Hotel Credit Cards

I’ve written about some of my favorite credit cards before, and you can reference those articles in the finance section from the menu above if you’re interested (although these articles are from several months back). We generally try to prioritize opening cards that allow for us to redeem the card’s miles and points for free flights. However, we occasionally supplement these free flights with free hotel stays. Just this past Christmas, Hannah and I stayed at a Westin resort for 5 nights for FREE — what would have cost us $2,500 otherwise. And we only had to use one hotel credit card to do it!

Or just this last month, we used another card’s signup bonus to stay in a really nice hotel suite for 4 nights for free while enjoying Disney World!

Good card redemption value can usually be split between two categories: free flights and free hotel stays. This article is solely about the various hotel credit cards available. Chase’s 5/24 rule (only 5 credit cards every 24 months) and Amex’s once-per-lifetime rule (you can only get an Amex card’s signup bonus once in your lifetime) still apply to hotel redemption cards as well, so keep these in mind if you’re considering other cards. Let’s jump right into it!

 

Laundry List to Evaluate Cards

A few checklist items to review whenever you’re considering a new credit card:

  1. Is there an annual fee? Is it waived the first year?
  2. What will the signup bonus be able to get me?
  3. Is my credit score high enough to be approved?
  4. What other benefits does this card get me?

We’ll use this checklist to help you sift through each card and decide if it’s right for you.

 

Starwood Preferred Guest

Our absolute favorite hotel credit card is the Starwood Preferred Guest from Amex. In fact, this card is so good, that we don’t intend to cancel and churn it within a year of opening 🙂 that’s saying a lot. Rumor on the street is that the Starwood Preferred Guest card could disappear soon, so if you want its signup bonus, now is definitely the time to act. This card was the one that got us the $2,500 resort vacation for free just a few months ago, all from the card’s signup bonus alone. For every 4 nights you book using this card, you get the 5th night free. So with the card’s current signup bonus of 25,000 points you’ll have at least 28,000 points to redeem after meeting the minimum spend of $3,000 in the first three months of opening the card.

  1. The annual fee is waived the first year, costing you nothing. After that, it’s $95 each year if you don’t cancel before then
  2. See above for an example of what the signup bonus can get you
  3. We recommend a credit score of 720+ before applying for this card
  4. The Starwood Preferred Guest’s points are “worth” more than any other card, because you can transfer those points to dozens of airlines and hotel partners – this card is perfect for anyone who wants to stay flexible with their redemption options

 

Marriott Rewards Premier

Since Starwood and Marriott merged a few years ago, their loyalty programs have also been combined. So any points you earn on your Marriott card can also be transferred to your Starwood card, and vice versa. Marriott’s points transfer at a 3:1 rate. That means the current signup bonus of 75,000 points is worth the same 25,000 Starwood points you would receive from the Starwood Preferred Guest card above. The greatest benefit to the Marriott card is the free night stay at a category 1-5 hotel every anniversary year. So if you decide to keep this card past the first year, you’ll get a free night stay.

  1. The annual fee is waived the first year, costing you nothing. After that, it’s $85 each year if you don’t cancel before then
  2. See the Starwood Preferred Guest card above for an example of what the signup bonus can get you
  3. We recommend a credit score of 730+ before applying for this card
  4. Free night stay at a category 1-5 hotel every year

 

Chase Hyatt

If hitting a lower minimum spend but still getting great card benefits is important, then the Chase Hyatt card may be right for you. The minimum spend to receive the signup bonus is only $2,000 in the first 3 months. Similar to the Marriott Rewards Premier card above, you also get a free night at a category 1-4 hotel every year. We plan to use our points for an overwater bungalow in the Maldives!

  1. The annual fee is $75 and is not waived the first year
  2. The 40,000 signup bonus points can get you up to 8 free night stays at a category 1 hotel or 5 nights at a category 2, and there are plenty of these in Asia
  3. We recommend a credit score of 700+ before applying for this card – best for those with lower credit scores
  4. Free night stay at a category 1-4 hotel every year

 

Hilton Honors

This is the best card for beginners or those new to credit cards. There isn’t an annual fee, and you only have to make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of having the card to get 65,000 bonus points. The benefits of this card aren’t spectacular outside of the signup bonus, but Hilton Honors’ bonus got us 4 free nights just last month right next to Orlando Disney World.

  1. No annual fee, ever
  2. Hilton properties are everywhere, so you’ll be able to find some great locations
  3. We recommend a credit score of 700+ before applying for this card – best for those with lower credit scores
  4. Great beginner card that you can hold onto to boost your credit score and credit age

 

Chase IHG

Not much to say here. We opened this card but haven’t used the signup bonus points yet. We’ve never stayed at an IHG property before, but if you’re someone who does, this card has some nice benefits. Obviously, IHG has great properties as well; we just haven’t been to them yet! The nice thing about this card is the low $1,000 minimum spend though, so definitely keep that in mind as you evaluate each of these cards.

  1. The annual fee is waived the first year, costing you nothing. After that, it’s $49 each year if you don’t cancel before then
  2. We couldn’t really advise you on what the 60,000 bonus points could get you because we’re not really sure haha – we’ll have to redeem our points first
  3. We recommend a credit score of 700+ before applying for this card – best for those with lower credit scores
  4. Free night stay each anniversary year

 

Chase Ritz Carlton

We won’t say much about this card because the annual fee of $450 (NOT waived the first year) definitely excludes most people from getting it. There is, however, a $300 annual travel credit for this card, but it only applies to incidentals such as baggage fees, seat upgrades, and airport lounges. So still pretty lousy. We don’t recommend getting this card, but if you want to still see if it’s right for you, check out the link here.

 

Let us know in the comments which hotel card is your favorite, or if you want us to cover our favorite airline cards again!

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