The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Saturday, December 14, 2019

14 Best Credit Cards for Free Hotel Stays in 2019

14 Best Credit Cards for Free Hotel Stays in 2019

credit card advice

Adam West
By: Adam West
Updated: November 20, 2019

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Hotel accommodations are one of the biggest travel-related expenses. Whether you’re looking for a place to crash for a night or want a relaxing home-away-from-home where you can pamper yourself, you’re going to have to pay for a place to stay — unless you have one of our best credit cards for free hotel stays.

With the right credit card, you can earn free hotel stays and room upgrades by making regular purchases — which means you’ll have more money to spend on your adventures or souvenirs.

We’ve researched this expansive field and narrowed our top choices down by large issuing banks and hotels.

Best Overall
By Issuer: Amex | BoA | Capital One | Chase | Citi | Discover
By Hotel: Marriott | Hilton | IHG | Hyatt | Wyndham

Best Overall Cards for Free Hotel Stays

Even though you may spend months meticulously planning your vacation, you still need a little flexibility in your plans to account for the unexpected. And if you have to be flexible, shouldn’t your credit card act the same way?

Our best overall credit cards for free hotel stays, listed below, aren’t going to limit you as to where and when you travel and offer rich rewards with easy redemptions.

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.49% - 24.74% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers regular signup bonuses for new cardholders that provide bonus miles when you reach certain spending thresholds. You can turn those miles into reimbursements for airfare, hotels, and other travel-related expenses. You’ll still earn 2X miles on every purchase.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
18.49% - 25.49% Variable
$450
Good/Excellent

Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders receive an annual anniversary travel credit of $300 that reimburses travel expenses made on the card. They also earn 3X points on travel and restaurant purchases, as well as 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases. You can use your earned points to purchase travel and other deals through the Chase Ultimate Rewards platform or do a 1:1 transfer to participating airline and hotel loyalty programs.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates and fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
N/A
13.74% - 23.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

The Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card doesn’t charge an annual fee and offers a competitive interest rate to qualified applicants. Once approved, you’ll earn 1.25X miles on every purchase. Maybe the most attractive feature of this card is its 0% introductory period, which gives you time to pay off your trip expenses.

Best American Express Card for Free Hotel Stays

American Express was once the gold standard for vacationers with the company’s popular Travelers Cheques. That commitment to the traveler has continued over the years, and the credit card issuer still provides some of the best hotel perks on the market.

4. The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express charges a hefty $550 annual fee, but it doesn’t take much research to see how the fee can quickly pay for itself. The $200 annual airline fee credit and $15 monthly ($180 annually) Uber Cash credit alone nearly covers the cost of the card. But there’s way more to this card than just those two perks.

Platinum Card® from American Express

  • $550 annual fee
  • $200 airline fee credit, $100 hotel credit annually
  • Access to 1,200+ airport lounges across 130 countries
  • $15 Uber Cash each month good toward Uber rides

You’ll also be reimbursed for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® to get through airport security faster. Add all of that together and you have a do-it-all travel companion in your wallet.

Best Bank of America Card for Free Hotel Stays

Bank of America operates 2,508 branch locations in 37 states and the District of Columbia. With that kind of coverage, you’re likely to find a location wherever you travel in the U.S. And with the card listed below, you can save more money in your BoA account when you take that trip.

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card Review

at Bank Of America'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

0.0/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere, every time and no expiration on points
  • 25,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days — that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want — you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • Get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 12 billing cycles
N/A
17.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card pays a flat and unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent using the card. Bank of America savings or checking account holders earn an additional 10% in points on every purchase. You can typically earn bonus points using an introductory offer that kicks in after you reach certain spending thresholds.

Best Capital One Card for Free Hotel Stays

Capital One is one of the most popular credit card issuers in America because of its flexibility and ease of use. With the card below, you won’t have to worry about blackout dates, airline restrictions, or other limitations that can put a damper on your vacation.

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.49% - 24.74% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

With the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, you can rack up miles quickly — with an unlimited 2X rewards on every purchase. If you’re like most people, and can’t stand waiting in long airport security lines, you can also receive up to a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®.

Best Chase Card for Free Hotel Stays

Chase is already one of our go-to card issuers for travel rewards thanks to the bank’s robust Chase Ultimate Rewards platform. The platform allows you to transfer your accrued points to approved loyalty programs, so you can maximize the value of your rewards at your favorite hotel brand.

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
18.49% - 25.49% Variable
$450
Good/Excellent

Every year, Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders receive a $300 travel credit that reimburses travel-related expenses charged to the card, including hotel reservations. If that weren’t enough, Chase also pays 3X points on travel and restaurant purchases, as well as one point for every $1 spent on all other purchases. You can use your points to book free or reduced-cost hotel stays through Chase or transfer the points to participating hotel loyalty programs.

Best Citi Card for Free Hotel Stays

Consumers already know Citi as a card issuer that places an emphasis on savings. Citi cards are renowned for their long interest-free introductory periods and competitive terms. But what you may not know is that the bank also issues one of the best hotel cards on the market.

8. Expedia® Rewards Card from Citi

Expedia.com is already one of the web’s premier destinations for booking hotels, airfare, and car rentals. But the Expedia® Rewards Card from Citi makes it even easier — and faster — to book your next vacation. You can earn unlimited 3X Expedia Rewards points on all your Expedia purchases and 1 point for every $1 you spend on other purchases using the card.

Expedia® Rewards Card

  • 3X Expedia Rewards points on Expedia purchases
  • 1X Expedia Rewards points on all other purchases
  • Complimentary Expedia Rewards Silver status
  • Earn unlimited Expedia Rewards points

Cardholders also instantly receive a complimentary upgrade to Expedia Rewards Silver status — which brings with it exclusive amenities (free drinks, spa treatments, and a room upgrade), as well as a dedicated customer service phone number. If you make enough qualifying Expedia purchases, you could receive another upgrade to Gold status.

Best Discover Card for Free Hotel Stays

Discover’s popular Cashback Match program has elevated the bank to one of the fastest-growing card issuers on the market. But the matching program isn’t just about cash back. You can also double your earned miles and never have to worry about blackout dates, booking restrictions, or annual fees.

Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Discover will match ALL the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That’s $700 towards travel! The more you earn, the more you get.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Miles Pay You Back. Easily redeem Miles as a statement credit for travel purchases. Or get cash.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
10.99% for 14 months
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

You can quickly rack up miles that help pay for your next trip with the Discover it® Miles card. That’s because the Discover Cashback Match program will match all the miles you earn on your one-year anniversary with the card. And, since you’ll earn an unlimited 1.5X miles for every $1 you spend, those miles will add up fast. You can redeem your miles as a statement credit to reimburse you for hotel, airfare, or other travel-related expenses.

Best Cards for Free Marriott Hotel Stays

Marriott is the largest hotel chain in the world, boasting 5,700 properties, 1.1 million rooms, and a portfolio of 30 brands. With so many thriving locations, you’ll certainly have no problem finding a Marriott-owned property at your favorite travel destination.

10. Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card 

With the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card from Chase, you can earn 6X points for every $1 spent at a Marriott Bonvoy hotel and 2X points on all other purchases. You’ll also earn one free night annually on your account anniversary, plus free premium internet access and Marriott Elite status as soon as you activate your card.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card

  • 6X points for every $1 spent at Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • 2X points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Free night award on your account anniversary every year
  • $95 annual fee

Cardholders also receive lost luggage reimbursement, auto rental collision damage waiver, and trip delay reimbursement. The card does have a $95 annual fee, but the free night each year more than makes up for the charge.

Best Cards for Free Hilton Hotel Stays

More than 570 Hilton properties cover 78 countries on six continents. With our top-rated Hilton credit card below, you can work your way through the list while saving money and earning free stays and upgrades.

11. Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Don’t let the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card’s $450 annual fee scare you. If you’re a regular traveler who loves the Hilton brand, this card can pay for itself very quickly. Not only will you earn a free weekend night every year, but you’ll also get a $250 Hilton Resort credit, $100 Hilton on-property credit, and a $250 airline fee credit annually. That covers the fee alone.

. Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

  • Diamond Status with Hilton Honors
  • Annual free weekend night reward, $250 Hilton Resort credit, $100 Hilton on-property credit & $250 airline fee credit
  • Pay $450 annual fee

Cardholders also get an automatic boost to Diamond Elite status — the highest possible status in the Hilton rewards system. This unlocks free breakfast on most properties, regular upgrades, and many other perks for your stay.

Best Cards for Free IHG Hotel Stays

IHG’s property portfolio includes the popular InterContinental, Kimpton, Hotel Indigo, and Holiday Inn brands, among others. With such a diverse group of hotels and resorts, you’ll have no problem finding a property that allows you to maximize your rewards and get the most out of your trip.

12. IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card helps you earn rewards for stays at any of the more than one-dozen brands in the IHG portfolio. You’ll earn bonus points for your stays and 2X points for every $1 spent at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. All other purchases yield 1 point per $1 spent.

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

  • Earn 10 points per $1 spent at 5,400+ hotels worldwide
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • $89 annual fee

You’ll also earn a free night’s stay on every account anniversary, which more than makes up for the $89 annual fee. You’ll receive your fourth night free if you stay four or more consecutive nights at an IHG property and use your card to pay for the trip.

Best Cards for Free Hyatt Hotel Stays

Hyatt runs 15 different hotel brands, from upscale to luxury, in almost every major travel destination around the world. With our top-rated credit card below, you can earn upgrades and free stays at any of its brands while saving money on your vacation.

13. World of Hyatt Credit Card

The World of Hyatt® Credit Card can help you earn free nights very quickly by awarding 9X points for bookings and purchases made at Hyatt hotels, restaurants, and spas. You can also get a point boost to 2X earnings on airfare, taxis, mass transit, tolls, ride-sharing, and other travel-related expenses.

World Of Hyatt Credit Card

  • 9X points at Hyatt hotels, resorts, restaurants, and spas
  • 2X points on airfare, taxis, mass transit, tolls, ride-sharing, restaurants, and fitness and gym memberships
  • 1X points on everything else

The card currently offers 50,000 bonus points when you reach certain spending thresholds within the first six months of card ownership — good for 10 free nights at a category 1 hotel. You’ll also receive one free night annually, which will cover the $95 annual fee.

Best Cards for Free Wyndham Hotel Stays

Travelers already associate Wyndham with luxury resorts and high-class accommodations. But this hotel giant offers more than meets the eye, running a portfolio of 19 brands that span every travel budget.

14. Wyndham Rewards® Visa® Card

The Wyndham Rewards® Visa® Card has one of the most affordable free night options on the market. Depending on which hotel you book with, you can earn free nights starting at 7,500 points (15,000 for premium properties). Cardholders earn 3X points per $1 spent on eligible Wyndham purchases, 2X points on eligible gas, utility, and grocery store purchases, and 1 point per $1 on every other purchase.

Wyndham Rewards®Visa® Card

  • Free nights start at 7,500 points
  • 15,000 bonus points after your first purchase or balance transfer
  • Automatic Wyndham Rewards Gold Membership
  • No annual fee

This card offers regular introductory offers for new cardholders that can earn you instant free nights after reaching certain spending thresholds. Do some research before applying to make sure you’re getting the best offer possible.

How Do Hotel Credit Cards Work?

Several types of hotel credit cards exist, and each has a unique way of paying out rewards.

Some all-purpose travel credit cards, like the popular Discover it® Miles card, allow you to earn miles on every purchase you make using the card. Those miles equate to cash earnings you can redeem as a statement credit to reimburse you for any travel-related expense — not just hotel stays.

You can use your earned miles to pay for flights, hotel bookings, car rentals, ride-sharing fees or any other approved travel charge. You can let the miles build up over time and redeem them whenever you choose.

Other cards, like those under the Chase umbrella, use platforms such as the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal that let you apply your accrued points (which you earn on every purchase) toward several travel categories, including hotels.

The value of your points will depend on the category you choose to redeem them in. And travel rewards are among the most lucrative rewards in the program. With hotels specifically, you can stay for free if you have enough points or use your points to lessen the cost of the reservation.

Chart Comparing Values of Common Credit Card Rewards Points

Rewards points carry different values depending on what you redeem them for.

Hotel-branded credit cards work entirely differently. Specific hotel chains issue these cards, which means you can only redeem your rewards at a property owned and operated by that brand.

While that may sound limiting, there are several perks to these types of cards. Since they’re meant to build loyalty to a specific hotel chain, they often include added perks when you stay at one of the brand’s properties.

These can include room upgrades, free meals, free WiFi, spa treatments, or other accommodations other travelers have to pay for.

Plus, these cards often allow you to earn free nights faster — and some offer signup bonuses that can earn you free nights after you meet certain spending requirements.

Finding the card that works best for you will require examining your travel preferences and how much flexibility you need in a travel credit card. If you’re not overly loyal to a specific brand, you may find an all-purpose travel credit card is better suited for you.

How Can I Get Free Hotel Stays?

Many hotel loyalty programs offer free nights when you stay at one of the chain’s hotels for a certain number of nights. But that’s not the only way to earn free stays.

With a good hotel or travel credit card, you can earn miles or points for every purchase you make. You can then turn those points into free hotel stays.

If you’re already a frequent traveler, you can essentially double your perks if you choose a good hotel-branded credit card. These offer special cardholder benefits and upgrades during your stay and free nights when you accumulate a certain number of paid nights.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is our top choice for earning free hotel stays.

If you’d rather have the freedom to pick your hotel without worrying about sell-outs our blackout dates, an all-purpose travel credit card — such as the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card — will allow you to redeem your earned miles or points as statement credits that reimburse you for travel expenses, such as flights, car rentals, and hotel stays.

Still, not every card that rewards you with points or miles will pigeonhole you into using your earnings on travel expenses. The Chase Ultimate Rewards program, which most Chase-branded credit cards use, lets you choose how you use your rewards — including options to earn cash back, merchandise, gift cards, or travel rewards.

Keep in mind that your rewards will hold varying values depending on how you choose to redeem them. For example, using your rewards for cash back will yield a smaller return than cashing them in for free hotel stays.

Which Hotel Rewards Program is Best?

Every hotel loyalty program is different, but they all have the same goal — making you loyal to their brand. And many hotels and resorts go out of their way to earn that loyalty.

Wyndham Rewards, for example, makes it easy to earn free nights that start at just 7,500 points and max out at 15,000 — meaning you can earn a free stay at the most economical Days Inn or the fanciest Wyndham Resort for 15,000 points. And, those points rack up quickly with the Wyndham Rewards® Visa® Card, which offers as much as 3X points per $1 spent.

The World of Hyatt loyalty program focuses on maximizing a member’s in-stay experience. The program’s elite Globalist members receive free lounge access and breakfast, room upgrades, and guaranteed late checkout at 4 p.m. — perfect for when you want to extend your trip just a little bit longer. You’ll also earn a whopping 9X points on purchases made with your World of Hyatt® Credit Card during your stay.

World of Hyatt Screenshot

World of Hyatt® cardholders earn 9X points on purchases made at Hyatt properties.

If free nights and room upgrades aren’t enough, the Hilton Honors loyalty program aims to make your upscale stay as affordable as possible. Every member gets a guaranteed discount on each stay, with each tier of the program receiving deeper discounts. Every member also receives free in-room WiFi as well as point pooling, which lets family members combine their points into one pool for maximum value.

And, if you carry the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, you’ll receive an automatic upgrade to Diamond status — the program’s top tier. As a Diamond Member, you’ll get automatic space-available room upgrades, up to one-bedroom suites. Diamond members also get guaranteed late-reservation rooms as long as they book at least 48 hours in advance, and every fifth night is free when staying five or more nights.

Minimize Lodging Costs with a Hotel Rewards Card

Traveling is a fun and rewarding experience. But if you don’t plan your trips properly, you can easily find yourself paying off those adventures for a long time after you return home.

With one of our best credit cards for free hotel stays, you can earn rewards every day and save them for the trip of a lifetime or a weekend getaway. No matter how you choose to redeem your rewards, you’re certain to find more value with a good travel credit card than if you rely solely on your vacation savings fund.