Best Hotel Credit Cards of 2019

Compare the best hotel credit cards to earn free nights, exclusive perks, unique hotel discounts, and more on your next trip.

Mike Brown
Mike Brown
Updated: June 3, 2019

Note from the editor: Our research, news, ratings, and assessments are scrutinized using strict editorial integrity. In full transparency, our company may receive compensation from partners listed on our website. Learn more about how we make money by visiting our advertiser disclosure.

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 score free nights, elite statuses, and unlimited points potential with their favorite hotel loyalty program.

We have analyzed the top hotel credit cards to determine which ones have the most to offer, based on weighted averages spanning eight different data categories. Here are our picks.

LendEDU’s 10 Best Hotel Credit Cards of 2019

Note: We are not affiliated with any of the following credit card issuers.

World of Hyatt Credit Card

World of Hyatt Credit Card

$95 annual fee ​​​Up to 50,000-point sign-up bonus

World of Hyatt Credit Card

  • Get 25,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months, and 25,000 bonus points after spending $6,000 total in the first six months
  • Earn 4x points per dollar for Hyatt stays and experiences, 2x points for transit, restaurants, flights, and fitness club memberships, and 1x points on general purchases
  • Get 1 free night every year
Apply Now

on Chase's secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

18.24% to 25.24% Variable APR

Annual Fee

​​$95

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

The World of Hyatt credit card from Chase Bank makes our list for the best hotel credit card because of the immediate perks it offers. Cardmembers can earn a total of 50,000 bonus points when they spend at least $3,000 in the first three months after opening their account, and a total of $6,000 within the first six months. This hotel rewards credit card also offers nine points for purchases made on Hyatt hotel stays and Hyatt experiences, as well as two bonus points per dollar spent on transit and commuting costs, flights booked with an airline directly, restaurant and coffee shop purchases, and fitness club and gym memberships. All other purchases earn one point per dollar spent.

Cardmembers can redeem points for free nights at Hyatt properties, starting as low as 5,000 points. The card also offers one free night at certain Hyatt hotels and resorts every year after the first year is completed, as well as an extra free night when at least $15,000 is spent during the year.

Unfortunately, points can only be redeemed for Hyatt hotel or resort stays or transferred to a participating partner program at a rate of 2.5 to 1.

APR & Fees

The World of Hyatt credit card does not offer an introductory APR on either purchases or balance transfers. A variable APR ranging from 18.24% to 25.24% applies to balance transfers and purchases. If you decide to make a balance transfer, a fee of either $5 or 5%, whichever is greater, applies. There are no foreign transaction fees on the card, but there is an annual fee of $95. This is comparable to other hotel credit cards of this caliber.

Bottom Line

This credit card is a great option for those who prefer to stay at Hyatt hotels and resorts when they travel. New cardmembers have an opportunity to earn up to 50,000 bonus points, which can quickly equate to a free night’s stay. The annual fee is comparable with other good hotel credit cards, but the low point-transfer ratio limits the ability to transfer to other partner programs. The World of Hyatt card by Chase is best suited for those who know they will use points for Hyatt hotel stays, not with another loyalty program.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card

$95 annual fee ​​​$100,000-point sign-up bonus

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card

  • New cardmembers can earn 100,000 bonus rewards points when they spend at least $5,000 in the first three months
  • Earn 6x points on purchases at Marriott Bonvoy participating hotels and 2x points on all other purchases
  • Earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, a free night award, and automatic Silver Elite Status
Apply Now

on Chase's secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

18.24% to 25.24% Variable APR

Annual Fee

​​$95

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card by Chase is another top pick for the best hotel cards for several reasons. New cardmembers can earn 100,000 bonus points by spending at least $5,000 in the first three months after account opening. They’ll also earn six points per dollar on Marriott Bonvoy purchases and two points per dollar for all other purchases. This rewards rate for non-hotel purchases is higher than what’s offered by other hotel credit cards.

Cardmembers also earn other perks, including 15 elite night credits each calendar year, a free night award, and automatic Silver Elite Status. Rewards can only be redeemed for Mariott Bonvoy program offers, such as free hotel stays or room upgrades.

APR & Fees

This card comes with an annual fee of $95, which is comparable to other hotel credit cards. There is no introductory APR for purchases or balance transfers, and the standard variable APR ranges from 18.24% to 25.24%. There are no foreign transactions fees with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card, but balance transfer fees do apply, at a rate of $5 or 5%, whichever is greater.

Bottom Line

The Marriot Bonvoy Boundless credit card is a great choice for those who prefer to stay at Marriot Bonvoy hotels when traveling. The potential to earn points is relatively higher than other hotel rewards cards, especially for Marriott Bonvoy purchases, but rewards can only be redeemed for Marriott Bonvoy stays or upgrades — not transferred other loyalty programs. This makes the card beneficial only to those who loyal to the Marriot brand.

Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express

Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express

$450 annual fee ​​150,000-point sign-up bonus

Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express

  • Earn 14x points on Hilton hotel and resort purchases, 7x points on flights booked directly with the airline, and 3x points on all other purchases
  • Annual $250 Hilton resort statement credit and a $100 property credit for qualifying charges at participating hotels
  • Complimentary Diamond status and Priority Pass lounge access
Apply Now

on American Express's secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

17.99% to 26.99% Variable APR

Annual Fee

​​$450

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

As one of the top Hilton credit cards, the Hilton Honors Aspire card from American Express packs a big punch for loyal Hilton travelers. New cardmembers can earn an impressive 150,000 bonus points when they spend at least $4,000 in the first three months after account opening, as well as 14 times the points on all Hilton purchases. Seven times the points are awarded for flights booked directly through an airline or on amextravel.com, and three times the points on all other purchases.

Cardmembers with this Hilton credit card receive complimentary Diamond status as well as weekend night rewards each year. There is also a $250 Hilton resort statement credit each year, Priority Pass access to airport lounges, and a $100 property credit for qualifying charges at participating hotels. However, Hilton credit cards only allow for redemption for hotel stays at Hilton properties.

APR & Fees

Cardmembers have a standard variable APR ranging from 17.99% to 26.99%, and there is no introductory offer for balance transfers or purchases. There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3%, whichever is greater, which is lower than some other hotel credit cards. An annual fee of $450 applies each year, which puts this card in the luxury category.

Bottom Line

Many Hilton credit cards offer strong rewards programs for travelers, but the Hilton Honors Aspire card from American Express is the best fit for those who spend enough at Hilton properties to offset the high annual fee. The other perks included in the card can seriously add up, including the sign-up bonus, credits, and Diamond status, but spending has to be high for this card to generate adequate benefits for the cost. Also, for those who want more flexibility in redeeming rewards, a different travel rewards credit card may be a better option.

Radisson Rewards Premier Visa

Radisson Rewards Premier Visa

$75 annual fee ​​​85,000-point sign-up bonus

Radisson Rewards Premier Visa

  • New cardmembers earn 85,000 bonus points if at least $2,500 is spent in the first 90 days
  • Earn 10x points per dollar spent on Radisson Hotel purchases and 5x points for all other purchases
  • Get 40,000 renewal points each year you renew your card
  • Earn up to three free nights each year, plus complimentary Gold Status
Apply Now

on US Bank's secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

16.24% to 25.24% Variable APR

Annual Fee

​​$75

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

The Radisson Premier Rewards Visa Signature card is one of the best hotel rewards credit cards because of its points potential combined with the sign-up bonus. New cardmembers can earn 85,000 points, equal to up to nine free nights, when they spend $2,500 in the first 90 days.

Purchases at Radisson properties earn 10 points per dollar, and all other purchases earn five times the points.

Radisson Premier Rewards Visa Signature cardmembers also have access to 40,000 renewal points each year and the ability to earn up to three free nights each year. Cardmembers are upgraded to Gold status after the card is activated, and they have access to several travel benefits when using the card.

Points can only be redeemed for Radisson property stays and upgrade, however.

APR & Fees

This hotel credit card has a variable APR ranging from 16.24% to 25.24%, and no introductory APR is offered on purchases or balance transfers. A balance transfer fee of either 3% or $5, whichever is greater, applies. Cardmembers must pay foreign transaction fees of either 2% or 3%, depending on the currency used. There is also an annual membership fee of $75.

Bottom Line

This card is a good choice for those who want a lower annual fee travel rewards credit card specific to Radisson hotel properties. However, the foreign transaction fee makes this a less attractive choice for those who travel overseas. The card’s sign-up bonus is worth up to nine free nights, which is much higher than other hotel credit cards, but points can only be redeemed for hotel stays and upgrades with the brand.

Diamond Resorts International Mastercard

Diamond Resorts International Mastercard

$0 annual fee ​​​2,500-point sign-up bonus

Diamond Resorts International Mastercard

  • New cardmembers can earn 2,500 Diamond Plus points after making their first purchase
  • Earn 500 Diamond Plus points for every $2,000 spent (excluding downpayments), 2x points on all Diamond Plus purchases (excluding resort down payments) and 1x point per dollar on all other spending
  • No intro APR on purchases, but you can get a 0% APR on Diamond Vacation Ownership downpayments for six months
Apply Now

on Barclay's secure website

Intro APR

0% on property downpayments for six months

Regular APR

17.24%, 22.24%, or 27.27% Variable APR

Annual Fee

​​$0

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

The Diamond Resorts International Mastercard is one of the best hotel credit cards offered by Barclays. This hotel credit card is designed for those who travel to Diamond Resorts often. New cardmembers can earn 2,500 bonus points after making a single purchase, and all cardmembers earn 500 points for every $2,000 spent on the card. Diamond Resort purchases earn two times the points, excluding down payments. All other spending earns one point per dollar.

The Diamond Resorts Mastercard also offers a concierge service at no cost. However, cardmembers can only redeem earned rewards, starting at $50, for statement credits against Diamond Resorts International purchases, airfare purchases, and car rentals.

APR & Fees

This is one of the few hotel credit cards that offers an introductory APR for both purchases and balance transfers. Cardmembers have six months of 0% APR on qualifying Diamond Resorts International Vacation Ownership purchases, and balance transfers have a 0% APR for the first 15 billing cycles, so long as the transfer posts within the first 45 days after opening the account. A variable APR of 17.24%, 22.24%, or 27.24% applies after that, depending on your credit score.

There is no annual fee, but the card does charge foreign transaction fees of 3% and a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3%, whichever is greater.

Bottom Line

The Diamond Resorts International Mastercard is a good option for travelers who stay at or purchase ownership in Diamond Resort properties. However, this card does not offer much benefit to any other travelers. Although there is no annual fee, the foreign transaction fees, limited rewards potential, and restrictions on rewards redemption may make other hotel credit cards a more valuable choice.

Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express

Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express

$95 annual fee ​​​125,000-point sign-up bonus

Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express

  • 125,000 bonus points when at least $2,000 is spent in the first three months
  • Earn 12x points on Hilton hotel purchases, 6x points on restaurant, supermarket, and gas stations, and 3x points on all other purchases
  • Earn complimentary Gold status and a weekend night reward after spending at least $15,000 per year
Apply Now

on American Express's secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

17.99% to 26.99% Variable APR

Annual Fee

​​$95

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

The Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express is another hotel rewards credit card that offers several benefits to cardmembers. New members can earn 125,000 points by spending $2,000 in the first three months. Hilton purchases earn points at a rate of 12 per dollar, restaurant, gas station, and supermarket purchases at a rate of six per dollar, and all other spending at a rate of three points per dollar.

Cardmembers with this hotel card also receive complimentary Gold status and a weekend night reward after spending at least $15,000 during the year. Points can only be redeemed for Hilton hotel and resort stays or upgrades, however.

APR & Fees

There is no introductory APR for this card, and a standard variable APR from 17.99% to 26.99% applies to both purchases and balance transfers. There is a balance transfer fee of $5 or 3%, whichever is greater, but there are no foreign transaction fees. Cardmembers pay $95 each year for the card.

Bottom Line

This credit card may be a good choice for Hilton Honors program members who prefer to stay at Hilton properties when traveling. The card has a lower annual fee than other Hilton credit cards, and the sign-up bonus can be helpful in earning free nights. However, the restrictions on how points can be redeemed may make this card less valuable for travelers who also like to stay at other hotel or resort chains.

Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature Card

Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature Card

$75 annual fee ​​30,000-point sign-up bonus

Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature Card

  • Get 30,000 bonus rewards after spending at least $1,000 in the first 90 days
  • Earn 5x points on purchases at Wyndham properties and 1x point per dollar on all other purchases
  • No intro APR on purchases, but you can secure a 0% APR on Wyndam timeshare purchases for the first six months after opening your account
Apply Now

on Barclay's secure website

Intro APR

0% APR on Wyndham timeshare purchases for six months

Regular APR

17.49%, 22.24%, or 27.24% Variable APR

Annual Fee

​​$75

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

The Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card offers a quick bonus of 15,000 points for making the first purchase, and an additional 15,000 points when $1,000 is spent in the first 90 days. Cardmembers earn five points per dollar on Wyndham purchases, two points per dollar for gas, grocery, and utility store purchases, and one point per dollar on all other purchases. When the card is renewed, another 6,000 points are awarded each year.

APR & Fees

There is an introductory offer of 0% APR for Wyndham timeshare purchases for six billing cycles, and a balance transfer promotion of 0% APR for the first 15 billing cycles. There are no foreign transaction fees, but a balance transfer fee of $5 or 3%, whichever is greater.

This card has an annual fee of $75, and a variable APR for purchases of 17.49%, 22.24%, or 27.24%, depending on creditworthiness.

If you’d like a no-fee version of this card, you should also check out the Wyndham Rewards Visa Card, which offers fewer bonus points, but you won’t need to spend as much to make up for an annual fee.

Bottom Line

This hotel credit card is a good choice for those who have a balance to transfer or those who plan to purchase a timeshare through Wyndham when opening an account. However, rewards can only be redeemed for free nights or upgrades with Wyndham properties, making this ideal only for those who frequent the hotel brand.

IHG Rewards Club Premier Card

IHG Rewards Club Premier Card

$89 annual fee ​​​80,000-point sign-up bonus

IHG Rewards Club Premier Card

  • Get 80,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 in the first three months, plus 10,000 anniversary bonus points after you spend $20,000 each year
  • Earn 25x points per dollar on IHG hotel purchases, 2x points for gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants, and 1x point for all other purchasess
  • Get a free night after your account anniversary, a fourth reward night free, and complimentary Platinum Elite Status
Apply Now

on Chase's secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

18.24% to 25.24% Variable APR

Annual Fee

​​$89

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

The IHG Rewards Club Premier Card is designed for travelers who prefer to stay at IHG branded hotels. The credit card offers a sign-up bonus of 80,000 when at least $2,000 is spent in the first three months, plus 10,000 points after every year in which you spend $20,000, renew your card, and make one additional purchase.

Cardmembers also earn 25 times the points on IHG purchases, two times the points for gas station, grocery store, and restaurant spending, and one point per dollar for all other purchases.

The card also offers a free night after your account anniversary, a fourth reward night free, and Platinum Elite Status. Rewards can only be redeemed for hotel nights and upgrades at IHG properties.

APR & Fees

The IHG Rewards Club Premier Card has an annual fee of $89, but there are no foreign transaction fees. A variable APR applies to purchases and balance transfers, ranging from 18.24% to 25.24%. Balance transfers also carry a fee of either $5 or 5%, whichever is greater.

Bottom Line

This hotel credit card is a good choice for travelers who prefer to stay at IHG properties. The card’s rewards are not as high as some other hotel credit cards, but the sign-up bonus makes this an attractive option for new cardmembers — at least for the first year.

Choice Privileges Visa Signature Credit Card

Choice Privileges Visa Signature Credit Card

$0 annual fee ​​32,000-point sign-up bonus

Choice Privileges Visa Signature Credit Card

  • New cardmembers get 32,000 bonus points by spending $1,000 in the first 90 days
  • Earn 15x points at Choice Privileges locations, 5x points for Choice Privileges point purchases or gift cards, and 2x points on all other purchases
  • Get 8,000 anniversary bonus points each year when at least $10,000 is spent
  • Receive complimentary Elite Gold Status and concierge service
Apply Now

on Barclay's secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

17.49%, 22.24%, or 27.24% Variable APR

Annual Fee

​​$0

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

The Choice Privileges Visa Signature Card is a good hotel credit card for those loyal to Choice Privilege properties. The card offers a sign-up bonus of 32,000 points, equivalent to up to four free nights, when at least $1,000 is spent in the first 90 days. Cardmembers also earn 15 points per dollar spent on Choice Privileges hotel stays, five points for point purchases or gift cards with the brand, and two points for all other purchases.

The card also offers Elite Gold Status to cardmembers, concierge service, and 8,000 anniversary bonus points each year when at least $10,000 is spent.

APR & Fees

This hotel credit card does not have an annual fee, but foreign transaction fees of 3% apply. There is no introductory APR offer, so cardmembers will pay 17.49%, 22.24%, or 27.24% for purchases and balance transfers on any unpaid balances at the end of each billing cycle. A balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% also applies.

Bottom Line

The Choice Privileges Visa Signature Card offers higher points earning for hotel brand purchases, but a lower rewards rate for all other purchases than some comparable hotel credit cards. The sign-up bonus only requires $1,000 in purchases, so it may be a more attainable offer than what’s offered by other hotel cards. However, points can only be redeemed for Choice Privilege hotel stays.

Hilton Honors Card from American Express

Hilton Honors Card from American Express

$0 annual fee ​​​75,000-point sign-up bonus

Hilton Honors Card from American Express

  • Get 75,000 bonus rewards for spending at least $1,000 in purchases in the first three months
  • Earn 7x points on Hilton purchases, 5x points at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, and 3x points on all other purchases
  • Get Complimentary Silver Status
Apply Now

on Chase's secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

17.99% to 26.99% Variable APR

Annual Fee

​​$0

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

The Hilton Honors Card from American Express is a good alternative for those who want a no-annual-fee hotel credit card with Hilton. New cardmembers can earn 75,000 points by spending $1,000 in the first three months, and seven points per dollar are earned on all Hilton purchases. Five points per dollar are available for gas station, supermarket, and restaurant spending, and three points per dollar will be earned on all other purchases.

Cardmembers also have access to complimentary Silver Status with Hilton Honors, so long as certain spending requirements are met each year. However, points can only be redeemed for Hilton hotel stays or upgrades.

APR & Fees

This Hilton credit card has no annual fee, and there are no foeign transaction fees. However, cardmembers will have a variable APR from 17.99% to 26.99%, and no introductory offer is available for purchases or balance transfers. A balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% applies.

Bottom Line

The Hilton Honors Card from American Express is a cost-effective alternative to the Hilton Honors Ascend card, as it has no annual fee. However, only travelers who prefer to stay at Hilton properties benefit from the points program, as earned rewards can only be redeemed for Hilton stays.

The Best Hotel Credit Cards for 2019

CardBonus OfferAnnual Fee
World of Hyatt Credit Card25,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months, and 25,000 bonus points after spending $6,000 total in the first six months$95
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless CardNew cardmembers can earn 100,000 bonus rewards points when they spend at least $5,000 in the first three months$95
Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American ExpressGet 150,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months$450
Radisson Premier Rewards Visa Signature CardNew cardmembers earn 85,000 bonus points if at least $2,500 is spent in the first 90 days$75
Diamond Resorts International MasterCardNew cardmembers can earn 2,500 Diamond Plus points after making their first purchase$0
Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express125,000 bonus points when at least $2,000 is spent in the first three months$95
Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature CardGet 30,000 bonus rewards after spending at least $1,000 in the first 90 days$75
IHG Rewards Club Premier CardGet 80,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 in the first three months, plus 10,000 anniversary bonus points after you spend $20,000 each year$89
Choice Privileges Visa Signature Credit CardNew cardmembers get 32,000 bonus points by spending $1,000 in the first 90 days$0
Hilton Honors Card from American ExpressGet 75,000 bonus rewards for spending at least $1,000 in purchases in the first three months$0

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: What are the Differences?

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.

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.