On this page you’ll discover my top picks for best hotel credit cards.
Of course, your destination of choice will impact which hotel program you should focus on using to earn points. However, this general guide should help you identify the best cards and ideal programs.
Best Hotel Credit Cards
Updated: Oct. 5th, 2013.
Club Carlson Visa
Get one free award night with each award stay of two or more nights. After spending $2,500 in the first 90 days you’ll get 85,000 points.
Craig’s Tip: I use this for two night stays because it’s like getting a second night free every time I use the card.
Citi Hilton Reserve
This card gives you the valuable benefits of Hilton Gold. With your Gold status you’ll get free internet and free breakfast every time you stay at a Hilton branded hotel. After spending $2,500 in four months you’ll get two free weekend night.
Citi Hilton HHonors
When you’re a Citi Hilton card holder, you’ll get silver status. Silver doesn’t provide you with many benefits except access to discounted award bookings when staying for multiple nights. Hilton also has some cash and points options, but they are not typically as lucrative as Hilton. These points are usually best used for stays of four nights or longer at Hilton locations. Craig’s Tip: Hilton is ideal for longer hotel stays since you get a points discount. If you get the Surpass card before traveling, you’ll get Gold Status so you can enjoy free internet and breakfast while you redeem your points. Apply Now
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Starwood American Express
Earn up to 25,000 points. What I love about this program can be summed up in three words – cash and points. When combining cash and points, you can find some of the best prices on hotels and stay at some wonderful destinations. During my 2012 travels, here’s the value I’ve received out of each point – $.075, $.044, $.062, and $.049. That’s like getting between 4.4% to 7.5% return on every dollar spent with the card.
Craig’s Tip: I like to find nice category 1 or 2 hotels and use cash and points. With up to 1,600 points and $30, I’ve received a lot of value out of this program.
Marriott Rewards Premier
The free night voucher plus 50,000 points for signing up and spending $1,000 in the first three months makes this card hard to beat in terms of sign up bonuses. The 50,000 points will get you a couple nights in a category 4 hotel. With the free night, that is a total of 3 nights in a category 4 hotel. In fact, in a post where I searched for the best hotel credit cards, this Marriott card came up as the number one option. Chase Sapphire Preferred card members can also transfer points to Marroitt.
Craig’s Tip: Be sure to check out the Point Savers listto get even more value out of your Marriott points.
Hyatt Credit Card
If you want fancy then you may want to get the Hyatt card. This card keeps its sign up bonus simple. Get two free hotel night certificates after spending $1,000 in the first three months and payment of the $75 annual fee (not waived the first year). The certificates are perfect for some of the most expensive Hyatt hotels. As an example the Park Hyatt Paris – Vendome location has rooms starting at around 800 euro per night. The Park Hyatt Tokyo has rooms starting at just over $500 per night. By using your bonus at one of these luxury locations you can easily get $1,000 value out of your two free nights. Each year that you renew the card you’ll get a free hotel night at category 1-4 locations. As a card holder you’ll also get Hyatt Platinum status.
Craig’s Tip: Maximize the value with this card by redeeming your two free nights at some of the most expensive Hyatt locations. This includes the Park Hyatt Paris, Park Hyatt Tokyo, and Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa.
Priority Club Visa
After spending $1,000 in the first three months you can get 60,000 Priority Club points. There are other cool benefits attached to this card. Get Platinum Status for as long as you have the card, get a 10% point rebate when you use points to book hotels, and you can get a free hotel night certificate each card anniversary.
Craig’s Tip: This card has the potential to be extremely valuable. Priority Club has a program I love called PointBreaks. These select hotels can be booked for a mere 5,000 miles (4,500 after your 10% mile rebate). I’ve stayed at hotels that cost well over $150 for only 5,000 points. Personally, I’d get the card and hold out for some great PointBreaks, and then plan my trip around those offerings. If you did this, your bonus could easily get you 12 free hotel nights.
Hilton Surpass American Express
After approval and your first purchase, you can earn 40,000 Hilton HHonors points. Spend an additional $3,000 in the first 3 months and you’ll get another 20,000 miles. For the first year that you have this card, you can get complementary Hilton Gold Status which includes nice benefits like free breakfast and free internet. This card comes with a $75 annual fee that is not waived the first year.
Craig’s Tip: Get this card when you’ve got a lot of Hilton travels coming up. Take full advantage of the first year Gold Status.
Hilton HHonors American Express
Not to be confused with the Surpass card, this other American Express card gives you an opportunity to increase your Hilton HHonors points balance. Get 40,000 points after spending $750 in the first three months. This card has no annual fees.
Craig’s Tip: Grab this card when you need a quick stock of Hilton HHonors points.