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Members of our team have at least one of these cards in our wallets. We preach a “do as I do” mentality and actually use these cards. Here are our favorite hotel credit cards.
The Hyatt Credit Card
Earn Rate: 3 points per dollar at Hyatt properties; 2 points per dollar at restaurants, car rental agencies, and on airline tickets booked directly from the airline; 1 point per dollar everywhere else.
Annual Fee: $75.
The best value from this card is using the sign-up bonus at any of Hyatt’s hotels. We’ve used this in the past at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme (a bit cliché, but we did it). Instead of paying over $700 a night, we were able to take advantage of 2 free nights in a category 7 hotel, which normally costs 30,000 points per night. Other category 7 properties include the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa (Beaver Creek, CO), the Park Hyatt Zurich (Zurich, Switzerland), and the Park Hyatt Sydney (Sydney, Australia). The Hyatt card provides Platinum Status, no foreign transaction fees, and 1 free night at a category 1-4 hotel each year. To us, the free night is a wash compared to renewing the card each year.
The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
Earn Rate: 2 points per dollar at Starwood and Marriott properties; 1 point per dollar everywhere else.
Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year.
Flexibility and options are key to this card. There are over 30 frequent flyer programs in which you can transfer Starpoints to, many of them at a 1:1 ratio. You’ll also get a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred. Free in-room Internet, no foreign transaction fees, and 5 night and 2 stay credits toward elite status are other perks with this card.
Hilton HHonors™ Surpass® Card from American Express
Earn Rate: 12 points per dollar at Hilton properties; 6 points per dollar at restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets in the U.S.
Annual Fee: $75.
Check out sign-up bonuses at our Top Credit Card Offers tab. Depending on the bonus, you can net up to 20 stays at a category 1 hotel at 5,000 points each night. If you want to use points at the most expensive hotels, you are likely using 70,000-90,000 points. We like to find a sweet spot in the middle somewhere, such as the Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok—a category 4 for 30,000 points per night. Gold Status (which can get you free breakfast) and no foreign transaction fees are included with this card as well.
IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card
Earn Rate: 5 points per dollar at IHG hotels; 2 points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants; 1 point per dollar everywhere else.
Annual Fee: $49, waived the first year.
You’ll get Platinum Elite status from day one, which means you’ll get a 50% bonus on earned points. A free night issued on your anniversary, no foreign transaction fees, and a 10% rebate on points spent round out the benefits. With properties such as the Intercontinental, you can stay at some of the top luxury hotels for 50,000-60,000 points per night; however, we feel they’re best used for hotels in their PointsBreaks program. Each quarter, IHG releases a select list of hotels that cost only 5,000 points per night.
What Program Do I Go With?
We have to admit, hotel credit cards are not our go-to cards, but they are cards that we keep nearby in order to save money for hotel stays. Which program to go with depends on your habits and preferences. We’re big fans of Hilton (for work) and Hyatt hotels (for leisure), especially those in the upper categories. Starwood is another great option and covers even more locations with the Marriott merger. They also offer a very flexible card program that partners with many airlines. Where you travel is another consideration—for example, you’re not going to find the same concentration of Hyatts in Europe as in the U.S. Hotel credit cards serve a very useful purpose—realize that most of that lies in the bonus!