A credit card may help you reduce the price of your hotel stay. There are many ways for you to earn hotel nights and rewards you can put toward stays. You might also be interested in the perks and rewards of hotel, travel and co-branded cards.
How to get a free hotel stay with a credit card
Some of the best cards for redeeming hotel stays are co-branded hotel credit cards, travel credit cards and cash back credit cards.
Hotel credit cards
Hotel credit cards tied to a particular hotel brand allow you to earn points at a faster rate when you book stays at their hotels using your card. This type of card is perfect for travelers who are loyal to a specific hotel chain. Hotel credit cards may also provide a free night every year after the anniversary of opening your account.
Travel credit cards
General travel credit cards allow you to earn points or miles on your purchases that can be redeemed at many hotel chains. Some of these cards offer points for travel-related spending, including rental cars and airfare. Other cards may offer a travel statement credit each year. For instance, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card offers account holders a robust statement credit each year for hotels, airfare and other travel purchases.
Co-branded hotel cards
Co-branded hotel credit cards are linked to a specific hotel chain. These credit cards offer points for booking a stay at that hotel chain, allowing you to earn more points than you might with typical credit cards. If you're loyal to a specific hotel chain, then signing up for a co-branded hotel credit card may be right for you.
Along with earning points that can be redeemed for a reward night or discounted hotel stays, some co-branded hotel cards may include anniversary nights. That's when cardmembers are given one complimentary hotel night every year after the anniversary of opening their credit card account.
Cash back credit cards
With cash back credit cards, you earn points from your spending. You can redeem these points and either deposit them into your checking account or apply a statement credit to your card's balance.
How to get a free hotel stay with rewards points
Sure, you may be able to use different types of credit cards to make a hotel stay free, even if it takes time to get there. Here are some options that might suit you better.
Use cash back
Cash back credit cards allow you to earn cash from the everyday purchases made at grocery stores, gas stations, and dining at restaurants. For each purchase cardmembers make, they can earn a percentage as cash back. The cash back you earn can be deposited into your checking account or as a statement credit. You could save up the points you earn from shopping over time to eventually redeem them for cash back toward a hotel stay.
Book through partner booking portals
Depending on your credit card, you may be able to redeem your credit card reward points through specific partner sites or credit card reward portals, which may include discounted or reward nights. Some credit card companies offer deals for redeeming points through their travel portals. For instance, Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardmembers can redeem points for 50% more than their value when booking travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® site.
Leverage a hotel loyalty program
Signing up for a hotel loyalty program allows you to earn points with hotel stays. Most major chains offer hotel loyalty programs, and many programs are free to join. If you have a favorite hotel chain, this is a great method to earn points and save up for a discounted night or a coveted free hotel stay. The programs can also come with extra perks as soon as you join, such as mobile check-in. Then, you can get additional perks and benefits as you earn points and climb to higher tiers in the loyalty program. Depending on the tier you reach, you could be eligible in many programs for complimentary or discounted nights.
Use elite membership status
Earning elite membership status in a hotel loyalty program gives you access to additional perks such as room upgrades and late checkout. In some cases, signing up for a hotel credit card can automatically earn you elite membership status.
How to get a free hotel stay while staying within your budget
All these options might sound great, but don't throw away your budget trying to earn a free hotel stay. Here are a few things to remember:
- When using your credit card to earn points, pay your balance in full and on time to avoid interest charges or late fees. Debt isn't a sound financial tradeoff for the rewards you may earn.
- If you're signing up for a new credit card to take advantage of its introductory offer, make sure the spending requirements match your budget.
- Before signing up for a credit card, compare annual fees. If you're not comfortable with the annual fee, look for a card that doesn't have an annual fee.
The bottom line: You can earn a free hotel stay or cut your costs
You can earn points by booking stays at the same hotel chain and save them until you're ready to redeem them for your stay. Another option is that certain credit cards and hotel loyalty programs may reward free anniversary nights. Whatever you choose to do, there are different options to get a free night at a hotel or reduce the costs.