5 Great Reasons to Get a Hotel Credit Card

Jennifer Calonia
By Jennifer Calonia 
Edited by Mary M. Flory

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Although there are plenty of rewards credit cards on the market that let you earn points toward your next hotel stay, hotel-branded credit cards offer extra benefits that can also be worthwhile. If you’re on the fence about applying for a hotel card, here are a few of the best hotel credit card perks available today.

Why get a hotel credit card?

1. Annual free nights

One of the easiest ways to earn a free night stay at your favorite hotel is on your hotel card’s anniversary. Some hotel credit cards celebrate your membership by granting you a free one-night stay every year you’re a cardholder in good standing.

2. Access to big welcome bonuses

The best hotel credit cards offer cardholders a way to accumulate points quickly. This includes welcome bonuses and bonus points in specific categories. For example, the IHG® One Rewards Premier Credit Card offers a base 10 points per $1 spent at IHG properties, with the ability to earn up to 26 points total, and 5 points per $1 spent on gas stations, travel and restaurants.

Alternatively, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card currently offers a pretty nice welcome bonus: Earn 3 Free Night Awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card.

3. Credits on hotel stays or other travel perks

Premium credit cards tout generous travel credits that can be enticing if you’re always on the go. Select hotel credit cards offer impressive travel credits that provide value before you reach your hotel and during your stay.

Whether through an airline incidental credit, TSA PreCheck or credit toward eligible hotel expenses, a hotel card like the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card can cover these expenses to help lower the cost of your trip.

4. Free in-room Wi-Fi

Having free Wi-Fi access in public places — like at a coffee shop or you local public library — can make internet access feel like a standard expectation. However, certain hotels still charge an additional fee for in-room Wi-Fi.

When you’re traveling for business or just want to stream a movie after a long day of adventuring, access to reliable Wi-Fi connection in the comfort of your room is essential. Some hotel cards offer the practical benefit of complimentary in-room internet access during your stay, like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card.

5. Automatic elite status

If you’ve found a hotel chain that feels like home (or even better than home), earning elite status can open doors to perks that enhance your stay. Many hotel credit cards give you automatic status that would otherwise have taken a lot of time, cash and effort to achieve. A few hotel credit cards that offer automatic elite status include:

  • Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express: Hilton Honors Diamond status (terms apply).

  • IHG® One Rewards Premier Credit Card: IHG One Rewards Platinum status.

  • World of Hyatt Credit Card: World of Hyatt Discoverist status.

Depending on the hotel loyalty program you have status with, you may receive access to elite benefits, like room upgrades (based on availability), complimentary breakfast, waived resort fees and more. As an elite member, you may also get access to exclusive rates.

Is a hotel credit card right for you?

A hotel credit card can make sense for you if you’re already a fan of a particular hotel chain or property. A hotel-branded card can be especially valuable if you typically stay with your preferred hotel chain at least a few nights each year. If you enjoy the privilege of extra comforts, this type of card can unlock some of the best hotel credit card perks.

However, there may also be caveats involved to access these card benefits.

Many cards that offer high-value perks also charge an annual fee, sometimes up to $450 per year. Before applying for a hotel credit card, determine whether the card is worth it for you based on your personal travel habits. If you’re not a frequent traveler, these perks may not be worth the annual fee.

All information about the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express is no longer available through NerdWallet.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:

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