Hotel credit cards help you earn rewards for your hotel spending — in the form of points that can be redeemed for hotel stays and other benefits.
Over and above the opportunity to earn rewards points, many hotel cards offer perks like late checkout, discounted booking, and higher status in hotel loyalty programs.
If you're a frequent hotel user, a hotel credit card can help you accelerate your loyalty rewards and help you get a head start on your next vacation.
What is a hotel credit card?
A hotel credit card is a kind of rewards credit card that offers points in a hotel rewards program when you make purchases on the card.
There are two main types of hotel credit cards: those that offer rewards at a single hotel brand and those that offer travel rewards across a group of hotels. Some large hotel groups have many thousands of properties around the globe, giving you the opportunity to earn and redeem points worldwide.
What perks do hotel credit cards offer?
The primary benefit of hotel credit cards is that they help you earn hotel rewards points. Yet depending on the card you choose, you may be able to unlock many other travel-related perks. Hotel card perks can include the following:
- Earn rewards points faster. Hotel credit cards will boost your hotel rewards account. In many cases, your card may earn you extra points for booking and paying for your stay at that hotel.
- Additional creature comforts during your stay. Many hotel cards include complimentary perks like late checkout, discounted spa treatments, or free internet access.
- Credits toward travel activities. It's common for hotel credit cards to grant one anniversary night per year. Some cards will also reimburse incidental charges, such as room service — or credit you for non-hotel travel spending on things like TSA PreCheck®.
- Higher-tier rewards program membership. Some premium hotel credit cards will automatically bump you into a higher tier in the hotel's rewards program, unlocking complimentary room upgrades or concierge services.
- Travel assistance. Certain hotel cards will offer help or guidance when you travel — in case you lose your luggage or need a referral to a doctor's office.
What is the best credit card for hotel rewards?
All hotel credit cards help you earn hotel rewards points — but the amount you earn will differ based on 1) the hotel company's rewards policy and 2) the tier of your card. Higher-tier hotel cards generally provide more points on your card activity, but may also carry a higher annual fee.
Some key questions to ask as you search for the best hotel rewards credit card:
- How often you stay in hotels. Hotel credit cards are best for frequent hotel visitors. If you don't travel often — or use hotel alternatives like Airbnb or VRBO — a different kind of credit card, such as a travel credit card, may be a better choice for you.
- What rewards you value most. There is a wide variety of hotel credit cards in the marketplace, all with different rewards levels. Identify which perks you really want — e.g., maximum rewards points vs. exclusive amenities — when shopping for a hotel card.
- How much you are willing to pay in fees. Just as perks vary by card, so too do annual fees. A fee of $100 per year is common for a hotel credit card, but some cards have fees that are many times higher.
How to find the best hotel credit card perks
For frequent travelers, hotel credit cards can be a powerful tool to accelerate reward point accumulation, especially when you take advantage of some co-branded cards from a hotel brand that has earned your loyalty.
When you are willing to limit your stays within one hotel brand or hotel group, a co-branded hotel card may grant you valuable perks: free nights, room upgrades, concierge services, and more. Just be prepared to do your research and understand how the costs compare against the amenities, services, and perks that you will enjoy while traveling. With dozens of hotel credit cards available, you'll want to shop around to find the best card for you.