Hotel credit cards can help you earn more than just rewards when you make hotel bookings. Some of the best hotel credit cards include additional perks such as free nights, upgrades, complimentary breakfast, and other less-known benefits.
If you frequently stay at hotels, getting a hotel credit card may be well worth it.
Is A Hotel Credit Card The Only Card I Need?
It's always a good idea to have a few different credit cards in order to maximize each card's rewards on different types of purchases. So in addition to a good hotel credit card, you might want to get a good travel card or a good airline card.
Hotel Credit Cards: What Do They Offer?
Travel is something that most of us enjoy. Even those of us who don't enjoy traveling for fun still find ourselves traveling on business or visits. In today's world, families and friends often end up living hundreds or even thousands of miles apart. It makes sense that many of us spend the night at a hotel at least once a year.
Travel and tourism are one of the top 10 industries in the US, and a major employer. More than 1.86 million workers are employed by US hotels.
Hotel credit cards let you earn rewards that can be redeemed towards hotel stays. Most big hotel groups issue their own credit cards with benefits for loyal customers. But there are also more flexible travel credit cards issued by financial services providers like Chase, Capital One, Citi and Discover Financial Services which let you earn travel rewards that you can redeem for stays at many different hotels.
Most hotel-branded credit cards offer at least some special privileges that can benefit you when you stay at corresponding hotels.
In many cases, you will automatically receive membership in a high customer loyalty program tier. Some cards let you move to higher tiers if you use them in a certain way - for example, by spending a certain amount of money on purchases with your card every year.
A higher customer loyalty tier can give you benefits like complimentary breakfast, spa and wellness access, room upgrades, late checkout and more. Here I list some of the benefits you get with a higher tier status at major hotel groups.
The Blue Tier
This tier lets you check-in, customize your stay and choose your room up to 24 hours in advance, right from your mobile device.
You also get complimentary in-room and lobby Standard Internet access during stays at these hotels:
- Waldorf Astoria™ Hotels & Resorts
- Conrad® Hotels & Resorts
- Curio - A Collection by Hilton
- Hilton Hotels & Resorts
- DoubleTree by Hilton™
- Canopy™ by Hilton
- Embassy Suites Hotels™
- Hilton Grand Vacations™
Other perks include express checkout, late checkout (subject to availability when you request this), and free stays for a second guest in your room on qualifying stays at hotels that would normally add additional charges for double occupancy.
The Silver Tier
This tier gives you really rewarding privileges like a 15% bonus on all the Honors Base Points you earn, and every 5th night free when you redeem points for standard room reward stays of 5 nights or more. You can get up to 4 free nights for a 20 night stay.
You also get complimentary access to hotel-operated fitness centers and health clubs. On top of these perks, you also enjoy the benefits of the blue tier.
The Gold Tier
You can enjoy the benefits of this tier by earning either 20 stays every calendar year, 40 nights every calendar year, or 75,000 Honors Base Points every calendar year to maintain this status.
As well as the privileges that the blue and silver tiers give you, this gold tier gives you a 25% bonus on all the Honors Base Points you earn, so you can earn points 25% faster. You will also get the following privileges when you stay at different hotels within the Hilton portfolio:
Waldorf Astoria™ Hotels & Resorts
- Space-available upgrade to a preferred room
- 1,000 Honors Bonus Points per stay or one in-room movie per stay
Conrad® Hotels & Resorts, Curio - A Collection by Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton™
- Enjoy an upgrade to a preferred room (if available)
- Earn 1,000 Honors Bonus Points per stay or benefit from a complimentary continental breakfast for you (and up to one additional guest registered in the same room) each day of your stay
Embassy Suites Hotels™
- Earn 500 Honors Bonus Points per stay or enjoy 2 snack or refreshment choices each stay
Hilton Garden Inn™
- You can choose to earn 750 Honors Bonus Points per stay, or if you prefer, you can get a complimentary Hot Cooked-to-Order Breakfast each day of your stay (for you and up to one additional guest registered to the same room)
- Earn 250 Honors Bonus Points each stay or enjoy a complimentary choice of a non-alcoholic beverage and a snack
Homewood Suites by Hilton™
- Earn 250 Honors bonus points per stay or get Pepperidge Farm cookies and two complimentary bottles of water per stay
Home2 Suites by Hilton™
- Earn 100 Honors Bonus Points per stay or get a complimentary choice of snack & bottled water per stay
Hilton Grand Vacations™
- Earn 1,000 Honors Bonus Points per stay
The Diamond Tier
To achieve the Honors Diamond status, you need to earn 30 stays in a calendar year, or 60 nights in a calendar year, or 120,000 Honors Base Points in a calendar year. You have to meet these requirements every year to maintain this status, but in return, you get some exclusive perks.
To start off, you get a 50% bonus on all the Honors Base Points you earn. That means you can earn points 50% faster. When you make a reservation at least 48 hours prior to your arrival, you are guaranteed a room (although some restrictions apply).
You also get a complimentary breakfast for you and 1 additional guest when you stay at Conrad® Hotels & Resorts, Curio - A Collection by Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton™ (plus you still get 1,000 Honors Bonus Points per stay). You also get executive floor lounge access at these hotels, where available. You will also enjoy exclusive benefits like these at other hotels within the Hilton portfolio.
Add to that all of the perks you get with the blue, silver, and gold tiers and you should have a pretty pleasant hotel stay.
Marriott Rewards Member Benefits
Marriott Rewards Member
This is the most basic tier. Marriott gives you 5th redemption night free right off the hilt with this entry-level status. You also earn up to 10 Marriott Rewards points per $1 you spend at participating properties. With RewardsPlus you can get a 20% discount when converting points to miles. You also get free wifi in your room, which is a good plus.
Silver Elite Status
This is a major upgrade that gives you Priority late checkout and 20% bonus on points for stays. You will also benefit from special discounts with this status, including weekend discounts and gift shop discounts. You get all the benefits from the basic tier (Marriott Rewards Member) as well.
Gold Elite Status
This tier gives you a 25% bonus on points for stays. You also get a lot of more exclusive benefits. For example, you get guaranteed lounge access/breakfast for members and one guest (except at resorts), complimentary room upgrades, complimentary enhanced internet service, guaranteed room type, Hertz #1 Gold membership, free local phone and local fax, and discounted long-distance phone calls. You also get the benefits of the silver and basic tier.
Platinum Elite Status
This tier gives you the benefits of the gold tier plus 48-hour guaranteed availability, complimentary MileagePlus® Premier Silver status (United Airlines frequent flyer program) with RewardsPlus, a dedicated platinum reservation line and a 50% bonus on points for stays. Those are some pretty sweet benefits.
A hotel credit card can make it easy to achieve a rewarding tier even if you can't afford to stay at hotels very often. On top of that perk, most hotel cards also come with bonus offers. These bonus offers can help you get complimentary hotel stays for big savings.
How We Rate Hotel Credit Cards
At GET.com we rate hotel credit cards based on value for money. We look at how you earn bonus offers and rewards, and how you can redeem them. The amount of points or cash back that you can earn per purchase also plays a big role in the card's rating.
Cards are also rated based on hotel benefits like loyalty program status upgrades, hotel savings and privileges, hotel credits, free hotel stays, and other hotel perks.
We take into account how flexible rewards and benefits are and ask the following questions when rating hotel cards:
- Can you earn rewards on everyday spending or only at specific hotel groups?
- Can you redeem rewards for many different kinds of spending or only when you spend at specific hotels?
- Can you benefit from free hotel nights at any hotel or only at hotels in a specific group? - Can you redeem rewards for any hotel or travel bookings, or only for bookings with one hotel company?
Cards that offer more flexibility in the way you earn and redeem rewards will usually receive a higher GET.com rating.
Other important factors that influence ratings include annual fees, annual fee waivers, APR, introductory APR periods, travel benefits, foreign transaction fees, chip technology, payment network availability and unique card benefits.