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I have five hotel credit cards. And my husband has another five. But, we believe each of these 10 cards provides enough perks to justify paying its annual fee for the foreseeable future. In particular, most of these that can more than justify the annual fee before even considering any other perks.
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However, readers and friends often ask me what hotel card is best. My answer typically depends on the person’s, budget and travel style. After all, the best hotel card for me may not be the best hotel credit card for you.
But, each year at thewe name one best hotel credit card. So, today I’ll discuss three hotel credit cards I believe could reasonably win the title of best hotel credit card for the 2021 awards. In doing so, I’ll present arguments for why each of these cards is best.
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My picks for the best hotel credit card
- Third place:
The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
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Before diving into why I think each of these three cards could be named the best hotel credit card, let me first discuss why noare listed above. My husband and I each have . And we get great value from the annual free night award and 15 elite-qualifying night credits our cards provide each year. Indeed, earning each year helps us maintain mid to high tiers.
But, the three cards discussed in this article each have one or more key aspects that could justify the card being best. And although having at least one Marriott Bonvoy card is undoubtedly recommendable for Marriott loyalists, I don’t believe any Marriott Bonvoy cards offer a show-stopper benefit that would justify naming it the best hotel card.
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Theis easily the , at least in my eyes. After all, the card offers as long as you hold the card. Plus, the card offers other perks, including and that can more than offset its $450 annual fee ( ).
In this section, I’ll discuss in detail why I believe the Hilton Aspire is the top hotel credit card.
Thewon the editors’ choice award for best return on hotel spend at the . After all, based on and the card’s massive earning rate of 14 points per dollar spent at Hilton properties, the card offers an excellent 8.4% return on hotel spending. That’s better than the 6% return I’d earn with my typical go-to card for booking hotels, the .
The Hilton Aspire also offers 7 points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines or, car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies and at , which equates to a 4.2% return.
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Top-tier Hilton Diamond status
Manyor even provide low to mid-tier status. But, the Hilton Aspire provides top-tier . And Hilton Diamond status offers some excellent benefits when staying with Hilton.
In particular, Hilton Diamond status provides valuable benefits, including:
- Space-available room upgrades up to one-bedroom suites
- Executive lounge access when available
- 100% elite status bonus on all the Hilton Honors base points you earn
My husband and I have enjoyed excellent upgrades and buffet breakfasts due to his Diamond status, including during stays at theand the .
Annual weekend night reward
Hilton Aspire cardholders get one weekend night reward each year to use at almost any property worldwide. And cardholders can earn a second weekend night reward each year after spending $60,000 on purchases in a calendar year.
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Many. But, most programs cap annual free night rewards to particular point ranges or categories. As such, the is unique and extremely valuable because you can use it at almost any Hilton property.
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The Hilton Aspire alsothat can help justify the card’s $450 annual fee ( ), including:
- Up to each cardmember year for eligible purchases at participating Hilton Resorts
- Up to each calendar year for incidental charges charged by an airline of your choice to your card
- Up to $100 Hilton on-property credit when you use your card to book an eligible two-night minimum stay at participating Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotels & Resorts through HiltonHonorsAspireCard.com or by calling Hilton Honors and referencing code ZZAAP1
- (enrollment required)
However, suppose you’re looking to add ato your wallet now. In that case, you should know that the lower annual fee currently offers a higher welcome offer. As such, although I think the Hilton Aspire Card is a better long-term choice for Hilton loyalists, the may make the Hilton Surpass a better option right now.
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Theprovides many benefits that can justify the card’s modest $89 annual fee. Combining these benefits makes the a solid contender for the best hotel card. Here’s a quick look at the most valuable aspects of the IHG Premier Card.
Anniversary reward night
The benefit that most easily justifies the card’s annual fee is the anniversary reward night that is valid at hotels costing 40,000 points per night or less. Although you can’t stay at high-point aspirational properties such as theusing your certificate, there are still plenty of properties where you can get excellent value.
Of course,means you won’t always be able to use your anniversary night at properties that sometimes offer award nights for 40,000 points or less per night. But, I’ve had luck using the up to 40,000 point anniversary nights at properties that typically price above 40,000 points per night by searching for awards daily. For example, I booked two nights in late 2021 at the using up to when the award price temporarily decreased.
IHG Rewards Platinum status
You’ll also getas an IHG Premier cardholder. Platinum status is the second-highest level of elite status with and provides benefits including:
- Complimentary room upgrades
- Extended checkout
- Elite rollover nights
- 50% bonus earnings on top of base points
I have Platinum elite status through the. And although there are several , I’m usually successful in getting a room upgrade to a higher floor or elevated room type and late checkout when I ask at check-in.
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Theof the allows you to pay zero points for every fourth night on reward stays of four nights or longer. Although this perk isn’t helpful if you don’t redeem IHG points for stays of four nights or longer, this benefit provides significant value to me since I .
My husband and I each have IHG Premier Cards. In 2019, we used the fourth-night reward perk provided by these cards on 11 award stays. We saved 185,000 points thanks to this perk, whichvalue at $925. If you’re doing the math, this means we redeemed about 555,000 IHG points in 2019. Of course, there are many ways to . But, to fuel this level of spending, we often take advantage of and buy points during periodic that offer a 100% bonus.
Thealso offers some other valuable benefits, including:
- 10 points per dollar spent at IHG properties (5% return); 2 points per dollar spent on purchases at , and (1% return); 1 point per dollar spent on (0.5% return)
- 20% savings when you purchase IHG points with your card,
- every four years
- Earn 10,000 bonus points after you spend $20,000 on purchases and make one additional purchase each account anniversary year
Check out our fulland apply now for the with a sign-up bonus of 125,000 bonus points plus a reward night after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
The primary argument for theis that you can spend on the card to reach top-tier status. I don’t think this perk is enough to beat out the , which provides top-tier Hilton Diamond status as a cardmember benefit without requiring extra spending. Even so, in this section, I’ll discuss how you can .
Earn World of Hyatt Globalist status through spending
One perk of theis five qualifying night credits toward your next tier status every year. Plus, you can earn two additional qualifying night credits toward your next tier status every time you spend $5,000 on your card.
typically requires 60 tier-qualifying nights, 100,000 base points or 20 meetings or events per year. So, if you want to qualify for Hyatt Globalist on nights and have the , you could typically :
- Stay 55 nights
- Stay 49 nights and spend $15,000 on your card
- Stay 39 nights and spend $40,000 on your card
- Stay 19 nights and spend $90,000 on your card
- Stay zero nights and spend $140,000 on your card
However,has to to 30 tier-qualifying nights, 50,000 base points or 20 meetings or events per year. As such, World of Hyatt cardholders can qualify for Hyatt Globalist in 2021 on nights as follows:
- Stay 25 nights
- Stay 19 nights and spend $15,000 on your card
- Stay 13 nights and spend $30,000 on your card
- Stay five nights and spend $50,000 on your card
- Stay zero nights and spend $65,000 on your card
So, if you have theand are working toward earning Globalist status, you can see where you stand near the end of each year and get the remaining nights you need through spending.
Thehas other benefits that may provide value and justify its $95 annual fee:
- 4 points per dollar spent with Hyatt (6.8% return); 2 points per dollar spent on local transit and commuting, , cafes and coffee shops, airline tickets purchased directly from the airline and (3.4% return); 2 bonus points per dollar total on purchases that usually earn 1 bonus point per dollar, on up to $15,000 in the first six months of account opening (3.4% return); then 1 point per dollar spent on everything else (1.7% return)
- One every year after your cardmember anniversary, and earn an extra free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort if you spend $15,000 during your cardmember anniversary year
Check out ourand apply now for the with a sign-up bonus of up to 60,000 points.
Comparing my top picks for best hotel credit card
|Annual fee||$450 (see)||$89||$95|
|Return from credit card spending with the associated hotel loyalty program||14 points per dollar spent (8.4%)||10 points per dollar spent (5%)||4 points per dollar spent (6.8%)|
|Annual reward night value (based on)||Almost any property ($900 based on)||40,000 points ($200)||Category 1-4 ($255)|
|Complimentary status||Diamond ()||Platinum ()||Discoverist ()|
|Why this card is best||Aat almost any property each year, solid return on spending at Hilton, complimentary top-tier Diamond status, a $250 annual Hilton resort credit and a $250 annual airline fee credit||Aeach year, almost-top-tier Platinum status and a when redeeming points for stays of four nights or longer||Ability to spend to earn status (including top-tier Globalist status) and aeach year|
Sure, thehas the highest annual fee of the cards in the table above. But the Hilton Aspire comes that can pay off even if you only stay at Hilton properties . This fact, combined with the that you can use at almost any property and top-tier Diamond status, make the Hilton Aspire Card the best hotel card in my book.
You should be able to get more value than the annual fee from any of thediscussed in this guide. So, the best hotel credit card for you depends on your preference. In particular, if you prefer to stay with a specific , you should consider whether getting a cobranded card with this program would be beneficial since many provide elevated earning, , elite benefits and .
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire Card, please click.
Featured photo of the Hilton Rose Hall Resort by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy.
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