Hotel credit cards can be a valuable tool in any traveler’s wallet. Not only do they offer large sign-up bonuses and elite status perks, they also often come with stellar earning opportunities to help cardholders rack up points, and thus free stays, even faster.
However, several hotel credit cards go one step further and give cardmembers an automatic free night at partner hotels each year they renew their card. The value of this benefit can be worth hundreds of dollars depending on where you redeem your free night – more than enough to offset the annual fees many of these cards charge.
Here are seven hotel credit cards that guarantee you at least one free night each year just for carrying them or spending a certain amount of money on them.
Every year you renew this credit card, your World of Hyatt loyalty program account is credited with a free night award that is good for up to a year and can be redeemed for one night in a standard room at Category 1 – 4 properties (out of a total of seven categories).
Using this free night is like redeeming points for an award night, meaning there has to be award availability, not just paid room rates. Some standout hotels that fit the bill include the tropical-luxe Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo, the historic Park Hyatt Siem Reap in Cambodia and the trendy Andaz Xintiandi in Shanghai. Room rates at each can soar well above $400, making this card’s $75 annual fee more than worth it.
The Hyatt Visa is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 40,000 points when you spend $2,000 or more during the first three months. That’s enough for two more nights in a Category 5 property, or myriad other redemption possibilities. It earns three World of Hyatt points on purchases made at Hyatt hotels; two bonus points at restaurants, at car rental agencies and on airfare purchased directly from airlines; and one point on everything else. It also confers automatic elite status at the Discoverist level, which includes perks like bonus points, room upgrades and free high-speed in-room internet.
IHG Rewards is the loyalty program of brands like Intercontinental, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn, among others, and includes over 5,000 hotels around the world.
Travelers who have the brand’s associated IHG Rewards Club Card receive a free night certificate every year they renew their card and pay the annual fee of $49. In the past, these certificates were good at any IHG hotel, including expensive ones like the Intercontinental Sydney and the Kimpton Canary Hotel in Santa Barbara where room rates regularly top $500 and award nights run 60,000-70,000 points. However, IHG recently revised the terms so that certificates issued in May 2018 or later will only be good at properties where award nights range up to 40,000 points each. That means over 300 of IHG’s nicest hotels are now out, but cardholders can still use them at the rest, including the Crowne Plaza Auckland and the Intercontinental Bangkok.
The card currently offers a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months (enough for another free night at most IHG properties). Cardholders earn five points per dollar at IHG hotels; two points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants; and one point per dollar everywhere else. Cardholders also get automatic Platinum elite status in the IHG Rewards Club program, and a 10% rebate on award redemptions, which helps stretch those points even further.
Folks who carry this card get a free night at a Category 1–5 (out of nine total) Marriott hotel each year after paying their annual fee of $85. Category 5 properties usually require 25,000 points per night for an award, and there are over 700 of them around the world, including the Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit and the Moxy Amsterdam Houthavens.
This card is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 75,000 points when you spend $3,000 or more during the first three months. It earns five points per dollar at Marriott hotels, two points per dollar at restaurants and on airfare purchased directly from airlines and one point per dollar on everything else. Cardholders get 15 elite night credits annually, which is enough for Silver elite status.
Hilton recently ended its longstanding relationship with Citibank when it made American Express the main issuer of its co-branded credit cards in the U.S. and introduced a series of new Hilton cards in the process.
This is one of those cards, and it offers some considerable benefits, not least of which is the fact that you get one free weekend night reward (good Friday–Sunday nights) upon sign-up along with a bonus of 100,000 Hilton Honors points when you spend $4,000 in purchases in the first three months.
Plus, every year you renew your card, you get another free weekend night at almost any Hilton property worldwide. Before you get too excited, the card does have a $450 annual fee. But you can more than make up for it by redeeming that free night at expensive properties like the Conrad Koh Samui or the Rome Cavalieri, a Waldorf Astoria Resort.
The card’s slate of other value-added perks, like an annual $250 airline fee credit, a $100 property credit at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad hotels and resorts and up to $250 in statement credits each year for purchases made during stays at Hilton Resort properties, also help offset that annual fee.
The card earns 14 Hilton Honors points on Hilton purchases; seven points per dollar at U.S. restaurants and on direct airfare and car rental purchases; and three points per dollar on everything else. The Aspire also comes with Priority Pass Select airport lounge access and automatic Hilton Honors Diamond top-tier status, with benefits like room upgrades, executive lounge access and free premium internet during stays.
Now for some cards that offer free nights for hitting certain spending targets each year.
Don’t want to pay $450 for the Aspire card? This version might be a better fit, with an annual fee of just $95. While the annual free night is not automatic, it’s relatively easy to earn. Cardholders who spend $15,000 each year receive a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors like the one earned with the Aspire.
This card currently comes with a sign-up bonus of up to 100,000 points and earns 12 points per dollar on Hilton purchases; six at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations; and three on everything else. It also offers Priority Pass Select lounge membership and confers automatic Hilton Honors Gold elite status, with benefits like room upgrades and free breakfast during stays.
Club Carlson is currently being rebranded as Radisson Rewards, so it remains to be seen if anything changes about the program’s co-branded credit cards. For now, though, this card offers a free night each year to cardholders who make at least $10,000 in purchases during their account (not calendar) year. Like a regular award night, the free night is valid for a standard room at any participating Club Carlson property.
You get a bonus of 40,000 points each year for renewing your card, which has an annual fee of $75. Cardholders also receive automatic Gold status. New cardholders can earn a sign-up bonus of up to 85,000 points when they spend $2,500 within 90 days of getting the card, and then continue earning 10 Gold points per dollar at Club Carlson hotels and five on everything else.
It’s not exactly an annual free night benefit, but this card comes with a perk that can be worth so much more. The Citi Prestige offers cardholders a complimentary fourth night on any hotel stay of four nights or more. The way it works is, you must book your stay through ThankYou.com or through the Citi Prestige Concierge phone desk and pay for it with your Citi Prestige card or a direct redemption of Citi ThankYou points. After your stay, you will be refunded the average nightly rate for one night of your bill minus taxes. Depending on your travel habits, this benefit alone can be worth thousands of dollars each year. Which is good news, because the card comes with a $450 annual fee. Though for that, you also get benefits like a $250 annual air travel credit, a Global Entry application fee waiver worth $100 and Priority Pass airport lounge access.
While sign-up bonuses of up to 100,000 points might get you to apply for a hotel credit card, ongoing benefits like an annual free night can be worth hundreds of dollars each year, and reason enough to keep the card in your wallet.