Best Hotel Credit Cards of 2020

Having a great hotel card in your wallet could benefit your stay next time you find yourself traveling. Americans are staying in hotels more than ever before, according to Deloitte’s annual Travel and Hospitality Outlook, which reports that hotel bookings rose to $185 billion in 2017.
The best hotel credit cards give you bonus rewards — either as points, cash back or other perks — for being a loyal customer and using your card regularly. You can turn these rewards into free nights, room upgrades and travel savings.

The best hotel credit cards reward you for staying in hotels with points, cash back or free nights. Hotel credit cards can be either flexible travel cards or co-branded cards tied specifically to a chain of hotels. We’ve reviewed every hotel credit card available and chosen the best options for you.

In this article

    Best hotel credit cards of 2020

    Best for luxury travel perks

    The Platinum Card® from American Express
    Partner offer
    Apply Now

    Who should get it

    The Platinum Card® from American Express is for travelers who don’t mind paying a high annual fee ( See Rates and Fees )
    to unlock access to luxury travel perks. From free hotel room upgrades to airport lounge access, this card is for people who like to travel in style.

    How to use it

    The luxury travel perks of The Platinum Card® from American Express include access to more than 1,200 airport lounges, free room upgrades and breakfast, automatic gold status with Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors and more. You’ll earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.

    Consider this

    • $550 annual fee
    • No rewards for purchases other than flights and hotels
    • American Express is not as widely accepted as cards in the Visa or Mastercard network

    Why you’ll love it

    The Platinum Card® from American Express is perfect for those who take multiple trips each year, use Uber for transportation while traveling and take advantage of the airport lounges while waiting for your flight. What’s not to love?

    Pro tip: Boost the value of your Membership Rewards points by transferring them to a partner airline or hotel. The best current transfer value is to Hilton Honors, where you’ll get 2x points for every Membership Rewards point.

    Best for high-value hotel points

    The World of Hyatt Credit Card Learn More

    Who should get it

    If you want to earn free nights at Hyatt hotels, The World Of Hyatt Credit Card is a great way to do it. With nights starting at just 5,000 points for Category 1 hotels, the sign up bonus is worth up to 10 free nights.

    How to use it

    With The World Of Hyatt Credit Card, you’ll earn 4x bonus points per dollar spent at Hyatt hotels, 2x points per dollar on airlines, restaurants, local transit and gym memberships, and 1x point on all other purchases.

    Consider this

    • Points can only be redeemed at Hyatt hotel
    • annual fee with no intro period
    • Hyatt hotels may not be available in the city or area you’re traveling

    Learn more

    The World Of Hyatt Credit Card is the best hotel credit card for earning high-value hotel points. This card is just full of surprises, including a sign up bonus where you can earn 25,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months and another 25,000 points after you spend $6,000 in the first six months.

    Pro tip: Determine the cash value of your points by dividing the per night cost of a room by the hotel category’s points per night. For instance, a Category 3 hotel costs 12,000 points per night, but a room might cost $200, making your points worth 1.67 cents each.

    Best for sign up bonus

    Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Learn More

    Who should get it

    Do you need points fast to pay for your hotel nights on an upcoming trip? The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card comes with a fantastic sign up bonus to help you pay for your travels.

    How to use it

    The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card’s sign up bonus gives you 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in your first three months — that’s $750 toward your next getaway when you make your reservations through Chase’s travel portal.

    Consider this

    • regular purchase APR with no intro period
    • No premium travel perks
    • 2x rewards only on two categories — travel and dining

    Learn More

    For an annual fee of , you’ll earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. You can transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards to one of Chase’s partner rewards program at a 1:1 exchange ratio, letting you take advantage of hotel rewards from different hotel programs.

    Pro tip: If you have multiple cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can transfer them all to one card to keep all of your points in one, easy-to-access account.

    Best for Hilton loyalists

    Hilton Honors American Express Card
    Partner offer
    Apply Now

    Who should get it

    If you live, breathe and sleep at Hilton hotels while you travel, the Hilton Honors American Express Card should be the first card you choose for hotel rewards. With exceptional rewards and no annual fee ( See Rates & Fees ), this hotel rewards credit card will keep you calm and comfortable in Hilton hotels everywhere you go.

    How to use it

    The Hilton Honors American Express Card rewards you with 7x points per dollar on Hilton purchases and 3x points per dollar for general purchases, making it a top-tier rewards rate. You’ll also earn 80,000 bonus Hilton Honors points after you spend $1,000 in purchases within your first three months.

    Consider this

    • Hilton Honors points have a lower dollar-equivalent value than other hotel rewards points
    • Rewards can only be redeemed at hotels within the Hilton portfolio
    • No automatic free night

    Why you’ll love it

    You won’t be able to beat a card with no annual fee that offers you 7x points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Honors portfolio, but that’s exactly what you’ll earn each time you use this card at participating Hilton hotels.

    Pro tip: If you spend $20,000 on your card in a calendar year, you can earn Gold status until the end of the next calendar year, granting you complimentary room upgrades and free breakfast at all hotels.

    Best hotel credit cards: summed up

    The Platinum Card® from American Express
    Partner offer
    The World of Hyatt Credit Card
    Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
    Hilton Honors American Express Card
    Partner offer
    CardHotel Rewards RateAnnual FeeWelcome Offer
    The Platinum Card® from American Express – Best for luxury travel perksGet 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year. Terms Apply. $550Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first 6 months. Terms Apply.
    The World Of Hyatt Credit Card – Best for high-value hotel pointsEarn four bonus points per $1 spent at Hyatt hotels and two points per $1 spent at restaurants, airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, local transit and commuting as well as fitness club and gym memberships. Plus, earn one point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $95Earn 25,000 bonus points after $3,000 in purchases within three months. Plus, earn an additional 25,000 bonus points after $6,000 total in purchases within six months.
    Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card – Best for sign up bonusEarn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. $95Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
    Hilton Honors American Express Card – Best for Hilton loyalistsEarn 7x Hilton Honors bonus points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged to your card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio, earn 5x bonus points for each dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations and earn 3x bonus points for all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply. $0Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

    Marriott vs. Hilton

    In its 2018 Most Excellent Hotel Chains in the World rankings, TripAdvisor ranked Hilton third and Marriott fifth. Both chains have hotels across the spectrum from economy to luxury, including the Ritz-Carlton in Marriott’s portfolio and the Waldorf Astoria in Hilton’s portfolio.

    Adding a hotel credit card or two to your wallet helps you cut costs and earn rewards every time you travel. Not only can you earn free nights at thousands of hotels around the world, but you can also take advantage of many of the member perks that come with the best hotel credit cards like free breakfasts, complimentary room upgrades and extra rewards points.

    Hotel chainNumber of propertiesPortfolio brandsCredit cardPoints valueElite Status Qualifications
    MarriottOver 7,000Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Ritz-Carlton, Westin Hotels, Fairfield Inn by MarriottThe Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card, which earns 5 Free Nights after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.0.6-1.2 cents per point10 nights in a calendar year; Gold: 25 nights; Platinum: 50 nights; Titanium: 75 nights; Ambassador: 100 nights and spend $20,000
    Hilton5,700Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Waldorf Astoria, Doubletree, Embassy Suites by HiltonThe Hilton Honors American Express Card, which earns 7x points per dollar at Hilton hotels and 80,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in the first three months. Terms Apply.0.3-0.6 cents per pointSilver: four stays or 10 nights; Gold: 20 stays or 40 nights; 30 stays or 60 nights

    What credit score do I need for a Marriott credit card?

    You’ll need a credit score of at least 680 to qualify for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card. Remember, though, your credit score alone does not guarantee approval for these cards. The card issuer looks at your entire credit history to determine your approval status.

    Can you negotiate hotel prices?

    Yes, you can negotiate hotel prices! The best way to do it is to call the hotel directly to ask for rates. Once the manager gives you a price, you can ask if they would take a lower rate. The exception, however, is on rewards rates. Because most hotels set rewards redemptions based on a fixed chart, you won’t be able to negotiate how many points it costs you for a free room.

    Should a frequent traveler have a hotel credit card?

    Absolutely! A hotel credit card will earn you free nights that will save you an incredible amount of money over time. If you travel for business, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, earns 2x points for every dollar spent on travel. You can also take advantage of luxury travel perks with a premium credit card like The Platinum Card® from American Express, which can help you earn hotel credit, free breakfast and free room upgrades with your reservation.

    How to make the most of your hotel credit card

    Getting the most out of your hotel credit card doesn’t have to be complicated. With a little discipline, you can choose and use a card that will earn you free nights while you travel the world.

    • Pick a rewards program that you’ll actually use. Not the one with the highest sign-up bonus or the coolest perks, but the credit card that earns you points to hotels you actually want to stay in and are available in the areas you like to visit.
    • Use your card for your hotel purchases. You’ll earn the most points when you use a co-branded hotel credit card at the hotel that sponsored it, and your rewards rate will only increase as you earn higher levels of Elite status.
    • Cash in your free nights. Cards like The World Of Hyatt Credit Card earn a free night every account anniversary, but it expires within a year. It’s best to earn your free nights and use them as soon as you can so you don’t lose such a great value by waiting too long.
    • Compare hotels in the same area. Especially in cities, larger hotel companies like Marriott and Hilton will have several hotels in the same vicinity. Before reserving your room with your hotel points, check multiple hotels in the area to make sure you are getting the most value out of your points.
    • Be flexible with your dates (when you can). Flexibility allows you to make the most of your hotel credit card rewards. By being traveling during the off-peak season, you’ll land better rewards rates at hotels.

    How to choose the best hotel credit card for you

    Choosing the best hotel credit card comes down to your personal habits and preferences. You should choose a card that quickly earns you points to use at hotels. Before choosing your hotel credit card, you’ll also want to consider which hotels you enjoy staying in the most and how many points it will cost for each night you stay there.

    Hotel credit cards vs. airline credit cards: What’s the difference?

    Hotel credit cards and airline credit cards are two types of rewards cards that can help you cover your costs while traveling. The difference between the two is the type of rewards you earn and where you can use them. Hotel credit cards earn points you can use toward free nights and room upgrades at hotels, while airline credit cards earn points or miles toward free flights and in-flight purchases.

    Which are the best hotel loyalty programs?

    The best hotel loyalty programs reward you with free nights, great perks and high point values for accessible hotels. The World of Hyatt Credit Card, for example, offers a simple redemption system that makes using your points easy and efficient. Marriott Bonvoy, with over 7,000 participating hotels, is also a fantastic option, especially if you have the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card earning you rewards for every purchase.

    Hotel credit card FAQs

    Hotel credit cards function very similarly to most other rewards credit cards. You use your hotel credit card for everyday expenses and earn rewards. The biggest difference, though, is the type of rewards you earn. With hotel credit cards, you earn points and miles that can be redeemed for free nights and upgrades at hotels around the world.

    Hotel credit is a cash-value award that you can use on purchases at your hotel like spas, excursions and hotel bars. Many premium hotel credit cards offer it as a perk for being a member and using the card for your reservation. The Platinum Card from American Express, for instance, gives you up to a $100 in hotel credit when you book at least two consecutive nights with American Express Travel.

    You will usually redeem hotel points based on the hotel’s redemption chart, which shows the number of points you’ll need for a room at different hotels. Determining the cash value of hotel points can be tough, but World of Hyatt’s favorable redemption rates and hotel categories make its points the most valuable of all the hotel rewards programs.

    The best hotel credit cards make it easy to earn free hotel stays. The most common way to earn free nights is to earn points by using your hotel credit card for your everyday expenses. If you need to earn points faster, you can use a credit card with a great sign up bonus like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card reward you with a free night on your account anniversary every year.

    Many economy and mid-level hotels offer a free continental breakfast for their guests, but luxury hotels usually charge for your first meal of the day. You can, however, land free breakfast at luxury hotels by using The Platinum Card® from American Express to access Amex’s Fine Hotels & Resorts reservations. Elite status with Hilton Honors (Gold and Diamond levels), Marriott Bonvoy (Platinum and Titanium levels) and World of Hyatt (Globalist level) can also earn you a free first meal, depending on the hotel.

    For rates and fees of the The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here .
    For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Card, please click here .

    Editorial Note: Compensation does not influence our recommendations. However, we may earn a commission on sales from the companies featured in this post. To view our disclosures, click here. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by our advertisers. Reasonable efforts are made to present accurate info, however all information is presented without warranty. Consult our advertiser’s page for terms & conditions.

    Methodology

    SimpleScore

    The SimpleScore is a proprietary scoring metric we use to objectively compare products and services at The Simple Dollar.

    For every review, our editorial team:

    • Identifies five measurable aspects to compare across each brand
    • Determines the rating criteria for each aspect score
    • Averages the five aspect scores to produce a single SimpleScore

    Here’s a breakdown of the five aspect scores and their rating criteria for our review of the best credit monitoring services of 2020.

    Why do some brands have different SimpleScores on different pages?

    To ensure the SimpleScore is as helpful and accurate as possible, we developed unique criteria for every category we compare at The Simple Dollar. Since most brands offer a variety of financial solutions, their products and services will score differently depending on what we’re scoring on a given page.

    However, it’s also possible for brands to have different SimpleScores across multiple pages on The Simple Dollar. For instance, if we compare Experian’s ID theft monitoring services using SimpleScore, it scores a 4 out of 5. However, if we apply our SimpleScore methodology for credit monitoring services, Experian scores a 4.4 out of 5. Each unique criteria results in separate SimpleScores for multiple brands based on what we’re comparing.

    Questions about our methodology?

    Email Hayley Armstrong at hayley@thesimpledollar.com.

    Basic plan price

    We award brands who have lower monthly costs for credit monitoring services with higher scores in our methodology.

    Premium plan price

    We award brands who have lower monthly costs for credit monitoring services with higher scores in our methodology.

    Perks

    Who doesn’t like a nice perk? We awarded brands with higher scores if they offered perks to customers, such as free trials, family plans, discounts for annual billing and more than two pricing tiers.

    Customer support

    The SimpleScore system rewards brands that have multiple channels of support so customers can contact representatives in a variety of way.

    Mobile app rating

    We compared brands based on their mobile app ratings as an average of Google Play and iOS App Store ratings.