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NerdWallet’s Best Hotel Credit Cards, 2015

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Best Hotel Credit Cards

If you’re searching for the best hotel credit cards, look no further. We’ve chosen a handful of our favorites that offer high rewards, free lodging and extra perks for loyal cardholders. Hotel-branded cards, unlike most airline cards or retail cards, can actually be worth your while. Frequent guests will discover benefits that both curb costs and add another dimension of luxury to the hotel experience.

As you read through our list, keep in mind these cards only make sense if you are truly a frequent hotel patron. One week out of the year doesn’t quite cut it. Most travelers will do better to check out our current list of the best travel cards to view more universally applicable options. Without further ado, here are NerdWallet’s picks for the best hotel credit cards.

Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card

Want an easy bonus of a two-night stay worth hundreds of dollars? Want that bonus to come with EMV technology, an anniversary award night and free elite status? Of course you do — and the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card is just the card to do it. The sign-up bonus is very generous. Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio after you make $2,500 in purchases within 4 months of account opening

The card also comes with an EMV chip and no foreign transaction fees; an anniversary bonus of one weekend night every year when you spend $10,000 or more in eligible purchases each cardmembership year; and complimentary Gold status for the life of the card. No matter how you look at it, there’s a lot to love about the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card. And the ongoing rewards rate is not too shabby either: 10 points per $1 at Hilton hotels, 5 per $1 on airlines and car rentals and 3 per $1 elsewhere.

Even if you value HHonors points at 0.5 cents apiece (which we do), that’s a 5% rewards rate at the Hilton, 2.5% on airlines and car rentals and 1.5% elsewhere. The annual fee is $95, but given the anniversary bonus, there’s every reason to get the card.

Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Want a gargantuan signup bonus? The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card awards new cardholders a stellar sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Ongoing rewards also offer a great deal: You earn 5 points per $1 at Marriott locations, 2 per $1 at restaurants, airlines and car rental agencies and 1 per $1 everywhere else.

Points are redeemable at all Marriott properties, which include Renaissance Hotels, Courtyard, Residence Inn, and Fairfield Inn & Suites. Keep in mind that redemption values for Marriott points aren’t that great – while you do get the fifth night free when you redeem for 4 award nights, based on the nightly rate-vs-points required value, we think that Marriott Points are worth about 0.8 cents each. This does diminish slightly the luster of the card. The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card does not charge a foreign transaction fee, saving you 3% on every out-of-country purchase.

There is an annual fee of $0 Introductory annual fee, then $85. If that seems steep, think of it this way: The signup up bonus basically pays for almost five years’ worth of annual fees.

Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card

Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Apply Now on Chase's secure website

Pros

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • Has annual fee
  • Needs excellent credit
  • Rewards only valuable if you frequently stay at Marriott properties

Sign-up Bonus

Earn 50,000 Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Annual Fee

$0 Introductory annual fee, then $85

Intro APR Promotions

None

APR

  • APR: 15.99% Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 19.24%, Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 50,000 Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Enjoy 1 Free Night Stay at a Category 1-5 location every year after your account anniversary date!
  • For every $1 spent, earn 5 points at 4,000 Marriott locations, 2 points on airline ticket purchases directly with airlines, at car rental agencies & restaurants and 1 point everywhere else
  • The fastest way to earn Marriott Rewards points towards free nights
  • No limit to how many points you can earn
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees and enjoy wider acceptance when you travel with your embedded chip card and you make purchases at chip-enabled card readers
  • $0 Introductory annual fee, then $85

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

One of our favorite hotel credit cards, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express packs a powerful punch. At first glance, the rewards program is fairly unassuming. You get up to 5 points per dollar spent at SPG locations and 1 point per dollar spent everywhere else. So what’s the big deal? Well, while most rewards programs pay in points worth a penny apiece, we value Starpoints at an average of 2.4 cents each when redeemed for hotel stays.  That’s much, much higher than the industry standard.

The signup bonus is great: Limited Time Offer: Earn 30,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. There are a number of other perks as well, including credit for elite status upgrades, no foreign transaction fees, free Wi-Fi and airfare redemption. The annual fee is waived the first year and $95 every year thereafter.

American Express Starwood Credit Card

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Apply Now on American Express's secure website

Pros

  • High rewards rate
  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • Has annual fee
  • Needs excellent credit
  • Rewards only valuable if you stay at Starwood properties frequently

Sign-up Bonus

Limited Time Offer: Earn 30,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.

Annual Fee

$0 the first year, then $95

Intro APR Promotions

None

APR

  • Min APR: 15.24%, Variable
  • Max APR: 19.24%, Variable
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.24%, Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24%, Variable

Card Details

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 30,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • New: No Foreign Transaction Fees on international purchases.
  • New: Receive free in-room, premium internet access. Booking requirements apply.
  • New: Enjoy complimentary, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide. Enrollment required.
  • Earn free nights at over 1,200 hotels and resorts in nearly 100 countries with no blackout dates.
  • Some hotels may have mandatory service and resort charges.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms and limitations apply.

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  • priyankapandey

    this blog is really good and informative for readers

  • Denia Mance

    you have to add Citi Hilton Honors: “EARN AN ANNIVERSARY BONUS OF ONE WEEKEND NIGHTcertificate good for one weekend night (standard room, double occupancy), at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton HHonors portfolio when you spend $10,000 or more on eligible purchases each cardmembership year.”

  • Denia Mance

    I have Marriott Premier Card and IHG, I think these 2 are the best hotel cards…

    • notimeforit

      Marriott is owned by the Mormon church. Enough said.

      • dmg

        Marriott is owned by the Marriott family who are members of the mormon church. That is equivalent to saying Hilton is owned by the catholic church because it was started by members of the catholic church.

      • Adlp1ph

        it is a corporation and its not family owned anymore … the corporation is non-affiliated to any religion …. your opinion just shows hatred and close mindedness

      • BulletBarry

        What’s wrong with our very good friends the Mormon people? (I’m Jewish, btw)

        • jock1234

          notimeforit,
          YOU are officially wrong. The Mormon church does not own the Marriott or any other hotels. Bill Marriott and his family (who are LDS do own the hotels). And, the Mormons are “class acts”, I know, as I know many of them. Any disdain you may have, is a problem for you to work out – girl!

    • CS

      It’s also important to factor in the value of the points you earn with the different cards. For example, the Starwood points are worth a lot more than most other hotel reward points.

      To quickly do an apples-to-apples comparison of the reward dollar value you can earn from various cards for your expenses, you can use the reward calculator at CreditCardTuneUp. com.

  • MichaelRC

    Might also wanna check out the rewards calculator at CredítCardTuneUp. com to see how much in hotel rewards (dollar value) you’d earn for your expenses with various cards.

    Calculates the best card combos for you too.

  • notimeforit

    You didn’t even mention the Chase Hyatt card which gives you two free nights just for signing up and an additional night after the first year.

  • notimeforit

    Marriott’s executive director, Bill Marriott is a visible, lifelong Mormon who has professed his faith in his church’s teachings—including traditional marriage. Regardless of what ad campaigns or appeal to the LGBT community that Marriott makes, this is a fact.

    • Cam

      Are you saying that you avoid all corporations that are owned by people you disagree with? I imagine that would be a pretty long list.

      • notimeforit

        Actually the list of company CEO’s who are overtly anti-gay isn’t that long. Many of them are white trash companies most gay people aren’t interested in anyway i.e. Cracker Barrell, Chick-fil-A, etc. (I mean what kind of people eat Chick-fil-A seriously?) Although the sale of the Beverly Hills Hotel to an Islamic fundamentalist terrorist was a sad loss that is being worked on 😉

  • Billy V

    HYATT needs serious consideration if you stay at their hotels