Best Hotel Credit Cards of December 2019

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

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Best Overall

,

Most Valuable Points

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Best for Rewards Flexibility

Our Rating Among Hotel Cards
4.3
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 (%) 18.49% - 25.49% 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

This card has lots to like if you’re looking for a versatile card that will earn a high rewards rate on stays at any hotel, plus a wide variety of other travel expenses. And when you use points to book hotel stays through the Ultimate Rewards portal, they are worth an outstanding 1.5 cents each. You can also transfer points to partner hotel programs, and in cases like the World of Hyatt, you'll get an even higher redemption value based on our valuations. Yes, there’s a premium annual fee, but the sign-up bonus, statement credits, travel benefits, and flexibility make this our favorite all-around hotel card.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Best Sign-Up Bonus

Our Rating Among Hotel Cards
4.3
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 (%) 17.49% - 24.49% 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 sign-up bonus is very competitive for a travel card with a moderate annual fee. If you spend $4,000 in the first three months after opening your account, you'll get 60,000 points worth $750 when redeemed for hotel reservations or other travel purchases through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. It could be worth even more if you transfer points to one of the rewards programs of a Chase partner. For example, transferring to World of Hyatt could make it worth $1,332, according to our calculations.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card

Best Co-Branded Hotel Card

Our Rating Among Hotel Cards
4.2
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ 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 (%) 17.49% - 24.49% variable
Annual Fee $95
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 6X points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels and 2X points everywhere else.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%

Why We Chose This Card

If you’re a fan of Marriott hotels and want to benefit from your loyalty, this is the card for you. To start, you’ll get 75,000 points after spending $3,000 within three months of opening your account—a bonus worth about $1,072, based on our estimate of the average value of Marriott points. The card doesn’t charge a triple-digit annual fee, and you’ll get a free night’s stay every year worth up to 35,000 points. Plus, with automatic silver elite status at Marriott Bonvoy properties, you’ll get hotel perks like late checkout, free wifi, and access to exclusive member rates.

Ink Business Unlimited

Best for Businesses

Our Rating Among Hotel Cards
3.3
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 (%) 14.74% - 20.74% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Months
Cash Advance APR (%) 26.49%
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. And when you redeem rewards through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, you'll have a variety of hotels to choose from. 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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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 usually high-value rewards, though you’ll often earn a lot (sometimes 6 to 7 points per $1 you spend rather than 2 miles per $1 for a typical airline card) to make up for it. Of the eight major chains in The Balance database, we found that five have points worth an average of 1 cent or less apiece when redeemed for hotel stays. Hilton points offer the lowest value at 0.43 cents each. Meanwhile, Hyatt has the most valuable points, at 2.22 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.

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

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.