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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, bag fee waivers, or lounge access? 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. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card
This premium 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 is 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.
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card comes with automatic 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, plus 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.
For a limited time, new Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card cardholders can earn 125,000 Bonus Points and 1 Free Night Award (value up to 50,000 points) after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Learn more: Hotel Rewards Credit Cards
IHG Rewards Club 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 Club Premier Credit Card that’s much more valuable. It delivers a reward night certificate to use at any hotel that charges 40,000 points or less.
This comes after holding the card for one year. You can use it at hotels like the InterContinental Medellin, Holiday Inn Cannes, InterContinental Presidente Cancun Resort, and Crowne Plaza Los Angeles Airport.
Additional perks include automatic Platinum Elite status to score bonuses like premium wireless internet and potential room upgrades. This card also comps the fourth night of any award redemption stay at an IHG hotel (after spending four or more consecutive nights at select IHG properties). That could result in huge savings at some of the higher-end IHG properties. This can include those in resort locations like the Holiday Inn Express Waikiki.
New cardholders can also earn 150,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. There is a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $89.
Cardholders can also earn up to 25x points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel. You will earn 2x points at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants and 1 point per $1 on everything else.
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 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.
Learn more: Hotel Rewards Credit Cards
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. This includes Gold Elite status in Marriott Rewards, Priority Pass lounge access (enrollment required), and TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry fee waivers.
Enjoy up to $300 in statement credits each year of Card Membership for eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program.
- 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program
- 3 points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines
- 2 points on all other eligible purchases
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card is one of the most valuable options as it comes with 1 free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. The Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points) at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program. Note that certain hotels have resort fees.
Redeem your Award at properties like the Beijing Marriott Hotel City Wall, the Petra Marriott Hotel in Jordan, and the Cape Town Marriott Hotel Crystal Towers.
The Annual Fee is $450 (See Rates & Fees).
For a limited time, new Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card cardholders can earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points and a bonus Free Night Award after using their new Card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Resort fees may apply. Terms apply. Offer expires 11/3/2021.
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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