Hotel Rewards Cards for People Who Hate Hotels

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Hotel credit cards let you earn points for free hotel stays, room upgrades, and more. With the right card, you could even book a week-long vacation without paying a single cent out of your own pocket, which is pretty amazing if you ask me.

Unfortunately, there is a catch. Like it or not, the points you earn through hotel cards can be extremely difficult to use. Not only do you have to search for “award availability” to book a free room, but you may also need to navigate other exclusions or jump through additional hoops along the way.

Plus, hotel points are generally only good for staying at one specific hotel chain – or a number of properties that fall under one hotel group. And, what if you don’t happen to like any of them? Or, what if you want to stay in a specific destination, and your hotel card doesn’t have any properties there?

And finally, what if you just hate hotels and would rather stay in a condo, beach house, or vacation rental apartment – or camp out under the stars in the most beautiful outdoor spot you can find?

In that case, you could end up stuck with a whole lot of hotel points you can’t use. The crazy thing is, this actually happens all the time.

Hotel Cards for People Who Hate Hotels

At the end of the day, hotel cards are perfect for people who are loyal to a specific hotel brand and extremely flexible as far as dates go — but not that great for everyone else.

hotel hallway

If you find the monotonous sterility of a chain hotel a bit depressing, you can use rewards points to book local vacation rentals, bed and breakfasts, or campgrounds. Photo: Hernán Piñera

Fortunately, a handful of flexible cards offer rewards you can use to break up the monotony and stay any crazy place you can dream up. Here are a few travel cards that could easily be used as hotel cards if you know how to use the perks:

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® doles out miles that are redeemable for any type of travel, including hotel stays, motel stays, certain types of rental condos, train tickets, and more. With this card, you’ll earn two miles per dollar spent on all purchases, plus an epic signup bonus worth a ton of free travel on its own.

The best part about this card’s rewards is that you don’t have to commit to a specific hotel chain or loyalty program. Simply sign up for the card and redeem your miles for any type of travel – even travel booked through sites like Expedia or Travelocity.

And yes, you can totally use the “miles” earned with this card to book alternative lodging options through Airbnb, campgrounds, and more.

Please Note: The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® is currently unavailable through this site.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Much like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® mentioned above, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card lets you earn flexible travel credit without a commitment. You’ll also earn an unlimited two miles per dollar spent on all purchases – and all without keeping track of special categories or rotating bonuses.

Fly with any airline and stay in any hotel or lodging option of your choosing – and do it all without worrying about blackout dates or exclusions. Simply shop around for the best price and book the hotel, motel, condo, or vacation rental that fits your travel goals – even if your travel goals involve getting as far away from hotels as possible. It’s as simple as that. Better yet, this card also comes with a signup bonus that can help you get started.

And if you’re not a fan of traditional lodging options like hotels and motels, this card will put you in a good spot. As long as your purchase is coded as “travel,” you can use Capital One’s “purchase eraser” to redeem your points – paying off your HomeAway vacation rental or bed and breakfast stay. That means you can use your points for a broader range of options than you’d be able to with a traditional hotel card, and that you’ll ultimately have more flexibility.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Consistently applauded as the nation’s top rewards card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers utmost flexibility. Cardholders 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. Further, the points you earn belong in the valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards program, which means you can use them to book any hotel or lodging option at 25% more value, transfer them to a slew of popular hotel and airline loyalty programs, or redeem them for straight-up cash back at one cent apiece.

And since it’s easy to redeem Chase points for cash back, you can use them for any travel scenario you can dream up. Use your points to pay for a tent and camping space for a week this summer, or rent a Winnebago and criss-cross the country. With cash back, the options are virtually limitless.

Final Thoughts

While these cards make it easy to use your points to stay off the beaten path, plenty of other cards will do the trick as well. American Express now has a partnership with Airbnb, for example, which means you can use your Membership Rewards points to book directly on the site.

And any regular ol’ cash-back card will work for flexible lodging options as well. Because, with cash back, you can book anything you want – with no worry of exclusions, “award availability,” or fine print.

At the end of the day, the right rewards credit card will be different for everyone. But if you absolutely abhor hotels, it’s good to know there are plenty of other options to consider to score free lodging on your next trip. You may just need to think outside the box.

Have you ever had a hotel credit card? Or, do you prefer flexible rewards?

Please Note: Information about the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card have been collected independently by The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

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Holly Johnson
Contributing Writer

Holly Johnson is a frugality expert and award-winning writer who is obsessed with personal finance and getting the most out of life. A lifelong resident of Indiana, she enjoys gardening, reading, and traveling the world with her husband and two children. In addition to The Simple Dollar, Holly writes for well-known publications such as U.S. News & World Report Travel, PolicyGenius, Travel Pulse, and Frugal Travel Guy. Holly also owns Club Thrifty.