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Hotel Credit Cards

Hotel credit cards are linked to specific hotel chains and offer rewards that can only be redeemed at the affiliated company’s properties or those of its partners. If you travel frequently and are a brand-loyal hotel visitor, look into the hotel credit card(s) tied to your chain of choice. Only brand-loyal frequent travelers will be able to redeem their hotel rewards often enough to consistently reap tangible perks and avoid the threat of devaluation.

If you don’t fit those criteria, consider a generic travel rewards credit card that allows you to redeem miles for any travel related expense, including…show more

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    Expert’s Answers

    How do I pick a hotel credit card?

    By: Odysseas Papadimitriou, CardHub CEOThe manner in which you choose a hotel rewards credit card depends on whether your objective in opening such a card is to garner a valuable initial rewards bonus or long-term benefit. If you’re after an initial bonus, choose the hotel credit card that offers the most free nights without requiring that you spend more than you would ordinarily in order to get them. For those interested in ongoing benefit (really only applies to brand-loyal frequent travelers) open the card affiliated with your existing hotel loyalty program, even if a competing hotel’s credit card provides more attractive rewards. After all, what good are a bunch of points to a hotel you’ll never visit?

    What to look for when evaluating hotel rewards programs:

    By: John Kiernan, Personal Finance EditorKeeping an eye out for the following key terms will simplify your hotel rewards programs comparison and result in optimum usage of your newly selected hotel card:
    1. Earning Rate: The rate at which you will be earning rewards together with your expected spending will give you a sense of how quickly you can reach the rewards redemption milestones you’re most interested in. Keep an eye out for cards that require quarterly registration for the highest earning rates.
    2. Redemption Milestones: How many points does it take to get a free night? Do you need more points for nights at nicer hotels? Are any dates, hotels, or types of rooms off-limits? These are the types of questions you must answer because a hotel card’s redemption policy determines how lucrative its earning rate actually is.
    3. Initial Rewards Bonus: Many hotel rewards credit cards offer a large number of bonus points during the first few months of card use, which can equate to a couple of free nights. Since these bonuses can be more lucrative than the rewards you’ll garner in an entire year of typical card use, they are a key feature to look out for. Keep in mind that some of the initial bonuses offered by hotel reward credit cards don’t kick in until you’ve spent a predetermined amount within the first few months of card use, so select a card that coincides with your monthly spending patterns.
    4. Tiers: With certain credit cards, you earn rewards at a particular rate until you’ve spent a predetermined amount, at which point the rewards will come in at a faster or slower pace. While this type of tiered rewards program is not that common with hotel loyalty programs, it’s something to watch out for as it can affect your effective earn rate.
    5. Expiration: The most common type of expiration policy found in hotel loyalty programs is due to inactivity (i.e. lack of point-generating actions) for an extended period of time. In these cases, a hotel rewards credit cards can be particularly useful since you do not have to actually stay at a hotel to earn points and preserve your current rewards balance. All you have to do is make at least one purchase on a regular basis. Having said that, your rewards program may be subject to a different expiration policy, so make sure you know the exact terms of your agreement.
    6. Status points: Sometimes there are multiple credit cards affiliated with a single hotel chain. The number of status points each provides, both initially and on an ongoing basis, could be a deciding factor between them. Annual fees generally rise in accordance with status points, so only focus on this feature if you stay at a particular hotel chain regularly and can therefore extract a lot of value from fringe benefits like complimentary breakfast and room upgrades.

    What’s the difference between hotel points and hotel membership status points?

    By: Odysseas Papadimitriou, CardHub CEOWhen it comes to hotels, there are two types of rewards points: those redeemable for free nights and those needed to move up the membership status ladder, which dictates the VIP extras that you’re entitled to (e.g. breakfast coupons, complimentary room upgrades, access to executive floors, priority check-in). While all hotel rewards credit cards give you points to earn free nights, only some provide status points as well. Status points are truly only important to people who actually stay at a particular hotel chain on a consistent basis, especially since they are often tied to the number of nights you accumulate in a calendar year.

    Which is the best hotel rewards program?

    By: John Kiernan, Personal Finance EditorConsumers base their hotel choices primarily on things like price, location, and quality of service, and since each hotel has but a single rewards program, the best hotel rewards program for each individual is that which is tied to their favorite hotel. However, there might be more than one hotel credit card affiliated with a given chain, especially the big ones, which means that the best hotel credit card is whichever best matches your income, spending habits, and existing status within the rewards program.

    Do any credit cards offer both hotel points and airline miles?

    By: Odysseas Papadimitriou, CardHub CEOSort of. Travel reward credit cards offer either miles or points that in most cases can be redeemed for either hotel or airfare bookings made through any travel agency or website. In other words, while all credit cards use a single rewards currency (i.e. points, miles or cash back), some allow you to redeem for broader perks. This can be useful in the sense that travel might not be your top priority down the road, in which case redeeming for something else, like a gift card, could be more rewarding.

    Can I get more than one hotel credit card?

    By: John Kiernan, Personal Finance EditorOf course you can get more than one hotel reward credit card, but whether you should do so is another story. The Island Approach to credit card use holds that you should have rewards credit cards that complement one another in order to give you the most comprehensive rewards earning power possible. Therefore, if you already have a hotel rewards card, the most strategic move would be to get a credit card tied to your next biggest type of expense. For example, someone who stays at a Marriott Hotel every other week and also spends a lot on gas would derive the most benefit from having both a Marriott Credit Card and a gas credit card.

    Community Discussion

    Ask a question or help others find the best hotel credit cards by sharing some tips.

     
    Jun 28, 2015
    By:
    I’ve been travelling a lot for work the past couple of years so I’ve been buying tickets using my own credit card and expensing them. I was thinking wouldn’t it be great to have some sort of hotel credit card that earns me rewards? I applied for the Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card and it’s been the best card I’ve used so far. I love how I am able to rack up points very quickly since I travel so much. I often have enough points for free hotel stays just after a few months. I love the fact that there is also no annual fee.
    Jun 28, 2015
    By:
    If you are a frequent traveler, hotel credit cards are definitely useful. I’ve been using the Marriot Rewards Premier Credit Card and I often use the points I get to get free nights at their hotels. It’s definitely worth it if you travel a lot. Before you know it, you have enough points to redeem.
    Jun 27, 2015
    By:
    I recently acquired a rewards card for IHG hotels brands through Chase bank. Simply signing up for the card gave me enough points on my account for three or four free hotel nights depending on the hotel/brand. I find the hotel credit cards are a great way to rack up points for free and reduced price hotel rooms for impromptu travel and vacation. I recommend looking for cards with a low annual fee and then using them regularly to reap their full advantage.
    Jun 26, 2015
    By:
    My personal favorite is the Capital Quicksilver One card, this card offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases. There is no points system for flights or hotels and the percentage back on purchases does not change on each category - it is just a straight 1.5% cash back. The cash back goes into a balance that can be used to pay towards a specific purchase, the balance on the card or you can request a cash withdrawal of the balance via check. I use this card for my monthly expenses and have earned several hundred back this year alone.
    Jun 20, 2015
    By:
    Hotel credit cards are very useful for travelers because of the rewards you can accumulate. If you travel frequently, then you can get these reward points a lot faster and you can redeem them at the hotel your credit card is linked to. You can get a free hotel booking for example if you have enough points.
    Jun 20, 2015
    By:
    Hotel credit cards are most definitely useful to travelers. They allow you to build up points that you can use later on. These points can allow you to do things like stay an extra night. It gives you more options and makes traveling more fun. They are very good to have for travelers.
    Jun 17, 2015
    By:
    When I utilize the points that I get with the usage of my Starwood credit card, I like to spend them on things such as free nights and upgraded rooms for me and my family. Sometimes I'll even use the points for a promotional offer they'll be running every now and then to ensure that I'm actually putting them to good use in the end.
    Jun 17, 2015
    By:
    I think a hotel credit card should have rewards that give your a free night's stay for every 8 days you pay for. This would be a little better than a hotels dot com free night program that is currently in effect. This would generate more business for the hotel without them having to pay a percentage to hotels.com, and it would benefit the cardholder.
    Jun 17, 2015
    By:
    Throughout my several years of traveling across the US for work related activities, I've always enjoyed using the points that I accumulate with my Hilton credit card to use at their hotels. Depending on what I'm doing in the area, I'll use the points to get a room at a bit pricier Hilton or settle for a lesser one but spend the points on extra things like room service and the like. I really enjoy the options that I have when it comes to spending my points!
    Jun 17, 2015
    By:
    I used to travel a lot a few years ago for work(self-emloyed) and I was using Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card.I really liked how you could build up "points" and after a while you could even have a few nights free at a Marriot.After a while it just seemed like any other type of credit card.I do not have to travel much anymore and the rewards are just not worth it to me.This card is made for the constant traveler and for business.If you don't travel consistently,then you may want another type of card.
    Jun 9, 2015
    By:
    I use the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card frequently when I travel. I was attracted to this card because in my experience Hilton hotels tend to be the mostly consistently welcoming and accommodating hotels. Being my preference for hotels, I was naturally gravitated towards it. But apart from that the card offers great rewards compared to it's competitors.
    Jun 9, 2015
    By:
    I travel frequently for work and my hotel credit card helps to enhance my trips. Since I am reimbursed for my expenses by work, and can get any hotel up to a certain dollar amount, using my hotel card I can generally afford to stay at slightly nicer hotels than I would be able to normally. This is pretty relieving to someone who is spending 5 nights a week on the road and getting stressed out from being away from home.
    May 26, 2015
    By:
    Honestly, like a few other reviewers have stated, unless you are travelling every day, or close to it, it's hard to find a hotel credit card that differentiates itself from a standard card. I do have the Marriott Rewards Credit Card, and I have gotten a few perks from using it, and actually was able to use points for a few stays throughout the last two years or so. It's been nice, but now that I'm not travelling as much I have reverted back to my AMEX.
    May 23, 2015
    By:
    If you travel a lot, hotel credit cards can be a lifesaver. I'm on the road a good percentage of the time when I'm working and the marriot rewards visa card makes it so much easier to check in quickly and efficiently, and be able to be rewarded for traveling a lot. :-)
    May 15, 2015
    By:
    I am very happy with my Marriot's Rewards Visa card because I use it for trips that require hotel stay. I usually stay at a Marriot Hotel, and I find that it is really convenient to have the card. On a recent trip to the Caribbean, I was able to use my card and apply my points to the Marriot hotel I stayed at. I was also able to earn points during my stay.
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