Do you travel often for business or pleasure? If so, a hotel rewards credit card is a must. These credit cards are tied to specific hotel or online booking service rewards programs. They not only let you earn free nights’ stays, but also give you access to special perks and benefits.
Most of the higher-class hotels have one or two credit card options. And many of the online booking websites now offer their own credit cards, which you can use to book at different hotels.
When choosing a hotel card, you’ll obviously want to pick one that fits with where you stay most often, since the perks usually only apply to one chain or group of chains. If you like to just shop around for the best hotel deal, consider a credit card from a booking service like Travelocity, instead.
Hotel Specific Cards
1. Starwood Preferred Guest® from American Express
This is a premier credit card for frequent hotel stayers. It offers up to 5 Starpoints per $1 spent directly with the hotel or resort participating in the Starwood Preferred Guest® program. (Note: Some of these points come from the card, and some come directly from the SPG® membership program.) It also offers 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Bonus: Get 10,000 bonus points after your first purchase on the card, and an additional 15,000 points when you make $5,000 in purchases on the card within the first 6 months of card ownership.
Redemption: You can redeem your points for free nights at 1,100 worldwide hotels and resorts in 100 countries, or you can transfer your points to redeem them for free flights. Points are active as long as you continue using your card. Participating brands include St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W® Hotels, Westin®, Sheraton®, and Aloft®, among others.
Annual Fee: This card has a $0 introductory fee for the first year, and then a $65 annual fee after that.
2. Marriott Rewards® Premier Card
This card offers 5 rewards points per $1 spent at qualifyinf Marriott locations, 2 points per $1 spent on direct-purchased airline tickets through participating airlines, and participating car rental agencies and restaurants. You’ll also earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
Other Benefits: Each year, cardholders get 15 credits towards Marriott Elite status after the account anniversary, plus 1 Elite credit per $3,000 spent. Cardholders also get 1 free night’s stay every year after your account anniversary, and one free night’s stay after account approval.
Bonus: Get 50,000 bonus points when you spend $2,000 in purchases within three months of account opening.
Fees: The annual fee is $85 per year, waived for the first year. The card has no foreign transaction fees.
3. Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Reserve Card
You’ll earn 10 HHonors points per $1 spent on hotel stays within the Hilton portfolio, 5 HHonors points per $1 spend on airline and car rental purchases, and 3 HHonors points per $1 spent on other purchases.
Bonus: When you spend $2,500 on the card within 4 months of account opening, you’ll get 2 weekend night certificates, good for a free stay at select hotels and resorts.
Other Perks: As long as you’re a cardmember, you’ll get automatic HHonors Gold status. Gold status comes with every 5th night free on standard room stays of 5 nights or more, late check-out, express check-out, 2nd guest stays free benefits, and complimentary access to fitness centers and health clubs.
Fees: This card has a $95 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
4. Club CarlsonSM Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card
With this card, you’ll earn 10 points per $1 spend at participating Carlson Rezidor hotels worldwide. You’ll also get 5 points per $1 spend in eligible purchases elsewhere. When you redeem your points for two or more consecutive Award Nights, you’ll get your last night free.
Bonus: You’ll earn 50,000 bonus points after your first purchase on this card, and an additional 35,000 bonus points when you spend $2,500 within the first three months of card ownership. This is enough for 9 free nights at Category 1 hotels.
Other Perks: You’ll automatically get Club Carlson Gold Status after you activate and use your card. Gold status offers 15% discounts on food and beverages at participating hotel restaurants, partner redemption offers, free award nights, free internet at worldwide hotels, a 35% annual points bonus, rollover nights, early check-in and late checkout, and an in-room welcome gift.
Flexible Rewards Cards
1. IHG® Rewards Club Select MasterCard®
This credit card is great for budget-conscious hotel travelers. The InterContinental Hotels Group managers many hotel brands, including Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites, Holiday Inn, InterContinental, and Crowne Plaza. This card allows you to save on all of these hotels.
Earning Points: You’ll earn 5 points per $1 spent at qualifying IHG hotels, and 2 points per $1 spent at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Cardholders get 1 oint per $1 spent on all other purchases. You’ll also get one free night every year you own this card.
Bonus Points: Earn 60,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Other Perks: This card offers Platinum Elite Status at IHG® hotels. You’ll also get a 10% rebate on each IHG® rewards club point redemption. So if you spend 50,000 points, you’ll get 5,000 points back. This applies on up to 10,000 rebate points per year.
2. Priceline RewardsTM Visa® Credit Card
This card offers 5 points per $1 spent on Priceline purchases, and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. You’ll get 5,000 bonus points (about $50 worth) just for opening the card, and another $50 in bonus cash the first time you use your card to book travel at Priceline.
Points Back Bonus: When you redeem points for statement credits on eligible Priceline.com purchases of $25 or more, you’ll get 10% points back.
Fees: This card comes with no annual fee, and no foreign transaction fees.
Redemption: Your Priceline points are like cash. Redeem them for statement credits when you make purchases on your account.
3. Travelocity® Rewards American Express® Card
With this card, you earn 3 points per eligible Travelocity purchase and 1 point on all other purchases. You’ll earn 5,000 bonus points after your first purchase – a $50 statement credit. You can redeem points for statement credits towards Travelocity purchases for flights, certain hotels, and vacation packages with no blackout dates.
Save Up: The more points you redeem with this card at one time, the more your points will be worth. 5,000 points counts for a $50 statement credit, but if you redeem 20,000 points, that’s a $400 statement credit.
Annual Fee: This card has no annual fee.