Free Hotel Stays Are SO Easy – Here Are the Best Hotel Credit Cards to Help You Do It

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Free Hotel Stays Are SO Easy – Here Are the Best Hotel Credit Cards to Help You Do It

Joseph HostetlerFree Hotel Stays Are SO Easy – Here Are the Best Hotel Credit Cards to Help You Do ItMillion Mile Secrets Team

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There are 2 principal expenses when you travel:  Airfare and hotels!  Fortunately, both are laughably easy to get for free.

The often more costly expense is the glamorous hotel stay.  There are TONS of credit cards with welcome bonuses and ongoing benefits that can unlock free nights in 5-star resorts (or regular ol’ hotels, if that’s your preference).  But which card is right for you?

It depends mostly on your travel goals.  I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the best hotel credit card offers, so you can be sure you open the one that will best fulfill your travel dreams.

There Are Lots of Cards That Can Give You Amazing Hotel Experiences! Let’s Find the Perfect One for You

Looking for the Best Hotel Credit Card?

To have a cheap (or free) hotel stay, be willing to look past “hotel” credit cards.  Some of the best options are flexible rewards cards for general travel, which you can redeem for other things like airlines and car rentals, too.  Just because your favorite hotel chain is Hyatt doesn’t mean the Hyatt card is your best bet!

Here are the best credit cards you can get for free hotel stays right now!

Best Hotel Credit Cards

The information for the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets.  The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Easiest to Use for Free Hotel Stays: Capital One Venture Cards

Apply Here:   Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Our Review:   $500 Off Your Next Vacation With This 50,000 Mile Capital One Venture Card Offer

Apply Here:   Capital One VentureOne

Our Review:   Capital One Venture Card Vs. Capital One VentureOne

The Capital One Venture card comes with 50,000 Venture miles (worth $500 in travel) after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months.  What does that mean for you?

Capital One Venture miles are worth 1 cent each.  And you can use your miles for nearly any travel purchase, including hotels.  Without having to worry about searching for available award nights!  It might just be the simplest card for getting any free travel, let alone hotel nights.

Best Hotel Credit Card
You Can Use Capital One Venture Miles for Nearly Any Travel Purchase, Including Hotels That Don’t Have a Loyalty Program! Like Evdokia Boutique Hotel in Rhodes, Greece

When you spend with this card, you’ll earn 2 Venture miles per $1 you spend on all purchases.  That’s effectively 2% back.  You’ll also earn 10 Venture miles per $1 you spend on hotel stays booked and paid through this Hotels.com link (through January 31, 2020).

To redeem your miles for travel, just buy travel like you normally would with your card.  Then, you have 90 days to sign-in to your online account, find the travel purchase, and “erase” it with your miles!

This card is particularly good if you want to stay at a hotel that does NOT have a loyalty program.  Like boutique hotels, or a hotel off the beaten path.

During a visit to South Africa, my friend found an amazing hotel called The Residence Johannesburg.  The hotel doesn’t have a loyalty program or a co-branded credit card. But if you have the Capital One Venture, you don’t have to base your travel on where the chain hotels are.  Just buy your night at any hotel, and erase the purchase with your Venture miles later!

Best Hotel Credit Card
We stayed in the Very Elegant and Spacious 1,600 Square Foot Madiba Suite. You Could Use the Capital One Venture Welcome Bonus to Stay in This Room for Absolutely Free!

There are also plenty of perks to write home about.

Global Entry and TSA PreCheck are trusted traveler programs designed to help folks spend less time (and experience fewer headaches) at security checkpoints.

For example, with TSA PreCheck, you can pass through security without taking off your shoes, belt, or light jacket.  You also won’t need to remove your laptop and liquids from your bag!  This helps the security line to progress much faster.

When you pay for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application with the Capital One Venture, you’ll get a statement credit waiving the fee (between $85 and $100!).

Some cards charge fees for swiping outside of the US.  That fee is for suckers.  This card has NO foreign transaction fees, so it’s good to bring internationally.

The card’s $95 annual fee is waived the first year.  With the great welcome bonus, it’s a definite no-brainer for the first year.

Note: You can also open the Capital One VentureOne Credit Card, which is essentially a no-annual-fee version of the Capital One Venture with reduced benefits.  You’ll get:

This is the simplest no-annual-fee card to use for hotel stays!

If you don’t want the headaches of juggling hotel points, collecting Venture Miles is the way to go.

Most Valuable Welcome Bonus for Hotel Stays: Ink Business Preferred

Apply Here:   Ink Business Preferred

Our Review:   Apply Now for 80,000 Points With the Chase Ink Business Preferred!

Apply Here:   Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Our Review:   Chase Sapphire Preferred Review

Apply Here:   Chase Sapphire Reserve

Our Review:   The #1 Premium Travel Credit Card Pays for Itself. Here’s My Full Review!

 

You all know how much Million Mile Secrets loves Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  They’re great because they are flexible and easy to earn.

You can transfer them to hotel programs like Marriott, IHG, and Hyatt (though we only recommend the last option, as the other 2 don’t give you a very good value for your points).  Or you can use them to buy travel, including hotel rooms, through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal.

The value you’ll receive per point depends on which Chase Ultimate Rewards points earning card you have.  If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Ink Business Preferred, you can redeem them for a value of 1.25 cents per point towards your hotel stays.  And if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll get a value of 1.5 cents per point.

Best Hotel Credit Card
I Stayed at Hotel Leifur Eiríksson Across the Street From Hallgrímskirkja Church in Iceland. The Hotel Doesn’t Have a Loyalty Program, but You Can Book It With Chase Ultimate Rewards Points!

Here are the current offers for these cards:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card  – 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening ($750 in travel*)
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening ($750 in travel*)
  • Ink Business Preferred80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening ($1,000 in travel*)

The Ink Business Preferred has by far the most valuable welcome bonus.  It’s one of our absolute favorite small business credit cards (and there are a LOT of amazing business cards).

*When redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Million Mile Secrets team member Scott likes to use his Chase Sapphire Preferred (our favorite credit card for beginners) to book certain paid stays.  He likes earning 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1.  Later on, he transfers those points to Hyatt for luxury hotel stays!

Best Hotel Credit Card
Scott Chilling at the Hyatt Zilara in Cancun Thanks to Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

Plus, these cards come with a benefit that allows you to get additional hotel perks, like possible upgrades and amenities when you check into certain hotels!

Note:   If you’ve opened 5+ cards from any bank (NOT counting Chase business cards and these other business cards) in the past 24 months, it’s unlikely you’ll be approved for these cards.  So if you’re a beginner to miles & points and aren’t sure what your strategy is yet, I recommend these cards first.  They’re the most valuable in my opinion, anyway!

Best Hotel Credit Card for Value and Comfort: The World of Hyatt Credit Card

Apply Here:   The World of Hyatt Credit Card

Our Review:   Ever Wonder What It Feels Like to Be Filthy Rich? You Can Find Out With The World of Hyatt Credit Card’s Bonus!

Hyatt is a Million Mile Secrets favorite.  They have great hotels with a very fair balance of value and comfort.

With The World of Hyatt Credit Card, you can earn up to 50,000 Hyatt points after meeting tiered spending requirements.  You’ll earn:

  • 25,000 bonus Hyatt points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account
  • Another 25,000 bonus Hyatt points after you spend an additional $3,000 on purchases within the first 6 months of opening your account

That’s a great bonus, considering you can reserve astronomically expensive hotels, like the 5-star Park Hyatt Paris Vendome, for 30,000 Hyatt points per night.  Rooms at that hotel can go for $900+ per night!

Best Hotel Credit Card
I Loved the Dreamy View From the Balcony of the Hyatt Regency Waikiki

You’ll also earn:

  • 9 Hyatt points per $1 spent at Hyatt – 4 bonus points per $1 when you use your card at Hyatt hotels & 5 base points per $1 you can earn as a World of Hyatt member
  • 2 Hyatt points per $1 on restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airlines, on local transit and commuting and on fitness club and gym memberships
  • 1 Hyatt point per $1 on everything else

This card has a $95 annual fee, which is NOT waived the first year.  But you’ll receive 1 free night each anniversary year at a category 1 to 4 Hyatt hotel or resort.  That can easily offset the annual fee!  Million Mile Secrets team member Scott has held onto his Hyatt card for years because of this annual free night.

You’ll also get an additional free night at a category 1 to 4 Hyatt hotel or resort after spending $15,000 in an anniversary year.

A delightfully unique perk of using Hyatt points is that you don’t have to worry about blackout dates.  If Hyatt is selling a standard level room, you can reserve it with points.

That said, there are some quirks and exceptions at certain hotels, where you’ll inexplicably have difficulty finding available rooms (sod off, Andaz Maui!!).  But I’ve found this benefit to be EXTREMELY valuable.

I spent a night at the Hyatt House Charleston Historic District during last year’s solar eclipse.  The hotel was packed, and rooms were selling for $500+ per night! But I was able to reserve a room for just 12,000 Hyatt points.  That’s a value of ~4.1 cents per point ($500 per night / 12,000 Hyatt points)!

And because this is a Category 3 hotel, I could just as well have used the annual free night that comes with The World of Hyatt Credit Card.  That would have offset the annual fee many times over!

Best Hotel Credit Card
You Can Use the Annual Free Night That Comes With the Chase Hyatt Card for a Stay at the Hyatt House Charleston Historic District

This card comes with automatic Hyatt Discoverist Status, which gives you more bonus points per stay, upgrades to a preferred room based on availability at check-in, late check-out upon request, and more!  Plus, you’ll be able to climb the elite status ladder quick, because you’ll receive 5 qualifying night credits every year, and 2 qualifying night credits after every $5,000 you spend on the card.

This card also has NO foreign transaction fees.

Note:   If you see a base hotel room available on the Hyatt website, but it’s not showing any available reward nights, you can call Hyatt and they’ll book the room for you.

Hyatt hotels include:

    • Andaz
    • Grand Hyatt
    • Hyatt
    • Hyatt House
    • Hyatt Place
    • Hyatt Regency
    • Hyatt Zilara and Hyatt Ziva
    • Miraval
    • Park Hyatt

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Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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This yr I got the Hilton AmEx for 100K points I booked for 2 nights at Hampton Inn 8th Ave. 1st night the door lock was not working(latch was). I was tired. (A woman would not have stayed there; the hotel agreed). In the morning I notified them about the lock.

That evening the lock had not been fixed. Bad maintenance

This is the big complaint: on the 2nd morning there was NO WATER in the hotel. I had a meeting. I called a friend, asked for a favor, hustled to her place, showered and dressed. I asked Hilton to redeposit my 116,000 points; they did deposit 40,000 (I have no idea how they arrived at that).

I was not looking for money, or for anything more than reimbursement of miles for a very substandard stay ( with NO WATER). They never spoke to me; all correspondence was done by email

I reminded them that one very unhappy client negates thousands of dollars in promotional advertising. For the foreseeable future I will retell friends, family and business assocites this story.

Hi, I applied for the HH Ascend and got a response that said, essentially, that ‘based on my history with AmEx they probably wouldn’t approve me for a card… Did I want to continue with my application?’ I’ve always paid on time and in full. I’m guessing this has to do with a Delta Skymiles card and then an SPG (business), both AmEx and both opened within the last 2 years, that I’ve used little after the initial spend as they don’t offer me the same return on usage that my Citi Costco and Cap One Spark do. I know that they have a right to refuse me. It’s their business. But is there anything else I ought to be considering as I’d really like the Priority Pass access? I know I could do Chase Sapphire Reserve. Credit score is no issue. I just really thought that HH Ascend fit some of my needs well. Only 3 new card applications over the last 24 months. Thanks much. I appreciate your site a bunch.

Hi Terry – Sorry to hear that!

You can check out this post which includes cards that offer Priority Pass Select membership:

https://millionmilesecrets.com/guides/priority-pass-membership/

Hey,

Is there a way around applying for credit cards where you can only input a US address? Any links for Canadian customers? Thks!

The article does not include that Citi has an extensive list of exceptions for the fourth night free including but not limited to experience hotels which are very loosely defined but include safari lodges. The process is not as straightforward as the article makes it seem. Three times I tried to use the perk, and all three times there was an issue. Two times I was reimbursed, and the most recent time, Citi Concierge deemed the hotel an “experience” hotel for including a useless tour.

The article also omits US Bank’s Radisson card which is fantastic. I just stayed two nights for free at the Radisson Kigali. The hotel included my breakfast, and the rooms were fabulous.

Do I need to cancel my current Hilton card to get the new bonus? Whenever I click the link, it just says “upgrade” to the new card.

Hi Camilla – Which Hilton card do you have? If it’s the old AMEX Hilton Surpass you won’t be eligible for a new welcome bonus on Hilton Honors Ascend card (the Ascend was the replacement for the Surpass). Same idea if you have the AMEX Hilton Honors – the new version is considered the same card product as the old.

But you should be eligible to apply and earn a welcome bonus on the Hilton Honors AMEX Aspire card or Hilton Honors AMEX Business card because these are brand new products.

Hope that helps!

I have the no fee card so that would be the same as the Ascend. I don’t use Hilton enough to justify a $450 annual fee. Thanks for your reply!

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