If you’re a fan of traveling, you know how exciting and fulfilling it can be to visit new places and experience different things. You also realize how expensive travel is, whether you’re remaining in-state, going to another, or flying overseas. Compounding the cost of travel is the expense of accommodation. To take the sting out of the price that comes with hotel bills, many frequent travelers have started using hotel rewards cards.
The reward levels, redemption options, and perks vary by card, but in general hotel rewards programs give you points or benefits that you earn as you shop. Once you’ve accumulated enough points, you can then cash them in for hotel stays. A number of well known hotel resorts and chains now offer their own branded rewards cards, and you can also find ones from different banks. The best hotel credit cards around not only have great points systems, but the redemption process is hassle free, you’re able to earn points fairly easily, and the reward structure incorporates flexibility.
Here are the top ten hotel rewards cards of 2016.
1. Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Credit Card
The best thing about this rewards card is that it’s so flexible and has a high rewards rate. If you’re strategic with when and how you redeem your points or you frequently use it when you’re at Starwood properties and resorts, you stand to earn even more. Spending at Starwood Preferred Guest locations will earn you 5 points for each dollar spent.
As of 2016, you’ll get 25,000 bonus points if you use your Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Credit Card to make at east $3,000 in purchases within the first three months. There’s no annual fee for the card during the first year, and in the second and thereafter the fee is $96. Other perks that come with using the card include premium internet access, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi access worldwide, and the ability to transfer your points to more than 30 of Starwood’s transfer partners to receive airline miles.
2. Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card
The signing bonuses are great for this card, and because so many luxury resorts are under the Hilton brand you’ll find a number of locations to cash in your points around the globe. Once you apply for the card and are accepted, you’ll automatically get bumped up to Gold Status, which will earn you an addition 25 percent in points per stay and a complimentary fifth night for every hotel stay of five nights or more. Hilton has other hotel rewards cards, but this one definitely has the best point value and perks. There’s an annual fee of $95, but there are no foreign transaction fees.
3. Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card
One of the standout perks of the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card is the fact that you’ll get a free night at a select group of Marriott locations every year on the anniversary of your account opening date. Outside of that, you’ll earn five points for each dollar spent at Marriott properties and two points on airline tickets when you purchase directly from the airline. Two points are also given for restaurant purchases and car rentals, and one point is given for every dollar that you spend everywhere else. The annual fee is $85, and this card will automatically grant you Silver Elite status each year. You can also transfer your points to Marriott partners to redeem airline miles.
4. Hyatt Credit Card
Travelers who prefer staying at Hyatt properties will find the Hyatt Credit Card quite beneficial. It’s easy to earn complimentary nights and the bonuses aren’t too shabby, especially considering that you can earn points for everyday purchases. This program has some of the best flexibility of all hotel rewards cards available, and the annual fee is just $75. For the first year, the fee is waived.
5. Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard
This is one of the hotel rewards cards that’s not branded or exclusive to any one chain or property. Instead, you can use it to redeem nights at a wide number of hotel chains — this is the card to get if you like to stay at different resorts throughout the year or you like more variety when you pick hotels. Overall, the rewards rate with this card is about 2.1 percent, which is higher than most other cards available in 2016.
6. BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card
This is one of the top rewards cards offered by Bank of America, and cardholders earn an unlimited 1.5 points for every dollar spent on any purchase, including everyday spending. If you have another account with Bank of America you stand to earn even more, and if you keep $50,000 or more in your accounts you’ll earn at a substantial rate of up to 2.626 percent on all of your purchases. There are no annual or foreign transaction fees with this card, which is definitely a plus.
7. Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card
One of the most expensive hotel rewards cards is the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card. However, if you like to frequent this lavish brand’s properties, the annual fee of $395 won’t bother you. The points structure is straightforward and you’ll earn points on all purchases. In addition, you’ll receive a $300 airline incidentals credit each year, a $100 hotel credit annually on stays that are two nights or more, and Worldwide Airport Lounge access. In your first year, you’ll automatically be upgraded to Gold Elite status — to maintain it, you’ll need to spend at least $10,000 total each year.
8. Stash Hotel Rewards Visa
Not only does this card come with a nice sign on bonus, there are no blackout dates, no foreign transaction fees, and the points that you accumulate won’t expire. After you redeem your points, you’ll even earn 10 percent back. The Stash Hotel Rewards Visa is a good option if you prefer boutique and one of a kind hotels instead of chain properties.
9. The Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature Card
You’ll be able to redeem a free night for every 15,000 points that you earn with this card, and there’s no limit on dates or times of year. Considering that you’ll earn a whopping 30,000 points after making your first purchase with the card, that’s not a bad deal. The annual fee is $69, and on your account anniversary each year you’ll get 6,000 bonus points.
10. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
One of the hotel rewards card with the easiest and most flexible redemption systems is the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. There’s no restriction on hotel brands, and you can even redeem your miles for statement credits. The annual fee is a relatively low $59 per year.