5 Hotel Loyalty Programs That Offer Free Nights

Jennifer CaloniaNov 5, 2019
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Hotel credit cards offer more than just points and useful card benefits — some can help make your travel experience memorable by extending your trip with a free night on your card account’s anniversary date. If you’re thinking of joining a new loyalty program and are looking for the best hotel credit card for free nights, here are the five best options:

1. Marriott Bonvoy

The product of a merger between three hotel rewards programs — Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest — Marriott Bonvoy offers an annual free night award to some Marriott Bonvoy credit card users. After every card anniversary date, you’ll receive an anniversary free night award. Marriott-branded cards that offer provide this anniversary benefit include the following:

The free night award is valid for a one-night hotel stay, plus taxes. However, it doesn’t cover applicable resort fees.

2. IHG Rewards Club

IHG operates more than 5,000 hotels in over 100 countries, making IHG Rewards Club a strong contender when it comes to hotel loyalty programs with a wide reach. Travelers who are interested in finding the best hotel credit card for free nights can consider the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card.

As a cardholder, you’ll receive a free night award after every cardmember anniversary. The anniversary free night can be used toward a standard room at an IHG property valued at up to 40,000 points.

Plan your travels ahead of time since this anniversary benefit must be redeemed and used within 12 months of receiving it.

3. World of Hyatt

World of Hyatt Credit Card offers Hyatt enthusiasts a couple of free-night opportunities around card anniversaries.

Each year after your cardmember anniversary, you’ll receive a complimentary night stay for a standard room at a category 1-4 Hyatt property. This benefit is not redeemable at Miraval, Hyatt Zilara or Hyatt Ziva resorts.

Cardholders can also earn a second free night after spending at least $15,000 each anniversary year. If you qualify for this card benefit, you can expect to see this additional free night in your account within two to three weeks.

4. Hilton Honors

Hilton Honors Aspire cardholders earn a free weekend night every year. The free weekend night can be applied towards a standard room on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night.

You’ll receive an email with the redemption code eight to 14 weeks after your card’s anniversary date. The free night expires one year after it’s issued.

5. Hotels.com Rewards

Not all travelers want to be tied down to a specific hotel loyalty program. If you prefer the flexibility of applying rewards to any hotel that can offer the best deal, the Hotels.com Rewards program is an option.

As a member, you’ll earn one free night for every 10 nights you book through Hotels.com. Every one-night booking counts toward the 10 total bookings — the 10 nights don’t need to be booked consecutively to earn the complimentary night.

To assess the value of your free night, Hotels.com averages the price of the 10 nights you’ve booked. An advantage of Hotel.com Rewards is that you can apply multiple free reward nights to the same multi-day booking.

Whether you go through a specific hotel rewards program or apply for the best hotel credit card for free nights, your hotel loyalty can help lower the cost of future hotel stays.

Frequently asked questions

Hotel loyalty rewards programs, like Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors, can allow you to accumulate points toward free hotel rooms. What’s great is that the programs are usually free to join.

You can also earn points through hotel credit cards, which earn hotel points for spending on that credit card. Plus, some hotel credit cards, like the World of Hyatt Credit Card, come with additional perks like free night certificates. Otherwise, more general travel credit cards also allow you to earn points for your spending that you can oftentimes redeem for hotel stays.

Yes, you can book free nights at Marriott hotels using points, which you can accumulate as a member of the Marriott Bonvoy program (it’s free to join). You can redeem your points for Marriott free nights starting at 5,000 points. Certain Marriott Bonvoy credit cards also offer free night certificates each year as a perk of holding the card.

The cost to book an award Marriott hotel room starts at 5,000 points. You start by earning 10 points per U.S. dollar spent on qualifying charges at most Marriott hotels, so you’d have to spend $500 at Marriott to accumulate enough points to book a free night at Marriott’s lowest-cost hotels. Though, there are other ways to earn Marriott points, too. Lastly, if you redeem points for four consecutive nights, you get the fifth night free.

The best hotel rewards program is at the hotel you actually stay at — for instance, Hilton Honors Diamond status doesn’t mean a lot when your company only books you rooms at the Hyatt next door to the office. But objectively speaking, it’s the Marriott Bonvoy program that was named NerdWallet’s best overall hotel rewards program.

Marriott wins out in every category of best hotel rewards program according to NerdWallet’s rankings. That includes the best hotel program for families and best program for business travelers. It’s largely thanks to Marriott’s top-notch elite status program and more valuable points.

To view rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, see this page.

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

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