Which Hotel Credit Cards Offer a Free Night? | Credit Cards

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Key Takeaways

  • Some free nights can be used at any property, while others are capped at certain levels.
  • Many credit cards include free nights automatically, but others have annual spending requirements to earn the benefit.
  • Depending on your annual spending, you may be able to earn a second or third free night on.

Travelers can benefit greatly when they hold a co-branded credit card for their favorite hotel brand. Most hotel credit cards offer higher rewards on paid stays, elite status benefits and other perks. One of the best is the annual free night many hotel credit cards offer when you renew the card or meet certain spending requirements. Learn about the hotel credit cards that include free night benefits and how to activate them.

Which Hotel Credit Cards Include a Free Night?

World of Hyatt

While Hyatt offers a personal and business version of its credit card, only the personal World of Hyatt Card offers one free night each year.

The World of Hyatt Credit Card

  • Anniversary free night at a Category 1-4 hotel.
  • Earn a second free night at a Category 1-4 hotel when you spend at least $15,000 in a year.

The card includes automatic Discoverist status in the World of Hyatt loyalty program. Plus, you get five qualifying night credits each year toward upgrading your status and two additional night credits for every $5,000 you spend. Cardholders earn up to nine points per dollar spent at Hyatt hotels and two points per dollar at restaurants, on tickets purchased from airlines, on local transit and commuting, and on fitness club and gym memberships.

The World of Hyatt card is a favorite of Julia Menez, a points strategy coach at GeobreezeTravel.com, because of its annual free night. “There are some fantastic redemption opportunities that qualify for this free night certificate,” she says. “Most recently, I used this certificate at Grand Hyatt Athens in Greece, where we also received a suite upgrade due to my elite status.”

IHG One Rewards

IHG One Rewards allows members to earn and redeem points at more than 6,000 destinations across 19 brands. All three IHG credit cards offer the fourth night free when you redeem points for your stay. However, only the cards with an annual fee provide an annual free night certificate.

  • Fourth night free when redeeming points.

With the IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card, you receive automatic Silver Elite status in the IHG One Rewards loyalty program and the ability to earn Gold Elite status when you spend $20,000 or more each year. There is no annual fee, and you’ll earn up to 17 points per dollar spent at IHG hotels and resorts; three points per dollar on gas, dining, utilities, internet, cable, phone and select streaming services; and two points per dollar on everything else.

  • Anniversary free night worth up to 40,000 points.
  • Fourth night free when redeeming points.

Enjoy automatic Platinum Elite status with the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card, and when you spend $40,000 in a year, you’ll be upgraded to Diamond Elite status. The card includes an up to $100 reimbursement for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or NEXUS application fees every four years. It earns up to 26 points per dollar spent at IHG hotels and resorts; five points per dollar on travel, gas and dining; and three points per dollar on everything else. You’ll pay a $99 annual fee.

  • Anniversary free night worth up to 40,000 points.
  • Earn a second free night worth up to 40,000 points when you spend $60,000 in a year.
  • Fourth night free when redeeming points.

The business card from IHG includes automatic Platinum Elite status, and when you spend $40,000 on the IHG One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card, you’ll become a Diamond Elite member. The card includes an up to $100 reimbursement for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or NEXUS application fees every four years. When spending at IHG hotels and resorts, you’ll get up to 26 points per dollar. Plus, you’ll get five points per dollar on travel, gas, dining and select business categories and three points per dollar on everything else. You’ll pay a $99 annual fee.

Marriott Bonvoy

All members of the Marriott Bonvoy hotel loyalty program receive the fifth night free when booking a room with points. Marriott offers credit cards from Chase and American Express. Some Marriott credit cards have free night certificates when you renew the card or meet annual spending requirements.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

  • Anniversary free night worth up to 35,000 points.
  • Fifth night free when redeeming points.

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card includes automatic Silver Elite status and 15 Elite Night Credits toward higher levels. Plus, you’ll earn one additional Elite Night Credit for every $5,000 you spend. The card gets up to 17 points per dollar spent at Marriott hotels; three points per dollar on the first $6,000 in combined spending each year on gas, groceries and dining; and two points per dollar on all other purchases. You’ll pay a $95 annual fee.

  • Earn a free night worth up to 50,000 points when you spend $15,000 in a year.
  • Fifth night free when redeeming points.

Cardholders receive automatic Gold Elite status with the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy American Express Card, and it comes with 15 Elite Night Credits if you’re interested in earning higher levels of elite status. You’ll receive 1,000 bonus points on every paid stay at Marriott properties and six points per dollar spent on your Marriott hotel purchases. You’ll also earn four points per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets on the first $15,000 in combined spending each year, and two points per dollar on all other purchases. You’ll pay a $250 annual fee. (See Rates & Fees)

  • Anniversary free night worth up to 85,000 points.
  • Fifth night free when redeeming points.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card is Marriott’s luxury card. It includes automatic Platinum Elite status and 25 Elite Night Credits. It also includes a $300 dining credit each year and a $100 luxury credit when you stay at least two nights at The Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis. You’ll earn six points per dollar spent at Marriott hotels, three points per dollar at restaurants worldwide and on flights booked directly with airlines, and two points per dollar on all other purchases. You’ll pay a $650 annual fee. (See Rates & Fees)

  • Anniversary free night worth up to 35,000 points.
  • Earn a second free night worth up to 35,000 points when you spend $60,000 in a year.
  • Fifth night free when redeeming points.

Business owners receive automatic Gold Elite status with the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card, and they can upgrade to Platinum Elite status after spending $75,000 each year. It also comes with 15 Elite Night Credits if you want to earn higher elite status based on your stays. This card offers an exclusive room rate discount of 7% when you book directly with Marriott, and you’ll earn six points per dollar spent on Marriott hotel purchases. You’ll also earn four points per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services from U.S. providers and U.S. shipping purchases, and two points per dollar on all other purchases. You’ll pay a $125 annual fee. (See Rates & Fees)

Hilton Honors

All Hilton Honors loyalty program members who are Silver status and higher get the fifth night free when booking stays on points. This benefit is available even if you don’t have one of the hotel’s credit cards. You automatically receive Silver status or higher if you have a Hilton credit card, which makes this benefit available to everyone, including those just starting out with Hilton Honors. Additionally, some Hilton credit cards get a free night certificate when renewing or by clearing spending hurdles.

  • Fifth night free when redeeming with points with automatic Silver status.

When you spend $20,000 per year with the Hilton Honors American Express Card, you’ll upgrade to Gold status. The card earns seven points per dollar spent at Hilton hotels; five points per dollar at U.S. restaurants, gas stations and supermarkets; and three points per dollar everywhere else. You’ll pay no annual fee. (See Rates & Fees)

  • Earn a free night after spending $15,000 in a year.
  • Fifth night free when redeeming with points with automatic Gold status.

Although the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card comes with automatic Gold status, you can upgrade to Diamond status when you spend $40,000 in a year. You’ll earn 12 points per dollar spent at Hilton hotels; six points per dollar at U.S. restaurants, gas stations and supermarkets; four points per dollar on U.S. online retail purchases; and three points per dollar everywhere else. You’ll pay a $150 annual fee. (See Rates & Fees)

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card is a favorite of Jon Nickel-D’Andrea, a travel blogger at NoMasCoach.com. “Hitting $15,000 for a free night is an attainable goal for most households,” he says. “I like that we get a free night for that spend, plus automatic Gold elite status … just for having the card.”

  • Anniversary free night.
  • Earn a second free night after spending $30,000 in a year.
  • Receive a third free night when you spend $60,000 in a year.
  • Fifth night free when redeeming with points with automatic Diamond status.

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is the premium credit card from Hilton. It comes with up to $400 in statement credits each year for purchases at Hilton Resorts and an airline fee credit of up to $200 in qualifying purchases made directly with the airlines or through Amex Travel. You’ll also enjoy a $189 CLEAR Plus credit each year and a $100 Hilton on-property credit when booking a two-night minimum stay at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad hotels and resorts. The card earns 14 points per dollar spent at Hilton hotels; seven points per dollar on flights booked through the airline or AmEx Travel, car rentals at select companies and U.S. restaurants; and three points per dollar everywhere else. You’ll pay a $550 annual fee. (See Rates & Fees)

Wyndham Rewards

When you have either of the Wyndham Rewards personal credit cards, you can earn an anniversary bonus worth up to one free night at participating properties. The business card’s anniversary bonus is worth up to two free nights.

  • Earn 7,500 bonus points when you spend $15,000 in a year – equivalent to up to one free night.

The Wyndham Rewards Earner Card includes automatic loyalty program Gold status and an exclusive cardholder booking rate. You’ll earn five points per dollar spent at Wyndham properties and on qualifying gas purchases; two points per dollar on dining and grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart); and one point per dollar on all other purchases. You’ll pay no annual fee.

Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus Card

  • Anniversary 7,500 bonus points – equivalent to up to one free night.

Get automatic Platinum status and an exclusive cardholder booking rate with the Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus Card. It earns six points per dollar spent at Wyndham properties and on qualifying gas purchases; four points per dollar on dining and grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart); and one point per dollar everywhere else. You’ll pay a $75 annual fee.

Wyndham Rewards Earner Business Card

  • Anniversary 15,000 bonus points – equivalent to up to two free nights.

With the Wyndham Rewards Earner Business Card, business owners automatically receive Diamond status and the exclusive cardholder booking rate. The card earns eight points per dollar spent at Wyndham hotels and on gas purchases; five points per dollar on marketing, advertising and utility costs; and one point per dollar on everything else. You’ll pay a $95 annual fee.

Best Western Rewards

The Best Western Rewards credit cards offer bonus points that can be redeemed for a free night after hitting an annual spending threshold.

Best Western Rewards Mastercard

  • Earn 20,000 points when you spend $5,000 in 12 billing cycles – equivalent to up to one free night.

The Best Western Rewards Mastercard gets up to 13 points per dollar spent on Best Western purchases and two points per dollar on everything else. It includes a 10% discount on room rates and automatic Gold status.

  • Earn 40,000 points when you spend $5,000 in 12 billing cycles – equivalent to up to two free nights.

You’ll earn up to 20 points per dollar spent on Best Western purchases and two points per dollar on everything else with the Best Western Rewards Premium Mastercard. Cardholders get a 10% discount on room rates and automatic Platinum status.

Choice Privileges

Choice Privileges has been popular with travelers on a budget for many years. However, with its acquisition of Radisson Americas and focus on its luxury brands such as Cambria and the Ascend Collection, Choice Hotels is now offering options for all price points.

Choice Privileges Select Mastercard

  • Anniversary 30,000 bonus points – equivalent to up to three free nights.

The Choice Privileges Select Mastercard comes with automatic Platinum elite status and 20 elite night credits for those who want to achieve higher levels. Cardholders earn up to 22 points per dollar at participating Choice Hotels properties, plus five points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores, home improvement stores and phone plans. All other purchases earn one point per dollar. The card also includes reimbursement of up to $100 every four years for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees and complimentary cellphone protection up to $800 with a $25 deductible.

Comparing Hotel Free Night Benefits

This chart compares the free night benefits that you’ll get from each of the credit cards listed above. Keep in mind that point values aren’t equivalent across hotel brands.

7 Tips to Maximize Your Hotel Free Night Benefits

  • Search using filters. When looking for properties to redeem your free night, Menez recommends “applying filters to your search based on the points required per night. This way, only the hotels that qualify will show up.”
  • Combine the benefits of personal and business credit cards. Most issuers allow customers to get both the personal and the business versions of a hotel’s credit cards, assuming you qualify. When you have both versions, you can get the annual free nights from each card, and all of the points earned from your spending will merge into the same hotel loyalty account.
  • Involve your Player Two. Have your significant other apply for a credit card from the same hotel brand. You can book back-to-back free nights using each of your certificates for an extended stay or book single-night reservations for trips at different times of the year.
  • Book in advance. Planning ahead makes using your free night certificates easier and prevents you from forgetting to use them. Nickel-D’Andrea recommends “booking well in advance to secure your free night before others start making reservations and driving the cash price up.”
  • Pair free night certificates with points reservations. Book your free night certificate under one reservation, then book another reservation using your points on adjoining dates for an extended trip.
  • Book the most expensive night with a free night certificate. Whether you’re using cash or points for the rest of your trip, use your free night certificate to book the most expensive night during your stay.
  • Add extra points to book a higher-end stay. If you’re trying to book a free night certificate, but the room costs more than the certificate’s maximum value, you’re in luck. Both Marriott and IHG allow cardholders to use points to cover the difference up to certain maximums.

The Bottom Line

Hotel credit cards are some of my favorites in my wallet. Even if I don’t use them for everyday purchases, I keep them because of their automatic hotel elite status and the annual free night benefits. I love how some hotel loyalty programs now allow members to combine their free nights with points to book rooms at higher-priced properties. This unlocks more properties where you can redeem annual free nights when booking travel. Plus, travelers can also use their elite status benefits, like complimentary upgrades and daily breakfast, for even more enjoyable vacations.

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