Updated on Nov 15, 2017

Best Hotel Credit Cards for 2017

Bonus, budget or best overall? Find the hotel credit card that has what you're looking for.
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If you’re planning a vacation or business trip, it can be difficult to find a place to stay that’s both comfortable and economical. Luckily, our list of the best hotel credit cards give travelers the opportunity to earn free nights and other rewards with several leading hotel brands. Once you’ve chosen the card you’d like to stay with, click Apply Now!

Summary

Best hotel credit cards for 2017

Best overall

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
See Rates & Fees
Rewards Summary 2X Starpoints® at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels
Annual Fee $95 (waived first year)

Signup bonus 25,000 Starpoints®
Signature perk Global Assist® Hotline
Highlights Provided by American Express Show Highlights
  • Earn 25,000 Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
  • Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Planning a road trip? Rent your car, fill up your tank, book your hotel, and pay for it with your American Express® Card.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
  • Issuer: American Express
  • Sign Up Bonus: Earn 25,000 Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $95 See Details
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.24% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Introductory APR Period: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 16.24% - 20.24% Variable See Rates & Fees
  • Penalty APR: 29.99% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

We recommend the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express for frequent guests at Starwood® properties who want flexible air travel rewards on top of generous hotel rewards. When it comes to high-earning rewards redeemable for nights and flights, very few cards come close to this one.

How to use it
  • Book with Starwood/Marriott properties. Every $1 spent on eligible purchases at participating SPG® or Marriott Rewards® properties is worth 2X Starpoints® (and an additional 2 or 3 Starpoints® for SPG® members); earn 1X Starpoint® per $1 spent on other eligible purchases.
  • Collect a big bonus. Earn the welcome bonus by making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. You’ll get 25,000 Starpoints®, worth two free nights at a Category 4 hotel.
  • Redeem flexibly. Options for airline rewards include transferring points to 30+ participating frequent flyer programs or redeeming points through SPG® Flights to fly on 150+ airlines with no blackout dates.Starpoints are also transferable to Marriott Rewards, which means SPG® members can redeem with Marriott and The Ritz-Carlton® hotels.
Consider this

Although waived the first year, the $95 annual fee is fairly steep. However, for frequent leisure and business travelers who prefer to stay at SPG® and Marriott Rewards® properties, the rewards program and ability to transfer points for air travel will probably be worth it.

Why you'll love it

If you’re a loyal customer of SPG® and Marriott Rewards® hotels, think about reserving room in your wallet for the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. Used correctly, it combines the best qualities of a hotel card and an all-around travel card.

Start your application now

Best new cardmember bonuses

Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Rewards Summary Unlimited 5X points at participating properties
Annual Fee $85

Signup bonus 80,000 bonus points
Signature perk Free night each account anniversary
Highlights Provided by Chase Show Highlights
  • Earn 80,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Plus, earn 7,500 bonus points when you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Enjoy 1 Free Night Stay at a Category 1-5 hotel every year after your account anniversary date!
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Rewards points and get Free Night Stays faster
  • Earn 5 points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Rewards & SPG hotels
  • 2 points per $1 spent on airline tickets purchased directly with the airlines, at car rental agencies & restaurants. Plus 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else
  • The fastest way to earn Marriott Rewards Elite Status. Receive 15 Elite Credits guaranteeing Silver Elite Status or better.
  • All for an $85 Annual Fee
  • Issuer: Chase
  • Rewards Details: 5 Points Per $1 Spent at Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels
  • Sign Up Bonus: Earn 80,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Annual Fee: $85
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.99% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Introductory APR Period: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 16.99% - 23.99% Variable
  • Penalty APR: None

Our two cents

Who should get it

Loyal Marriott® guests who want a chance to earn a combined 87,500 in bonus points for becoming a cardmember should check out the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card. This card has a generous, three-tiered rewards structure that offers points for hotel stays, travel and everyday purchases.

How to use it
  • Earn points a variety of ways. Earn unlimited 5X points for each $1 spent at participating Marriott Rewards®, The Ritz-Carlton® and Starwood Preferred Guest® hotels; unlimited 2X points for each $1 spent when purchasing tickets directly from an airline and at car rental agencies and restaurants; and unlimited 1X point for each $1 spent on other purchases.
  • Plan for the signup bonus. Earn 80,000 bonus points by spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months; earn an additional 7,500 bonus points by adding the first authorized user and making a purchase in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy your anniversary. Get a free night stay at a Category 1-5 hotel every year after your account anniversary.
Consider this

The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card may offer a lower rewards rate for everyday purchases, but with the Marriott-Starwood Merger, Starpoints® are now worth 3 Marriott Rewards points each.

Why you'll love it

The new cardmember bonuses provide an enticing incentive to add the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card to your wallet, and the rewards program is generous enough to keep it there. The 5X points rate has huge potential payoff for regular Marriott® guests, who are sure to appreciate the variety of properties where they can apply their rewards.

Start your application now

Our favorite hotel credit cards: summed up

Hotel Credit Card FAQ

Let’s explore some answers to frequently asked questions about hotel credit cards.

When comparing the best hotel credit cards, you’ll want to pay close attention to a few things:

  • Annual fee – Look for a card with a low annual fee. Most waive the cost for the first year.
  • Signup offer – Taking advantage of a signup offer can be a lucrative way to fund your travel.
  • Rewards – Take a look at the rewards structure and make sure it aligns with your purchasing habits to ensure you’re earning maximum rewards.
  • Expiration – Points or rewards may expire after a certain length of time. Make sure the details fit your travel habits.

Should I get a hotel credit card or travel credit card?

Whether or not you should get a hotel or travel credit card depends on how you plan to use your points and rewards. Typically, with both types of cards, you’ll earn points or rewards on all travel related expenses — booking hotels and flights — as well as buying items at participating locations and making everyday purchases.

The difference comes when you want to redeem those points. With a hotel credit card, you’re typically going to redeem those points for a free hotel stay; however, in some cases, you may also redeem them for flights on participating airlines. With a travel card, you have a little more flexibility to redeem points for flights, hotels, or rental cars, as well as a general statement credit.

How do I earn points?

Tips and tricks for earning points vary between hotel credit cards, but typically cardholders can earn rewards in as many as five categories:

  1. Booking stays or events at participating hotels
  2. Booking flights with participating airline partners
  3. Purchasing items with participating retail partners
  4. Making everyday purchases with their hotel credit card
  5. Buying points direct from the hotel

Can I earn rewards by flying?

Whatever your destination, and whatever hotel you choose, transportation always comes first. And with an average of more than 8 million people flying commercially every day, sometimes the ideal air travel booking can be elusive. Luckily for the points-minded traveler, each of our hotel credit cards offers an abundance of airline partnerships and generous point-to-mile transfer rates.

Marriott Rewards® and Travel Rewards

With Travel Rewards, Marriott Rewards® members can transfer points to frequent flyer miles with over 40 global and regional airlines. Participating airlines include:

  • British Airways
  • JetBlue Airways
  • Korean Air SKYPASS
  • Qatar Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines

If you prefer to fly United, and you’re a Marriott Rewards® and United MileagePlus® member, you’re eligible for the Marriott and United’s RewardsPlus program. It offers a whopping 7 rewards miles per dollar spent on United flights, and a 20% discount when you convert points to United MileagePlus® award miles, plus a host of other perks.

If you’re a holder, it’s possible to combine Marriott Travel Rewards with select airline credit cards to earn extra rewards.

Let’s say you’re a Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card holder, and you prefer to fly Southwest. If you also sign up for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card (one of our Best Airline Cards for 2017), you’ll be able to earn 2X points for Southwest® and Rapid Rewards® purchases, in addition to unlimited 5X points spent on participating Marriott Rewards®, The Ritz-Carlton®, and Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG®) hotels.

Dual cardmembers also have the option of converting Marriott Rewards points and Rapid Rewards® Points to United MileagePlus award miles with RewardsPlus. You could qualify for tens of thousands of MileagePlus miles.

Rewards ratio varies by airline, so be sure to do your research and always check the fine print.

Starwood Preferred Guest® and SPG® Flights

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express cardholders can redeem Starpoints® to book flights with over 150 airlines through SPG® Flights, all with no blackout dates. Participating airlines include:

  • American Airlines
  • China Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Emirates
  • Virgin Atlantic

Instead of direct transfer, SPG® Flights utilizes a predetermined redemption rate determined by price range. For example, ticket prices up to $150 require a redemption of 10,000 Starpoints®, while prices that fall anywhere between $345-$410 require 30,000 Starpoints®.

If you are looking to go the direct transfer route, SPG® members can transfer Starpoints® directly to miles with participating frequent flyer programs. Most Starpoint®-to-mile exchanges enjoy a 1:1 ratio, and SPG® will add 5,000 bonus Starpoints® for every 20,000 transferred at a time.

If you’re a frequent Delta traveler and a Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express cardholder, you’re eligible for Crossover Rewards with SPG® and Delta SkyMiles®. SPG® Platinum and Gold members earn 1 Starpoint® for every dollar spent on eligible Delta flights. Diamond, Platinum, Gold, and Silver Medallion® members earn 1 mile for every dollar spent on eligible room rates at over 1,100 Starwood hotels and resorts globally. And Crossover Benefits are in addition to the typical Starpoints® or miles earned as a member of each program.

It’s also possible to pair rewards programs to create a powerful rewards combo. With the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express cardholders can earn 30,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. And if you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express within the first 3 months of card ownership, you’ll earn 25,000 Starpoints®. Since Starpoints® transfer to Delta miles at a 1:1 ratio, those bonuses could be worth 55,000 miles.

Do hotel points expire?

Next we’ll offer some answers to questions about hotel rewards points, relevant to the cards profiled on our list.

Do Marriott Rewards expire?

Marriott Rewards points expire if a member does not have a qualifying activity within the past 2 years. Qualifying activities include:

  • Staying at any participating hotel (through payment or point redemption)
  • Using your Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card for purchases
  • Earning points with Marriott program partners
  • Purchasing points directly through Marriott
  • Holding a qualifying meeting or other event

Do Starpoints® expire?

Starpoints® expire if a member does not have a qualifying activity on their account within a 12-month period. Qualifying activities include:

  • Eligible stays at SPG Participating Hotels
  • Redeeming, purchasing, or transferring Starpoints®

Which hotel credit card earns the most points?

Marriott/Starwood and IHG are titans in the hotel industry, with a combined 40+ brands and thousands of individual locations around the world. So, when you sign up for a hotel loyalty program, you’ve got access to quite a bit. But just as the nightly rate varies based on where you’re staying, the rewards rate can change based on the brand you’re staying with. And loyalty members earn more points per dollar with some brands than others.

Before you’re in the air or on the road, you want to make sure that your desired hotel is the absolute best place to rest your head, so we’ve put together a shortlist of the benefits and rewards rates of major hotel brands.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express cardholders enjoy a flat, streamlined earning rate: 2X Starpoints® at participating SPG® and Marriott Rewards® hotels, while SPG® members can earn an additional 2-3X Starpoints® per dollar. It’s a compact plan that doesn’t vary by hotel brand.

Marriott Rewards® Rates:

Earn 10 points (or up to 2 air miles) per dollar on qualifying charges spent at the following brands:

  • JW Marriott
  • Autograph Collection® Hotels
  • Renaissance® Hotels
  • Marriott Hotels
  • Marriott Vacation Club
  • Delta Hotels Marriott

Earn 10 points (or up to 2 air miles) per dollar on room rates spent at the following brands:

  • Edition® Hotels
  • Gaylord Hotels®
  • AC Hotels by Marriott
  • Courtyard® Marriott
  • Springhill Suites® Marriott
  • Fairfield Inn &Suites® Marriott
  • Protea Hotels Marriott
  • Moxy Hotels
  • The Ritz-Carlton®

Earn 5 points (or up to 1 air miles) per dollar on room rates spent at the following brands:

  • Residence Inn® Marriott
  • TownePlace Suites® Marriott

And Marriott has some extra deals with the following Earning-Only partner hotels:

  • Marriott® Executive Apartments
  • Earn 2.5 points or 1 air mile per U.S. dollar spent on room rate only and one elite night credit for every three nights stayed.
  • ExecuStay®
  • Earn 2.5X points per dollar on all qualifying charges of the stay at ExecuStay® and one elite night credit for every three nights.

How many points do I need for a free night?

When it comes to earning free nights, redemption rates can vary by location and brand. Just as some rooms are more expensive at one franchise than another, some hotels require more points for free nights.

Here’s a quick guide to each hotel’s category or tier, and what it takes to earn free nights:

Free nights with Marriott
Hotel Tier Points (per night) PointSavers (per night)
1 30,000 20,000
2 40,000 30,000
3 50,000 40,000
4 60,000 50,000
5 70,000 60,000
Free nights with Starwood
Category Starpoints® (per night)
1 2,000 – 3,000
2 3,000 – 4,000
3 7,000
4 10,000
5 12,000 – 16,000
6 20,000 – 25,000
7 30,000 – 35,000

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