Best Hotel Credit Cards – 2016

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Editor's Best Card Picks

Jan 09, 2016 | Updated May 18, 2016

The cards on this page have been chosen from the widest possible selection of cards that we could find when the page was last updated on May 18, 2016. Although Credit Card Insider does receive compensation from some card issuers as advertisers, this does not in any way influence our choice of cards or the order that cards appear on the page. We have attempted to determine the best cards in this category, regardless of our advertising relationship with the issuers.

Learn more about how we rate credit and charge cards.

Is A Hotel Credit Card Right For You?

Hotel-branded cards come with some of the best benefits available on all credit cards, and frequent travelers who don’t take advantage of them are missing out.

How do perks like complimentary WiFi, room upgrades, and priority check-in sound? What about free stays and point bonuses?

Hotel credit card users are enjoying these benefits and many more, just by using the right card for their own lifestyle.

Get a Rewards Card before a Hotel Card

Hotel credit cards can be great, but they’re not for everyone! We recommend hotel credit cards only for people who:

  1. Have experience using a normal rewards (points or cash back) credit card to use for regular purchases
  2. Stay at hotels frequently, at least 4 – 5 times per year
  3. Prefer one hotel chain over another (Marriott over Hyatt, etc.)
  4. Know how to take advantage of the extra benefits, like room upgrades and late check-out
  5. Plan to use the card enough to make any annual fees worthwhile

If you fit into the above 5 categories a hotel credit card will probably serve you well, as long as you commit to using it responsibly.

We recommend that you get a regular rewards credit card and understand how to use it before using a hotel card, much like using training wheels before learning to ride on your own. This will ensure that you profit with the card and it goes for airline credit cards as well.

Having a normal rewards card will also give you a card to use for situations when you won’t earn many points with your hotel card, and for general spending on groceries, gas, etc.

It’s usually best to stay at your chosen hotel brand and use your hotel card, but an ordinary rewards card can be your backup option if you need to stay somewhere else.

Picking the Right Hotel Credit Card

The right hotel card for you is the one that’s associated with your favorite or most-visited hotel brand. 

So, we’ve picked the best card available for each of a number of hotel brands, staying below an annual fee of $100 when possible because these cards will suit most people.  We also describe the other card options you have for each hotel brand. You can browse to your favorite hotel brand below and easily see what’s offered.

These cards are being picked based on their perks and benefits rather than their interest rates, because we assume that you’ll generally avoid interest charges by paying your bill in full each month. If you always pay your bill in full the interest rate won’t matter, whether it’s high or low.

If you don’t like one hotel brand over another, or tend to stay with all sorts of different hotels, a general travel credit card will probably suit you better than a hotel card.

Insider Tip: Two great credit cards for frequent travelers that are not branded with a particular hotel are the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®. These cards let you earn points on regular purchases that you can redeem for travel expenses or transfer to frequent flyer programs.

Take Note: The benefits described below only apply to the hotel that a particular credit card is branded with. You won’t be able to use a Hilton credit card to get benefits at a Marriott property, for example.

Best for IHG Hotels

IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card

If you’re looking for a credit card branded with the InterContinental Hotels Group this is your only choice, but you’ll be able to earn quite a few points with this card.

For an annual fee of $49 (waived the first year) you’ll earn:

  • 5 points for every dollar you spend at IHG properties
  • 2 points for every dollar you spend at grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants
  • 1 point for every dollar spent elsewhere

You’ll also get other benefits, including a whole lot of introductory bonus points, with an extra bonus when you redeem them:

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • A 10% rebate on points when redeeming them, up to 100,000 extra points per year
  • An annual free night’s stay worldwide
  • IHG Rewards Club Platinum Elite status, which includes free internet, priority check-in, complimentary room upgrades when available, and guaranteed room availability (72 hours in advance)
  • No foreign transaction fee

IHG includes quite a few brands of hotels, making this card quite versatile:

InterContinental Hotels & Resorts® Hualuxe Hotels and Resorts® Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts® Hotel Indigo®
Even® Hotels Holiday Inn® Staybridge Suites® Candlewood Suites®

IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card

For People with
Fair Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0 the first year, after that $49
  • Interest Rate: 16.24% - 23.24% *Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening
  • Enjoy a free night of card membership at over 4,900 hotels worldwide
  • Earn 5 points for each $1 spent at our hotels
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants
  • Bonus points redeemable at hotels such as Intercontinental® Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts and Holiday Inn®
  • Automatic platinum elite status, as long as you remain a cardmember
  • $0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $49

The information for IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card has been collected independently by Credit Card Insider. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Best for Club Carlson

Club Carlson℠ Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card

There are two consumer credit cards branded with the Club Carlson line of hotels, and the more rewarding one comes with a $75 annual fee.

You’ll earn:

  • 10 points for every dollar you spend at Carlson Rezidor locations
  • 5 points for every dollar spent elsewhere

This card comes with several benefits and ways to earn bonus points, free nights, and upgrades:

  • 50,000 bonus points after making your first purchase
  • 35,000 bonus points after spending $2,500 in the first 90 days
  • 40,000 bonus points after you renew your card membership
  • One free night for every year that you charge at least $10,000 and renew your membership
  • Automatic upgrade to Club Carlson Gold Elite Status, or if that is already obtained, 15 qualifying nights towards the next status level, Concierge Elite. Higher status levels come with better benefits, like food discounts, room upgrades, room guarantees, welcome gifts, and free breakfast.
  • Extra point bonuses and special deals when shopping on ClubCarlson.com
  • The perks that come with Visa Signature status, which include a personal concierge, complimentary event invitations, and preferred seating and tickets at certain events
Insider Tip: This card has a foreign transaction fee of 2%, so you’ll want to use a different card when making purchases in other countries.

Carlson Rezidor hotel brands include:

Quorvus CollectionSM Radisson Blu® Radisson
Park Inn® by Radisson Park Plaza® Country Inns & Suites By Carlson

Club Carlson℠ Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card

For People with
Fair Credit

  • Annual Fee: $75
  • Interest Rate: 13.99%-22.99% (Variable)
Quick Card Facts
  • Earn 10 points for every $1 spent on eligble Carlson Rezidor hotels
  • Earn 5 points for every $1 spent on all purchases

Other cards for staying at Carlson Rezidor hotels:

  • Club Carlson Rewards Visa Signature® Card: For an annual fee of $50, you’ll earn 6 points per dollar spent at Carlson Rezidor locations and 3 points per dollar elsewhere. You’ll only be able to earn 60,000 introductory bonus points, and 20,000 bonus points when you renew the card.
    At just $25 more every year, the benefits of the Premier version of this card make it the far better choice.
  • Club Carlson℠ Business Rewards Visa® Card: The business version of this card isn’t very enticing compared to the Premier Rewards consumer card above.
    For a $60 annual fee you’ll lose out on the Visa Signature status, but you’ll get some features that will help you manage expenses and resources to help you grow your business.

Best for Hilton Hotels

Hilton HHonors™ Surpass® Card from American Express

You’ll have 4 cards to choose from if you love the Hilton Portfolio of hotels and resorts, but this one provides the best value for the fee, which is $95 annually.

This card provides:

  • 12 Hilton HHonors™ bonus points for purchases within the Hilton portfolio
  • 6 points per dollar for purchases from U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations
  • 3 points per dollar on all other purchases

And you’ll get these extra points, benefits, and services:

  • 60,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • Complimentary membership with Priority Pass Lounges in airports (lounge visits will still cost $27 per person, per visit)
  • Complimentary Hilton HHonors Gold status, which comes with benefits like a 25% point bonus, free 5th night on stays of 5 nights or more, 2nd guest stays free, complimentary Internet service, late check-in, express checkout, and other perks at specific locations
  • Achieve Hilton HHonors Diamond status by spending at least $40,000 per year, which provides a 50% point bonus, room upgrades, and executive lounge access at certain locations, among other benefits
Insider Tip: This card has a foreign transaction fee of 2.7%, so you’ll want to use a different card when making purchases in other countries.

Hilton hotels include:

Waldorf Astoria™ Hotels & Resorts Conrad® Hotels and Resorts Canopy by Hilton Curio – A collection by Hilton®
Doubletree by Hilton™ Embassy Suites by Hilton™ Hilton Garden Inn™ Hampton Inn by Hilton™
Homewood Suites by Hilton™ Home2 Suites by Hilton™ Hilton Grand Vacations™

Hilton HHonors™ Surpass® Card from American Express

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $75
  • Interest Rate: 15.24%, 17.24%, or 19.24% (Variable)
Quick Card Facts
  • Earn 12 Hilton HHonors for every $1 spent within the Hilton portfolio of brands
  • Earn 6 points for every $1 spent on U.S. supermarket, gas stations, and restaurants
  • Earn 3 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • 60,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 in 3 months
  • $75 annual fee
  • Purchase APR of 15.24% - 19.24% (Variable)

Other cards for staying at Hilton hotels:

  • Hilton HHonors Card from American Express: This is a similar version of the above card but with no annual fee. For that trade-off you’ll only get 7 points per dollar at hotels within the Hilton Portfolio, 5 points per dollar at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, and 3 points per dollar on all other purchases.
    You’ll also get 40,000 bonus points for spending $750 in the first 3 months. This card grants automatic Hilton HHonors Silver status, and the opportunity to earn Gold status by spending $20,000 in a year. You won’t have Priority Pass access with this card.
  • Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card: This is a similar card to the Hilton HHonors Surpass card above, but it’s offered by Citi, has a $95 annual fee, and has a few differences in the rewards. You’ll earn 10 Hilton HHonors points per dollar on purchases within the Hilton Portfolio, 5 points per dollar on airline and car rental purchases, and 3 points per dollar on other purchases.
    You’ll also get 2 weekend night certificates after spending $2,500 in the first 4 months, and another certificate every year that you spend at least $10,000. Cardmembers also get Hilton HHonors Gold status with this card and the fast track to Diamond status as well, like the card above.
  • Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card: This is the no-annual-fee version of the Citi card above, and it provides 6 HHonors points per dollar spent at Hilton properties, 3 points per dollar at supermarkets, gas stations, and drug stores, and 2 points for all other purchases.
    75,000 Hilton HHonors points are awarded for spending $2,000 in the first 3 months. Cardmembers get automatic HHonors Silver status, and can earn Gold status after staying 4 nights within the first 90 days or spending $20,000 in 1 year.

Best for Hyatt Hotels

The Hyatt Credit Card

Your only option for a Hyatt-branded credit card is this one from Chase, but it comes with quite a few perks you’ll be able take advantage of every year.

There’s an annual fee of $75, which is waived for the first year.

You’ll earn:

  • 3 points per dollar spent at Hyatt properties
  • 2 points per dollar on airline tickets, restaurants, and car rental agencies
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases

The benefits include:

  • 2 free nights after making $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months
  • 5,000 bonus points after adding an authorized user to the account and making the first purchase with the card within 3 months
  • 1 free night at a category 1 – 4 Hyatt property, awarded after every cardmember anniversary
  • Hyatt Gold Passport Platinum membership, which includes a 15% point bonus, complimentary Internet access, preferred rooms, late check out, and expedited check-in
  • Earn credits toward Diamond status by spending a certain amount in a given year: $20,000 will earn 2 stay credits and 5 night credits, while spending $40,000 will earn 3 stay credits and 5 night credits
  • No foreign transaction fees

Hyatt properties include:

Andaz Hyatt Regency® Hyatt Place®
Hyatt house® Hyatt Zilara®, Hyatt Ziva® Park Hyatt®
Grand Hyatt® Hyatt Centric® Hyatt® Residence Club

Hyatt Credit Card

For People with
Good Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0 the first year, after that $75
  • Interest Rate: 16.24% *Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Begin with 2 Free Nights at Hyatt properties worldwide, after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months from account opening with the Hyatt Credit Card
  • Receive 1 Free Night each year on your anniversary in any Category 1–4 property
  • No foreign transaction fees and Smart Chip protection on international purchases
  • 3 Hyatt Gold Passport points for every $1 spent with your Hyatt Card at all Hyatt properties
  • 2 Hyatt Gold Passport points for every $1 spent at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly with the airline and at car rental agencies
  • 1 Hyatt Gold Passport point for every $1 spent on purchases elsewhere
  • There are no limits to the points you can earn

The information for Hyatt Credit Card has been collected independently by Credit Card Insider. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Best for Marriott Hotels

Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

You’ll have two options for consumer credit cards if you love staying at Marriott Hotels & Resorts, and there is also a business version.

The most rewarding card has an $85 annual fee, and provides:

  • 5 points per dollar at Marriott locations as well as The Ritz-Carlton®
  • 2 points per dollar at airlines, car rental agencies, and restaurants
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases

You’ll also get:

  • 80,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months (current offer, subject to change)
  • 15,000 bonus points after redeeming 7 or more nights at category 7, 8, or 9 hotels
  • The ability to convert your points into airline miles
  • An annual free night’s stay at a category 1 – 5 hotel
  • Automatic Silver Elite status, which includes a 20% point bonus, free Internet access, weekend discounts, priority late checkout, and more
  • 15 Elite credits every year toward a higher status level
  • 1 Elite credit for every $3,000 spent, letting you earn the next status level faster
  • No foreign transaction fees

Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

For People with
Good Credit

  • Annual Fee: $99
  • Interest Rate: 16.24% *Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Limited Time! Earn 80,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Enjoy 1 Free Night Stay at a Category 1-5 location every year after your account anniversary date!
  • For every $1 spent, earn 5 points at 3,800 Marriott locations, 2 points on airline ticket purchases directly with airlines, at car rental agencies & restaurants and 1 point everywhere else
  • The fastest way to earn Marriott Rewards points towards free nights
  • No limit to how many points you can earn
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees and enjoy wider acceptance when you travel with your embedded chip card and you make purchases at chip-enabled card readers
  • All for an $85 Annual Fee

The information for Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card has been collected independently by Credit Card Insider. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Other cards for staying with Marriott:

  • Marriott Rewards® Credit Card: A lesser version of the above card with no annual fee, you’ll only get 3 points per dollar spent at Marriott locations and 1 point per dollar elsewhere. You’ll get 10 Elite credits each year, which qualifies you for Silver status, and you’ll earn 1 Elite credit for every $3,000 you spend.
  • Marriott Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card: The business version of the Premier card above, this card has a $99 annual fee.
    You’ll earn the same amount of points in the same categories as the Premier card, but you’ll also earn 2 points per dollar at office supply stores, and on Internet, phone, and cable services. You can get free additional cards to distribute to employees.

Best for Ritz-Carlton

The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card

There’s only one credit card option for these luxury hotels and it comes with a hefty annual fee, but if this is your favorite hotel brand then you can probably afford it.

This card has an annual fee of $395, and for that price you’ll be able to earn points at a number of hotels:

  • 5 points per dollar spent at Ritz-Carlton locations, as well as other locations: JW Marriott®, EDITION®, Autograph Collection® Hotels, Renaissance® Hotels, and Marriott Hotels & Resorts
  • 2 points per dollar on airline tickets, car rental agencies, and restaurants
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases

For the price, you’ll get quite a few valuable benefits:

  • 10% point bonus awarded at the end of every cardmember year
  • $100 hotel credit for paid stays of 2 nights or longer
  • $300 annual travel credit that can be applied to baggage fees, airline fees, airport lounge fees, etc.
  • 3 annual upgrades to the Ritz-Carlton Club® Level, a higher service level with extra perks, which can be applied to paid stays of up to 7 nights
  • Worldwide complimentary access to LOUNGE CLUB™ airport lounges
  • Automatic Ritz-Carlton Rewards Gold Elite status for the first year, which includes a 25% point bonus, free Internet access, late checkouts, and more. Gold Elite status can be maintained by spending at least $10,000 per year
  • Achieve Platinum Elite Status by spending at least $75,000 on purchases per year, which includes a 50% point bonus, arrival gifts of additional points, a 48-hour room guarantee, and more
  • J.P. Morgan Premier Concierge service for 24/7 assistance with any needs you might have, like finding rare items or getting last-minute reservations at popular restaurants
  • No foreign transaction fees

Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card

For People with
Good Credit

  • Annual Fee: $395
  • Interest Rate: 16.24% - 23.24% *Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Earn 5 points for every $1 spent at Ritz-Carlton Hotels and partner hotels, including JW Marriott®, EDITION®, Autograph Collection® Hotels, Renaissance® Hotels and Marriott Hotels & Resorts®.
  • Earn 2 points for every $1 spent on airline tickets purchased directly with the airline, and at car rental agencies and restaurants.
  • Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • 10% Annual Points Premium on Ritz-Carlton Rewards points

The information for Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card has been collected independently by Credit Card Insider. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Best for Starwood Hotels

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Typical consumers have one choice for a Starwood-branded credit card, but this is a pretty valuable option and Starwood includes quite a few hotels within its portfolio.

For an annual fee of $65 (waived the first year), you’ll earn:

  • 4 or 5 Starpoints per dollar spent at properties participating in the Starwood Preferred Guest program (depending on your SPG status level)
  • 1 Starpoint per dollar spent on all other purchases

And the benefits include:

  • 25,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • Starwood Preferred Guest status, which comes with complimentary Internet access and a 30% discount at Starwood hotel bars and restaurants
  • The ability to upgrade to Gold Preferred Guest status and then Platinum Preferred Guest status, which come with much better perks and benefits (and provide that extra Starpoint per dollar, mentioned above). Cardholders can reach Gold status by spending at least $30,000 per year, or by completing 10 eligible stays or 25 eligible nights
  • A credit for 2 stays and 5 nights is awarded annually, which is put towards earning the next status level
  • The ability to convert your Starpoints into airline miles, with a 5,000 Starpoint bonus when 20,000 Starpoints are converted into miles
Insider Tip: This card has a foreign transaction fee of 2.7%, so you’ll want to use a different card when making purchases in other countries.

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $95 (waived the first year)
  • Interest Rate: 15.49% to 19.49% *Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on international purchases.
  • Receive free in-room, premium internet access. Booking requirements apply.
  • Enjoy complimentary, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide. Enrollment required.
  • Earn free nights at over 1,200 hotels and resorts in nearly 100 countries with no blackout dates.
  • Some hotels may have mandatory service and resort charges.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms and limitations apply.

Other cards for staying with Starwood hotels:

  • Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express: This is a business version of the card above, also coming with a $65 fee that is waived the first year. This card provides 10,000 bonus points after the first purchase is made, and another 15,000 for spending $5,000 within the first 5 months.
    Cardholders can get free employee cards, and have access to the American Express OPEN set of business benefits, which include a dispute resolution service, receipt and account manager programs, account alerts, and a business forum.
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