Best Hotel Credit Cards of September 2021

Travel Cards With Valuable Hotel Rewards and Bonus Offers

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The best hotel credit cards dominate because they offer high-value rewards, ample sign-up bonuses or your choice of hotels. Besides awarding points or cash back on purchases, hotel cards have perks like free nights and room upgrades. In some cases, opening a co-branded card can get you more value from the loyalty program for a particular chain. It all comes down to how you travel and where you want to stay.  

We carefully reviewed hundreds of cards, and the results are in. These are the best hotel cards available right now.

Best Hotel Credit Cards of September 2021

Best Overall : The Platinum Card® from American Express


Our Rating Among Hotel Cards
4.7
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Current Offer

Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards(R) Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.

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 (%) 15.99% - 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $695
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 5X Membership Rewards(R) Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year. Earn 5X Membership Rewards(R) Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%

See rates and fees

  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

It’s not branded by a hotel, and we love the flexibility this card offers as a result (not to mention its generous rewards). You’ll get 5 points per $1 spent on prepaid hotel reservations booked through amextravel.com (and on flights booked with the airline or through Amex). That’s a competitive earning rate given the average value of American Express Membership Rewards Points (1.1 cents each). We estimate that this card’s welcome offer is worth about $1,110, or more if transferred to a travel partner loyalty program. There is a steep annual fee, but considering this card has valuable travel perks like a $200 travel statement credit benefit and automatic elite membership status with Hilton or Marriott, we think it’s worth the cost.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Lots of high-value travel perks, such as access to participating airport lounges

  • Great rewards rate on eligible flights and hotel stays

  • Many ways to redeem rewards, including options to transfer to participating frequent flyer programs

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons
  • Low rewards rate for non-travel purchases

  • Financing options are limited

  • High annual fee

Highlights:
  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases in your first six months.
  • Chose an eligible airline and receive a $200 annual airline fee credit.
  • Enjoy Global Lounge Collection access as a cardholder, which includes access to the Centurion Lounge.

Read the full The Platinum Card from American Express review

Best With No Annual Fee : Hotels.com Rewards Visa Credit Card


Our Rating Among Hotel Cards
4.3
Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card
Current Offer

Limited Time Offer! Get 2 reward nights worth $250 total (max $125 per night)*, when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. *Excludes taxes and fees. If a night costs less than $125, you won’t get the difference.

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 (%) 14.99% - 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Spend $500 on the card to collect 1 stamp. 10 stamps equals 1 reward night worth $110
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

If you aren’t loyal to a particular hotel chain and want a flexible, low-cost way to earn rewards on hotel stays, this is our pick for you. This card has an unusual rewards scheme (it offers 1 stamp for every $500 spent instead of points), but the rewards are quite valuable, essentially giving you 2.2% back on all Hotels.com purchases when you use them to book additional hotel stays. This no-annual-fee hotel rewards card also offers automatic elite status within the Hotels.com loyalty program, which offers some nice travel perks like complimentary WiFi and breakfast at participating hotels. Those types of perks are usually found on more luxe cards, so they are solid additions.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Hotel booking flexibility

  • Automatic Silver status for one year

  • Excellent rewards earning rate

Cons
  • No bonus earnings when you pay for a Hotels.com booking with the card

  • There are some program loopholes to watch for

  • Rewards can expire after 12 months

Highlights:
  • Limited time intro offer: Get two reward nights worth $250 when you spend $1,000 within 3 months.
  • No annual fee.
  • No foreign transaction fee.
  • Cellphone protection insurance benefit.
  • Silver membership offers free breakfast, airport transfers, and WiFi and select hotel properties.

Read the full Hotels.com Rewards Visa Credit Card review

Best for Fans of Marriott : Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ Credit Card®


Our Rating Among Hotel Cards
4.3
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
Current Offer

Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $200 in Statement Credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

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 (%) 15.74% - 24.74% variable
Annual Fee $450
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy(TM) program. 3 points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines. 2 points on all other eligible purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%

See rates and fees

  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

This is a great card for loyal Marriott customers, thanks to its generous array of travel and hotel benefits. The $450 annual fee is steep, but the statement credits alone make up for the majority of that cost. (You’re eligible for up to to $300 in credits each year toward eligible Marriott purchases.) Plus, you’ll have unlimited access to participating airport lounges and automatic Gold Elite status with the Marriott Bonvoy program. To top it all off, there is a bonus of 75,000 points for spending $3,000 within three months of opening an account.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • New cardholder bonus value beats what competing cards offer

  • Extra points on flight purchases, which is uncommon among hotel cards

  • Packed with all sorts of travel benefits that make the steep annual fee worth it

  • Automatic elite status, which offers perks like room upgrades and higher hotel earning rates

Cons
  • Transferring points to partner airline loyalty programs reduces their value

Highlights:
  • Earn 75,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of Card Membership.
  • $300 annual Marriott Bonvoy statement credit for eligible purchases.
  • $100 Marriott Bonvoy property credit on eligible stays.
  • Card Members can enroll in Priority Pass Select, which offers unlimited visits to over 1,200 lounges in over 130 countries.

Read the full Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Credit Card review

Best for Fans of Hilton : Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card


Our Rating Among Hotel Cards
4.2
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
Current Offer

Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.

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 (%) 15.74% - 24.74% variable
Annual Fee $450
Rewards Earning Rate 14 points per $1 for eligible Hilton purchases. 7 points per $1 on eligible flight, car rental, and U.S. restaurant purchases. 3 points per $1 on all other eligible purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

This card has a hefty annual fee, but it’s jam-packed with benefits frequent travelers will love. Besides unlimited access to participating airport lounges, you’ll get one complimentary weekend night annually, up to $600 in travel-related statement credits each year, and elite Diamond guest status within the Hilton Honors program. Plus, of all of the Hilton-branded credit cards, this one pays the highest rewards-earning rate on Hilton purchases and the biggest bonus for new cardholders. 

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Outstanding earning rate on Hilton purchases

  • Automatic Hilton Honors Diamond Status, which is the highest loyalty program level and offers a slew of hotel perks

  • Comes with Priority Pass Select membership, which gives you and two guests access to more than 1,200 airport lounges

Cons
  • High annual fee is not worth it if you don’t use the premium travel perks

  • Grocery and gas purchases don’t earn extra points like they do with other Hilton-branded cards

Highlights:
  • Earn 150,000 points after you spend $4,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first three months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 14 points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.
  • You'll earn 7x Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, and on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies.
  • You'll earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status.
  • Receive one weekend night reward with your new Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card and every year after renewal.

Read the full Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card review

Best for Fans of IHG : IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card


Our Rating Among Hotel Cards
4.1
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Current Offer

Earn 150,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 month from account opening. Plus, earn 10,000 bonus points after you spend $20,000 on purchases and make one additional purchase each account anniversary year.

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 (%) 15.99% - 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $0 Intro fee for the first year. After that, $89.
Rewards Earning Rate Earn up to 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel, 2 points at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants, and 1 point on all other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

It's a stellar card if you frequent IHG hotels such as Holiday Inn or Crowne Plaza. In addition to a great earning rate on hotel purchases—10 points per $1 spent—the welcome bonus is quite generous for a card with a modest annual fee. Spend $3,000 within your first three months and you’ll earn 150,000 bonus points worth about $1,110 when redeemed for hotel stays, based on our calculations. Plus, you'll get an extra 10,000 points each year you spend $20,000 plus an additional purchase. Cardholders also get automatic Platinum elite status, which comes with perks like complimentary room upgrades, and an award night at a qualifying hotel when your account renews each year.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Generous rewards on IHG hotel and resort purchases

  • Competitive bonus for new cardholders

  • Automatic VIP status with the IHG loyalty programs means lots of extra perks for frequent guests

Cons
  • Reward points are worth less than 1 cent each on average, based on our research, which is low

  • Terrible transfer rate when moving rewards to a partner airline loyalty program

Highlights:
  • Earn 150,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Cardmembers receive Platinum Elite status.
  • Enjoy a reward night after each account anniversary year at IHG hotels worldwide.
  • Enjoy a reward night when you redeem points for any stay of 4 or more nights.

Read the full IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card review

For Travelers Who Prefer Cash Back : HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard®


Our Rating Among Hotel Cards
2.9
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard®
Current Offer

Earn an Introductory 3% Cash Back on all purchases in the first 12 months from Account opening, up to the first $10,000 in purchases. 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

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 (%) 13.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn an introductory 3% cash back on $10,000 in purchases made during the first 12 months of account opening. 1.5% cash back thereafter.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Months
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

The HSBC Cash Rewards card features an easy-to-navigate rewards scheme for someone who wants to earn a bit of extra cash back on their hotel stays, or to put toward a future trick. For one year, new cardholders get double cash-back (3%, instead of the standard—but still competitive—1.5%) on each purchase, up to $10,000 spent. After that, it offers unlimited 1.5% back on everything, so there are no bonus categories or other limitations to worry about.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Superb bonus that doubles the already-solid rewards earning rate on eligible purchases during the first year

  • 0% APR deals give you a full year to pay off purchases and balance transfers

  • Includes cellphone insurance coverage, which is uncommon

Cons
  • No short-term new cardholder bonus for those seeking a quick stash of cash back

  • Above-average balance transfer fee can chip away at the cost savings of moving large balances to this card

Highlights:
  • 1.5% Unlimited Cash Back – on all purchases after the intro period
  • No Annual Fee
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees

Read the full HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® review

Best for Fans of Hyatt : World of Hyatt Credit Card


Our Rating Among Hotel Cards
4.3
World of Hyatt Credit Card
Current Offer

Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 More Bonus Points by earning 2 Bonus Points total per $1 spent in the first 6 months from account opening on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 spent.

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 (%) 15.99% - 22.99% 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:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

There are many things to like about this card if you stay with Hyatt often: Not only are there are many ways to rack up points on purchases and several nice hotel perks—thanks to automatic Discoverist elite status with Hyatt—but each year you’ll get a complimentary night in a qualifying hotel category (and a second if you spend $15,000 annually). Plus, Hyatt points are worth a 1.88 cents each, according to our calculations. So, if you spend $3,000 within three months of opening your account, you’ll earn 30,000 points worth $564. You can earn an additional 30,000 points by earning 2 bonus points per dollar on purchases up to $15,000 in the first six months as an added bonus.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Outstanding two-part bonus for new cardholders

  • Points are worth more than any other major U.S. hotel chain’s, according to The Balance’s calculations

  • Fitness club, restaurant, and local transportation expenses also earn extra points, unlike other hotel rewards cards

Cons
  • World of Hyatt rewards program includes earning two types of points, which can be complicated to track

Highlights:
  • Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, 2 Bonus Points per $1 spent on purchases that earn 1 Bonus Point up to $15,000 in the first 6 months of account opening for an additional 30,000 points.
  • Earn a free night certificate valid at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort each year on your cardmember anniversary.
  • Earn an extra free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel if you spend $15,000 in a calendar year.
  • Receive automatic Elite status as long as your account is open.
  • Enjoy complimentary World of Hyatt Discoverist status for as long as your account is open.
  • Receive 5 tier qualifying night credits towards status after account opening, and each year after that for as long as your account is open.
  • Limited Time offer: Apply by 9/30/21 and upon approval you'll receive 2 Tier-Qualifying Night Credits for each night you stay from 8/16/21 through 12/31/21.

Read the full World of Hyatt Credit Card review

Compare The Best Hotel Credit Cards

Credit Card Annual Fee​
The Platinum Card from American Express
Best Overall
$695
Hotels.com Rewards Visa Credit Card
Best With No Annual Fee
$0
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Credit Card
Best for Fans of Marriott
$450
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
Best for Fans of Hilton
$450
IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Best for Fans of IHG
First year $0, then $89
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard
Best Cash-Back Card for Travelers
$0
World of Hyatt Credit Card
Best for Fans of Hyatt
$95

FAQs

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 Do 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 usually high-value rewards, though you’ll often earn a lot to make up for it (sometimes 6 to 7 points per $1 you spend rather than 2 miles per $1 for a typical airline card). Of the eight major chains in The Balance database, we found that five have an average point value of less than 1 cent when redeemed for hotel stays. Hilton points offer the lowest value at 0.48 cents each. Meanwhile, Hyatt has valuable points at 1.88 each. General travel rewards cards tend to 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.

What Are the 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 Is a Hotel Credit Card 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 Is a Hotel Credit Card Not 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. 

If you decide a hotel credit card is right for you, here’s another summary of the ones we consider the best:

How Can You 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.

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

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

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

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.