14 Hotel Credit Cards Offering Free Nights

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I think hotel credit cards are among the most underrated out there. Understandably a lot of people get cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card to maximize their spend, and that’s a great idea. These cards offer valuable bonus categories, no foreign transaction fees, great travel coverage, and more.

But I think supplementing one of those cards with a hotel credit card can make a lot of sense. That’s because hotel credit cards largely offer some incredible perks that more than justify the annual fee, including free hotel status and even some free night certificates.

Last year I wrote a post with all the credit cards that offer hotel free night certificates. Given all the changes we’ve seen in the credit card and hotel loyalty program landscape lately (including the recent introduction of Marriott Bonvoy), I wanted to update this post to reflect what has changed.

When it comes to free night certificates, I’ll indicate under what circumstances you earn these certificates, and what the card annual fees are. In some cases these cards aren’t open to new cardmembers anymore, in which case I’ll indicate that.

Note that when I refer to an anniversary free night certificate, that means you earn your first certificate on your account’s first anniversary, and you don’t earn one when you open the card (since that’s not an anniversary). In some cases cards will offer a free night certificate on a promotional basis when applying for a card, but I won’t include that here.

So here are all the credit cards offering free night certificates, organized by loyalty program:

Hilton Honors

Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express 

Annual fee: $95 (Rates & Fees)
Free night certificate: This card offers a weekend night reward after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your card in a calendar year; this covers properties retailing for up to 120,000 points per night, and you can find a list of excluded properties here

Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Annual fee: $95 (Rates & Fees)
Free night certificate: This card offers a weekend night reward after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your card in a calendar year, plus a second weekend night reward after you spend $60,000 on purchases on your card in a calendar year; this covers properties retailing for up to 120,000 points per night, and you can find a list of excluded properties here

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Annual fee: $450
Free night certificate: This card offers a free weekend night reward shortly after you get the card, and an anniversary free weekend night reward every year upon your account renewal with no spend requirement, plus an additional weekend night reward after you spend $60,000 on purchases on your card in a calendar year; this covers properties retailing for up to 120,000 points per night, and you can find a list of excluded properties here


Redeem your weekend night reward at the new Waldorf Astoria Maldives

IHG Rewards Club

IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card (no longer open to new applicants)

Annual fee: $49
Free night certificate: This card offers an anniversary free night certificate every year, valid at any IHG hotel retailing for up to 40,000 IHG Rewards Club points per night; this covers over 4,900 of IHG’s 5,300+ hotels, and you can find a list of excluded properties here (note that certificates issues through May 1, 2019, will be uncapped)

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Annual fee: $89
Free night certificate: This card offers an anniversary free night certificate every year, valid at any IHG hotel retailing for up to 40,000 IHG Rewards Club points per night; this covers over 4,900 of IHG’s 5,300+ hotels, and you can find a list of excluded properties here


Redeem your anniversary free night certificate at the InterContinental Bangkok

Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card (no longer open to new applicants)

Annual fee: $95
Free night certificate: This card offers an anniversary free night certificate every year, valid at any hotel retailing for up to 35,000 Marriott points per night; this covers about 6,300 of Marriott’s 6,500+ hotels, and you can find the cost of each hotel here

Marriott Bonvoy BusinessTM American Express® Card

Annual fee: $125 (Rates & Fees)
Free night certificate: This card offers an anniversary free night certificate every year, valid at any hotel retailing for up to 35,000 Marriott points per night; this covers about 6,300 of Marriott’s 6,500+ hotels, and you can find the cost of each hotel here

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card from Chase

Annual fee: $95
Free night certificate: This card offers an anniversary free night certificate every year, valid at any hotel retailing for up to 35,000 Marriott points per night; this covers about 6,300 of Marriott’s 6,500+ hotels, and you can find the cost of each hotel here

Marriott Bonvoy Business Credit Card (no longer open to new applicants)

Annual fee: $125
Free night certificate: This card offers an anniversary free night certificate every year, valid at any hotel retailing for up to 35,000 Marriott points per night; this covers about 6,300 of Marriott’s 6,500+ hotels, and you can find the cost of each hotel here

The Ritz-Carlton Credit Card

Annual fee: $450
Free night certificate: This card offers an anniversary free night certificate every year, valid at any hotel retailing for up to 50,000 Marriott points per night; this covers a vast majority of Marriott hotels, and you can find the cost of each hotel here

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express® Card

Annual fee: $450
Free night certificate: This card offers an anniversary free night certificate every year, valid at any hotel retailing for up to 50,000 Marriott points per night; this will cover a vast majority of Marriott hotels, and you can find the cost of each hotel here


The St. Regis Doha retails for 35,000 points per night

Radisson Rewards

Radisson Rewards Premier Signature Visa Card

Annual fee: $75
Free night certificate: This card offers free night certificates for each $10,000 spent per cardmember year, up to three free certificates per year you’re restricted to redeeming these at Radisson Blu, Radisson, Radisson RED, Park Plaza, Park Inn by Radisson, or Country Inn & Suites by Radisson hotel located in the US


Redeem your free nights at the Radisson Blu Chicago

World of Hyatt

The World of Hyatt Credit Card

Annual fee: $95
Free night certificate: This card offers an anniversary free night certificate every year, valid at a Category 1-4 Hyatt property, plus a second free night certificate when you spend $15,000 on the card in an account anniversary year with similar terms; a majority of Hyatt properties are Category 1-4, and you can find a full listing of hotels by category here

The Hyatt Credit Card (no longer open to new applicants)

Annual fee: $75
Free night certificate: This card offers an anniversary free night certificate every year, valid at a Category 1-4 Hyatt property; a majority of Hyatt properties are Category 1-4, and you can find a full listing of hotels by category here


Redeem your anniversary free night certificate at the Park Hyatt Saigon

Bottom line

There are potentially lots of great benefits to hotel credit cards, including big welcome bonuses, easy opportunities to earn hotel status, generous rewards structures for spend, and more. So there’s more to the above cards than what I list, though I do think it’s useful to post an update of all the hotel credit card free night certificate opportunities available right now, given the changes we’ve seen to cards lately.

The best part is that with the exception of Hyatt’s two credit cards, the other issuers let you have multiple credit cards, meaning you can potentially earn more than one free night certificate per year.

With the exception of the $450 annual fee cards, I think the free night certificates more than justify the annual fees in all of the above cases.

What’s your favorite hotel credit card free night certificate?


Non-Affiliate Product Disclaimer: The information for the Hilton Honors Aspire Card and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card has been collected independently by One Mile At A Time. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card (Rates & Fees), The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card (Rates & Fees), and Marriott Bonvoy Business Card From American Express (Rates & Fees).

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. Ritz also no longer open to new applicants, correct? Sure wish Amex or Chase would offer a product with upgrades on paid stays.

  2. I just checked and there are, in fact, more than 500 Marriott properties where a 35,000 point certificate will get you no free night. Perhaps the total number of Marriotts exceeds 6,500+? But either way the text above is wildly misleading.

  3. Also while I’m on a roll, the cards that require $15,000 spend to get a free night could be replaced by $300 cash back. While it’s true that a Hilton card would give like 2 nights back if you spent that much on a Hilton card and got a free night very… well $300 would do that too. And a Citi Double Cash has no annual fee … and the reward for spending day $14,000 is $280 not some miscellaneous Hilton points and zero certificates. Certainly anyone getting a card like this to spend $15,000 on it should consider the much worse math.

  4. I agree with Mark. Bloggers are always looking at the aspirational, $500 and up a night hotels to make the certificate sound good. But I almost never am in a situation to be able to use those, either because I don’t go to those places or I don’t go in peak season. Every time I check a hotel it’s more like $200-250 and I would have done better with a cash back card. When it is a more expensive hotel room, they are invariably sold out of standard rims and I’d have to pay an upcharge. Plus there’s the stress of having to use a certificate before it expires. So while I have the $49 IHG, which is definitely worth it, and the Hilton aspire, which hopefully is worth it. I certainly don’t won’t be spending extra on cards for extra nights.

  5. The Radisson Rewards card also gives you 40,000 points, good for a free night up to Catgegory 4 which includes 75% of RHG properties. And I consider points to be more flexible than a certificate and they don’t expire with activity!

  6. This type of article is great! Thanks for doing the work. There are clearly too many Marriott/SPG cards to list, but I think you did leave out the now discontinued Premium card (prior to Premier Plus and now called Bonvoy Premier)

    Mark seems to have missed the + at the end of your 6500+. When I see a number like that, I would assume it is anything between 6500 and 7000, which would clearly accommodate the 6900ish hotels currently under Marriott, and still keep true to the facts.

    I would, however, agree with the assessment that the cards that require spend for a free night aren’t always worth the opportunity cost of spending that money on a better redemption card.

    Thanks Rupert for the tip about the annual points with Radisson! I would agree that equivalent points would always be preferred to a points-capped certificate, not familiar enough with Radisson to know how many of their hotels 40k points would get you into, is it a majority or only the lowest end?

  7. Mark,

    1) You are forgetting to include the value of the points earned on spend when looking at the free night certificates. So for the Ascend, you are not only earning the free night, you are also earning at least 45,000 Hilton points, worth $225 on its own. It is even better if you half of that spending is in the bonus categories (Hilton rooms, dining, grocery).

    2) The weekend night certificate earned from the Ascend should only really be used on hotels that cost $300 or more a night, preferably more. Otherwise it doesn’t make sense to earn it. Plus, at low cost Hilton properties, you are almost always better off paying with a Hilton card instead of redeeming points or a cert, especially if it is during one of Hilton’s promotions. The Aspire cert is a bit different as it is provided without a spend component, and the Aspire offers good value anyway. For each card, you should take a different approach to the cert taking into account annual fees, spending needed to achieve the cert, etc. I would like if Lucky provided a detailed post on this.

  8. While I agree that free night certificates can cause a little use-it-or-waste stress, we don’t worry about that with our Hilton certs (or Aspire) credit) because the worst case is to just bundle a couple nearing expiration for a free weekend stay at the Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas—and weekend nights are the expensive nights in that city.

  9. @Anthony —

    I’m not forgetting. I make it very clear that on the Hilton card — which is at least somewhat useful for everyday spending — you’d pick up a second night or so. Of course, those Hilton points can be useless (if not enough), but at least still around. The “spend $15K to get a free night” process is entirely risky in that if you spend $14,900 in the year, you wind up with zero free nights. A cashback card has no such risks. And the money works at every hotel. And it works at something like hotels.com where 10% of is effectively rebated.

    I do think the Aspire is a good card. But again, this idea that “many of us have a need for a $300+ weekend night certificate” is odd. It assume we want to spend $300+ on the other end. And we need to — according to you — to get value. Either that or we make our “weekend” a single-night stay, which presumes its local, which for many of us is not something we’d value.

    “at low cost Hilton properties, you are almost always better off paying with a Hilton card instead of redeeming points or a cert”

    So I can use the cash back from a Double Cash then? Cool!

    “The Aspire cert is a bit different as it is provided without a spend component, and the Aspire offers good value anyway.”

    It does because the resort credit OR the weekend night with the air credit is close to breakeven. And yet we got an Ascend instead. Why? Because I looked at the list of resorts and could not imagine using the credit more than once every 4 to 5 years based on how we travel. And so it wasn’t clear the card was super valuable. Ironically if the credit was $100 at any Hilton, $250 at these resorts, it’d be a complete no brainer for us.

    Anyway, you raise some good points. One I had actually already addressed above.

    It’s very difficult to justify putting $15,000 on any of these cards to get a free night. You can easily see that if you do $14,000 you get zero free nights. If you do $21,000 your value diminishes rapidly after $15,000.
    * For Hyatts, you almost certainly just want to use Chase cards with bonuses instead of the Hyatt card (except perhaps AT Hyatts).
    * For IHG, the only use for the cards is at IHG properties, where the value is questionable. For Marriotts, the cards are actually pretty bad even at Marriotts given that a CSR or Prestige would return more value per dollar spent.
    * For Hiltons, using the Aspire at Hiltons is wonderful return, the Ascend is solid though unspectacular.

    Oh, and if you do manage to nail the “$15,000+ but not much over” spend, I remind again that’s a free WEEKEND night. It’s less useful than, say, a “use this any night” cert from Marriott or IHG, though those are capped.

    @CJ — I didn’t miss anything. It’s wildly misleading to imply that only 200 Marriotts don’t take the certificate when it’s more than 500, including every single aspiration property in the system, nearly every property in New York (though thankfully a few remain). 6,300 out of 6,500+ implies it’s like 97% of Marriotts. It’s in fact more like 93% of them. And the certificate remains useful therefore for stays in places like Southeast Asia, middle America, et al. It’s not valuable in major world cities, except if you’re willing to give up location and amenities for your “free night”. Fortunately, with the Marriott cards you don’t need to waste any opportunity cost of spend to get them, you just have to get $96 out of value for your $95 (or $151 on the Brilliant for your $150). While that will typically happen for frequent travelers, the uselessness of the cards otherwise makes them mostly a signup bonus play. Again, a 2% cash back card makes more sense for most. Or a CSR or Ink Preferred or Prestige.

  10. My annual certificate for the IHG Rewards Club Select card ($49 version) will arrive in April. Does anyone know if that certificate will be good for one year at any property or will I have the 40,000 limit for redemption beginning on May 1?

  11. Mike, the note in the upgrade offer (from $49 to $89 card) from IHG said that FN certificates issued through May 1, 2019, can be redeemed at any IHG property.

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