s crucial to pick the right card for your travel habits and budget to get full value.

Consider factors like annual fees, brand preference and elite status before applying.

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