A number of factors influence how much you enjoy a trip, whether traveling on business or vacation. For many, a good hotel experience is key to happy travel, since it’s very hard to overcome a disappointing hotel stay. Often, it’s the perks — or lack thereof — that color your opinion of your lodgings. That’s where a hotel rewards credit card can help.
The best hotel rewards cards not only earn you points toward a free hotel stay, but many come with additional perks such as room upgrades, complimentary meals, and in-room WiFi. Here’s our list of the nine best hotel credit cards for 2017.
Best Overall Hotel Rewards Card
A good hotel rewards card provides a range of offers and bonuses in addition to extra features that save you money and make your hotel stay more enjoyable. We’ve examined all the pros and cons of the top hotel cards, and identified the best ones for you:
We named the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card as the best overall hotel rewards card for 2017 because it does everything well. You get a generous number of bonus points when you meet the new-account purchase requirements or add an authorized user, especially considering its modest annual fee.
The points can be used for dining, cash, or gift cards — but you get extra point-power by redeeming them for travel booked through Chase. The points you earn with your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can be transferred to any Chase travel partner for additional flexibility.
- Earn 60,000 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®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card also gets bonus points for style; the unique metallic card has a great design and feel.
Best Hotel Sign-Up Bonuses
You earn a sign-up bonus by spending the required amount on purchases during the initial period after opening the account. For example, a card might offer you 50,000 points or miles if you purchase $5,000 in goods and services during the first three months.
Th Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers a great trade-off between bonus miles and required spending. The card rewards are flexible — you redeem a statement credit to use your miles, and there are no restrictions on hotel brands or airlines. Flyers will appreciate the fact that there are no blackout dates. The ratio of miles rewarded to dollars spent is excellent.
- 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. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
- Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
- 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
17.99% - 25.24% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
- Enjoy a one-time 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 and pay no annual fee. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
- Transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
- Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
- Enjoy a low intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 14.24%-24.24% variable APR after that
- Travel when you want with no blackout dates
0% for 12 months
14.24% - 24.24% (Variable)
- 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
19.24% - 26.24% Variable
You can apply for a Chase Sapphire Reserve® through the online application. Keep in mind, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® will have more stringent requirements for approval than the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
Best Hotel Rewards Programs
A good rewards program offers generous rewards as well as easy redemption, with a limited number of blackout dates or unavailable room types.
The Chase Freedom® pays generous cash back on purchases within the quarterly bonus categories, up to the capped amount. All you have to do is opt into the bonus category each quarter. It also has an excellent introductory interest rate on purchases and balance transfers, as well as a low spending requirement for its introductory bonus.
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24-25.99%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
- Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
- Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
- Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
- Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
- Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
17.24 - 25.99% Variable
The sign-up bonus is modest but easily earned, and there is a separate bonus for signing up an authorized user. Cash-back rewards don’t expire as long as you keep the account open.
Best Branded Hotel Rewards Cards
A branded card carries the name of a company, separate from the bank issuing the card. In most cases, the points you use will only be redeemable through the branded company and its partners. Here’s a look at the top options.
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card is the new mid-tier card that resulted from the rebranding of the Marriott and Starwood programs after their merger. The card offers six points per dollar on Marriott purchase and two points on everything else.
- Earn 6X Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent at eligible Marriott Bonvoy properties
- Earn 2X on all other purchases
- Pay $95 annual fee
Cardholders receive automatic Silver Elite Status with Marriott Bonvoy and can earn Gold Status by spending $35,000 on purchases each account year. Users can also enjoy free premium in-room wifi and an annual free night award after the account anniversary.
The Hilton Honors Ascend Card is not only a quick route to free stays with its double-digit rewards rate for Hilton purchases, but the card also provides you with complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status and airport lounge access passes.
- Earn 12X Hilton Honors™ points per dollar for Hilton purchases
- Earn 6X points for purchases at US restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations
- Pay $95 annual fee
The Hilton Honors Ascend Card is also great for big buyers, as you can earn a free Weekend Night Reward when you spend at least $15,000 on your card in a single calendar year.
How to Choose the Best Hotel Offer for You
Hotel rewards cards (and the perks that go with them) are perfect for frequent travelers and voracious vacationers — or those who simply want to take advantage of a great sign-up bonus to earn a free hotel stay. Whatever your motivation, you can likely find a hotel card that fits the bill.
If you know you’ll be making big-ticket purchases during the introductory period, pick the card with the best sign-up bonus. If you regularly travel abroad, you’ll want to select a card with no foreign transaction fees. Otherwise, choose the card that gives you the most perks and most generous rewards — for the least money.