Whether you are a frequent traveler or an occasional vacationer, there are many benefits to having a hotel credit card. Not only can you redeem the points you earn with the card for free hotel stays , but you’ll also get great perks, like complimentary room upgrades, free Wi-Fi , early check-in, late check-out and more. Anyone who’s planning to travel—be it a business trip or dream vacation—should consider getting a hotel rewards credit card.
Introductory point bonuses and your ability to meet the initial spending requirements.
Point rewards for different spending categories — and how they fit with your day-to-day spending.
Hotel add-ons that will make your hotel stays more enjoyable.
Annual and foreign transaction fees, and whether your card will produce enough value for you to justify paying those fees.
Free nights are the most commonly sought-after benefit of hotel rewards cards, but many hotel cards offer users a much broader range of perks, especially those that carry automatic entry into an advanced membership level of a hotel’s loyalty program. This might include late checkout, free room upgrades, complimentary breakfast and guaranteed room availability.
1. Co-branded cards. Most hotel cards, called co-branded products, are aligned with specific hotel companies, such as IHG. These cards reward you for loyalty to specific brands, giving bonus points for spending at properties and sign-up bonuses in the hundreds of dollars. In many cases, the brand will have partnerships with airlines or other companies that you can benefit from.
2. General-purpose cards. Some travel cards reward you for a variety of spending that you can use on a number of airline and hotel brands. In some cases, your points are boosted for using a travel portal operated by the card issuer, such as the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. For example, with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you get an increase of 25% and with the Reserve, you get an increase of 50% on your points when you book through the portal, which makes it worth a look.
2. You have good credit: In most cases, you’ll need to have good or excellent credit to secure a hotel credit card. A FICO credit score of 670 is the minimum score you should have before applying for a hotel card.
3. You can pay off your balance each month: Due to the relatively high interest rates of hotel cards, interest charges can quickly negate any rewards you’ve earned with the card and defeat the purpose of having it in the first place.
1. Look at your travel habits. Do you have a favorite brand? How often do you use it? If you love the Hilton Portfolio, then go with that. If you are open to options, look at which brand is prevalent in the areas where you tend to travel.
2. What are the benefits? When choosing a hotel card, look at the different membership tiers, what they offer and ascertain which one you can realistically meet based on your travel habits. This will help you decide whether you prefer the complimentary lounge access of SPG or the 48-hour room guarantee of Hilton Honors.
3. Take a look at the annual fee. Many hotel cards have an annual fee. You'll want to make sure that you will surpass that fee each year with your rewards. Keep in mind that some cards waive the charge the first year.
4. Make sure you comply with the sign-up rules. Hotel cards typically offer a one-time sign-up bonus in exchange for a required spend. Don't let that deadline pass you by.
5. Put big purchases on it. Planning to get some work done on your car? Pull out that plastic and enjoy such rewards as 3X Hilton Honors points with the Hilton Honors Ascend from American Express. Keep in mind that you may get a better deal with a different card in your wallet that has a flat rate, such as the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard.
6. Pay monthly bills with the card. Look at which card is best for such recurring purchases as cellphone charges and utilities.
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