Hotel credit cards make it easy to earn free stays and upgrades at your favorite hotels and resorts. CreditCards.com evaluated some of the top-rated cards in the hotel card category and asked a panel of judges to rate the CreditCards.com staff's top three picks.
The judges were travel expert Johnny Jet (johnnyjet.com), personal finance expert Holly Johnson (clubthrifty.com), Money Magazine staff writer Taylor Tepper, CreditCards.com editor-in-chief Daniel P. Ray and CreditCards.com senior industry analyst Matt Schulz.
The best hotel credit card is the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card, according to CreditCards.com. Judges praised it for its generously priced Starpoints, which are worth at least two cents apiece (the average credit card rewards point is valued at just one cent). The panel also liked that the card offers an impressive number of Starpoints to frequent Starwood and Marriott guests. A 25,000-point sign-up bonus adds even more value, and the $95 annual fee is waived the first year.
The SPG card allows one-to-one transfers with more than 30 domestic and international airlines, including American Airlines, Delta, British Airways, Korean Air and many others. "Flexibility is so important in a rewards card, and that's what helps the Starwood card stand out from the other hotel cards," said CreditCards.com senior industry analyst Matt Schulz. "The large number of partnerships with airlines makes this card more than just a hotel card."
The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature card earned second place, thanks in large part to its ample sign-up and loyalty bonuses. Cardholders are awarded up to 85,000 Gold points if they spend $2,500 in the first 90 days, 40,000 bonus points each year their card is renewed and an extra free night's stay when they spend at least $10,000 a year. Club Carlson points aren't worth as much as the average card rewards point, but the card's generous rewards rate helps make up for the lower value. The Carlson Rezidor network includes more than 1,400 hotels around the world; the Club Carlson card is a good choice for people who typically stay in mid-tier hotels and would like to use their points for higher priced stays.
A great choice for budget travelers, the Best Western Rewards Premium MasterCard ranked third. It isn't as flashy as some of its higher-priced competitors, but for those who care more about affordability and convenience than traveling in high style, this is one of the most valuable hotel cards you can get. It offers 10 points for every dollar spent at a Best Western. In addition, new cardholders are awarded 50,000 bonus points if they spend $1,000 in the card's first three months and an additional 20,000 bonus points each year they spend at least $5,000. That's significantly more valuable than most hotel cards' opening offers. The $59 annual fee is waived the first year.