If you are a frequent traveler who needs to shuttle between cities for work or pleasure, you could benefit from a hotel credit card. Over the years, travelers and business people have learned the benefits of using hotel credit cards, which promise not only great rewards and massive welcome bonuses but also bonus points and a wide range of benefits. Co-branded hotel credit cards are a new norm for frequent movers, with top chains like Hilton, Choice, Marriott, and Hyatt offering multiple choices. What does it take to choose the perfect hotel credit card? We have a few cues to get you started!
Figure Out Your Plans
Expectedly, hotel credit cards are best suited for people on the move, but what matters as much is whether you prefer to stay in business hotels and high-end properties. Applying for one is easy, and choosing one that would be useful for more destinations makes sense. You would benefit from a co-branded hotel credit card that rewards you for stays across the world in chain hotels.
The most significant advantage of a hotel credit card is the plethora of welcome bonuses that allow new users to upgrade rooms and better services. Welcome offers vary, but by just signing up, you already have thousands of points on your card. These points can be redeemed at the partnering chain hotels for stays, upgrades, and more. To add to the welcome bonuses, many cards also allow you to get additional bonus points for spending a certain amount within the first few months. If you already have plans to explore new destinations in the next six months, you need to get a hotel credit card based on the options on your list.
Understanding Reward Systems
Rewards and bonus points can come in handy when you stay in certain locations. Hilton, for instance, has properties in Disney Springs, and you could get extras, including quick passes, access to special events, and extra stays for the same money. You can redeem your reward points at the hotels to get additional services. Before you sign up, consider two other points –
- If the hotel credit card has an annual fee
Let’s say that you are paying an annual fee of $100 on a card but also get one free night for special days like birthdays and anniversaries; that extra fee is worth paying compared to a night’s stay.
Top 10 Hotel Credit Cards to Consider
This flagship Hilton card from American Express is ideal for frequent spenders who like to stay in Hilton properties. You get 150,000 points as a welcome bonus, and there’s an annual fee of $450. Pros include Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, which is assigned with enrollment, statement credits up to $600, and Hilton Diamond status with additional benefits.
On the flip side, the regular APR is on the higher side, while the annual fee is considerably higher compared to other credit cards. There’s no waiver on the first year or new enrollment either.
If you are a Hyatt loyalist, The World of Hyatt Credit Card is for you. You get up to 60,000 bonus points for signing up, and the annual fee is just $95, which is quite low compared to the Hilton option, which demands a whopping $450. Pros include a free night on your anniversary, World of Hyatt Discoverist status, easy to redeem point system, and a commendable welcome bonus.
On the flip side, Hyatt doesn’t have as many properties as many other chains, which could be a bummer. While the card could value frequent Hyatt travelers, the high regular APR and no introductory APR offer are other points that may concern some.
With up to 10x reward rate, Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is undoubtedly among the best hotel credit cards out there. You will also earn 2 miles for each dollar spent. Welcome bonus includes 75,000 miles, and if you are someone who prefers premium stays, this one is for you. While the annual fee of $395 may seem higher than Hyatt, it is still lower than most upscale hotel cards in this category. You get yearly travel credit and miles, which could cover the annual fee for most users. The miles system is quite simple and also easy to use.
On the flip side, Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card doesn’t have as many high-end travel partners. The lack of hotel status benefits and the high APR are other aspects.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card is for Marriott loyalists. You have an annual fee of $650 and get 95,000 points as the welcome offer. In terms of advantages, you get the Free Night Award after each card renewal month, Complimentary Bonvoy Platinum Elite status, better earnings at Marriott hotels, and 25 annual Elite night credits.
On the flip side, the high APR could be a concern for many users. The annual fee is also the highest on the list, and there is no introductory APR offer either.
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If you are someone who needs a hotel credit card for longer stays, the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card is just what you need. For just an annual fee of $75, you get 175,000 points as a welcome bonus. Users can earn up to 26 points for every dollar spent on partnering IHG hotels worldwide, with benefits like a Free annual night on account anniversary. You also get the fourth night free for point redemption stays. By applying for the card, you also get complimentary IHG One Rewards Platinum Elite status.
On the flip side, the point value system of this hotel credit card doesn’t match the others. Redemption options are also limited beyond IHG properties.
If you only prefer Hilton on select occasions and don’t want to shell out the high annual fee for their regular card, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is just what you need. For an annual fee of just $95, you get Hilton Honors Gold status, which gives you access to preferred rooms, free breakfasts, and much more. You also get Priority Pass benefits, which allow ten airport lounge visits. There are no foreign transaction fees either.
On the flip side, you have to spend at least $15,000 to get the Free Night Reward. Besides the Hilton properties, redeeming your points may not be worth it.
If you are not someone who doesn’t want to spend on a singular hotel chain, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card could be the one for your travel needs. You earn high rewards on multiple spending avenues and can transfer points to travel partners at a stunning 1:1 rate, besides many travel and shopping protections.
On the flip side, there is no introductory APR offer, and while the annual fee of $95 may seem low, you don’t necessarily get the same benefits as co-branded hotel credit cards. The travel earning rates are only applicable for booking through Chase.
If you are a fan of Platinum Concierge service and like to enjoy luxury stays, The Platinum Card® from American Express is a good one. You get higher rewards for both hotels and flights booked via American Express Travel, besides additional benefits like airport lounge access. By signing up for the card, you also get Elite status with top chains like Hilton and Marriott.
On the flip side, the annual fee of $695 is quite high, and outside of travel needs, this card doesn’t offer as many rewards.
If you like spending your holidays enjoying Best Western properties, this is a perfect hotel credit card for you, especially when traveling in a group or with family. You get 20 extra points for Best Western purchases for each dollar spent. Enrolling for the card also gets you Gold Status, and there are no foreign transaction fees.
On the flip side, the reward program that allows winning just two points per dollar is a considerably low-scale offer. The $89 annual fee may still sound high.
The last one on this list is also for Marriott visitors. Like other credit cards, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card also gives you a free night each year, automatic Silver Elite status, and numerous ways to use your points. There are 7,000 Marriott Bonvoy hotels, which provides you with more choices to use the card, and you can also earn big by using the card for dining and even for regular grocery shopping. With more use, you can also get to the Gold Status from the initial Automatic Silver Elite Status. There are also no foreign transaction fees.
On the flip side, the Silver status is still the lowest of all tiers, and you would still pay an annual fee of $95.
Hotel credit cards are not for everyone, but for those who like to be specific with luxury chains and prefer certain categories of stays, each of the above options may make sense. Review your travel plans, consider the destinations you wish to cover, and if you are a business traveler, check the presence of the selected hotel chain in frequented locations.