Many or all companies we feature compensate us. Compensation and editorial research influence how products appear on a page. Credit Cards Best Hotel Credit Cards Updated Oct 19, 2023   |   17-min read Written by Jeff Gitlen, CEPF® Written by Jeff Gitlen, CEPF® Expertise: Student loans, personal loans, home loans, insurance, credit cards Jeff Gitlen, CEPF®, is the director of content operations at LendEDU. He graduated from the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics at the University of Delaware. Learn more about Jeff Gitlen, CEPF® Over the last several years, credit card issuers have realized there’s a growing market of consumers who want rewards and perks that fit their lifestyle. As the competition to gain market share in the rewards credit card industry grows, travelers, in particular, have quite a bit to gain. Companies are offering a slew of impressive sign-up bonuses, annual incentives, and other benefits to entice card members to use a specific card. The industry for travel credit cards has an option for just about anyone wanting to earn more from their travel-related purchases. Although the most popular options come in the form of airline credit cards, a growing number are focused on hotel rewards. With the best hotel credit card, consumers can earn free nights, elite statuses, and unlimited points potential with their favorite hotel loyalty program. Best hotel credit cards Best overall: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless CardBest Hilton rewards rates: Hilton Honors American Express Aspire CardBest IHG card: IHG Rewards Premier Credit CardBest Hilton card with no annual fee: Hilton Honors American Express CardBest Hyatt card: The World of Hyatt Credit Card Reviews of the best hotel credit cards Below, you will be able to review our picks for the best hotel credit cards. Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card Next StepsLendEDU Rating: 4.9/5Rewards rate: 2x – 17xAnnual fee: $95Editor’s thoughts: This card is our top-rated hotel credit card thanks to its large welcome bonus, many benefits, and high rewards rates The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card is our top-rated hotel credit card. New cardholders can earn 100,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in their first three months with the card. Here is the rewards rate breakdown: Up to 17x points at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy3x points on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year at grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants2x points on other travel purchases2x points on all other purchases Pros A large welcome bonus A high rewards rate for staying at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy Points won’t expire as long as you make purchases on your card every 24 months Earn 1 Elite Night Credit towards Elite Status for every $5,000 you spend Contactless payment No foreign transaction fees Free premium Wi-Fi Cons A $95 annual fee No introductory APR offers To learn more about this card and what it offers, click here. Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card Next StepsLendEDU Rating: 4.5/5Rewards rate: 3x – 14xAnnual fee: $450Editor’s thoughts: This card is our top-rated card for earning rewards at Hilton resorts. With a high annual fee, this card is meant for those who are frequent visitors to Hilton resorts Terms Apply. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card offers the largest rewards rates for staying at Hilton resorts. New cardholders can earn 150,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of card membership. While the card comes with a hefty annual fee, there are several benefits that can help turn this card into one that provides more value than cost. Cardholders will enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status, one free weekend night each year, a $250 statement credit for eligible purchases made directly with participating Hilton resorts, and more. Here is the rewards rate breakdown: 14x points on purchases with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio7x points on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, and on car rentals booked directly with select car rental companies7x points at U.S. restaurants3x points on all other eligible purchases Pros A large welcome bonus A high rewards rate for staying at hotels or resorts within the Hilton portfolio Complimentary Diamond status A $250 statement credit for eligible purchases made directly with participating Hilton resorts Up to $100 in credits for qualifying charges at participating Waldorf Astoria® and Conrad® hotels and resorts Contactless payment No foreign transaction fees Cons A $450 annual fee No introductory APR offers To learn more about this card and what it offers, click here. IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card Next StepsLendEDU Rating: 4.9/5Rewards rate: 1x – 26xAnnual fee: $99Editor’s thoughts: This card is our top-rated card for earning rewards at IHG® resorts. There is a large welcome bonus and several high rewards rates The IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card is our top-rated card for earning rewards at IHG® resorts and hotels. New cardmembers can earn 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Cardholders are automatically upgraded to Platinum Elite status. Other benefits include a free night each year, a free night when you redeem points for any stay of three or more nights, and more. Here is the rewards rate breakdown: Up to 26x points per dollar spent at IHG®5x points on travel5x points at gas stations5x points at restaurants3x points on all other purchases Pros A large welcome bonus A high rewards rate for purchases at IHG® resorts Two opportunities to earn a free night Complimentary Platinum Elite status No foreign transaction fees Cons An $99 annual fee No introductory APR offers To learn more about this card and what it offers, click here. Hilton Honors American Express Card Next StepsLendEDU Rating: 4.6/5Rewards rate: 3x – 7xAnnual fee: $0Editor’s thoughts: This card offers several rewards opportunities and added benefits at no annual cost Rates and Fees. Terms Apply. The Hilton Honors American Express Card is our top-rated credit card for earning rewards at Hilton resorts with no annual fee. New cardmembers earn 100,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after spending $2,000 in purchases on the card within the first six months. This card is for the occasional Hilton resorts visitors who want to earn rewards for their stay, but at no annual cost. Cardmembers will earn complimentary silver status, plus the opportunity to upgrade to gold status by spending $20,000 on eligible purchases each calendar year. Here is the rewards rate breakdown: 7x points on Hilton purchases5x points at U.S. restaurants and U.S. supermarkets5x points at U.S. gas stations3x points on other eligible purchases Pros A sizable welcome offer Several rewards opportunities No annual fee Contactless payment Complimentary Hilton Honors silver status No foreign transaction fees Cons No introductory APR offers To learn more about this card and what it offers, click here. The World of Hyatt Credit Card Next StepsLendEDU Rating: 4.8/5Rewards rate: 1x – 4xAnnual fee: $95Editor’s thoughts: This card is great for earning rewards at Hyatt resorts with a generous welcome bonus, several rewards rates, and more The World of Hyatt Credit Card is our top-rated card for earning rewards at Hyatt resorts and hotels. New cardmembers can 30,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 more bonus points by earning 2x points on all purchases that would normally earn 1x point during the first six months from account opening, on up to $15,000 in purchases. If you are a frequent visitor of Hyatt resorts, this card can help you earn rewards for your stays. Every year during card ownership cardholders will receive one free night at any category one to four Hyatt hotels or resorts. If you spend $15,000 during your cardmember anniversary year, you can earn an additional free night. Here is the rewards rate breakdown: 4x points on purchases at Hyatt hotels2x points at restaurants2x points on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline2x points on local transit and commuting2x points at fitness clubs and on gym memberships1x points on all other purchases Pros Two opportunities to earn a welcome bonus Rewards rates on multiple spending categories Get one free night each year after your cardmember anniversary at any category one to four Hyatt hotel or resort Complimentary elite status Contactless payment No foreign transaction fees Cons A $95 annual fee No introductory APR offers To learn more about this card and what it offers, click here. Recap of the best hotel credit cards CardRewards rateAnnual feeMarriott Bonvoy Boundless Card2x – 17x$95Hilton Honors Aspire Card3x – 14x$450IHG Rewards Premier Card1x – 26x$89Hilton Honors Card3x – 7x$0World of Hyatt Credit Card1x – 4x$95 How we chose the best hotel credit cards To find the best hotel credit cards, our Editorial Team analyzed cards by introductory APRs, welcome bonuses, rewards rates, foreign transaction fees, other benefits, annual fees, and whether or not the issuer is nationally recognized. Learn more about our ratings and methodology here. What you need to know about hotel credit cards When it comes to choosing the best credit card, it’s important to compare your spending and travel needs with what a particular card offers. It’s also important to consider whether you meet the general eligibility requirements for the card you want. Hotel credit cards can be valuable to people who take advantage of all the benefits a card will offer, but won’t be so valuable for users who don’t. Here’s what you need to know about hotel credit cards to help you figure out it if such a card is right for you. Hotel credit cards vs. regular credit cards A hotel credit card can provide unique opportunities to cardholders that traditional cards or other types of travel credit cards don’t offer. Hotel credit cards can be a good option for business travelers as well as frequent leisure travelers. There are two general categories of hotel credit cards available to consumers. The first is a co-branded hotel card. Co-branded hotel credit cards are good for people who typically use the same hotel chain and who travel often. With a co-branded hotel credit card, the cardholder can participate in the loyalty membership program offered by the hotel. On the other hand, a general travel card can provide benefits related to travel, but it’s not necessarily focused on one hotel brand. This can be better for leisure travelers or anyone who wants a sense of flexibility in how they earn points and how they can use them. Perks of hotel credit cards The perks depend on the type of card, the company it’s affiliated with, and the cardholder’s loyalty status with the company. One of the primary reasons people use hotel credit cards is because they’d like to get free nights. Along with earning free nights, hotel credit cards can also offer elite status at certain chains. That can lead to things like room upgrades and free wireless internet. Some cards will offer free account anniversary nights to cardholders, and if you earn elite status you can usually get even more perks – like free upgrades, access to exclusive lounges, or late checkout. >> Read More: Best credit cards for free hotel nights Should you ever pay an annual fee for a hotel credit card? Many credit cards do charge an annual fee, but it leaves some consumers wondering if it’s worth it. Most hotel credit cards with the best perks do charge an annual fee. If you don’t travel often or spend much money on hotel stays, a hotel credit card is not likely your best option — and paying the annual fee also likely won’t be worthwhile for you. On the other hand, if you do travel often or spend in certain areas frequently, you’ll probably find the annual fee is well worth it. For example, if you pay an annual fee of $95 but you’re able to earn several nights free throughout the year, you’ve more than made up for that fee. To determine if you should pay an annual fee for a hotel credit card, consider how often you’re using the benefits provided to you through the card. You also want to think about how much you’re actually spending on the card. If you’re not spending enough to make up for the fee and then some, it’s not worth it. How much do you need to stay at a particular hotel to make it worth applying? When you’re trying to decide whether or not a hotel credit card is right for you, you’re going to have to look at your travel time, and how often you stay with that particular hotel if you’re going with a co-branded card. You’ll also need to think about the fees associated with the card, and whether your hotel stays will cover the annual fee, if there is one. Some specific things you should also consider include: Try to choose a hotel credit card for a chain you’re already loyal to. If you don’t ever stay at a hotel, you’re probably not going to break even if you get their card. There might be an amazing offer available from another hotel company, but if you’re not staying there, that offer isn’t going to be worth it to you. Some applicants might get caught up in what’s offered upfront without considering the potential long-term value of the card.Be wary of sign-up bonuses. Sign-up bonuses can be great if you’re going to be spending the money or meeting the requirements anyway, but not if they’re leading you to overspend. For example, if you get a new card and you have to spend $5,000 in the first three months to get the sign-up bonus, is that going to be more than you would normally spend on a credit card?As well as thinking about choosing a card that’s co-branded to a hotel company you’re already loyal to, you need to really understand the points value and accrual system before applying. For example, how much value is each point you can earn worth? To give an example of what you might think about when determining whether or not it’s worth it to apply to a particular card, consider the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card. If someone stays at least once a year at a Marriott hotel, it may be worth it. People earn points for day-to-day spending, and the card provides a free night every year in a hotel that falls into a certain category. Can you transfer points earned on hotel credit cards? Some hotel credit cards will allow for transferring points, and others won’t. For example, if you choose the World of Hyatt card, you will have the opportunity to transfer points to Hyatt’s partners. But unlike airline cards, which usually allow you to transfer points at a 1-to-1 ratio, hotel cards may diminish the value of the points you transfer. Are there any drawbacks? Most hotel credit cards do come with an annual fee, and that can be one of the biggest downsides for some consumers — unless the benefits outweigh the cost. Another big drawback of hotel credit cards is the fact that some programs aren’t very flexible and they can have a lot of restrictions for earning and redeeming points. In some cases with a hotel credit card, you’re tied to that specific chain. If you’re not going to be traveling to that hotel chain at least six times a year, it might not be worth it. Do hotels use blackout dates to limit how you can spend points? What a lot of people learn with rewards credit cards is that redeeming the rewards accrued isn’t as easy as it might seem. You have to be familiar with the details of the cards to make the most of points and redeeming them. For example, many hotel cards and reward programs advertise that they don’t have blackout dates, but is that the reality? With most hotel card and reward programs, the ‘no blackout dates’ marketing mantra refers to standard rooms. So, if you wanted to book a standard room and the hotel doesn’t have any available, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll then book you into an upgraded room. Also, when cardholders want to book upgrades using their points, there can be a lot of restrictions even if the hotel says they don’t have blackout dates. Finally, cardholders should realize that each hotel or chain is going to have its own idea of what a standard room is. Can you get approved for a hotel credit card if you have fair or bad credit? Every credit card company is going to have its own requirements for approval, so there’s no way to determine if you’re going to get approved for a hotel credit card if you have fair or bad credit. It is possible, and there are credit cards available for people with FICO scores of less than 600, or people with no credit history. Regardless of whether you get approved for a hotel credit card with bad credit, you’re probably going to pay a higher interest rate. You’re also likely to have a lower credit limit, at least at first. Hotel credit cards aren’t necessarily any easier or harder to apply for than other specific types of cards, but as with most of the best rewards cards, for the best program options, you’re likely going to need good or excellent credit. What are common hotel credit card fees? Many hotel credit cards charge an annual fee. Again, to determine whether or not it’s worth it to you to apply for a card with an annual fee, think about your spending and how much you’re likely to earn in rewards each year to offset that fee. Other possible fees that can be included with hotel credit cards include balance transfer and cash advance fees, foreign transaction fees, and fees for making late payments. Some travel cards don’t have annual fees including the flexible Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, and the Hilton Honors American Express Card. It’s important to be careful when applying for a card because some will have a $0 annual fee for the first year, but many will charge $75 or more annually after that. Does it ever make sense to have more than one hotel credit card? If you are a very frequent traveler, but you often split your stays between two different hotel chains, you might benefit from having more than one hotel credit card. However, if those cards each have annual fees, then you have to do the math to determine if it’s smart to have both. Sometimes, for people who travel often but don’t have loyalty to one particular hotel chain, it’s best to go with a flexible travel card that isn’t co-branded with any one particular chain. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a popular option for general spending on hotels and travel, without requiring staying with one hotel chain. Are certain hotel credit cards preferred by international travelers? For international travelers, it’s important to look for a hotel credit card that is going to offer options domestically and outside the country. Certain cards are well-suited to international travel, such as the Barclays Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard. This card can be better for travelers because it doesn’t carry foreign transaction fees and it has EMV technology. If you’re a luxury international traveler, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a good option, although it’s not co-branded with any particular hotel company. The card has a high fee, but it has a lot of perks for international travelers, including Global Entry application reimbursement and global airport lounge access. Are there any sign-up bonuses offered on hotel credit cards? There are almost always sign-up bonuses offered on hotel credit cards. Typically these bonuses can be redeemed for multiple free nights at the card’s affiliated hotel chain. However, hotel credit cards that are co-branded are usually only an ideal option for very frequent travelers with an existing loyalty to one chain over another. For someone who wants a card that earns travel benefits but who doesn’t stay at one particular chain, it can be better to opt for a flexible travel rewards card. LendEDU has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. LendEDU and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.