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The best hotel credit cards of April 2020

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The best hotel credit cards of April 2020

Jason StaufferThe best hotel credit cards of April 2020Million Mile Secrets Team

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There are two big expenses when you travel: airfare and hotels. Fortunately, both are laughably easy to get for next to nothing. A glamorous hotel stay is often the more costly item. Many of the best credit cards for travel and best rewards credit cards come with welcome bonuses and ongoing benefits that can unlock free nights in five-star resorts (or regular old hotels, if that’s your choice). 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 open the one that will fulfill your travel dreams.

The best hotel credit cards

Card nameBest forBest perkAnnual fee
Ink Business Preferred® Credit CardBest for businessesTransfer points to three different hotel chains.$95
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit CardBest for IHG hotel staysEvery cardmember year you'll get an anniversary reward night valid at hotels costing up to 40,000 IHG points.$89
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® CardBest for Marriott hotel staysUp to $300 annual statement credit for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, including room rates. Terms Apply.$450 (see rates and fees)
Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American ExpressBest for top-tier hotel elite statusUp to $250 Hilton resort credit each card-member year and up to $250 airline fee credit with your selected airline each calendar year. Terms Apply.$450 (see rates and fees)
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® CardBest for families10 Priority Pass airport lounge visits each year and automatic Hilton Gold status. Terms apply.$95 (see rates and fees)
The World Of Hyatt Credit CardBest for a balance of value and comfortCategory 1-4 free night award every card anniversary.$95
Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit CardBest for no annual feeAutomatic Silver Marriott elite status and 15 elite night credits each year.$0
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit CardBest low annual feeAnniversary award certificate (valid at hotels costing up to 35,000 points) each year you keep and renew the card.$95
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressBest for prepaid hotels5x points on prepaid hotels booked on Terms apply.$550 (see rates and fees)
The information for the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Comparison of the best hotel credit cards for 2020

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Best business card

Current bonus

With the Chase Ink Business Preferred card you can earn 100,000 Chase points after spending $15,000 in the first three months from opening the account.

Insider tip

You can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points in a handful of ways that allow you to book any hotel or accommodation. First, you can use Chase points to get cash back at a rate of one cent per point, making the bonus worth $1,000 in cash. Or you can book accommodations through the Chase travel portal and when you pay with your Chase points they are worth 1.25 cents in travel each with the Ink Business Preferred.

Benefits and perks

The Ink Business Preferred benefits and perks include primary rental car insurance (when renting for business purposes), trip delay coverage and cell phone insurance. It’s also a good card for earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points. With it you’ll earn:

  • 5x Chase points on Lyft rides through Mar

    ch 2022

  • 3x Chase points on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines (up to a maximum of $150,000 in combined purchases per account anniversary year)
  • One Chase point per dollar on all other purchases

With this card you have the option of transferring the Chase points you earn to three different hotel partners: IHG, Marriott and Hyatt.

Annual fee

This card has a $95 annual fee.

Why it’s worth it

With the Ink Business Preferred you aren’t tied down to earning business credit card rewards with a single hotel chain. Instead, you have the option of transferring points to three hotel chains (Hyatt is by far the best option) or booking just about any hotel through the Chase travel site. The Chase travel portal is powered by Expedia, so anything you can book through Expedia you can book through Chase.

You can even use this bonus for stays with Airbnb or vacation home rentals if you redeem your points for cash back.

Total value

This bonus is worth $1,250 in hotels booked through the Chase travel portal. After paying the $95 annual you’ll be getting a first year value of $1,155.

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Best for IHG hotel stays

Current bonus

With the IHG Premier credit card you’ll earn 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months from opening the account.

Insider tip

If you have the discontinued IHG Select card (no longer available to new applicants) you can still open an IHG Premier card as well. That means you can stack that cards’ benefits. The IHG Premier comes with a fourth night award where on award stays of four nights or more you won’t pay for the fourth night and the IHG Select card has a 10% points rebate on redemptions. So you can combine the two perks to stretch your IHG points even further.

Benefits and perks

The IHG Premier card’s benefits are surprisingly valuable for a card with such a low annual fee. First off, every cardmember year you’ll get an anniversary reward night certificate valid at IHG hotels costing 40,000 points or less. This perk alone can make the IHG card worth the annual fee. You’ll also get an application fee credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck once every four years (up to $100). Plus as long as you have the card, you’ll get IHG Platinum elite status, which comes with perks like, a 50% bonus on the base points you earn on IHG stays and upgrades and late checkout (when available).

On top of that, you’ll earn 10x points at IHG hotels, 2x points at restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores and one point on all other purchases. And you’ll earn 10,000 bonus points each account year that you spend $20,000 or more with the card.

Annual fee

This card has an $89 annual fee.

Why it’s worth it

There are 17 IHG brands representing 5,500+ hotels around the world, so it’s good to have a collection of IHG rewards at your disposal. And there are also frequent IHG promotions to take advantage of, which can be some of the best ways to use IHG points.

And right now this card has an all-time high intro bonus, making it a rewards credit card you won’t want to pass up.

Total value

We value IHG points at .5 cents each and because the card’s perks can easily outweigh the annual fee, you can expect to get $700 in value the first year.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex

You can book hotels like the Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotel with the Bonvoy Brilliant’s annual free night certificate. (Photo by Summer Hull)

Best for Marriott hotel stays

Current bonus

With the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant, you can earn 100,000 Marriott points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Insider tip

One of the most valuable benefits a credit card can have is a statement credit, but often these credits only apply to very specific purchases or are otherwise difficult to use. That’s not the case with the Bonvoy Brilliant’s up to $300 in credits at participating Marriott hotels. This credit even applies to room rates and can apply to meals from the hotel restaurant that are charged to your room.

Benefits and perks

When you spend with this card, you’ll earn six Marriott points per dollar at participating Marriott hotels, three Marriott points per dollar at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines and two Marriott points per dollar on everything else.

The welcome offer isn’t the only reason to get the card. Cardholders also have access to a host of other perks that can save you money and make your travel easier. In addition to the annual Marriott statement credit of up to $300, you’ll also get an annual free night (at participating Marriott hotels worth up to 50,000 points) after you renew your card.

You’ll also get complimentary Gold elite status and up to $100 in property credits when you book direct using a special rate for a two-night minimum stay at Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis hotels. Check out this guide for an in-depth look at the rest of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex benefits.

Annual fee

The card comes with a $450 annual fee (see rates and fees).

Why it’s worth it

If you stay at a Marriott hotel at least once a year, this card is worth it for the annual free night and annual statement credit of up to $300. If you use the free night at an otherwise expensive hotel and add in the value you’ll get from the annual statement credit, the annual fee is well worth it.

You can redeem points for award stays at these Marriott hotel brands:

Total value

The bonus alone is worth $600 (at .8 cent per point). Including the $300 in annual Marriott credits and the free night certificate (worth $250 conservatively), that’s still $700 in value once you subtract the $450 annual fee.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas)

Best for top-tier hotel elite status

Current bonus

With the Hilton Aspire, you’ll earn 150,000 Hilton points after you spend $4,000 in purchases on the card within your first three months of card membership. That’s a lot of Hilton points. Based on our estimation of Hilton points value, you should have no trouble receiving $750 from this bonus. And if you know how to use Hilton Honors points, you can potentially receive double and triple that dollar amount, no problem.

Insider tip

This card comes with Diamond status (the highest tier) for as long as you hold it. In addition to the free breakfast, upgrades (when available) and bonus points this status gets you, when you have any level of Hilton elite status Hilton award bookings get the 5th night free. The 5th night free applies to every 5th night on reservations of up to 20 consecutive nights and you can use it an unlimited number of times. In addition to the elite status requirement, you’ll also need to be booking a standard room entirely with points (not cash and points or using any free night certificates).

The 5th night free perk is one of the best ways to use Hilton points.

Benefits and perks

This card comes with one free weekend night each year, which you can use at almost any Hilton location except for these properties. You’ll get an additional weekend night if you spend $60,000+ on your card in a calendar year. So you could end up with a whole weekend at a five-star hotel in a prime destination, like the London Hilton on Park Lane, which costs $450+ per night.

The card also earns the most Hilton points on eligible purchases at Hilton hotels of any card (14x points) and you’ll get 7x Hilton points at U.S. restaurants, on flights booked directly with airlines or, and car rentals booked directly with select car rental companies. For all other eligible purchases made with the Hilton Aspire you earn 3x Hilton points. Terms apply.

The card comes with up to $250 in airline incidental credits and up to $250 in statement credits at participating Hilton resorts every year. If you max out those benefits alone, you’ll get a value $50 greater than the annual fee. The Hilton resort credit is valid for almost any purchase made at the 240+ participating locations, except for advance purchase or non-refundable rates.

You’ll get a $250 credit to use at Hilton resorts, like the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Island of Hawaii. (Photo by dirkr/Shutterstock)

I probably wouldn’t take full advantage of the airline incidental fee credit, which reimburses for things like checked baggage and seat upgrades. But the other benefits of the card make it worth the fee, especially if you don’t have a credit card with airport lounge access. You’ll get unlimited free Priority Pass lounge visits for yourself and up to two guests (enrollment required) as long as you hold the card, and no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees).

You can also get $100 in credits on qualifying charges (room rates and fees do not qualify) for every stay of two or more nights at Waldorf Astoria or Conrad hotels. But you must book through the Amex Hilton Aspire card website or by calling (855) 292-5757 to verify that you’re eligible for the credit. If you book over the phone you’ll need to use the code “ZZAAP1.”

Annual fee

The card has an annual fee of $450 (see rates and fees).

Why it’s worth it

I know big annual fees can be scary, but what’s even scarier is losing money because you neglected to crunch a few numbers. The Amex Hilton Aspire comes with a mountain of benefits that make it worth the extra cost. The weekend nights alone can easily make it worth paying the annual fee.

The Hilton Honors program can be lucrative because it’s so easy to earn Hilton points and the perks you get with Diamond status, like free breakfast, can save you money. If you like staying with Hilton, this card is truly a no-brainer. The statement credits and top-tier elite status can transform your Hilton stays.

Total value

Hilton points are worth at least .5 cents for most award night redemptions, so the Aspire card’s bonus is worth $750 in hotel stays. The card’s airline and Hilton resort credits are worth up to $500, but not everyone will be able to easily use the full credit, so I’ll be conservative and value them at $300. The value of the annual free weekend night will vary depending on what hotel you use it at, but it wouldn’t be hard to save $300 on a one night stay at a decent hotel.

Add that up and subtract the annual fee and you’re sitting on $900 in value the first year. That doesn’t even include any value you will get from having Diamond status. On a recent two-night stay my co-worker got $70+ in free breakfast for two people thanks to the Diamond status he has because of this card. So it’s very realistic to get $1,000+ in value the first year and $100s in value above and beyond the annual fee year after year. I have this card and in my opinion it’s one of the best travel rewards credit cards.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

Best for families

Current bonus

If you’re a Hilton fan, you need to take the Hilton Surpass card seriously. You can earn 125,000 Hilton points after you spend $2,000 in purchases with your new card within the first three months of opening your account.

Insider tip

There are lots of cards that come with unlimited airport lounge access, along with big annual fees. But if you travel only five to six times a year you won’t necessarily need unlimited lounge access. This is where the Surpass comes in. With the card you can enroll in Priority Pass and receive 10 lounge visits each membership year. You can bring guests along, but each person counts as one visit, so that’s five lounge visits for you and a guest each year. You get that with an annual fee that is less than $100.

Benefits and perks

With this card you’ll earn 12x Hilton points at participating Hilton hotels or resorts; 6x Hilton points on eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations; and 3x points for all other eligible purchases. Terms apply.

You’ll receive complimentary Hilton Gold status, which comes with bonus points for hotel stays, room upgrades when available, free breakfast and lots more. No other mid-tier credit card offers elite status that guarantees free breakfast. Hilton’s terms say the free breakfast applies to yourself and one additional guest, but many report getting a free meal for their kids, too. At the very least, breakfasts for kids are usually discounted, so you could use the freebies for the adults in your party and pay only for the additional children’s meals.

Because the card has no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees), it’s good to use for hotels abroad.

If you’re a big spender who likes staying with Hilton, this card is up your alley. You’ll earn one free weekend night after spending $15,000 on purchases each calendar year and if you spend $40,000 in a calendar year, you’ll earn Hilton Diamond status. That will help you rack up Hilton points way faster (100% bonus on base points), and the upgrades and free breakfasts will revolutionize your hotel experience.

Annual fee

The card has a $95 annual fee (see rates and fees).

Why it’s worth it

Traveling with a large family is an entirely different proposition compared to a solo trip. There’s often a lot of juggling and logistics to manage, so making sure your hotel stay is as comfortable as possible is key to making your vacation a success. The Amex Hilton Surpass stands above the rest for families, because it comes with family-friendly perks without an astronomically high annual fee.

Hilton is an ideal chain for families to focus on, because they’re one of the largest in the world — you can find a Hilton brand hotel just about anywhere you go, including:

Total value

The intro bonus is worth $625 in Hilton stays (at .5 cents per point), so you can’t go wrong applying for this card. If you can spend $15,000 on the card each year, the Free Weekend Night Reward you’ll earn is easily worth double or triple what the annual fee will cost you. Even if you won’t spend that much on the card, the free breakfast you’ll get with Gold status and the 10 Priority Pass lounge visits are worth more than what you’ll pay to keep it.

The World of Hyatt Credit Card

Best for a balance of value and comfort

Current bonus

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 three months of opening your account and another 25,000 bonus Hyatt points after you spend an additional $3,000 (for $6,000 total) on purchases within the first six months of opening your account.

Based on our estimation of Hyatt points value, This bonus is worth $850 in Hyatt hotel stays. But they can be worth much more, depending on how and where you use them (read our post about the best use of Hyatt points).

Insider tip

Hyatt has an ongoing Brand Explorer promotion where you can earn free nights valid at Category 1-4 hotels for every five different Hyatt brands you stay at. The best part of this deal is that award stays count. These awards pair perfectly with the free nights you can earn with the World of Hyatt card because they are all valid at Category 1-4 hotels

Hyatt has been adding new brands and is now up to 17, which means you can earn up to three free nights. This promotion doesn’t reset every year. Paid stays made after Mar. 1, 2017 and award stays made after Jan. 1, 2018 count.

Benefits and perks

With this card, you’ll earn 9x Hyatt points at Hyatt – 4x points at Hyatt hotels and 5 base points per dollar earned as a World of Hyatt member. You’ll also earn 2x Hyatt points at restaurants, airline tickets purchased directly from the airlines, local transit and commuting and on fitness club and gym memberships and 1x Hyatt point on everything else.

Every year you keep the card you’ll get a free night at a Category 1-4 hotel. You’ll get an additional free night at a Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel after spending $15,000 in an anniversary year.

This card comes with Discoverist Hyatt status, which gives you 10% bonus base points per stay, upgrades to a preferred room based on availability at check-in, late checkout when available and more. Plus, you’ll be able to climb the elite status ladder quickly because you’ll receive five qualifying-night credits every year and two qualifying-night credits after every $5,000 you spend on the card.

This card has no foreign transaction fees.

Hyatt hotels include:

Annual fee

This card has a $95 annual fee.

Why it’s worth it

Hyatt is an MMS staff favorite. They have great hotels with a balance of value and comfort and the Hyatt award chart is extremely generous.

A unique perk of using Hyatt points is that you don’t have to worry about blackout dates. If Hyatt is selling a standard room, you can reserve it with points. There are some quirks and exceptions at certain hotels where you’ll inexplicably have difficulty finding available rooms (Andaz Maui). But I’ve found this benefit to be extremely valuable.

I spent a night at the Hyatt House Charleston Historic District during the Great American Eclipse. The hotel was packed and rooms were selling for $500+ per night. 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).

Because this is a Category 3 hotel, you can use the annual free night that comes with The World of Hyatt Credit Card. That offsets the annual fee many times over. 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.

Total value

Hyatt points are the most valuable hotel points you can earn and are typically worth ~1.7 cents each, which makes this card’s bonus worth $850 in Hyatt stays. I’ve used a handful of Category 1-4 Hyatt award night certificates and it’s not hard to book a $150+ night stay. So once you subtract the annual fee you’re getting over $900 in value the first year.

But if you’re making the best use of your Hyatt points, it is easy to blow that number out of the water. You can reserve astronomically expensive hotels with Hyatt points, like the five-star Park Hyatt Paris Vendome, for 30,000 Hyatt points per night. Rooms at that hotel can go for $900+ per night.

Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card

Total value

We value Marriott points at 0.8 cents per point, this card’s bonus is worth $240.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael)

Best low annual fee

Current bonus

There is a bonus of 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Insider tip

You can transfer Marriott points airlines, more than 40 in total, including many valuable loyalty programs with difficult-to-earn airline miles. This presents some interesting opportunities to maximize your Marriott points value without booking hotel rooms, and it can often be the best way to use Marriott points. For example, you can convert Marriott points into Alaska Airlines miles and used those miles to book business-class flights with Cathay Pacific. The best part of using Alaska Airline miles is that you can add in a free stopover on one-way award flights (or two on a round-trip award), so you can book a stopover in Hong Kong for no extra miles.

Benefits and perks

The best Marriott Bonvoy Boundless benefit is the annual free night certificate (valid at hotels costing up to 35,000 points) you get each year you renew your card. With this certificate you can book up to Category 5 hotels on standard and off-peak dates. Unfortunately, now that the Marriott award chart includes peak pricing there are certain days where your free night won’t be valid at Category 5 hotels.

Just having the card will get you Silver Marriott Bonvoy elite status for as long as you hold the card, and each year you’ll get 15 elite night credits.

The card also doesn’t have any foreign transaction fees and provides a handful of useful coverages. You’ll get secondary rental car insurance, purchase protection, lost luggage insurance and trip delay coverage.

Annual fee

This card has a $95 annual fee.

Why its worth it

Marriott has more hotel rooms than any other hotel chain in the world, so if you’re looking to use hotel points for free nights you can’t go wrong with Marriott. And right now, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card has as high of a bonus of any of the Marriott credit cards, so it represents a good opportunity to earn Marriott points.

This card has a smaller annual fee then the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card or the Bonvoy Brilliant card and it has better benefits than the no-annual-fee Bonvoy Bold card. So it’s the perfect middle of the road option.

Total value

Marriott points are usually worth ~0.8 cents each toward hotel stays, so the bonus alone is worth ~$800. After you deduct the $95 annual fee you’re still getting over $700 in value the first year. The annual free night certificate can easily be worth more than the annual fee, so it’s an easy card to justify keeping long term. Read our full guide on how to use Marriott points.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Best for prepaid hotels

Current bonus

With Amex Platinum card, you can earn 60,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account.

Insider tip

If you value having elite status this is the card for you because you won’t just get status with a single loyalty program. As long as you have this card you’ll get Gold Hilton status and Gold Marriott Bonvoy status. In addition, you’l also get status with these rental car programs: Hertz, National and Avis.

Benefits and perks

If you’re okay booking prepaid hotels (through you won’t do better than this card’s 5x Amex points on those purchases. It also earns 5x points on flights booked directly with the airlines or Amex Travel and one point per dollar on all other purchases.

This card comes with a bunch of opportunities to earn statement credits. Each year you can earn up to $200 in airline incidental fee credits, up to $200 in Uber credits and up to $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue credits. Plus, you can also earn an application fee credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck.

The best Amex Platinum benefits are its many credits, but that’s not all you’ll get. It also has the best airport lounge access you can get with a card, you’ll have access to Delta Sky Club, Escape, Airspace, Centurion, Plaza Premium and Priority Pass lounges. And it has a variety of coverages, like trip delay, trip cancellation/interruption, extended warranty and purchase protection.

Annual fee

This card has a $550 annual fee. (See rates and fees)

Why its worth it

What makes the Amex Platinum worth it, in spite of the high annual fee is the perks. If you take full advantage of the card’s credits each year, your out of pocket cost drops to a reasonable $50. I think there are very few instances where the card’s other benefits wouldn’t be worth more than that. However, if you aren’t going to use up all of the card’s credits, then you’ll want to crunch the numbers a bit more to see if it’s worth it for you.

Total value

We value Amex points at, on average, two cents per point. So including the card’s credits and intro bonus, this offer is worth over $1,000 the first year.

How we chose the best hotel credit cards

The quickest and easiest way to rack up the hotel points you need to book free nights is by earning a card’s intro bonus, so that weighs heavily in our selection. As we regularly update our list of the best hotel credits cards we’ll add cards with limited-time increased offers. But, the ongoing benefits provided by card can be just as important. Many of these cards come with annual free nights, these awards by themselves can justify paying the annual fee. I hold several hotel cards that come with annual free night certificates and consider the annual fee a prepayment of an extremely discounted night.

But, these cards rankings aren’t solely based on the benefits, we also factored in how easy the bonuses and perks are to earn. All of these cards, except for one, have a minimum spending requirement of $5,000 or less, which you’ll have three months to meet. And the card with a $6,000 spending requirement (the World of Hyatt card) gives you a full six months to meet that amount. Also, certain benefits that require extremely high spending are given less weight or not considered at all. For example, the Hilton Surpass card earns a free weekend night after you spend $15,000 in a calendar year, which isn’t an impossible requirement if this is the only card you use, but it’s not a gimme. The Surpass also earn Diamond status if you spend $40,000 in a calendar year. Diamond status is great, but it’s not worth spending that much on the card when you can get it automatically with the Hilton Aspire.

How to choose the best hotel credit card for you

There is no single hotel card that is perfect for everyone. So the best thing to do is to figure out what you want and work backwards from there. Here are the most important factors to consider.

Value vs. usefulness

When it comes to earning credit card rewards there is a balance between how valuable and how useful your points are. For example, Hyatt points are easily the most value hotel points you can earn. Top-tier Hyatt hotels only cost 30,000 points per night (40,000 points for some Small Luxury Hotels), which is one third what other chain’s best hotels cost. But the catch is that Hyatt has a much much smaller footprint than Marriott, Hilton and others (1,100+ locations vs. 5,000+). So you have fewer options for using Hyatt points and you’ll find that many destinations don’t have a single Hyatt hotel.

The best way to handle this issue is to decide where you want to visit and to know what type of travel you prefer before you apply for a card. If you know where you want to vacation next it will be easy to research your options for booking accommodations with points. Your preferred travel style will also help narrow your choices. If you want to stay local and meet other travelers, then the Capital One Venture is great because you can erase charges for stays with Airbnb or at most hostels. But if you’re looking to treat yourself to a luxury hotel stay, then you’re better off applying for the Hilton Aspire or World of Hyatt cards.

Hotel loyalist vs. free agent

If you place a high value on hotel elite status, then you’ll want to get a cobranded card for that hotel chain. Having elite status can multiply the value of your hotel points. I used to have Hyatt Globalist status, which has the most generous free breakfast benefit of any top-tier hotel elite status and you can even share your perks with friends and family through Hyatt’s guest of honor benefit. But now that I’ve dropped down to Hyatt Explorist (no free breakfast) I’m more likely to stay with Hilton, as even Hilton’s mid-tier Gold status entitles you to free breakfast.

If you don’t travel enough to earn hotel elite status or you just don’t care about it, then there are other opportunities you can take advantage of.

Featured image by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.

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:


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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