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From the Experts at Credit.com

What Is the Best Hotel Rewards Credit Card?

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[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are reviewed below.]

Hotel loyalty programs may be the unsung heroes of the rewards credit card industry. While many airline rewards card customers can find it difficult to redeem their miles, most hotel rewards programs will allow their points to be redeemed for any unsold room. Plus, the best co-branded hotel rewards credit cards typically let you rack up rewards at a rapid pace.

However, picking a hotel rewards card can be tricky: A card offering beaucoup points on hotel stays is only really valuable if you frequent that chain, so you need to consider your spending and vacation habits. Still, some plastic stands out among the rest, thanks to a sweet signup bonus, hotel options and VIP perks or upgrades. Here are some of our favorite hotel rewards cards.

Cut to the Cards

Here’s where we give it to you straight. For the full print, please see card agreements.

Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card: A big signup bonus, free hotel stay every account anniversary year and elite membership credits make this card a no-brainer for fans of Marriott and SPG properties.

The Hyatt Credit Card: Another solid offering from Chase, this card offers benefits to frequent Hyatt visitors for a fairly low annual fee.

Chase Sapphire Preferred: Chase offers one of the most flexible rewards programs, and points earned with its Sapphire Preferred card can be transferred to partnering hotel chains at a one-to-one value.

Wyndham Rewards Visa Credit Card: Wyndham gives its patrons options. It has a card that charges an annual fee, but touts higher rewards and a card that skips the annual fee, but offers less rewards. We’ll break down both below.

Capital One Venture Rewards: This general-purpose credit card is worth keeping in mind if all these hotel-loyalty programs have your head spinning.

Expert Intel: Before applying for any credit card, it’s important to know where your credit stands so you’re certain you’re likely to qualify. You can check your credit scores for free on Credit.com.

Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card

Marriott Rewards Credit Card

Annual Fee: $85

Purchase APR: Variable 16.99% to 23.99%

Signup Bonus: New cardholders can earn 80,000 bonus points after they spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months. They can also get an additional 7,500 bonus points if they add an authorized user and make a purchase in the same period.

Base Rewards: Cardholders earn five points per dollar at more than 5,700 participating Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels; two points per dollar on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline and at car rental agencies and restaurants, and one point per dollar everywhere else.

The Big Extras: You’ll get a free night stay at a Category 1-5 hotel every year after your account anniversary, 15 Elite status credits annually and one elite credit for every $3,000 in purchases. This card has no foreign transaction fees.

Why We’re Mentioning It: A big signup bonus and a free night stay after every anniversary make this co-branded card from Chase a top-notch pick for Marriott and SPG regulars.

The Hyatt Credit CardThe Hyatt Credit Card

Annual Fee: $75

Purchase APR: Variable 16.99% to 23.99%

Signup Bonus: Cardholders can earn two free nights at any Hyatt hotel or resort worldwide if they spend $2,000 in the first three months. They can also earn 5,000 bonus points if they add an authorized user in the same timeframe and make a purchase.

Base Rewards: Cardholders earn three points per dollar at Hyatt hotels and resorts, two points per dollar at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline and at car rental agencies, and one point per dollar everywhere else.

The Big Extras: You’ll get a free night at a Category 1-4 hotel every year after your account anniversary. Cardholders also receive automatic Discoverist status, which entitles them to a preferred room within the room type booked upon arrival, premium internet, a 2 p.m. late check-out upon request and more. They’ll receive Explorist status if they spend $50,000 or more in a calendar year, which grants you guaranteed room availability up to 72 hours in advance and four Club lounge access awards. This card has no foreign transaction fees.

Why We’re Mentioning It: This card, also issued by Chase, touts a whole lot of perks for Hyatt visitors, not to mention free nights begin at just 5,000 points.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year

Purchase APR: Variable 16.99% to 23.99%

Signup Bonus: New cardholders can earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening, equivalent to $625 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards. They can earn 5,000 bonus points if they add an authorized user and make a purchase within the same timeframe.

Base Rewards: Cardholders earn two points per dollar on travel and dining and one point per dollar on all other purchases.

The Big Extras: You’ll get a bevy of travel perks, like an auto rental collision damage waiver, trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement and baggage delay insurance.

Why We’re Mentioning It: Marriott and Hyatt aren’t the only hotels Chase partners with — IHG and Ritz-Carlton are also on the list, and you can transfer the points you earn with your Chase Sapphire Preferred card to those loyalty programs at a one-to-one value.

Wyndham Rewards Visa Card — $75 Annual Fee Version

Barclaycard Wyndham Credit Card

Annual Fee: $75

Purchase APR: Variable 16.24%, 20.99% or 25.99%

Signup Bonus: New cardholders get 15,000 bonus points after they sign up for the card and complete their first purchase or balance transfer. They’ll earn an additional $15,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases within 90 days of opening the account.

Base Rewards: Cardholders earn five points per dollar spent on eligible Wyndham hotel purchases, two points per dollar on eligible gas, utility and grocery store purchases (excluding Wal-Mart and Target) and one point per dollar spent everywhere else (excluding Wyndham timeshare down payments).    

The Big Extras: Cardholders will earn 6,000 bonus points every year after their account anniversary. They’ll also receive Wyndham Platinum level status so long as the account remains open. Platinum level status entitles patrons to perks, including preferred rooms, early check-in, late check-out, Avis and Budget Car Rental upgrades and an extra 3,000 points each year. (If your Wyndham Rewards Platinum Level is in effect on January 1 of any given year, you’ll get those bonus points by February 1 of that year.) There are no foreign transaction fees.

Why We’re Mentioning it: If Wyndham is your chain of choice and you travel frequently, this sweet suite of perks could prove useful.

Wyndham Rewards Visa Card — No Annual Fee Version

Annual Fee: $0

Purchase APR: Variable 16.24%, 20.99% or 25.99%  

Signup Bonus: New cardholders earn 15,000 bonus points after you sign up for the card and complete your first purchase or balance transfer.

Base Rewards: Cardholders earn three points per dollar on eligible Wyndham hotel purchases, two points per dollar on eligible gas, utility and grocery store purchases (excluding Wal-Mart and Target) and one point per dollar everywhere else (excluding Wyndham timeshare down payments).   

The Big Extras: Cardholders receive Wyndham Gold level status so long as the account remains open. Gold level status entitles you to benefits, including a dedicated member services line, preferred room requests and late check-out. The card also comes with concierge service and skips foreign transaction fees.

Why We’re Mentioning It: If you’re looking for a low-cost hotel rewards credit card — and Wyndham resorts are a personal fav — this card is a solid option.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Annual Fee: $59, waived the first year

Purchase APR: Variable 13.99% to 23.99%

Signup Bonus: New cardholders can earn a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles if they spend $3,000 within three months of account opening.

Base Rewards: Cardholders earn two miles per dollar on every purchase.

The Big Extras: You’ll get Visa Signature benefits, including complimentary travel upgrades and shopping discounts, complimentary concierge service, an auto rental collision damage waiver and an extended warranty. This card has no foreign transaction fees.

Why We’re Mentioning it: Capital One’s general-purpose travel credit card is a great option for anyone who doesn’t want to think too hard about where to stay in order to get the most out of their plastic. Miles don’t expire and can be redeemed for any airline, hotel or travel purchase.  

How to Pick a Hotel Rewards Credit Card

When choosing an airline mileage card, many people focus on the carrier that offers the best service at their home airport. But when choosing a hotel rewards credit card, it’s all about the destinations you will be visiting. While most hotel chains will have competing locations in major cities, you might wish to earn points with a program that offers great properties at your favorite vacation spots.

When comparing credit cards, you need to scrutinize the terms of a hotel’s loyalty program before you commit. Check to see how many points are required for an award night and whether the program offers any unsold rooms available as an award night or imposes capacity controls that may limit your use of points.

You should also examine how many points you will receive for various types of purchases and compare it to the number of points you need to earn an award night. Also take note of any perks and benefits offered to cardholders such as late check-outs, room upgrades and free breakfast.

Finally, you’ll want to look at the terms of the credit card itself, not just its rewards program. Annual and foreign transaction fees are important to figuring out if the card is right for you. As with other types of reward cards, hotel cards should be used by those who avoid interest charges by paying each month’s statement balance in full. Otherwise, you will be better off focusing on cards that have low interest rates as opposed to rewards.

At publishing time, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture Rewards credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, these relationships do not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

 

Jeanine Skowronski contributed reporting to this article. It was previously updated on June 6, 2017.


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