May 25, 2022

Best hotel credit cards for January 2022

Table of Contents Our TakeOur TakeOur TakeOur TakeOur TakeFAQsHow do hotel cards work?Who are hotel…

If you’re a business traveler or just appreciate a couple of nights away in a luxe hotel, a hotel rewards program can help make the most of your time away from home. The best hotel rewards credit card can help you travel like a pro, saving you money on hotel stays or providing you with VIP perks not available to the average hotel guest. 

With dozens of hotel rewards credit cards and programs on the market, choosing the right one depends on how loyal you are to one particular brand. And as with any credit card, signing up for a new hotel credit card isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. After all, you may be responsible for an annual fee or could end up hurting your credit score if you change your mind and close the account. 

We’re here to help you evaluate the best hotel rewards credit cards and programs before you commit. These partner offers are the best available for those looking to optimize their hotel stays.

Intro BonusEarn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

APR15.99%-22.99% Variable

Recommended Credit Excellent/Good

Reward Rates

  • 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3x on dining.
  • 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.

Annual Fee$95

Intro Purchase APRN/A

Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

Balance Transfer APR15.99%-22.99% Variable

Foreign Transaction Fees $0

Penalty APR Up to 29.99%

  • 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3x on dining.
  • 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.

Our Take

If you’re not partial to one specific hotel brand, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a good option. You’ll earn points for your purchases which can be redeemed through the card’s hotel and airline partners, or for nearly any hotel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Booking through the Chase portal may stretch your points further. You can redeem at 1.25 cents per point as opposed to transferring your rewards 1:1 to the travel partner of your choice. In addition to the great flexibility, you’ll earn a 60,000-point welcome bonus (or $750 toward travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards) for your next stay if you spend $4,000 on the card within the first three months of account opening.

Intro BonusEarn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $10,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months.

APR15.74%-24.74% Variable

Recommended Credit Excellent/Good

Reward Rates

  • Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card

Annual Fee$95

Intro Purchase APRN/A

Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

Late Payment Fee Up to $40

Foreign Transaction Fees None

Penalty APR 29.99% Variable

  • Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card

Our Take

Hilton encompasses several hotel brands, from the budget Embassy Suites and Hampton Inn to the luxury Waldorf Astoria and LXR. American Express offers three consumer Hilton rewards cards of various tiers.

The best value for most people will be in the midrange version, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card. This card has the best welcome bonus and an annual fee of $95 per year. You can earn up to 180,000 Hilton Honors points as a welcome bonus. If you spend $2,000 in purchases in the first three months of card membership, you earn 130,000 bonus points, plus an additional 50,000 bonus points after you spend a total of $10,000 in purchases in the first six months. Besides the welcome bonus, being a Surpass cardholder means you automatically qualify for Hilton Honors Gold status for perks including the fifth night free when booking, room upgrades when available, free water and daily food and beverage credits. 

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Intro BonusEarn 3 Free Nights after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening

APR15.99% – 22.99% Variable

Recommended Credit Excellent/Good

Reward Rates

  • Earn up to 17X total Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Card.
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Annual Fee$95

Intro Purchase APRN/A

Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

Balance Transfer APR15.99% – 22.99% Variable

Foreign Transaction Fees $0

Penalty APR Up to 29.99%

  • Earn up to 17X total Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Card.
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Our Take

Marriott has multiple cobranded credit cards to choose from, starting from entry-level with no annual fee to premium. It all depends on how often you plan on staying at one of the 30 brands and more than 7,000 properties under the Marriott wing. The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless by Chase Bank is $95 per year but comes with a welcome bonus of three free nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

Cardholder perks include an annual free night certificate equivalent to up to 35,000 points, and 15 Elite Night credits that help you get to Gold Status faster from the automatic Silver tier you receive after card approval. It’s a good card to get a taste of being a preferred Marriott guest. 

Intro BonusEarn 125,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening

APR15.99% – 22.99% Variable

Recommended Credit Excellent/Good

Reward Rates

  • Earn up to 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel.
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Annual Fee$89

Intro Purchase APRN/A

Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

Balance Transfer APR15.99% – 22.99% Variable

Foreign Transaction Fees $0

Penalty APR Up to 29.99%

  • Earn up to 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel.
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Our Take

IHG properties include some of the most luxurious and trendy brands around such as Kimpton Hotels, Regent, Six Senses, Crowne Plaza and Intercontinental Hotels. If you’d like to be a VIP whenever you visit an IHG property, the IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card awards you Platinum Elite Status once you’re a cardholder.

The Platinum Elite status tier means 20% off point purchases, a free night for each card anniversary and a fourth night free when you redeem points for a stay of four or more nights. Other perks include guaranteed room availability, free room upgrades, priority check-in, late checkout, welcome amenities and complimentary drinks or snacks at Kimpton hotels.

Intro BonusWelcome Offer: Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with your Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

APR14.24% – 22.24% Variable

Recommended Credit Good, Excellent

Reward Rates

  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
  • Earn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
  • 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.

Annual Fee$695

Intro Purchase APRSee Pay Over Time APR

Late Payment Fee $39 or 2.99% of any past due Pay in Full amount, whichever is greater.

Foreign Transaction Fees None

Penalty APR 29.24% Variable

  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
  • Earn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
  • 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.

Our Take

Business travelers in need of a premium travel solution for hotel stays and travel should look at the Business Platinum Card from American Express. The $695 annual fee is high, but the card’s perks can easily offset the cost. They include up to a $200 airline fee statement credit per calendar year at one qualifying airline, up to a $179 Clear airport security statement credit per year, up to a $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, complimentary access to more than 1,400 airport lounges and perks worth up to $550 per year from Fine Hotels + Resorts including complimentary daily breakfasts for two and late checkouts (4 p.m.).

Best of all, Business Platinum cardholders get Gold status for Hilton Honors and Gold Elite Status with Marriott Bonvoy without the need to carry specific cards for either brand or meeting a minimum number of stays.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

FAQs

How do hotel cards work?

Hotel credit cards work similar to a general travel rewards card. The more you spend, the more points you can earn to redeem for hotel stays. Most cards have varying rewards rates based on the type of purchase with the highest earnings potential for spending at the hotel property. Depending on the card you choose, you may be limited to a particular brand or for purchases through the card’s travel booking website.

Who are hotel cards best for?

Hotel credit cards are best for travelers who are loyal to a particular hotel brand, book hotel stays at least occasionally and are interested in earning free hotel stays based on spending. The best hotel rewards credit cards often upgrade cardholders to higher-level status such as Gold or Elite, making it possible to get perks such as free upgrades and other amenities reserved for loyal hotel guests.

What’s better: a hotel card or travel card?

When deciding what type of rewards credit card is best, think about what type of travel you do. If you need a card that provides you with the flexibility to redeem points for hotels or airfare, a travel rewards credit card typically gives you more freedom than a hotel credit card for a particular hotel brand.

How can I earn free stays in a hotel with a credit card?

To earn free stays in a hotel with a credit card, sign up for a hotel or travel rewards card and make your everyday purchases with the card. You’ll earn points that can be redeemed for free stays. In many cases, you could also earn an annual certificate for a free night or bonus points. Discipline is key — be sure you’re not overspending simply to earn points for free hotel stays or the interest charges could offset the free nights.

What’s elite status and how can I earn it?

Elite status is typically reserved for frequent travelers who spend a number of nights at a particular hotel brand. Hotels reward the most loyal customers with perks for elite status which include later checkout times, free room upgrades, redemption discounts and more. Many hotel rewards credit cards automatically upgrade cardholders to elite status.

Cards researched

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Best Western Rewards® Premium Mastercard®
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card
  • Citi Premier® Card
  • Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
  • Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
  • Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card
  • IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
  • Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature® Card
  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
  • The Ritz-Carlton Credit Card
  • The World Of Hyatt Credit Card
  • Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Plus Credit Card

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card, click here

For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card from American Express, click here

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.