CreditDonkey is a credit card comparison and reviews website. This website is made possible through financial relationships with card issuers and some of the products and services mentioned on this site. Advertiser Disclosure†

Updated May 4, 2018

Study: Hotel Credit Cards for Free Nights

Read more about Hotel Rewards
Editorial Note: This content is not provided by the card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.
This article contains references to products from our partners. We receive compensation if you apply through links in our content. You help support CreditDonkey by reading our website and using our links. (read more)

Must-read list of hotel credit card promotions. Check out this essential list of credit card offers before your next hotel stay.

© CreditDonkey

For many travelers, hotel rewards take a backseat to airline perks.

This is unfortunate because, in many cases, hotel loyalty programs can get you a much better return on your rewards. For hotel lovers, it's a great opportunity to stay in properties you usually wouldn't splurge on. Many hotel-branded credit cards give big bonuses equivalent to a few free nights.

But the hotel credit card market is a crowded field, and some cards are worth significantly less than others. There is no standard for what "1 point" equals, and the real value can range anywhere from less than 1 cent to several cents depending on where and how you redeem them. In this guide, we do our best to give you our estimate of what each reward program is worth.

To help you figure out which hotel credit card is right for you, CreditDonkey has put together a comparison of popular options, including promotions from our partners.

Checking In: The Basics

© prayitnophotography (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

First, let's get the obvious out of the way: if you don't like to stay in hotels (even free ones), you have no business applying for a hotel-branded card. While there are many benefits, they do you no good if you never step foot on a hotel property. In this case, you'd be better applying for a general travel rewards card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card or the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.

For Travel Rewards: Travel Credit Card Deals

Hotel Rewards Compare

(Click Image to Enlarge)
© CreditDonkey

Still with us? To decide on the hotel credit card for you, consider the following factors:

  • Hotel loyalty: To get the most out of hotel credit cards, you'll want to stay at the same hotel chain. This allows you to rack up points faster to your free-nights goal.

    Major hotel chains have loyalty programs tied to each card, and some cover a large variety of properties worldwide. Consider which hotels you often frequent, or want to stay at in the future. If you go to a certain city often or have vacation plans, look up which hotel chains are in the city.

  • Rewards structure: You also want a card that gives you good rewards on everyday spending. You should be able to earn rewards for regular purchases like food, gas, and online shopping. This will allow you to earn points faster.

  • Redemption value: How many points does it take to get one free night? Calculate approximately how much you'd have to spend to get to a free night and if it's worth it. Some hotel programs have more expensive award charts.

  • Annual fee: Hotel-branded credit cards often have annual fees. Some might waive the fee for the first year, but you still need to factor this extra cost into your decision and estimate whether you'll get enough in rewards year over year to make up for it.

  • Flexibility of use: Can you use the card only at specific hotels? And how extensive is the worldwide coverage? Some hotel cards let you transfer your points to airline partners, which gives you more ways to use your points.

    Related: Airline Credit Cards

These guidelines are meant to help you decide which card works best for you. Hotel stays have so many variables that it's impossible to determine one card that's perfect for every budget, every lifestyle, and every location.

Worst hotel credit cards:

  • Hotels with limited footprint. Whether you travel domestically or internationally, you want a hotel program you can easily use. Some hotels don't have as wide of a footprint as others, making it difficult for you to find a property to use your points. Think about where you want to travel to and look up what hotel options are in the area.

  • Hotels with blackout dates for award booking. Some programs only release a limited number of basic rooms to be available for booking with points. This can make booking a room troublesome for the dates you need.

  • Cards that are slow to earn points. You want a card helps you rack up the points faster. Some cards don't offer as generous reward structures.

Here's a list of CreditDonkey featured hotel credit cards:

Hilton Credit Cards

© Chris Favero (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card
Apply for Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card
At American Express' Secure Site
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
17.49% - 26.49% Variable

Tip: Hilton rewards are structured from Category 1 (5,000 points) to Category 10 (70,000 - 95,000 points). In general, Hilton points are valued at 0.5 cents per point based on our estimates, but remember that you are earning 3x-5x points for every purchase (and 7x points for Hilton purchases). So this makes the overall reward rate valued around 2 cents per dollar spent according to our estimates.

Checking Out

© CreditDonkey

Hotel credit cards can offer great value, but typically only if you travel more frequently and like to stay in the same hotel chain. This will allow you to earn rewards faster and take advantage of all the perks. When choosing the best hotel card for you, remember to consider your travel destinations, the everyday earning structure, and reward rate.

While I'm confident that all of these cards would be a solid pick, your particular travel tastes might be better suited by another option. If you have a favorite hotel not mentioned here, more than likely there's a credit card with its name on it.

Ross Frasier is a research analyst at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and reviews website. Write to Ross Frasier at

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Surpass card, please click here.

Disclaimer: The information for the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

More from CreditDonkey:

Airline Miles for Beginners

Credit Cards for International Travel

Foreign Transaction Fee

More Articles in Reviews

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Apply for Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
At Chase's Secure Site
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Go to issuer's official application, terms, and details
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
17.99% - 24.99% Variable

How to Choose a Credit Card for Hotel Rewards

The sign-up bonuses for hotel rewards credit cards can be tempting, but is a hotel card right for you?

Leave a comment about Study: Hotel Credit Cards for Free Nights?

Email (won't be published)

Hilton Cancún

Hilton Credit Card Review

Hilton Honors American Express Card is a popular hotel credit card. So what's the catch? Read on to see if the Hilton AMEX is worth applying for.

    Beginner's Guide to Airline Miles and Points

    New to airline miles? Learn how it works and how to earn a ton of miles fast through credit cards. Before long, you'll be redeeming miles for free flights and hotel rooms.

    Hotel Rewards

    The sign-up bonuses for hotel rewards credit cards can be tempting, but is a hotel card right for you?

    Study: Credit Cards for International Travel

    The best credit cards for international travel have no foreign transaction fees, chip technology and worldwide acceptance. But what's the right travel card for you?

    Foreign Transaction Fee: What to Know Before You Travel Abroad

    Before you go on a trip overseas, be sure you have a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. Read on to learn how to save money on international travel.

    Airline Rewards

    The best airline credit card racks up miles fast with reasonable fees and amazing rewards.

    Travel Rewards

    Looking for a new travel credit card?

    Credit Card Deals

    Applying for a card with a bonus or an introductory offer can be a great way to get a head start on earning rewards or to get a handle on your debt.

    Credit Card Bonus Offers

    Looking for a new credit card? Earn extra cash, reward points, and airline miles with these bonus offers for new customers.

    Dining Rewards

    If you're usually eating out rather than slaving over a hot stove at home, make a point of using a rewards credit card every time you pick up the tab and save up some serious cash.

    Best Credit Cards

    Here are the CreditDonkey picks for "Best Credit Cards" from our partners in the following categories ...

    Credit Card Rewards

    So you've decided you want to earn rewards for your spending but aren’t sure how to pick the right card?

    Passive Income: Practical Ideas to Build Wealth

    The best passive income ideas help you build real wealth and achieve financial freedom. Here are 25+ opportunities and examples for beginners.

    Credit Card Deals for People with Excellent Credit

    If you have excellent credit, now is the time to take advantage of it.

    No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards

    Most credit cards tack on a 3% charge, or foreign transaction fee, on purchases made outside the United States. If you travel internationally with a no foreign transaction fee credit card, you'll save money on your purchases.

    Study: Credit Card for European Travel

    Traveling to Europe? Look for a card with chip technology and no foreign transaction fees. Here are our favorite cards for international travel.
    Credit Card Promotions

    American Express Credit Card Offers

    American Express now offers promotions for new credit card applicants. But how do you pick which deal is right for you? Read this in-depth guide.

    Best Credit Card for First-Time Applicants

    Learn how to get a credit card for the first time. Read this guide to find out which cards are the best and how to avoid common mistakes beginners make.

    Priceline Flights: What You Need to Know

    Is Priceline good for flights? You could save a lot with their express deals. Read our review to find out if this app is reliable (or not).

    Credit Cards with No Foreign Transaction Fee

    How do I avoid foreign transaction fees? Get a travel rewards credit card. Read on for the best cards with no international fees.

    How Much Are Airline Miles Worth

    You use airline miles to purchase flights and other travel perks. But what are they really worth? Read on for the answer, plus the best way to use airline miles on your next trip.
More Articles in Reviews

About CreditDonkey®
CreditDonkey is a credit card comparison website. We publish data-driven analysis to help you save money & make savvy decisions.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

†Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which CreditDonkey receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CreditDonkey does not include all companies or all offers that may be available in the marketplace.

*See the card issuer's online application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However, all information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button you can review the terms and conditions on the card issuer's website.

CreditDonkey does not know your individual circumstances and provides information for general educational purposes only. CreditDonkey is not a substitute for, and should not be used as, professional legal, credit or financial advice. You should consult your own professional advisors for such advice.