Best Hotel Credit Cards for Points & Free Nights

Best Hotel Credit Cards for Points & Free Nights

10th August 2019 Off By admin

INSIDER SECRET: It may sound counterintuitive, but a co-branded hotel credit card may not be your best bet when it comes to getting free stays.
Best Hotel Credit Cards 2019


Thursday January 01, 1970

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: Best credit card for easy-to-redeem rewards
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express® Card: Best premium credit card for Marriott hotel stays
Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express : Best credit card for top-tier hotel elite status
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Best credit card for mid-tier hotel elite status
The World of Hyatt Credit Card: Best credit card for a balance of hotel value and comfort
Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card: Best hotel credit card with no annual fee


Thursday January 01, 1970

There are two big expenses when you travel: airfare and hotels. Fortunately, both are laughably easy to get for free.
The glamorous hotel stay is often the more costly item. Many of the best credit cards for travel come with welcome bonuses and ongoing benefits that can unlock free nights in five-star resorts (or regular ol’ hotels, if that’s your choice). But which card is right for you?
It depends mostly on your travel goals. I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the best hotel credit card offers, so you can open the one that will fulfill your travel dreams.
Many of the best hotel credit cards give you amazing hotel experiences, like a free stay at the all-inclusive Hyatt Zilara in Cancun. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)
How to Choose the Best Hotel Credit Card
To have a cheap (or free) hotel stay, be willing to look past “hotel” credit cards. Instead, choose a flexible rewards card for general travel, which can be used for other things like airlines and car rentals, too. Just because your favorite hotel chain is Hyatt doesn’t mean the Hyatt card is your best bet.
You should absolutely use one of the best hotel credit cards to earn the most points for your booking, and start by navigating through an online shopping portal.
Check a shopping portal like CashBackMonitor or Evreward to see which portals are offering the most cash back, bank points, or airline miles for a particular hotel chain or brand. Once you click through the shopping portal, you’ll be redirected to the hotel website to complete your reservation. You’ll still be booking directly with the hotel to earn points and stay credits, and your elite status perks will be honored.
Here’s a quick breakdown of each card’s bonus offer, best perk, and annual fee.


Thursday January 01, 1970

Credit Card Intro Bonus OfferBest PerkAnnual Fee

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account openingUnlimited 2X miles on all purchases$95, waived the first year

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. Terms Apply.Up to $300 annual statement credit for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, including room rates! Terms Apply.$450 (see rates and fees)

Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express
150,000 Hilton points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Terms Apply.Up to $250 Hilton resort credit each card-member year and up to $250 airline fee credit with your selected airline each calendar year. Terms Apply.$450 (see rates and fees)

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
130,000 Hilton points PLUS one weekend night after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Terms Apply.Complimentary Hilton Gold status and one weekend night after spending $15,000 on purchases each calendar year. Terms Apply.$95 (See Rates and Fees)

The World of Hyatt Credit Card
Up to 50,000 Hyatt points after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements.
One free night each anniversary year at a category 1 to 4 Hyatt hotel or resort.$95

Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card
50,000 Marriott points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months of account openingNo annual fee$0

Capital One Venture Card
Apply Here: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Read our review of the Capital One Venture

Card Bonus: The Capital One Venture card comes with 50,000 Venture miles (worth $500 in travel) after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months. What does that mean for you?
Capital One Venture miles are worth 1 cent each. You can use Capital One miles for nearly any travel purchase, including hotels, without having to worry about searching for available award nights. It might just be the simplest card for getting free travel, let alone hotel nights.
Card Benefits: When you spend with this card, you’ll earn 2 Venture miles per $1 you spend on all purchases. That’s effectively 2% back. You’ll also earn 10 Venture miles per $1 you spend on hotel stays booked and paid for through this Hotels.com link (through January 31, 2020).
To redeem your miles for travel, just buy travel like you normally would with your card. Then, you have 90 days to sign in to your online account, find the travel purchase and “erase” it with your miles.
The card also comes with Global Entry and TSA PreCheck, trusted-traveler programs designed to help folks spend less time (and experience fewer headaches) at security checkpoints. For example, with TSA PreCheck, you can pass through security without taking off your shoes, belt or light jacket. You also won’t need to remove your laptop and liquids from your bag.
When you pay for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application with the Capital One Venture, you’ll get a statement credit waiving the fee (between $85 and $100).
Some cards charge fees for swiping outside of the US. This card has no foreign transaction fees.
Annual Fee: The card’s $95 annual fee is waived the first year. With the great welcome bonus, it’s a definite no-brainer for the first year.
Our Take
This card is particularly good if you want to stay at a hotel that doesn’t have a loyalty program, like boutique hotels or a hotel off the beaten path.
During a trip to Mexico, my wife and I stayed at an amazing hotel called Beloved Playa Mujeres. The hotel doesn’t have a loyalty program or a co-branded credit card. But if you have the Capital One Venture, you can book into any hotel. Just buy your nights and erase the purchase with your Venture miles later.
You can use Capital One Venture miles for nearly any travel purchase, including hotels that don’t have a loyalty program, like the Beloved Playa Mujeres in Mexico. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)
Note that the card’s return is effectively 2% back, which you can earn with some no-annual-fee cards. You can transfer your points to various airline partners for a better return, but otherwise you’ll have to decide if the card’s other benefits are worth the yearly fee.
Further Reading:

Capital One Rewards Review
Best Way to Use Capital One Miles
Capital One Transfer Partners
How to Use Capital One Miles

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex
Apply Here: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express® Card
Read our Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex Review

Card Bonus: With the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express® Card, you can earn 75,000 Marriott points after meeting minimum spending requirements. That’s enough for multiple nights at family-friendly hotels like Springhill Suites, or for a splurge night at luxury brands like Ritz Carlton.
Card Benefits: When you spend with this card, you’ll receive:

6 Marriott points per $1 at Marriott hotels
3 Marriott points per $1 at US restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines
2 Marriott points per $1 on everything else

You can use the annual statement credit from Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex to splurge on a meal at the Octave Rooftop Lounge & Bar at the Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit. (Photo by Stephane Bidouze/Shutterstock)
The welcome offer isn’t the only reason to get the card. Cardholders also have access to a host of other perks that can save you money and make your travel easier. For instance, there is up to $300 in annual statement credit to use each card membership year at participating Marriott hotels (including room charges), an annual free night (at participating Marriott hotels worth up to 50,000 points) after you renew your card, and more.
Check out this guide for an in-depth look at the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex benefits.
Annual Fee: The card comes with a $450 annual fee (See Rates & Fees), but the card’s money-saving benefits can more than offset the annual fee. Meghan, a team member at Million Mile Secrets, has this card and already used her Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex annual statement credit for a meal at the Ritz Carlton Bacara in Santa Barbara.
Our Take
If you stay at a Marriott hotel at least once a year, this card is worth it for the annual free night and up to $300 in annual statement credit. If you use the free night at an otherwise expensive hotel and add in the value you’ll get from the annual statement credit, the annual fee is well worth it.
You can redeem Marriott points for award stays at these hotel brands:

AC Hotels by Marriott
Aloft
Autograph Collection Hotels
Courtyard by Marriott
Delta
Design
EDITION
Element
Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott
Gaylord Hotels
JW Marriott
Le Meridien
Marriott Executive Apartments
Marriott Hotels
Marriott Vacation Club
Moxy Hotels
Protea Hotels
Renaissance Hotels
Residence Inn by Marriott
Ritz-Carlton
Ritz-Carlton Reserve
Sheraton
Springhill Suites by Marriott
St. Regis
The Luxury Collection
TownePlace Suites by Marriott
Tribute
Westin
W

Further Reading:

Marriott Bonvoy Review
Marriott Points Value
Best Way to Use Marriott Points
Marriott Award Chart

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
Apply Here: Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express
Read our review of the Hilton Aspire

With the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express, you’ll earn 150,000 Hilton points after spending $4,000 in purchases on the card within your first three months of card membership
That’s a lot of points.
You could use 150,000 points to stay three nights at The Morrison, a DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton in Dublin. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)
Card Benefits: This card comes with one weekend night each year, which you can use at most Hilton hotels. And you’ll get an additional weekend night if you spend $60,000 on your card in a calendar year. So you could end up with a whole weekend at a five-star hotel in a prime destination, like the London Hilton on Park Lane, which costs $450+ per night.
The card also comes with:

14 Hilton points per $1 spent at a Hilton hotel or resort (highest earning rate of any Hilton card)
7 Hilton points per $1 of eligible purchases at US restaurants, flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, and car rentals booked directly with select car rental companies
3 Hilton points for all other eligible purchases on your card

You’ll also receive automatic Hilton Diamond status, which is insane because it takes 30 stays or 60 nights to achieve. With Diamond Status, you’ll rack up Hilton points way faster and you’ll get upgrades and free breakfast.
The card comes with $250 in airline incidental credits and $250 in statement credits at participating Hilton resorts every year. If you max out those benefits alone, you’ll get a value $50 greater than the annual fee ($250 airline credit + $250 Hilton resort credit = $500 in credits minus the $450 annual fee).
You’ll get a $250 credit to use at Hilton resorts, like the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the island of Hawaii. (Photo by dirkr/Shutterstock)
I probably wouldn’t take full advantage of the incidental fee credit, which reimburses for things like checked baggage, seat upgrades, etc. But the other benefits of the card make it worth the fee, especially if you don’t have a card that grants you airport lounge access.
You can also get $100 in credits on qualifying charges (room rates and fees do not qualify) for every stay of two or more nights at a Waldorf Astoria or Conrad hotel. But you must book through the Amex Hilton Aspire card website to verify that you’re eligible for the credit.
You’ll get unlimited free Priority Pass lounge visits as long as you hold the card and no foreign transaction fees (See Rates & Fees).
As you can see, Hilton is showering Amex Hilton Aspire card members with credits, bonuses and benefits. If you frequently stay at Hilton hotels, this is an excellent card for you.
Annual Fee: The card has an annual fee of $450 (See Rates & Fees).
Our Take
I know big annual fees can be scary, but what’s even scarier is losing money because you neglected to crunch a few numbers. The Amex Hilton Aspire comes with a mountain of benefits that make it worth the extra cost. The weekend nights alone can easily make it worth paying the annual fee.
If you like staying with Hilton, this card is truly a no-brainer. The statement credits and top-tier elite status can transform your Hilton stays.
Further Reading:

Hilton Honors Review
Hilton Points Value
Hilton Status
Best Use of Hilton Points

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
Apply Here: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
Read our review of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

Card Bonus: If you’re a Hilton fan, you need to take the Amex Hilton Surpass card seriously. You can earn 130,000 Hilton points plus one weekend night after you spend $4,000 in purchases with your new card within the first three months of opening your account. This offer ends on August 28, 2019.
These points aren’t as valuable as other hotel points because top-end Hilton hotels can cost 95,000 points per night.
That’s still a ton of points, though.
Card Benefits: The card also comes with:

12 Hilton points per $1 spent at a Hilton hotel or resort
6 Hilton points per $1 of eligible purchases at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations
3 Hilton points for all other eligible purchases on your card

You’ll receive complimentary Hilton Gold status, which comes with bonus points for hotel stays, room upgrades when available, free breakfast and lots more. Because the card has no foreign transaction fees (See Rates & Fees), it’s good to use for hotels abroad.
If you’re a big spender who likes staying with Hilton, this card is up your alley. You’ll earn one weekend night after spending $15,000 on purchases each calendar year. And if you spend $40,000 in a calendar year, you’ll earn Hilton Diamond status. That will help you rack up Hilton points way faster (100% bonus on base points), and the upgrades and free breakfasts will revolutionize your hotel experience.
Another unique feature of the card is that you get 10 free airport lounge visits each year once enrolled in complimentary Priority Pass Select membership.
Annual Fee: The card has a $95 annual fee (See Rates & Fees). Earning the weekend night each year easily justifies paying for the annual fee. You could use it at a super-fancy hotel that normally costs hundreds per night.
Our Take
I use them exclusively for very low-category hotels because that’s where I find the best value.
For example, the gorgeous Conrad Tokyo costs upward of $350 per night but you’ll have to pay 95,000 Hilton points for the same room. That means you’ll get a value of just ~0.37 cents per point ($350 per night/95,000 points)
But if you use your points on a lower-cost hotel, you’ll often get a better value. You can book six nights at the Hampton Inn Dayton/Dayton Mall, and hang out with me for a week. The hotel can sell for $200 per night, depending on the season. And it costs 20,000 points per night, giving you a value of 1 cent per point ($200 per night/20,000 points).
Hampton Inn hotels are usually grouped with the lower-end hotels, but a free stay is a free stay. (Photo by Felix Mizioznikov/Shutterstock)
If Hilton doesn’t make a frequent appearance within your travel goals, this is not a good card for you. Hilton hotels include:

Conrad
Canopy
Curio
DoubleTree
Embassy Suites
Hampton Inn
Hilton
Hilton Garden Inn
Hilton Grand Vacations
Home2 Suites
Homewood Suites
Tru
Waldorf Astoria

Further Reading:

Hilton Honors Review
Hilton Points Value
Hilton Status
Best Use of Hilton Points

The World of Hyatt Credit Card
Apply Here: The World of Hyatt Credit Card
Read our review of the Hyatt Credit Card

With The World of Hyatt Credit Card, you can earn up to 50,000 Hyatt points after meeting tiered spending requirements. You’ll earn:

25,000 bonus Hyatt points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening your account
Another 25,000 bonus Hyatt points after you spend an additional $3,000 on purchases within the first six months of opening your account

That’s a great bonus, considering you can reserve astronomically expensive hotels, like the five-star Park Hyatt Paris Vendome, for 30,000 Hyatt points per night. Rooms at that hotel can go for $900+ per night.
Phenomenal colors from my balcony at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)
Card Benefits: With this card, you’ll earn:

9 Hyatt points per $1 spent at Hyatt – 4 bonus points per $1 when you use your card at Hyatt hotels and 5 base points per $1 you can earn as a World of Hyatt member
2 Hyatt points per $1 on restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airlines, on local transit and commuting and on fitness club and gym memberships
1 Hyatt point per $1 on everything else

You’ll also get an additional free night at a Category 1 to 4 Hyatt hotel or resort after spending $15,000 in an anniversary year.
This card comes with automatic Hyatt Discoverist status, which gives you more bonus points per stay, upgrades to a preferred room based on availability at check-in, late checkout upon request and more. Plus, you’ll be able to climb the elite status ladder quickly because you’ll receive five-qualifying-night credits every year and two-qualifying-night credits after every $5,000 you spend on the card.
This card has no foreign transaction fees.
Hyatt hotels include:

Andaz
Grand Hyatt
Hyatt
Hyatt Centric
Hyatt House
Hyatt Place
Hyatt Regency
Hyatt Residence Club
Hyatt Zilara and Hyatt Ziva
Miraval
Park Hyatt
… and more

Annual Fee: This card has a $95 annual fee, which is not waived the first year. But the free night each anniversary year at a Category 1 to 4 Hyatt hotel or resort can easily offset that price. Million Mile Secrets team member Scott has held onto his Hyatt card for years because of this annual free night.
Our Take
Hyatt is a Million Mile Secrets favorite. They have great hotels with a balance of value and comfort.
A unique perk of using Hyatt points is that you don’t have to worry about blackout dates. If Hyatt is selling a standard-level room, you can reserve it with points. There are some quirks and exceptions at certain hotels where you’ll inexplicably have difficulty finding available rooms (Andaz Maui). But I’ve found this benefit to be extremely valuable.
I spent a night at the Hyatt House Charleston Historic District during the Great American Eclipse. The hotel was packed, and rooms were selling for $500+ per night. I was able to reserve a room for just 12,000 Hyatt points. That’s a value of ~4.1 cents per point ($500 per night/12,000 Hyatt points).
Because this is a Category 3 hotel, you can use the annual free night that comes with The World of Hyatt Credit Card. That offsets the annual fee many times over.
Note: If you see a base hotel room available on the Hyatt website, but it’s not showing any available reward nights, you can call Hyatt and they’ll book the room for you.
Further Reading:

Hyatt Points Review
Hyatt Points Value
Best Use of Hyatt Points
Hyatt Award Chart

Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card
Apply Here: Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card
Read our review of the Chase Marriott Bonvoy Bold

Card Bonus: This brand new card comes with a welcome bonus of 50,000 Marriott points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
That’s enough for six or more nights at a Category 1 hotel like TownePlace Suites Chicago Elgin/West Dundee, or a splurge on a night at a Category 6 resort like the Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Ka’anapali. And you can keep the card forever (and potentially boost your credit score) because it has no annual fee.
Card Benefits: When spending with this card, you’ll earn:

3 Marriott points per dollar spent at participating Marriott hotels
2 Marriott points per dollar spent on travel
1 Marriott points per dollar spent on all other purchases
15 elite night credits each calendar year (which qualifies you for Silver Marriott Bonvoy elite status)

Redeem points from the Marriott Bonvoy Bold card at family-friendly hotels like Residence Inn. (Photo courtesy of Marriott)
Annual Fee: If you like collecting Marriott Bonvoy points but prefer a card with no annual fee, the Marriott Bonvoy Bold card is the card for you. It’s got no annual fee, so there’s no risk whatsoever.
Our Take
It’s good that Marriott is giving us more credit card options. More options means more ways to earn points.
This is certainly a bare-bones card, though. In exchange for no annual fee, you won’t get any fancy perks that you’ll find on other Marriott cards, like annual free nights, statement credits and the like. Do the math to see if it’s actually worth paying an annual fee. If not, the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card is no slouch.

Further Reading:

Marriott Bonvoy Review
Marriott Points Value
Best Way to Use Marriott Points
Marriott Award Chart

Bottom Line
There are plenty of options when it comes to hotel cards.
If you don’t like the hassle of juggling different hotel points or searching for available reward nights, you might prefer the Capital One Venture, which you can use to get free nights because you can use them for any hotel stay. You don’t have to stick with the chain hotels that have loyalty programs.
If you’re looking for a high-end experience, consider the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex or Amex Hilton Aspire Card. Both come with premium perks like complimentary elite status and hundreds of dollars in statement credits at participating hotels. The $300 in Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex credits that team member Meghan gets with her Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex makes it one of her favorite hotel credit card perks because it’s so easy to use.
For those who prefer a card with no annual fee, the Marriott Bonvoy Bold card is a solid choice.
Let us know your favorite hotel card in the comments. And tell me if your preferred card isn’t on the list, so we can squabble about who’s right.
For more information regarding hotel loyalty programs and how to save on hotel stays, check out these guides:

Marriott Bonvoy Review
Hilton Honors Review
Why Flexible Rewards Are Great for Family Hotel Stays
11 Insider Tips: Here’s How to Save Money on Hotels

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