5 Hotel Credit Cards for Travelers Who Love Luxury

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[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are reviewed below.]

Luxury hotels are perfect for those who desire special treatment when they travel. Large hotel chains can offer pristine grounds, exciting experiences, and loads of amenities at thousands of properties around the world.

Many luxury hotel chains have their own branded credit cards that let customers earn rewards, special benefits, or VIP status. These cards can take a stay at your favorite property to the next level.

Here are five hotel-branded credit cards for loyal guests who crave luxury.

1. Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

Rewards: Up to five points per dollar spent at participating Starwood hotels; two points per dollar spent at participating Marriott Rewards hotels; and one point per dollar spent on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus:
25,000 bonus points if you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
Annual Fee:
$0 the first year, then $95.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR):
Variable 16.24% to 20.24% APR on purchases, as well as on balance transfers made within 60 days of opening your account.
Why We Picked It:
Loyal Starwood and Marriott guests earn rewards for hotel stays and get many special perks.
Benefits:
All eligible purchases earn points, with eligible Marriott purchases earning two points per dollar and eligible Starwood purchases earning up to five points on the dollar. Points are redeemable for flights, experiences, and more, including free nights at luxury Starwood properties such as St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, and W Hotels. Your eligible stays go toward earning Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) elite status, which may grant point bonuses, late checkouts, room upgrades, and other perks. You’ll also enjoy free internet access at participating hotels, and the card has foreign transaction fees.
Drawbacks: Although Starwood and Marriott have merged, their rewards programs are still separate. You can transfer points between them, but you’ll have to maintain two accounts to earn full membership rewards at both hotels.

2. Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card

Rewards: Five points per dollar spent at participating Ritz-Carlton Rewards and SPG hotels; two points per dollar spent on dining, car rentals, and flights purchased directly from the airline; and one point per dollar spent on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus:
Two free nights at any eligible tier 1–4 Ritz-Carlton property if you spend $4,000 in the first three months.
Annual Fee:
$450
APR:
Variable 16.99% to 23.99% APR on purchases and balance transfers.
Why We Picked It:
Cardholders can earn points in many ways and receive an annual travel credit.
Benefits:
All qualifying purchases earn points, with extra points for eligible hotel stays, flights, car rentals, and dining. Points can be redeemed for travel expenses including Ritz-Carlton stays. An annual $300 travel credit can be used for baggage fees, flight upgrades, airport lounge access, and more. The card also offers $100 in savings on eligible airline tickets, a $100 credit toward Global Entry applications, and access to over 900 worldwide airport lounges. At Ritz-Carlton hotels, cardholders can enjoy Gold Elite status for the first year, a $100 hotel credit for stays of two nights or more, and three annual Ritz-Carlton Club Level upgrades for stays of seven nights or more. Additionally, there are no foreign transaction fees, making it easy to take your card abroad on your next vacation.
Drawbacks: There’s a steep $450 annual fee.

3. Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card

Rewards: Five points per dollar spent at participating SPG and Marriott Rewards hotels; two points per dollar spent on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, car rentals, and dining; and one point per dollar spent on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus:
80,000 bonus points if you spend $3,000 on purchases within three months.
Annual Fee:
$85
APR:
Variable 16.99% to 23.99% APR on purchases and balance transfers.
Why We Picked It: 
A free night’s stay every year, a big sign-up bonus, and a variety of ways to earn points make this card valuable for Marriott loyalists.
Benefits:
All purchases earn rewards, but eligible hotel stays, airline tickets, car rentals, and dining can earn you extra. Points can be redeemed for travel, merchandise, gift cards, and more. You’ll get an annual free night’s stay in a participating category 1–5 hotel after your account anniversary, and your card is guaranteed to earn you Silver Elite status every year. There are also no foreign transaction fees.
Drawbacks: 
The greatest value is reserved for frequent Marriott guests.

4. Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express

Rewards: 12 points per dollar spent at participating Hilton properties; six points per dollar spent at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations in the US; and three points per dollar spent on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus:
100,000 bonus points if you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
Annual Fee:
$75
APR:
Variable 16.24% to 20.24% APR on purchases, as well as on balance transfers requested within the first 60 days of opening your account.
Why We Picked It: 
Hilton’s credit card boasts a moderate annual fee and an impressive points program.  
Benefits:
Like other hotel cards, Hilton’s card earns extra points for eligible hotel stays and select purchase categories. What’s unique is that even everyday purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants earn triple points on the dollar. Using your card to book online and pay for a Hilton stay will land you a 500-point bonus. You’ll automatically earn Hilton Honors Gold status, and you’ll be bumped up to Diamond status if you spend $40,000 in a calendar year.
Drawbacks: 
All foreign transactions are charged 2.7% of the purchase amount.

5. The Hyatt Credit Card

Rewards: Three points per dollar spent at participating Hyatt hotels; two points per dollar spent on dining, car rentals, and flights purchased directly with the airline; and one point per dollar spent on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus:
40,000 bonus points if you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
Annual Fee:
$75
APR:
Variable 16.99% to 23.99% APR on purchases and balance transfers.
Why We Picked It:
Cardholders earn points for a wide range of purchases and get an annual free night after their cardmember anniversary.
Benefits:
You’ll get triple points at Hyatt, double points on select purchase types, and one point elsewhere. Points can be redeemed for free stays and upgrades, room service, spa treatments, and other rewards. Plus, you’ll receive an annual free night at any category 1–4 hotel or resort after your first account anniversary. There are no foreign transaction fees.
Drawbacks:
The card’s best value is limited to frequent Hyatt guests.

How to Choose a Hotel Rewards Credit Card

If you’re fiercely loyal to one hotel chain, start by finding out if that chain offers a credit card. Hotel cards will likely offer perks like room upgrades, point rewards, and special benefits that you can use anytime you travel to an eligible property.

Don’t jump on your favorite hotel’s credit card without evaluating the competition, though. Hotel-branded credit cards reserve their best value for those who spend a lot of time at eligible properties. And with point-transfer programs, you might even have the ability to transfer points from other cards at a one-to-one value to your hotel or airline of choice.

If you’re an agnostic traveler who stays at many different hotel chains, a general travel credit card may be a better choice. These cards offer a variety of ways to redeem points for travel and aren’t tied down to any specific company.

Make sure to also check the fees and APR. Travel rewards are great, but fees and interest can cut into the value, so try to pick a card that makes good financial sense. 

What Credit Is Required for a Hotel Rewards Credit Card?

Cards that offer epic hotel rewards often require excellent credit. You should be confident in your chances of approval before you apply, because a hard credit inquiry from a credit card application can lower your credit score a few points. You can check two of your credit reports for free at Credit.com.

At publishing time, the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express and Hilton Honors Surpass Credit Card from American Express are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

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Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees, and terms with credit card issuers, banks, or other financial institutions directly.

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Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card Rolls Out Cool 100K-Point Bonus

The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card is offering 100,000 bonus points for a limited time after you spend $5,000 in the first three months.

Eighty thousand points isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? A hundred thousand points.

That’s what the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card, issued by Chase, is offering for a limited time after you spend $5,000 on the card in the first three months. And if you add an authorized user and swipe the card in that same period, you’ll score an additional 7,500 points.

As our review of the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card notes, the card is ideal for fans of the hotel chain. Cardholders earn five points for every dollar spent at any of the more than 5,700 Marriott and Starwood properties worldwide, and points can easily be transferred between brands such as Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance, Sheraton and Westin.

As an added incentive to keep swiping the card, double points are awarded for purchases on airfare, rental cars and restaurants, and cardholders earn one point per dollar on everything else. The card also carries no foreign transaction fees, so it’s perfect for long stays abroad.

Other Noteworthy Perks

Cardholders also receive other perks. They earn 15 credits toward their next Elite membership level and one Elite credit for every $3,000 spent. Points won’t expire so long as they swipe the card at least once every two years, and each cardholder anniversary they receive a free night stay.

The card also features travel security features like trip delay reimbursement, trip cancellation insurance, purchase protection and lost luggage reimbursement.

Before You Apply 

If the 100,000-point bonus has put the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card on your radar, you’ll want to make sure you’ll actually use it. The card carries an $85 annual fee, and its variable APR is 16.49% to 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Some may find that rate a little too high, especially if they tend to carry a balance from month to month or have difficulty paying their bills off.

Before you apply, we advise checking your credit to make sure you’re likely to qualify. You can do that on Credit.com, where you’ll get two of your credit scores for free, with useful updates every two weeks. Checking your credit scores won’t hurt them one bit and is a great way to keep tabs on your finances.

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These Popular Hotel Credit Cards Just Got Sweeter Signup Bonuses

American Express is upping the ante on two more pieces of its plastic.

Right on the heels of its forthcoming Platinum card makeover, American Express is upping the ante on two more of its popular credit cards.

Now through May 31, 2017, new Hilton Honors cardholders can earn 80,000 points after spending $2,000 in their first three months. Hilton Honors Surpass cardholders can earn 100,000 points after spending $3,000 in their first three months and a free night on their one-year membership anniversary.

Before the big change, cardholders could earn 50,000 points and 75,000 points, respectively.

There’s also a Member-Get-Member bonus on the table — meaning if a friend applies and gets approved, Hilton Honors cardholders will get an extra 20,000 points while Surpass cardholders get 25,000.

The sweeter signup bonuses are launching alongside some recently announced upgrades to Hilton’s loyalty program. Point redemption is now much more flexible, with pricing adjusting alongside rates and, starting April 2017, members will be able to pool points with family and friends. Plus, beginning Summer 2017, you’ll be able to shop with Hilton Honors points on Amazon.

So Should I Sign Up?

If you’re a big fan of Hilton hotels and travel often, then, sure, consider signing up. Both cards are solid as far hotel rewards credit cards go. The Hilton Honors Surpass even made our list of the best cards for hotel hoppers, as it offers 12 points per dollar on eligible Hilton purchases, six times the points at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations and three times the points (mostly) everywhere else.

If you’re not interested in paying the card’s $75 annual fee, the Hilton Honors credit card is a solid alternative: seven times the points at Hilton hotels, five times the points at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations, three times the points everywhere else and no annual charge.

Both cards tout a variable purchase annual percentage rate (APR) between 15.99% and 19.99%, depending on your credit. (You can get an idea of where you might fall by viewing two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)

Have Credit Card, Will Travel?

If you’re booking it all over town and beyond, a good hotel rewards credit card can make you some money back on all those stays. (Just be sure to pay any balances off in full; otherwise, you’re just kissing those points goodbye to interest.) But the right credit card for you depends on your travel preferences.

Stay solely at Starwood properties? Well, its Preferred Guest credit card, also from American Express, might give you the biggest bang for your buck. Wind up at Wyndhams? Its Barclaycard Visa is worth checking out. And, if you travel often, but don’t like to limit your stays to just one hotel chain, there are plenty of general-purpose travel credit cards out there that’ll earn you points, miles or cash back on all your flights and nights.

A bit more Credit Card 101: Be sure to read the full fine print of any card you’re considering to learn exactly what you’re signing up for. And get ready to do some math — a lot of travel credit cards carry steep annual fees (think $450 or higher) that are only worth paying if you travel and/or spend a certain amount each year.

At publishing time, the American Express Platinum and Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

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12 Ridiculous Hotel Perks That Will Change the Way You Book a Room

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I Travel a Lot. Should I Get a Hotel or Airline Credit Card?

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Co-branded credit cards can be a great way for frequent fliers to pool loyalty and rewards points, maximize earnings, enjoy perks like a free checked bag or hotel Wi-Fi, and score upgrades like a first-class seat or a night in a suite.

In fact, for travelers who don’t carry a balance (and, subsequently, lose points to interest), the biggest dilemma is often the choice between using an airline miles credit card or a hotel rewards credit card. Here are some ways to determine which option may be right for you.

Airline Credit Cards vs. Hotel Credit Cards: The Pros & Cons

Credit cards that earn airline miles are tremendously popular, but not necessarily for their miles. For the past several years, many airlines have devalued their frequent-flier programs by requiring more miles for award flights, making fewer seats available for awards at the lowest mileage levels and changing up earnings so you get miles for dollars spent and not distance traveled. Nevertheless, these cards still offer valuable benefits, such as checked baggage fee waivers, priority boarding and discounts on in-flight food, beverages and entertainment. In addition, skilled travelers may still be able to realize exceptional value from their miles when redeeming them for last-minute award flights or for international awards in business or first class.

While hotel credit cards may not be as popular as airline credit cards, they can offer terrific value. Several of the top hotel loyalty programs offer award nights for any unsold standard room, so you don’t have to hunt for award availability like you do with many airline credit cards. (Hotel programs with this policy include Hyatt Gold Passport, Starwood Preferred Guest, Hilton HHonors and Wyndham Rewards.) At the same time, some hotel programs have also devalued their points in the past few years by increasing the number required for a free night’s stay. So, cardholders have to carefully review a card’s terms and conditions to make sure they understand its true earnings potential.

Hotel credit cards can also offer elite status, which entitles guests to perks such as late checkouts, room upgrades, free Internet service and even complimentary breakfast. Another benefit is that award stays may actually be free, since hotels tend to be taxed based on the rate paid, with award nights frequently escaping all taxes. In contrast, an airline award almost always involves paying some money, as these programs generally require the payment of any required government taxes, and will sometimes add their own surcharges.

You can find a roundup of the best airline miles credit cards and the best hotel rewards credit cards on Credit.com.

How to Decide What’s Right for You

If you could only use either an airline or a hotel credit card, you should choose the one that will offer you the most value towards your travel needs. For example, if you usually fly somewhere and stay with family or friends or stay at destinations without major hotel chains, then a hotel credit card will not offer you much value. Conversely, if you like to take road trips (or use trains or buses), then an airline credit card would be a poor fit for your travel habits. Likewise, if you need to use your airline miles for award flights during peak travel periods, then you are likely to be disappointed by the availability of airline mileage awards, and you might be better off with a hotel credit card. (Remember, if you choose a card affiliated with a program that offers any unsold room as an award, then you can use your hotel points for award stays at popular destinations during peak travel periods, so long as the property isn’t already sold out of standard rooms.)

For some consumers, it may be beneficial to have both an airline credit card and a hotel credit card. Holding multiple credit cards can increase your credit score by reducing your ratio of debt to available credit. But if holding additional credit cards gives you incentive to incur more debt, or becomes difficult to manage responsibly, then you are better off with fewer credit cards.

You also need to consider any costs associated with cards to determine which — or how many — you should carry. Many travel credit cards have annual fees that could be financially burdensome, particularly if you have more than one in your wallet. And you want to refrain from applying for too many credit cards in a short window of time, since each application generates a hard inquiry on your credit report, which could, in turn, ding your credit score. To see if you credit can handle an inquiry and another card, you can pull your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and view your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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