9 Best Hotel Credit Cards to Earn Hotel Perks of December 2021

9 Best Hotel Credit Cards to Earn Hotel Perks of December 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.

Top hotel credit cards of December 2021

Best for $0 annual fee

Hilton Honors American Express Card

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

Editor's rating ?

Best for Marriott

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

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

Editor's rating ?

Best for Hyatt

World of Hyatt Credit Card

On Chase's Secure Website

Editor's rating ?

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 no-annual-fee hotel credit card

Hilton Honors American Express Card

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

80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express 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 $5,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months.

$0

15.74%-24.74% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express 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 $5,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months.
  • 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, 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.
Rating details
Introductory offer
Rewards system
Ongoing value
Interest and fees
Customer satisfaction

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 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 bonus alone is worth about $650.

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

  • $0 annual fee.
  • One of the lowest minimum spending requirements for a welcome bonus on a hotel card.
  • Bonus categories include 5 points per $1 spent at U.S. gas stations, U.S. restaurants and U.S. supermarkets.
  • Get automatic Silver status in the Hilton Honors loyalty program (enrollment required).
  • Terms apply.
  • The welcome 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.


Best hotel sign-up bonus

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn 3 Free Nights after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening + 10X total points per $1 spent on up to $2,500 in combined purchases at gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores within 6 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card!

$95

15.99% - 22.99% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 3 Free Nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after qualifying purchases + 10X total points on eligible purchases in select categories.
  • 1 Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
  • Earn up to 17X total Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Card.
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year. Path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Bonvoy points and get Free Night Stays faster.

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 welcome offer, it’s also great for those who want to leverage their everyday spending to land the biggest rewards.

  • A welcome offer worth about $1,305 in hotel nights. This makes the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card one of the best hotel credit card offers out there.
  • 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.
  • Terms apply.
  • 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.
  • Terms apply.


Best Marriott credit card

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

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

75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Terms apply.

$450

15.74%-24.74% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $200 in Statement Credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Enjoy up to $300 in statement credits each year of Card Membership for eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program.
  • Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program. 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.
Rating details
Introductory offer
Rewards system
Ongoing value
Interest and fees
Customer satisfaction

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.

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

  • 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 (enrollment required).
  • Get a free night each year after your card account anniversary.
  • Terms apply.
  • 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.


Best Hilton credit card

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Card not available

Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express

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 Aspire Card from American Express has a high annual fee ($450), but it’s also got a generous welcome 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 Aspire Card from American Express 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.

  • A respectable welcome bonus that can earn you several free nights quickly.
  • A very high earning rate of 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 card
  • 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 (enrollment required).
  • 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 (enrollment required).
  • $250 annual airline fee credit (enrollment required).
  • $100 property credit at participating Waldorf Astoria® Hotels & Resorts and Conrad® Hotels & Resorts (book a minimum of two nights through the card's website).
  • Terms apply.
  • 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.


Best 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

15.99% - 22.99% 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
Rating details
Introductory offer
Rewards system
Ongoing value
Interest and fees
Customer satisfaction

Our thoughts

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.

  • 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.
  • 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

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

$89

15.99% - 22.99% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 125,000 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®

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.

  • Solid sign-up bonus worth about $625 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.
  • 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

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

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 the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • 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.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, 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.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. Now 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 select Equinox memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $179 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

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 $2,000 or more when transferred to and redeemed strategically through the right travel partner.

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

  • 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 (enrollment required).
  • Up to $200 a year Uber cash toward U.S. Uber Eats and U.S. Uber rides (up to $15 each month, plus a $20 bonus in December) when you add the card to the Uber app.
  • Bonus earnings of 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel. Terms apply.
  • Up to $200 hotel credit to be received as an annual statement credit, valid for prepaid bookings at Fine Hotels & Resorts or The Hotel Collection properties made through American Express travel.
  • Access to more than 1,300 airport lounges in 140 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.
  • 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.


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

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

15.99% - 22.99% 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 new benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points 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 Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.

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.

  • 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 14 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.
  • 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

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

$95

15.99% - 23.99% (Variable)

660 - 850

  • 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 a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get our 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
  • No foreign transaction fees

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.

  • 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.
  • 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 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 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. You'll ultimately want to find the best credit card for hotel points, as you can use these rewards to book free nights. Here are the main criteria to consider:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 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.

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:

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.

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.

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 or vacation rentals/timeshares during coronavirus?

A recent study from ValuePenguin finds that most travelers prefer hotels and resorts to vacation rentals. 37% of Americans cited better amenities as the top reason.

Would you rather stay at a hotel/resort or a vacation rental/homeshare?

Tip to maximize credit card rewards: If you have a hotel credit card or general travel rewards credit card, you will likely get a better deal through a large hotel chain than a vacation rental. Book an Airbnb with one of these credit cards when you opt to go that route.

  • 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.
{"backgroundColor":"white","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EA recent study from ValuePenguin finds that \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"72% of Americans Prefer Hotels and Resorts to Vacation Rentals\" href=\"https:\/\/www.valuepenguin.com\/travel\/americans-prefer-hotels-and-resorts-vacation-rentals\"\u003Emost travelers prefer hotels and resorts to vacation rentals\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E. 37% of Americans cited better amenities as the top reason.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImageResponsive--root\"\u003E\n \u003Cfigure class=\"ShortcodeImage--root\"\u003E\n \u003Cpicture class=\"ShortcodeImage--picture\"\u003E\n \u003Csource\n media=\"(max-width: 607.5px)\"\n data-srcset=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_1600\/v1\/1-chart-mobile_du8utu 1x, http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_1600\/v1\/1-chart-mobile_du8utu 2x\"\n\/\u003E\n \u003Cimg alt=\"Would you rather stay at a hotel\/resort or a vacation rental\/homeshare?\" class=\"lazyload\" data-src=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_1600\/v1\/1-chart-dekstop_kamvu1\" src=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,e_blur:1000,f_auto,h_1600,q_1,w_1600\/v1\/1-chart-dekstop_kamvu1\" data-srcset=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_1600\/v1\/1-chart-dekstop_kamvu1 1x, http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_1600\/v1\/1-chart-dekstop_kamvu1 2x\"\u003E\n \u003C\/picture\u003E\n \u003C\/figure\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003ETip to maximize credit card rewards:\u003C\/strong\u003E If you have a hotel credit card or general travel rewards credit card, you will likely get a better deal through a large hotel chain than a vacation rental. \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"Book an Airbnb with one of these credit cards\" href=\"https:\/\/www.valuepenguin.com\/travel\/best-credit-cards-airbnb\"\u003EBook an Airbnb with one of these credit cards\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E when you opt to go that route.\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 Checking local and national news to view case statistics before deciding where you\u2019ll travel.\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Look at the most recent reviews to see what guests are saying about the cleanliness of the property.\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Check the hotel's website for safety and cleanliness standards.\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n 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.\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\u003E","padding":"double"}

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.

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Why or why not?\u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListOrdered--list-item\"\u003EWhat role can social media engagement and advertising play in helping hotels expand their loyal customer base?\u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListOrdered--list-item\"\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\/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\u003Chr\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"full pad-none align-left clearfix\"\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"third pad-half align-left clearfix\"\u003E\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: 80px;\" data-src=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/max-starkov_iphdod\" src=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,e_blur:1000,f_auto,h_1600,q_1,w_80\/v1\/max-starkov_iphdod\" data-srcset=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/max-starkov_iphdod 1x, http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/max-starkov_iphdod 2x\"\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\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--plain\"\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n \u003Cstrong\u003EMax Starkov\u003C\/strong\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Hospitality Tech Consultant and Adjunct Professor\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"Read Answer\" href=\"#expert-max-starkov\"\u003ERead Answer\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeVisibility--show-small\"\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Chr\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"third pad-half align-left clearfix\"\u003E\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: 80px;\" data-src=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/vanja-bogicevic_no9ctb\" src=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,e_blur:1000,f_auto,h_1600,q_1,w_80\/v1\/vanja-bogicevic_no9ctb\" data-srcset=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/vanja-bogicevic_no9ctb 1x, http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/vanja-bogicevic_no9ctb 2x\"\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\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--plain\"\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n \u003Cstrong\u003EVanja Bogicevic, Ph.D., M.Arch.\u003C\/strong\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Clinical Assistant Professor\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"Read Answer\" href=\"#expert-vanja-bogicevic\"\u003ERead Answer\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeVisibility--show-small\"\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Chr\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"third pad-half align-left clearfix\"\u003E\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: 80px;\" data-src=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/jukka-laitamaki_qjflp5\" src=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,e_blur:1000,f_auto,h_1600,q_1,w_80\/v1\/jukka-laitamaki_qjflp5\" data-srcset=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/jukka-laitamaki_qjflp5 1x, http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/jukka-laitamaki_qjflp5 2x\"\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\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--plain\"\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n \u003Cstrong\u003EJukka M. Laitamaki, Ph.D.\u003C\/strong\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Clinical Professor\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"Read Answer\" href=\"#expert-jukka-laitamaki\"\u003ERead Answer\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Chr\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"third pad-half align-left clearfix\"\u003E\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: 80px;\" data-src=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/expert-advice-headshots_sfuxjr\" src=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,e_blur:1000,f_auto,h_1600,q_1,w_80\/v1\/expert-advice-headshots_sfuxjr\" data-srcset=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/expert-advice-headshots_sfuxjr 1x, http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/expert-advice-headshots_sfuxjr 2x\"\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\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--plain\"\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n \u003Cstrong\u003ENeel Das, Ph.D.\u003C\/strong\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Professor and MBA Director\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"Read Answer\" href=\"#expert-neel-das\"\u003ERead Answer\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeVisibility--show-small\"\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Chr\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"third pad-half align-left clearfix\"\u003E\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: 80px;\" data-src=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/donnelly-egan_lqfw41\" src=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,e_blur:1000,f_auto,h_1600,q_1,w_80\/v1\/donnelly-egan_lqfw41\" data-srcset=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/donnelly-egan_lqfw41 1x, http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/donnelly-egan_lqfw41 2x\"\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\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--plain\"\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n \u003Cstrong\u003EBeth Egan\u003C\/strong\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Associate Professor of Advertising\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"Read Answer\" href=\"#expert-beth-egan\"\u003ERead Answer\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeDisclaimer--root ShortcodeDisclaimer--root \"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ContextualDisclaimer--root\"\u003E\n \u003Cp class=\"ContextualDisclaimer--copy\"\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003EThe commentary provided by these industry experts represent their viewpoints and opinions alone.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n \n \u003C\/p\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n","padding":"double"}
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":"white","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=\"http:\/\/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=\"http:\/\/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=\"http:\/\/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, http:\/\/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":"white","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=\"http:\/\/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=\"http:\/\/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=\"http:\/\/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, http:\/\/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 rentals 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":"white","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=\"http:\/\/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=\"http:\/\/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=\"http:\/\/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, http:\/\/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 rentals 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":"white","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=\"http:\/\/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=\"http:\/\/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=\"http:\/\/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, http:\/\/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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What are 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.

Is it worth getting a hotel credit card?

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.

Which is the best Marriott credit card?

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is the best Marriott credit card out there. As a luxury hotel card, you'll pay a $450 annual fee (See rates and fees), but you'll earn benefits such as $300 in annual statement credits for Marriott purchases, airport lounge access and a free night benefit each card anniversary.

How do hotel credit cards work?

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.

What are some pros and cons of hotel credit cards?

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.

Which credit cards offer free hotel stays?

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.

Who should get a hotel credit card?

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.

Recap of best hotel credit cards for December 2021

Methodology

What is the best hotel credit card?

ValuePenguin's pick for the best hotel card is Hilton Honors American Express Card.

While the best hotel credit card will depend on your preference for hotel brand, Hilton Honors American Express Card comes with tons of luxury perks, a valuable welcome offer and more, all for $0 annual fee, which make the benefits of this card that much sweeter. For travelers who frequent Hilton hotels, Hilton Honors American Express Card can be a great option.

How we chose the best hotel credit cards

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 rank the best hotel credit cards to earn hotel perks available right now.

Our recommendations are based on the additional value you can earn with the cards — including the welcome offer value, earning rate, value of rewards points, cost of ownership and additional benefits such as travel insurance and purchase protections, free breakfast or dining credits, and more. We analyzed which card would be the best fit specific to each category. We looked at things like whether the card is a co-branded or general travel card, whether or not a card earns transferable points to other loyalty programs, whether it offers business or niche-specific perks, and more.

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

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 Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and have 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.

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).