Best Hotel Credit Cards of October 2019

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Using hotel cards can help you earn extra travel rewards and access perks like free nights and room upgrades. Some of the best hotel credit cards offer valuable sign-up bonuses, too. In some cases, the value of a hotel chain’s loyalty program can be boosted by opening a co-branded hotel credit card. It all comes down to how you travel and where you want to stay. 

The results are in, and these are the best hotel cards available right now:

Editors' Picks

Best Overall

World of Hyatt Credit Card

Our Rating Among Hotel Cards
4.9
World of Hyatt Credit Card
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 17.99% - 24.99% variable
Annual Fee $95
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 4X points for Hyatt stays, 2x for eligible transit, restaurants, gym memberships, and airfare purchased directly from the airline. 1x on other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%

Why We Chose This Card

This card is the best co-branded hotel card and our top pick overall, thanks to its high-value rewards points and generous rewards program. There’s an ample sign-up bonus worth up to $750 based on our valuation of Hyatt points. You can earn extra points on more than just Hyatt purchases, like airline tickets, cab fare, and even your gym membership. Perks and a free annual hotel stay can pay for the annual fee. You have to stay at Hyatt hotels to maximize this card, but if you can, it’s a winner.

Best Sign-Up Bonus

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Our Rating Among Hotel Cards
5.0
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 17.99% - 24.99% variable
Annual Fee $95
Rewards Earning Rate 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%

Why We Chose This Card

The card’s 60,000-point bonus is very competitive for a travel card with a moderate annual fee. It’s a great hotel card bonus because, based on our calculations, it may be worth up to $750 when redeemed for hotel reservations or other travel purchases through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal or when you transfer points to the World of Hyatt program.

Best for High-Value Points

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Our Rating Among Hotel Cards
5.0
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Excellent
Regular APR (%) 18.99% - 25.99% variable
Annual Fee $450
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3x points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit, 3X points on dining at restaurants, and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%

Why We Chose This Card

When you use points to book hotel stays through the Ultimate Rewards portal, they are worth 1.5 cents each, which is outstanding. Plus, you can use points to pay for reservations with a variety of hotel brands instead of just one, making it our top pick for travelers who like flexibility, too. Yes, there’s a premium annual fee, but the sign-up bonus, statement credits, travel benefits, and flexibility make this a solid hotel card that can be worth the fee.

Best for Businesses

Ink Business Unlimited

Our Rating Among Hotel Cards
3.7
Ink Business Unlimited
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.24% - 21.24% variable
Annual Fee $0
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Months
Cash Advance APR (%) 26.99%
Cash Advance Fee Either $15 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.

Why We Chose This Card

This card offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, which makes it super easy to earn rewards on business expenses that can be used for hotel stays when you travel. You can redeem rewards through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, which means you’ll have a variety of hotels to choose from when you book through the online portal, too. As an added bonus, this business card doesn’t charge an annual fee.

Find Your Credit Card Match

We consider travel rewards, perks, and fees the most important things you should consider when choosing a travel credit card, but we know you might have different priorities. See what suits you best.
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Your Results

What Are Hotel Credit Cards?

When we use the term “hotel credit cards,” we’re referring to any credit cards that reward users with extra points on hotel stays and perks like free nights and room upgrades. Like many other kinds of travel cards, the best hotel credit cards also offer sign-up bonuses worth hundreds of dollars to new cardholders who meet a spending requirement.

Many hotel cards are also tied to a major hotel chain, such as Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, or Best Western. Those are co-branded cards issued by big banks (think Chase or American Express) and paired with hotel loyalty programs to offer extra points and perks. Co-branded hotel cards often boast extra hotel brand benefits, like automatic loyalty status upgrades, and statement credits for using the card at certain hotels. 

We also include in our definition general travel cards that reward hotel purchases with points that can be redeemed for hotel stays, but the cards aren’t connected to a specific hotel chain. The cards might not be branded with a hotel logo, but we still consider them hotel rewards cards.

How Hotel Credit Cards Work

General travel cards and co-branded hotel cards often dole out points based on purchase types. The best hotel cards reward hotel stays the most, usually several points per $1 spent. Secondary spending categories may include restaurant, gas, or grocery purchases that earn fewer points. All other purchases typically earn just 1 point per $1. 

Overall, hotel points aren’t high-value rewards. The Balance found most hotel points in the top six chains are worth less than 1 cent each. Hyatt offers the most valuable hotel-branded points, valued at 1.48 each when redeemed for hotel stays. Meanwhile, Hilton points offer the lowest value, worth 0.34 cents each. General travel rewards cards offer more value per point, but lack hotel-specific perks offered by co-branded cards. 

Co-branded hotel card points are best used for hotel stays within the brand. Some programs may allow point transfers to airlines or other travel partners, but those options are rarely a good value. General travel card points are more flexible, and hotel stays are just one of many reward options.

Benefits & Drawbacks of Hotel Credit Cards

Pros

  • Earn more points on hotel stays

  • Valuable sign-up bonuses

  • Points can be used for free nights at hotels and resorts

  • Co-branded hotel cards offer additional perks like elite status

  • Some hotel cards offer travel perks like travel accident and lost luggage insurance

Cons

  • Limits on what purchases earn the most points (e.g., no extra points on car rentals, just hotel stays)

  • Low point values for many cards

  • Hotel award night costs vary greatly based on hotel quality, time of year, and room type

  • Annual fees on many cards

  • Higher purchase APRs than non-rewards cards

  • Few earn points on everyday purchases such as gas and groceries

Who a Hotel Credit Card Is Good For

  • Brand loyalists: If you love a particular hotel chain, a co-branded hotel card will reward your loyalty with more points and benefits.
  • Frequent travelers: If you stay at hotels often, you’ll earn more points, which will give a hotel card more value since most don’t highly reward other purchases. You’ll also enjoy other travel benefits, which can recoup annual fee costs. 
  • Those with good credit: You'll need a credit score of 670 or higher to qualify for a hotel credit card. 
  • Elite status fans: Many hotel credit cards offer automatic loyalty status, which is great if you crave membership perks that are otherwise only given to big spenders.

Who a Hotel Credit Card Isn’t Good For

  • Homebodies: If you don’t want to stay in hotels often, you’re better off with a cash-back card. You can then use the cash back to pay for anything you want. 
  • Shoppers who want to earn more points on everyday expenses: Some hotel cards offer rewards on expenses like groceries, but they aren’t the best cards for maximizing rewards on such purchases. 
  • Balance revolvers: Most hotel cards have low-value points and high APRs, so you’ll lose the value of any rewards you earn if you carry a card balance month-to-month. 

How to Make the Most of Hotel Credit Cards

  • Spend enough to earn the sign-up bonus.
  • Review terms to understand reward redemption terms and hotel loyalty perks, as applicable.
  • Use free night rewards.
  • For co-branded cards, only stay at hotels within the brand network to earn the most rewards.
  • Use co-branded cards to book reservations directly with the hotel. 
  • Take advantage of any free extra perks while you travel.
  • If the card charges an annual fee, spend enough—or use card benefits enough—to make up the cost.
  • Pay off your balance each month.
  • Pair a hotel card with a different type of reward card for non-travel spending.

How to Sign Up for a Hotel Credit Card

  1. Pick the best card for you from this list.
  2. Visit the card application page.
  3. Enter your personal information accurately, including your Social Security number and annual income.
  4. Submit for approval.

Important

If you don’t receive a decision right away, be patient. Some issuers may need more time. To learn more, read this article about applying for a new credit card

Methodology

At The Balance, it's our mission to give you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews. To do this, we collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances.

Our reviews are always impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive.

About This List

While four cards made this best hotel cards list, The Balance reviewed more than 50 credit cards to find the very best hotel cards. Both co-branded hotel cards and general travel cards were evaluated for this round-up, and we update this list monthly (or when there have been significant changes to the hotel-credit-card landscape). 

What We Score

Cards with flexible redemption options, lots of excellent perks, and unlimited earning potential receive higher scores, while cards with very low point values, few benefits, limited reward options, and high sign-up bonus spending requirements get lower scores. To learn more about how The Balance evaluates credit card quality, read our full credit card review methodology.