What’s the Best Hotel Credit Card? (We Compare 13 of Them)
Aw nerds! Looks like this page may be out of date. You can still check out our list of the Best Hotel Credit Cards.
In our opinion, the three best hotel credit cards are the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, the Hilton HHonorsTM Card from American Express and the Ritz-Carlton® Rewards Credit Card. The first two are offered by American Express, an issuer known for catering to frequent travelers and big spenders, while the last is issued by Chase. Keep in mind that the value of hotel credit cards is pretty subjective, since points lose a lot of their value if you don’t redeem for hotel stays or with the hotel chain’s affiliates.
That said, hotel credit cards are a surprisingly good deal in comparison to airline credit cards and even normal rewards credit cards. Many give rewards not just for staying at the hotel, or for spending at affiliates, but also for spending on everyday purchases like groceries. Hotel rewards are notoriously hard to quantify, since points can be used in so many different scenarios. But we’ve done our homework and calculated how much a room costs compared to how many points it takes to book the room, putting a dollar value on murky hotel rewards points.
Best hotel credit card overall: The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express gives, in our opinion, some of the best base and bonus rewards rates out there. We value a Starpoint (the Starwood rewards currency) at 2.3 cents on average, which is far more than the industry standard of a single cent. This actually understates its true value, since it can range from 1 cent to a full 5 cents if you redeem a Starpoint right. That means the base rewards rate for the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is 2.3% on average, and can max out at 5%. The bonus rewards rate is 5 Starpoints per $1 spent at SPG hotels (2 for the card + 2 for being a preferred guest + 1 for gold/elite status), or ~11.5% rewards. There are also quite a few perks, detailed in our blog post about the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express.
Best fringe benefits: The Ritz-Carlton® Rewards Credit Card has fringe benefits that rival (and at times surpass) those of The Platinum Card® from American Express. It gives complimentary Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership (valued at ~$400), a $200 airline incidentals credit, complimentary Gold Elite status in your first year, and a $100 credit towards dining, spas and other hotel activities each time you spend two or more nights at the hotel. That’s on top of the signup bonus: 70,000 Ritz-Carlton Rewards Points Bonus after spending $2,000 - when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months. It gives 5 points per $1 spent at the hotel, 2 per $1 spent on airfare, dining and car rentals, and 1 per $1 spent elsewhere.
Most generous rewards rate: The Hilton HHonorsTM Surpass® Card from American Express‘s annual fee is $75, but it’s well worth it for the extensive perks and decent rewards rate. You earn 3 HHonors points per $1 as a base rate, 6 points per $1 spent on gas, groceries, drugstores, and cable/internet/wireless bills, and 9 per $1 spent at the Hilton itself. We value HHonors points at anywhere from 0.4-1.7 cents each, and an average of 0.5 cents. Even with that devaluation, the Hilton HHonorsTM Surpass® Card from American Express earns 1.5% base, 3% in the generous bonus categories and 4.5% at the Hilton itself. The extensive benefits include complimentary Gold VIP status for 1 year, a points bonus for staying at Category 5&6 hotels, and lounge access valued at $99 a year.
The top hotel credit cards, ranked: Here’s our take on the best hotel credit cards. We’ve listed the base rewards rate, bonus rate and rate for staying at the hotel, but as a percentage rather than points earned per $1 spent. We also listed the dollar value of the signup bonus. This is because we’ve valued each hotel’s rewards points in dollar terms based on the cost of a hotel room versus the points you’d redeem. For a complete explanation of how we came to these numbers, check out our hotel rewards infographic.
|Card Name||Base Rewards Rate||Bonus Rate||Hotel Rate||Annual Fee||Value of Signup Bonus|
|Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express**||2.3%||N/A||11.5%||$0 for the first year, then $95||$575|
|Ritz-Carlton® Rewards Credit Card**||1%||2% on airfare, dining and car rentals||5%||annual fee is $395||$500|
|Hilton HHonorsTM Surpass® Card from American Express**||1.5%||3% on groceries, gas, drugstores, utilities||4.5%||annual fee is $75||$200|
|Hilton HHonorsTM Card from American Express||1.5%||3% on groceries, gas, drugstores, utilities||3%||annual fee is $0||$100|
|Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card||1%||3 points per $1 spent on gas, groceries, drugstores (a 1.5% reward rate based on our estimate of point value)||6 points for each $1 spent at participating hotels (a 3% reward rate based on our estimate of point value)||annual fee is $95||$200|
|Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card||1%||2% on airfare, dining, rental cars||5%||$0 Introductory annual fee, then $85||$500|
|Marriott Rewards® Credit Card||1%||N/A||3%||annual fee is waived the first year and $45 every year thereafter||$300|
|Best Western Credit Card||0.6%||N/A||9%||annual fee is $0||$90|
|Chase Priority Club Rewards Signature||0.6%||1.2% on dining, groceries, gas||3%||annual fee is waived the first year and $49 every year thereafter||$180|
|Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature||1.2%||N/A||3%||annual fee is waived the first year and $39 every year thereafter||$108|
|The Wyndham Rewards® Visa Signature® Card||1.2%||N/A||1.8%||$0||$72|
|The Choice Privileges® Visa® Card||1.6%||N/A||4-12%||$0||$128|
*The annual fee is waived the first year.
**The card has significant perks/fringe benefits that you should consider; see the card details.
***The Hilton cards’ rewards rates are based on our valuation of Hilton HHonors Points at 2 HHonors points to the penny.