Best Hotel Credit Cards

September 27, 2011

The best hotel credit cards not only help you earn rewards for a free night stay, they also earn points for each hotel room you pay for on your travels.  Whether it’s for business or pleasure, travel isn’t cheap, and a great way to maximize the money you spend is to use a hotel credit card.

We’ve talked before about how to choose the best credit card for you and how to decide which is the best reward cards but we kind of lumped all the travel rewards cards together in one category.  Today we’re going to look at some of the top hotel rewards cards and tomorrow we’ll drill down and take a look at some good airline credit cards.

Three Great Hotel Credit Cards

Three of the best hotel credit cards include hospitality chains all over the world. These credit cards include:

Marriot Credit Card

Marriott Rewards Visa Signature Card: Use this card, from Chase, to earn points toward free hotel stays. There are thousands of Marriott hotels around the world, from the Fairfield Inn to the Courtyard to the Renaissance to others. My parents stayed free on a recent trip to the U.K., thanks to their Marriott Rewards card.

You earn three points for every dollar you spend at Marriott, and one point on other purchases. Get a free night’s stay just for being approved, and earn more after your first purchase. Annual fee: $30. You can “upgrade” to the Premier version for more perks, but the annual fee is upgraded to $65.

Starwood Guest Card

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card: American Express offers this credit card that helps you earn Starpoints, good toward free nights at any of the Starwood hotels.  There are a range of hotels in the Starwood family like St. Regis, Sheraton and Le Meridien.

The tiered system allows you to increase your benefits as you use the card, so frequent travelers can really benefit from the rewards program. There are additional promotions you can take advantage of with this credit card, including a third night free when you book two nights in a row. There are no blackout dates associated with this program and Starwood allows you to transfer your points to around 30 airline companies if you want to use your rewards to help with a flight as well. You’ll pay an annual fee of $65 for the Starwood Preferred Guest card.

Hilton HHonors

Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card: If you prefer Hilton properties around the world, this card from Citi might be just the thing. You get six points for every dollar spent at a Hilton property, as well as three points for supermarket, drugstores and gas stations. Other purchases provide you with double points.

It is worth noting that you need a higher point count to earn a free stay with the HHonors card than with other cards. You do get enough points for a free stay if you spend $1,000 in the first four months. The Citi card does have an advantage over the other two: No annual fee. There is also an AmEx version (that does have an annual fee).

Choosing Your Hotel Rewards Credit Card

When deciding on your hotel rewards credit card, it is best to consider your needs. Marriott works great for my parents, and for me, because we stay at Marriott properties frequently.

Choosing a Hotel
When I was in training a few months ago I started chatting with the instructor about his travels and where he stays.  He flies all over the country, teaching courses in a different city every week.  Being curious about travel rewards, I asked him how he flew and where he stayed. 

He uses airlines in the Star Alliance (United, US Air, Continental) because they have the best flight options from where he lives to the places he flies most frequently.  Most every city he teaches in has a Marriott, or one of the variations like Fairfield Inn or Courtyard, so he always stays there.  The Marriott card is great for him because of how he uses it.  However, if you prefer other hotel properties, you might consider a different card.

Credit Card Terms 
In addition to the hotel chain your prefer or vist most frequently you should also consider such items as interest rate, annual fee and other fees. Pay attention to foreign transaction fees if you frequently travel abroad.

Also, make sure you understand blackout dates, and redemption policies. You want a card that is convenient for you, and makes it easy for you to redeem your free stays when you want to.

Credit Card Usage
Consider your spending habits as well. If you are a frequent traveler, and stay at hotels, using a hotel card that helps you earn large amounts of points quickly can be beneficial. However, if you do a lot of other shopping, and only use your points occasionally, you might want a card that offers extra points for regular, every day purchases.

Happy travels! Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on some airline credit cards you should check out.


Will this article help you save or earn more money? Get others like it simply by entering your email address below. Your email is used only for delivering daily money tips and you can opt out of delivery at any time. Click here to see all your free subscription options.


Miranda writes about personal finance almost every day. An experienced freelance writer, she's covered your money online and in print from every angle and is always looking for new ones.

All posts by


3 Responses to Best Hotel Credit Cards


  • Travel Rewards Loyalty vs. Travel Deal Hunting | Money Smart Life
  • 8 Ways to Waste Your Cash Back | Money Smart Life
  • Best Airline Credit Cards | Money Smart Life