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Keeping up with the rules of the road when it comes to the myriad benefits, points and other offerings associated with hotel credit cards can be a bit of a chore for ordinary travelers who may know they want a specialized card but aren’t necessarily sure where to turn. There’s everything from co-branded cards to dedicated cards from such chains as Marriott, Hilton and the like, each with their own value propositions — not to mention different variants from whatever issuer you decide on. And, needless to say, the summer travel season is nearly upon us, so making the right decision could soon be extra beneficial, depending on what you decide.
With that in mind, this guide (which features recommendations from The Points Guy) presents a list of the Best Hotel Credit Cards of 2019 and highlights half a dozen cards that should meet many general travelers’ needs.
A couple of things to note before we dive in: Be sure and pay attention to the spending requirements for your preferred card’s welcome bonus so that you don’t miss out on those points. As far as the general criteria used to determine this list, they include the points program value, welcome bonus, and perks, among other features.
Without further ado, here are the recommended best hotel cards for 2019, with important features of each card like the annual fee, welcome bonus, earning rates and additional details all included for your reference:
Annual fee: $450 (Rates & Fees can be found here)
Welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 points after spending $3,000 within the first three months.
Earning rates: Six points per dollar at Marriott properties, three points per dollar at US restaurants and on flights booked directly with the airline, and two points per dollar on everything else.
This is the card to pick if you want one that helps you rack up bonus points for booking Marriott stays. Another plus in this card’s favor — the card comes with a $450 annual fee, but you can earn up to $300 in statement credits to offset it a good chunk of it. Additionally, other benefits include your ability to earn complimentary Gold elite status, which includes a 25% bonus on points and space-available upgrades to enhanced rooms.
Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)
Welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 within three months of opening the account.
Earning rates: 10 miles per dollar on Hotels.com bookings, two miles per dollar on all other purchases
With this card, you’ll get a 2% return on all spending, but using it to make hotel bookings is especially rewarding. Pair the 10x miles on hotel stays booked and paid through Hotels.com with the free room night that the Hotels.com Rewards program offers (once you book 10 nights through the site), and that gives you an effective 20% back on hotel stays booked with this card. An important note: The 10x bonus is being offered through January 2020.
Annual fee: $95
Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account.
Earning rates: Earn 2x points on travel and dining at restaurants and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a solid card for frequent travelers who use plastic to pay for hotel stays and lots of dining out. It’s also got a low annual fee, compared to many rival offerings, making this also ideal for anyone shopping around for their first travel and hotel rewards card. Meanwhile, some variations with the Chase Sapphire Reserve include an earnings rate of 3x points on travel and dining purchases. You’ll get hit with a much bigger $450 annual fee too, but the $300 annual travel credit helps offset that.
Annual fee: $450 (Rates & Fees available here)
Welcome bonus: Earn 150,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of opening your account
Earning rates: 14 points per dollar at Hilton hotels; seven points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or at amextravel.com, on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies and at US restaurants; and three points per dollar on everything else
Hilton and Amex teamed up for the release of a trio of cards in 2018, and TPG recommends the Aspire as the best rewards card among the three. Why? For the whopping 14x points you earn on Hilton stays, for starters, plus the $250 Hilton resort statement credit you get each year for “eligible on-property purchases,” in addition to benefits like complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status and a free weekend night each year when you renew your account.
Other cards worth mentioning as deserving of a look from consumers on the hunt for a solid hotel and travel rewards card include The World of Hyatt Credit Card, which stands out for its 25,000-point welcome bonus, and the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. At 80,000 points, the welcome bonus is even more generous with the latter, and it only has an $89 annual fee, to boot.
As a reminder, you can get a deeper look at these and other cards to help make your travel spending smarter by checking out the comprehensive coverage over at The Points Guy.