August 17, 2022
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I’m often asked by readers which credit card they should be using to maximize points for a given hotel stay, or if there’s an overall best hotel credit card.

Typically recommending which credit card is best for a particular bonus category (like dining, grocery stores, gas stations, everyday spending, etc.) is easy. That’s not really the case when recommending which credit card to use at hotels, though.

The added wrinkle with making this recommendation for stays at chain hotels is that you don’t just have to consider which credit cards broadly offer the best bonus categories for travel, but you also have to consider whether the hotel brand you’re staying at has a co-branded credit card that offers bonus points for stays at that specific brand.

In this post, I wanted to look at the most rewarding credit cards for hotel spending in general (regardless of the brand you’re staying at), and then compare that to the bonuses offered by specific co-branded hotel credit cards.

Table of Contents

The most rewarding credit cards for hotel spending

For this section, I’m excluding co-branded hotel credit cards. That’s because I’m looking at the cards that offer the best bonuses on hotel spending in general, rather than the best bonuses for a particular brand of hotel.

So, which major credit cards offer bonuses for hotel spending?

1. Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Reward for hotel spending: 5.1% (3x points, which I value at 1.7 cents each)
Card annual fee: $550

Learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve, apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

2. Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Reward for hotel spending: 5.1% (3x points, which I value at 1.7 cents each)
Card annual fee: $95
Things to be aware of: This is a business card, and the 3x points is limited to the first $150,000 in combined purchases in bonus categories each account anniversary year

Learn more about the Ink Business Preferred, apply for the Ink Business Preferred.

3. American Express® Green Card

Reward for hotel spending: 5.1% (3x points, which I value at 1.7 cents each)
Card annual fee: $150 (Rates & Fees)

Learn more about the Amex Green, apply for the Amex Green.

4. Citi Premier® Card

Reward for hotel spending: 5.1% (3x points, which I value at 1.7 cents each)
Card annual fee: $95

Learn more about the Citi Premier, apply for the Citi Premier.

5. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Reward for hotel spending: 3.4% (2x points, which I value at 1.7 cents each)
Card annual fee: $95

Learn more about the Sapphire Preferred, apply for the Sapphire Preferred.

6. Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Reward for hotel spending: 3.4% (2x miles, which I value at 1.7 cents each)
Card annual fee: $395

Learn more about the Venture X, apply for the Venture X.

7. Capital One Spark Miles for Business

Reward for hotel spending: 3.4% (2x miles, which I value at 1.7 cents each)
Card annual fee: $395

Learn more about the Spark Miles, apply for the Spark Miles.

Several credit cards offer 3x points on hotel spending

The most rewarding co-branded hotel credit cards

As you can see above, there are four cards with the same return (by my valuation). All offer 3x transferable points, and all are points that I value at 1.7 cents each.

That means you’re looking at a return of ~5.1% regardless of which card you use. Do you get a better or worse return when using a co-branded hotel credit card?

To be comprehensive, let’s look at the co-branded credit cards issued by Choice Privileges, Hilton Honors, IHG One Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy, World of Hyatt, and Wyndham Rewards. First let me share how much I value a point in each of these currencies:

  • Choice Privileges — 0.6 cents each
  • Hilton Honors — 0.5 cents each
  • IHG One Rewards — 0.5 cents each
  • Marriott Bonvoy — 0.7 cents each
  • World of Hyatt — 1.5 cents each
  • Wyndham Rewards — 0.7 cents each

To keep things fairly simple, let’s look at the co-branded credit card(s) from each of the hotel groups that offers the highest return on hotel spending (keep in mind the main reason to get hotel credit cards could be for the elite status and free night certificates that they offer).

Choice Privileges

The Choice Privileges Credit Card offers 5x points on Choice spending, which I value at a return of 3%. This isn’t as good as the return on spending offered by some transferable points cards.

I wouldn’t use Choice’s credit card for hotel spending

Hilton Honors

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (review) offers 14x points on Hilton spending, which I value at a return of 7%. This is excellent, and beats the return on spending offered by all transferable points cards.

I use the Hilton Aspire Card for my Hilton hotel spending

IHG One Rewards

The IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card (review) and IHG® Rewards Premier Business Credit Card (review) offer 10x points on IHG hotel spending, which I value at a return of 5%. This isn’t quite as good as the return on spending offered by some transferable points cards, though others may feel differently based on their valuation of points.

Earn bonus points for hotel spending with IHG’s credit cards

Marriott Bonvoy

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card (review), Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (review), and Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card (review) offer 6x points on Marriott hotel spending, which I value at a return of 4.2%. This isn’t as good as the return on spending offered by some transferable points cards. That being said, some may wish to still use a Marriott co-branded credit card, since there aren’t many other ways to efficiently earn Bonvoy points.

Earn bonus points on spending with Marriott’s credit cards

World of Hyatt

The World of Hyatt Credit Card (review) and World of Hyatt Business Credit Card (review) offer 4x points on Hyatt hotel spending, which I value at a return of 6%. This is excellent, and beats the return on spending offered by all transferable points cards.

I use the World of Hyatt Card for my Hyatt hotel spending

Wyndham Rewards

The Wyndham Earner Business Card (review) offers 8x points on Wyndham hotel spending, which I value at a return of 5.6%. This is very good, and beats the return on hotel spending offered by transferable points cards.

I wouldn’t use Wyndham’s credit card for hotel spending

Crunching the numbers

Everyone will value points differently, and those with different points valuations may also come up with different conclusions.

Personally, I think the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, American Express® Green Card, and Citi Premier® Card, offer the best general return on hotel spending, at 5.1%.

What’s surprising is that co-branded hotel credit cards largely don’t offer a better return for stays at their “own” hotels than these cards do for travel purchases.

Based on my valuation of hotel points:

Earn 14x points on Hilton stays with the Hilton Aspire Card

Other considerations with hotel spending

There are other potential considerations when deciding which hotel credit card to use:

It could be worth earning a Hilton free night reward

Bottom line

In many cases, you’re actually not best off using a co-branded hotel card for your hotel spending, counterintuitive as it might be. Hilton and Hyatt have especially good co-branded hotel credit cards, where it can be worth spending money on their cards at hotels.

Otherwise, you’re generally best off using a transferable points card for your hotel spending.

What’s your go-to card for hotel spending? Do you find it more worthwhile to use the hotel’s co-brand card, or do you use a card earning transferable points?

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: American Express® Green Card (Rates & Fees).