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NerdWallet’s Best Hotel Credit Cards, 2015

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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 HHonorsTM 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 HHonorsTM Reserve Card is just the card to do it. The sign-up bonus is currently very generous: Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton HHonors portfolio after $2,500 in eligible 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 Reserve. 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. There is a $95 annual fee, but given the anniversary bonus, there’s every reason to get the card.

Example image of Citi® Hilton HHonors<sup>TM</sup>  Reserve Card

Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Reserve Card

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Apply Now on Citibank's secure website

Pros

  • High rewards rate
  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • Has annual fee
  • Needs excellent credit

Sign-up Bonus

Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton HHonors portfolio after you make $2,500 in purchases within 4 months of account opening*

Intro APR Promotions

None

APR

  • APR: 15.24%* (Variable)
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99%, Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24%, Variable

Annual Fee

$95

Card Details

  • 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*
  • Earn 10 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on hotel stays within the Hilton portfolio*
  • Earn 5 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on airline and car rental purchases*
  • Earn 3 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases*
  • Enjoy the benefits of HHonors Gold status as long as you are a cardmember*
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases*
  • Travel with ease and enjoy global acceptance with your Citi chip credit 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 Points after spending $1,000 on purchases in your 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 does not charge a foreign transaction fee, saving you 3% on every out-of-country purchase. There is a $0 Intro Annual Fee for the first year, 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.

Example image of Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

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Apply Now on Chase's secure website

Pros

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • Has annual fee
  • Needs excellent credit

Sign-up Bonus

Earn 50,000 Points after spending $1,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Intro APR Promotions

None

APR

  • APR: 15.99% (Variable)
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99%, Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 19.24%, Variable

Annual Fee

$0 Intro Annual Fee for the first year, then $85

Card Details

  • Earn 50,000 Points after spending $1,000 in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Receive 1 Free Night Stay after account approval in Category 1-4 locations, that's up to 7 Free Nights
  • Receive 1 additional Free Night Stay at a Category 1-5 location every year after your account anniversary date!
  • Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, thereafter $85
  • For every $1 spent, earn 5 points at 3,800 Marriott locations, 2 points on airline ticket purchases directly with airlines, at car rental agencies & restaurants and 1 point everywhere else
  • Receive 15 credits guaranteeing Silver Elite Status or better
  • Unlimited Point Accumulation
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees and global Chip and Signature technology

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

One of our favorite hotel credit cards, the Starwood American Express, packs a powerful punch. At first glance, the rewards program is fairly unassuming. You get 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 2.3 cents each when redeemed for hotel stays.  That means the base rewards rate is around 2.3%–much, much higher than the industry standard. The signup bonus is currently great: Earn up to 25,000 bonus points: 10,000 after your first purchase and another 15,000 after you spend $5,000 within the first 6 months of Card membership.. There are a number of other perks as well, including credit for elite status upgrades and airfare redemption. There is a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $65.

Example image of Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

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Apply Now on American Express's secure website

Pros

  • High rewards rate

Cons

  • Has annual fee
  • Needs excellent credit

Sign-up Bonus

Earn up to 25,000 bonus points: 10,000 after your first purchase and another 15,000 after you spend $5,000 within the first 6 months of Card membership.

Intro APR Promotions

None

APR

  • APR: 15.24% - 19.24% variable
  • Penalty APR: Up to 27.24%, Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24%, Variable

Annual Fee

$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $65.

Card Details

  • Earn up to 25,000 bonus Starpoints®
  • Earn 10,000 Starpoints after your first purchase on the Card and an additional 15,000 Starpoints after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 6 months.
  • Redeem Starpoints for free nights at over 1,100 hotels & resorts in nearly 100 countries and for free flights on over 150 airlines with SPG Flights - all with no blackout dates.
  • Some hotels may have mandatory service and resort charges.
  • Starpoints stay active as long as you continue to spend on your Card
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $65.
  • Terms and Restrictions apply.

  • Pingback: NerdWallet's Best Hotel <b>Credit</b> Cards, Fall 2012 Edition | Merolog Web Host

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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.

      • 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)

  • 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 ;-)