Best Hotel Credit Cards
Properly following up our list of best co-branded airline credit cards is our list of best hotel credit cards. Unlike the airline cards where it can be hard to pick winners and losers (as so much is based on your preferred carrier), it’s a bit easier to pick through the hotel credit cards.
Maybe this is because some hotel programs are generally more lucrative than others, but there are definitely some clear winners. It was still hard to narrow things down to five, but here they are: the top co-branded hotel credit cards:
Chase World of Hyatt Visa
The World of Hyatt credit card easily tops my list. It’s a standard part of my wallet, and one that I use routinely. The card has some amazing perks, and it was the singular reason I as able to earn Hyatt Globalist elite status this year to enjoy through 2020.
The World of Hyatt Visa offers a 50,000-point welcome offer, although there have been reports of a 70,000-point targeted offer circulating around. The previous high was saw was 60,000 points when the card first launched. Still, the 50,000-point bonus is nothing to sneeze at. I value the offer at $750.
Beyond the welcome offer, the card offers Discoverist status, 5 elite night credits, and an annual free night. It also allows you to earn another free night if you spend $15,000 on the card within your cardmember year. Finally, you can earn 2 elite nights for every $5,000 in spend, which is the feature I used to achieve Globalist.
In short, it’s an awesome card if you stay at Hyatt hotels.
Here is the current welcome offer and benefits of the World of Hyatt Visa:
- 4x points for every $1 spent at Hyatt hotels
- 2x points
- 1x points on all other purchases
- Annual free night
- Second annual free night after spending $15,000 on the card within your cardmember year
- Earn 2 elite nights for every $5,000 in spend
- Discoverist elite status
- No foreign transaction fees
- $95 annual fee
- Learn More
This is the one hotel card that will forever hold a place in my wallet. It took me months to spend the necessary money for all the elite nights I needed. But Globalist status is very much worth the effort, not to mention the opportunity cost of not using another card.
Hilton Aspire Card from American Express
The Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express is one of the best hotel credit cards on the market. It earns a whopping 14x Hilton points on Hilton stays, the best of any card. Combined with the bonus earning you enjoy with complimentary Diamond status as a cardholder, you’ll earn a minimum of 34x points per dollar spent on your stays (with the exception of properties where the base rate is 5x).
You also earn 7x points on airfare, car rental, and restaurants, although there are better cards for both travel and dining. The card hasn’t provided much in terms of travel protections, but this is changing soon.
The other perks of the card make it a solid keeper for me. The $250 annual airline incidental fee credit, a $250 annual resort credit, annual free night, and Priority Pass Select membership are all amazing benefits. The $450 annual fee is hefty, but these all help justify it. A welcome offer of 150,000 Honors points is nothing to sneeze at, either.
Here is the current welcome offer and benefits of the Hilton Aspire card:
- 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
- 14X Honors points per $1 of eligible purchases on your Card directly with a participating Hilton hotel or resort
- 7X Honors points for these eligible purchases: flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies, U.S. restaurants.
- 3X Honors points for other purchases on your Card.
- $250 annual airline fee credit
- $250 annual Hilton resort statement credit
- Free annual weekend night
- Second free night after $60,000 spent in a calendar year
- Automatic Hilton Honors Diamond status
- $450 annual fee
- Referral Link
The Hilton Aspire is my go-to dining card, and I plan to keep it. Even though it is a hotel card with a massive annual fee, the credits provide plenty of value. Mark has called it hands down the best perks card out there.
Hilton Surpass Card from American Express
If the $450 annual fee is too much for you, the Hilton Surpass card is the next best thing. It offers Hilton Gold status, which might be the best tier available from a card with an annual fee south of $100. This status will get you breakfast at most Hilton properties, as long as you choose this as your amenity. Breakfast is virtually always the better play than a handful of Hilton points. Not having lounge access is the biggest loss with Gold versus Diamond.
Beyond the complimentary elite status, the card has good earning at Hilton hotels and bonus categories of U.S. supermarkets and gas as well. The final excellent benefit of the card is the ability to earn a free weekend night, good at any Hilton hotel (as long as there is standard room availability), after spending $15,000. The benefits very quickly make the card worth its $95 annual fee.
Here is the current welcome offer and benefits of the Hilton Surpass card:
- 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
- 12x Hilton points at Hilton hotels
- 6x points at U.S. supermarkets, restaurants, and gas
- 3x points on everything else
- Complimentary Hilton Gold status
- Ability to earn a free weekend night after spending $15,000 or more in a year
- No foreign transaction fees
- $95 annual fee
- Learn More
My only gripe about the Surpass is that I can’t tell the difference between it and the Aspire. 🙂
Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Card
Radisson Rewards? On a list of the best co-branded hotel cards? Yes! Let me explain why this card definitely makes the list. The Radisson Rewards Visa, issued by US Bank, may be a bit forgotten since the days of BOGO award nights. But the card does hold some value.
The personal Radisson Rewards Visa comes with an increased welcome offer of 120,000 points right now (normally 85,000). The card earns 10x points at Radisson chain hotels and 5x everywhere else. This might sound amazing, but I value Radisson points at a mere 0.3 cents each. It also offers gold status which will get you a welcome amenity and free breakfast.
The real beauty of the card is the 40,000 annual bonus points each year you renew the card and pay the annual fee. These are worth ~$120, more than outweighing the annual fee and giving you more flexibility than an annual free night. But you can earn those as well by spending $10,000 on the card (up to three times) for a free weekend night in the U.S.
Here is the current welcome offer and benefits of the Radisson Rewards Visa card:
- Welcome offer of 120,000 points after spending $2,500 in net purchases within the fist 90 days of card membership
- 10x points per $1 at Radisson chain hotels
- 5x points per $1 on all other purchases
- Complimentary Radisson Gold status
- Annual bonus of 40,000 points
- Ability to earn a free weekend night at U.S. properties after spending $10,000 on the card (up to three times)
- $75 annual fee
- Direct Link
I’m actually holding the Radisson Rewards business card, which is unfortunately no longer available. It offers many of the same benefits, but for a $60 annual fee. I’m not sure if/when it will be offered once more.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card offered by American Express is the only currently available premium Marriott co-branded credit card (I believe you can still product change to the Ritz Carlton card). It’s carries a hefty annual fee of $450, but you can recoup much of this through the card benefits. It’s well worth it if you have just a handful of paid Marriott stays each year.
The main perk of the card is a $300 annual Marriott statement credit which can be used for purchases at any Marriott hotel (including room rate). This will instantly get you 67% of the annual fee back. You also get an annual free night good at Marriott hotels up to an award rate of 50,000 points. These two perks alone are worth $450.
Other card perks include complimentary Marriott Gold status, a Priority Pass Select membership, and a TSA PreCheck/Global Entry fee credit (once every four years). The card is a perks card more than anything, as the earning isn’t all that competitive except for paying for Marriott stays. But this is true of most of the best co-branded hotel credit cards.
Here is the current welcome offer and benefits of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card:
- Welcome offer of 75,000 points after spending $3,000 in purchases within your first 3 months of card membership.
- 6x Bonvoy points at Marriott properties
- 3x Bonvoy points at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines
- 2x Bonvoy points on all other purchases
- $300 annual Marriott statement credit
- Annual free night award (good for award nights up to 50,000 points)
- Priority Pass Select membership
- Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee reimbursement
- Complimentary Marriott Gold Elite status
- Credits of 15 elite nights
- $450 annual fee
- Learn More
This card is on my radar for when I have the opportunity to pick up another premium card. I am a Marriott Titanium through the end of the year, but I wasn’t interested in re-qualifying for Marriott status due to the changes and trouble surrounding their new Bonvoy loyalty program.
Best Co-Branded Hotel Credit Cards: Honorable Mentions
The IHG Premier card almost made the list. The refreshed card isn’t a bad product, as it has several cool perks, such as a 4th night free on award stays, a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit, and an annual free night (for properties of up to 40,000 IHG points). My only gripe about IHG is the number of devaluations the program has experienced, as well as the card devaluation with the free night now being category capped. There is a new increased offer on the card of 140,000 points (learn more) which is the best offer we have ever seen.
if you have the old IHG Rewards Club Mastercard, picking up the new card is a better play, as you essentially receive 32.5% off all IHG award stays of 4 nights. The issue with the IHG cards is that the earning rate for anything except at IHG properties is garbage.
The lower tier Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless and American Express Marriott cards holds some value. However, you better already be a Marriott loyalist, as the ongoing perks aren’t all that hot. You do get 15 elite night credits and there is a path to earning Gold status by spend. I can see the argument of keeping the card for the annual Category 1-5 anniversary night, but I know that I definitely get more value out of my World of Hyatt anniversary night.
If you’re looking for a co-branded hotel credit card without an annual fee, the Choice Privileges Visa is an option. The typical welcome offer is 32,000 points, and you earn 2x points per dollar for all purchases. You can also get a bonus for spending $10,000 or more in a year, taking your effective earning rate to 2.8x. Choice is generally a budget chain, but there are some potential excellent uses abroad in select areas (most notably Scandinavia).
Best Hotel Credit Cards – Final Thoughts
If you’re already married to a hotel chain, picking a co-branded hotel credit card is likely an easy decision. However, some of these may provide enough value, even if you don’t stay at the chain very often. We only have a handful of Hilton stays per year, yet the ongoing benefits of the card make it a keeper in wallet.
Other posts in this series:
- 5 Best Cards for Grocery Shopping
- The 5 Best Cards for Gas Stations
- 5 Best Cards for Everyday Purchases
- The 5 Best No-Fee Business Credit Cards
- 5 Top Travel Credit Cards
- The 5 Best Combo Cards for Grocery and Gas