Best Hotel Credit Cards of 2019

Hotel credit cards can be used to earn free nights, upgrades, and special perks at hotels throughout the world. From budget travelers to luxury aficionados, hotel credit cards can make all the difference. Whether you have a preferred hotel chain and would like a branded card or you enjoy many hotel chains and would like a more flexible card with transferable rewards, there are plenty of options to choose from. Check out our top hotel cards from our partners and get more traveling done in 2019.

Best hotel credit cards for 2019:

Best for flexible hotel bookings

Capital One Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Capital One's secure website

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture. Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
Welcome Offer:
50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Annual Fee:
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
17.49% - 24.74% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for flexible hotel bookings with no annual fee

Capital One Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Capital One's secure website

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture. Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day.
Welcome Offer:
20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% intro on purchases for 12 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
13.74% - 23.74% (Variable)

Card Details

  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 13.74% - 23.74% variable APR after that
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates and fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for loyal Hilton customers

American Express Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On American Express's secure website

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

Rewards 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. Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card
Welcome Offer:
Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
Annual Fee:
$95
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
17.24%-26.24% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • 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.
  • Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Best Hilton card with no annual fee

American Express Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On American Express's secure website

Hilton Honors American Express Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Honors portfolio of brands. Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card
Welcome Offer:
Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
17.24%-26.24% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Honors portfolio of brands.
  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with your Card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Best for premium cardholder benefits

American Express Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On American Express's secure website

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Rewards Rate:
5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
Welcome Offer:
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
Annual Fee:
$550
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
N/A

Card Details

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Best for flexible business travelers

American Express Image

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent (740 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On American Express's secure website

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

Rewards Rate:
Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com. Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
Welcome Offer:
Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
Annual Fee:
$595
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
N/A

Card Details

  • Welcome Offer: Earn up to 100,000 Membership Rewards® points.
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
  • Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
  • Terms Apply

Best rewards for Marriott loyalists

American Express Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On American Express's secure website

Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card

Rewards Rate:
6x points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. 4x points at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping. 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
Welcome Offer:
Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
Annual Fee:
$125
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
17.24% - 26.24% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • 6x points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
  • 4x points at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping. 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status with your Card. Plus, earn Gold Elite status after making $35,000 in eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • Terms apply.

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.


Author: Barry Bridges


Your guide to choosing the best hotel credit card

Hotel credit cards can help you make the most of your travel experience, especially if you tend to stay at the same brand of hotels wherever you travel. Additionally, there are some general travel cards that are also excellent for frequent travelers due to their partnerships with certain brands. Which is best for you? Read through our guide to help you decide.

In this article:

Recap: The best hotel credit cards for 2019

Card Name Bankrate Score Best For
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card 4.6/5 Flexible hotel bookings
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card 4.1/5 Flexible hotel bookings with no annual fee
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card 4.5/5 Rewards for Hilton loyalists
Hilton Honors American Express Card  4.3/5 Hilton card with no annual fee
The Platinum Card® from American Express 4.8/5 Premium cardholder benefits
The Business Platinum® Card from American Express  4.7/5 Flexible business travelers
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card 4.5/5 Marriott loyalists

How we score the best hotel cards of 2019

Our team includes avid travelers and so, as users as well as commentators, we take reviewing the best hotel rewards card very seriously. We want to help you find the card that will help fund your next girl’s trip, guys trip, family vacation, celebration, and everything in between!

Methodology

Ultimately, the best hotel rewards card is one that accommodates your personal travel needs. There’s not much reason to accrue Hilton Honors points if you frequently find yourself in Starwood-Marriott locations. With loyalty in mind, we laid out the facts and used our proprietary Bankrate score to cut through the noise and calculate the true value behind each hotel rewards program along with additive value each card brings to the table. Our 5-star scoring system takes a host of elements into account, but for hotel credit cards, we’ve emphasized weighting on:

Rewards value and redemption flexibility

Some cards offer the capability to transfer hotel points to different chains while other cards have their rewards tied to specific loyalty programs, To help you earn the most rewards possible, at the highest redemption value, we comb through the numbers to rank each card on the value that each swipe brings.

Annual Fee

A lot of high-end hotel rewards cards charge fees, but offset this cost with luxury benefits like free room upgrades and trip insurance. We examine how each of these add-ons as we determine whether the annual fee is worth the cost.

Sign up bonus

Sign up bonuses are some of the strongest options for acquiring hotel points. Within three months, you can hit the spending requirement, and quickly amass enough points to redeem for a free night. We compare each of these welcome bonuses as we determine which cards deliver the strongest offerings on the market.

How to choose the best hotel credit card

There are essentially two types of hotel credit cards: co-branded hotel cards that partner an issuer with a popular hotel brand, and general travel cards that offer hotel-related perks. Choosing the right card for you comes down to how much flexibility you need from your rewards.

For example, the Capital One Venture earns 2x miles on every purchase, plus 10x miles on prepaid bookings made through Capital One’s partnership with hotels.com. Those miles can be used as a statement credit for just about any travel expense. The card also comes with nice perks like a statement credit (up to $100) for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee. While the card definitely offers more value for those who tend to stay in hotels when they travel, you don’t have to be loyal to a specific brand to reap benefits.

While you’ll have a lot of flexibility with your redemption options, you won’t rack up as many points or have access to brand-specific perks.

A card like the Hilton Honors Amex, on the other hand, offers 7x points on eligible purchases directly from Hilton, plus bonus points in other categories. Cardholders receive automatic Silver status, plus an upgrade to Gold status through the next calendar year after you spend $20,000 on eligible purchases with your card in a calendar year. Elite status offers bonus points on every stay, late check-out, 5th reward night free (when booking a rewards stay for five consecutive nights or more using points), elite tier rollover nights and more.

Opposite of the Venture, your best value will be redeeming for Hilton award night stays, but you’ll also get some nice Hilton-specific perks.

If you are a beginner traveler or someone who doesn’t always stay in the same hotel brand when you travel, you’ll probably find more value in a general travel card that offers a lot of redemption flexibility. However, those who frequently stay with the same brand might get more out of a co-branded card that offers elite status and additional hotel stay perks.

Questions to ask yourself before applying for a hotel card:

  • How often do you stay at hotels?
  • Which hotel chain(s) do you prefer?
  • Which hotel chain has the most locations in the destinations that you most often travel to?
  • What are your travel goals?
  • What other rewards credit cards do you already have?

The answer to these questions will help you find the right hotel credit card for you. The perfect hotel card will give you benefits you actually use, upgrade your travel experience during every trip and complement the benefits that you get from other credit cards.

Is a co-branded hotel card worth it?

There are certainly advantages and disadvantages to co-branded hotel credit cards. Whether or not one is the right choice for you really depends on your hotel booking habits.

Advantages:

  • Welcome bonuses. Hotel cards regularly offer high welcome bonuses for those who hit qualifying spends. These bonus points are often worth multiple free nights at a hotel, depending on where you’re staying.
  • High rewards rates. A co-branded card will most likely offer a higher-than-average rewards rate compared to a general credit card. Most of the time, they’ll offer anywhere from 5x points to 15x points on brand-specific purchases.
  • Perks you won’t find anywhere else. Late check-in, complimentary breakfast, and room upgrades are pretty standard across co-branded hotel credit cards. Hotel cards also offer expedited pathways to elite status, which can come with even more specialty perks.
  • Rewards increase with spending. Hotels with loyalty program tiers reward customers with greater benefits for greater spending.
  • Convenience. A hotel credit card offers a convenient way to book your hotel stays and earn hotel-specific rewards all at the same time.

Disadvantages:

  • Complicated rewards structures. To get the most from your card, you will have to be a member of hotel loyalty programs. Plus, the award price for free nights varies greatly depending on a variety of factors, including time of year and award availability.
  • Devalued points. It’s easier to rack up a lot of points with co-branded hotel cards, but those points are not worth as much as general travel card points/miles.
  • Limited redemption options. You’re only getting real value from your hotel points when you redeem them for award night stays. Although you can usually transfer hotel rewards points to partnering airlines for discounts on flights, points lose their value dramatically when used that way.
  • Annual fees & high APR. Whether you opt for a co-branded hotel card or a general travel rewards card, you’ll most likely have to pay an annual fee of $95 or more. Make sure you don’t carry a balance either, as APRs are typically on the higher side.

Co-branded hotel cards vs general travel cards

General travel cards generally come with a less lucrative rewards structure, but often come with more broad perks and better redemption values. For example, while you’ll only earn 2x miles for most purchases with the Capital One Venture, those miles are worth 1.4 cents a piece versus the .6 cents a Hilton Honors point is worth (according to expert valuations). Plus, you can use those miles on flights, hotels and more without worrying about varying redemption values.

If you travel frequently and prefer a certain hotel, opt for their co-branded card. If you’d rather keep a flexible rewards program rolling, go for the general travel card. Pairing a general card and a co-branded card is also an option for those who want the best of both worlds. The Hilton Honors Amex card doesn’t come with an annual fee, which makes it a great card to pair with the Capital One Venture or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

Do hotel points expire?

Hotel rewards points don’t usually expire if your account is open, active and in good standing. However, exact terms and conditions can vary from loyalty program to program. A recent Bankratre credit card study found that 57 percent of millennials have lost hotel points. Here’s a chart of the most popular hotel loyalty programs and their expiration policies:

 

Hotel Rewards Program Rewards Expiration Policy
Hilton Honors Rewards expire after 12 months of no qualifying activity.
IHG Rewards Club Rewards expire after 12 months of no qualifying activity
World of Hyatt Rewards expire after 24 months of no qualifying activity
Marriott Bonvoy Rewards expire after 24 months of no qualifying activity
Wyndham Rewards Rewards expire after 18 months of no qualifying activity, and after 48 months regardless of activity

Keep in mind that “qualifying activity” is pretty broad. While the exact terms vary from program to program, usually any sort of account activity will keep your account active — including earning points, redeeming points and transferring points.

How to maximize hotel rewards points

Hotel credit cards are only worth it when you take full advantage of the hotel rewards programs and associated perks that come with earning hotel rewards. Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of your card and the points you’ll earn:

  • Make sure you’re a member of the associated hotel rewards program. They’re free to sign up for and will provide you with extra resources on how to get the most out of your booking. As a loyalty member and co-branded cardholder, you’ll earn points in two ways for every stay.
  • Pair multiple credit cards. Your new hotel credit card will give you big point totals for hotel purchases, but not necessarily on everything else. Hotel cards are excellent complementary cards—use them in addition to cash back cards and other travel cards with higher rewards rates on spending in other categories.
  • Book directly through the hotel or issuer’s shopping portal. You usually glean extra value by booking your room through the hotel’s website or an issuer’s shopping portal, like Chase Ultimate Rewards. Booking through third-party sites may not qualify for the expected rewards rate.
  • Use your rewards. While it can be tempting to hoard points for a huge payout, it’s actually much smarter to redeem more frequently. Award night pricing changes often, especially for hotels that have dynamic pricing. When a deal comes your way, take advantage of it!

Senior Editor Barry Bridges has been writing about credit cards, personal loans, mortgages and other personal finance products since 2017. Before joining Bankrate, he was an award-winning newspaper journalist in his native North Carolina. Send your questions about credit cards (and fantasy baseball) to bbridges@bankrate.com.

Have more questions for our credit cards editors? Feel free to send us an email, find us on Facebook, or Tweet us @Bankrate.

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.