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Best Hotel Credit Cards of 2019

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What Are Hotel Credit Cards?

Pros

  • Hotel cards provide bonus rewards when you spend at hotels.
  • Miles and points earned can be redeemed for free nights, among other benefits.
  • General and co-branded hotel cards are both available.

Cons

  • Most hotel rewards cards have annual fees.
  • Cardholders may need to pay higher annual fees to access luxury benefits.
  • Cardholders typically pay high interest costs when the bill isn't paid in full.

Given the massive variety of hotels available around the world, it makes sense there would likewise be many options for consumers in need of a hotel credit card. Hotel credit cards serve a similar function to travel cards, which maximize value on travel purchases and offer redeemable points. Hotel credit cards provide extra points when the card is used to book rooms, and accumulated points can eventually be redeemed for free stays.

Hotel credit cards can be divided into two distinct types: general and co-branded cards. General hotel credit cards are not affiliated to any specific hotel chain, while co-branded credit cards provide unique value on specific hotel brands. If you only stay in certain hotel chains, then a co-branded hotel card would be perfect. If you think your hotel stays will vary, however, then the more universal rewards structure of a general hotel card might fit you better. In this piece, we will examine both types.

There are a few factors to keep in mind when searching for the best hotel credit card. In particular, you should consider rewards you may earn, how you can redeem those rewards, the sign-up bonus, the annual fee and the benefits associated with that card. The value of these cards will vary when you analyze these features. Although all of these credit cards are good choices, keep in mind that they only become great if they fit your unique needs.

1. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Credit Card Details

  • Annual fee: $95
  • Regular APR: 18.24% - 25.24% Variable
  • Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • Credit needed: Excellent credit

Why we like it: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is an all-around great credit card. It offers 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. It also offers a strong sign-up bonus of 60,000 points (worth $750 when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal) after spending $4,000 within the first three months of opening an account. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card allows cardholders to transfer points to several distinct travel partners and organizations. Therefore, the sign-up bonus can immediately be put to use and lower the financial barrier between you and your destination.

Another strength of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the low annual fee, which is $95. Many of this card's competitors charge more than $400. Although the massive gap between annual fees does reflect a difference in the suite of benefits offered to cardholders, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers the necessities and a great point-redemption system.

Things to watch out for: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card requires excellent credit, so it may be difficult to qualify. In comparison to other travel or hotel cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card's annual fee is relatively modest, but make sure you'll spend enough on the card to outweigh the annual fee and come out ahead on rewards.

rewards rates for the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card
rewards rates for the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card

2. Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Credit Card Details

  • Annual fee: $450 (See Rates & Fees)
  • Regular APR: 17.99% - 26.99% Variable
  • Sign-up bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • Credit needed: Excellent credit

Why we like it: The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card card is one of the best premium hotel credit cards available today. Despite the steep annual fee, this card provides tremendous value that offsets its costs. Benefits include a $300 annual statement credit, complimentary Marriott Gold status, a free award night after each account anniversary, and a Priority Pass membership, which grants access to more than 1,200 airport lounges worldwide.

The card also offers an exceptional rewards rates across the board. Cardholders will receive 6 points on every dollar spent toward participating Marriott Bonvoy™ hotels, 3 points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines, and 2 points for all other purchases. These rewards, alongside the card's solid benefits, make this a great all-purpose rewards card.

Things to watch out for: The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card card only reaches its full potential—an eye-popping 6x points per dollar spent—when used at Marriott Bonvoy hotels. Therefore, if you think you'll often stay at hotels outside of this brand, then it may be smarter to get a general rewards card. This card also charges a steep annual fee, which isn't worth paying unless you're maximizing all the benefits and rewards.

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, please click here.

The information related to the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.  

3. Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Credit Card Details

  • Annual fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
  • Regular APR: 17.99% - 25.24% (Variable)
  • Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within three months from account opening.
  • Credit needed: Good or excellent credit

Why we like it: The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card provides great rewards and flexibility. Cardholders earn unlimited 2 miles on every dollar spent, which can then be transferred to 14 travel loyalty programs. In addition, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is one of the only cards to provide users with a Global Entry or TSA Precheck voucher at this price. Many credit cards that offer this benefit typically charge annual fees of more than $400.

These perks are great, but the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card finds its greatest strength in a collaboration with Hotels.com. Cardholders earn an extraordinary 10 miles per dollar spent when booking accommodations on hotels.com/venture until January 2020. Although temporary, this is one of the highest rewards rates that we've ever seen offered by a credit card.

Things to watch out for: The main drawback of the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is that your rewards value will decrease when you redeem miles for cash back or merchandise. Therefore, we only recommend applying for this card if you're planning to utilize the miles for travel as opposed to earning cash rewards. If you're interested in earning cash-back rewards, we recommend you read about top picks of 2019 for said category.

rewards rates for the Capital One Venture credit card
rewards rates for the Capital One Venture credit card

4. Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply.

Credit Card Details

  • Annual fee: $450 (See Rates & Fees)
  • Regular APR: 17.74% - 26.74% Variable
  • Sign-up bonus: Earn 150,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • Credit needed: Excellent credit

Why we like it: The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card provides a range of benefits to cardholders, many of which are amplified when the card is used at hotels in the Hilton portfolio. The card provides 14 points per dollar spent at Hilton properties, 10 points per dollar spent when booking any stay (Hilton or not!), and 7 points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com. In addition, all cardholders get complimentary Hilton Diamond status—the highest loyalty status offered by Hilton.

This card offers quite a few other features that go beyond simply racking up points. Cardholders get a free weekend reward night annually, Priority Pass membership for airport lounges around the world, a $250 annual airline fee credit, and a $250 Hilton resort statement credit. Adding up the value of these benefits alone is more than enough to completely offset the steep annual fee of this luxury hotel card.

Things to watch out for: The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card offers staggeringly high rewards rates across several bonus categories, but it's worth noting that each point is worth less than 1 cent, at $0.006, which is far lower than the standard rate among travel rewards cards. Also, many of these benefits and features are only accessible when using the credit card specifically at Hilton properties. You will need to stay at Hilton hotels often to make the most out of this credit card—but if you do, then it's easily worth every penny.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, please click here.

The information related to the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

5. IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Credit Card Details

  • Annual fee: $89
  • Regular APR: 18.24% - 25.24% Variable
  • Sign-up bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • Credit needed: Good or excellent credit

Why we like it: The biggest draw of the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is its 25 points per dollar spent at IHG hotels. Although cardholders would be sacrificing flexibility, as these points have very little value outside of IHG hotel bookings, there is still value to be found here if you prefer this hotel chain. The annual fee easily outweighed by the card's annual free night reward, which can be worth up to $256. If you are a frequent IHG guest and only concerned with maximizing your value from staying there, then this is the right card.

Things to watch out for: This credit card is only good if you are a frequent IHG guest. Besides the 25 points per dollar spent at IHG hotels, the card offers a dismal 1.28% rewards rate (or 2 points per dollar spent) on all other purchases. Several other credit cards come with no annual fees and still offer higher base rewards than the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. If you do choose to apply for this card, consider using it alongside a different credit card for everyday rewards.

6. The World Of Hyatt Credit Card

Credit Card Details

  • Annual fee: $95
  • Regular APR: 18.24% - 25.24% Variable
  • Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first six months from account opening.
  • Credit needed: Good or excellent credit

Why we like it: First and foremost, the The World Of Hyatt Credit Card has one of the best credit card sign-up bonuses currently available. After spending $6,000 within the first six months of opening an account, cardholders receive 50,000 bonus points. Rewards points can be redeemed for hotel stays that start as low as 5,000 points, and cardholders get three free anniversary nights per year. Free nights are one of the most rare and valuable benefits offered, which makes this card a solid pick for your wallet. The value gained from just one free hotel night alone is enough to offset the meager annual fee.

Things to watch out for: The biggest downside is that Hyatt doesn't have as many properties as most of its competitors. This may not be an issue if you travel exclusively to metropolitan areas and tourist destinations, but smaller cities may not have any Hyatt properties at all. You would therefore miss out on possible points, rewards and any benefits of being a The World Of Hyatt Credit Card cardholder.

7. Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

Credit Card Details

  • Annual fee: $89 (waived first year)
  • Regular APR: 18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24% variable based on your creditworthiness
  • Sign-up bonus: Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
  • Credit needed: Good or excellent credit

Why we like it: The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® is a fantastic rewards credit card that offers a constant rewards rate. In other words, you won't have to worry about optimizing your purchases and activating rotating bonus categories. The card offers 2 miles for every dollar spent, plus 5% of your miles back whenever they are redeemed—meaning the rewards rate is effectively 2.1%. This is one of the highest rewards rates for an everyday credit card, putting it on the same level as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

However, what differentiates this credit card from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (and many others) is its broad definition of travel expenses. Taxis, buses, timeshares and more fall under the "travel" category, which means you can redeem your miles for statement credits on tons of expenses that are traditionally excluded.

Things to watch for: The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® does not offer hotel-specific benefits, although it's a great all-around rewards card that offers a solid return on hotel purchases. This card does not automatically place you in a loyalty status, grant free hotel stays, or boost the rewards rate when you spend at hotels. This card is a great choice if you don't want to pay a steep annual fee and simply want good cash back value on the money you spend.

8. Citi Prestige® Card

Credit Card Details

  • Annual fee: $450
  • Regular APR: 15.24%
  • Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • Credit needed: Excellent credit

Why we like it: The Citi Prestige® Card is a great choice for individuals who frequently travel and stay in hotels on the road. The card offers quite a few benefits to help mitigate its steep annual fee: a travel credit up to $250, airport lounge access through the American Airlines Admirals Club and Priority Pass, a $100 voucher for TSA Precheck or Global Entry, and great rewards rates on purchases. Cardholders can earn 5 points per dollar spent on air travel or at restaurants, 3 points per dollar spent on hotels, and 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere. However, if you book four or more consecutive nights at any hotel and pay using your Citi Prestige® Card card, the fourth night is complimentary. Using this perk just twice a year is already enough to offset the steep annual fee.

Things to watch out for: The Citi Prestige® Card card requires excellent credit from applicants, meaning it will be difficult for most people to qualify. In addition, the annual fee is one of the highest among any luxury travel card. If you are unable to maximize its value or do not travel frequently enough, the card's fee may end up outweighing its benefits. Additionally, cardholders earn ThankYou points, which are generally less valuable than the rewards programs of its competitors.

The information related to the Citi Prestige® Card has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Applying for a Rewards Credit Card

Before applying for any credit card, we always recommend you shop around and ask yourself a few key questions.

What Kind of Card Can I Qualify For?

There are two key factors you should consider when choosing a hotel credit card: credit requirement and annual fee. Many of the top hotel cards demand good to excellent credit before applying, so make sure you know the approximate credit requirements and how well it matches up to your own credit score before applying. Annual fees on hotel cards also vary, with the more luxurious cards charging significantly steeper fees. Apply for a credit card you believe is the most appropriate for your particular financial situation and that you can confidently pay annually.

Why Would I Apply for a Card with a Higher Annual Fee Rather Than Lower?

The reason some cards have higher annual fees than others is because they offer a larger and more luxurious suite of benefits. Cards with higher fees often cater toward a wealthier demographic, so their benefits include complimentary hotel nights on extended stays and access to exclusive airport lounges. The value provided by lower-end cards is designed for a separate demographic than that of higher-end cards.

When deciding between credit cards with different annual fees, consider which will provide you with more value. If you travel often and take advantage of the various statement credits and bonuses provided by higher-end credit cards, then it may be the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you don't travel as often and only want a hotel credit card to use a couple of times a year, then a credit card with a lower fee would be more practical for your specific situation.

Should I Apply for a Co-Branded or General Credit Card?

It's important to distinguish between co-branded and general hotel credit cards when looking for one that best fits your needs. Co-branded credit cards offer extra benefits when used in specific hotel chains, whereas general hotel credit cards offer consistent rewards across all applicable hotels without preference.

You should apply for a co-branded credit card if you regularly frequent one hotel chain over others, or if a certain chain is significantly more popular in the areas where you travel. In contrast, you should apply for a general credit card if you have no preference among hotel chains and don't want to worry about optimizing rewards by going to certain hotels over others.

Comments and Questions

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Info about the following cards: American Express® Gold Card, Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, Hilton Honors Surpass® Credit Card, American Express® Blue Sky, American Express® Green Card, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, The Plenti® Credit Card from Amex, Blue from American Express®, Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz, Bluebird, Centurion® Card from American Express, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, and Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card has been collected independently by ValuePenguin. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).