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Choosing the right credit card for you depends on numerous factors. For instance, do you have a specific goal for how you want to use miles and points? Or are you looking for instant elite status, upgrades, late check out, and more? All of these should be important considerations when applying for the right card.
When it comes to hotel-branded cards, many come with instant elite status. But they also come with free nights just for signing up or paying the annual fee. We’re talking about free night certificates that are above and beyond the points that come with the signup bonus. These perks, among many others, can outweigh any burden that comes with paying a fee. Here are some of our favorites.
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card kicks it out of the water with an automatic free night each year of holding the card after the anniversary date. It can be used at any participating Marriott Rewards hotels (up to category 5), which are valued at 35,000 points.
This means that the $95 annual fee could be a wash if using the free night at hotels like the JW Marriott Beijing, Renaissance Philadelphia Airport Hotel, and the Courtyard Bali Seminyak.
However, note that there are Marriott Bonvoy point redemption changes on the horizon.
This card also comes with Silver Elite for bonus points and free premium wireless internet. If you’re looking for even higher elite status, the card gets you started with 15 elite night credits per year. You also get the ability to automatically get Gold Elite status after spending $35,000 per card anniversary year.
Cardholders can earn
- Up to 17x total Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Card
- 3x Bonvoy points per $1 on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year on grocery stores, gas stations, and dining
- 2x points per dollar spent on everything else
The low annual fee and plentiful perks assure that this is a solid bargain for those looking for a travel credit card.
Additionally, earn 1 Elite Night Credit towards Elite Status for every $5,000 you spend.
There are no foreign transaction fees.
New Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card cardholders can earn 3 Free Night Awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card
IHG has an impressive portfolio of brands including some of its newest high-end tiers like Kimpton and Regent Hotels. This could make holding the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card that’s much more valuable.
As an IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card cardholder, you’ll also get to enjoy a Reward Night after each account anniversary year at eligible IHG hotels worldwide. Additionally, you can enjoy a reward night when you redeem points for any stay of 3 or more nights.
Cardholders can earn up to 26 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel. Also, earn 5x points per $1 spent on purchases on travel, gas stations, and restaurants. Earn 3x points per $1 spent on all other purchases.
As long as you remain a Premier cardmember, you can enjoy Platinum Elite status. Platinum Elite Status allows for room upgrades (when available), late check-out, welcome amenity at check-in, and more. Additionally, enjoy a Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS Statement Credit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card.
This can include those in resort locations like the Holiday Inn Express Waikiki.
New IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card cardholders can earn 175,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. This is the best points offer ever for this card!
The annual fee is $99.
The World of Hyatt Credit Card
The World of Hyatt Credit Card has an annual hotel night certificate good for a category 1-4 property. The annual fee is $95 for the Hyatt Credit Card, but with the cash value of most Hyatt nights costing at least $150, you’re essentially getting a room for 50% off assuming you don’t use any of the additional card benefits.
You won’t be able to redeem your free night at the high-end category 5-7 properties, but you will still find plenty of value in the category 1-4 portfolio where a reward night only costs up to 15,000 points. Other hotel loyalty programs easily charge 25,000 to 30,000 for their equivalent properties.
With so many ways to redeem your Hyatt anniversary night, the choices can be initially overwhelming but keep these tips in mind:
- Category 4 hotels are often in the heart of major metropolitans (aka walking distance to most attractions)
- Category 3 hotels are also in most major US and European destinations
- There are a few hidden gems in Category 2 (like the Hyatt Regency Saipan that costs $340 per night!)
While you can spend your free night on whichever property you want, focus on the categories 4-3-2 in the descending order.
Within these three categories, consider these brands first for better overall quality:
- Park Hyatt
- Hyatt Regency
These three brands often come with more amenities than the other Hyatt brands.
But as mentioned before, there are hidden gems in each category.
Additional Hyatt Visa Credit Card Benefits
There is more to like besides the free anniversary night:
- Automatic World of Hyatt Discoverist status (10% elite bonus and 2 p.m. late checkout)
- 4 points per $1 on Hyatt hotel purchases plus 5 base points per $1 earned by World of Hyatt members
- 2 points per $1 on restaurants, directly purchased airfare, local transit, commuting and gym, and fitness club memberships
- 1 point per $1 on other purchases
Many other hotel programs offer free rewards nights for 5,000 points, but these properties are often in less-traveled areas or there’s a very small selection. That’s not the case with Hyatt as major U.S. cities have at least one category 1 option. There’s also a fair amount of international category 1 destinations too. Whether you fly overseas or stay in-country, you shouldn’t struggle to squeeze 10 free nights from your free night certificate and the 50,000 point bonus.
Because Hyatt points are almost always worth 2.0 to 3.0 cents each per reward night, you can easily make the Hyatt Credit Card your primary rewards card for travel purchases to earn at least 2 points per $1 spent.
New The World of Hyatt Credit Card cardholders can earn up to 60,000 bonus points! Earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, earn 2 bonus points per $1 spent on purchases that earn 1 bonus point, up to $15,000, in the first 6 months of account opening.
The one downside of the World of Hyatt Credit Card is that the Hyatt portfolio only consists of 750+ hotels and resorts. While most tourist destinations has a Hyatt location, they aren’t on every street corner like the Hilton, IHG, or Marriott portfolios that also offer free night certificates.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
The information for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by Johnny Jet. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card takes the crown with its premium hotel rewards credit card. Unlike the other hotel credit cards that make you wait until your first card anniversary to receive your free night, you get your first night on day 1. Your second Hilton night is award after spending $60,000 in a calendar year.
The only catch with the Hilton free night certificates is that they must be redeemed on the weekends.
With 4,900 locations in 100 countries–and most properties accepting the free night certificate– it’s easy to find a property to stay at over the weekend and save several hundred dollars in the process. Here are a few options to choose from to redeem your free weekend night:
- Conrad Bora Bora Nui ($955+ nightly rate)
- Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam ($700+ nightly rate)
- The London NYC ($450+ nightly rate)
The average nightly rate for all of these places exceeds the $450 annual fee (See rates & fees) before you take the additional hotel credit card travel benefits into consideration.
When you use the benefits below, your annual benefit value is easily worth more than $1,000 each year:
- $250 air travel credit
- $250 Hilton Resort credit
- $100 Hilton on-property credit (2+ night stay required)
- Hilton Honors Diamond status (50% point redemption bonus, room upgrades, 48-hour room guarantee)
- Priority Pass Select membership
You will also earn up to 14x Hilton Honors points on all purchases:
- 14x points on eligible Hilton purchases
- 7x points on eligible purchases for direct airline purchases, rental car agencies, and U.S. restaurants
- 3x on all remaining eligible purchases
If you spend $60,000 in a calendar year to earn the 2nd free night, you will also get at least 180,000 rewards points if you only earn the 3x base rate.
Rewards nights start at 5,000 points per night for Hilton reward nights and you get the 5th night free when you book a 5+ night reward stay. The 5th night free makes your Hilton points even more valuable.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card from American Express
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card is ripe for special perks.
Each card renewal year, get up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year (up to $25 per month) for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide.
Other featured benefits include 1 Free Night Award (redemption level at or under 85,000 points) annually after your card renewal month at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties (some hotels have resort fees), up to $100 property credit for qualifying charges at The Ritz-Carlton® or St. Regis® when you book direct using a special rate for a two-night minimum stay using your Card, and complimentary Priority Pass Select airport lounge access.
Additionally, cardholders can enjoy a fee credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, up to $800 in cellphone protection, and 25 Elite Night Credits toward the next level of Marriott Bonvoy Elite status (terms apply).
- 6x points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
- 3x points at restaurants worldwide
- 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines
- 2x points on all other eligible purchases
Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite members earn 50% more points on eligible purchases at participating hotels for each U.S. dollar (or the currency equivalent) that is incurred and paid for by the member.
Each calendar year after spending $60,000 on eligible purchases, Card Members are eligible to select an Earned Choice Award benefit. Benefit options include Five (5) Suite Night Awards, an 85K Free Night Award, and a mattress and box spring $750 discount from Marriott Bonvoy Boutiques. Certain hotels have resort fees.
New Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card cardholders can earn 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after using their new Card to make $5,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months.
Although this card has a $650 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees (See Rates & Fees), it has plenty of benefits that are worth a lot more.
Learn more: Hotel Rewards Credit Cards
Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature
The information for the Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature Card has been collected independently by Johnny Jet. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
The Radisson Rewards program can deliver some rich rewards for Radisson Rewards™ Premier Visa Signature® Card cardholders. It starts with an 85,000 point signup offer (50,000 points after the first purchase and an additional 35,000 points after spending $2,500 within the first 90 days). It also comes with one free night at a Radisson Rewards hotel for every $10,000 spent within each year of having the card and paying the annual fee. There are no category restrictions.
Cardholders receive 10 points per dollar spent at Radisson family hotels and 5 points per dollar spent on everything else. The card comes with automatic Gold status for the possibility of room upgrades, bonus points, and late checkout. There’s another pleasant surprise. You can earn up to three free nights by earning one Free Night E-Cert for each $10,000 in spend (up to $30,000).
As you can see above, there are plenty of options when it comes to finding the right card for you. Figure out what is most important to you and apply today to start earning for tomorrow.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, please click here.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.