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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.

    May 26, 2015
    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
    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
    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.
    May 12, 2015
    Hotel credit cards can be useful, in some cases. They are best suited for people who spend a lot of time on the road, since they will likely be using the services of the lodging facilities. I've not needed to use a card (yet), since I'm not one who spends more than 2-3 days per year in a hotel, but my first choice from the cards listed here would be the Marriott Rewards® Premier credit card. Seeing that it only requires a "good" credit rating, as well as having a manageable 15.99% interest rate, and the addition of a decent number of rewards points for every dollar spent and a $0 first-year fee makes this seem like the best card for my current situation.
    May 7, 2015
    I travel for business and have the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card. It really makes traveling a lot better because I get to stay at a nice hotel for the price of an average one. Makes my work trips more enjoyable.
    Apr 23, 2015
    Marriott credit card was great for my stay in January of this year. The first time I used this at the hotel and it was so easy and convenient. It also gives you great bonuses and rewards, and even late check out. It was great and will definitely be using every time i travel or at least try to.
    Apr 20, 2015
    Hotel cards may be useful for some who travel frequently by car, but I think that a more flexible rewards points redemption system is better for most people. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card allows you to redeem your points for not only hotels but car rentals, parking fees, and airfare as well. Now, how is that not at least three times as good? The only reason I see to get a hotel-specific card would be to take advantage of an attractive sign on bonus that they may be offering at the time.
    Apr 19, 2015
    I travel frequently for leisure, and I really like my Marriott Reward card. There are a lot of affiliated hotels all around the country and no limit on the card. I already got a free night at a Marriott Hotel in Washington DC with my reward card. It helps me to save money, and I will keep using it.
    Mar 24, 2015
    I really like using my Marriott Reward Card. I travel often and almost always find a Marriott or Marriott affiliated hotel nearby. I have already had three nights free and like the fact that there are no limits to the amount of points I can collect. I plan on using my card to achieve a reduction in future airfare and flights and of course more free nights at premier Marriott Hotels.
    Mar 10, 2015
    Hotel credit cards are extremely helpful. I travel frequently for both work and play. I stay at various hotel brands. I have cards for a number of these hotels, and every time I stay at one of these properties, the money I spend goes to me earning points towards future stays or credits such as dining, parking, upgrades, and even early check-ins or late check outs. These cards are absolutely rewarding as a traveler.
    Feb 20, 2015
    I am currently using the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card. I think it is the best thing since sliced bread. I do a lot of traveling for my business, and if it weren't for this card, my expenses would be pretty much out of hand. I get so many free nights with this card, that it basically pays for itself. I cannot stress how useful this card has been in my travels across the country. I am always able to find a Marriott in the area I am in that can offer me several perks just due to the fact that I am a holder of this card. I am able to get free upgrades and also free services. This always makes my trip hassle-free and worry-free. I recommend this card to any business professional who always finds themselves in a travel situation. I am also up for a limit increase on my card. There are always increases sooner than you would expect. Try it out. You will not regret it.
    Jan 1, 2015
    I use my Marriott rewards visa when ever i travel and i have no complaints. The points system is very simple to understand and earning is just as easy.
    Dec 26, 2014
    I have used the Hilton Honors credit card for several years. I find it quite a good deal, and I do recommend it. It's surprising how fast one can build up enough points using that card- to earn free hotel nights! It just seems a natural, as well to use a branded card at the specific brand's outlets. I feel like staff of the various hotels I have frequented are happy to see that card used. It might even influence a little better service.
    So, overall- I definitely do recommend a branded hotel credit card. Whether that is the Hilton Honors card that I have enjoyed, or some other branded card, I think it's a great deal and provided just what a business or casual traveler wants from that segment of the credit card market.
    Nov 26, 2014
    I used my Hilton card not too long ago when we stayed in Branson it was actually a thing I used my card because the interest rates are low and you get lots of reward points for using your card.
    Nov 6, 2014
    I think hotel credit cards are extremely helpful. I travel quite a bit for both business and pleasure, and often stay at Marriott, Hilton, or Starwood brand hotels. I have cards for all three of these hotel brands, and each time I earn points and bonuses on my stay so that I can have a discounted or free stay in the future. Additional perks include food and beverage credits so free meals or drinks, room upgrades, free parking, early check-ins or extended check outs, or special amenities in the room. I also think that because hotel credit cards are geared towards travelers expecting good hospitable service and the fact that they are more specialized helps in getting better customer service. The customer service that I’ve gotten on these cards has been really helpful and efficient. I would highly recommend hotel credit cards for the avid and loyal traveler as they are definitely useful.
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