06/15/2016

Best Hotel Rewards Programs Explained

Hotel rewards programs compared

Whether you find yourself away from home vacationing or for business, you can get more for your money if you are part of the hotel rewards programs for the hotels you frequent. Each brand and branch of hotels generally provide their own hotel rewards program, which can provide a broad range of extra perks and benefits that can not only be worth free nights at the hotel but can also make your stay much more comfortable.

When you use a rewards credit card along with the hotel rewards program, you can essentially double and triple your value, depending on the card and the purchases you make. For this reason, it’s often recommended that you make sure you use the right rewards card along with the best hotel rewards program to maximize the benefits. If you’re not sure which hotel rewards program is the best for you and your family, here is our list of the best hotel rewards programs and the best credit cards for getting the most out of every stay.

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Best Hotel Rewards Program for Free Nights

Marriott Rewards Program

With more than 4,200 hotels worldwide, Marriott hotels have become one of the most popular hotel chains for travelers and vacationers alike. This program provides visitors with a number of benefits like free Wi-Fi and mobile check-in. You can also choose to earn either points or airline miles when you stay at Marriott properties. This hotel rewards program also includes elite statuses that you can earn, based on your number of nights and hotel stays. Each status provides more hotel benefits such as weekend discounts, complimentary room upgrades, and bonus points each time you stay, depending on your elite status level.

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at issuer’s secured site
fair credit
intro purchase APR no intro offerregular APR15.99% (V)
intro BT APR 15.99% 3% BT fee $5 min
rewards 1x 2x 5x points per dollar +50,000 sign-up bonus
  • 5x points on Marriott or Ritz-Carlton purchases
  • 2x points on airlines, rental cars and restaurants purchases
  • 1x on everything else
  • get 50,000 points bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months

 

$85 annual fee, waived for the first year

50,000 sign up bonus

5x points on Marriott

2x points on airlines, rental cars, dining out

read review

The best credit card to use for the Marriott rewards program is the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card. This card awards 5 points for each dollar spent at Marriott locations, 2 points at car rental agencies, airlines, and restaurants, and 1 point for each dollar on all other purchases. The annual fee is $85, but you also get Silver Elite status, which includes more benefits and perks, and a free night every year on your card anniversary. As a new cardholder, you get a bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months of opening the account. You can earn an additional 7,500 points after you add your first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months of card membership. This bonus can be enough for more than 10 award nights in a Category 1 property.

Hilton HHonors Hotel Rewards Program

The Hilton HHonors hotel rewards program is also one of the most popular programs for hotel benefits and free nights. The program gives members guaranteed discounts, digital check-in, late check-out, express check-out, and 2nd guest stays free. It also provides an elite status program for earning additional perks and rewards based on the number of times you stay in Hilton Hotels and its properties. Other benefits that are part of the program include access to fitness centers, free Wi-Fi, and fifth night free on award stays of five nights or more.

read card review Apply Now
at issuer’s secured site
excellent
intro purchase APR no intro offerregular APR15.24 - 19.24% (V)
intro BT APR 15.24-19.24% 3% BT fee $5 min
rewards 2-6 points/$1 +40,000 bonus
  • earn 6 points for dollar on Hilton Portfolio hotels stays
  • earn 3 points at supermarkets, drugstores and gas stations
  • earn 2 points per $1 on all other purchases

 

no annual fee

40,000 sign-up bonus

6 points for Hilton Portfolio hotels stays

3 points on gas, supermarkets and drugstores

2 points per dollar on all other purchases

read review

There are a few different Hilton HHonors credit cards for earning free nights and benefits at Hilton Hotels. The Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature awards 6 points for each dollar spent at Hilton properties, 3 points for each dollar spent at supermarkets, drugstores, and gas stations, and 2 points for each dollar on all other purchases. New cardholders can earn a bonus of 40,000 points after making $1,000 in purchases in the first four months. Other benefits include Silver status, a loyalty bonus of 10,000 points each calendar year that you spend $1,000 or more on hotel stays in the Hilton portfolio. This card also has no annual fee.

Best Hotel Rewards Program for Business Travelers

If you are on the road often for business, one of the best hotel rewards programs for business travelers is the Starwood Preferred Guest program. In fact, this hotel rewards program is considered one of the best for any type of travel, whether it’s for business or personal reasons. The Starwood Preferred Guest program awards Starpoints, which can be redeemed for free nights, as well as SPG Moments for VIP access to sporting events, culinary experiences, concerts, and other events. This program also includes elite statuses, which include other benefits like room upgrades, welcome gifts, in-room internet, complimentary breakfasts, and late checkout.

read card review Apply Now
at issuer’s secured site
excellent
intro purchase APR no intro offerregular APR15.49 - 19.49% (V)
intro BT APR 15.49-19.49% 3% BT fee $5 min
rewards 1 or 5 points per dollar +25,000 welcome bonus
  • earn 5x points on reservations directly at Starwood Preferred Guest program hotels:
  • you get 3 points as a program member
  • you get 2 points as a cardmember 
  •  1 point per dollar on all other purchases
  • 25,000 points if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months of the card

$95 annual fee, waived for the first year

best hotel rewards program

read review

For business owners and those who frequently travel for business, the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card provides the best perks. This card awards up to 5 Starpoints for each dollar you spend at Starwood properties and 1 point for each dollar on all other purchases. New cardholders get a bonus of 25,000 Starpoints after you make $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months, which can be redeemed for as many as 8 award nights in a Category 1 property. Plus, you get 5,000 bonus points when you transfer 20,000 points to airline miles. There are also benefits specifically for business owners such as OPEN Savings for earning additional points with business-friendly retailers. The annual fee of &95 is waived the first year and there is no foreign transaction fee.

Best Hotel Rewards Program for Families

Choice Privileges Hotel Rewards

If you enjoy traveling with the family and vacationing in budget-friendly hotels, you will appreciate the benefits of the Choice Privileges program. This hotel rewards program offers membership levels based on your number of hotel stay, which include benefits like extended check-out, elite point bonuses, complimentary room upgrades, and exclusive reservation and customer service phone numbers. Most of all, hotels in the Choice Privileges program are known for being affordable and comfortable for families.

intro purchase APR no intro offerregular APR15.49%, 20.24% or 25.24%
intro BT APR 0% BT APR for 15 billing periods 3% BT fee $5 min
rewards 5 ponts on Choice Hotels purchases, 2 points on other purchases

no annual fee

5x rewards on Choice Hotels

2x regular rewards

read review

The best card for the Choice Privileges hotel rewards program is the Choice Privileges Visa Signature. This card awards 10 points for each dollar you spend at Choice Privileges locations, 10 points for each dollar spent at MainStay Suites, Suburban Extended Stay, Econo Lodge, and Rodeway Inn properties, and 2 points for each dollar spent on other purchases. New cardholders can earn 8,000 bonus points when you make your first purchase or balance transfer and 24,000 bonus points after your first stay at Choice Privileges hotels. These points can be redeemed for, at least, 5 nights, which start as low as 6,000 points. There is no annual fee for the card, and new cardholders get a 0% introductory APR for balance transfers posted in the first 45 days, for 15 billing cycles. After that, a variable APR of 15.24%, 19.99%, or 24.99% will apply. 

 



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