Get free nights with the best hotel credit cards in May 2023 - adjust my money (2023)

With April 2023 right around the corner, there's never been a better time to explore the world and create memories that will last a lifetime. But as seasoned travelers know, traveling the world is a big investment.

This is where the best hotel credit cards come in. These cards give you the opportunity to enhance your travel experiences without breaking the bank. So whether you're a world traveler looking for upgrades or a budget-conscious traveler looking for perks, our in-depth review of the best hotel credit cards for April 2023 will help you discover the best travel companion.

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What are hotel credit cards?

Hotel cards are designed to reward frequent travelers. In addition to providing convenient ways to pay for accommodation, they also provide the opportunity to earn and redeem points that can be used for free stays, room upgrades, and other travel-related rewards.

As travelers focus on comfort, convenience and cost savings, these cards are becoming more popular. Using 200 hotel credit points, for example, unlocks a lot of savings. Some of the best hotel cards available come with attractive sign-up bonuses, adding even more value to the offer.

But the advantages don't stop there, many of them also offer additional benefits to enhance the travel experience. These include exclusive services such as priority check-in, late check-out and access to the hotel lounges.

Cardholders can also obtain travel insurance and protection, such as trip cancellation and baggage loss coverage. These provide peace of mind while traveling.

What is a Hotel Rewards credit card?

When you know what types of rewards are available to you, you are better equipped to select the card that best aligns with your travel preferences. From points and miles to elite status and travel protection, hotel credit cards offer many rewards that make every stay more enjoyable.

  • Reward miles or points for every dollar spent on qualifying purchases. These can be exchanged for free nights or other travel-related benefits. They work with points per dollar and can add up if the card is linked to a hotel chain or rewards program. This helps you to save money on hosting costs.
  • Bonus when registering. This bonus requires reaching a small spending limit within a specific time period. But once achieved, you can waive future hotel stays or other Travel Card overhead based on your spend (e.g. 1 point per $1).
  • Status of the Elite Courtesy. As a cardholder, you can enjoy exclusive benefits at select hotels, such as the IHG hotel. The IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card also offers room upgrades and complimentary breakfast. These benefits can enhance your hotel experience, making it more luxurious and enjoyable.
  • Free annual nights. They can be redeemed at participating hotel chain properties. This perk is perfect if you stay in hotels a lot or are loyal to a certain hotel brand.
  • Travel protection and insurance. These benefits provide peace of mind while you travel. They include trip cancellation coverage, baggage delay insurance, and car rental insurance.

What are hotel rewards programs?

By using rewards programs like hotel IHG, any hotel or resort can build brand loyalty and repeat business by offering exclusive benefits to its members. Rewards programs work on a simple premise: the longer you stay, the more you get another free benefit.

As a member, you can earn bonus points for every dollar spent (eg, 1 point for every $1) on eligible charges. Think about things like room rates, meals, and other on-site services. You can then redeem every dollar point for free nights, airline miles and even more bonus points earning rewards.

The membership structure is also based on levels. For example, with the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card, your membership level increases and you earn more bonus points after you spend on your card.

This, in turn, unlocks additional perks and benefits. And the rewards that come with these programs aren't limited to individual guests. They can also be great for companies to use points on prepaid hotels booked for their employees.

Do hotel rewards expire?

Travelers who rely on hotel cards for rewards often ask this question. But there is no simple answer as it depends on the rewards program linked to the premier rewards credit card.

Hotel card rewards usually have an expiration date, but the timeline can vary from program to program.

  • Some hotel loyalty programs have a policy where your rewards expire after a certain period of inactivity. This can range from 12 to 24 months. But as long as you continue to earn or redeem points on your card in a calendar year, your rewards will remain active.
  • Some hotel programs have a fixed end date regardless of your account activity

Making sure you understand the terms and conditions of your rewards program can help you avoid points expiring. For this, you need to keep track of your points balance and redeem them whenever possible.

So, while hotel rewards can expire, staying committed to your loyalty program, especially during the first 3 months of your card membership, can help you avoid losing points.

How to Maximize Hotel Rewards Points

If you want to get the most out of your hotel card, the best way to do it is to maximize hotel rewards® points after spending on eligible purchases with your card. Doing so will enhance your travel experience and save you money.

  • Choose the card that matches your travel style. Many hotel chains have their own co-branded credit cards and partner with major banks. Be sure to compare sign-up bonuses, annual fees, and reward rates to find the card that best suits your hosting location.
  • Stay loyal to the hotel chain of your choice and reward top-of-the-line credit cards. Joining a brand will help you earn points per dollar faster and earn higher Member Rewards® points at prepaid hotels, for example.
  • Take advantage of bonus categories and promotions to earn even more points. Many hotel cards offer additional bonus points after spending on certain categories such as dining, travel or even hotel services. Look out for limited-time promotions like the chance to earn 3 points on the dollar or earn 5 points on the dollar.
  • Redeem your points. Research and compare points requirements for redemption options such as the ability to earn a free night reward, transfer points or use credit to upgrade your room. By doing this, you will get the best value for your points.

How do hotel credit cards work?

If you're interested in earning free hotel stays, room upgrades, and other perks through a hotel card, you'll need to know exactly how they work. With these cards, you can earn miles (airfare credit) or points per dollar spent and redeem them for travel expenses. For example, anyone interested can get Capital One's best prices on thousands of exclusive benefits.

  • The next step is to learn how to get a travel credit card.
  • To ensure you get the best value for your money, compare things like annual fees, interest rates, and reward structures before signing up.
  • Once you've selected your lender, as with other credit cards, you can apply online or in person at a bank or credit union.
  • You will then be asked to fill in an application form with your personal and financial details. You will likely need your Social Security number and income details.
  • The credit card issuer will assess your credibility and decide whether to approve or deny your request.

Why get a hotel credit card?

The answer to that question lies in the multitude of benefits that come with owning one of these high-value cards. A travel credit card offers great rewards like:

  • Redeem points or miles for free or discounted stays at your favorite hotel chains. This means that for every dollar you spend on the card (for example, 1 point for every $1), you earn points, which can earn you free nights at a luxury property.
  • Generous sign-up bonus points after you spend at a certain location, which can be worth hundreds of dollars worth of free stays.
  • Hotel perks like room upgrades, late check-out, complimentary breakfast and access to exclusive lounges.
  • Financial security in the form of travel insurance, purchase protection and extended warranty coverage.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Are no-fee hotel credit cards the best option?

The best way to decide whether or not you should pay an annual fee is to look at the value of a premium rewards credit card. No annual fee hotel credit cards are an attractive option for occasional travelers who cannot justify the cost of an annual card.

Although there are tradeoffs to consider. Annual fee travel credit cards have higher reward rates and more exclusive perks like room upgrades and even access to airport lounges. These benefits easily outweigh the annual fee cost, making these cards a better value for some people in the long run.

So while hotel cards with no annual fees may seem like the best option for budget-conscious travelers, it's best to weigh the benefits and rewards against potential savings. For occasional travelers, a fee-free card may be an ideal option, but for those who frequently stay at a hotel or resort, a card with annual fees can offer greater value and a more rewarding experience.

Pros and Cons of Using a Hotel Rewards Card

Travel preferences and spending habits play an important role in the decision to use a hotel card. If rewards are right for you, a hotel card can be a great way to save money and enhance your trip. If you decide to opt for one, make sure you factor in its drawbacks and costs.

1. Reward points galore.For a more profitable and enjoyable experience, you can earn points as you spend and use them towards free hotel stays, room upgrades or even airline tickets. Some cards even offer the chance to earn 3x Membership Rewards® points or 5x Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels.1. Limited flexibility.Sometimes rewards and benefits are tied to a specific hotel. This means you have limited options when it comes to choosing where to stay, as you may feel like you need to book a room at a certain hotel to maximize each redemption point.
2. Exclusive benefits and discounts.You can save money by redeeming points for free room upgrades, late check-outs and discounts on restaurants or spa services.2. High APRs and Fees.Travel credit cards often have higher annual percentage rates (APRs) and fees than other types of credit cards, making them more expensive over time. If you don't pay off your balance every month or incur late fees, interest charges can quickly wipe out your rewards.
3. Welcome bonus.You can offset the cost of your upcoming travel or hotel stays with lucrative welcome bonuses, which can include a substantial number of reward points, a free hotel night award or coupons for hotel services.3. Temptation to overspend.You might be tempted to spend more when you earn points. This can lead to a spiral of debt and financial difficulties, especially if you're not that good with money.
4. Acceleration of elite status.Hotel cards can accelerate your journey to elite status in the hotel loyalty program. As a result, you can enjoy an even greater level of rewards, discounts, and every point per dollar counts toward even more benefits. The $189 clear® credit, for example, gets you through airports faster.4. Devaluation of reward.Sometimes hotels change their rewards program, devaluing the points-per-dollar structure you're used to. Because of this, you could end up with rewards that are worth less than you bargained for, making the card's downsides harder to justify.
5. Travel insurance and protection:Its functionalities provide tranquility and financial security in the form of insurance for trip cancellation or interruption, coverage for lost or delayed luggage and even emergency medical assistance.5. Limited Availability:Some cards are only accepted at certain hotel chains or locations, or points are only available after the first 3 months of card use. These limitations further limit your redemption options.

How to Choose a Hotel Credit Card with Any Credit Score

Even with all the benefits of a rewards card, you still need to consider whether one is right for you. For example, do you really need one and why would you need to think about whether or not it's the right choice for you? Let's explore this in more detail.

Who should get a hotel credit card?

This list highlights the diversity of people who will benefit from owning a hotel travel card. Are you a brand loyalist who wants a rewards card at the best prices at thousands of hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® programs? Or are you a budget-minded adventurer looking to take advantage of a free night reward from Hilton® resorts or the collection of hotels they are known for?

  • frequent travelers. Whether you're packing for business or pleasure, a travel credit card can help you earn rewards like a free night award, the chance to earn 12 Hilton Honors Bonus Points and other points-per-dollar benefits.
  • loyal brand. For those who have a preferred hotel and always choose to stay with that brand, a rewards card is a must. By staying loyal to a specific hotel group, you'll earn points faster. For example, you can earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for every dollar you spend.
  • fantasy seekers. If you enjoy luxurious accommodations and first-class amenities, a rewards credit card can help you access these experiences at a more affordable price. For example, earn up to 9 points per dollar on qualifying purchases or earn 2 bonus points per dollar spent at restaurants with Hyatt Hotel.
  • low budget travelers. Contrary to popular belief, a rewards card can also benefit you if you are traveling on a budget. Many offer generous bonus points after you use your card, which can translate into a free night award each year at budget properties on many hotel collection bookings.
  • travel hackers. If you're a traveler skilled in the art of maximizing rewards and minimizing costs, you can use a travel card for everyday expenses and use points to redeem free stays and other rewards.

Who should ignore a hotel credit card?

Not all reward credit card benefits are right for everyone. Here we provide a list of the type of people who should not get a hotel travel card.

  • infrequent travelers. These cards come with higher annual fees and interest rates compared to standard credit cards, so it would be hard to reap the rewards that make these rewards worthwhile.
  • bad credit score. Many of these cards require a good to excellent credit score for approval, and applying for a card that you are unlikely to be approved for can further damage your credit.
  • no financial discipline. The attractive rewards and benefits offered by these cards can lead users to overspend, leading to substantial debt and financial stress.
  • alternative accommodation. If you prefer vacation rentals, hostels or couchsurfing, you won't find value in a co-branded hotel credit card. This is because they are designed specifically for hotel stays and their rewards programs may not extend to alternative lodging options.

How to make the most of the hotel loyalty program, hotel points and hotel card?

Making the most of your hotel card is a smart bet that will reward you with exclusive perks. Use your card strategically to enjoy your benefits and enhance your travel experiences. Here's how to do it:

  • Make sure you earn points correctly by familiarizing yourself with the reward structure. You can do this by understanding the points system and reward categories. For example, some cards offer the opportunity to earn credit on food and beverages, while on others you can earn 5x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Watch out for offers. Hotel card issuers collaborate with associated establishments. For example, you can earn Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend with your card at these locations. By taking advantage of these promotions, you can earn 6 times more Hilton Honors Bonus Points faster.
  • Be strategic. Instead of redeeming your points for merchandise or cash back, opt for higher-value hotel stays or other travel-related rewards. Also, look for opportunities to transfer your points to other loyalty programs as this can add even more value.
  • Use whatever the card gives you. Free airport lounge access, free WiFi or travel insurance benefits not only enhance your overall travel experience, but also help you save money


Our goal is always to present complete and detailed information about the products we review. But to provide even more on our top picks, we take a comprehensive and meticulous approach.

Our first consideration was the reward structure of each card. Here, we test earning potential for hotel stays, meals, travel, and everyday purchases. This helped us identify the cards that offer the most lucrative reward rates so cardholders can earn rewards quickly.

Our next step was to explore the advantages and benefits of each card. We look at things like free hotel stays, elite status upgrades, and travel insurance. Especially for frequent travelers, these features can add significant value to a card.

Finally, we look at customer reviews and expert opinions to understand cardholders' real experiences. This qualitative data helped us confirm our findings and refine our recommendations.

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