Update: These offers for the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express and the Hilton Honors Surpass card have expired. Learn more about the current offers here.
There are many reasons to pick up a credit card — some are worth picking up for the sign-up bonus, some are worth picking up for the return they offer on everyday spend, and some are worth picking up for the long-term perks they offer.
While there are all kinds of perks offered on cards, in this post I figured I’d look at the best hotel perks you can get with credit cards. Here are my favorites, roughly in order:
Get a fourth night free on all stays
The Citi Prestige® Card has my single favorite perk offered by any credit card. While a lot of credit cards offer some type of “free night” hotel benefit, there are usually major strings attached. Citi Prestige’s fourth night free benefit is the most straightforward out there. To sum up the basics:
- You need to call the Citi Prestige concierge to book (that service is provided by Aspire Lifestyle Concierge)
- They can book virtually any chain hotel for you, and even many independent hotels
- They can book pre-paid rates, AAA rates, promotional rates, etc.; if the rate is publicly available, they can book it for you and apply a fourth night free
- You earn points and stay credits for your stay as if you booked directly with the hotel
- Citi reimburses the cost of the fourth night on the back end, so you even earn stay credits and hotel points for the full cost of the four nights (you need to use your Citi Prestige Card to pay for the stay)
It is worth noting that as of July 23, 2017, this benefit will be changing somewhat. Specifically, the fourth night free benefit will be calculated based on the average nightly rate of your complete stay, and taxes will no longer be included in the statement credit.
This benefit saved me thousands of dollars last year, and I hope it saves me a similar amount this year.
I‘ve used the fourth night free benefit at the St. Regis Bali
A free night without category caps every year
While a few hotel credit cards offer an annual free night certificate, the one offered by the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card is my favorite. Why?
- The card has an annual fee of just $49, and it’s waived the first year, meaning it has the lowest annual fee of any hotel card offering an annual free night
- The free night is valid at any IHG property, and there’s no category cap
- The free night can be redeemed for a stay after the expiration date, as long as it’s booked before the expiration date
Almost everyone should be able to get $49 worth of value out of that free night certificate alone.
Redeem your annual free night at the InterContinental Sydney
3 useful hotel statuses with one credit card
The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express come with both Hilton HHonors Gold status and Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status. On top of that, you can match your Starwood Gold status to Marriott Gold status. So getting three useful mid-tier statuses with one card is pretty great.
Get club lounge access at Marriott hotels with Marriott Rewards Gold status
Top tier hotel status for $40,000 of spend
Both the Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve Card and Hilton HHonors™ Surpass® Card from American Express offer Gold status for as long as you have the card. However, you can also earn Diamond status by spending $40,000 per year on the card.
While personally I don’t think there’s a huge difference between Hilton Diamond and Gold status, $40,000 is the lowest amount of spend required to earn top tier status with any of the major hotel chains.
I got a suite upgrade as a Diamond member at the Hilton Queenstown
A free Hyatt night annually
Those with The Hyatt Credit Card receive an annual free night at a Category 1-4 Hyatt, which covers a majority of their properties globally. For example, I used this last year at the Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi, which is a gorgeous property. The card has just a $75 annual fee, so it’s easy to get value out of that.
Use your annual free night certificate at the Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi
A free night annually at the world’s largest hotel chain
Those with the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card receive a free night annually at any Category 1-5 property. The card has an $85 annual fee, and the annual free night certificate covers a stay at a majority of Marriott’s property (though unfortunately not the most desirable ones, as hotels keep creeping up in category). Still, most people should be able to get more than $85 of value out of this.
The Marriott Astana qualifies for the annual free night certificate
Free club lounge access
The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express offers free lounge access at Sheraton properties around the world in conjunction with a stay. Given the card’s $95 annual fee (Rates & Fees), it’s easy to recoup that value after just one stay.
The beautiful club lounge at the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane
There are a lot of cards offering great hotel perks to members, though the above are what I consider to be the best ones out there. Whether you’re looking for an annual free night, elite status, or other perks, there’s lots of value to be had.
Are there any other great hotel credit card perks that I left out?
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees).