Best no-annual-fee Hilton card

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On American Express's secure site
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply
Rewards rate
  • 7X Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.
  • 5X Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations.
  • 3X Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
Intro bonus
Up to 130,000 points 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)
Apply now
On American Express's secure site
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply
Rewards rate
  • 12X 12X at hotels & resorts in the Hilton portfolio.
  • 6X 6X on Select Business & Travel Purchases.
  • 3X 3X on all other eligible purchases. Terms & Limitations Apply.
Intro bonus
Up to 180,000 points 
Annual fee
$95
Regular APR
15.74% - 24.74% Variable
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)
Apply now
On American Express's secure site
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply
Rewards rate
  • 6X Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program.
  • 3X 3 points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines.
  • 2X 2 points on all other eligible purchases.
Intro bonus
150,000 points 
Annual fee
$450
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for rewards on business spending

Apply now
On American Express's secure site
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply
Rewards rate
  • 6x 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program.
  • 4x 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 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
Intro bonus
125,000 points 
Annual fee
$125
Regular APR
15.74% - 24.74% Variable
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

The information about the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card, the Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature Card, The World of Hyatt Credit Card, and the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.


Check out how to check in with hotel rewards credit cards

A hotel credit card is a type of card that rewards its users for brand loyalty. You earn points in the hotel chain’s loyalty program by using the card to book rooms at the chain’s hotels or resorts, and in some cases by making eligible non-travel purchases. Other incentives may include free nights, free room upgrades and access to the hotel chain’s travel partners.

Hotel credit cards can help you make the most of your travel experience, especially if you prefer to stay at the same brand of hotels wherever you travel. Additionally, some general-purpose travel cards have partnerships with certain hotel chains. Certain hotel credit cards, co-branded or general purpose, could be worthwhile for less frequent travelers, given their welcome offers, rewards on non-hotel purchases and fee structures.

Which hotel rewards card is best for you? Read through our guide to help you decide.

Compare Bankrate’s top 2021 hotel credit cards

Card name Best for Rewards highlights Bankrate score
Hilton Honors American Express Card Hilton card with no annual fee 7X points per dollar on eligible Hilton purchases 4.1 / 5
Read our full review
The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card Business travel 12X points on Hilton hotel and resort purchases, 6X points on select business (U.S. gas stations, U.S. cellphone service providers and U.S. shipping purchases) and travel purchases (U.S. restaurants, airfare booked through Amex Travel and select car rentals) with 3X points on all other purchases 4.0 / 5
Read our full review
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card Loyal Marriott customers Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program, 3 points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines 4.5 / 5
Read our full review
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card Rewards on business spending 4X points on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping 4.3 / 5
Read our full review
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card Hotel welcome offer 12X points per dollar on eligible Hilton purchases 3.8 / 4
Read our full review
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card Flexible travel with no annual fee 1.25X miles per dollar on all purchases 3.6 / 5
Read our full review
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express Flexible business travelers 5X points per dollar on flights and prepaid hotels booked via AmexTravel.com 4.7 / 5
Read our full review

A closer look at our top hotel credit cards

Hilton Honors American Express Card

Best no-annual-fee Hilton card

  • This card is best for: Loyal Hilton customers who want exceptional rewards rates in a variety of purchase categories, all with no annual fee.
  • This card is not a great choice for: Those who insist on elite benefits, which is a common tradeoff for no-annual-fee hotel cards.
  • What makes this card unique? The two-stage welcome offer: 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Card in the first 3 months of card membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $5,000 in purchases on the card in the first 6 months.
  • Is this card worth it? Well-rounded rewards are hard to come by with a no-annual-fee hotel card. There are more luxury-oriented options, but the Hilton Honors card is a strong pick for budget-conscious travelers.

Read our full Hilton Honors American Express Card review.
Jump back to offer details.

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Best for business travel

  • This card is best for: Hilton-loyal business travelers who want to earn stellar rewards rates in several purchase categories.
  • This card is not a great choice for: Business owners whose budgets don’t match up with the more narrowly defined purchase categories. If U.S. cellphone service providers and U.S. shipping purchases aren’t a big part of your budget, for example, you won’t get the full benefit of the 6X points rate in those categories.
  • What makes this card unique? You’ll earn 12X points on purchases made through Hilton hotels and resorts — one of the most generous rewards rates you’ll find anywhere.
  • Is this card worth it? Although it does have a $95 annual fee, new cardholders can offset the first-year cost by earning the welcome offer: Earn up to 180,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points. Earn 130,000 Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors Business Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $10,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months. After the first year, the rewards rates and benefits should do a lot to cushion the blow.

Read our full Hilton Honors American Express Business Card review.
Jump back to offer details.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Best for loyal Marriott customers

  • This card is best for: Travelers who want premier benefits for staying at Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis, plus solid rewards rates in a variety of purchase categories.
  • This card is not a great choice for: Anyone who’s easily susceptible to sticker shock. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card carries a $450 annual fee.
  • What makes this card unique? Unlike some co-branded hotel cards, this one has rewards categories that extend to eligible airfare purchases (3X points on airfare booked directly through airlines).
  • Is this card worth it? Put the $450 annual fee in perspective. You get up to $300 in statement credits each year of Card Membership for eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program and up to $100 Marriott Bonvoy Property Credit in qualifying charges when booking a stay at The Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis for at least two nights. Those are just two examples of benefits counterbalancing the annual fee.

Read our full Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card review.
Jump back to offer details.

Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card

Best for rewards on business spending

  • This card is best for: Travelers who (a) stay at Marriott on their frequent business trips and (b) want a card that rewards them for purchases across a wide array of categories.
  • This card is not a great choice for: Business owners who don’t spend a lot in the more specific 4X categories (wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. purchases for shipping). Small budgets in those areas won’t help you get maximum rewards value.
  • What makes this card unique? A great welcome offer: Limited Time Offer, Earn 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points & 2 bonus Free Night Awards after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months. Each bonus Free Night Award has a redemption level up to 50K points. Certain hotels have resort fees. Offer ends 11/3/2021.
  • Is this card worth it? Although the card has an annual fee of $125, automatic Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status (enrollment required) and other benefits can deliver a lot of compensatory value. The same goes for the rewards rates.

Read our full Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card review.
Jump back to offer details.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

Best hotel welcome offer

  • This card is best for: Travelers who want their new hotel card to make a big entrance. The welcome offer earns you 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card in the first 3 months of card membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $10,000 in purchases on the card in the first 6 months.
  • This card is not a great choice for: Those who value consistency in points value. Hilton’s dynamic pricing system means that the cost of a free night depends heavily on location, demand and where the property rates on the luxury scale. (In fairness, this quirk applies to the Hilton Honors program in general, not just any particular card.)
  • What makes this card unique? Again, it’s the welcome offer. Spending just $2,000 in your first 3 months of card membership is a very low hurdle to clear to earn 130,000 bonus points. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $10,000 in purchases on the card in the first 6 months.
  • Is this card worth it? The annual fee is $95, but you could easily erase the first-year cost, by a lot, with the welcome offer. The rewards rates hold the potential for significant long-term value.

Read our full Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card review.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Best for flexible travel

  • This card is best for: Travelers who aren’t attached to a single hotel chain and want a variety of options for redeeming their rewards.
  • This card is not a great choice for: People loyal to a hotel brand that isn’t included among Capital One’s transfer-eligible travel partners. Capital One currently has many more airline partners than hotel partners.
  • What makes this card unique? The Venture’s calling card, if you will, is how it provides flexibility in how you can use your Miles. Options include booking travel through the Capital One portal, transferring miles to airline and hotel partners or getting a statement credit for eligible travel purchases made within the last 90 days.
  • Is this card worth it? If you value flexibility in redeeming your travel rewards and a straightforward, flat-rate rewards program, the $95 annual fee just might be a worthwhile expense.

Read our full Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card review.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Best for premium cardholder benefits

  • This card is best for: Travelers who want premium benefits that they’re unlikely to find anywhere else and aren’t hesitant about paying a steep annual fee ($695) to get them.
  • This card is not a great choice for: Not just travel minimalists but those who aim for anything less than extravagant. The American Express Platinum is one of the flagship cards in the travel category with good reason.
  • What makes this card unique? Complimentary gold-level status (enrollment required) with not one but two hotel brands: Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status and Hilton Honors Gold Status.
  • Is this card worth it? Although many travelers will find the $695 annual fee cost-prohibitive, impressive rewards rates and premium benefits have a value of their own. Access to American Express Global Lounge Collection®, American Express Platinum Concierge and other benefits can go a long way toward offsetting the annual fee, if not erasing it. Rates and Fees

Read our full The Platinum Card® from American Express review.

How do hotel credit cards work?

There are two types of hotel credit cards. One is a co-branded hotel card that works through a partnership between an issuer and a hotel brand. These cards usually include enrollment in the hotel’s loyalty program. The other type of hotel credit card is a general travel rewards card that might offer hotel-related perks but isn’t associated exclusively with a single chain.

You earn points with a hotel credit card each time you use it to make a rewards-eligible purchase. Depending on the card, these purchases could include hotel stays, airfare, meals at restaurants or everyday purchases such as groceries and gas.

Generally speaking, non-branded travel cards work best for those who value flexibility in where they earn their rewards and how they redeem them over loyalty to one chain of hotels. Co-branded cards are best-suited for travelers who want to maximize the benefits of their loyalty with high rewards rates and brand-specific benefits. Either kind of card has the potential to help you get more value out of your travel budget and improve your travel experience.

Bankrate insight
Every free night you earn with a hotel credit card could be worth more than $100. STR, a data analytics company serving the hospitality industry, estimates the average daily rate for a U.S. hotel room at $106.

Pros and cons of hotel credit cards

Whether or not a hotel card is the right choice for you depends on your travel habits, budget and financial priorities. Make sure to weigh the pros and cons before deciding on a particular card.

Advantages of hotel cards

  • Exclusive sign-up bonuses: Hotel cards regularly offer lucrative welcome offers or sign-up bonuses for new cardholders who meet the spending requirements within a specified period, usually 3 months. These bonus points are often worth multiple free nights at a hotel, depending on where you’re staying.
  • Helps you earn extra points: A co-branded hotel card will likely offer a higher-than-average rewards rate compared with a general travel card. You could earn up to 10 points per dollar spent on eligible hotel purchases, and in some cases more.
  • Special perks and status: Late check-in, complimentary breakfast and room upgrades are pretty standard across co-branded hotel credit cards. Many hotel cards also offer expedited pathways to elite status, which can come with even more perks.
  • Convenient bookings: A hotel credit card offers a convenient way to book your hotel stays and earn hotel-specific rewards all at the same time.

Disadvantages of hotel cards

  • Complicated redemption process: To get the most value from your card, you might have to navigate complicated rewards programs and redemption processes. For example, the award price for free nights can vary greatly depending on a variety of factors, including time of year and availability.
  • Low-value points: Although rewards rates are high with some co-branded hotel cards, the points are generally not worth as much as those earned with non-branded travel cards.
  • Strict use of points: Redeeming points for award night stays is generally the only option for getting full point value. The value can decline significantly when you transfer points to travel partners or redeem for merchandise.
  • Higher annual fees: 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.

Who should get a hotel credit card?

As a niche product, hotel credit cards appeal to fairly specific types of consumers. Here are some of the ways that you might fit the profile:

Bankrate insight
Hotel credit cards commonly offer generous rewards rates, but you might be able to earn additional points outside the specified purchase categories as well. A number of hotels offer the opportunity to earn points on purchases with their partner companies, which typically include airlines and retailers.

How to choose the best hotel credit card for you

Wondering how to pick the best hotel credit card? The right hotel card for you will vary based on your travel habits and preferences. Follow these steps to help you in your search.

Step 1: Evaluate how often you’ll stay at hotels.

If you only travel once or twice per year, it may be a safe bet to rule out cards with high annual fees. If you stay at hotels frequently though, all the perks and benefits that come with a hotel card may be worth it. You’ll be able to best determine this after taking a close look at your travel habits.

Step 2: Choose your favorite hotel or hotel brand.

Co-branded travel cards tend to partner with large national and international hotels brands. (Most hotel credit cards carry the names of chains such as Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, IHG and Radisson.)

If your favorite hotel is a small regional brand or you prefer to stay at smaller hotels when you travel, you may be better off with a general travel credit card.

Step 3: Determine your travel goals.

What you want from your card will determine the best card for you. If you’re a luxury traveler looking for perks like free room upgrades or late checkout, the card for you will be different from say, a budget-conscious traveler looking to earn points on general purchases.

Step 4. Look in your wallet.

Having a general-purpose travel card might be enough for a casual traveler who isn’t dedicated to any particular hotel brand.

Following these steps will help you to determine the best hotel credit card for you. The right card for you will align with your travel habits and elevate your travel experience by giving you benefits you can actually use.

How to get free nights at hotels

Getting free nights, sometimes called reward nights, at your favorite hotel chain is one of the most straightforward benefits of a hotel credit card. How you earn that benefit varies depending on the card and its associated loyalty program.

Here’s a list of a few ways you could enjoy a free stay:

Earning points

Under the typical hotel loyalty program, a free stay is one of the options for redeeming your points. The required number of points usually runs in the thousands — 10,000, 20,000 or higher.

Sign-up bonus

Some hotel credit cards offer a free-night bonus for opening an account rather than awarding points. As with any sign-up bonus, you have to meet the spending requirement during the specified period of time after signing up.

Cardholder anniversary

Depending on your card, you might be eligible for a free night every year on the anniversary of becoming a cardholder. If the card has an annual fee, the yearly free stay could offset that cost.

Loyalty program status

Some hotel loyalty programs have different levels, or tiers, of membership. Earning “elite” status could make you eligible for additional free nights.

Despite their undeniable appeal, remember that free hotel stays may be subject to certain restrictions, including location and room availability. Read your loyalty program’s terms and conditions carefully, and contact the hotel where you want to redeem your free night before booking to avoid surprises.

How to earn elite status with a hotel loyalty program

In most cases, the road to elite status runs through frequent use. You become eligible after you stay a required number of nights in a year. One example is Marriott Bonvoy:

Marriott Bonvoy status Qualifying nights per year
Member 0-9
Silver Elite 10-24
Gold Elite 25-49
Platinum Elite 50-74
Titanium Elite 75-99
Ambassador Elite 100+

However, you might be able to find a shortcut to elite status through a credit card offer. Examples of cards that offer complimentary elite status for becoming a cardholder include:

Card Status
The Platinum Card® from American Express Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite and Hilton Honors Gold (enrollment required)
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite and Hilton Honors Gold (enrollment required)
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card Hilton Honors Gold (enrollment required)
Hilton Honors American Express Card Hilton Honors Silver (enrollment required)
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card IHG Rewards Club Platinum Elite
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite
Radisson Rewards™ Premier Visa Signature® Card Radisson Rewards Gold
The World of Hyatt Credit Card World of Hyatt Discoverist

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.

Bankrate guides to hotel loyalty programs

Learn more about some of the programs that reward hotel customers who stay loyal to their favorite brands.

CardSmart: Earning travel rewards with vacation rental bookings

Expert advice on choosing and using credit cards from Bankrate

Vacation rentals from services such as Airbnb and VRBO can provide more than just the cozy amenities of home, but are you sacrificing travel rewards when you don’t stay at a chain hotel? Not necessarily.

With the right travel rewards credit card and rewards program, you could earn points or miles as you enjoy the personal touch of a vacation rental booking.

Most of the best credit cards for Airbnb and VRBO are general-purpose travel cards that aren’t affiliated with a single hotel chain or airline. Cards of this type often earn a flat rewards rate on all eligible purchases or all eligible travel purchases.

Among co-branded credit cards, the Wyndham Rewards portfolio stands out for being rental-friendly. Options with the rewards program include redeeming points for free stays at select vacation rental properties.

VRBO and Airbnb are relatively recent arrivals to the world of rentals, and their relationship with rewards credit cards remains a work in progress. When in doubt, check the terms and conditions of your credit card to see if your vacation rentals are eligible to earn rewards.

More resources from Bankrate

How we chose our list of best hotel cards

Our credit card experts can help you find a top-rated hotel card to help you fund your next family vacation, business trip or overseas getaway.

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. Our 5-star scoring system takes a host of elements into account, but for hotel credit cards, we’ve emphasized:

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. The value of your rewards often varies, depending on the redemption option you chose. We considered cards that have a number or flexible redemption options, but also factored in how much rewards might be worth depending on which option you choose.

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 examined each of these add-ons as we determined whether the annual fee is worth the cost.

Sign-up bonus

Sign-up bonuses offer an easy way to earn hotel points. Often, within three months, you can hit the spending requirement and quickly amass enough points to redeem for a free night. We compared each of these welcome bonuses as we determined which cards deliver the strongest offerings on the market.

Learn more about hotel cards and loyalty programs

When it comes to hotel credit cards and travel tips, Bankrate has a huge collection of resources at your service:


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

Frequently Asked Questions

about the author
Former 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.
about the editor
Mariah Ackary is a personal finance writer who specializes in credit card rewards and small business credit. Mariah is a lifelong writer, but she began writing about finance in 2018. She joined the Bankrate team in 2019, excited by the opportunity to directly help people make good financial decisions. Send your questions to mackary@bankrate.com ...

* 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.