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The best hotel credit cards of December 2021
When considering a hotel credit card, it's important to factor in your travel goals: Are you looking to stay at a five-star resort in the Maldives? Or do you want to be able to book a cheap staycation once or twice a year without paying an exorbitant annual fee?
It's also important to consider the card's welcome bonus, recurring benefits, ease of earning free nights via credit card spending, category bonuses, and elite status perks (if any). With that in mind, here are the best hotel credit cards.
Best travel card overall: Chase Sapphire Preferred
If you're loyal to a specific hotel brand, having a co-branded card makes a lot of sense, as it can get you complimentary elite status, bonus points, and other perks when you stay with that chain. (You'll see our top card picks for each hotel brand further down in this guide).
Read more: Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card review
But if you care less about brand loyalty and more about earning as many points as possible, a general travel rewards credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred could make more sense. This card earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points (with 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 2x points on all other travel purchases, including hotels), which you can redeem for travel bookings through the Chase Travel Portal or transfer to partners including Hyatt, Marriott, and IHG to book).
The Chase Sapphire Preferred also offers excellent travel insurance, so it's a good card to use for hotel bookings and airfare.
The recent updates to the Chase Sapphire Preferred include the addition of up to $50 per year in statement credits for hotels booked through Chase. If you maximize this credit, you can shave off more than half of the card's Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card annual fee.
Best travel coverage: Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is the higher-end sibling of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, with many of the same benefits except higher earning rates (5x total points on air travel and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, after earning the $300 travel credit, and 3x points on other travel and dining) and even better travel coverage.
Read more: Chase Sapphire Reserve card review
It includes everything from trip cancellation and trip delay insurance to primary car rental insurance. Unlike the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Chase Sapphire Reserve includes emergency evacuation insurance. In exchange for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® annual fee, you get up to a $300 annual travel credit, Priority Pass airport lounge membership, and more.
Best for luxury hotel perks: Platinum Card® from American Express
Platinum Card® from American Express is a great card for booking hotel stays for several reasons. First, it offers complimentary Gold elite status with both Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy**. This can get you room upgrades and bonus points on your paid stays — and Gold status with Hilton even gets you free breakfast (currently offered as a food and beverage credit).
Read more: Amex Platinum card review
Plus, if you have the Platinum Card you can access Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts — a collection of luxury properties booked through Amex that offer benefits like complimentary upgrades, free breakfast, and property credits. The Amex Platinum has a $550 annual fee (See Rates), but it easily can be worth it thanks to benefits like this.
Best for Hilton stays: Hilton Honors Aspire Card
The Hilton Honors Aspire Card is hands-down the best co-branded hotel credit card out there. For starters, with the welcome bonus (Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card), you can book upwards of 30 free nights, depending on the hotel category. The card also comes with top-tier Hilton Diamond status, which gets you free breakfast (currently awarded as a food and beverage credit), lounge access, and a 100% bonus on points earned via paid stays.
Read more: Amex Hilton Aspire card review
The Hilton Honors Aspire Card also offers a free weekend night reward when you renew your card at your account anniversary, plus an extra free night when you spend $60,000 in a calendar year. Travelers will appreciate up to $250 in annual Hilton resort statement credits, up to $250 in annual airline incidental credits, and Priority Pass Select membership**.
If you don't stay at Hilton properties frequently enough to justify this card's Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card annual fee Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card – Rates & Fees, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, with a Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card annual fee (See Rates), is a better option. It earns 12x points on eligible Hilton purchases (compared to 14x on the Aspire), and like the Aspire it offers a high welcome bonus.
Read more: Guide to the best Hilton credit cards
Best for IHG stays: IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is one of the best hotel cards in terms of value.
Read more: IHG Rewards Club Premier card review
In exchange for an annual fee of $89, waived the first year, cardholders get complimentary IHG Platinum elite status, a fourth night free on award bookings of four or more nights, and a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit of up to $100 every four years. Additionally, cardholders earn a reward night every year, which you can use at any IHG hotel worldwide that costs up to 40,000 points per night.
Best for Hyatt stays: The World Of Hyatt Credit Card
The World Of Hyatt Credit Card comes with free Discoverist status, which offers benefits like premium internet and 10% bonus points on paid stays. Cardholders aiming for higher status will appreciate the five qualifying night credits issued every year and the ability to earn two additional credits per $5,000 spent on the card.
Read more: World of Hyatt card review
Cardholders also receive a free night certificate on their account anniversary every year, valid at Hyatt Category 1 to 4 hotels. You can also earn a second free night after you spend $15,000 or more on purchases in a calendar year.
Chase recently launched a Hyatt card for small-business owners, too. The World of Hyatt Business Credit Card offers more perks but charges a higher annual fee — you can find out more in our World of Hyatt Business card review.
Best for Marriott stays: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card includes solid perks for a mid-tier hotel credit card, including a free night each year after your cardmember anniversary at Marriott Bonvoy hotels that cost up to 35,000 points per night.
Read more: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card review
Another reason to consider it? It's currently offering a good welcome bonus (as are other Marriott credit cards): 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. For ideas on how to use the welcome bonus, check out our guide to the best Marriott hotels for redeeming a 50,000-point free night certificate.
Best for Wyndham stays: Wyndham Rewards® Earner Plus Card
The Wyndham Rewards® Earner Plus Card offers good benefits, including Platinum elite status, which comes with benefits like upgrades on Avis car rentals, early check-in, and a status match to the Caesars Rewards program. Each year after your account anniversary, you'll also receive 7,500 bonus points (with no spending requirement). The annual fee is a moderate Wyndham Rewards® Earner Plus Card.
It earns a solid 6 Wyndham points per dollar on eligible Wyndham purchases and at gas stations, 4x points at Wyndham Timeshare properties and at restaurants and grocery stores (excluding Target and Walmart), and 1 point per dollar on everything else (excluding Wyndham Timeshare resorts down payments). You'll also get discounts on both paid and points bookings with Wyndham hotels.
Frequently asked questions — hotel credit cards
How did we choose the best hotel credit cards?
Personal Finance Insider analyzed dozens of hotel cards, looking at benefits, annual fees, rewards, and ancillary benefits to arrive at our final list of the very best options.
Many hotel brands offer various "tiers" of credit cards. For example, in addition to the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card with a Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card annual fee, there's the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, which has a Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card annual fee (See Rates) and includes an annual statement credit for Marriott stays.
When more than one personal credit card was available from a top hotel chain, we chose the card that offers the most value to an average guest, not someone who travels every weekend.
For instance, we chose the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card as the best credit card for Marriott stays, because it balances a moderate annual fee with a few valuable perks and a great welcome bonus. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card has more perks to justify its annual fee, but it's harder to recommend to everybody — especially since it only offers complimentary mid-tier Gold status with Marriott.
On the other hand, we named the Hilton Honors Aspire Card, with a Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card annual fee, the best card for Hilton stays, because it comes with several statement credits that can effectively reduce the fee — and it offers the highest level of Hilton elite status as a complimentary benefit to cardholders.
Are hotel credit cards worth it?
If you have a good credit score and pay your credit card bills off each month, it makes sense to get a rewards credit card that earns you points on your purchases — including hotel stays.
How do I find the right hotel rewards credit card for me?
You'll have to decide whether you stay with a particular hotel chain frequently enough to opt for a co-branded hotel credit card (such as an IHG card). If you want to earn travel points and enjoy some benefits on your hotel stay but you don't stay in hotels very often, you're probably better off with a general travel rewards card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Platinum Card® from American Express.