Consumers who like to get rewarded for their travel spending might look to hotel credit cards to earn free nights and exclusive perks like travel credits, upgrades, or access to luxury lounges. Hotel credit cards can be a great way to upgrade a vacation for free or at a discount, but there are many things to consider before applying for one.
There are numerous hotel credit cards to choose from – each one with a different set of benefits and costs. Frequent customers of certain hotel chains could really cash in on the bonuses and perks. Watch for high interest rates, annual fees, and other details in the fine print – like the rules for redeeming or blackout dates – that might make the hotel rewards not so sweet.
You stand to make the most of your hotel credit card if you pay your balance in full each month to avoid accruing interest. If not, paying high financing fees will eat away at those bonuses in no time.
LendEDU’s 10 Best Hotel Credit Cards of 2018
Note: We are not affiliated with any of the following credit card issuers.
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Card from American Express
- Wyndham Rewards® Visa Signature® Card
- Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card
- Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card
- Hyatt Credit Card from Chase
- Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card
- Capital One® Venture® Rewards Card
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express
- Expedia®+ Voyager Card from Citi
$0 annual fee, $95 after first year • Up to $200 statement credit
- Introductory bonus of a $100 statement credit for spending at least $1,000 during the first three months with the card
- You can earn another $100 statement credit after your first purchase at a participating SPG or Marriott Rewards hotel within the first six months of having the card
- You can redeem Starpoints for free nights at participating hotels or for free flights on over 150 airlines
- This credit card starts the year off with no annual fee as an introductory perk; after that, there is an annual fee of $95
on American Express' secure website
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
13.49% - 23.49% Variable APR
$0 for first year, then $95 per year
The Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Credit Card is one of the best hotel credit cards, specifically frequent guests at Starwood-affiliated hotels. For new cardholders, the SPG credit card offers an introductory bonus of a $100 statement credit for spending at least $1,000 during the first three months with the card. You can earn another $100 statement credit after your first purchase at a participating SPG or Marriott Rewards hotel within the first six months of having the card. The SPG credit card offers member status including basic membership and Gold membership, which is considered elite status.
You can redeem Starpoints for free nights at participating hotels or for free flights on over 150 airlines. If you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to a participating frequent flyer program, you’ll get a 5,000 Starpoint bonus. Starting Aug. 1, 2018, SPG will convert every Starpoint in a cardholder’s account to three points. Then, you can earn six points for every dollar of eligible purchases at SPG and Marriott Rewards hotels and two points for all other eligible purchases.
APR & Fees
This hotel credit card starts the year off with no annual fee as an introductory perk; after that, there is an annual fee of $95. Balance transfers and cash advances have a fee of $5 flat or 3% of the total transaction. Fees on late or returned payments can run up to $38, the maximum penalty. There is no foreign transaction fee to worry about.
Annual percentage rates (APR) for balance transfers and regular purchases fall within a certain range: 16.74% and 20.74%. A heftier APR of 26.74% for cash advances is present. The penalty APR is 29.99% when applicable.
$75 annual fee • 15,000 points for your first purchase
- 15,000 points are awarded for simply making the first purchase with the card and another 15,000 points when you spend $1,000 within the first 90 days
- Earn five points per dollar for purchases made at a Wyndham location
- Cardholders can earn two points for every dollar spent on any other regular purchase
- When cardholders decide to renew their credit card with Wyndham, they are eligible for 6,000 more points, which is redeemable every year
on Barclay's secure website
16.74% - 26.49% Variable APR
New cardholders can enjoy a quick bonus offer with the Wyndham Rewards Card; 15,000 points are awarded for simply making the first purchase with the card, and another 15,000 points when you spend $1,000 within the first 90 days. Those 30,000 bonus points can cover two free hotel nights at a participating Wyndham hotel.
When cardholders decide to renew their credit card with Wyndham, they are eligible for 6,000 more points, which is redeemable every year. Earn five points per dollar for purchases made at a Wyndham location, and cardholders can earn two points for every dollar spent on any other regular purchase.
APR & Fees
Every year, cardholders are expected to pay a $75 fee. Common transactions have fees tacked onto them; for instance, balance transfers cost up to $5 or 3%, while cash advances are charged $10 or 5%. Late and returned payments are charged up to $37 at maximum. There are no foreign transaction fees.
The APR for both balance transfers and regular purchases fall between 16.74% to 26.49%. There is a 0% introductory APR period on balance transfers for 15 months – as long as the balance transfer posts to your account within the first 45 days of having the account. There is a cash advance APR of 26.74%.
$0 annual fee • 32,000 points for spending $1,000 within 90 days
- Earn 32,000 bonus points when you spend at least $1,000 during the first 90 days with the card
- An extra 8,000 bonus points can be earned annually for spending at least $10,000 every calendar year
- Cardholders can earn 15 points per dollar at a Choice hotel location, five points per dollar on eligible purchases, and two points per dollar on regular purchases
- New account members automatically receive Elite Gold Status, which comes with a 10% points bonus when spending at Choice hotel locations
on Barclay's secure website
16.74% - 26.49% Variable APR
Choice Hotels International has over 6,800 hotels in more than 35 countries, and its U.S. properties include road trip mainstays like the Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, and Econo Lodge. Looking to provide for its returning customers, Choice Hotels International offers the Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card for convenience and benefits. The Choice Credit Card comes with straightforward perks and benefits. When cardholders spend at least $1,000 during the first 90 days with the card, they earn 32,000 bonus points. On top of this, an extra 8,000 bonus points can be earned annually for spending at least $10,000 every calendar year.
There are three different rates at which cardholders can build up points toward redemptions. Cardholders can earn 15 points per dollar at a Choice hotel location, five points per dollar on eligible purchases, and two points per dollar on regular purchases. On top of the standard and bonus offers, new account members automatically receive Elite Gold Status, which comes with a 10% points bonus when spending at Choice hotel locations. Additionally, these Gold status members can book 50 days in advance as opposed to 30 days.
APR & Fees
There is no annual fee for using this credit card. There is a balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% and a cash advance fee of $10 or 5%. In addition to these transaction fees, there is a foreign transaction fee of 3%. Cardholders can expect a maximum penalty of $37 on late or returned payments.
Depending on creditworthiness, cardholders can qualify for an APR from 16.74% to 26.49% for regular purchases and balance transfers. There is an introductory period for balance transfers where the APR is 0% for 15 months. There is a cash advance APR of 26.74%.
$95 annual fee • 100,000 points for spending $5,000 in first 3 months
- Cardholders can earn 100,000 bonus points for spending at least $3,000 in the first three months with the card
- When spending money at a Marriott hotel, cardholders earn six points for every dollar spent
- When spending money on everything else, a decent two points per dollar spent is awarded to an account
- A free night at a Marriott location is awarded every calendar year
17.49% to 24.49% Variable APR
For travelers who frequently stay at Marriott’s worldwide properties, the Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card offers many ways to earn rewards. The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card comes with a strong sign-up offer that cardholders can redeem simply by spending. Cardholders can earn 100,000 bonus points for spending at least $3,000 in the first three months with the card. A standard free night starts at 7,500 points. As long as your account remains active and in good standing, your points don’t expire.
Other offers make this credit card even more attractive; for instance, a free night at a Marriott location is awarded every calendar year. Cardholders will find it easy to earn Silver Elite status, which is earned each year you renew the card. To earn Gold Elite status, you must spend at least $35,000 in a calendar year. When spending money at a Marriott hotel, cardholders earn six points for every dollar spent. When spending money on everything else, a decent two points per dollar spent is awarded to an account.
APR & Fees
There is a membership fee that amounts to $95 annually. In addition to the annual fee, there is a balance transfer transaction fee of either $5 or 5%. For cash advances, there is a fee of either $10 or 5%. The maximum late payment fee is $37. Despite these fees, there is no fee for foreign transactions.
When making regular purchases, cardholders can expect an APR within 17.49% to 24.49%, which is true for balance transfers as well. Cash advances have an APR of 26.49%.
$75 annual fee • 40,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 during first three months
- Introductory bonus of 40,000 bonus points for spending $2,000 during the first three months
- Earn three points for every dollar spent at a Hyatt location, and two points are earned for each dollar spent at an airline
- Earn one point per dollar spent on all other purchases
- Cardholders also receive one free night stay at Hyatt every year
17.49% to 24.49% Variable APR
Hyatt offers lodging and hospitality across the globe as an international owner of hotels and resorts. Hyatt partnered up with Chase to offer a credit card to customers who want to get a little bit more out of their Hyatt expenditures. This credit card is known as the Hyatt Credit Card. The introductory bonus offer is fairly strong: 40,000 bonus points for spending $2,000 during the first three months. Adding an authorized user earns 5,000 bonus points. Cardholders also receive one free night stay at Hyatt every year. With free hotel nights starting at 5,000 bonus points, new cardholders could redeem their sign-up bonus for a decent stay.
There are three different rates at which card users can build points. They can earn three points for every dollar spent at a Hyatt location, and two points are earned for each dollar spent at an airline. All other purchases add one point per dollar spent. These points do not expire at any point so long as the account is kept open.
APR & Fees
In order to maintain an account, cardholders have to pay an annual fee of $75. There are a few transaction fees to keep in mind. Balance transfers generate a fee of either $5 or 5% while cash advances come with a fee of $10 or 5%. There is no foreign transaction fee with the Hyatt Credit Card. Late payments are charged $37 at maximum.
Regular purchase and balance transfer annual percentage rates sit between 17.49% and 24.49%. The APR for cash advances is 26.49%.
$450 annual fee • Two free nights for spending $4,000 during first three months
- Introductory bonus of two complimentary nights at a Ritz-Carlton location when you spend at least $4,000 in the first three months
- 10,000 bonus rewards points are awarded for adding an authorized user during the first three months
- Cardholders are eligible for a $300 annual travel credit toward baggage fees and seat upgrades, and additional airfare discounts are available at eligible airlines
- New account members are automatically upgraded to Gold Elite status, which offers unique benefits and exclusive access
17.49% to 24.49% Variable APR
The Ritz-Carlton operates 91 hotels in 30 countries and is known for its exclusive and luxurious properties. In partnership with Chase Bank, Ritz-Carlton offers a credit card product known as the Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card. This hotel credit card offers an introductory bonus of two complimentary nights at a Ritz-Carlton location; cardholders simply need to spend at least $4,000 before the first three months pass by with the credit card. There is more to look forward to; for instance, 10,000 bonus points are awarded for adding an authorized user during the first three months with the Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card.
Although the introductory bonus seems to pale in comparison to other cards on this list, the true strength of the Ritz-Carlton hotel card is in the hotel benefits. Cardholders are upgraded to Club Level when staying at a Ritz-Carlton hotel for up to seven nights – up to three times per year. Club Level includes access to exclusive Club Lounges plus other luxury services and amenities unique to each property. On top of all this, cardholders are eligible for a $300 annual travel credit toward baggage fees and seat upgrades, and additional airfare discounts are available at eligible airlines.
New account members are automatically upgraded to Gold Elite status, which offers unique benefits and exclusive access. After the first year, this status must be maintained by spending at least $10,000 annually with the Ritz-Carlton Credit Card. The next tier status, Platinum Elite Status, can be obtained by spending at least $75,000 annually with the hotel credit card. Points can be earned by simply spending with the credit card. Five points per dollar are earned when spending at a Ritz-Carlton hotel or partner hotel. Two points for each dollar spent are earned for purchases made at an airline, car rental agency, or restaurant. On all other purchases, only one point is earned for every dollar spent.
APR & Fees
The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card is accompanied by a large annual fee of $450, which is explained by the exclusive club benefits offered by the card. Aside from the annual fee, all other fees are standard for a Chase credit card. Balance transfers carry a fee of 5% with a $5 minimum, while cash advances are charged 5% with a $10 minimum. A late or returned payment generates a maximum fee of $37. There is no need to worry about a fee when spending in foreign countries.
The APR for balance transfers and regular purchases ranges between 17.49% and 24.49%, depending on the cardholder’s creditworthiness. An APR of 26.49% applies to cash advances.
$0 annual fee, $95 after first year • Unlimited two miles/ dollar spent
- New cardmembers earn 50,000 bonus miles once they make a $3,000 purchase within the first three months of opening the account
- Pay no annual fee for the first year and $95 for every year after
- Unlimited two miles/ dollar spent on every purchase
- 10 miles/dollar to book hotels stays at Hotels.com
on Capital One's secure website
14.49% – 24.49% Variable APR
$0 for first year, then $95 per year
It’s likely you’ve seen or heard of the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Card thanks to an ambitious marketing campaign, but the real attraction is based on the simple yet competitive rewards program that offers 2 miles per every dollar spent, regardless of what it is you’re spending it on. Additionally, the Venture Rewards card sweetens the deal if you’re booking a hotel with your card by offering 10 miles per dollar spent on hotels at Hotels.com.
Points or miles are useless if you can’t use them, and when it comes to travel, the Venture card makes using your rewards simple. There are no blackout dates, and miles don’t expire, meaning when it comes to making travel plans, you’re free to use them whenever and however you want.
To qualify for the Venture card, you’ll need excellent credit, and Capital One further defines a good candidate as being one that is free from bankruptcy or loan defaults, has had a loan or credit card for three or more years with a limit above $5,000, and has not been 60 or more days late on any loan, credit card, or medical bills in the last year.
APR & Fees
Those who qualify for the Venture card can expect to pay 14.49%, 20.99%, or 24.49%, based on creditworthiness, as well as no annual fee for the first year and a $95 annual fee for each year thereafter.
$0 annual fee, $95 after first year • Two points/dollar on travel and dining
- Earn up to 50,000 points when you make $4,000 worth of purchases in the first three months
- Earn an additional 5,000 points if you add an authorized user and make a purchase in the first three months
- Two points/dollar on travel and dining, one point/dollar on all other purchases
- No annual fee for the first year and $95 for every year after
17.49% – 24.49% Variable APR
$0 for first year, then $95 per year
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is designed with those who love to eat out and see the world (or at least a few states) in mind. To sweeten the deal, redemption values increase if you’re booking your travel, including airfare, hotels, car rentals, and cruises, through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. Speaking of travel, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card also offers a one-to-one transfer rate for 13 travel rewards programs including United MileagePlus, Marriott Rewards, and the British Airways Executive Club.
Many applicants who are approved for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card have excellent credit, though good credit is not necessarily a deal-breaker. Credit decisions are made on a variety of factors including credit utilization. Additionally, Chase has reached some notoriety in the credit sphere for maintaining their 5/24 Rule, which denies applicants who have opened five or more credit card accounts in the last 24 months.
APR & Fees
Should you be approved for a Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you can expect an APR between 17.49% and 24.49%. As for fees, the first annual fee is waived; every year after, cardholders will incur a $95 membership fee, which is standard for many hotel cards.
$450 annual fee • 100,000 Hilton Honor Bonus Points after making $4,000 in purchases
- Earn 100,000 Hilton Honor Bonus Points after making $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months
- Earn 14 Hilton Honors Bonus Points/dollar spent at participating hotels or resorts within the Hilton portfolio
- Plus, earn 7 points/dollar for flights booked directly with the airline or Amex Travel, cars rented from select rental companies, and U.S. restaurants
- All other eligible purchases are with 3 points/dollar
on American Express's secure website
17.49% to 26.49% Variable APR
In 2018, Hilton began an exclusive partnership with American Express, and the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express was born. If you love Hilton hotels, and frequently stay at them, this could be a worthwhile card to consider. One of the main reasons for that consideration should be the high rewards, starting with 14 points per dollar for Hilton hotel and resort purchases and seven points per dollar on flights (when booked through the airline or Amex travel), car rentals, and U.S. restaurant purchases. Throw in three points per dollar for all other eligible purchases, and it’s easy to see how the points add up.
Again, if you’re a fan of Hilton properties and travel a few times throughout the year, then the automatic upgrade to Diamond Status, Weekend Night Rewards, and a $250 Hilton Resort statement credit might be tempting. But the $450 annual fee is where some potential cardholders reconsider.
Generally, cardholders have good credit scores, which makes this a bit more obtainable than some of the other cards on this list. Of course, creditworthiness is dependent on a variety of factors including credit utilization, income, etc.
APR & Fees
If you are approved for the Hilton Honors Aspire card, you can expect an APR between 17.49% and 26.49%, as well as that $450 annual fee.
$95 annual fee • Earn 25,000 Expedia+ bonus points after spending $2,000 in three months
- Earn 25,000 Expedia+ bonus points (equal to $350 towards a +VIP Access hotel) after spending $2,000 in three months
- Earn 4 Expedia+ bonus points/dollar for eligible Expedia purchases (flights, hotels, travel packages, and activities)
- Plus, earn 2 Expedia+ bonus points/dollar on eligible dining and entertainment purchases - all other purchases accrue a 1 point/ dollar
- $100 annual statement credit for airline fees
on Citi's secure website
15.49% – 23.49% Variable APR
As far as points go, Expedia+ bonus points are often considered to be some of the highest converting, with a rate as high as 5.6 percent. Pair that with a $100 annual statement credit for airline fees and it can be a great deal for Expedia enthusiasts. Plus, those approved for the card become gold members, earning them even more points. In short, you can really rack up the benefits if you put the time and effort into Expedia travel planning.
The key word above is "enthusiasts," as the benefits are greatest for those who truly do have a penchant for Expedia. This is partly due to the fact that many cardholders feel the system is complex and inflexible. For example, if you are fond of paying for your hotel at the time of your stay, as opposed to at booking, then your purchase will not qualify. With that in mind, if you’re looking for a hotel credit card that has a simple rewards program with plenty of options benefits, this card might not be the best choice for you.
APR & Fees
Typically, those with excellent credit are approved for the Expedia+ Voyager card, though there are a variety of factors that contribute to a final decision. If you’re approved for the Expedia+ Voyager card, you can expect to an APR between 15.49% and 23.49% and a $95 annual fee.
The Best Hotel Credit Cards for 2018
|Card||Bonus Offer||Annual Fee|
|Starwood Preferred Guest® Card from American Express||$100 statement credit when spending at least $1,000 during the first three months||$0 annual fee, $95 after first year|
|Wyndham Rewards® Visa Signature® Card||Earn 15,000 points after making your first purchase with the card||$75|
|Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card||Earn 32,000 bonus points when spending at least $1,000 during the first 90 days||$0|
|Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card||Earn 100,000 bonus points for spending at least $3,000 in the first three months||$95|
|Hyatt Credit Card from Chase||Earn 40,000 bonus points for spending $2,000 during the first three months||$75|
|Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card||Two free nights for spending $4,000 during first three months||$450|
|Capital One® Venture® Rewards Card||Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending at least $3,000 during the first 90 days||$0 annual fee, $95 after first year|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Earn up to 50,000 points when you make $4,000 worth of purchases in the first three months||$0 annual fee, $95 after first year|
|Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express||Earn 100,000 Hilton Honor Bonus Points after making $4,000 in purchases within the first three months||$450|
|Expedia®+ Voyager Card from Citi||Earn 25,000 Expedia+ bonus points after spending $2,000 in three months||$95|
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 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 what you might think about when determining whether or not it’s worth it to apply to a particular card, consider the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit 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 a Starwood card, you will usually have the opportunity to transfer points to their partners. Starwood partners include different companies including Marriott. There are also options with Starwood-branded cards to transfer points to airline partners. If you want to transfer points to other cards or users, eligibility requirements also depend on the card and the company.
When hotel cards do offer transfer program partnerships, there is a lot of difference in how points transfer as compared to airline programs. For the most part, if you’re transferring points to an airline partner, it’s a 1-to-1 ratio. With hotels, it can vary quite a bit depending on the card or the chain. If you do transfer hotel points, you might not get a great value in doing so.
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 do 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 Premier 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. One example of a card with a sign-up bonus is the Hilton Honors Card from American Express. It has offered as much as 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $1,000 in the first three months. That isn’t an extraordinarily high spending threshold, and the bonus is a good one comparatively.
The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card, also from American Express, offers a $100 statement credit after the first $1,000 in purchases during the first three months of having the card. Then, if cardholders stay at a participating hotel property in the first six months of having the card they can earn an additional $100 statement credit. Most cards will have a sign-up bonus, but some will be much better than others.
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.