Posted by William Charles on January 19, 2015
Credit Cards

Published on January 19th, 2015 | by William Charles

20

Best Hotel Credit Cards

Determining the best hotel credit card is extremely difficult, because there are a number of factors to consider: loyalty program, sign up bonus, points earning potential, anniversary bonuses, status, annual fee, foreign transaction fee and whether the card is available to personal or business applicants. Our list will not take into account factors such as APR & late fees, as you should never ever pay your statement late or carry a credit card balance.

When making a list like this you also need to account for the fact that some people are interested in premium hotel night stays, whilst others are just after the most nights possible. We’ve done our best to account for all these factors and broken things into separate segments to make the list.

This post is a work in progress if you see any errors or something you disagree with then let us know in the comments section and we will make appropriate changes. This post doesn’t contain any affiliate links. We’ve also posted the best offers we know about, if you know of a higher bonus then please let us know so we can make a correction. I’d recommend waiting for any corrections before applying for any of these cards, as I’ve undoubtedly made mistakes.

Master Table

Card Name Card Issuer Loyalty Program Points earned Sign up bonus Anniversary bonus Annual fee Status Business or Personal Foreign Transaction Fee Notes
IHG Rewards Club Select Chase IHG 5x points on IHG properties, you also get a 10% rebate on all points redeemed 70,000 points Free night certificate $49, waived first year Platinum Elite Personal None Get 10% of your points back when you redeem them
Marriott Rewards Chase Marriott 3x points at Marriott properties 30,000 points after $1,000 in spend & two free nights at category 1-4 locations after approval None $45, waived first year 10 Credits annually (silver elite status), additional one credit per $3,000 in card spend Personal None
Marriott Rewards Premier Chase Marriott 5x points at Marriott properties 40,000 points, $100 statement credit & one free night at category 1-4 property Free night certificate at 1-5 property $85, waived first year 15 Credits annually (silver elite status), 1 additional credit for every $3,000 in card spend Personal None
Marriott Rewards Premier Chase Marriott 5x points at Marriott properties 40,000 points, $150 statement credit & one free night at category 1-4 property Free night certificate at 1-5 property $85, waived first year 15 Credits annually (silver elite status), 1 additional credit for every $3,000 in card spend Personal None Only available to those with elite status
Marriott Rewards Premier Chase Marriott 5x points at Marriott properties 70,000 points & one free night at category 1-4 property Free night certificate at 1-5 property $85, waived first year 15 Credits annually (silver elite status), 1 additional credit for every $3,000 in card spend Personal None Only available to those with elite status
Marriott Rewards Business Premier Chase Marriott 5x points at Marriott properties 70,000 points and one free night at category 1-4 property Free night certificate at 1-5 property $99, waived first year 15 Credits annually (silver elite status), 1 additional credit for every $3,000 in card spend Business None
Ritz-Carlton Rewards Chase Ritz-Carlton 5x points at Ritz-Carlton properties & partners, 10% annual bonus Two free nights after you spend $3,000 or more within three months $300 annual travel credit, $100 hotel credit on paid stays of two nights or longer, 3 club upgrades Ritz-carlton club level (paid stays only), complimentary airport lounge access, J.P morgan premier concierge service 395 Gold status for first year Personal None
The Hyatt Chase Hyatt 3x points at Hyatt properties Two free night certificates for any Hyatt property worldwide after $1,000 in purchases within three months & $50 statement credit after first purchase Free night at any category 1-4 property $75, waived first year Platinum Personal None
Fairmont Visa Signature Chase Fairmont 5x points on all Fairmont stays Two free night certificates with free breakfast included when you spend $1,000 within 90 days of account opening 1 free night stay when you make $12,000 or more in purchases annually $95, waived first year Fairmont President’s Club Premier status, you’ll also earn an additional 1 stay credit per $7,500 spent (max of two per year). 2x $25 ($50) Dining certificates for Premier & members & 4x $25 ($100) Dining certificates for Platinum members Personal None
Citi Hilton Hhonors Visa Signature Citi Hilton 6x points on stays within the Hhonors portfolio 60,000 points after $1,000 in spend within four months. $25 statement credit when you spend $200 or more at participating car dealership None None Silver, gold status are four stays within 90 days of card membership Personal 0.03
Citi Hilton Hhonors Reserve Citi Hilton 10x points on stays within the Hhonors portfolio Two free weekend night certifications after $2,500 or more spend within four months. $100 statement credit (when you spend $100 or more at your first stay within a Hilton portfolio) One free weekend night, must spend $10,000 or more to receive this bonus $95, not waived Gold status, can be upgraded to Diamond status if you spend $40,000 or more per year on the card. Personal None
SPG From AmEx American Express Starwoods Preferred Guest 2x points at SPG properties in addition to points you earn according to your status (up to additional 3x) 10,000 points after first purchase, 20,000 additional points after $5,000 in spend within 6 months None $65, waived first year 2 stays/5 nights towards status (gold requires 10/25 and platinum 25/50) Personal 2.7E-2
Business SPG From AmEx American Express Starwoods Preferred Guest 2x points at SPG properties in addition to points you earn according to your status (up to additional 3x) 10,000 points after first purchase, 20,000 additional points after $5,000 in spend within 6 months None $65, waived first year 2 stays/5 nights towards status (gold requires 10/25 and platinum 25/50) Business 2.7E-2
Hilton Hhonors From AmEx American Express Hhonors 7x points at Hhilton properties 50,000 points after $750 in spend within three months None No annual fee Silver Personal 2.7E-2
Hilton Hhonors Surpass From AmEx American Express HHonors 12x points at Hhilton properties 80,000 points after $3,000 in spend within three months Priority Pass membership $75 not waived Gold status, upgraded to Diamond if you spend $40,000 within a calendar year Personal 2.7E-2
Choice Privileges Barclays Choice 15x points at Choice properties 8,000 after first purchase, an additional 24,000 after your first Choice stay None None Elite Gold Personal 0.03
Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature (Annual Fee) Barclays Wyndham 5x points at Wyndham locations 30,000 points after first purchase, 15,000 points after $1,000 in spend within 90 days of account opening 5,500 points 69 None Personal 0.03
Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature (Annual Fee) Barclays Wyndham 3x points at Wyndham locations 15,000 points after first purchase, 15,000 points after $1,000 in spend within 90 days of account opening None None None Personal 0.03
Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card U.S Bank Club Carlson 10x points on at Carlson Rezidor hotels 50,000 after first purchase and additional 35,000 points when you spend over $2,500 within the first 90 days 40,000 points on renewal $75, not waived Gold Elite, 15 nights towards further status if you’ve already got it Personal 2% in US dollars, 3% in Foreign currency Get an additional free night when you book any award stay
Club Carlson Business Rewards Visa Card U.S Bank Club Carlson 10x points on at Carlson Rezidor hotels 50,000 after first purchase and additional 35,000 points when you spend over $2,500 within the first 90 days 40,000 points on renewal $60, not waived Gold Elite, 15 nights towards further status if you’ve already got it Business 2% in US dollars, 3% in Foreign currency Get an additional free night when you book any award stay
La Quinta Returns First Bank Card La Quinta 5x points on all La Quinta Stays 20,000 points after first purchase, 20,000 points after $10,000 in spend None None Gold Personal 0.03
Huntington Voice Huntington Cash 3% cash back on all hotel purchases None None None None Personal None
Chase Sapphire Preferred Chase Hyatt, Marriott, IHG, Ritz-Carlton 2x on all hotel purchases 40,000 points after $3,000 in spend. Additional 5,000 points for adding authorized user None $95, waived first year None Personal None
Chase Ink Bold Chase Hyatt, Marriott, IHG, Ritz-Carlton 2x on all hotel purchases 50,000 points None $95, waived first year None Business None
Chase Ink Plus Chase Hyatt, Marriott, IHG, Ritz-Carlton 2x on all hotel purchases 50,000 points None $95, waived first year None Business None
Amex EveryDay American Express Best Western, Choice Privileges, Hilton Hhonors, Starwood Preferred Guest 1x on all hotel purchases* 10,000 points after $1,000 in purchases within three months of account opening None None None Personal 2.7E-2
Amex EveryDay Preferred American Express Best Western, Choice Privileges, Hilton Hhonors, Starwood Preferred Guest 1x on all hotel purchases* 15,000 points after $1,000 in purchases within three months of account opening None 95 None Personal 2.7E-2
Mercedes-Benz American Express Best Western, Choice Privileges, Hilton Hhonors, Starwood Preferred Guest 1x on all hotel purchases 10,000 points after $1,000 in purchases within three months of account opening $500 Mercedes-Benz certificate every year you charge $5,000 or more 95 None Personal 2.7E-2
Mercedes-Benz Platinum American Express Best Western, Choice Privileges, Hilton Hhonors, Starwood Preferred Guest 1x on all hotel purchases 50,000 points after you spend $3,000 or more within the first three months $1,000 Mercedez-Benz certificate when you charge $5,000 or more in purchases, $100 certificate towards genuine Mercedez-Benz accessories, up to 2,000 excess miles waived at lease-end on leases through MB financial services 475 None Personal 2.7E-2
American Express Gold American Express Best Western, Choice Privileges, Hilton Hhonors, Starwood Preferred Guest 1x on all hotels None None $125, wiaved first year None Personal 2.7E-2
American Express Green American Express Best Western, Choice Privileges, Hilton Hhonors, Starwood Preferred Guest 1x on all hotel purchases None None $95, waived first year None Personal 2.7E-2
American Express Business Green American Express Best Western, Choice Privileges, Hilton Hhonors, Starwood Preferred Guest 1x on all hotel purchases 5,000 points after first purchase None 95 None Business 2.7E-2
American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card American Express Best Western, Choice Privileges, Hilton Hhonors, Starwood Preferred Guest 1x on all hotel purchases 25,000 points after $2,000 in purchases within three months 15,000 points if you spend $30,000 in one year $175, waived first year None Personal 2.7E-2 Receive up to $75 hotel credit on qualifying charges and room upgrade at check in if available with each booking when you stay a minimum of two consecutive nights and use this card
American Express Business Gold American Express Best Western, Choice Privileges, Hilton Hhonors, Starwood Preferred Guest 1x on all hotel purchases 25,000 points after $5,000 in purchases within three months None $175, waived first year None Business 2.7E-2
American Express Platinum American Express Best Western, Choice Privileges, Hilton Hhonors, Starwood Preferred Guest 1x on all hotel purchases 40,000 points after $3,000 in spend within 3 months $200 airline fee credit, Airport Club Access & Priority Pass Select 450 Gold SPG status Personal 2.7E-2
American Express Business Platinum American Express Best Western, Choice Privileges, Hilton Hhonors, Starwood Preferred Guest 1x on all hotel purchases 100,000 points $200 airline fee credit, Airport Club Access & Priority Pass Select 450 Gold SPG status Business 2.7E-2
Chase Sapphire^ Chase Hyatt, Marriott, IHG, Ritz-Carlton 1x on all hotel purchases 10,000 points after $500 in purchases within 3 months of account opening, 2,500 point authorized user bonus None None None Personal None
Chase Freedom^ Chase Hyatt, Marriott, IHG, Ritz-Carlton 1x on all hotel purchases 20,000 points after $500 or more in purchases within 3 months of account opening. 2,500 point authorized user bonus 10% bonus on all points earned if you have a Chase checking account opening None None Personal 0.03
Chase Ink Cash^ Chase Hyatt, Marriott, IHG, Ritz-Carlton 1x on all hotel purchases 20,000 points after $3,000 or more in purchases within 3 months of account opening None None None Personal 0.03

* Indicates that this card earns at a higher rate if you make a set amount of purchases. The AmEx EveryDay card earns an additional 20% on all points earned if you make at least 20 purchases in that month. The AmEx EveryDay preferred card earns an additional 50% on all points earned if you make at least 30 purchases in that month.

^ Indicates that this card requires another Chase card with transfer ability (Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus, Chase Ink Bold).

Sign Up Bonuses

As we mentioned in the introduction, the best sign up bonus will vary from individual to individual. It’s really going to depend on whether you want to stay at premium properties, budget properties or somewhere in between. Obviously you’ll get more free nights at budget locations but the quality will be lower. You can view all the sign up bonuses in the table above, below we’ve selected what we consider the best sign up bonuses for specific situations.

Remember that everybody’s circumstances and travel plans are difficult. For example, if you’re planning on travelling to Scandinavia then there is no point in getting an La Quinta card as they have no properties there. If you have a specific question, feel free to ask in the comments section.

Best Hotel Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses For Premium Properties

When looking for free nights at premium properties, it’s generally best to focus on cards that give free night certificates rather than points. This is because these free night certificates can be used at any property (assuming there is no category restrictions). Below are a list of the best hotel bonuses for premium properties, along with some properties we’d recommend looking at.

By combining these cards it’s easy to piece together a short incredible honeymoon or romantic get away.

  • The Chase Hyatt: This card gives you two free night certificates for any Hyatt property worldwide. There are some truly remarkable properties that you can take advantage. Here are a few of the most common properties to use this certificate on:
  • Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve: This card gives you two free weekend night certificates after $2,500 or more in spend within the first four months of account opening. There is an annual fee of $95 which isn’t waived, but there is also a statement credit of $100 that you’ll receive if you spend $100 or more at your first stay at a Hilton property.
  • Chase Fairmont Visa Signature: This card gives you two free night certificates (with free breakfast) at any Fairmont property worldwide. The majority of Fairmont’s properties are located in Canada, but they have locations scattered across the globe. Here are some suggestions on how to best use your free night certificates:

Best Hotel Credit Cards For Midrange Stays

  • Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card: The personal & business cards both give you 85,000 points and sign up. This bonus requires $2,500 in spend and the card earns at 5x points, which means you’d end up with 97,500 points. This is enough for two nights at any category five property or below (with $500 more in spend you can get up to category six), you also get your last night free on stays of two nights or more (basically buy one get one free). You’ll get the best value out of staying at category one/category two properties. Staying at category one properties would give you 9 free nights + 9 additional nights using the bonus night feature. Staying at category two properties would give you 5 free nights + 5 free nights using the bonus night feature  Here are some suggestions on hotels that might be worth visiting:

Best Hotel Credit Cards For Budget Stays

If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t really mind where you sleep. In this case you’re much better off focusing on cards that offer a high point sign up bonus and also has a large number of properties which don’t require a lot of points for a free night. Below is our list of cards that fit into this category:

  • IHG Rewards Club Select: This card comes with 80,000 points which is enough for 16 nights if you stay at properties in their points break list (5,000 points per night). This card could’ve easily made it’s way into the midrange list as well as there are a lot of great properties in major cities (e.g New York) that are reasonably cheap in points terms but cost a fortune if booking with cash. It’s also worth keeping in mind that you get 10% of your points back when you redeem. Here are some hotels worth checking out:

Hotel Cards Worth Keeping After The First Year

A lot of these cards come with anniversary bonuses (which is becoming more and more common for credit cards). In this section we look at which cards are worth keeping after the first year. It’s important to note that this section does not take into account the earning potential on cards. If you regularly do paid stays at properties, it’s well worth doing your own calculations.

  • IHG Rewards Club Select: $49 annual fee and comes with one free night certificate (no restrictions). This is well worth paying the $49 annual fee for, if you and your partner have this card then you can get a weekend away at a decent hotel for less than $100.
  • Club Carlson Premier Rewards Personal/Business: $75/$60 annual fee and you get 40,000 points after your renewal. When you book an award night stay, you get an extra night free. This would mean you have enough points for four category two night stays or eight category one night stay. If you saved your points over two years then you’d have enough points for four nights at category three + category four hotels.
  • Chase Hyatt: $75 annual fee, gives you a category 1-4 night stay. There are a lot of properties in the $200 range which would be a $200 discount (assuming you’d actually stay at these locations). A full list of category 4 properties can be found here.
  • Marriott Rewards Premier Personal/Business: $85/$99 annual fee and you can stay at any category 1-5 Marriott property. Most of the better hotels that fall into category 5 are international but there are a lot stateside. Travel is free has a good list of the better value hotels in this category (slightly dated) or you can view all the category 5 Marriott’s here.
  • Fairmont Visa Signature: $95 annual fee, free night certificate if you spend over $12,000 annually. For the majority of people this won’t be worth keeping past the first year due to the high spend requirement which might be restrictive in helping you meet other minimum spends. If you put that $12,000 spend on another card here is how it would play out:
    • 2% cash back card: $240 in cash
    • Fairmont card: 12,000 Fairmont points (possibly more if you used it for Fairmont stays at all) and a free night certificate
  • Citi Hilton Reserve: $95 annual fee, free weekend night certificate if you spend over $10,000 annually. This is similar to the Fairmont card list aboved. Let’s compare this to a 2% cash back card:
    • 2% cash back card: $200 in cash
    • Hilton reserve: At least 30,000 Hilton points and a free weekend night certificate

Hotel Status

Most hotel credit cards give you some sort of status with that hotel. below we’ve listed the different statuses that are available with credit cards, what that status entitles you to and also which cards offer it. There is also something known as status match which allows you to get status with one hotel chain because you have status with another. Status matcher is the best website for finding out current status matching deals.

Best Western

Diamond Elite

Diamind Elite status can be earned with 30 nights or 30,000 points earned, you can also earn diamond elite status if you put $10,000 worth of spend on your Best Western Rewards credit card. It gives the following benefits:

  • Best available room on check in (specialty rooms/suites are excluded. Only for hotels in U.S/Canada)
  • Welcome snack and beverage or 250 bonus points
  • Exclusive elite only offers
  • Best Western Rewards branded key packet upon arrival

Gold Elite

Gold Elite status comes with the Best Western Rewards credit card. You can also get this status with 10 nights or 10,000 points earned.

  • 10% Elite bonus points per stay
  • Exclusive elite only offers
  • Best Western Rewards branded key packet upon arrival

Choice Privileges

Gold

This requires 10 nights per calendar year, it also comes for free with your Choice Privileges card. It comes with the following benefits:

  • 10% elite point bonus
  • Exclusive reservation and customer service phone numbers
  • Exclusive Elite member offers
  • 50 day extended window for reward nights

Club Carlson

Club Carlson has free internet at their hotels worldwide, you also get 20 points per US dollar spent on eligible hotel stays and food/beverage purchases.

Concierge

This status cannot be earned directly with a credit card but you get 15 nights towards this status if you already have gold status and open one of the Club Carlson credit cards. You need a total of 75 nights/30 stays for platinum status. It comes with the following benefits:

  • Free continental breakfast
  • 75% bonus points on points earned
  • 15% discount on all food & beverage purchases
  • Complimentary room upgrades at check in where possible
  • Early check in, late check out
  • In room welcome gift (varies dramatically on the hotel. Can be as small as a bottle of water or as big as a nice bottle of wine with cheese platter)

Gold

Gold status with Club Carlson requires 35 nights/20 stays per calendar year and comes with the following benefits:

  • 35% point bonus on points earned
  • 15% discount on all food & beverage purchases
  • Complimentary room upgrades at check in where possible
  • Early check in, late check out
  • In room welcome gift (varies dramatically on the hotel. Can be as small as a bottle of water or as big as a nice bottle of wine with cheese platter)

It’s available on the following cards:

  • Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card
  • Club Carlson Business Rewards Visa Card

Fairmont

Fairmont allows you to earn 1 night qualifying stay per $7,500 you put on your Chase Fairmont Visa Signature card, this also comes with Premier status to get you going. All levels of membership come with free in-room high speed internet access.

Platinum

Fairmont’s Platinum status requires 10 stays or 30 room nights in any calendar year.

  • Up to 1,000 Airline miles on qualifying stays
  • 2 complimentary room upgrades
  • 2 complimentary suite upgrades
  • $100 fairmont dining certificate or Willow Stream Spa e-certificate
  • 1 complimentary night stay
  • Guaranteed early arrival/late check-out

Premier

Fairmont’s Premier status is earned after 5 stays or 10 room nights in any calendar year. It gives you the following benefits:

  • 750 airline miles per stay
  • 1 complimentary room upgrade
  • 1 complimentary suite upgrade
  • 1 complimentary third night on a three-night stay
  • $50 fairmont dining certificate or Willow Stream Spa e-certificates

Hilton

Gold

To qualify for HHilton HHonors status you need 20 stays, 40 nights or 75,000 HHonors Base Points.

  • 25% bonus on all HHonors based points earned
  • 5th night free when you book 5 or more nights
  • Late check out
  • Express check in & out
  • Complimentary access to fitness centers & health clubs
  • Complimentary in-room & lobby internet access at select locations
  • Other benefits depending on the property

The following cards earn gold status:

  • Hilton Hhonors Surpass From AmEx
  • Citi Hilton Hhonors Reserve

Citi Hilton Hhonors Visa Signature starts with Silver status but can be upgraded to gold if you have four stays within 90 days of account sign up.

Silver

Silver status requires 4 stays or 10 nights in a calendar year.

  • 15% bonus on all HHonors based points earned
  • 5th night free on bookings of 5 or more nights
  • Complimentary access to fitness centers and health clubs

The following cards earn silver status:

  • Citi Hilton Hhonors Visa Signature
  • Hilton Hhonors From AmEx

Hyatt

Platinum

Platinum status is reached after 5 qualifying stays or 15 eligible nights in a calendar year. You get this status when you sign up for the Chase Hyatt card.

  • Free in-room internet access
  • 15% bonus on points earned for stays at Hyatt properties
  • Preferred room upgrades (higher floors or larger rooms) based on availability upon arrival
  • Dedicated check in area
  • Late check out to 2PM where possible

IHG

All of IHG membership levels (including their basic Club level which is free to sign up for) come with free internet.

Platinum Elite

This level of status comes with the IHG Rewards Club Select card offered by Chase, you can also get this level by staying 50+ nights or earning 60,000+ Elite Qualifying Points or staying at 4 different IHG brans and 40+ nights. It offers the following benefits:

  • Priority Check-In
  • 50% bonus earnings on Top of Base Points
  • Elite Rollover Nights
  • Complimentary Room Upgrades
  • Guaranteed Room Availability

La Quinta Returns

Gold

This status can be reached when you hit 10 nights in any calendar year, it also comes for free with the La Quinta Returns Visa card.

  • 20% bonus on all base points earned
  • 2 free room upgrade certificates per year
  • Free faxes

Marriott Rewards

The basic Marriott Rewards card comes with 10 night stays towards elite status, whilst the business and personal premier versions come with 15 night stays towards elite status per year. All cards also get an additional one night stay towards status for every $3,000 spent per year.

Silver (10 qualifying nights)

  • Priority late checkout
  • 20% bonus on points for stays

Gold (50 qualifying nights)

You can get gold Marriott status with the Ritz-Carlton card. All silver benefits and the following:

  • Guaranteed lounge access/breakfast for members and one guest (excluding resorts)
  • Complimentary room upgrade
  • Free premium tiered internet service
  • Hertz #1 Gold membership
  • Free local phone and local fax
  • Discounted long-distance phone calls
  • 25% bonus on points for stays

Platinum (75 qualifying nights)

All silver and gold benefits and the following:

  • Complimentary MileagePlus Premier Silver status
  • Guaranteed Platinum arrival gift (varies based on brand. Click here to find out more)
  • 50% bonus points for stays

Starwood Preferred Guest

Everybody is eligible to sign up for SPG’s Preferred status which doesn’t have any night or stay requirements to enjoy some free benefits. There is also gold & platinum status, gold can be achieved outright with credit card’s whilst Platinum cannot (although you do get nights towards this status).

Platinum Status

No cards earn Platinum status outright, but the SPG branded cards earn 2 stays/5 nights towards Platinum. It requires 25 stays or 50 eligible nights (award nights count). You can also become a lifetime member if you have 500 eligible nights and any 10 years of Platinum SPG status.   It comes with the following benefits:

  • Three starpoints for every $1 spent at SPG properties (in addition to points earned on any credit cards)
  • Upgrades to best available room at check-in, including Standard Suites
  • Chose one of the following free gifts with each stay:
    • Continental breakfast
    • Bonus starpoints
    • Local amenities
  • Club & Executive-level privileges where available
  • Complimentary in-room internet access
  • Access to the Hotel’s Heath Club / Gym where available
  • Signature Platinum Concierge Service

It also comes with the following benefits if you have over a certain number of nights:

50 nights:

  • Receive 10 Suite Night Awards

75 nights:

  • 4 starpoints for every $1 spent
  • Your24 – have the flexibility of choosing your check-in. E.g, check in at 8 P.M and then check out at 8 P.M the day of depature

100 nights:

  • Access to SPG ambassadors (high level concierge service)

Gold Status

Gold Status with SPG requires you to have 10 eligible stays or 25 nights. It’s also available with Platinum credit cards from American Express.

  • Three starpoints for every $1 spent at SPG properties (in addition to points earned on any credit cards)
  • 4PM late check out
  • Enhanced room at check-in when available
  • Elite customer service telephone line
  • Choose one of the following gifts for free with each stay:
    • Bonus Starpoints
    • Free in-room internet
    • Complimentary beverage

Gold Status is available on the following credit cards:

  • American Express Platinum
  • American Express Business Platinum

The following cards also earns nights that go towards Gold/Platinum status:

  • Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express: 2 stays/5 nights
  • Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express: 2 stays/5 nights

Ritz-Carlton

Gold Elite

The Ritz-Carlton Rewards card from Chase comes with gold status. Gold elite comes with the following benefits:

  • 25% bonus on all base points earned at participating Ritz-Carlton properties.
  • Complimentary room upgrade
  • High-speed internet access in your room
  • $100 hotel credits for paid stays which are two nights or longer

Best Hotel Credit Card For Status

When looking for the best status that can be earned via a credit card we looked at a few key factors: free internet access in-room, free breakfast, free night stays/bonus points, upgrade potential. I don’t think any credit cards are worth getting or keeping purely for the

  1. Fairmont Premier (Chase Fairmont Visa Signature): All Fairmont members get free in room internet access, premier members also get 2 x $25 dining certificates to use on lunch/dinner. The biggest upside to this status is the fact that you get a free room upgrade and suite upgrade and also get a complimentary third night on any three-night stay. It’s also nice to get free airline miles with your paid stays.
  2. Ritz-Carlton Gold (Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards): Free high speed internet access in your room and room upgrades. Because the 50 stay requirement is quite high the chances of room upgrades is higher. You also get $100 in hotel credit (enough for breakfast) for paid stays or two nights or longer. This card also gives you free gold status with Marriott.
  3. SPG Gold (American Express Platinum Personal & Business):  You can choose between in room WIFI access, extra points or a free gift. Room upgrades and late check out is also an option.
  4. Hilton HHonor Gold (Hilton Hhonors Surpass From AmEx & Citi Hilton Hhonors Reserve): Complimentary in room WIFI access. A lot of people like this status because it’s so easy to do status matching with other hotels.
  5. Hyatt Platinum (Chase Hyatt card): Free in room internet access, room upgrades and late check out. Unfortunately this status is very easy to achieve so it’s hard to get the room upgrades.

Earning Points

Cards That Earn On All Hotel Purchases

These cards will earn at a higher than normal rate on all hotel purchases regardless of which hotel chain you stay at. These cards would be best suited to somebody who doesn’t have any brand loyalty to a particular hotel, or regularly stays at different chains and doesn’t want to hold multiple cards.

  • Sam’s Club Mastercard: 3% on all travel expenses (hotel’s included), no annual fee or sign up promotion. Requires Sam’s Club membership.
  • Huntington Voice: 3% cash back on all hotel purchases (must choose this as your 3% cash back category). Limit of $2,000 per spend per quarter. No annual fee, sign up bonus or anniversary bonus.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: 2x points on all hotel purchases, annual fee of $95 waived the first year. There is also an annual dividend bonus of 7% on all points earned which would bring this to 2.14x per dollar spent.
  • Chase Ink Bold: 2x points on hotel accommodation when purchase directly with the hotel, limit of $50,000 per year. Annual fee of $95 waived first year.
  • Chase Ink Plus: 2x points on hotel accommodation when purchase directly with the hotel, limit of $50,000 per year. Annual fee of $95 waived first year. 
  • Cards that earn at a high rate on all purchases. That link has a list of cards that earn at a high rate on all purchases, the highest earns at a rate of 2.2% on all purchases.

Cards That Earn At Specific Hotel Chains

The following cards earn at a higher rate on purchases at specific hotel chains. These cards would be best suited to somebody who always stays at the same brand of hotels. We’ve broken them down into separate hotel chains and then put them in descending order based earning potential at that chain. We also included how much they earn on all other purchases.

Best Western

There is only one card that offers the ability to earn Best Western points and it earns at the following rates:

  • 15x points on all Best Western purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases.

Choice

There is only one card that earns Choice privilege points and that’s the Choice Privileges Visa Signature Card. It earns at the following rate:

  • 15x points at choice locations
  • 5x points on additional Choice Privileges points or Choice Hotels gift card purchases
  • 2x points on everyday purchases

Club Carlson

There are two Club Carlson cards, personal & business. They earn at the same rate.

  • 10x points on at Carlson Rezidor hotels
  • 5x points on all other purchases

Fairmont

There is only one credit card that earns Fairmont points, it earns at the following rates:

  • 5x points at Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
  • 2x points on airline tickets, car rentals and trains purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases

Hilton

  • Hilton Hhonors Surpass From AmEx:
    • 12x points on Hilton HHonors stays
    • 6x points at U.S restaurants, supermarkets & U.S gas stations
    • 3x points on all other purchases
  • Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve:
    • 10x points on Hilton HHonors stays
    • 5x points on airline & car rental purchases
    • 3x points on all other purchases
  • Hilton HHonors From American Express:
    • 7x points on Hilton HHonors stays
    • 5x points at U.S restaurants, supermarkets & gas stations.
    • 3x points on all other purchases
  • Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature:
    • 6x points on Hilton HHonors stays
    • 3x points on at supermarkets, drugstores & gas stations
    • 2x points on all other purchases

Hyatt

Hyatt is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate rewards, so it is possible to transfer those points at a 1:1 rate. There is only one Hyatt branded credit card and it earns at the following rate:

  • 3x points on all Hyatt stays
  • 2x points at restaurants and airline tickets purchased directly from the airline
  • 1x point on all other purchases

IHG

IHG is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate rewards, so it is possible to transfer those points at a 1:1 rate There is only one IHG co-branded credit card and it earns at the following rate:

  • 5x points on all IHG stays
  • 2x points on all gas, grocery & restaurant purchases
  • 1x point on all other purchases

La Quinta

There is only one La Quinta credit card, which is issued by First Bankcard. It earns at the following rates:

  • 5x points on all La Quinta stays
  • 2x points on car rentals, gas & dining
  • 1x points on all other purchases

Marriott

Marriott is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate rewards, so it is possible to transfer those points at a 1:1 rate. In addition, there are also the following co-branded cards.

  • Marriott Rewards Premier:
    • 5x points on all Marriott stays
    • 2x points at restaurants, car rental agencies & airline tickets purchased directly
    • 1x points on all other purchases
  • Marriott Rewards Premier Business:
    • 5x points on all Marriott stays
    • 2x points at restaurants, car rental agencies, office supply stores, cable and phone service purchases & airline tickets purchase directly with the airline.
  • Marriott Rewards:
    • 3x points on all Marriott stays
    • 1x points on all other purchases

Ritz-Carlton

Ritz-Carlton is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate rewards, so it is possible to transfer those points at a 1:1 rate. There is only one Ritz-Carlton co-branded credit card and it earns at the following rates:

  • 5x points on Ritz-Carlton stays and worldwide partner hotels
  • 2x points points on car rental agencies, restaurants and airline tickets purchased directly with the airline
  • 1x points on all other purchases

Starwoods Preferred Guest

  •  Starwoods Preferred Guest Personal:
    • 2x points on all Starwoods stays
    • 1x points on all other purchases
  • Starwoods Preferred Guest Business:
    • 2x points on all Starwoods stays
    • 1x points on all other purchases

Wyndham

There are two different Wyndham credit cards, one has an annual fee whilst the other does not have an annual fee. They earn at the following rates:

  • Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature, annual fee card:
    • 5x points on participating stays at Wyndham properties
    • 2x points on all other purchases
  • Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature, no annual fee card:
    • 3x points on participating stays at Wyndham properties
    • 2x points on all other purchases

Cards That Have Points That Are Transferable To Multiple Partners

American Express Membership Rewards

Cards that earn American Express Membership Rewards (MR) points have the ability to transfer to hotel partners. The rate which you receive is dependent on the hotel chain you’re transferring to, we’ve listed the current transfer partners below:

  • Best Western: 1:1 transfers
  • Choice Privileges: 1:1 transfers
  • Hilton HHonors: 1:1.5 transfers
  • Starwood Preferred Guest: 3:1 transfers

This means if you change 3,000 MR points for Starwood’s points you’ll receive 1,000. If you transfer 3,000 to Hilton you’d receive 4,500 and you’d receive an even 3,000 points for Best Western & Choice Privileges. The following cards earn American Express membership rewards points:

Personal

  • EveryDay: This card earns an additional 20% bonus on all points earned if you make 20 or more purchases every month. We’ve included how many points you’d earn if you trigger this bonus in brackets.
    • 2x (2.4x) points on purchases made at U.S grocery stores. $6,000 annual limit
    • 1x (1.2x) points on all other purchases
  • EveryDay Preferred: This card earns an additional 50% bonus on all points earned if you make 30 or more purchases every month. We’ve included how many points you’d earn if you trigger this bonus in brackets.
    • 3x (4.5x) points on purchases made at U.S grocery stores. $6,000 annual limit
    • 2x (3x) points on purchases at U.S gas stations
    • 1x (1.5x) points on all other purchases
  • Gold Card:
    • 2x points on all purchases made at amextravel.com
    • 1x points on all other purchases
  • Green Card: 1x points on all purchases
  • Mercedes-Benz:
    • 5x points on select Mercedes-Benz purchases
    • 3x points at U.S gas stations (transactions must be less than $400)
    • 2x points at U.S restaurants
  • Mercedes-Benz Platinum:
    • 5x points on select Merdes-Benz purchases
    • 1x point on all other purchases
  • Platinum: 1x points on all purchases
  • Premier Rewards Gold Card:
    • 3x points on flights booked directly with the airline
    • 2x points on U.S gas stations & supermarkets
    • 1x points on all other purchases

Business

American Express business cards can be enrolled in the OPEN savings program. They have a number of hotel partners, at the moment these are their current hotel partners:

  • Park Hyatt – 5% cash back or 2 membership rewards points
  • Andaz – 5% cash back or 2 membership rewards points
  • Grand Hyatt – 5% cash back or 2 membership rewards points
  • Hyatt – 5% cash back or 2 membership rewards points
  • Hyatt regency – 5% cash back or 2 membership rewards points

The following business cards earn Membership Rewards points. We haven’t included business cards that don’t earn these points, but this could be a good pairing if you’re able to combine it with the OPEN savings program mentioned above.

  • Platinum:
    • 2x points  on purchases made at the American Express travel website
    • 1x points on all other purchases
  • Gold:
    • 3x points on airfare purchased directly from airline
    • 2x points on purchases for advertising in select media, shipping, at gas stations, and made directly from select computer hardware, software, and cloud computing providers
    • 1x points on all other purchases
  • Green Rewards
    • 2x points on purchases made at the American Express travel website
    • 1x points on all other purchases

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase cards earn Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) points  , three cards (Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold & Chase Ink Plus) offer the ability to transfer these points to their hotel partners at a fixed rate of 1:1. If you have one of these cards then any other card that earns Chase UR points (Chase Freedom, Chase Sapphire & Chase Ink Cash) can effectively transfer to these partners as well.

Chase has the following transfer partners at the moment:

  • Hyatt Gold Passport
  • Marriott Rewards
  • Priority Club IHG Rewards
  • Ritz-Carlton Rewards

Personal

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: This card also gets a 7% annual dividend which is paid out in February each year.
    • 2x points on all travel & dining expenses
    • 1x point on all other purchases
  • Chase Freedom: This card also gets a 10% annual bonus if you have a Chase checking account open
    • 5x points on rotating categories that change quarterly. $1,500 quarterly spending limit
    • 1x point on all other purchases
  • Chase Sapphire:
    • 2x purchases on restaurants
    • 1x point on all other purchases

Business 

Chase business cards are all issued as Visa now, which means they can be enrolled in Visa Savings Edge program. At the moment this program has the following hotel partners:

  • Alamo: 4% cash back
  • Baymont: 5% cash back
  • Days Inn: 5% cash back
  • Dream: 5% cash back
  • Hawthorn: 5% cash back
  • Howard Johnson: 5% cash back
  • Knights Inn: 5% cash back
  • La Quinta: 5% cash back
  • Night: 5% cash back
  • Ramada Worldwide: 5% cash back
  • Travelodge: 5% cash back
  • Wingate by Wyndham: 5% cash back
  • Wyndham Garden Hotels: 5% cash back
  • Wyndham Grand: 5% cash back

Below we’ve included all of the Chase cards that earn Chase Ultimate rewards points and how much they earn in each category:

  • Chase Ink Plus & Ink Bold: These cards both earn at the same rates and have the same limits, the only difference is that the Plus card is a credit card and the Bold is a charge card.
    • 5x points on office supply stores, cellular phone, landline, internet & cable TV services. $50,000 annual spending limit
    • 2x points on gas station and hotel accommodation purchases (must be purchased directly). $50,000 annual spending limit
    • 1x point on all other purchases
  • Chase Ink Cash:
    • 5x points at office supply stores, cellular phone, landline, internet & cable TV services. $25,000 annual spending limit
    • 2x points on gas station and restaurant purchases. $25,000 annual spending limit

Hotel Award Charts

Hotel award charts are subject to regular “enhancements” (see: devaluations), as such rather than posting the award charts here we’ve provided you with direct links to all of these charts on the official websites.

Useful Tools

  • Award Mapper: Let’s you search a specific area for hotels and displays their rate in points. Also lets you restrict by the number of points, it doesn’t show availability but usually you shouldn’t have an issue anyway. Works with the following programs:
    • Best Western
    • Club Carlson
    • Choice
    • Hilton
    • Hyatt
    • IHG
    • Marriott
    • Starwood
  • Hotel Magician: Similar to Award Mapper but with more bells and whistles. I personally find it way too clunky to be useful but each to their own.
  • Status Matcher: This site lists all of the status match programs currently available. Very useful if you have status with one hotel and want it with another.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully you found this post both interesting and helpful, we know that you won’t agree with everything written here. We’re open to making changes, feel free to discuss your thoughts in the comments but try to keep them constructive. For example:

  • I agree with most of the “cards worth keeping for the annual bonus” section, I thought <card name> should have been included. My reasoning being that <reason that we might have overlooked>,  you should think about adding it in there! GOOD
  • This list is bullshit, you’re a fucking idiot! Whoever made this list should get hit by a truck and die. BAD

We’re fully aware this list may contain mistakes and information might change. We’ve done our best to ensure that all of this information is correct at the time of publishing but I’m sure some things have slipped through the cracks. You can either comment below or contact us directly about these mistakes, if you’re right we’ll be happy to make an appropriate change.

We wouldn’t recommend applying for any of these cards immediately, as there might be better sign up bonuses that we are unaware of available (although we did quite a bit of searching to try and ensure this is not the case). There are absolutely no affiliate links included in this post, if you’d like to support another blogger/website then feel free to use their links (just ensure they are giving you the best sign up bonus available). Make sure you think about who’s links you use rather than just using the first one you see.

If you’d like to see what credit cards earn at the highest rate in different categories, we’d recommend reading one of the following pages:

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20 Responses to Best Hotel Credit Cards

  1. Pat says:

    Great wiki-type post that I’ll keep bookmarked. I currently don’t own any hotel credit cards. I’ve been using hostels and more interested in couchsurfing/airbnb, but eventually when I’m travelling with a family/SO/not solo, I’ll find this very useful.
    Thanks!

    • Hey Pat,

      Thanks for your kind words. That was exactly our goal when creating this page. It’s also nice to have something to refer people to when they ask hotel card related questions. I’m more of an airbnb/couchsurfing guy myself as well, but it’s nice to have a little stockpile of hotel points as well. I especially find airport hotels good value.

  2. Austin Adventuress says:

    Fantastic compilation of hotel credit card info. The best I’ve ever seen!

  3. Derek says:

    Most detailed breakdown of hotel credit cards that I’ve come across keep up the gr8 work.

  4. Sam says:

    Great work putting all this together. This year my parents are with us and wherever we go, I would like to book 2-bedroom suites for privacy reasons; also due to budget.

    Started looking at SPG points but didn’t find many 2BR options. I have Cap 1, but thinking to apply for Barclays A+ to redeem for 1-week rental/hotel stay. I am now looking at homestay rentals and airBnB. Which one should I pick that has a reasonable cancellation policy? Thanks.

  5. TJ says:

    In the section “Best Hotel Credit Cards For Midrange Stays”
    Club carlson bonus info is incorrect. You get last night free on stays of 2 nights or longer, meaning that on stays of two nights the *second* night is free, ie, it is a strictly 2-for-1 bonus if you split stays into 2 nights at a time. 3 nights the 3rd night is free, etc. Many people, myself included, set up an account for my spouse as well, so you can do any even night stay as 2 nights mine – 2 nights yours – 2 nights mine, etc.

  6. David says:

    FYI, there’s actually a 3rd Club Carlson card that applicant is automatically considered for in the event s/he does not initially qualify when applying for either of the other two. It’s a CC Platinum, that has a 50k pt signup bonus, a 10k bonus after $1,500 in spend in first 90 days, 25k annual renewal bonus, Silver status, and a $50 AF. Believe most all other major benefits are same as the other two cards, but am admittedly not an expert as I just recently received this card and am still learning about it.

    • Interesting, will do some more research on this. Thanks for letting me know, David.

      • David says:

        Here’s a link that describes the CC Platinum card more completely, if you hadn’t already found it. Interestingly, the Platinum is not discussed prominently anywhere else on the CC website, only here I’ve found:

        http://www.clubcarlsonvisa.com/credit/visaPlatinumCard.do

        My initial take on it so far, is it’s quite similar to the “plain-jane” (not Premier) Visa Signature card, and maybe the only thing the Platinum is missing is the “Visa Signature” benefits. Having reduced points earnings (6 at CC hotels and 3 everywhere else, vs 10 and 5 with the Premier card), puts the Platinum in a lower tier from the Premier, thus I would NOT include the Platinum in your “best credit card” list here.

        Sorry if I’ve muddied the water with this one, but I found it interesting as I didn’t even know the CC Platinum card existed until I received it.

        • You haven’t mudded the waters at all, it’s important to note when credit card issuers offer an inferior product that is extended to you if you’re not approved for the prime product. Thanks for that link as well, makes things much easier.

  7. Bryan says:

    Fantastic list! Will definitely bookmark this. One thing: you mention Club Carlson’s top tier status as “Platinum,” but I think it’s referred to as “Concierge,” correct? Just trying to avoid confusion

  8. Skor says:

    Great post!

  9. james says:

    One thing that moves up the Fairmont card is their mid status includes suite upgrade cert which can be used on award nights. However, some properties such as the Mayakoba and San Francisco have limited their use.

  10. Mariana says:

    My husband has the Hilton Surpass by Amex. Do you not think it’s work keeping after the first year just for the gold status? You get free internet and free breakfast. Our family of four recently traveled with it and we did save a ton of money by not having to purchase breakfast at hotels, which can be pricey. On the other hand, when we use our SPG points we end up paying $10 to $15 per person for breakfast!

    • You could get the Reserve card which also has gold status if you wanted, that way you’d get another sign up bonus. It really depends on how often you stay at Hilton properties I guess, if you’re staying there like 5-6 times a year it might be worth it.

  11. T says:

    Will,

    You still have the two for one award stay info for the Club Carlson piece.Skimmed through and noticed that. Don’t know if you plan to update but as always a great article.

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