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14 Best Hotel Credit Cards to Earn Hotel Perks in September 2022

14 Best Hotel Credit Cards to Earn Hotel Perks in September 2022

Enjoy a generous welcome offer and luxurious hotel benefits with the best co-branded hotel card, the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express. The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is the top general travel card for hotels - you can earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars bookings.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more. Citi is an advertising partner.

Best overall (general travel)

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Hotel credit cards, whether co-branded or general travel cards earning transferable points or miles, can unlock a world of hotel benefits usually reserved for elite loyalty program members.

The best hotel cards will offer hefty welcome bonuses (co-branded and general travel card perk), a strong earning rate (co-branded and general travel card perk). Co-branded cards typically offer automatic elite status and VIP perks (ranging from complimentary room upgrades to late checkouts), while general travel cards tend to give you more flexibility when redeeming points or miles for hotel stays.

Compare the best hotel credit cards of 2022


Best for
Earning rate
Type of rewards
Credit score needed
Annual fee
Overall/Hilton (co-branded): Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express
unavailable credit card
Earn 14X per $1 of eligible purchases on your card directly with a participating Hilton hotel or resort, 7X for eligible purchases: on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com; on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies; & at U.S. restaurants, and 3X for other purchases on your cardHotel points660 - 850$450Read Review
Overall (general travel): Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day; 10 Miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 10 Miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world’s largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023; 5 Miles on flights booked through Capital One TravelTransferable miles720 - 850$395
Apply Now
On Capital One's Secure Website
No annual fee (co-branded): Hilton Honors American Express Card
Hilton Honors American Express Card
Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio, 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations AND 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.Hotel points660 - 850$0
Apply Now
See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website
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Best co-branded hotel credit card overall/Hilton

Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express

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Not available on ValuePenguin

Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.

$450

17.99% to 26.99% variable

660 - 850

  • 14X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio worldwide
  • 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies and at U.S. restaurants
  • 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on other purchases
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status
  • One Weekend Night Reward at a hotel or resort in the Hilton portfolio with your new Card and each year of Card Membership
  • A second Weekend Night Reward at a hotel or resort in the Hilton portfolio after spending $60,000 in purchases on the Card in a calendar year
  • Unlimited Priority Pass™Lounge passes to ease the airport experience, enrollment required
  • $250 Airline incidental fee statement credit
  • $250 Hilton resort statement credit
  • $100 on-property credit at Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotels & Resorts when booking the exclusive Aspire Card package
  • Access to 24/7 American Express concierge
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Terms apply
  • Respectable card features to accumulate free nights quickly
  • Complimentary Hilton Diamond status (enrollment required)
  • Free hotel stays
  • Generous airline perks (enrollment required)
  • The high annual fee may not be worth it for less frequent travelers
  • Hilton points are worth less than the average rewards program point
Rating details
Introductory offer
Rewards system
Ongoing value
Interest and fees
Customer satisfaction

The Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express has a high annual fee ($450), but it’s also got a generous welcome offer and is loaded with valuable benefits that more than make up for the cost for many cardholders. It's best for high spenders who frequently stay in Hilton hotels, want the VIP treatment that comes with high-tier elite status, and are focused on maximizing rewards on their hotel spending.

Savvy traveler's tip: If the $450 annual fee that comes with the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express is outside of your budget, consider a no-annual-fee travel credit card instead.

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Best general travel hotel credit card overall

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

On Capital One's Secure Website

Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

$395

18.49% - 25.49% (Variable)

720 - 850

  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs

  • Flat earning structure means you get good value no matter what
  • Can use miles with any airline or hotel
  • Relax with complimentary Priority Pass airport lounge access
  • Breeze through airport security with Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • High annual fee may only be worth it for some travelers
  • $300 travel credit only good through the Capital One portal

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is our top choice for earning points on hotel stays due to its lucrative earning rate and sign-up bonus. Cardmembers will earn 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day; 10 Miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 10 Miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world’s largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023; 5 Miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel. You'll also get 10,000 bonus miles every account anniversary (equal to $100 towards travel).

Though this card has an annual fee of $395, its $300 credit toward booking on Capital One Travel can easily make up for most of that. The card offers other valuable perks, including a $100 credit for either TSA PreCheck® or Global Entry.

Savvy traveler's tip: For consumers looking to earn hotel points and luxury rewards, consider a premium credit card.
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Co-branded hotel credit cards

Co-branded hotel credit cards are most valuable for consumers who regularly stay with the same hotel chain and can take advantage of hotel-specific perks, like elite status, room upgrades, free nights and more.

Best hotel credit card with no annual fee

Hilton Honors American Express Card

See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

100,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, you can earn up to $100 in Statement Credits on eligible purchases made on the Card at any of the Hilton family hotels in the first 12 months of Membership.

$0

18.74%-27.74% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 100,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, you can earn up to $100 in Statement Credits on eligible purchases made on the Card at any of the Hilton family hotels in the first 12 months of Membership.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases 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.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with your Card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.

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

  • Put more money in your pocket without paying an annual fee
  • A low spending requirement makes the welcome bonus more attainable
  • Silver Hilton elite status can get you upgrades and perks (enrollment required)
  • Take advantage of valuable bonus categories, including dining and U.S. supermarkets
  • Hilton points are worth less than the average rewards program point
  • Can't use Hilton points to stay at other hotel chains
Rating details
Introductory offer
Rewards system
Ongoing value
Interest and fees
Customer satisfaction

The Hilton Honors American Express Card is one of the best Hilton credit cards for travelers who want a hotel rewards credit card with a $0 annual fee. The card is a good choice for less frequent travelers who prefer to stay at Hilton hotels and want the perks that come with a co-branded hotel credit card.

The rewards program offers plenty of value, and there’s no need to crunch numbers to see if owning the card is worth the cost. Based on our assessment of the value of Hilton points, the card's welcome offer alone is worth a substantial amount.

Savvy traveler's tip: No-annual-fee credit cards are great for travelers who want to earn points at specific hotel chains, but who don't travel enough to warrant paying an annual fee.

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Best hotel credit card for free nights

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

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Not available on ValuePenguin

Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership.

$95

17.24% to 26.24% variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 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.
  • Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • 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.
  • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

  • Take advantage of excellent bonus categories
  • Complimentary Gold elite status gives access to room upgrades and perks (enrollment required)
  • Spend to earn top-tier Diamond status for even more benefits (enrollment required)
  • Hilton points can't be used to stay at other hotel chains
  • Hilton points are worth less than the average rewards program point

The points earning rate of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is one of the highest rates currently offered, which can result in free nights for regular card users. You can 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, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations. Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.

This card also comes with automatic Hilton Honors Gold status and the ability to upgrade to Hilton Honors Diamond status when you spend $40,000 on your card in a calendar year (enrollment required).

Savvy traveler's tip: Hilton has more than 6,000 properties worldwide and owns a variety of other hotel chains, so the points and perks you earn with this card have an incredibly far reach.

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Best hotel credit card for small business

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

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Not available on ValuePenguin

Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors Business Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership.

$95

18.74% - 27.74% Variable

660 - 850

  • Welcome Offer: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors Business Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card: 12X at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio, 6X at US gas stations, on US purchases for shipping, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from US service providers, on flights booked directly with airlines or with Amex Travel, on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies, and at US restaurants, 3X on all other eligible purchases.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Status with your Hilton Honors Business Card.
  • Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • Earn another Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend an additional $45,000 in purchases on your Card in the same calendar year.
  • Terms apply.

  • Use the weekend night awards for free hotel stays
  • Complimentary Gold elite status gives access to room upgrades and perks (enrollment required)
  • Spend to earn top-tier Diamond status for even more benefits (enrollment required)
  • Complimentary Priority Pass airport lounge access (enrollment required)
  • Hilton points are worth less than the average rewards program point
  • Hilton points can't be used for other hotel stays

The The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card is our top pick for small business owners looking for a lucrative hotel card. New cardholders will receive an impressive welcome offer: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors Business Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. You'll also get complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status with the opportunity to elevate to Diamond status when you spend $40,000 on your eligible purchases in a calendar year (enrollment required).

Savvy traveler's tip: You'll get the most bang for your buck with this card when you consistently stay at Hilton hotels.

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Best hotel credit card for Hotels.com

Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card

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Not available on ValuePenguin

Limited Time Offer! Get 3 reward nights worth $375 total (max $125 per night)* with qualifying purchases. Get 2 reward nights worth $250 total (max $125 per night)*, when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, get another reward night worth $125 when you spend $4,000 in total purchases within the first 6 months. *Excludes taxes and fees. If a night costs less than $125, you won’t get the difference.

$0

17.99% to 25.99% variable APR

660 - 850

  • Limited Time Offer! Get 3 reward nights worth $375 total (max $125 per night)* with qualifying purchases. Get 2 reward nights worth $250 total (max $125 per night)*, when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, get another reward night worth $125 when you spend $4,000 in total purchases within the first 6 months. *Excludes taxes and fees. If a night costs less than $125, you won’t get the difference.
  • Collect 1 stamp each time you spend $500 on purchases with your card and collect 1 stamp for every night you stay at any eligible property booked on Hotels.com. When you collect 10 stamps, you'll get 1 reward night to redeem on future bookings through Hotels.com.
  • Choose from over 500,000 properties in 200+ countries around the world.
  • $0 Annual Fee.
  • Enjoy Silver membership exclusives such as free breakfast, airport transfers, free WiFi, and more at selected properties for as long as your card is open.
  • Pay your monthly cell phone bill with your card and get up to $600 protection against damage or theft (subject to a $25 deductible).
  • No foreign currency conversion fee.
  • Offers reimbursement for non-refundable passenger fare if your trip is interrupted or cancelled for a covered reason, when your passenger fare is booked with your card.

  • With no annual fee, you can keep more cash in your pocket
  • Use the free night certificates at any eligible hotel
  • Complimentary Silver elite status can get you hotel upgrades
  • Lack of bonus spending categories limits your earning power
  • Complicated rewards structure limits your redemption options

The Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card can be a great deal for people who regularly use the site and are looking to earn free hotel stays. For a $0 annual fee, cardholders will Collect 1 stamp each time you spend $500 on purchases with your card and collect 1 stamp for every night you stay at any eligible property booked on Hotels.com. Collect 10 stamps, get 1 reward night.

You'll also receive a Limited Time Offer! Get 3 reward nights worth $375 total (max $125 per night)* with qualifying purchases. Get 2 reward nights worth $250 total (max $125 per night)*, when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, get another reward night worth $125 when you spend $4,000 in total purchases within the first 6 months. *Excludes taxes and fees. If a night costs less than $125, you won’t get the difference.

Savvy traveler's tip: If you're looking to earn free nights, use this hotel card to make all your travel bookings through Hotels.com.

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Best hotel credit card for Marriott

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

Earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy® bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months.

$650

18.74%-27.74% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy® bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months.
  • Each Card renewal year, get up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year (up to $25 per month) for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide.
  • A Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite member will earn 50% more points on eligible purchases at participating hotels for each U.S. dollar or the currency equivalent that is incurred and paid for by the member.
  • Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy® points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program. 3 points at Worldwide Restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines. 2 points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Marriott Brilliant Free Night Award: Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Each calendar year after spending $60,000 on eligible purchases, Card Members are eligible to select an Earned Choice Award benefit. Benefit options include: Five (5) Suite Night Awards, 85K Free Night Award, and mattress and box spring $750 discount from Marriott Bonvoy Boutiques.
  • $100 Luxury Property Credit: Enjoy your stay. Receive up to a $100 property credit for qualifying charges at The Ritz-Carlton® or St. Regis® when you book direct using a special rate for a two-night minimum stay using your Card.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®: Receive either a statement credit every 4 years after you apply for Global Entry ($100) or a statement credit every 4.5 years after you apply for a five-year membership through any Authorized Enrollment Provider for TSA PreCheck® (up to $85) when you pay the application fee with an eligible Card. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Each calendar year you can receive 25 Elite Night Credits toward the next level of Marriott Bonvoy Elite status. Limitations apply per Marriott Bonvoy member account. Benefit is not exclusive to Cards offered by American Express. Terms apply.
  • Enroll in Priority Pass Select, which offers unlimited access to over 1,200 lounges in over 130 countries, regardless of which carrier or class you are flying. This allows you to relax before or between flights. You can enjoy snacks, drinks, and internet access in a quiet, comfortable location.
  • Enjoy unlimited airport lounge visits when you enroll in Priority Pass™ Select membership.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on international purchases.
  • Cell phone protection: You can be reimbursed for your costs to repair or replace your damaged or stolen cell phone up to $800, subject to a $50 deductible, for 2 approved claims per 12-month period when your prior month's wireless bill was paid utilizing an Eligible Card Account. Terms and conditions apply. Coverage is provided by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.
  • $650 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.

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

  • Free hotel stays
  • Complimentary Priority Pass airport lounge access (enrollment required)
  • Free night award each year
  • Valuable dining credits
  • High annual fee will only be worth it for some travelers
  • Earning Marriott Bonvoy points limits your available hotel options to Marriott brands
  • Marriott points are worth less than the average rewards program point
Rating details
Introductory offer
Rewards system
Ongoing value
Interest and fees
Customer satisfaction

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is an excellent choice for very frequent travelers and dedicated Marriott loyalists who want all the benefits and star treatment that come with a luxury hotel credit card.

The more you travel, the more value you’ll get out of the airport lounge access benefit and other benefits. Depending on your travel patterns, you may be able to make back the high annual fee many times over.

Savvy traveler's tip: Marriott offers properties all over the world and owns numerous global hotel brands as well. Use your Marriott Bonvoy rewards to earn free nights at hotels everywhere.

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Best hotel credit card for Hyatt

World of Hyatt Credit Card

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn up to 60,000 Bonus Points - Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 More Bonus Points by earning 2 Bonus Points total per $1 spent in the first 6 months from account opening on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 spent.

$95

18.24% - 25.24% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 More Bonus Points by earning 2 Bonus Points total per $1 spent in the first 6 months from account opening on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 spent
  • Enjoy complimentary World of Hyatt Discoverist status for as long as your account is open.
  • Get 1 free night each year after your Cardmember anniversary at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort
  • Receive 5 tier qualifying night credits towards status after account opening, and each year after that for as long as your account is open
  • Earn an extra free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel if you spend $15,000 in a calendar year
  • Earn 2 qualifying night credits towards tier status every time you spend $5,000 on your card
  • Earn up to 9 points total for Hyatt stays – 4 Bonus Points per $1 spent at Hyatt hotels & 5 Base Points per $1 from Hyatt as a World of Hyatt member
  • Earn 2 Bonus Points per $1 spent at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airlines, on local transit and commuting and on fitness club and gym memberships
  • Hyatt points are valuable compared to other hotel brands (worth around 1.7 cents per point on average)
  • Free hotel stays
  • Complimentary Discoverist elite status can help score upgrades and perks
  • Qualify for higher level elite status through spending on the card
  • Limited redemption options besides staying at Hyatt hotels
  • Hyatt's hotel network is smaller than that of other major chains
Rating details
Introductory offer
Rewards system
Ongoing value
Interest and fees
Customer satisfaction

The World of Hyatt Credit Card is good for regular travelers who are loyal to Hyatt hotels but don’t want to pay a hefty annual fee. The card comes with the lowest level of Hyatt elite status, plus a boost to help you start working your way up to a higher tier. The card offers an impressive amount of value for the cost, and it may work especially well for a Hyatt-loyal cardholder who travels regularly. The card's sign-up bonus alone can get you as many as 10 free nights in a category 1 hotel.

The World of Hyatt is one of the best hotel rewards programs because each point is worth 1.7 cents each according to our estimation. This makes this card one of the best hotel rewards credit cards out there, since your rewards will stretch further than other hotel loyalty programs.

Savvy traveler's tip: Hyatt owns numerous hotel chains that have properties all over the world. Use your World of Hyatt points to book free nights in a number of global destinations.

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Best hotel credit card sign-up bonus

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

  • Multiple free night certificates can make it easy to plan an amazing trip
  • Complimentary Silver Elite status gives you benefits and hotel upgrades
  • Spend on the card to get Elite Night credits towards status
  • Earning Marriott Bonvoy points limits your available hotel options to Marriott brands
  • Marriott points are worth less than the average rewards program point

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card is one of the best Marriott credit cards for frequent travelers loyal to the Marriott brand. The card is linked to a brand with an extensive portfolio of over 7,000 properties, so it may be a good fit for travelers who prefer to have many hotel options at a variety of price points and locations. With the lucrative welcome offer, it’s also great for those who want to leverage their everyday spending to land the biggest rewards.

Savvy traveler's tip: Credit cards with strong sign-up bonuses are great for kickstarting your points earning at hotels that can earn you free nights.

{"backgroundColor":"gray","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeIcon--root ShortcodeIcon--margin-bottom\"\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\"ShortcodeIcon--icon ShortcodeIcon--large ShortcodeIcon--black ValuePenguinIcon--hotel-cart\"\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003Cp class=\"ShortcodeIcon--content\"\u003E \u003Cstrong\u003ESavvy traveler's tip:\u003C\/strong\u003E Credit cards with strong \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"15 Best Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses\" href=\"https:\/\/www.valuepenguin.com\/best-credit-card-sign-up-bonus\"\u003Esign-up bonuses\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E are great for kickstarting your points earning at hotels that can earn you free nights.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}


Best hotel credit card for IHG

IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card

  • 4th night free on award stays is useful for longer trips
  • Complimentary Platinum elite status for perks and upgrades
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit for faster airport security transit
  • Free hotel stay each year
  • IHG points have a low value (around half a cent on average)
  • Can't use IHG points to stay at other hotel chains

The IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card is best for loyal IHG hotel travelers who want maximum value at a reasonable price. The card offers an impressive array of benefits compared to other cards with similar annual fees.

Cardholders Earn up to 26 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel. Earn 5 points per $1 spent on purchases on travel, gas stations, and restaurants. Earn 3 points per $1 spent on all other purchases. You also get one free award night each year on your card anniversary, plus automatic Platinum elite status in the IHG Rewards program.

Savvy traveler's tip: IHG owns a vast number of hotel brands with properties spanning the globe. You can use your IHG rewards points to earn free nights at destinations around the world.

{"backgroundColor":"gray","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeIcon--root ShortcodeIcon--margin-bottom\"\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\"ShortcodeIcon--icon ShortcodeIcon--large ShortcodeIcon--black ValuePenguinIcon--hotel-cart\"\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003Cp class=\"ShortcodeIcon--content\"\u003E \u003Cstrong\u003ESavvy traveler's tip:\u003C\/strong\u003E IHG owns a vast number of hotel brands with properties spanning the globe. You can use your \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"IHG Rewards Program Guide: Fast Track to Elite Status\" href=\"https:\/\/www.valuepenguin.com\/travel\/ihg-rewards-club-loyalty-program\"\u003EIHG rewards\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E points to earn free nights at destinations around the world.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}


Best hotel credit card for Best Western

Best Western Rewards MasterCard Credit Card

Generic art
Not available on ValuePenguin

40,000 points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 billing cycles after the account is opened

$0

16.24% - 23.24%

See website for details

    rnt
  • rntt10,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first three billing cycles
  • rnt
  • rntt10,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first six billing cycles
  • rnt
  • rnttReceive 13 points per $1 on Best Western stays (10 points as Best Western Rewards member, 3 points for using your MasterCard)
  • rnt
  • rnttReceive 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • rnt
  • rnttReceive automatic Gold Elite Status
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  • Use the generous sign-up bonus for free hotel stays
  • Platinum elite status for extra hotel perks and upgrades
  • Since your points don't expire, you have more time to use them
  • Poor earning rates for anything other than Best Western stays
  • Can't use Best Western points to stay at other hotel chains

For travelers who regularly stay at Best Western hotels, the Best Western Rewards MasterCard Credit Card can offer significant value with its high rewards rate and top hotel perks. For a $0 annual fee, cardholders can enjoy automatic Gold status, early check-in, late checkout and more.

On top of these lucrative benefits, cardmembers can also earn up to three free nights in bonus points: 40,000 points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 billing cycles after the account is opened. 20,000 points when you spend $5,000 every 12 billing cycles. The extra 20,000 points is relatively easy to hit over 12 months, so this is a sweet deal for a card that doesn't charge an annual fee.

Savvy traveler's tip: As a $0-annual-fee card, the Best Western Rewards MasterCard Credit Card has a lot to offer. We recommend taking advantage of this card's numerous benefits if you regularly stay with Best Western.

{"backgroundColor":"gray","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeIcon--root ShortcodeIcon--margin-bottom\"\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\"ShortcodeIcon--icon ShortcodeIcon--large ShortcodeIcon--black ValuePenguinIcon--hotel-cart\"\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003Cp class=\"ShortcodeIcon--content\"\u003E \u003Cstrong\u003ESavvy traveler's tip:\u003C\/strong\u003E As a $0-annual-fee card, the Best Western Rewards MasterCard Credit Card has a lot to offer. We recommend taking advantage of this card's numerous benefits if you regularly stay with Best Western.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}


Best hotel credit card for Wyndham

Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Plus Card

Generic art
Not available on ValuePenguin

45,000 Wyndham Rewards points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days

$75

15.74%, 19.99% or 24.99% variable

See website for details

  • Take advantage of discounts on both paid and award stays
  • Using Wyndham points for Vacasa vacation rentals can be great value
  • Platinum elite status for upgrades, perks and benefits
  • Using points for either "go free®" or "go fast®" stays gives you more options
  • Can't use Wyndham points to stay at other hotel chains

The Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Plus Card is our pick for the best hotel credit card for Wyndham because of its fantastic sign-up bonus and excellent hotel perks. Cardholders will automatically be granted Wyndham Rewards Platinum member level, which offers benefits like car rental upgrades, early check-in and more. You'll also enjoy 7,500 bonus points each anniversary year after paying the renewal fee, and you can earn 45,000 Wyndham Rewards points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days. All this and more for a moderate $75 annual fee.

Savvy traveler's tip: If you're willing to pay a moderately low annual fee and you frequently stay at Wyndham properties, you should definitely consider the Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Plus Card which offers a multitude of valuable benefits.

{"backgroundColor":"gray","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeIcon--root ShortcodeIcon--margin-bottom\"\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\"ShortcodeIcon--icon ShortcodeIcon--large ShortcodeIcon--black ValuePenguinIcon--hotel-cart\"\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003Cp class=\"ShortcodeIcon--content\"\u003E \u003Cstrong\u003ESavvy traveler's tip:\u003C\/strong\u003E If you're willing to pay a moderately low annual fee and you frequently stay at Wyndham properties, you should definitely consider the Wyndham Rewards\u00ae Earner℠ Plus Card which offers a multitude of valuable benefits.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}

General travel rewards credit cards for hotels

While not co-branded to a specific hotel chain, general travel rewards credit cards can be great for consumers who aren't particularly brand loyal and prefer to stay at a variety of properties. These cards can come with perks like elite status for multiple hotel programs, travel and hotel credits, airport lounge access and more.

Best hotel credit card for elite status with Hilton and Marriott

The Platinum Card® from American Express

See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

$695

See Pay Over Time APR

660 - 850

  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. And if you fly, you can receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year after you select a qualifying airline and incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at select airports and stadiums.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Earns American Express Membership rewards

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

  • Complimentary Priority Pass airport lounge access (enrollment required)
  • Valuable travel credits, including up to $200 hotel credit
  • Speed through airport security with Global Entry or TSA PreCheck (enrollment required)
  • Elite status with Marriott and Hilton gives you multiple options (enrollment required)
  • One of the highest annual fees of any credit card
  • It can be hard to use all the statement credit options

Unlike most general travel cards, The Platinum Card® from American Express doesn’t just offer hotel-specific benefits — it also gives you status in two different hotel loyalty programs, Marriott and Hilton. It’s a great option for high-spending frequent travelers who don’t mind paying a hefty annual fee for a card fully loaded with valuable benefits. Luxury travelers who frequently stay at Hilton or Marriott properties (or both) and want flexibility in how they earn and spend rewards may also be well-suited for this card. We conservatively value the benefits of the card at $1,400 a year. Furthermore, Amex Membership Rewards® points offer lots of value and flexibility.

Unlike typical credit cards, The Platinum Card® from American Express allows you to carry a balance on some purchases, but not all.

Savvy traveler's tip: If you can afford the high annual fee, The Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the most lucrative travel rewards cards on the market. Be sure to utilize your elite status with both Hilton and Marriott.
is one of the most lucrative \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"17 Best Travel Credit Cards\" href=\"https:\/\/www.valuepenguin.com\/travel\/best-travel-credit-cards\"\u003Etravel rewards cards\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E on the market. Be sure to utilize your elite status with both Hilton and Marriott.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}


Best hotel credit card for flexible rewards

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn 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®.

$95

18.24% - 25.24% Variable

720 - 850

  • Earn 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®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself BackSM, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.

  • The Chase 5/24 rule can reduce your approval odds

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the most versatile and rewarding travel credit cards available today. The card can work for a variety of travelers, including frequent travelers and those who travel less often but go on trips multiple times a year.

It's a great card for travelers who aren’t loyal to one particular hotel brand or airline and who want good, solid value for their everyday spending. Travelers will also receive an annual $50 Ultimate Rewards® hotel statement credit to put toward a trip.

Savvy traveler's tip: Be sure to use the points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to book your hotel stays through Chase Ultimate Rewards® for the greatest value.
to book your hotel stays through Chase Ultimate Rewards\u00ae for the greatest value.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}


Best hotel credit card with a travel credit

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

$550

19.24% - 26.24% Variable

720 - 850

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on air travel and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel
  • With Pay Yourself BackSM, your points are worth 50% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more

  • Many travelers priced out due to the large annual fee

It's no secret that the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card is one of the top travel credit cards on the market, and for good reason. Your rewards have extra value when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel partners, which include IHG, World of Hyatt and Marriott Bonvoy properties. You'll also get a $300 annual travel statement credit to reimburse you for your travel purchases.

Savvy traveler's tip: Use your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points to earn free nights at hotel properties all over the world without being locked into one specific brand.


Best hotel credit card for flat-rate rewards

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

On Capital One's Secure Website

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

$95

17.49% - 25.49% (Variable)

660 - 850

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Enjoy two complimentary visits per year to Capital One Lounges or to 100+ Plaza Premium Lounges through our Partner Lounge Network
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
  • Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs

  • Earning structure ensures good value no matter where you spend
  • Earn bonus miles on hotel purchases through Capital One travel
  • Can use rewards with any airline or hotel
  • Access to over 15 travel transfer partners adds increased flexibility
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit speeds up airport security
  • No hotel-specific perks and benefits

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is another solid option for travelers who aren't loyal to one particular hotel brand and prefer the flexibility of a general-purpose travel card. The card is one of few travel rewards cards without bonus categories, so it’s perfect for travelers who want value, but also crave simplicity and would prefer to have just one card at the top of their wallet.

Savvy traveler's tip: Use your Capital One rewards to book hotel stays at Capital One travel partners Hilton, Marriott and Choice Privileges properties.

Best hotel credit card for students

Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card

Generic art
Not available on ValuePenguin

N/A

$0

26.99% (Variable)

0 - 600

  • No annual or hidden fees, and you can earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day. See if you're approved in seconds
  • Put down a refundable $200 security deposit to get a $200 initial credit line
  • Building your credit? Using a card like this responsibly could help
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • You could earn back your security deposit as a statement credit when you use your card responsibly, like making payments on time
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • Monitor your credit score with CreditWise from Capital One. It's free for everyone

Pros

  • Earn 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase, every day; 5% Cash Back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply)
  • Refundable security deposit starting at $200

Cons

  • High purchase APR
  • May not receive hotel elite status benefits when booking through Capital One Travel

The Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card is the best credit card for travelers who want to book hotel rooms, but don't have established credit — you can get preapproved for the card without affecting your credit score. Security deposits start at just $200, and after using the card responsibly, you could earn your security deposit back and receive automatic line increases. Cardholders earn 5% cash back when booking hotels and rental cars through Capital One Travel, which guarantees to match or beat prices on travel sites. Plus, if you travel internationally, there are no foreign transaction fees, so you'll save up to 3% compared to similar cards from other banks.

Savvy traveler tip: If you find a better price on your hotel room or rental car booked with Capital One Travel within 24 hours, Capital One will match it or refund the difference.

The information related to Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

How much is a hotel point worth?

The value of a hotel point depends on the particular hotel (or issuer) loyalty program as well as how you choose to redeem your points.

Hotel loyalty program
Points value
Marriott Bonvoy0.9 cents per point (1,000 points = $9)
World of Hyatt1.7 cents per point (1,000 points = $17)
Hilton Honors0.5 cents per point (1,000 points = $5)
IHG Rewards0.5 cents per point (1,000 points = $5)
Wyndham Rewards0.9 cents per point (1,000 points = $9)

Tip: You should check the value of your target redemption option before you transfer flexible points (like Chase Ultimate Rewards®) into a hotel program. You may be better off redeeming points through the card's travel portal. For example, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card points are worth 1.25 when redeemed for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal. As you can see from our chart above, most hotel program redemptions (outside of Hyatt) are worth less than this.

Types of hotel credit cards

Co-branded

General travel

Make a co-branded hotel credit card worth it by staying brand loyal and traveling frequently.

You'll get the most bang for your buck with a co-branded hotel credit card typically if you stay with the same hotel brand three or more times a year.

Even for travelers who stay with different hotel brands, or for those who only stay at hotels once or twice a year, hotel credit cards can still come in handy if you value earning free nights, perks and upgrades during your stay. When you accumulate enough points, you can cash your rewards in for free hotel stays on your next vacation.

For example, you may earn the highest number of points when you use your card to pay for stays and other eligible purchases with the hotel program. Hotel co-branded cards may also come with hotel-specific perks, such as complimentary elite status in the hotel’s rewards program. Elite status has a slew of benefits that vary by program and elite tier. Examples of elite status benefits include free room upgrades, welcome drinks and snacks and late checkout.

{"backgroundColor":"gray","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EFor example, you may earn the highest number of points when you use your card to pay for stays and other eligible purchases with the hotel program. Hotel co-branded cards may also come with hotel-specific perks, such as complimentary elite status in the hotel\u2019s rewards program. Elite status has a slew of benefits that vary by program and elite tier. Examples of elite status benefits include free room upgrades, welcome drinks and snacks and late checkout.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}

Pros and cons

  • A co-branded hotel credit card is a great tool that allows you to earn extra points for hotel stays, as well as earn on your everyday spending.
  • The downside of hotel co-branded cards is that you receive the most benefit when you’re staying at the hotels in that brand’s portfolio.
  • Co-branded cards are great for travelers who stay loyal to one particular brand, but not as convenient for those seeking flexibility.

Co-branded

Make a co-branded hotel credit card worth it by staying brand loyal and traveling frequently.

You'll get the most bang for your buck with a co-branded hotel credit card typically if you stay with the same hotel brand three or more times a year.

Even for travelers who stay with different hotel brands, or for those who only stay at hotels once or twice a year, hotel credit cards can still come in handy if you value earning free nights, perks and upgrades during your stay. When you accumulate enough points, you can cash your rewards in for free hotel stays on your next vacation.

For example, you may earn the highest number of points when you use your card to pay for stays and other eligible purchases with the hotel program. Hotel co-branded cards may also come with hotel-specific perks, such as complimentary elite status in the hotel’s rewards program. Elite status has a slew of benefits that vary by program and elite tier. Examples of elite status benefits include free room upgrades, welcome drinks and snacks and late checkout.

{"backgroundColor":"gray","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EFor example, you may earn the highest number of points when you use your card to pay for stays and other eligible purchases with the hotel program. Hotel co-branded cards may also come with hotel-specific perks, such as complimentary elite status in the hotel\u2019s rewards program. Elite status has a slew of benefits that vary by program and elite tier. Examples of elite status benefits include free room upgrades, welcome drinks and snacks and late checkout.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}

Pros and cons

  • A co-branded hotel credit card is a great tool that allows you to earn extra points for hotel stays, as well as earn on your everyday spending.
  • The downside of hotel co-branded cards is that you receive the most benefit when you’re staying at the hotels in that brand’s portfolio.
  • Co-branded cards are great for travelers who stay loyal to one particular brand, but not as convenient for those seeking flexibility.

General travel

Not interested in going brand loyal yet? General travel credit cards earn flexible points that can be worthwhile when you want to maintain flexibility while saving some dollars towards hotels when you travel.

Accumulate flexible points during the year and transfer to a hotel partner through your issuer's rewards program.

American Express

Hotel partners

  • Choice Privileges 1:1
  • Hilton Honors 1:2
  • Marriott Bonvoy 1:1

General travel cards

  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • American Express® Business Gold Card
  • American Express® Gold Card
  • The American Express® Green Card
  • The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express
  • Business Green Rewards Card from American Express
  • The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
  • The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Chase

Hotel partners

  • IHG 1:1
  • Marriott Bonvoy 1:1
  • World of Hyatt 1:1

General travel cards

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Capital One

Hotel partners

  • ALL - Accor Live Limitless 1:0.5
  • Choice Privileges 1:1
  • Virgin Red 1:1

General travel cards

  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
  • Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
  • Capital One Spark Miles for Business
  • Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business

How to choose a hotel credit card

1. Determine if a co-branded hotel card would be useful

Are you loyal to one particular brand of hotel, or do you prefer to mix up your stays based on where you’re traveling? If you’re a strong brand loyalist, and almost always travel to places where you can stay at that brand's hotels, a hotel co-branded card may make sense for you. If you don’t like to be confined to one brand, you may want to consider a general travel card.

Tip: Consider the size of a hotel program's network and make sure it has locations where you want to travel. Marriott, Hilton and IHG are large hotel programs that generally offer the best coverage. If you're collecting points for a trip, you should also check bookings for your intended travel dates to make sure award nights are available before you invest in a co-branded card.

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2. Make a list of the hotel card perks you value and typically pay for

Co-branded hotel cards typically offer perks different than general travel card, as listed below.

Perk
Hotel credit cards
General travel credit cards
$0 foreign transaction fees
$100 credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck
Baggage delay insurance
Airline incidental credit
Annual free weekend night reward
Automatic elite status
Elite night credits
Extended warranty
Free night award
Free weekend night reward with spend
Free premium Wi-Fi
No foreign transaction fees

Co-branded card perk example

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card (general travel card) offers unlimited Capital One lounge visits — this can save you hundreds of dollars if you frequently pay for airport lounge access.

General travel card perk example

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® (general travel card) offers a $100 reimbursement for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or Nexus, every four years — this is nice if you’d like these benefits but don’t travel enough to justify paying the application fee.

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card (general travel card) offers unlimited Capital One lounge visits — this can save you hundreds of dollars if you frequently pay for airport lounge access.

Co-branded hotel card tips

  • Hotel brand loyalists often use a co-branded hotel card to accumulate enough points to book free nights. Calculate how many free nights each card can earn you in a year by converting points to dollars (using the hotel loyalty program table above). Make sure to also account for any free nights that come with a sign-up bonus in your final totals.
  • People often choose a co-branded hotel card because many come with automatic elite status in the hotel loyalty program. Some offer the lowest tier of status, but a few offer the middle tier or even the highest tier of status. The value of elite status can vary greatly by program and tier, so you may want to check out our guides to the various hotel programs to gauge value.

For example, Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status is worth just $14 a year, while Gold Elite is worth $84 and Platinum Elite is worth about $338. The Marriott Bonvoy program is one of the best hotel credit card rewards programs, as there are robust opportunities to earn valuable elite status benefits that will make your hotel experience better.

{"backgroundColor":"gray","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003ECo-branded hotel card tips\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--root \"\u003E\n\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--content\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--column\"\u003E\n \u003Cul class=\"ListUnordered--root ListUnordered--bullet\"\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Hotel brand loyalists often use a co-branded hotel card to accumulate enough points to book free nights. Calculate how many free nights each card can earn you in a year by converting points to dollars (using the \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"hotel loyalty program table\" href=\"#hotelloyalty\"\u003Ehotel loyalty program table\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E above). Make sure to also account for any free nights that come with a sign-up bonus in your final totals.\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n People often choose a co-branded hotel card because many come with automatic elite status in the \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"hotel loyalty program\" href=\"#hotelloyalty\"\u003Ehotel loyalty program\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E. Some offer the lowest tier of status, but a few offer the middle tier or even the highest tier of status. The value of elite status can vary greatly by program and tier, so you may want to check out our guides to the various hotel programs to gauge value.\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EFor example, \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status: How to Earn It and What It's Worth\" href=\"https:\/\/www.valuepenguin.com\/travel\/marriott-bonvoy-elite-status#values\"\u003EMarriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E is worth just $14 a year, while Gold Elite is worth $84 and Platinum Elite is worth about $338. The Marriott Bonvoy program is one of the best hotel credit card rewards programs, as there are robust opportunities to earn valuable elite status benefits that will make your hotel experience better.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}

General travel card tip

Calculate the first year gains earned through the sign-up bonus and rewards rate (based on an assumed annual spend) for all general travel cards you're considering. Convert points to dollars (using the rewards loyalty program table above)

3. Most important: calculate a card's annual value using these top three features

Now consider the most important factors that will impact a credit card's dollar value: sign-up bonus, earning rate and point value.

First year value = sign-up bonus + (earning rate x estimated annual spend) x redemption value - annual fee

Sign-up bonus

First, look at the number of points or miles you earn, but don’t stop there. Calculate the dollar value of the bonus and also look at how many nights the points will cover for the hotel you plan to book.

You should also look at the minimum spending requirement you must meet in order to get the bonus. Make sure you can comfortably meet the requirement while paying off your balance in full each month — you definitely don’t want to pay interest that would cancel out all or part of your bonus.


Earning rate

The earning rate is one of the most important factors in choosing the best hotel rewards credit card for you. Look at how many points you’ll earn for stays at one of the hotels in the brand portfolio, as well as what you’ll earn in other bonus categories and for all other spending. Review your spending patterns to see how much you can earn with each card you’re considering.


Point value

Make sure the dollar value of free nights earned in a year or the annual gains from a card are not offset by the annual fee, foreign transaction fees from traveling abroad or any other fees included in a card's fine print.

All points are not created equal, and hotel loyalty program points tend to be worth less than the points on general travel cards with transferable points. Don't just look at the number of points you’ll earn with your everyday spending — consider how much those points are worth in dollars, along with what the points translate to in terms of hotel stays.

4. Weigh card perks vs. card value

Weigh the card's first year value in step 3 against the perks mentioned in steps 1 and 2 — pick the card that satisfies your needs best.

Hotel loyalty programs

New to hotel loyalty? Discover the benefits of these top hotel rewards programs

Brands owned by hotel chain

  • Edition
  • The Ritz-Carlton
  • The Luxury Collection
  • St Regis
  • W Hotels
  • JW Marriott
  • Marriott
  • Sheraton
  • Marriott Vacation Club
  • Delta Hotels
  • Westin
  • Le Meridien
  • Renaissance Hotels
  • Autograph Collection Hotels
  • Tribute Portfolio
  • Design Hotels
  • Gaylord Hotels
  • Courtyard
  • Four Points
  • Springhill Suites
  • Fairfield
  • Protea Hotels
  • AC Hotels
  • Aloft Hotels
  • Moxy Hotels
  • Residence Inn
  • Towneplace Suites
  • Marriott Executive Apartments
  • Element

Brands owned by hotel chain

  • Caption by Hyatt
  • Andaz
  • Alila
  • Thompson Hotels
  • Hyatt Centric
  • Park Hyatt
  • Miraval
  • Grand Hyatt
  • Hyatt Regency
  • Hyatt Zilara
  • Hyatt Ziva
  • Hyatt Place
  • Hyatt house
  • The Unbound Collection by Hyatt
  • Destination by Hyatt
  • JDV by Hyatt

Brands owned by hotel chain

  • Waldorf Astoria
  • LXR Hotel & Resorts
  • Conrad Hotels & Resorts
  • Canopy by Hilton
  • Signia by Hilton
  • Hilton Hotels & Resorts
  • Curio Collection by Hilton
  • DoubleTree
  • Tapestry Collection
  • Embassy Suites
  • Tempo, Motto
  • Hilton Garden Inn
  • Hampton by Hilton
  • Tru by Hilton
  • Homewood Suites by Hilton
  • Home2 Suites by Hilton
  • Hilton Grand Vacations

Brands owned by hotel chain

  • Six Senses
  • Regent
  • Intercontinental
  • Kimpton
  • Hotel Indigo
  • Voco
  • Hualuxe
  • Crowne Plaza
  • Even Hotels
  • Holiday Inn Express
  • Holiday Inn
  • Avid
  • Atwell Suites
  • Staybridge Suites
  • Holiday Inn Club Vacations
  • Candlewood Suites
  • Best for: North America travel
  • Number of hotels: 1,600+

Brands owned by hotel chain

  • Radisson Collection
  • Radisson Blu
  • Radisson
  • Radisson RED
  • Radisson Individuals
  • Park Plaza
  • Park Inn by Radisson
  • Country Inn & Suites by Radisson
  • Prizeotel

Brands owned by hotel chain

  • Registry Collection Hotels
  • Wyndham Grand
  • Dolce Hotels and Resorts by Wyndham
  • Wyndham Hotels and Resorts
  • TRYP by Wyndham
  • Esplendor by Wyndham
  • Dazzler by Wyndham
  • Trademark Collection by Wyndham
  • La Quinta
  • Wingate
  • Wyndham Garden
  • AmericInn
  • Ramada
  • Baymont
  • Microtel
  • Days Inn
  • Super 8
  • Howard Johnson
  • Travelodge
  • Hawthorn Suites

How to get a free stay at a hotel

There are several tried-and-true methods for getting a free stay at a hotel, from opening a credit card to becoming a loyalty program elite member. Here’s a rundown of the most common ways to get a free hotel stay:

Credit card spending

One of the fastest and easiest ways to get a free stay at a hotel is to get a hotel rewards credit card. A hotel rewards card typically comes with a sign-up bonus that you earn for spending a certain amount on your card within a certain time. You can earn the bonus by putting your everyday spending on the card, then cash the bonus in for a free stay.

Hotel stays

Another way to earn a free hotel stay is by joining a hotel loyalty program and staying regularly at hotels that are part of the program. Each time you complete a qualified stay, you’ll earn points you can accumulate toward a free night or stay in the future.

Free night certificates

Many hotel credit cards offer a free night certificate when you meet certain criteria. For example, it’s common to offer a free night each year after your cardmember anniversary. You may also earn a free night by spending a certain amount on your card. The details vary based on the program.

Earn elite status

Another great way to get a free hotel stay is to earn elite status with your preferred hotel loyalty program. For example, with the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program, each elite status level you attain will grant you a higher number of elite night credits which you can then use towards a free hotel stay. Additionally, when you achieve Platinum status, you can choose five Suite Night Awards as your Annual Choice Benefit.

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Here\u2019s a rundown of the most common ways to get a free hotel stay:\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ReactComponent--root\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"js-react-component-rendered js-react-component-Accordion\" data-component-name=\"Accordion\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"Root-sc-1p4b1c4 jtQORB\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"Root-sc-18uhp3r bjqdvu\"\u003E\u003Cdiv tabindex=\"0\" class=\"HeaderWrapper-sc-9iud4t gnyuvR\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"TitleWrapper-sc-8jgky4 ibypas\"\u003E\u003Cp class=\"pTitleElement-sc-9cz7ej dKoVkb\"\u003ECredit card spending\u003C\/p\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cspan aria-hidden=\"true\" class=\"StyledIcon-sc-e7wugl jwzcXa ValuePenguinIcon--root ValuePenguinIcon--minus\" color=\"blue\" name=\"minus\"\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ContentWrapper-sc-1c2drvb gQWUK\"\u003E\u003Cdiv\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EOne of the fastest and easiest ways to get a free stay at a hotel is to get a hotel rewards credit card. A hotel rewards card typically comes with a sign-up bonus that you earn for spending a certain amount on your card within a certain time. You can earn the bonus by putting your everyday spending on the card, then cash the bonus in for a free stay. \u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"Root-sc-18uhp3r bjqdvu\"\u003E\u003Cdiv tabindex=\"0\" class=\"HeaderWrapper-sc-9iud4t gnyuvR\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"TitleWrapper-sc-8jgky4 ibypas\"\u003E\u003Cp class=\"pTitleElement-sc-9cz7ej dKoVkb\"\u003EHotel stays\u003C\/p\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cspan aria-hidden=\"true\" class=\"StyledIcon-sc-e7wugl jwzcXa ValuePenguinIcon--root ValuePenguinIcon--plus\" color=\"blue\" name=\"plus\"\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ContentWrapper-sc-1c2drvb hkIbYG\"\u003E\u003Cdiv\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EAnother way to earn a free hotel stay is by joining a hotel loyalty program and staying regularly at hotels that are part of the program. Each time you complete a qualified stay, you\u2019ll earn points you can accumulate toward a free night or stay in the future. \u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"Root-sc-18uhp3r bjqdvu\"\u003E\u003Cdiv tabindex=\"0\" class=\"HeaderWrapper-sc-9iud4t gnyuvR\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"TitleWrapper-sc-8jgky4 ibypas\"\u003E\u003Cp class=\"pTitleElement-sc-9cz7ej dKoVkb\"\u003EFree night certificates\u003C\/p\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cspan aria-hidden=\"true\" class=\"StyledIcon-sc-e7wugl jwzcXa ValuePenguinIcon--root ValuePenguinIcon--plus\" color=\"blue\" name=\"plus\"\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ContentWrapper-sc-1c2drvb hkIbYG\"\u003E\u003Cdiv\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EMany hotel credit cards offer a free night certificate when you meet certain criteria. For example, it\u2019s common to offer a free night each year after your cardmember anniversary. You may also earn a free night by spending a certain amount on your card. The details vary based on the program.\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"Root-sc-18uhp3r bjqdvu\"\u003E\u003Cdiv tabindex=\"0\" class=\"HeaderWrapper-sc-9iud4t gnyuvR\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"TitleWrapper-sc-8jgky4 ibypas\"\u003E\u003Cp class=\"pTitleElement-sc-9cz7ej dKoVkb\"\u003EEarn elite status\u003C\/p\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cspan aria-hidden=\"true\" class=\"StyledIcon-sc-e7wugl jwzcXa ValuePenguinIcon--root ValuePenguinIcon--plus\" color=\"blue\" name=\"plus\"\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ContentWrapper-sc-1c2drvb hkIbYG\"\u003E\u003Cdiv\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EAnother great way to get a free hotel stay is to earn elite status with your preferred hotel loyalty program. For example, with the \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program\" href=\"https:\/\/www.valuepenguin.com\/travel\/marriott-bonvoy-elite-status\"\u003EMarriott Bonvoy loyalty program\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E, each elite status level you attain will grant you a higher number of elite night credits which you can then use towards a free hotel stay. Additionally, when you achieve Platinum status, you can choose five Suite Night Awards as your Annual Choice Benefit.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\n \u003Cscript type=\"application\/json\" class=\"js-react-component\" data-component-name=\"Accordion\"\u003E{\"maxContentHeight\":\"180\",\"tabItems\":[\"\\u003C\\\/p\\u003E\\n\\n\\u003Cp\\u003EOne of the fastest and easiest ways to get a free stay at a hotel is to get a hotel rewards credit card. 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The details vary based on the program.\",\"\\u003C\\\/p\\u003E\\n\\n\\u003Cp\\u003EAnother great way to get a free hotel stay is to earn elite status with your preferred hotel loyalty program. For example, with the \\u003Cspan\\u003E\\u003Ca class=\\\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\\\" title=\\\"Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program\\\" href=\\\"https:\\\/\\\/www.valuepenguin.com\\\/travel\\\/marriott-bonvoy-elite-status\\\"\\u003EMarriott Bonvoy loyalty program\\u003C\\\/a\\u003E\\u003C\\\/span\\u003E, each elite status level you attain will grant you a higher number of elite night credits which you can then use towards a free hotel stay. 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Study: 46% of American travelers are planning to stay in a hotel or resort in 2022

A recent study from ValuePenguin found the majority of travelers (65%) will be staying with family and friends.

travelers

Travel expert, Sophia Mendel, says vacation rentals (such as Airbnb and VRBO) are likely less favored than the standard hotel or resort because the concept is "relatively new and may be more interesting or appealing to the younger generation looking to save money and enjoy unique experiences." The takeaway: Committing to a luxury hotel card is a great option for those that are seeking extra perks.

FAQs about hotel credit cards

Hotel credit cards are affiliated with a hotel chain and its loyalty program, offering cardholders the ability to earn points for free stays. Each card will offer a varying rewards rate, with elevated bonuses for hotel spending. Some hotel credit cards even offer complimentary elite status and other exclusive hotel and travel benefits.

If you travel often, you should consider applying for a hotel credit card. As a cardholder, you'll earn an elevated rewards rate on any hotel stays and everyday purchases. However, you'll want to select a credit card with the best hotel loyalty program for you — this will depend on which hotel chain you prefer.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is the best Marriott credit card out there. As a luxury hotel card, you'll pay a $650 annual fee, but you'll earn benefits such as $300 in statement credits per calendar year (up to $25 per month) for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide.

Hotel credit cards work just like any other travel rewards card. If there's an annual fee, you'll pay this fee every card membership year. You'll earn hotel points through the card's reward rate, redeemable for free stays through the loyalty program. Depending on the card, you'll earn complimentary elite status, affording you bonus points and free nights.

The pros of hotel credit cards include the opportunity to earn points for free stays, hotel elite status and free night awards. The cons are that you're locked into one hotel brand, and hotel points are worth notoriously less than airline miles and general travel rewards points.

All hotel co-branded credit cards offer the ability to earn points that you can redeem toward free hotel stays. Or, you can opt for a general travel rewards card like The Platinum Card® from American Express or the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to transfer your points to hotel loyalty programs.

Any frequent traveler — whether you travel solo, with your family or in groups or for business — is a great candidate for a hotel credit card. If you already own an airline or general travel rewards cards, adding a hotel credit card to your wallet can help you diversify your points-earning strategy.

While most hotels require a credit card for booking, it is possible to pay with cash, a debit card or a prepaid card in some instances. To find out what hotels do not require a credit card, we recommend calling the hotel directly and asking what their policy is regarding non-credit card payments.

If you're deciding between a Marriott versus Hilton credit card, the answer will depend on your personal preferences and travel habits. If you tend to stay more frequently with one brand over the other, consider getting a credit card for that hotel chain. You could always get a card for both brands and just make sure that one or both of them don't charge an annual fee in order to keep the cost of ownership down.

Recap of the best hotel credit cards of September 2022

Expert insights to help you make smarter financial decisions

ValuePenguin has curated an exclusive panel of professionals, spanning various areas of expertise, to help dissect difficult subjects and empower you to make smarter financial decisions. Read on for more credit card insights.

  1. Are loyalty programs and rewards enough to keep customers loyal to a brand? Why or why not?
  2. What role can social media engagement and advertising play in helping hotels expand their loyal customer base?
  3. A ValuePenguin study revealed that during the pandemic, 48% of millennials have booked multiple stays at Airbnbs, while only 24% have booked multiple stays at hotels. In your opinion, what can hotels do to appeal more to younger generations?

headshot of expert
  • Max Starkov
  • Hospitality Tech Consultant and Adjunct Professor
  • Read Answer

headshot of expert
  • Vanja Bogicevic, Ph.D., M.Arch.
  • Clinical Assistant Professor
  • Read Answer

headshot of expert
  • Jukka M. Laitamaki, Ph.D.
  • Clinical Professor
  • Read Answer

headshot of expert
  • Neel Das, Ph.D.
  • Professor and MBA Director
  • Read Answer

headshot of expert
  • Beth Egan
  • Associate Professor of Advertising
  • Read Answer

The commentary provided by these industry experts represent their viewpoints and opinions alone.

headshot of expert

Max Starkov

Hospitality Tech Consultant and Adjunct Professor NYU School of Professional Studies Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality

Are loyalty programs and rewards enough to keep customers loyal to a brand? Why or why not?

The best demonstration of brand loyalty in hospitality and travel, in general, is the share of repeat business. Travel consumers are buried under an avalanche of options and offers, and if they repeatedly choose your brand over the competing alternatives, obviously your brand has an appeal above and beyond the competition. This appeal is a result of the perceived value proposition of your brand and the travel consumer’s emotional attachment to your brand.

Of course, not all consumers are brand loyal. Direct Marketing Association (DMA) defines four types of loyal customers: Active Loyals (43%) who stay loyal to brands for both routine and special purchases, Habitual Loyals (23%) who are loyal for routine purchases but shop around for special services, Situational Loyals (9%) and Active Disloyals (27%).

Obviously, the most valuable are the first two categories, especially the Active Loyals. Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft, the most valuable brands in the world in 2021, enjoy wide brand loyalty from the Active Loyals. In hospitality, marquee brands like Mandarin Oriental, Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons are the ones that enjoy brand loyalty almost exclusively from the Active Loyals category.

For the rest of the "mass market" hospitality, it is impossible to nurture and maintain brand loyalty exclusively from the ranks of Active Loyals. This is why all major hotel chains use points-based loyalty programs with different membership levels in order to make their loyalty programs attractive to all four categories of loyal customers.

The major hotel chains also realized that awarding points was not enough of an appeal, especially to unmanaged business travelers and leisure travelers who typically belong to the Habitual and Situational Loyals categories. This was the reason why five years ago all major hotel chains began offering 5%-10% membership discounts to loyalty members when booking directly, in addition to the usual member perks and benefits. As a result, the loyalty programs ballooned. Marriott’s Bonvoy loyalty program now exceeds 125 million members, and Hilton’s Honors program exceeds 90 million members.

Loyalty programs with appealing membership pricing, perks and benefits are instrumental in increasing repeat direct business, lowering OTA (online travel agent) dependency and attracting a wide range of core and noncore customer segments, as well as new-to-the-brand customers.

In 2019, the last "normal" year in hospitality, the loyalty programs helped the major hotel chains:

  • Increase repeat business: Over 59.2% of room nights at the major hotel chains were booked by loyalty members, 62% at Marriott and Hilton (Kalibri Labs).
  • Decrease OTA exposure: The ratio of Brand.com versus OTA booked room nights improved to 2.5-1 and reached 3-1 at Marriott and Hilton.
  • The major hotel chains are taking their loyalty programs to the next level by introducing member-only mobile check-in, preselection of the hotel room from digital floor plans, "smart rooms" that automatically adapt their configurations as per the loyalty member preferences, etc.

What is the situation with independent hotels? Unfortunately, less than 10% of independents have any form of a loyalty program or guest appreciation program. This is the reason why at independents:

  • Repeat business is only in the range of 10%-15%.
  • OTA dependency is growing and the ratio of Brand.com versus OTA booked room nights is negative 1-3 in the U.S. and 1-4 in Europe.

So, do loyalty programs work in hospitality? I believe the question of whether loyalty programs in hospitality still work is categorically answered by the differences in the share of repeat business and OTA dependency between the major hotel chains and independent hotels.

{"backgroundColor":"ice","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--root left\" \u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--image-container \"\u003E\n \u003Cimg alt=\"headshot of expert\" class=\"ShortcodeImage--image lazyload\" style=\"width: 60px;\" data-src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/max-starkov_iphdod\" src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,e_blur:1000,f_auto,h_1600,q_1,w_60\/v1\/max-starkov_iphdod\" data-srcset=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/max-starkov_iphdod 1x, https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/max-starkov_iphdod 2x\"\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch3 id=\"expert-max-starkov\"\u003EMax Starkov\u003C\/h3\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EHospitality Tech Consultant and Adjunct Professor NYU School of Professional Studies Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--root ShortcodeToggle--article \" id=\u003E\n \u003Cbutton class=\"ShortcodeToggle--toggle\" onclick=\"this.parentNode.classList.toggle('ShortcodeToggle--open');\"\u003E\u003Cp class=\"ShortcodeToggle--label\"\u003ESee their advice\u003C\/p\u003E\u003C\/button\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--contents-wrapper\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--contents\"\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch4\u003EAre loyalty programs and rewards enough to keep customers loyal to a brand? Why or why not?\u003C\/h4\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EThe best demonstration of brand loyalty in hospitality and travel, in general, is the \u003Cem\u003Eshare of repeat business\u003C\/em\u003E. Travel consumers are buried under an avalanche of options and offers, and if they repeatedly choose your brand over the competing alternatives, obviously your brand has an appeal above and beyond the competition. This appeal is a result of the perceived value proposition of your brand and the travel consumer\u2019s emotional attachment to your brand.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EOf course, not all consumers are brand loyal. Direct Marketing Association (DMA) defines four types of loyal customers: Active Loyals (43%) who stay loyal to brands for both routine and special purchases, Habitual Loyals (23%) who are loyal for routine purchases but shop around for special services, Situational Loyals (9%) and Active Disloyals (27%).\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EObviously, the most valuable are the first two categories, especially the Active Loyals. Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft, the most valuable brands in the world in 2021, enjoy wide brand loyalty from the Active Loyals. In hospitality, marquee brands like Mandarin Oriental, Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons are the ones that enjoy brand loyalty almost exclusively from the Active Loyals category.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EFor the rest of the \"mass market\" hospitality, it is impossible to nurture and maintain brand loyalty \u003Cem\u003Eexclusively\u003C\/em\u003E from the ranks of Active Loyals. This is why all major hotel chains use points-based loyalty programs with different membership levels in order to make their loyalty programs attractive to all four categories of loyal customers.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EThe major hotel chains also realized that awarding points was not enough of an appeal, especially to unmanaged business travelers and leisure travelers who typically belong to the Habitual and Situational Loyals categories. This was the reason why five years ago all major hotel chains began offering 5%-10% membership discounts to loyalty members when booking directly, in addition to the usual member perks and benefits. As a result, the loyalty programs ballooned. Marriott\u2019s Bonvoy loyalty program now exceeds 125 million members, and Hilton\u2019s Honors program exceeds 90 million members.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003ELoyalty programs with appealing membership pricing, perks and benefits are instrumental in increasing repeat direct business, lowering OTA (online travel agent) dependency and attracting a wide range of core and noncore customer segments, as well as new-to-the-brand customers.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EIn 2019, the last \"normal\" year in hospitality, the loyalty programs helped the major hotel chains:\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--root \"\u003E\n\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--content ShortcodeList--content-margin\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--column\"\u003E\n \u003Cul class=\"ListUnordered--root ListUnordered--bullet\"\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Increase repeat business: Over 59.2% of room nights at the major hotel chains were booked by loyalty members, 62% at Marriott and Hilton (Kalibri Labs).\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Decrease OTA exposure: The ratio of Brand.com versus OTA booked room nights improved to 2.5-1 and reached 3-1 at Marriott and Hilton.\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n The major hotel chains are taking their loyalty programs to the next level by introducing member-only mobile check-in, preselection of the hotel room from digital floor plans, \"smart rooms\" that automatically adapt their configurations as per the loyalty member preferences, etc.\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EWhat is the situation with independent hotels? Unfortunately, less than 10% of independents have any form of a loyalty program or guest appreciation program. This is the reason why at independents:\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--root \"\u003E\n\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--content ShortcodeList--content-margin\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--column\"\u003E\n \u003Cul class=\"ListUnordered--root ListUnordered--bullet\"\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Repeat business is only in the range of 10%-15%.\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n OTA dependency is growing and the ratio of Brand.com versus OTA booked room nights is negative 1-3 in the U.S. and 1-4 in Europe.\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003ESo, do loyalty programs work in hospitality? I believe the question of whether loyalty programs in hospitality still work is categorically answered by the differences in the share of repeat business and OTA dependency between the major hotel chains and independent hotels.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--root ShortcodeAlign--horizontal-center\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--container\"\u003E \n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root Button--root Button--primary Button--auto-width\" title=\"Back to all experts\" href=\"#expertadvice\"\u003EBack to all experts\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n","padding":"double"}
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Vanja Bogicevic, Ph.D., M.Arch.

Clinical Assistant Professor NYU School of Professional Studies Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality

What role can social media engagement and advertising play in helping hotels expand their loyal customer base?

It is a valid assumption that customer engagement through social media may expand a customer base and encourage loyalty. However, loyalty has been the least likely driver of hotel booking, selected by only 13% of experiential travelers, as recorded by the Skift Research U.S. Experiential Traveler Trends Report 2019. The same group of guests overwhelmingly uses social media to share their vacation photos.

Therefore, the interesting question is how social media engages guests at different stages of their journey. How can hotels employ social media to enhance guests’ experience and boost loyalty?

In the pre-stay stage of a guest's journey, most hotels use social media for paid advertising to potential guests who fit the profiles of the desirable customer segments. Checking the basic demographic and geographic criteria when sending sponsored posts to users who supposedly fit the profile is not enough. Hotels could curate social media ads to match the lifestyle and interests of the targeted customer base. For example, instead of a generic sponsored post about the property or discount, emphasize pet-friendly features in the hotel to guests who post pictures of their dogs and live within driving distance of the hotel's destination. Special offers, discounts, promo codes and value deals are effective only if tailored to guests’ interests and needs.

During the stay, hotels could use social media to enhance interactions with their guests and deepen the relationships. Listen to the voice of guests by engaging them in contests and inviting user-generated content in exchange for perks, recognition and rewards. Integrate their social profiles with guest profiles to surprise and delight guests at premises.

Likewise, hotels could use their social media pages to personify or give voice to the brand by setting the tone of online conversation and advocating for issues that matter to their guests. Stories and live videos on Instagram and TikTok are raw, sincere and thus seen as more authentic by the guests.

Post-stay social media activities could be focused on evoking good memories via throwback posts to remind guests of their stay or to promote the perks of loyalty programs and referral programs to convert loyal guests into advocates who would attract new guests. This is the time to stay relevant in the guests’ eyes through occasional posts and inviting engagement while avoiding spamming.

{"backgroundColor":"ice","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--root left\" \u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--image-container \"\u003E\n \u003Cimg alt=\"headshot of expert\" class=\"ShortcodeImage--image lazyload\" style=\"width: 60px;\" data-src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/vanja-bogicevic_no9ctb\" src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,e_blur:1000,f_auto,h_1600,q_1,w_60\/v1\/vanja-bogicevic_no9ctb\" data-srcset=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/vanja-bogicevic_no9ctb 1x, https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/vanja-bogicevic_no9ctb 2x\"\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch3 id=\"expert-vanja-bogicevic\"\u003EVanja Bogicevic, Ph.D., M.Arch.\u003C\/h3\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EClinical Assistant Professor NYU School of Professional Studies Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--root ShortcodeToggle--article \" id=\u003E\n \u003Cbutton class=\"ShortcodeToggle--toggle\" onclick=\"this.parentNode.classList.toggle('ShortcodeToggle--open');\"\u003E\u003Cp class=\"ShortcodeToggle--label\"\u003ESee their advice\u003C\/p\u003E\u003C\/button\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--contents-wrapper\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--contents\"\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch4\u003EWhat role can social media engagement and advertising play in helping hotels expand their loyal customer base?\u003C\/h4\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EIt is a valid assumption that customer engagement through social media may expand a customer base and encourage loyalty. However, loyalty has been the least likely driver of hotel booking, selected by only 13% of experiential travelers, as recorded by the Skift Research U.S. Experiential Traveler Trends Report 2019. The same group of guests overwhelmingly uses social media to share their vacation photos.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003ETherefore, the interesting question is how social media engages guests at different stages of their journey. How can hotels employ social media to enhance guests\u2019 experience and boost loyalty?\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EIn the pre-stay stage of a guest's journey, most hotels use social media for paid advertising to potential guests who fit the profiles of the desirable customer segments. Checking the basic demographic and geographic criteria when sending sponsored posts to users who supposedly fit the profile is not enough. Hotels could curate social media ads to match the lifestyle and interests of the targeted customer base. For example, instead of a generic sponsored post about the property or discount, emphasize pet-friendly features in the hotel to guests who post pictures of their dogs and live within driving distance of the hotel's destination. Special offers, discounts, promo codes and value deals are effective only if tailored to guests\u2019 interests and needs.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EDuring the stay, hotels could use social media to enhance interactions with their guests and deepen the relationships. Listen to the voice of guests by engaging them in contests and inviting user-generated content in exchange for perks, recognition and rewards. Integrate their social profiles with guest profiles to surprise and delight guests at premises.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003ELikewise, hotels could use their social media pages to personify or give voice to the brand by setting the tone of online conversation and advocating for issues that matter to their guests. Stories and live videos on Instagram and TikTok are raw, sincere and thus seen as more authentic by the guests.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EPost-stay social media activities could be focused on evoking good memories via throwback posts to remind guests of their stay or to promote the perks of loyalty programs and referral programs to convert loyal guests into advocates who would attract new guests. This is the time to stay relevant in the guests\u2019 eyes through occasional posts and inviting engagement while avoiding spamming.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--root ShortcodeAlign--horizontal-center\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--container\"\u003E \n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root Button--root Button--primary Button--auto-width\" title=\"Back to all experts\" href=\"#expertadvice\"\u003EBack to all experts\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n","padding":"double"}
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Jukka M. Laitamaki, Ph.D.

Clinical Professor NYU School of Professional Studies Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality

A ValuePenguin study revealed that during the pandemic, 48% of millennials have booked multiple stays at Airbnbs, while only 24% have booked multiple stays at hotels. In your opinion, what can hotels do to appeal more to younger generations?

Before providing recommendations for hotels, it is important to understand why millennials book more home-sharing on websites such as Airbnb and VRBO than hotels. According to a Lightspeed/Mintel study, 40% of male and 27% of female millennials (born between 1980 and 1994) prefer home-sharing over hotels. These preferences were much higher than those of Gen X (born between 1960 and 1979) and baby boomers (born between 1940 and 1959). According to the study, 25% of male and 16% of female Gen Xers prefer home-sharing over hotels, while only 7% of male and 9% of female baby boomers prefer home-sharing over hotels.

Why do millennials prefer home-sharing over hotels? According to the Lightspeed/Mintel study, 53% of male and 40% of female millennials consider home-sharing a better value than hotels, while 45% of male and 29% of female millennials consider home-sharing more convenient than hotels.

Based on these results, hotels could do the following to respond to the millennial's preferences for home-sharing rentals over hotels.

  1. Add value to the hotel stay by going far beyond the traditional hotel experience. Millennials prefer authentic, meaningful and local experiences.
  2. The hotels should curate them for guests through a hotel app that allows easy access to information regarding local experiences such as tasting local products and drinks, and learning about local culture, history, activities, traditions, heritage, stories and crafts. The app should also include information regarding local outdoor activities, cultural and sporting events, nightlife, wellness and fitness services. Finally, the hotel and its app should make it easy for the guest to contribute positively to the local community and environment.
  3. Make it convenient to search, book and share experiences through the hotel app. The Airbnb app is an excellent example, and the CitizenM hotel app is moving in the right direction.
  4. Finally, hotels should highlight activities and services that home-sharing rentals do not offer, such as interesting and exciting social, communal, food service and bar spaces at the hotel. Public and Moxy hotels are good examples of how to capitalize on these spaces that set them apart from the home-sharing rentals.

Implementing steps one, two and three will be tough given that for some millennials, hotels do not even make it to their consideration set of lodging options. A good example is a 28-year-old who stated that "Hotels don't even come to mind when I consider where to stay. I go immediately to the Airbnb app and start searching and curating my whole vacation experience."

{"backgroundColor":"ice","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--root left\" \u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--image-container \"\u003E\n \u003Cimg alt=\"headshot of expert\" class=\"ShortcodeImage--image lazyload\" style=\"width: 60px;\" data-src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/jukka-laitamaki_qjflp5\" src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,e_blur:1000,f_auto,h_1600,q_1,w_60\/v1\/jukka-laitamaki_qjflp5\" data-srcset=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/jukka-laitamaki_qjflp5 1x, https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/jukka-laitamaki_qjflp5 2x\"\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch3 id=\"expert-jukka-laitamaki\"\u003EJukka M. Laitamaki, Ph.D.\u003C\/h3\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EClinical Professor NYU School of Professional Studies Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--root ShortcodeToggle--article \" id=\u003E\n \u003Cbutton class=\"ShortcodeToggle--toggle\" onclick=\"this.parentNode.classList.toggle('ShortcodeToggle--open');\"\u003E\u003Cp class=\"ShortcodeToggle--label\"\u003ESee their advice\u003C\/p\u003E\u003C\/button\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--contents-wrapper\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--contents\"\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch4\u003EA ValuePenguin study revealed that during the pandemic, 48% of millennials have booked multiple stays at Airbnbs, while only 24% have booked multiple stays at hotels. In your opinion, what can hotels do to appeal more to younger generations?\u003C\/h4\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EBefore providing recommendations for hotels, it is important to understand why millennials book more home-sharing on websites such as Airbnb and VRBO than hotels. \nAccording to a Lightspeed\/Mintel study, 40% of male and 27% of female millennials (born between 1980 and 1994) prefer home-sharing over hotels. These preferences were much higher than those of Gen X (born between 1960 and 1979) and baby boomers (born between 1940 and 1959). According to the study, 25% of male and 16% of female Gen Xers prefer home-sharing over hotels, while only 7% of male and 9% of female baby boomers prefer home-sharing over hotels.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EWhy do millennials prefer home-sharing over hotels? According to the Lightspeed\/Mintel study, 53% of male and 40% of female millennials consider home-sharing a better value than hotels, while 45% of male and 29% of female millennials consider home-sharing more convenient than hotels.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EBased on these results, hotels could do the following to respond to the millennial's preferences for home-sharing rentals over hotels.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--root\"\u003E\n\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--content ShortcodeList--content-margin\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--column\"\u003E\n \u003Col class=\"ListOrdered--root\"\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListOrdered--list-item\"\u003EAdd value to the hotel stay by going far beyond the traditional hotel experience. Millennials prefer authentic, meaningful and local experiences.\u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListOrdered--list-item\"\u003EThe hotels should curate them for guests through a hotel app that allows easy access to information regarding local experiences such as tasting local products and drinks, and learning about local culture, history, activities, traditions, heritage, stories and crafts. The app should also include information regarding local outdoor activities, cultural and sporting events, nightlife, wellness and fitness services. Finally, the hotel and its app should make it easy for the guest to contribute positively to the local community and environment.\u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListOrdered--list-item\"\u003EMake it convenient to search, book and share experiences through the hotel app. The Airbnb app is an excellent example, and the CitizenM hotel app is moving in the right direction.\u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListOrdered--list-item\"\u003EFinally, hotels should highlight activities and services that home-sharing rentals do not offer, such as interesting and exciting social, communal, food service and bar spaces at the hotel. Public and Moxy hotels are good examples of how to capitalize on these spaces that set them apart from the home-sharing rentals.\u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ol\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EImplementing steps one, two and three will be tough given that for some millennials, hotels do not even make it to their consideration set of lodging options. A good example is a 28-year-old who stated that \"Hotels don't even come to mind when I consider where to stay. I go immediately to the Airbnb app and start searching and curating my whole vacation experience.\"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--root ShortcodeAlign--horizontal-center\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--container\"\u003E \n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root Button--root Button--primary Button--auto-width\" title=\"Back to all experts\" href=\"#expertadvice\"\u003EBack to all experts\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n","padding":"double"}
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Neel Das, Ph.D.

Professor and MBA Director, Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, Walker College of Business, Appalachian State University

Are loyalty programs and rewards enough to keep customers loyal to a brand? Why or why not?

Loyalty and reward programs are effective strategies for creating brand loyalty. However, "effective" does not translate to excellent, in that, while they are effective, such strategies are also the obvious ones. Think of any grocery store saving card or sandwich store "buy 10 sandwiches and get the next one free" card. While such programs motivate a customer to use the services of the brand, it really does not create a meaningful relationship. In most cases, such loyalty programs are short-lived and do not create any meaningful impression on the mind of the customer.

In order to create a meaningful relationship, there must be an intrinsic motivation on the part of the customer to be associated with the brand — there must be some kind of a resonance, a feeling of being in sync with the brand. Such feelings will be generated, for instance, if it is perceived that the brand has the best intentions regarding the customer. The primary question then is how to reflect the caring aspect of the brand in terms of the customer. One way can be to show solidarity and support for causes/charities that the customer cares about — not just provide lip service, but real and significant support.

In essence, while loyalty and reward programs are likely to work as short-term tactics toward building loyalty, the long-term strategy ought to include more carefully thought through and researched avenues to draw the customers closer to the brand. Hence, using both is likely to be an excellent strategy.

{"backgroundColor":"ice","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--root left\" \u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--image-container \"\u003E\n \u003Cimg alt=\"headshot of expert\" class=\"ShortcodeImage--image lazyload\" style=\"width: 60px;\" data-src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/expert-advice-headshots_sfuxjr\" src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,e_blur:1000,f_auto,h_1600,q_1,w_60\/v1\/expert-advice-headshots_sfuxjr\" data-srcset=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/expert-advice-headshots_sfuxjr 1x, https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/expert-advice-headshots_sfuxjr 2x\"\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch3 id=\"expert-neel-das\"\u003ENeel Das, Ph.D.\u003C\/h3\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EProfessor and MBA Director, Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, Walker College of Business, Appalachian State University\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--root ShortcodeToggle--article \" id=\u003E\n \u003Cbutton class=\"ShortcodeToggle--toggle\" onclick=\"this.parentNode.classList.toggle('ShortcodeToggle--open');\"\u003E\u003Cp class=\"ShortcodeToggle--label\"\u003ESee their advice\u003C\/p\u003E\u003C\/button\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--contents-wrapper\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--contents\"\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch4\u003EAre loyalty programs and rewards enough to keep customers loyal to a brand? Why or why not?\u003C\/h4\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003ELoyalty and reward programs are effective strategies for creating brand loyalty. However, \"effective\" does not translate to excellent, in that, while they are effective, such strategies are also the obvious ones. Think of any grocery store saving card or sandwich store \"buy 10 sandwiches and get the next one free\" card. While such programs motivate a customer to use the services of the brand, it really does not create a meaningful relationship. In most cases, such loyalty programs are short-lived and do not create any meaningful impression on the mind of the customer.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EIn order to create a meaningful relationship, there must be an intrinsic motivation on the part of the customer to be associated with the brand \u2014 there must be some kind of a resonance, a feeling of being in sync with the brand. Such feelings will be generated, for instance, if it is perceived that the brand has the best intentions regarding the customer. The primary question then is how to reflect the caring aspect of the brand in terms of the customer. One way can be to show solidarity and support for causes\/charities that the customer cares about \u2014 not just provide lip service, but real and significant support.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EIn essence, while loyalty and reward programs are likely to work as short-term tactics toward building loyalty, the long-term strategy ought to include more carefully thought through and researched avenues to draw the customers closer to the brand. Hence, using both is likely to be an excellent strategy.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--root ShortcodeAlign--horizontal-center\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--container\"\u003E \n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root Button--root Button--primary Button--auto-width\" title=\"Back to all experts\" href=\"#expertadvice\"\u003EBack to all experts\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n","padding":"double"}
headshot of expert

Beth Egan

Associate Professor of Advertising, Co-Director of the W2O Center for Social Commerce, Syracuse University

Are loyalty programs and rewards enough to keep customers loyal to a brand? Why or why not?

Loyalty programs overall are extremely effective. Not only do people find value in the rewards points and the opportunities for free nights, but they also come with prestige. As you increase reward levels, you gain access to more features such as expedited check-in, late checkout and overall more attentive service. People also value consistency in their experience. Marriott does not usually rank high in terms of quality, but people are loyal to Marriott because it is a consistent, reliable experience. Think McDonald's.

What role can social media engagement and advertising play in helping hotels expand their loyal customer base?

The greatest value of social media in the hospitality industry is the ability to quickly respond to and address complaints before things go viral. Social media has become an excellent customer service tool for the travel industry overall.

Overall, advertising is most effective at reinforcing people’s existing preferences. Seeing ads for their favorite hotel brands serves as a reminder of their good choices. With programmatic advertising, we now have the ability to personalize the ads to people based on their online and offline behavior.

A ValuePenguin study revealed that during the pandemic, 48% of millennials have booked multiple stays at Airbnbs, while only 24% have booked multiple stays at hotels. In your opinion, what can hotels do to appeal more to younger generations?

I think every traditional brand is asking this question lately. I think it all comes down to personalization/customization. Younger generations don’t want cookie-cutter, they want to feel like they’re curating their own experience. It is difficult for hotels to adapt, as their business model is a very cookie-cutter/consistent experience (see my point on Marriott above). However, there are things that they could do in terms of in-room amenities to create the feeling of a more personalized experience.

They could also use their common spaces to host events or activities where people can get together for shared experience.

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

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

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

The information related to Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card, the The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express and Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.

Methodology

To make choosing the right hotel credit card easier, we've looked at credit cards reviewed on ValuePenguin as well as cards on major issuer sites to compile a list of the best rewards credit cards available right now. Our recommendations are based on the following criteria:

APR

How the hotel card's annual percentage rate (APR) compares to other cards in its category and whether or not there is a low interest intro offer on purchases and/or balance transfers.

Rewards

The card's rewards earning rate, points value, and how easy points are to redeem.

Additional perks and benefits

These include things like free nights, hotel room upgrades, elite status, complimentary breakfast and more.

Annual fee

Whether or not a card charges an annual fee, if the fee is waived for the first year, and if the card benefits offset or outweigh the annual fee.

Sign-up bonus

Whether or not a card comes with a welcome offer or sign-up bonus, how easy it is to earn the bonus, how valuable is the bonus overall.

Foreign transaction fees

Does the card charge foreign transaction fees and, if yes, does that limit the card's overall value.

Transferable points

Whether or not the card earns transferable points, how flexible are those points and how many transfer partners do they include.

Our choices are not influenced by our advertisers. Learn more on how we calculate rewards.

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.

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).