Updated on Feb 7, 2018

Best Hotel Cards for 2018

Bonus, budget or best overall? Find the hotel credit card that has what you're looking for.
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How would you like to earn a stay in some of the most comfortable hotels in the world? With one of our top picks for best hotel credit cards for 2018, that might just be in the cards. Our selection of the year’s best hotel credit cards offers plenty of rewards opportunities for anyone on the go. Just check out our reviews of the best hotel credit cards and apply online in minutes for the one that’s right for you.

Money360's top picks for the best hotel credit cards

  • Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express APPLY NOW
    Partner Offer
    Best overall Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
    Apply Now on American Express's secure website
  • Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card APPLY NOW
    Best new cardmember bonuses Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card
    Apply Now on Chase's secure website
Partner Offer Apply Now on American Express's secure website

Best overall

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
Rewards Summary 2X Starpoints® at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels
Annual Fee $95 (waived first year)

Signup bonus 25,000 Starpoints®
Signature perk Global Assist® Hotline
Highlights Provided by American Express Show Highlights
  • Earn 25,000 Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
  • Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Planning a road trip? Rent your car, fill up your tank, book your hotel, and pay for it with your American Express® Card.
  • Terms Apply.
  • Issuer: American Express
  • Sign Up Bonus: Earn 25,000 Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $95 See Details
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Introductory APR Period: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 16.49% - 20.49% Variable See Rates & Fees
  • Penalty APR: 29.99% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

We recommend the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express for frequent guests at Starwood® properties who want flexible air travel rewards on top of generous hotel rewards. When it comes to high-earning rewards redeemable for nights and flights, very few cards come close to this one.

How to use it
  • Book with Starwood/Marriott properties. Every $1 spent on eligible purchases at participating SPG® or Marriott Rewards® properties is worth 2X Starpoints® (and an additional 2 or 3 Starpoints® for SPG® members); earn 1X Starpoint® per $1 spent on other eligible purchases.
  • Collect a big bonus. Earn the welcome bonus by making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. You’ll get 25,000 Starpoints®, worth two free nights at a Category 4 hotel.
  • Flexible redemption. Starpoints® are transferable to Marriott Rewards which means SPG® members can redeem with Marriott and The Ritz-Carlton® hotels. Furthermore, points can be transferred to 30+ participating frequent flyer programs or redeemed through SPG® Flights to fly on 150+ airlines with no fear of blackout dates.
Consider this

This card comes with an annual fee of $95. For some people, that might seem steep but, if you’re a frequent leisure and business traveler who enjoys the SPG® and Marriott Rewards® establishments, this card will more than make up for the cost. Plus, the annual fee is waived for the first year.

Why you'll love it

If you’re a loyal customer of SPG® and Marriott Rewards® hotels, think about reserving room in your wallet for the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. Used correctly, it combines the best qualities of a hotel card and an all-around travel card.

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Best new cardmember bonuses

Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Rewards Summary Unlimited 5X points at participating properties
Annual Fee $0 intro for first year, then $85

Signup bonus 75,000 bonus points
Signature perk Free night each account anniversary
Highlights Provided by Chase Show Highlights
  • Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $85.
  • Enjoy 1 Free Night Stay at a Category 1-5 hotel every year after your account anniversary date!
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Rewards points and get Free Night Stays faster
  • Earn 5 points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Rewards & SPG hotels
  • 2 points per $1 spent on airline tickets purchased directly with the airlines, at car rental agencies & restaurants. Plus 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else
  • The fastest way to earn Marriott Rewards Elite Status. Receive 15 Elite Credits guaranteeing Silver Elite Status or better.
  • Issuer: Chase
  • Rewards Details: 5 Points Per $1 Spent at Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels
  • Sign Up Bonus: Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year, then $85
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.24% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Introductory APR Period: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 17.24% - 24.24% Variable
  • Penalty APR: None

Our two cents

Who should get it

Loyal Marriott® guests who want a chance to earn a 75,000 in bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months, should check out the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card. This card has a generous, three-tiered rewards structure that offers points for hotel stays, travel and everyday purchases.

How to use it
  • Earn points a variety of ways. Earn unlimited 5X points for each $1 spent at participating Marriott Rewards®, The Ritz-Carlton® and Starwood Preferred Guest® hotels; unlimited 2X points for each $1 spent when purchasing tickets directly from an airline and at car rental agencies and restaurants; and unlimited 1X point for each $1 spent on other purchases.
  • Plan for the signup bonus. Earn 75,000 bonus points by spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy your anniversary. Get a free night stay at a Category 1-5 hotel every year after your account anniversary.
Consider this

The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card may offer a lower rewards rate for everyday purchases, but with the Marriott-Starwood Merger, Starpoints® are now worth 3 Marriott Rewards points each.

Why you'll love it

If you’re a regular at the Marriott hotel properties, then you’ll find a lot to love about the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card. New cardmembers can earn some nice bonuses as well as a generous rewards program including unlimited 5X points earned for each dollar spent at participating Marriott Rewards®, The Ritz-Carlton®, and Starwood Preferred Guest® hotels.

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Our favorite hotel credit cards: summed up

Best for... Credit Card
Overall
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express Partner Offer
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
Apply Now
New Cardmember Bonuses Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card Apply Now

Hotel Credit Card FAQ

Let’s explore some answers to frequently asked questions about hotel credit cards.

When comparing the best hotel credit cards, you’ll want to pay close attention to a few things:

  • Annual fee – Look for a card with a low annual fee. Most waive the cost for the first year.
  • Signup offer – Taking advantage of a signup offer can be a lucrative way to fund your travel.
  • Rewards – Take a look at the rewards structure and make sure it aligns with your purchasing habits to ensure you’re earning maximum rewards.
  • Expiration – Points or rewards may expire after a certain length of time. Make sure the details fit your travel habits.

Are hotel credit cards worth it?

How often you travel is a key determiner in whether or not you will be able to make the most of a hotel credit card. If you travel a lot and don’t often stay with friends or family, then a hotel credit card can certainly come in handy. This usually means you’ll have plenty of opportunities to charge your stays to a hotel credit card making it easy to earn points fast and put those toward free hotel stays and more.

What is a hotel credit card guarantee?

While not limited specifically to hotel credit cards, understanding a hotel’s credit card guarantee is important. This credit card guarantee works by the hotel taking your card at the time a reservation is made. Under the guidelines of these guarantees, no charges are made to your credit card so long as you check in as planned or cancel by the deadline.

Which hotel credit card is the best?

This is largely based on your own personal preference when it comes to rewards rates and particular hotel chains. Typically, the best hotel credit card for you is one that helps you earn points the quickest without forcing you to deviate from your spending habits. You’ll also want to choose a hotel credit card that offers rewards that fall in line with your particular lodging of choice.

Should I get a hotel credit card or travel credit card?

For the most part, you can earn rewards on travel-related purchases with either a travel or a hotel credit card. The main difference comes when you need to redeem those rewards. With a hotel credit card, you might only be able to redeem those points for free hotel stays. Travel credit cards can be a little more flexible by comparison in that you could redeem your rewards for travel, hotel stays, car rentals, etc.

How do I earn points?

There are a couple of different ways that you can earn points with a hotel credit card. Booking stays at participating hotels is usually the most common way. Some hotel credit cards also grant you points when you book travel through participating airlines. And then, of course, there are hotel credit cards where you can earn points just by using them on your everyday purchases.

What is Elite Status and how do I earn it?

Many co-branded hotel credit cards have their own programs where you can “unlock” extra perks based on how often you use the card, sometimes called “Elite Status.” Elite status benefits may include upgraded rooms, free breakfast, late checkout, bonus points, and more. Check with the card providers as these programs, benefits, and requirements are subject to change

Can I earn rewards by flying?

Yes. Each of our hotel credit cards offers an abundance of airline partnerships and generous point-to-mile transfer rates. Furthermore, some cards like the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express can make you eligible for Crossover Rewards with SPG® and Delta SkyMiles®. Be sure to visit these cardholders’ websites to learn more about possible rewards

Do hotel points expire?

The answer to this question can vary depending on the card and the policies associated with it. Generally, your hotel points tend not to expire so long as your card account demonstrates qualifying activity within a certain threshold. This qualifying activity includes staying at any participating hotel, redeeming rewards, etc.

Which hotel credit card earns the most points?

As it stands, Marriott/Starwood and IHG offer some of the highest earning potential when it comes to hotel credit cards. Combining over 40 brands and thousands of individual locations worldwide, it’s easy to see why. However, the rewards rates can change based on the brand you’re staying with, and you’ll want to check with the individual hotel credit card providers for specifics.

How many points do I need for a free night?

When it comes to earning free nights, redemption rates can vary by location and brand. Just as some rooms are more expensive at one franchise than another, some hotels require more points for free nights.

Here’s a quick guide to each hotel’s category or tier, and what it takes to earn free nights:

Free nights with Marriott
Hotel Tier Points (per night) PointSavers (per night)
1 30,000 20,000
2 40,000 30,000
3 50,000 40,000
4 60,000 50,000
5 70,000 60,000
Free nights with Starwood
Category Starpoints® (per night)
1 2,000 – 3,000
2 3,000 – 4,000
3 7,000
4 10,000
5 12,000 – 16,000
6 20,000 – 25,000
7 30,000 – 35,000

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