The Best Hotel Credit Cards of January 2021

The Best Hotel Credit Cards of January 2021

Find the best hotel credit card based on your travel habits and style so you can enjoy a variety of perks and earn free stays at your favorite hotels.

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.

Citi is an advertising partner.

A hotel credit card can be the golden key that unlocks a world of hotel benefits usually reserved for elite loyalty program members. The best hotel credit cards offer hefty welcome bonuses, automatic elite status and VIP perks that range from complimentary room upgrades to late checkouts.

Hotel credit cards may be co-branded cards or general travel cards. Co-branded cards bear the name of a top hotel brand and offer a range of perks exclusive to hotels in that portfolio, while general travel cards offer more flexibility for guests who aren’t loyal to one particular hotel brand.

Need help choosing the best hotel credit card for you? We surveyed 2021 offers on ValuePenguin and top issuers’ sites to pick the best hotel credit cards for various travel styles, goals and preferences.

Best hotel credit card January 2021

Recommended cardBest forCredit needed
Hilton Honors American Express Card
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Hilton Honors American Express Card$0 annual feeExcellent/Good
Apply Now
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unavailable credit card
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit CardSign-up bonusExcellent/GoodRead Review
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
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Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® CardMarriottExcellent/Good
Apply Now
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unavailable credit card
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire CardHiltonExcellent/GoodRead Review
The World Of Hyatt Credit Card
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The World Of Hyatt Credit CardHyattExcellent/Good
Apply Now
  • On Chase's Secure Website
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IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
{"align":"","className":"","imageURL":"https:\/\/cdn.comparecards.com\/uploads\/images\/items\/4337.jpg","name":"IHG\u00ae Rewards Club Premier Credit Card"}
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit CardIHGExcellent/Good
Apply Now
  • On Chase's Secure Website
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The Platinum Card® from American Express
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The Platinum Card® from American ExpressElite statusExcellent/Good
Apply Now
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Recommended cards
Hilton Honors American Express Card
Apply Now
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Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit CardRead Review
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
Apply Now
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Hilton Honors American Express Aspire CardRead Review
The World Of Hyatt Credit Card
Apply Now
  • On Chase's Secure Website
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IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Apply Now
  • On Chase's Secure Website
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The Platinum Card® from American Express
Apply Now
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Honorable mentions | What is a hotel credit card? | How to choose a card | How to get a free stay at a hotel | Are Americans are using hotels during coronavirus?

Best no-annual-fee hotel credit card

Hilton Honors American Express Card

$0

15.74%-24.74% Variable

Excellent/Good

  • Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases 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.
  • 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.
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Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Our thoughts

The Hilton Honors American Express Card is one of the best Hilton credit cards for travelers who want a hotel rewards credit card with $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 bonus alone is worth about $400 in Hilton stays.

Note: unlike some credit cards in this list, the card allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all.

Benefits

  • $0 annual fee.
  • One of the lowest minimum spending requirements for a sign-up bonus on a hotel card.
  • Bonus categories include 5 points per $1 spent at U.S. gas stations, restaurants and supermarkets.
  • A two-year rewards value of over $1,000 if you spend $1,500 a month, based on our calculations.
  • Get automatic Silver status in the Hilton Honors loyalty program.
  • Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • The sign-up bonus isn’t worth as much as the bonus on many other cards.
  • The value of Hilton Honors points is low compared with transferable points on general travel cards and even some other hotel credit cards. For example, Hyatt points are valued at least double this amount, at 1 to 2.5 cents per point.
  • Terms apply.

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

Best hotel sign-up bonus

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card

Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Our thoughts

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 sign-up bonus, it’s also great for those who want to leverage their everyday spending to land the biggest rewards.

Benefits

  • A sign-up bonus worth about $600 in hotel nights.
  • A guaranteed free night each year after your account anniversary.
  • Enough value to more than make up for the $95 annual fee.
  • A good earnings rate on Marriott purchases.
  • Automatic Silver status in the Marriott Bonvoy rewards program.

Drawbacks

  • Marriott points are worth less than the points on many general purpose cards with transferable points. For example, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25 cents each, and possibly as much as 4 cents each when transferred to a partner program. Hyatt points also are worth more than Marriott points.
  • You won’t earn as much on non-Marriott travel as you would with a general purpose travel card, like a Chase card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards, as mentioned above.

Best Marriott credit card

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

$450

15.74%-24.74% Variable

Excellent/Good

  • Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Enjoy up to $300 in statement credits each year of Card Membership for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
  • Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy Hotels. 3 points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines. 2 points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive 1 free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy unlimited airport lounge visits when you enroll in Priority Pass™ Select membership.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $450 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
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Earn Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.

Our thoughts

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card offers 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.

Note: Like other Amex cards mention in this list, the card allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all.

Benefits

  • Up to $300 in annual statement credits for eligible purchases at Marriott hotels, worth two-thirds of the $450 annual fee.
  • Free Priority Pass Select membership with access to over 1,200 airport lounges for you and two guests with discounted access for additional guests.
  • Get a free night each year after your card account anniversary.
  • Complimentary Platinum Elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy rewards program. Offer ends Jan. 13, 2021.
  • Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • The high annual fee ($450) may put the card out of reach for less frequent travelers and low spenders.
  • Rewards and benefits are mostly limited to Marriott hotels. Unless you’re very loyal to Marriott, it may make more sense to get a general travel luxury rewards card.
  • Mariott points are worth less than the average rewards program point.
  • Terms apply.

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

Best Hilton credit card

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

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.

Our thoughts

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has a high annual fee ($450), but it’s also got a generous sign-up bonus — worth about $750 in Hilton hotel stays — and is loaded with valuable benefits that more than make up for the cost for many cardholders. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is 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.

Note: The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all.

Benefits

  • A respectable sign-up bonus that can earn you several free nights quickly.
  • A very high earning rate of 14X Hilton Honors Bonus Points per $1 of eligible purchases on your Card directly with a participating Hilton hotel or resort
  • Bonus categories allow you to earn a high rate of 7 points per $1 on some general travel purchases and dining.
  • Complimentary Hilton Diamond status, the highest elite tier in the Hilton Honors loyalty program, worth almost $1,500 per year.
  • One weekend night award each year after your card renewal, and an additional night if you spend $60,000 a year on your card.
  • Complimentary Priority Pass airport lounge access.
  • A $250 annual Hilton Resort statement credit.
  • Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • A high annual fee that may not be worth it for less frequent travelers.
  • The card might not be a great match for budget-minded travelers or those who wouldn’t be able to take advantage of all the benefits.
  • Hilton points are worth less than the average rewards program point (however, the card's point earnings are still generous).
  • Terms apply.

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

Best credit card for Hyatt

The World Of Hyatt Credit Card

  • On Chase's Secure Website

$95

15.99% - 22.99% Variable

Excellent/Good

  • Earn 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend $6,000 total within 6 months of account opening.
  • Free nights start at 5,000 points
  • Receive 1 free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort after your Cardmember anniversary
  • Earn an extra free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel if you spend $15,000 during your cardmember anniversary year
  • Get automatic World of Hyatt Elite status and 5 qualifying night credits every year as long as your account is open
  • Earn 2 qualifying night credits towards tier status everytime you spend $5,000 on your card
  • Earn 9 points total for Hyatt stays - 4 Bonus Points per $1 spent at Hyatt hotels & 5 Base Points per $1 you can earn as a World of Hyatt member
  • Earn 2 Bonus Points per $1 spent at restaurants, on airlines tickets purchased directly from the airlines, on local transit and commuting and on fitness club and gym memberships
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Earn up to 50,000 Bonus Points - 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus an additional 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend a total of $6,000 on purchases within the first 6 months of account opening.

Our thoughts

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.

Benefits

  • Automatic Discoverist status in the World of Hyatt loyalty program gives you perks such as free bottled water, complimentary room upgrades and expedited check-in.
  • Offers five qualifying night credits each year, plus two qualifying night credits for every $5,000 of spending on your card. These credits can give you a boost toward the next level of elite status.
  • Automatic free night each year when you renew your card membership.
  • Earn a second free night when you spend $15,000 per year on the card.
  • A reasonable $95 annual fee that you could easily get back through the free night and other benefits.
  • Good earnings rate in bonus categories, since Hyatt points are worth much more than many hotel programs at 1 to 2.5 cents each depending on how you redeem.

Drawbacks

  • Benefits not worth as much if you’re not a Hyatt loyalist.
  • Hyatt has a more limited hotel network compared to other major chains.

Best IHG credit card

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

  • On Chase's Secure Website

$89

15.99% - 22.99% Variable

Excellent/Good

  • Earn 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
  • Enjoy a Reward Night after each account anniversary year at eligible IHG hotels worldwide. Plus, enjoy a reward night when you redeem points for any stay of 4 or more nights
  • Earn up to 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Platinum Elite status as long as you remain a Premier card member
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card
  • IHG Rewards Club Bonus points are redeemable at hotels such as InterContinental®, Crowne Plaza®, Kimpton®, EVEN® Hotels, Indigo® Hotels & Holiday Inn®
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Earn 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening

Our thoughts

The IHG® Rewards Club 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. Before applying, though, you’ll want to consider the Chase 5/24 rule, an unwritten policy that can get you turned down for a new Chase credit card if you’ve applied for too many cards in the past two years. Chase may reject your application if you’ve had more than five credit card inquiries during that time.

Benefits

  • Solid sign-up bonus worth about $700 in value.
  • Modest annual fee: $89 Complimentary Platinum IHG elite status, which comes with perks such as room upgrades, a welcome amenity, additional bonus for base points earned on stays and late checkout.
  • High earnings of up to 25 points per $1 spent on IHG stays.
  • A free fourth night on award stays at IHG hotels.
  • One free night per year on your account anniversary.
  • Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit every four years.

Drawbacks

  • The Chase 5/24 rule may prevent some applicants from getting the card.
  • Lackluster earnings worth 1 cent per $1 spent in bonus categories of gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores.
  • IHG points are worth less than the average rewards program point.

Best hotel credit card for status

The Platinum Card® from American Express

$550

See Pay Over Time APR

Excellent/Good

  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
  • 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 and Additional Centurion Cards only.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits through American Express Travel with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,100 properties . Learn More.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
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Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 6 months.

Our thoughts

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 Hiltons or Marriotts (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: The card’s welcome bonus alone could be worth $1,200 when transferred to and redeemed strategically through the right travel partner.

Unlike typical credit cards, the card allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all.

Benefits

  • Extra perks, like free breakfast for two, at 1,100 hotels around the world when you book hotels in the Fine Hotels & Resorts® Program through American Express Travel.
  • Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status and Hilton Honors Gold status.
  • Up to $200 a year Uber credit.
  • Bonus earnings of 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Access to more than 1,200 airport lounges in 130 countries through Amex networks and partnerships.
  • Credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee every four years.
  • Savings on first class, business class and premium economy tickets on international flights with 25 airlines through American Express Travel’s International Airline Program.
  • Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • High annual fee even compared with premium co-branded hotel credit cards.
  • Less frequent travelers and those who prefer mid-range or budget accommodations may find that the card isn’t worth the price, as they may not be able to maximize the value by using all the perks regularly.
  • Terms apply.

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

Honorable mentions

There are a few cards that didn’t rank among our top hotel credit card picks, but still may be attractive to travelers seeking a card that offers travel benefits. Here are our honorable mentions for best hotel rewards credit card:

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • On Chase's Secure Website

$95

15.99% - 22.99% Variable

Excellent

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
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Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Our thoughts

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card deserves a mention as 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. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is great for travelers who aren’t loyal to one particular hotel brand or airline and who want good, solid value for their everyday spending.

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

Benefits

  • Earns points with Chase Ultimate Rewards, among the most flexible rewards programs available today.
  • Points are worth 1.25 cents each when redeemed for travel (including hotel stays) through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
  • Points can also be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to 13 airline and hotel loyalty programs, including Hyatt, IHG and Marriott.
  • Offers a good option for travelers not loyal to one hotel brand.
  • Valuable sign-up bonus worth more than those on many hotel rewards credit cards.

Drawbacks

  • No hotel-specific perks such as automatic elite status.
  • The Chase 5/24 rule might put it off limits for cardholders with multiple cards.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

  • On Capital One's Secure Website

$95

17.24% - 24.49% (Variable)

Excellent/Good

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 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 $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 10+ travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
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Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel

Our thoughts

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 top of wallet.

Benefits

  • The simplicity of the earnings structure is rare among travel cards.
  • Earn 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day.
  • Redeem miles for any travel purchase with your credit card (including hotel stays) at a value of 1 cent per mile.
  • Miles can also be transferred to more than 10 airline and hotel loyalty programs.
  • Credit every four years for Global Entry or TSA Precheck.

Drawbacks

  • No hotel-specific perks and benefits.
  • May not have enough features to satisfy experienced rewards travelers.

What is a hotel credit card?

A hotel credit card is a card that allows you to earn extra points for hotel stays, as well as earning on your everyday spending. When you accumulate enough points, you can cash your rewards in for free hotel stays on your next vacation. There are two main types of hotel credit cards, hotel co-branded cards and general credit cards. Read on to learn the difference.

Hotel co-branded cards

Hotel co-branded cards are cards that are issued by a major card issuer in partnership with a hotel brand. The card generally features the name of the hotel brand and offers benefits specific to its chain. 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 check-out.

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 cards

General travel cards offer many of the same benefits and perks as some of the best hotel rewards credit cards, but there are some big differences. First, you typically earn extra rewards for spending on travel in general without brand restrictions. Depending on the card, you may be able to earn extra rewards in other categories such as restaurants and, less commonly, supermarkets and gas stations.

General travel cards are issued by major issuers without the imprint of any particular airline or hotel brand. These cards also may come with perks like airport lounge access, but they typically won’t get you elite status with a hotel loyalty program (the Platinum Card from American Express is a notable exception).

How to choose a hotel credit card

How do you choose the best hotel credit card for you? You’ll need to weigh your own travel habits and preferences, then look at factors such as sign-up bonus, perks, fees and the fine print of the program. Here are the main criteria to consider:

Hotel preference

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.

Sign-up bonus

It’s important to take a close look at a hotel card's 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

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.

Hotel status and perks

Many co-branded hotel cards 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 $25 a year, while Gold Elite is worth $525 and Platinum Elite is worth over $2,600.

Other card benefits

Check to see if the card offers any other perks that could add value for you. For example, if you frequently pay for airport lounge access, a card with this benefit could save you hundreds of dollars. Several cards also offer Global Entry or TSA Precheck credits, which is nice if you’d like these benefits but don’t travel enough to justify paying the application fee.

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.

Study: Are Americans staying in hotels during coronavirus?

A recent study from ValuePenguin finds that Americans are still staying in hotels during the coronavirus pandemic. Half of Americans have checked into a hotel at some point since March:

Here are a few tips for making your hotel stay safer during COVID:

  • Checking local and national news to view case statistics before deciding where you’ll travel.
  • Look at the most recent reviews to see what guests are saying about the cleanliness of the property.
  • Check the hotel's website for safety and cleanliness standards.
  • The CDC says maintaining a distance of six feet away reduces the risk of transmission, so you might steer clear of common areas and stick to your hotel room.

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

Allie Johnson is a freelance content writer who covers personal finance, small business and travel. She writes about maximizing credit card rewards, jetting around the globe on points and miles and an array of other topics. She earned a degree in magazine journalism from Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.

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).