Best Hotel Credit Cards of 2018

Hotel credit cards are designed for the frequent traveler and lover of accommodation upgrades. From the budget-minded to the luxury traveler, the right credit card can enhance your travel experience. The following hotel cards offer a variety of benefits at some of your favorite hotels, including complimentary stays, membership status, and room upgrades. If you have a favorite hotel chain, be it Hilton, Marriott, IHG, or others, applying for their branded credit card is an all-around great way to rack up points and free nights. If convenience is top priority when you travel, and you aren’t loyal to one hotel chain, check out some of the flexible rewards cards listed below instead. Flexible rewards cards allow you to redeem points for hotel travel expenses, regardless of the hotel brand. Here are our top picks for the best hotel credit cards from our partners.

Top Picks

  • Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: Best for flexible hotel bookings
  • Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card: Best for flexible hotel bookings with no annual fee
  • Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card: Best rewards for Hilton loyalists
  • Hilton Honors American Express Card: Best Hilton card with no annual fee
  • Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express: Best for SPG business travelers
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for premium cardholder benefits
  • The Business Platinum® Card from American Express: Best for flexible business travelers
  • Bankrate.com is an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. The offers that appear on this site are from companies from which Bankrate.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site, including, for example, the order in which they may appear within listing categories. Other factors, such as our own proprietary website rules and the likelihood of applicants' credit approval also impact how and where products appear on this site. Bankrate.com does not include the entire universe of available financial or credit offers.

    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.

    Best for flexible hotel bookings

    capital-one-venture-rewards-credit-card-032217.png Card Image
    Apply Now ON Capital One's secure website

    Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

    Recommended Credit Score:
    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.

    300 850
    N/A Purchases intro APR
    N/A Balance Transfers intro APR
    14.74% - 24.74% (Variable) Regular APR
    $0 intro for first year; $95 after that Annual Fee

    Bankrate Score

    94 out of 100

    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; 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
    • 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 hotel bookings with no annual fee

    capital-one-ventureone-rewards-credit-card-041217.png Card Image
    Apply Now ON Capital One's secure website

    Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

    Recommended Credit Score:
    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.

    300 850
    0% intro on purchases for 12 months Purchases intro APR
    N/A Balance Transfers intro APR
    13.74% - 23.74% (Variable) Regular APR
    $0 Annual Fee

    Bankrate Score

    80 out of 100

    Card Details

    • Enjoy a one-time 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 and pay no annual fee. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture
    • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
    • Enjoy a low intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 13.74%-23.74% variable APR after that
    • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • 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

    hilton-honors-ascend-card-from-american-express-011918.png Card Image
    Apply Now ON American Express's secure website

    Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card

    Recommended Credit Score:
    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.

    300 850
    N/A Purchases intro APR
    N/A Balance Transfers intro APR
    17.74%-26.74% Variable Regular APR
    $95 Annual Fee

    Bankrate Score

    89 out of 100

    Card Details

    • Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend 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.
    Terms and Restrictions Apply | Rates and Fees

    Best Hilton card with no annual fee

    hilton-honors-card-from-american-express-051718.png Card Image
    Apply Now ON American Express's secure website

    Hilton Honors American Express Card

    Recommended Credit Score:
    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.

    300 850
    N/A Purchases intro APR
    N/A Balance Transfers intro APR
    17.74%-26.74% Variable Regular APR
    $0 Annual Fee

    Bankrate Score

    86 out of 100

    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.
    Terms and Restrictions Apply | Rates and Fees

    Best for SPG loyalists

    starwood-preferred-guest-consumer-081115.png Card Image
    Apply Now ON American Express's secure website

    Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

    Recommended Credit Score:
    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.

    300 850
    N/A Purchases intro APR
    N/A Balance Transfers intro APR
    17.74%-26.74% Variable Regular APR
    $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95. Annual Fee

    Bankrate Score

    96 out of 100

    Card Details

    • Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
    • Earn 6 points for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating SPG® and Marriott Rewards® hotels and 2 points on all other eligible purchases.
    • No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
    • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 points) at a participating hotel. Select hotels have resort fees.
    • Enjoy complimentary, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide. Enrollment required.
    • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
    • Terms Apply.
    Terms and Restrictions Apply | Rates and Fees

    Best for SPG business travelers

    starwood-preferred-guest-business-081115.png Card Image
    Apply Now ON American Express's secure website

    Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

    Recommended Credit Score:
    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.

    300 850
    N/A Purchases intro APR
    N/A Balance Transfers intro APR
    17.74% - 26.74% Variable Regular APR
    $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95 Annual Fee

    Bankrate Score

    96 out of 100

    Card Details

    • Earn 75,000 bonus points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
    • Earn 6 points for each dollar of eligible purchases at over 6,700 participating SPG® and Marriott Rewards® hotels across 29 brands.
    • Earn 4 points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers, and on U.S. purchases for shipping. Earn 2 points for all other eligible purchases.
    • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary (redemption level at or under 35,000 points) at a participating hotel. Select hotels have resort fees.
    • Enjoy complimentary Silver Elite status with your Card.
    • Plus, earn Gold Elite status after spending $30,000 or more in eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Note: effective January 1, 2019, the spend threshold will increase to $35,000.
    • No Foreign Transaction Fees on international purchases and $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
    • Terms Apply
    Terms and Restrictions Apply | Rates and Fees

    Best for premium cardholder benefits

    the-platinum-card-from-american-express-060117.png Card Image
    Apply Now ON American Express's secure website

    The Platinum Card® from American Express

    Recommended Credit Score:
    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.

    300 850
    N/A Purchases intro APR
    N/A Balance Transfers intro APR
    N/A Regular APR
    $550 Annual Fee

    Bankrate Score

    95 out of 100

    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.
    Terms and Restrictions Apply | Rates and Fees

    Best for flexible business travelers

    the-business-platinum-card-from-american-express-open-093117.png Card Image
    Apply Now ON American Express's secure website

    The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

    Recommended Credit Score:
    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.

    300 850
    N/A Purchases intro APR
    N/A Balance Transfers intro APR
    N/A Regular APR
    $450 Annual Fee

    Bankrate Score

    93 out of 100

    Card Details

    • Welcome Offer: Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points.
    • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 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.
    • You can also receive 35% points back on all First and Business class flights, with all airlines available through American Express Travel.
    • You can enjoy access to The American Express Global Lounge Collection℠ offering access to the most lounges across the globe, when compared with other U.S. credit card offerings. As of 11/2017
    • Terms Apply
    Terms and Restrictions Apply | Rates and Fees

    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: Griffin Miller | Last Updated: November 19, 2018


    Table of contents

    Why you can trust Bankrate

    Bankrate’s team has over a decade of experience providing advice for every stage of your financial journey. No matter if you are just starting out with your new job and need advice on your 401(k) or if you’re getting ready to retire, there’s thoughtful and well-researched guidance for you. Our team includes avid travelers and so, as users as well as commentators, they take reviewing the best hotel rewards card very seriously. We want to help you find the card that will help fund your next girls trip, guys trip, family vacation, holiday celebration, and everything in between!

    Scoring matrix

    Ultimately, the best hotel rewards card is one that you will want to use. There’s not much reason to accrue Hilton Honors points if you’re a die-hard Starwood-Marriott fan. With that in mind, we have laid out the facts and used our proprietary Bankrate score to cut through the noise and give each card a score out of 100. These are the factors we’ve considered most important when evaluating hotel rewards cards but we measure a whole host of elements:

    • Rewards value and redemption flexibility: We want to help you earn the most rewards possible and redeem them when and how you want to.
    • Annual fee: A lot of high-end hotel rewards cards charge fees, they also include a lot of luxury benefits, we weigh the pros and cons of this.
    • Extras and Discounts: Free room upgrades and trip insurance are useful benefits for travelers.

    Recap of our Editor’s takes: The best hotel credit cards of 2018

    Card Name Bankrate Score Best For
    Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card 94/100 Flexible hotel bookings
    Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card 80/100 Flexible hotel bookings with no annual fee
    Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card  89/100 Rewards for Hilton loyalists
    Hilton Honors American Express Card  86/100 Hilton card with no annual fee
    Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express  96/100 Rewards for SPG loyalists
    Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express  96/100 SPG business travelers
    The Platinum Card® from American Express 95/100 Premium cardholder benefits
    The Business Platinum® Card from American Express  93/100 Flexible business travelers

    Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

    With a simple hotel and travel rewards program that offers a generous 2X points rate on every purchase, the Venture card is a solid choice for beginners and experienced travelers. Capital One’s partnership with Hotels.com gives you even more ways to rack up points quicker than the average general travel credit card.

    Card Details

    • Card Type: General Travel
    • Best For: Straightforward, flat rate hotel rewards
    • Credit Needed: Good/Excellent
    • Bankrate Score: 94/100
    • Sign-Up Bonus: 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months of card ownership
    • Annual Fee: $95, waived in the first year

    Read our full review

    Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

    The VentureOne is a great card for you if you don’t like annual fees and you like using third party booking sites like Hotels.com to book your stays. You get the same great Hotels.com rewards rate with this card as the Venture card, although your normal earning slides from 2x miles for every dollar spent down to just 1.25x miles. If you want more lucrative rewards on your everyday spending or are loyal to a specific hotel chain, you can likely look elsehwere to find a card that will help you fund that upcoming holiday trip or business travel.

    Card Details

    • Card Type: General Travel
    • Best For: Flexible hotel bookings with no annual fee
    • Credit Needed: Good/Excellent
    • Bankrate Score: 80/100
    • Sign-Up Bonus: 20,000 miles after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months
    • Annual Fee: $0

    Read our full review

    Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card

    The Ascend card has a crazy welcome offer right now that will put you well on your way to earning a bunch of free nights at Hilton properties. In addition to the 12x points you get for every dollar spent with a Hilton property, you’ll get 6x points on a bunch of popular categories: U.S. restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations. While it’s a bummer that it does not include international purchases in those categories, if you only travel domestically and stay at Hilton properties, this card can be particularly lucrative.

    Card Details

    • Card Type: Hotel co-branded
    • Best For: Rewards for Hilton loyalists
    • Credit Needed: Good/Excellent
    • Bankrate Score: 89/100
    • Welcome Offer: 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points when you make $2,000 in eligible purchases in the first 3 months
    • Annual Fee: $95

    Read our full review

    Hilton Honors American Express Card

    The no annual fee version of the popular Ascend card, the normal Hilton Honors American Express Card still gets you good rewards rates on all the same categories without the annual fee. You’ll get 7x on Hilton purchases and 5x on U.S. restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations. The welcome offer also drops from 125,000 points to 75,000 points (when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months). So, if you’re a Hilton loyalist but don’t travel enough to warrant the annual fee and extra perks, this is a good card to have in your wallet and help you get some free nights for upcoming travel, whether it be an international vacation or just a trip home to see the family for the upcoming holidays.

    Card Details

    • Card Type: Hotel co-branded
    • Best For: Hilton card with no annual fee
    • Credit Needed: Good/Excellent
    • Bankrate Score: 86/100
    • Welcome Offer: 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months
    • Annual Fee: $0

    Read our full review

    Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

    The SPG Card from American Express has undergone some recent changes after the Marriott and SPG rewards programs merged in August of this year. During the migration process, SPG points were slightly devalued (according to The Points Guy), but it still remains one of the top hotel co-branded cards on the market today. Plus, the welcome offer and annual free night award get you well on your way to saving a bunch of money on your hotel stays this fall and winter.

    Card Details

    • Card Type: Hotel co-branded
    • Best For: Rewards for SPG loyalists
    • Credit Needed: Good/Excellent
    • Bankrate Score: 96/100
    • Welcome Offer: 75,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
    • Annual Fee: $95, waived first year

    Read our full review

    Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

    More than 6,700 resorts and hotels across 29 brands fall under the SPG and Marriott brand. The Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express offers generous rewards on spending alongside flexible redemption options for businesses that require frequent travel, both domestic and international.

    Card Details

    • Card Type: Hotel co-branded
    • Best For: SPG business travelers
    • Credit Needed:Excellent/Good
    • Bankrate Score: 96/100
    • Welcome Offer: 75,000 bonus points after $3,000 spent within the first three months of card membership
    • Annual Fee: $95, waived in the first year

    Read our full review

    The Platinum Card® from American Express

    Luxury travelers will reap exclusive perks from the Platinum Card from American Express that simply don’t exist anywhere else. The high annual fee will turn some people away, but the Centurion Lounge access and additional benefits make it a unique hotel rewards credit card that many travelers will find compelling.

    Card Details

    • Card Type: General Travel
    • Best For: Premium cardholder benefits
    • Credit Needed: Excellent
    • Bankrate Score: 95/100
    • Welcome Offer: 60,000 Membership Rewards points if you spend $5,000 within the first 3 months of card ownership
    • Annual Fee: $550

    Read our full review

    The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

    If you’re a frequent business traveler and like the flexibility of choosing between a few different hotel chains, then this is a great card for you. Not only is there a lucrative welcome offer, you get 5x points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com. Along with your rewards earning comes awesome extra perks like access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection and 50% more points for large purchases of $5,000 or more, and that goes all the way up to 1 million additional points per year.

    Card Details

    • Card Type: General Travel
    • Best For: Flexible business travelers
    • Credit Needed: Good/Excellent
    • Bankrate Score: 93/100
    • Welcome Offer: 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and 25,000 more points after you spend an additional $10,000 within your first 3 months
    • Annual Fee: $450

    Read our full review


    How to choose the best hotel credit card?

    The best hotel credit card is the card that is most useful for your own unique spending habits and travel preferences. If you’re frequently staying with one hotel chain and spending heavily month after month, it makes sense to get a rewards card that will give you maximum returns on that spending and additional rewards for loyalty – such as complimentary status. This is especially relevant to business travelers.

    If you stay at hotels only somewhat frequently, but you’re looking for extra help booking that next vacation, then a hotel or travel rewards card that gives you good returns on your everyday spending and helps you along the way with a generous sign-up bonus, is your best bet. Additionally, consider the number of properties and brands with each chain, both Hilton and now the Marriott-Starwood hotel chains have a number of different brands under their umbrella, each with properties across the globe. It’s up to you to decide which chain best suits your tastes and likely travel destinations.

    How do hotel cards work?

    Hotel credit cards reward loyalty with free nights, room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, and more. Benefits come in the form of points, which can be redeemed for all of those great perks. Most hotel cards offer big point totals on purchases made at their properties, and at least 1X points everywhere else. For frequent travelers, points add up quickly and can turn the average hotel stay into a luxurious trip.

    Hotel credit cards are either co-branded cards like the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express, or are general travel rewards cards like the Capital One® Venture® Card.

    To make the most of a hotel rewards credit card, combine it with a membership to the hotel’s loyalty program for truly impressive benefits.

    Questions to ask yourself before applying for a hotel card:

    1. How often do you stay at hotels?
    2. Which hotel chain(s) do you prefer?
    3. Which hotel chain has the most locations in the destinations that you most often travel to?
    4. What are your travel goals?
    5. 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
    • Complement the benefits that you get from other credit cards
    • Upgrade your hotel experience during every stay

    Pros and cons of hotel credit cards

    Pros:

    • Sign-up bonuses. Hotel cards regularly dish out sign-up bonuses in excess of 50,000 points, which is among the highest of all rewards credit cards.
    • High rewards rates. Rewards from on-brand purchases usually come at 8X rates and higher.
    • Perks you won’t find anywhere else. Late check-in, complimentary breakfast, and room upgrades are pretty standard across co-branded hotel credit cards.
    • Rewards increase with spending. Hotels with loyalty program tiers reward customers with greater benefits for greater spending.

    Cons:

    • Rewards structures can be complicated. To get the most from your card, you will have to be a member of loyalty programs and book at the best-category property with an available room.
    • Hotel credit card point values are usually inflated. For example, the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card has a welcome offer of 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. But those points are only valued at about 0.6 cents apiece, according to The Points Guy’s April, 2018 valuation. Most general travel rewards points are worth at least one cent.
    • Rewards are limited to hotel spending. 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

    Most of the best rewards credit cards generally offer points for travel and can potentially be used to book free nights at hotels. If you’re considering a hotel rewards credit card, you’re most likely looking for a co-branded hotel card or a general travel card.

    Co-branded hotel cards offer big points when you book nights at their specific properties, and small point totals on everything else. The good news is that many of the best hotel credit cards are attached to hotels with thousands of locations. Forbes reports that after its 2016 acquisition of Starwood, Marriott has over 6,000 locations worldwide. So, if you apply for the Marriott® Rewards Premier Credit Card, even though your benefits are mostly limited to Marriott properties, you are likely never far from one of their locations.

    General travel cards offer fewer points on hotel purchases but are never limited to one specific brand or location. For example, every time you use your Chase Sapphire Preferred card to book a room, you’ll collect 2X points, no matter where you are. The points you’ll get from a general travel card are also more flexible in terms of what you redeem them for. Bundle your hotel room and flight through Chase Ultimate Rewards and the value of a point jumps to 1.25 cents.

    The bottom line: 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.

    Do hotel points expire?

    Hotel rewards points don’t usually expire if your account is open, active, and in good standing. For the specific card you are considering, check out the following chart or visit the points expiration resource at CreditCards.com.

    Hotel Rewards Program Rewards Expiration Date
    Hilton Honors No expiration as long as points are earned or redeemed every 12 months.
    IHG Rewards Club Select No expiration as long as points are earned or redeemed every 12 months
    Hyatt Visa Signature from Chase No expiration as long as points are earned or redeemed every 24 months.
    Marriott Rewards Premier No expiration as long as points are earned or redeemed every 24 months.
    Ritz-Carlton Rewards Visa No expiration as long as points are earned or redeemed every 24 months. E-certificates expire one year after issue date.
    Starwood Preferred Guest from American Express No expiration as long as points are earned or redeemed every 24 months. Starwood points issued/earned through Vistana expire after six years.
    Wyndham Rewards Signature Visa Points expire four years after post date. Account must also be active every 18 months.

    How to maximize hotel rewards points

    Whether you’re interested in a Hilton, Marriott, or other hotel card, first consider what it takes to get the most value out of that card. Take these steps before applying and you’ll be well on your way to soaking up the rewards:

    1. Join hotel loyalty programs. 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.
    2. Be strategic about how you use it. Your new hotel credit card will give you big point totals for hotel purchases, but not so much on everything else. Hotel cards are excellent complementary cards—use them in addition to cash back cards and other cards with higher rewards rates on spending in other categories.
    3. 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.

    More reviews and research

    If you want to read more in-depth reviews on hotel rewards cards or you’ve decided that you want to explore credit cards in other travel categories, we got you. Check out our reviews in a variety of rewards groups.

    * 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.