Best Overall, Best for Points Value

World of Hyatt Credit Card

Rating as a Hotel Card
4.5
World of Hyatt Credit Card
Full Review
Apply Now
On Chase's Website
Current Offer

Earn 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus, earn an additional 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend $6,000 total on purchases within the first 6 months of account opening.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.99% - 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $95
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 4X points for Hyatt stays, 2x for eligible transit, restaurants, gym memberships, and airfare purchased directly from the airline. 1x on other purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The World of Hyatt Credit Card is our best overall hotel card and best for points value primarily because it offers the highest redemption value of any hotel points we analyzed and has a relatively low annual fee (though it still has one). While Hyatt hotel points are consistently the most valuable in the hotel rewards space, they tend to be harder to accumulate than those of many chains. To add to that it also offers great value through its competitive one-time bonus, a night at a category 1-4 Hyatt hotel on each cardmember anniversary, and a high earning rate on spend at Hyatt hotels. These benefits could quickly justify the card’s annual fee.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Competitive one-time offer
    • Earn up to two award nights per year
    • High reward earning rate at Hyatt

    Cons

    • Small brand footprint
    • Annual fee isn’t waived the first year
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Earn 25,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Earn an additional 25,000 points after spending $6,000 total within 6 months of account opening.
    • Earn a free night certificate valid at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort each year on your cardmember anniversary.
    • Receive automatic Elite status as long as your account is open.

Best for Marriott

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card

Rating as a Hotel Card
4.3
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
Full Review
Apply Now
On Chase's Website
Current Offer

Earn 5 Free Nights after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.99% - 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $95
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 6X points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels and 2X points everywhere else.
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card is our choice for the best Marriott card because of its strong bonus rewards at Marriott properties and double points on all other purchases. The introductory bonus is currently 5 free nights after spending $5,000 in the first three months from account opening, which is quite exceptional. The annual fee is quite modest relative to its sibling the Bonvoy Brilliant American Express and can easily be justified with everyday spending and occasional hotel stays. Marriott has one of the largest hotel footprints in the U.S. and abroad, making its points more flexible in terms of redemption opportunities.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Outstanding introductory rewards bonus
    • Solid rewards rate for Marriott hotel stays
    • Automatic Silver Elite Status in the Marriott Bonvoy program

    Cons

    • You'll have to spend $35,000 per year to upgrade to Gold Status
    • Your Bonvoy hotel rewards account (though not your credit card) must stay active to avoid points expiration
    • The $95 annual fee may be off-putting
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Enjoy a Free Night Award every year after your account anniversary, valid for a one night hotel stay at a property with a redemption level up to 35,000 points.
    • You will automatically receive Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year as a cardmember.
    • Receive 15 Elite Night Credits per calendar year.
    • Earn 5 Free Nights after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Best Business Hotel Card

Marriott Bonvoy Business™American Express® Card

Rating as a Hotel Card
4.2
Marriott Bonvoy Business™American Express® Card
Full Review
Apply Now
On American Express' Website
Current Offer

Earn 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Earn up to $150 in statement credits within your first 6 months of Card Membership for all eligible purchases on your Card on U.S. Advertising in select Media. Plus receive complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status for one year (February 1, 2021-January 31, 2022). Offer ends 1/13/21.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.74% - 24.74% variable
Annual Fee $125
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 6X points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 4X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. purchases for shipping, and 2X points everywhere else.
Cash Advance APR (%) 25.24%
Cash Advance Fee Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    We chose the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express as the best business hotel rewards card because of its strong points value and generous bonus points earning structure for Marriott purchases as well those at U.S. restaurants and U.S. gas stations. Small business owners can leverage business travel and commuting spending along with dining purchases to quickly earn award nights at Marriott-branded properties. Marriott's hotel portfolio includes over 7,000 properties in 131 countries, making it a flexible hotel option for business travel.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Outstanding rewards on Marriott stays and select spending
    • Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status
    • Bonus night on card anniversary

    Cons

    • Dismal rates on non-Marriott redemptions
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary.
    • Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite Status
    • 6X points for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
    • 4X points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers & on U.S. purchases for shipping.
    • 2X points on all other eligible purchases.

Best General Hotel Card

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Rating as a Hotel Card
3.8
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Full Review
Apply Now
On Chase's Website
Current Offer

50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Excellent
Regular APR (%) 16.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $550
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3x points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit, 3X points on dining at restaurants, and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The Chase Sapphire Reserve isn't a co-branded hotel card but it offers a ton of flexibility in terms of transferring its points to various hotel programs which helps make it our pick for the best general hotel card. It has a competitive one-time point bonus, annual travel credit and high rewards earning rate. While the annual fee is high, if you're an avid traveler the annual travel credit can help justify it and it has numerous other travel-related benefits that make this the best card for hotels if you're not ready to commit yourself to a single hotel brand.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Excellent points rewards rate for travel and dining
    • Large bonus for new cardholders
    • Premium travel features
    • Points are worth 50% more for travel bought through Chase Ultimate Rewards

    Cons

    • $550 annual fee
    • Limited high-rewards categories
    • Strong credit is recommended
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Receive 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months from account opening.
    • Get an annual $300 travel credit for eligible purchases charged to your card each anniversary year.
    • Earn 3 points on travel (excluding purchases eligible for the travel credit), restaurants, and dining. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases.
    • Points are worth 50% more when you redeem them for travel through Chase's Ultimate Rewards portal.
    • Transfer points 1:1 to eligible Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partner programs.

Best for Hilton

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card

Rating as a Hotel Card
3.8
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card
Full Review
Apply Now
On American Express' Website
Current Offer

Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass(R) Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.74% - 24.74% variable
Annual Fee $95
Rewards Earning Rate 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. 6 points per $1 for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations. 3 points per $1 for all other eligible purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee None
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card is our pick for the best card for Hilton, among several team-ups between the Hilton hotel chain and American Express because of its valuable one-time bonus and excellent ongoing rewards for those who frequent Hilton properties. It also offers strong bonus earnings on U.S. restaurant and U.S. gas station purchases. The $95 annual fee can easily be justified with normal bonus category and everyday spending throughout the year.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Lucrative one-time bonus
    • Excellent rewards rates across all categories

    Cons

    • Most rewarding for Hilton hotel guests
    • No introductory APR for purchases or balance transfers
    • High minimum spending requirement to earn the bonus
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass(R) Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
    • Earn 12 points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio
    • Earn 6 points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations.E
    • Earn 3 points on all other eligible purchases.
    • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status.
    • Earn a Free Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year.

Best for IHG

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Rating as a Hotel Card
3.7
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Full Review
Apply Now
On Chase's Website
Current Offer

Earn 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.99% - 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $89
Rewards Earning Rate Earn up to 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel, 2 points at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants, and 1 point on all other purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is our pick for the best for IHG because it provides the potential to earn significant rewards points at IHG properties—on top of its generous one-time bonus of 125,000 points, after making an initial spending requirement. The card’s other benefits include an anniversary night’s stay, automatic Platinum Status for IHG Rewards Club members, and Global Entry or TSA PreCheck reimbursement. With all of the ways to earn points, IHG loyalists should fairly easily be able to justify the annual fee.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Generous one-time bonus
    • 2 points per dollar spent in rewards at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants
    • Complimentary anniversary night

    Cons

    • May not be able to redeem for rewards at InterContinental Residences
    • Points don’t have a 1:1 redemption with partner airlines
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Earn 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
    • Cardmembers receive Platinum Elite status.
    • Enjoy a reward night after each account anniversary year at IHG hotels worldwide.
    • Enjoy a reward night when you redeem points for any stay of 4 or more nights.

What Are Hotel Credit Cards?

Hotel credit cards are general-use cards that allow consumers to earn points with specific brands of hotels that have partnered with credit-card issuers. Points rewards are typically highest for hotel-related spending; after that, you typically earn one point- per-dollar-spent on all other purchases, which is the norm for this type of rewards card. 

Points earned with co-branded hotel cards can then be used to book award nights with the hotel chain. The points cost per night usually varies by the property and displayed on the location’s reservation website. Many hotel credit cards offer one-time introductory points bonuses provided you spend a designated amount within a certain time, which is often three months. The bonuses can easily be worth several nights in stays, depending on the level of hotel property you choose. Some cards also come with recurring annual bonuses of a hotel night, typically on your annual anniversary with the card. Annual fees are common with this type of card, but can generally be justified by the value of the benefits you receive. Aside from bonuses and rewards on spending, these can include elite status that earns you higher spending rewards and other perks such as complimentary room upgrades.  

Most hotel credit cards are issued as co-branded partnerships between a major hotel brand, such as Hyatt, Marriott or IHG, and a large national card issuer, such as Chase, Citi or American Express.   

Since some general travel cards offer extra rewards for hotel purchases, we also analyzed those in that category that earned points that can be redeemed for hotel stays. However, none of them made the cut among our top choices, since all proved less desirable overall than the best co-branded hotel cards.

How Do Hotel Credit Cards Work?

Hotel credit cards aim to incentivize and reward hotel stays by offering notably high rewards for hotel brand-specific hotel purchases. Consumers who value hotel stays over other options for using rewards often find these cards a particularly good fit. The value of every point you earn with a hotel card tends to be lower than, say, the typical mile earned with a co-branded airline card. But the points you receive for every dollar spent tends to be correspondingly generous—as high as 12 points per dollar earned. That can make the actual value of rewards earned between the two card types comparable on a dollar-to-dollar basis..Or it can, at least, with most generous hotel loyalty programs. An Investopedia analysis of the value of points across hotel brands reveals a range of more than five times, from Hilton at a meager 0.43 cents per point to Hyatt at the top of the range at 2.22 cents. When scoring hotel cards, we take into account both the value of points and how easily they can be earned. 

Points from hotel credit cards generally have the most value when redeemed for stays with the associated hotel brand. Some hotel chains allow you to transfer points to the loyalty programs of other hotel or airline partners, but the transfer ratio is generally so low that this is rarely a lucrative option.

What Are the Benefits & Drawbacks of Hotel Credit Cards?

Pros
  • Rewards for loyalty to hotel brand

  • One-time introductory bonuses can alone earn you award nights

  • Some cards automatically confer Elite Status in loyalty program

  • Additional benefits like room upgrades

Cons
  • Annual fees are the norm

  • Relatively low points value for many hotel cards

  • APRs are typically higher than with cash-back and non-rewards cards

  • Only hotel purchases tend to be earn additional points per dollar spent

Who Are Hotel Credit Cards Best Suited For?

Frequent Travelers

If you travel often for business or leisure, hotel stays are inevitable. A hotel card presents an opportunity to focus your spending on a national chain and turn it into award nights and other benefits.

International Travelers

With so many chains having an international presence, a hotel rewards card offers an ideal opportunity to earn points on domestic (and international) business travel that you can use to reduce the cost of a personal trip abroad.

Loyalty Status Seekers

If you have an affinity for a certain hotel brand, this card type can allow you to achieve instant recognition and consideration. Many hotel credit cards confer automatic elite-member status, which otherwise could take years to achieve.

Rewards Strategists

Those who relish the strategic challenge of earning the maximum return on card rewards will find satisfaction with a hotel card. All rewards programs are based on points, the required points vary by property, and special offers are frequent--all of which can keep rewards aficionados fully engaged in the work of making the most of their hotel spending.

Who is a Hotel Credit Card Not Suited For?

The Annual-Fee-Averse

Since co-branded hotel credit cards carry annual fees there are better options for those who are allergic to fees.

Borrowers/Revolvers

Hotel credit cards tend to have higher APRs, and don’t offer balance transfer opportunities so this type of card is not a good fit for those who carry a balance each month or several times a year.

Credit Builders

Hotel cards typically require good-to-excellent credit, and so make little sense for those with less than stellar credit history and scores.

How Do You Maximize Hotel Credit Card Rewards?

  • Meet the initial spending required to earn any one-time introductory bonuses
  • Redeem any initial or annual night awards, as they can often expire if not used.
  • Stay at the hotel brand associated with the card whenever possible
  • Avoid carrying a balance on the card, since interest charges will essentially negate any rewards or bonuses you’ve earned
  • Consider using online shopping apps and portals that may add their own rewards to those you earn from the hotel chain

Methodology

Information Gathering

In order to track and assess the U.S. domestic credit card market, we gather scores of data points on more than 300 cards. This data is collected manually from both card-issuer websites and publicly available sources. 

To ensure our information is as up-to-date as possible, we deploy automated tools that monitor changes in such key data as annual percentage rates, introductory rates, introductory periods, bonus offers, rewards earnings rates, fees and card benefits. We then rapidly make any needed updates to our card listings, reviews, and recommendations to ensure that readers have the most reliable information and advice. 

Initial Scoring

Once we collect credit card data we organize it in our database according to features, which roll up into feature sets (such as rewards, interest, fees, benefits and Security/Customer Service). Each individual card feature is assigned a star rating score on a 1 to 5 scale using a formula. For instance, for a one-time bonus score we would use a formula like (if bonus is $500 or greater, then assign a score of 5; if $300-$499 then 4, and so forth). Weighting of scores. Once all of each card’s features have received a score we apply a weighting factor to each feature to arrive at a weighted average score for each card (according to the general category in which it resides, such as travel rewards). 

This weighting process allows us to assign significantly more emphasis to the attributes important to a particular category, and downplay those that are less relevant to it. That allows us to objectively identify cards that stand out in their category, and why they do. For example, we apply significantly higher weight to such travel-specific features as airport lounge access or primary rental car insurance than we do to attributes such as interest rates or fees that might be more strongly considered for other categories, such as balance-transfer cards.

Earnings rates

Another critical factor we consider when rating and ranking travel cards and other types of rewards cards are the cards’ effective earnings rates. We first calculate the average value of points or miles for all the rewards cards in our database, a painstaking process that entails collecting all airline fare data by carrier across scores of popular domestic and international city-pairs along with per-night hotel charges at all major hotel brands. 

The required points and miles for air travel or hotel stays from the various reward programs is then used to calculate an effective earnings rate for each card. That allows our readers to make the most informed choices. By putting a card’s large one-time bonus or earnings rates into context across many dimensions and card features, they can more readily weigh the card’s benefits relative to its costs. Uncovering the true but often opaque redemption value of rewards points or miles is, we feel, the only reliable way to make cogent choices among competing value-based cards.  

Card Features We Score

As mentioned in our methodology explanation, we place significant weight on certain travel-related features in determining our ratings for each card. Specifically, we place over 50% of our overall assessment score on the combination of the following factors:  

  • Maximum value of any one-time bonus, whether in points or miles.
  • Initial card spending required to earn any bonus.
  • Redemption value of the bonus miles or points.
  • Global card acceptance, as detailed by the four card networks (Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover).
  • Options to redeem points or miles with travel partners, both airline and hotel.

Another consideration are the cards’ coverage, if any, in these travel-related areas: 

  • Car-rental collision insurance, whether primary or secondary.
  • Travel accident insurance.
  • Lost or delayed luggage insurance.
  • Insurance for trip cancellation, interruption, or delay.
  • Cell phone loss or damage.
  • Roadside assistance and towing.
  • Emergency travel medical/dental benefits.

General, non-travel related features that we consider and score include:

  • Interest rates, including both introductory and regular APRs for purchases and balance transfers.
  • Fees, including those for annual membership, late payments, cash advances and foreign transactions.
  • Security/customer service features.
  • Other non-travel benefits, such as free credit scores, ID theft protection and contactless payment capability.

How We Reach Our Final Assessments

We rely mostly on the objective scores created by our rating algorithms to determine which card is chosen as the best travel rewards credit card, as well as the ones deemed best for one-time bonuses and as co-branded airline and hotel choices. 

However, we may make some adjustments from time to time, to both features and weightings that could affect rankings, which can be influenced by subjective input from our credit card experts. Any potential modifications will be consistent with Investopedia’s belief that consumers are best served by travel cards that:

  • Provide superior value in earning awards travel.
  • Charge reasonable interest rates in the event that balances are carried month to month.
  • Charge fewer and/or more reasonable fees.
  • Provide solid customer service, based on the number and quality of customer service features
  • Have helpful and protective security features.