Hotel reward credit cards are very beneficial to those who stay in hotels a lot. They are sort of like cashback cards, but instead you get reward points back. These points then can be redeemed to stay at their hotel.
These cards are a mixed bag. Some offer 1% cashback on everything and 2% cashback on hotel reservations. Others offer 5% or more in reward points for staying at their hotel.
At Elite Personal Finance, we recommend only cards that offer generous incentives. Hotel cards aren’t as great as cashback cards, but you can get more bang for your buck if you are a regular traveler. With that said, the recommendations below are some of the best hotel credit cards on the market today!
The Best Hotel Reward Cards
The Starwood Preferred Guest from American Express
This card gives you around 2.4% back in rewards. It offers 1:1 point transfers with various airline companies. There’s no annual fee in the first year, and then it’s $95 yearly after that. You also have between a 15.49% and 19.49% APR rate.
After signing up, spend at least $3,000 with your Starwood card in the first three months you have it and you’ll receive 25,000 Starpoints. You can earn free stays at well over a thousand different hotels worldwide. You also get access to Boingo wireless Internet services for free. This allows you to connect to more than a million hotspots worldwide, which means you will always have Internet access while on vacation.
You can redeem your Starpoints at the following businesses:
- Aloft SM
- Four Points by Sheraton
- Le Meridien
- St. Regis Hotels & Resorts
- Starwood Hotels
- The Luxury Collection
- W Hotels
The big bonus: when you do point transfers, you’ll receive a 5,000 Starpoints bonus on top of every 20,000 you transfer. It’s a 25% booster on what you earn, so it’s well worth taking advantage of this offer.
The Marriott Rewards Premier Card
You get 80,000 in bonus points if you transact more than $3,000 within three months of getting your card. You can also score 7,500 more points if you put an authorized user on your account.
Now here’s how their rewards pay out when you use the card:
- 5% back on anything spent at Marriott locations
- 2% back on airlines, car rentals, and restaurants
- 1% back on everything else
You also won’t get suckered into any surprise fees when using the card while on vacation. They have no foreign transaction fees. There’s also 120-day purchase protection that covers both damage and theft, to the amount of $500 per item and $50,000 total. They even reimburse you as much as $100 if you have a small travel delay to cover toiletries, food, and etc., and upwards of $500 if you have a lengthy delay.
If you have your flight cancelled, under the right circumstances you could get back as much as $5,000 via their trip cancellation and interruption coverage. Even more, up to $3,000 in luggage is covered for each individual.
The low point of this card is the high, $85 annual fee. The APR rate also fluctuates between 16.24% and 23.24%, which is pretty extreme. Still, with no fees for transactions out of the United States you will likely end up ahead if you use this card regularly.
Plus, you can earn as much in rewards as you can manage. There’s no limit to what they’ll pay out to any cardholder. So if you’re a big spender and frequent traveler, the Marriott Rewards card is perfect.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Chase Sapphire is a tremendous card for any big spender that frequently travels. It rewards 2% back on restaurants and travel purchases and 1% back on everything else.
What makes this card great is the 50,000-point signup bonus. You just have to spend $4,000 in your first three months to unlock it. If you add an authorized user in this amount of time you’ll score another 5,000 bonus points.
The 50,000 point signup bonus alone is $625 worth of reward points. The card does have a $95 annual fee, but there’s no charge for the introductory year.
Another great thing is that there’s no fee on foreign transactions.
This card has a 16.24% to 23.24% APR rate depending on your creditworthiness.
The Capital One Venture Rewards Card
This card gives you 40,000 points if you purchase at least $3,000 with the card. These rewards value out to being worth $400 in travel credits.
This card has an APR rate that ranges from 13.24% to 23.24% depending on your creditworthiness. For borrowers with great credit, this is one of the lower APR rates you can get on a hotel reward card.
There is a $59 annual fee but you aren’t charged for the introductory year.
Another great perk is that you get your FICO score for free.
The Hyatt Card
This card has a $75 annual fee but there’s no charge in the introductory year. You will receive in the range of 2% to 6% back in reward incentives. It works out to 3% in points for Hyatt location purchases, 2% back on airline reservations, car rentals, and restaurant purchases. Then you get 1% on any other types of purchases.
Here’s where the card gets good … if you spend $40,000 in one year you get 3 nights for free. You also get a five night booster upon reaching Diamond status. Every year on the date you first signed up you’ll receive a free night. You get two free nights for making $20,000 in purchases in one year. In total, the Hyatt card rewards you with an easy 11 free stays at their hotel locations!
The card is also fixed to a very reasonable 15.99% APR rate.
Furthermore, just for signing up and getting approved you’ll receive two free stays after spending only $1,000 with the card in under three months.
Some of these hotels charge over $200 for a single night, meaning you could get $1,000’s in value back through spending just $40,000 in one year. A big spender could get 8% cashback with the right purchases.
Consider Hilton’s Reward Card
They have two cards with no annual fees …
Citi Hilton HHonors VISA Signature Card
This card gives 6% back on anything you spend at any of their locations.
If you spend $2,000 in under three months you get 75,000 HHonors reward points. And you get a free upgrade to HHonors Silver. Every year on the anniversary of your card start date you’ll also get 10,000 reward points. *They regularly have promotions that reward at a better rate for signing up within a limited period of time.
Some other perks: check-out late for free, no charge on second guest, and a discount from non-cardholder stay rates.
Hilton HHonors Card from American Express
This card has a 15.49% to 19.49% APR rate. It does charge on foreign transactions, a 2.7% rate on each purchase.
If you spend $750 in under three months you get 50,000 reward points. And you get a free upgrade to HHonors Silver.
Anything you spend at a Hilton location with your American Express Hilton card will receive an incredible 6% back in reward points. Then you receive 3% back on pharmacy, gas station and supermarket transactions. Everything else gets a whopping 2% back.
Pro tip: Maximize your reward point value by fast-tracking your upgrade to Gold. You can do this by making four reservations within your first three months. If you spend at least $20,000 in any given year you’ll also be upgraded to their Gold status.
If you don’t care about paying an annual fee, there are two other hotel reward cards offered by Hilton.
The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card
This card gives you 10% back on anything spent at a Hilton location. It also gives 5% back on airline and car rental transactions. Then everything else earns you 3% back.
You can earn two reservations to stay for a night at a Hilton location between Friday and Sunday. All you have to do is transact at least $2,500 within four months of getting the card.
This card comes with a $95 annual fee. On the plus side, you aren’t charged for any foreign transactions. You also get a free upgrade to Gold status so you earn even more on every purchase.
If you transact at least $10,000 on your Reserve card in the same calendar year you’ll be given a full weekend stay at one of their locations.
This card typically carries a 15.49% APR rate.
The Hilton HHonors Surpass Card from American Express
This card has a $75 annual fee. You get a free upgrade to Gold status which lasts for as long as you keep the card active.
The great thing about this card is the 12% in reward points you receive for everything you spend at a Hilton location. Everything else gives you 3% back.
This card has an APR rate that ranges from 15.49% to 19.49% depending on your creditworthiness. Every time you make a reservation, book through their website and get 500 bonus points. You also get free access to their Priority Pass Select program.
A great added perk is the free roadside assistance service that’s included for all cardholders within the United States.
Hotel Reward Credit Card FAQs
What credit score do you need to get a hotel reward card?
As long as you have a FICO score of 650 or more you stand a good chance at getting approved for most travel reward cards. Any credit rating in excess of 700 typically gets approved all the time. Your income strength can also be used as justification to approve you for an account through most issuers. Try reaching out even if you don’t have the best credit, some of these cards are easier to get than you think!
Can you get a hotel reward card with bad credit?
We believe anyone who has average credit or no credit with great income should be able to get approved. If you do get rejected, the next best option would be to apply for a Discover it Secured Card. You do have to put up funds, but in the end it’s worth it as you get 2% back on everything you spend at gas stations and restaurants and 1% back on all other purchases. This is straight cash making it much better than a bland hotel points or airline miles reward scheme.
The Discover it Secured Card can have a limit of between $200 and $2,500 and the card can be upgraded into an unsecured one after a while. You get free access to your FICO score for as long as you have this card.
How do you redeem hotel reward points?
This all depends on which card you have. Most of the time you put the points towards a purchase at one of their locations. Some cards let you transfer points between other airline and hotel reward programs. The first card we recommended, the Starwood Preferred Guest from American Express, offers a 25% point boost when you transfer a lot of 20,000 bonus points to another reward program. This can add up real quick!
Which Hilton’s reward card is best?
We Hilton HHonors Surpass Card from American Express is the best card of the bunch if you’re a heavy spender. If you just travel a lot but don’t spend a whole lot of money, then the Citi Hilton HHonors VISA Signature Card is the best choice. This one has no annual fee and it gives you 6% back on what you spend at their locations.