Best Hotel Credit Cards According to A Travel Expert
Unlike frequent flyer programs, the loyalty programs offered by many hotel chains allow you to actually redeem your points for any unsold standard room, with no blackout dates or capacity controls.
As long as you book far enough advance, you can receive exceptional value from your points when staying at luxury hotels during peak travel periods.
Hotel credit cards can also offer an easy path towards elite status. This can include perks such as priority service, room upgrades, and late checkouts.
You can even get free breakfast as a perk of the elite status offered by some of these cards.
When you arrive at your hotel, having the right credit card can make the difference between waiting in line for a mediocre room and being served quickly and given an upgrade.
Here are my recommendations for the best hotel credit cards:
World of Hyatt Credit Card
The World of Hyatt Credit Card stands out for the one free night in any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort every year (after your cardmember anniversary).
To sweeten the deal:
Earn an extra free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort if you spend $15,000 in a calendar year.
The card offers up to 9 points per $1 on purchases at Hyatt hotels and 2 points per $1 at restaurants, fitness clubs/gym memberships, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, local transit and commuting.
The card has a $95 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express
Hilton is an even larger hotel chain than or Hyatt, yet it still offers award nights in any standard unsold room.
It also has the unusual practice of offering reward credit cards from two different banks: Citi and American Express. Of the four different cards offered, I like the Honors Surpass card from Amex.
This card offers 12 points per dollar spent at Hilton hotels and six points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
You also get three points per dollar spent elsewhere. Another benefit is instant Gold status in the Honors program, which offers room upgrades, late checkouts, and free breakfast.
Use your card to spend $40,000 in a calendar year, and you’ll receive top-tier Diamond elite status. Also, this card comes with a Priority Pass membership that offers you admission into hundreds of airport lounges for just $27 per visit.
There is a $95 annual fee for this card and no foreign transaction fees.
The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card from Chase
How to Pick the Right Hotel Credit Card
With so many compelling hotel cards offered, how do you pick the best one?
As with any credit card, the best one for your needs will offer you the most valuable benefits. In particular, you’ll need to choose a hotel credit card based on your own travel patterns.
For example, if you tend to favor more economical brands then you will certainly be more interested in the Hilton card than the one from Ritz-Carlton.
You might also want to consider the benefits offered by these cards. All of these cards come with a basic, mid-level status, and they each offer a chance to earn top tier status more quickly.
In general, mid-level status will offer you priority service, early-check-in, late-checkouts, and minor room upgrades. After a long and tiring trip, these small benefits can feel quite welcome.
On the rewards side, consider how many points you’ll need for a free night stay at a particular hotel, and how much spending would be necessary to earn those points.
Finally, it’s understandable if you take a close look at the sign-up bonus, knowing that you can start off with a few free nights.
Right now, the Ritz-Carlton’s offer of three free nights is probably the most valuable of the four cards mentioned here.
This offer is only valid at Tier 1-4 hotels, but that includes some pretty pricey properties around the world.
Next, I would rank the Hyatt card’s two free nights at any hotel including some properties that can cost over $1,000 per night like the Park Hyatts in Paris, Milan and Beaver Creek Colorado.
Nevertheless, the Starwood card’s two free nights and Hilton card’s 75,000 points are still competitive bonuses.
How I Manage My Hotel Cards
The right hotel card will always depend on your travel patterns and how you value a card’s particular benefits.
In some cases, you might even conclude that a general rewards card will best meet your needs.
But if you are looking for hotel rewards as well as the perks and benefits offered to a hotel’s best customers, then you should consider one of these four best hotel cards.