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In this article:
- Best Card for Business Travelers: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
- Best Card With No Annual Fee: Hilton Honors American Express Card
- Best Premium Travel Rewards Card for Hotel Stays: The Platinum Card® From American Express
- Best Card for Earning Reward Points at Any Hotel: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Hotel credit cards are an underappreciated type of travel rewards credit card. While airline credit cards promise "free" flights after you earn a certain number of miles, many cardholders find themselves disappointed by the lack of availability of award seats at the lowest mileage levels, and the expensive taxes, fees and fuel surcharges they might have to pay just to redeem their miles.
In contrast, most hotel loyalty programs offer complimentary-stay awards in any unsold standard room. And because hotels are usually taxed on the rate paid, a typical award night might not require any payment at all. Hotel credit cards can also offer you valuable benefits such as room upgrades, late checkouts and even complimentary breakfasts.
If you're looking for a hotel rewards credit card for your next vacation or business trip, here are the best ones for your different needs.
Best Card for Business Travelers: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
This card offers you an incredible 12 points per $1 spent on Hilton Hotels, which is perfect for business travelers who can charge their rooms and on-site meals directly to their personal cards. This card can also make sense for other purchases at home and on the road, as you'll earn 6 points per $1 spent at restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations in the U.S. However, you only earn 3 points per dollar on all other purchases.
You can also get a generous intro bonus of 130,000 points, enough for several hotel stay awards, and a free weekend night reward when you use the card to make $4,000 in purchases within four months of account opening.
Beyond the reward points offered, this card's perks make it stand out. First, you get complimentary Gold status, which means you'll get room upgrades, extra bonus points and even complimentary breakfast. You can also earn top-tier Diamond status when you use your card to spend $40,000 in a calendar year. And you'll earn a weekend night stay certificate once you've spent at least $15,000 on your card during a calendar year. This card has a $95 annual fee, which is about the same as most competing travel reward cards.
Best Card With No Annual Fee: Hilton Honors American Express Card
If you're looking to earn hotel points and receive valuable travel benefits without paying an annual fee, then this is your card. The Hilton Honors American Express Card offers you 90,000 bonus points when you make just $2,000 in eligible purchases within three months of account opening.
You'll also earn 7 points per $1 spent at Hilton Honors properties; 5 points per dollar at restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations in the U.S.; and 3 points per dollar elsewhere. Most important, you get complimentary Silver status, which gives you perks like a complimentary fifth night on award stays of five nights or longer and two free bottles of water. Plus, you can earn Gold status when you use your card to spend $20,000 in a calendar year. And there's no annual fee for this card.
Best Premium Travel Rewards Card for Hotel Stays: The Platinum Card® From American Express
While The American Express Platinum Card® isn't co-branded with an individual hotel chain, it's still a great choice for receiving hotel benefits and earning rewards that can be redeemed for award nights. For example, it immediately offers you Gold status with both Marriott and Hilton hotels, so you'll always get priority treatment at those two major chains. Also, American Express offers The Hotel Collection and the Fine Hotels and Resorts programs, which can provide valuable discounts, room upgrades, complimentary breakfasts and property credits when you book your reservations through American Express. Furthermore, the American Express points that you earn can be transferred to points with Marriott, Hilton and Choice hotels.
Of course, the Platinum Card® also includes many other valuable benefits, such as airline fee credits and airport business lounge access. And for many people, all these perks and rewards are worth paying its steep $550 annual fee.
Best Card for Earning Reward Points at Any Hotel: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
If you're the kind of person who wants to earn bonus points and spend them at any hotel in the world, then this may be the card for you. Whether it's a small bed and breakfast or a large downtown hotel, you'll earn double points on all your hotel charges with Chase Sapphire Preferred®. You also get double points on all other travel and dining purchases, and 1 point per $1 spent elsewhere.
Your rewards can then be transferred to Hyatt, Marriott and IHG hotels and used for complimentary stays. Alternatively, you can redeem your rewards directly with the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Center, which is run by Expedia. Here, your points are worth 1.25 cents each towards any travel reservation, including hotels and vacation rentals.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® also offers 60,000 bonus points, worth $750 in travel reservations, after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. There's a $95 annual fee for this card.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer or other company, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. All information, including rates and fees, are accurate as of the date of publication.
This article was originally published on June 25, 2019, and has been updated.