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NerdWallet’s Best Hotel Credit Cards of 2018

Nov. 26, 2018
NerdWallet's Best Hotel Credit Cards
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  • Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card

As a result, offers described on this page may be out of date. See our best credit cards page for updated offers.

If you spend a lot of nights at hotels, it pays to think about which credit card you use. A co-branded credit card — that is, a card that bears the name of a hotel company — often entitles you to great perks and bonus rewards at that company’s hotels. But to redeem your rewards, you’re often limited to those same hotels. A general travel credit card, on the other hand, earns flexible rewards that you can use at any hotel — but doesn’t give you the perks of a co-branded card.

If you need help narrowing your options, jump to our video guide to choosing a hotel card, or just keep reading.

NerdWallet’s best hotel credit cards

Best general travel credit cards for hotels

Best co-branded hotel credit cards

» CHART: Major hotel companies and NerdWallet’s recommended cards


Best for easy redemption
and best for Hotels.com users

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Apply Now on Capital One's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • High rewards rate
    • Flexible rewards redemption
    • No foreign transaction fee
    • Sign-up bonus

    Cons

    • Has annual fee
    • Redemption value for cash is half of value for travel
    • Requires good/excellent credit
    • No travel partners to earn additional rewards

    Annual Fees

    $0 for the first year, then $95

    APR

    • APR: 14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 24.74%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
    • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture
    • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
    • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
    • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates
    • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that

Basics

  • Sign-up bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel.
  • Rewards: 2 miles per $1 spent on all purchases; 10 miles per dollar at Hotels.com. Redeem miles for credit against most travel expenses at 1 cent per mile.
  • Annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $95.
  • Foreign transaction fees: None.

Benefits

  • Maximum flexibility. You’re not restricted to any hotel chain. Book your own travel, then pay for it with rewards.
  • No minimum redemption amount. You can redeem any number of miles for full or partial credit against expenses.
  • 10X rewards. Paying with your card at hotels.com/venture earns a whopping 10 miles per dollar on hotels (through Jan. 1, 2020). The same 10X deal is available on its sister card, the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card, which has an annual fee of $0 and earns 1.25 miles per dollar on other purchases.
  • Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee credit. Receive up to $100 credit every four years.

Drawbacks

  • No hotel-specific perks. If you’re loyal to one particular hotel company, it might be worth comparing this card with that company’s co-branded card.
  • No point transfers. You can’t get more than 1 cent worth of value per mile; other cards make it possible to get outsize value by transferring points to travel partners.

Bottom line

For easy earning and redemption, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is tough to beat, whether you want to redeem miles for hotel stays, flights, cab rides or cruises.

Best for point transfers to hotel programs

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply Now on Chase's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • A large bonus
    • No foreign transaction fee
    • Cool factor - metal card
    • Earn more points on travel and dining at restaurants
    • Premium travel protection benefits

    Cons

    • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, after that $95 per year

    Annual Fees

    $0 for the first year, then $95

    APR

    • APR: 17.99% - 24.99% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 26.99%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
    • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
    • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
    • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
    • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Basics

  • Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Rewards: 2 points per $1 spent on dining and travel and 1 point per dollar on everything else.
  • Annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $95.
  • Foreign transaction fees: None.

Benefits

  • Flexible rewards. Unlike cards tied to a specific airline or hotel brand, you can use the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card’s rewards in many ways.
  • High-value redemption options. Points are worth 1.25 cents apiece when you use them to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, or you can transfer them at a 1:1 rate to several other loyalty programs, including such hotel programs as Marriott, Hyatt and IHG.
  • The card is metal, not plastic. Cardholders love the wow factor when they plunk it down.

Drawbacks

  • No hotel-specific perks. As a general travel card, it lacks the special perks — such as free anniversary nights and room upgrades — that hotel-specific co-branded cards might offer.

Bottom line

If you stay mostly at one company’s hotel brands, a co-branded card might provide specific benefits that the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card does not. But if you want flexibility in earning and transferring points for outsized value when redeeming, this is a top pick.

Best for Orbitz users

Orbitz Rewards Visa Card

Orbitz Rewards Visa Card

Apply Now on Comenity Capital Bank's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 720
    850
    Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • No annual fee
    • No foreign transaction fee

    Cons

    • Rewards only redeemable for hotel stays

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • Min APR: 17.99%, Variable
    • Max APR: 26.99%, Variable
    • Cash Advance APR: 28.99%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Get $100 statement credit after you spend $1500 in the first 90 days.

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • Earn an EXTRA 5% in Orbucks on Orbitz bookings – that's up to 10% total!
    • Earn 2% back in Orbucks on all other purchases
    • Get a $100 statement credit
    • No annual fee, no foreign transaction fee

Basics

  • Sign-up bonus: Get $100 statement credit after you spend $1500 in the first 90 days.
  • Rewards: 2% to 10% back in rewards, depending on what you buy on the card and how you buy it.
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Foreign transaction fees: None.

BENEFITS

  • Broad hotel choice. The highest rewards rates can be earned at any hotel booked through Orbitz, and you’re not restricted to one hotel chain for redeeming rewards.
  • Potentially generous. If you jump through the right hoops with the rewards program, you can earn rates as high as 10% back on hotel bookings.
  • No annual fee. Most hotel-branded cards charge one.

DRAWBACKS

  • No hotel-specific perks. If you’re loyal to one particular hotel company, it might be worth comparing this card with that company’s co-branded card.
  • Complicated. Earning the card’s highest rewards rates is complex. It depends on what you’re booking and how you’re booking it.
  • Limited redemptions. Rewards are good for hotel bookings only, unlike general travel cards that offer points that can be used for a variety of travel-related expenses.

BOTTOM LINE

Among hotel rewards cards, the Orbitz Rewards Visa Card has some of the highest earning potential. But you’ll have to jump through hoops to get the best rewards, and you can spend them only on hotel bookings.

Best for Marriott/Starwood

Brands include Aloft, Courtyard, Delta, Fairfield, Four Points, Marriott, Renaissance, Residence Inn, Ritz-Carlton, Sheraton, Springhill Suites, Towneplace Suites, W Hotels, Westin

Basics

    • Sign-up bonus: Earn 2 Free Night Awards (each valued up to 35,000 points) after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening with the new Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card!
    • Anniversary bonus: Free night’s stay annually at a property with a redemption level up to 35,000 points.

Alternative for Marriott/Starwood: Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Many of the basic features of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express are similar to those of the Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card. For example, both have the same point-earning rates and some of the same perks.

A primary difference is the first-year annual fee waiver of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, which charges $0 for the first year, then $95. And the Marriott card is a Visa, which will have wider acceptance, particularly overseas.

The deeper perks of each card also vary. For example, only the SPG card includes land-based Boingo Wi-Fi. If those perks might sway your decision or you simply prefer American Express credit cards, take a closer look.

  • Rewards: 6 points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest hotels; 2 points per dollar elsewhere.
  • Annual fee: $95.
  • Foreign transaction fee: None.

Benefits

  • Merger means more options: Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood opens new possibilities for earning and redeeming at 6,500 hotels across 30 hotel brands in 127 countries and territories.
  • Free night’s stay. This annual perk can easily make up for the annual fee.
  • Automatic Silver Elite status every year, which includes exclusive offers, a 20% points bonus during stays, late checkout and in-room Wi-Fi. You can earn Gold status when you spend $35,000 on purchases in an account year.
  • Points are transferable to several airline partners. See our Marriott program review for the full list.

Drawbacks

  • Marriott points are worth 1 cent each, on average, according to NerdWallet calculations. That’s lower than some competitors.
  • Not as flexible for redeeming as general travel cards.

Bottom line

The Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card is a worthwhile card whose benefits can easily make up for its annual fee. Not only does Marriott have a wide selection of locations, both economy and upscale, but the card doesn’t limit you to using points only for hotel stays.

Alternative for Marriott/Starwood: Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

The basic features of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express are similar to those of the Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card. For example, both have the same point-earning rates and new-cardholder bonuses.

A primary difference is the first-year annual fee waiver of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, which charges $0 for the first year, then $95. And the Marriott card is a Visa, which will have wider acceptance, particularly overseas.

The deeper perks of each card also vary. For example, only the SPG card includes land-based Boingo Wi-Fi. If those perks might sway your decision or you simply prefer American Express credit cards, take a closer look.

Best for Hilton

Brands include DoubleTree, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Waldorf-Astoria

Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card

Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card

Apply Now on American Express's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • High rewards rate
    • No foreign transaction fee

    Cons

    • Has annual fee

    Annual Fees

    $95

    APR

    • APR: 17.74% - 26.74% Variable APR
    • Penalty APR: 29.99%, Variable
    • Cash Advance APR: 27.24%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
    • Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
    • Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
    • Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
    • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
    • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
    • $95 annual fee.
    • Terms Apply.

Basics

  • Welcome offer: Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
  • Rewards: 12 Hilton Honors points for each $1 spent directly with a hotel or resort in the Hilton Portfolio; 6 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; 3 points per dollar on all other purchases. Terms Apply.
  • Annual fee: $95.
  • Foreign transaction fees: None.

Benefits

  • Broad selection of hotels. From Hilton and Waldorf-Astoria to Embassy Suites and Hampton Inn, the chain has 5,300 hotels across 14 brands in 106 countries and territories.
  • Automatic Hilton Honors Gold status, which can snag you a complimentary stay every fifth night at a Hilton portfolio hotel, continental breakfast, and a slew of other benefits. Terms Apply.
  • Earn Hilton Honors Diamond status after spending $40,000 in a calendar year. Terms Apply.
  • Complimentary weekend night after spending $15,000 in a calendar year. Terms Apply.

Drawbacks

  • Low-value points. The card gives you a lot of points, but they’re worth an average of only 0.5 cents each, according to NerdWallet valuations.
  • Poor airline benefits. You can redeem Honors points for airline rewards, but at unfavorable rates.
  • Not as flexible for redeeming as many general travel cards.

Bottom line

If you’re loyal to hotels under the Hilton umbrella, this card more than pays for itself. You’ll be able to hold on to your automatic Gold status as long as you’re a cardholder, making it easier to rack up rewards and earn free stays.

Best for Holiday Inn/IHG

Brands include Candlewood Suites, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, InterContinental, Staybridge Suites 

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Apply Now on Chase's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • No foreign transaction fee

    Cons

    • Has annual fee

    Annual Fees

    $89

    APR

    • APR: 17.99% - 24.99% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 26.99%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
    • Enjoy a Free Night after each account anniversary year at eligible IHG hotels worldwide. Plus, enjoy a free reward night when you redeem points for any stay of 4 or more nights
    • Earn 10 points per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
    • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
    • Platinum Elite status as long as you remain a Premier card member
    • Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card
    • IHG Rewards Club Bonus points are redeemable at hotels such as InterContinental®, Crowne Plaza®, Kimpton®, EVEN® Hotels, Indigo® Hotels & Holiday Inn®

Basics

  • Sign-up bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
  • Rewards: 10 points per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel; 2 points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants; 1 point per dollar on everything else.
  • Annual fee: $89.
  • Foreign transaction fees: None.

Benefits

  • Free night after each account anniversary.
  • Free reward night when you redeem points for a stay of 4 or more nights.
  • Platinum Elite status, which promises exclusive room rates, room upgrades, free internet and check-in/check-out privileges, among other perks.
  • Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee credit. Good for up to $100 every four years when paying with the card.

Drawbacks

  • Not as flexible for redeeming as many general travel cards.

Bottom line

If you stay at the brands of InterContinental Hotel Group, the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card can be well worth its annual fee for the free anniversary night alone, and you’ll enjoy Platinum Elite status as long as you have the card.

Best for Hyatt

Brands include Andaz, Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Park Hyatt 

The World Of Hyatt Credit Card

The World Of Hyatt Credit Card

Apply Now on Chase's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • No foreign transaction fee

    Cons

    • Has annual fee

    Annual Fees

    $95

    APR

    • APR: 17.99% - 24.99% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 26.99%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Earn up to 60,000 Bonus Points - 40,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus an additional 20,000 Bonus Points after you spend a total of $6,000 on purchases within the first 6 months of account opening.

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • Earn up to 60,000 Bonus Points - 40,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
    • Earn an additional 20,000 Bonus Points after you spend a total of $6,000 on purchases within the first 6 months of account opening - free nights start at 5,000 points
    • Earn 9 points total per $1 spent at Hyatt - 4 Bonus Points per $1 when you use your card at Hyatt hotels & 5 Base Points per $1 you can earn as a World of Hyatt member
    • Plus, earn 2 Bonus Points per $1 spent at restaurants, on airlines tickets purchased directly from the airlines, on local transit and commuting and on fitness club and gym memberships
    • Receive 1 free night every year after your cardmember anniversary at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort
    • Earn an extra free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort if you spend $15,000 during your cardmember anniversary year
    • Get automatic World of Hyatt Discoverist status for as long as your account is open and 5 qualifying night credits toward your next tier status every year
    • Earn 2 qualifying night credits towards your next tier status every time you spend $5,000 on your card

Basics

Sign-up bonus: Earn up to 60,000 Bonus Points - 40,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus an additional 20,000 Bonus Points after you spend a total of $6,000 on purchases within the first 6 months of account opening.

Rewards: 4 points per dollar spent on Hyatt hotels and resorts (in addition to the 5 points per dollar you’d earn directly through Hyatt when booking stays); 2 points per dollar spent on fitness club and gym memberships, dining at restaurants, local transit and commuting, and airline tickets purchased through airlines; 1 point per dollar on everything else.

Annual fee: $95.

Foreign transaction fees: None.

Benefits

  • Free anniversary night at a Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort.
  • Additional free night at a Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort if you spend $15,000 during a cardmember year.
  • Automatic Discoverist status and five qualifying night credits toward the next status tier every year. Discoverist status includes such perks as premium Internet access, room upgrades and late checkout. Earn two more qualifying night credits after spending $5,000 on the card.
  • High-value points. Hyatt points are worth a relatively high 2.2 cents on average, based on NerdWallet valuations.

Drawbacks

  • Not as flexible for redeeming as many general travel cards.
  • Narrower selection. Hyatt is one of the smaller players among major groups, which limits places to earn and redeem points.

Bottom line

If you prefer to stay at Hyatt brand hotels, the The World Of Hyatt Credit Card can be worth its annual fee for the free anniversary night alone, and you’ll enjoy Discoverist status as long as you have the card, along with useful everyday bonus spending categories.

Major hotel brands and their credit cards

Although dozens of hotel chains operate in the U.S., most of the major brands are owned by a handful of companies. The table below lists major hotel companies, their best-known brands and NerdWallet’s recommended credit card:

Hotel companyMajor brands Recommended credit card
*Marriott and Starwood have merged and are combining their loyalty programs, but they continue to offer separate credit cards. Those cards offer some similar core benefits.
Best Western Hotels & Resorts
Best Western, SureStay

Best Western Rewards Premium Mastercard

Choice HotelsCambria, Clarion, Comfort Inn, Econo Lodge, Mainstay, Quality, Rodeway Inn, Sleep Inn
Choice Privileges® Visa® Card
Hilton Hotels & ResortsDoubleTree, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Waldorf-Astoria

Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card
Hyatt Hotels Andaz, Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Park Hyatt The World Of Hyatt Credit Card
InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG)Candlewood Suites, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, InterContinental, Staybridge Suites IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Marriott International*
Aloft, Courtyard, Delta, Fairfield, Four Points, Marriott, Renaissance, Residence Inn, Ritz-Carlton, Sheraton, Springhill Suites, Towneplace Suites, W Hotels, WestinMarriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card
Starwood Hotels & Resorts*Same as Marriott Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
Radisson Hotel GroupCountry Inn & Suites, Park Inn, Park Plaza, Radisson, Radisson Blu, Red RadissonRadisson Rewards™ Premier Visa Signature® Card
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts
Baymont Inn & Suites, Days Inn, Hawthorn Suites, Howard Johnson, La Quinta, Microtel, Ramada, Super 8, Travelodge, Wingate, Wyndham Wyndham Rewards® Visa® Card