According to a recent survey by Capital One, hotel rewards credit cards are the most popular cards for travelers this summer. But all hotel credit cards are not alike - many of them make it hard to earn free nights, despite what their advertisements promise. The three cards listed here seem to make good on their promises. However, all of the cards carry an annual fee.
When it comes to hotel rewards credit cards, you only get what you pay for.
This card promises two nights at "any Hyatt, anywhere in the world, anytime," just for using the card one time, either for a purchase or a balance transfer. That easily makes the $75 annual fee worth it.
Unlike many other hotel credit cards, Hyatt has a nice, simple rewards formula. You earn three points for every dollar you spend at Hyatt, one point on all other purchases. You also get a 15% point bonus every time you stay at Hyatt and use this credit card. There are no limits on the points you can earn, and there are no blackout dates or redemption fees.
If you travel a lot overseas, there are no foreign transaction fees. Many other cards charge a 3% fee. That could amount to significant savings.
You get 40,000 bonus points after your first purchase, which Hilton and Amex say is enough for four free nights. You can also earn up to 20,000 more points after your first eight stays at Hilton hotels during the first 18 months you have the card.
You earn nine HHonors points for every dollar you charge at Hilton-owned hotels, which include Doubletree, Hampton Inn and Embassy Suites. You also earn six points per dollar at grocery stores, drugstores and gas stations, as well as home and wireless phones, internet, cable and satellite services. You earn three points everywhere else.
Marriott has two rewards credit cards. Both carry an annual fee, and both are waived the first year. This one carries a higher fee, $65 versus $30, but it also has much richer rewards.
The basic reward on this card is five points for every dollar you spend at Marriott, two points on airline, dining and rental car purchases, and one point everywhere else. By contrast, the Marriott Rewards Card gives you three points at Marriott, one point everywhere else.
You get a free night at a category 1-4 hotel upon account approval, and 30,000 bonus points after your first purchase, which Marriott says is enough for three free nights at a category 1 hotel. You also get a free night at a category 1-5 hotel every year on your account anniversary.