5 Reasons to Get a Hotel Credit Card

by Lyle Daly | Published on Sept. 27, 2021

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A couple check into a hotel, using a contactless credit card to pay for their stay.

Image source: Getty Images

With a hotel credit card, you could save money and enjoy your stays more.

If you're a regular guest of any hotel chains, it's a good idea to take a look at their hotel credit cards. Most of the biggest hotel chains offer at least one, and some of them have several card options.

The nice thing about this type of card is that it's easy to get your money's worth. The perks of the best hotel credit cards usually more than make up for any fees. And if you want to avoid fees entirely, there are hotels that offer no annual fee credit cards.

To see how valuable hotel cards can be, we'll look at how they help you spend less and have a better travel experience.

1. Free night certificates

As the name suggests, a free night certificate gets you one night free with that hotel. The rules vary a bit -- for instance, some certificates are only valid on weekends, while others work any day of the week.

Quite a few hotel credit cards with annual fees offer free night certificates, including the more affordable cards with fees of $90 to $100. They typically offer one certificate per year, and with some cards, you can earn another free night if you spend enough.

This is one of the most high-value benefits hotel cards have. A free night certificate can save you much more money than you spend on your card's annual fee. If the card costs $95 per year and has a free night certificate you use for a $250 room, you're already up over $150 from that benefit alone.

2. Elite status in the hotel's loyalty program

Hotels like to reward their most frequent guests, and they do this through status tiers in their loyalty programs. Guests who rack up enough stays or spending at a hotel chain move up to higher tiers. Each tier includes perks, such as:

  • Bonus hotel rewards on your bookings
  • Complimentary breakfast
  • Room upgrades
  • Early check-in and late checkout
  • Faster internet

For the typical traveler, it can be hard to reach a hotel's higher status tiers. But hotel credit cards often include it as a complimentary benefit, so you don't need to spend thousands or book a stay every month to get elite status.

3. Rewards you can use for free nights

Hotel loyalty programs let you earn points that you can redeem for free nights. You don't need a hotel credit card to earn points, but having one helps you earn them much more quickly.

There are a couple of ways a hotel card helps you earn more points. Just about all hotel cards have sign-up bonuses for new cardholders. For example, a card might reward you with 100,000 bonus points if you spend $3,000 in the first three months. Offers like that can get you a lot of rewards in a short time.

With a hotel credit card, you also earn points on purchases. Plus, most cards tack on bonus points in certain spending categories, such as hotel spending, airfare, or dining. In some cases, you can collect thousands of points per month by using your credit card regularly.

4. Spending credits

If you're open to a luxury hotel card with a higher annual fee, there's a good chance you can find one that offers spending credits. A spending credit automatically pays for certain types of purchases, up to a set amount. Some cards provide spending credits that apply to any purchases with the hotel. Others have property credits that cover certain charges at the hotel, such as spa or dining purchases.

Spending credits often make seemingly expensive credit cards a better deal. Let's say you're comparing two hotel cards. One costs $95, while the other costs $450 but has more benefits, including $400 in annual spending credits. Assuming you will use those credits, the more expensive card really only costs you $50 per year.

5. No fees on international purchases

Hotel cards are considered travel credit cards, and most don't charge foreign transaction fees. Many other credit cards tack on 3% to purchases made outside the United States.

If you travel internationally, it's important to have a card with no foreign transaction fees. Otherwise, you spend extra for no reason. Even if you don't leave the country often, this type of card is good to have, just in case.

Considering all their features, hotel cards can pay off even if you only book stays once or twice per year. And if you visit hotels more often than that, a hotel card is sure to save you money. Just check out the cards offered by your hotel chain of choice, and pick one with benefits you like.

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