Welcome to Trip Essentials!

The best hotel credit cards that come with an annual free night


Many hotel loyalty programs, including World of Hyatt, Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors, offer cobranded credit cards. And even if you only stay with a particular hotel loyalty program a few times each year, you may still benefit from signing up for that program’s credit card. After all, some of the best hotel credit cards offer valuable benefits that far outweigh the fees.

One of the best perks frequently offered by hotel credit cards is an annual free night certificate. This anniversary night can often justify the card’s annual fee before you even consider any of the card’s other perks. As such, I typically don’t hesitate to open a new hotel credit card that offers an annual award night. And I’ve never closed a credit card that provides one. After all, I always get more value from the annual free night and other perks than the annual fee I pay.

As we look ahead to fall and holiday travel, now is a great time to add one or more of the best hotel credit cards to your wallet. So let’s reviewsome of the best hotel credit cards that provide an annual free night to cardholders.

Best hotel credit cards with an annual free night

The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: Battle of the mid-tier hotel cards: Which card outshines the others?

Comparing hotel credit cards that offer an annual free night

Hotel credit card Best for Annual free night details Annual fee
World of Hyatt Credit Card Hyatt loyalists One free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort every year after your cardmember anniversary.

Earn one extra free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort if you spend $15,000 in a calendar year.

$95
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card Hilton loyalists One free night reward with your new card and again every year after renewal.

One additional free night reward after you make $60,000 in card purchases in a calendar year.

$450 (see rates and fees)
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card Marriott loyalists One free night award every year after your account anniversary, valid for a one-night stay at a property with a redemption value of up to 35,000 points. $95
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card Marriott loyalists who want extra perks One free night award every year after your card renewal month. You can use the free night award for one night (up to 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel. $450 (see rates and fees)
Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card Business travelers who are Marriott loyalists One free night award every year after your card account anniversary, valid for a one-night hotel stay with a redemption level up to 35,000 points.

Earn one additional free night award, valid for a one-night hotel stay with a redemption level up to 35,000 points, after you spend $60,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year.

$125 (see rates and fees)
IHG  One Rewards Premier Credit Card IHG  loyalists One free night valid at IHG hotels with a point redemption level of 40,000 points or less after your account anniversary each year. $99
IHG One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card Best for business travelers who are IHG loyalists One free night valid at IHG hotels with a point redemption level of 40,000 points or less after your account anniversary each year. $99

World of Hyatt Credit Card: Best for Hyatt loyalists

THE POINTS GUY

Sign-up bonus: Earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. Plus, earn up to an additional 30,000 bonus points by earning two bonus points total per $1 spent on purchases that usually earn one bonus point (on up to $15,000) in the first six months of account opening. Based on TPG’s valuation of Hyatt points at 1.7 cents each, the total 60,000-point bonus is worth $1,020.

Rewards rate: Earn 4 points per dollar on purchases at Hyatt properties, including participating restaurants and Exhale locations; 2 points per dollar on local transit and commuting, at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline and on fitness club and gym memberships; 1 point per dollar on everything else.

Annual fee: $95.

Annual free night benefit: The World of Hyatt Credit Card offers a free night at a Category 1-4 hotel each year after your cardmember anniversary. You can also receive a second free night at a Category 1-4 hotel each year when you spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year.

Reward your inbox with the TPG Daily newsletter

Join over 700,000 readers for breaking news, in-depth guides and exclusive deals from TPG’s experts.

Why this benefit is valuable: Hyatt has an attractive list of Category 1-4 properties. You’ll find plenty of Hyatt Places and Hyatt Houses in the Category 1-4 list. Still, there are also higher-tier Hyatt brands, including Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Centric, Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt and Andaz. There are even some solid Hyatt Category 1-4 properties in the U.S., as well as some properties that would be good for a family vacation. Plus, you don’t pay resort fees at Hyatt when staying on a free night award. An average nightly rate at a Hyatt property is around $250, meaning it should be easy to get at least $95 of value from your certificate.

Other card details:

Check out TPG’s review of the World of Hyatt Credit Card for more information.


Official application link: World of Hyatt Credit Card


Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Best for Hilton loyalists

ERIC HELGAS/THE POINTS GUY

Sign-up bonus: Earn 150,000 Hilton points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases on the card within the first three months of card membership. Based on TPG’s valuation of Hilton points at 0.6 cents each, the bonus is worth $900.

Rewards rate: Earn 14 Hilton points per dollar on eligible purchases at hotels or resorts in the Hilton portfolio; 7 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel, car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies and at U.S. restaurants; 3 points per dollar on other eligible purchases.

Annual fee: $450 (see rates and fees).

Annual free night benefit: The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card provides one free night award with your new card and every year after renewal. You can earn an additional night after you spend $60,000 on purchases on your card in a calendar year.

Why this benefit is valuable: When redeeming Hilton free night award certificates, the sky is the limit. There is no category cap, so you can redeem your free night at some genuinely exceptional Hilton properties. For example, TPG’s Nick Ellis used his two Hilton free-night certificates at Zemi Beach House in Anguilla. However, there are several excluded properties, so check before planning your redemption.

Other card details:

Check out TPG’s review of The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card for more information.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Best for Marriott loyalists

JOHN GRIBBEN/THE POINTS GUY

Sign-up bonus: Earn up to 125,000 welcome bonus points: 75,000 after spending $3,000 in the first six months from account opening and another 50,000 points after you stay six paid nights at Bonvoy hotels through Jan. 31, 2024. Based on TPG’s valuation of Marriott points at 0.84 cents each, this bonus is worth up to $1,050.

Rewards rate: Earn up to 17 Bonvoy points per dollar spent at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3 points per dollar on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year on gas stations, grocery stores and dining, and 2 points per dollar on all other purchases.

Annual fee: $95.

Annual free night benefit: The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card offers one free night award every year after your account anniversary, valid for a one-night stay at a property with a redemption value of up to 35,000 points.

Why this benefit is valuable: Marriott’s portfolio contains many desirable 35,000-point or less hotels that qualify for this certificate. So, you shouldn’t have a problem finding a property that fits the bill, even if you’re traveling as a family. As such, it should be easy to get at least $95 of value from your 35,000-point certificate.

Other card details:

Check out TPG’s Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card review for more information.


Official application link: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card


Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card: Best for Marriott loyalists who want extra perks

EDEN BATKI/THE POINTS GUY

Sign-up bonus: Earn up to 200,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points: 150,000 after you use your new card to make $6,000 in eligible purchases within the first six months of card membership and another 50,000 after you stay six paid nights in Bonvoy hotels through Jan. 31, 2024. Based on TPG’s valuation of Marriott points at 0.84 cents each, these bonus points are worth up to $1,680.

Rewards rate: Earn 6 Marriott points per dollar at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program; 3 points per dollar on dining at restaurants worldwide and on flights booked directly with airlines; 2 points per dollar on other eligible purchases.

Annual fee: $450 (see rates and fees).

Annual free night benefit: The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card offers one free night award every year after your card renewal month. You can use the free night award for one night (up to 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel.

Why this benefit is valuable: TPG’s valuations peg the value of 85,000 Marriott points at $714. And many excellent Marriott properties are bookable for 85,000 points or less.

Other card details:

Check out TPG’s card review for Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card for more information.


Official application link: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card


Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card: Best for business travelers who are Marriott loyalists

ERIC HELGAS/THE POINTS GUY

Sign-up bonus: Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new card to make $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership. Based on TPG’s valuation of Marriott points at 0.84 cents each, this bonus is worth $630.

Rewards rate: Earn 6 Marriott points per dollar at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program; 4 points per dollar on eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping; 2 points per dollar on all other eligible purchases.

Annual fee: $125 (see rates and fees).

Annual free night benefit: The Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card offers one free night award every year after your card renewal month. Plus, you can earn an additional free night award after you spend $60,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year. You can use your free night award for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel.

Why this benefit is valuable: TPG’s valuations peg the value of 35,000 Marriott points at $294. And there are certainly some impressive Marriott properties costing 35,000 points or less per night that qualify for this reward. So even if you’re taking your family along for the night, there are some great options. In short, getting at least $125 of value from your 35,000-point certificate should be easy.

Other card details:

Check out TPG’s review of the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card for more information.


Official application link: Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card


IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card: Best for IHG loyalists

THE POINTS GUY

Sign-up bonus: Earn 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Plus, earn up to $100 in statement credits on purchases at IHG properties during the first 12 months from account opening. Based on TPG’s valuation of IHG points at 0.5 cents each, the sign-up bonus is worth up to $800.

Rewards rate: Earn up to 26 points per dollar on purchases at IHG Hotels & Resorts worldwide; 5 points per dollar on travel, gas stations, and restaurants; 3 points per dollar on all other purchases.

Annual fee: $99.

Annual free night benefit: The IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card offers an anniversary night every year at one of IHG’s eligible properties worldwide. You’ll get this anniversary night on your account anniversary date each year and have 12 months to book and complete your stay. You can use this anniversary night at IHG Hotels with a current point redemption level of 40,000 points or less.

Why this benefit is valuable: Thanks to IHG’s dynamic pricing, you can book many IHG hotels using the IHG One Premier Card’s anniversary reward night. So it’s worth checking whether you can use your anniversary night to snag some of IHG top hotels. For example, I was recently able to book the amazing InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort using two of the IHG Premier’s anniversary night certificates.

Other card details:

Check out TPG’s IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card review for more information.


Official application link: IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card


IHG One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card: Best for business travelers who are IHG loyalists

THE POINTS GUY

Sign-up bonus: Earn 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Based on TPG’s valuation of IHG points at 0.5 cents each, the bonus is worth up to $700.

Rewards rate: Earn up to 26 points per dollar on purchases at IHG Hotels & Resorts worldwide; 5 points per dollar on travel, gas stations, restaurants, social media, search engine advertising and office supply stores; 3 points per dollar on all other purchases.

Annual fee: $99.

Annual free night benefit: The IHG One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card offers an anniversary night every year at one of IHG’s eligible properties worldwide. You will receive the award on your card’s anniversary date each year and have 12 months to use your complimentary reservation. The award is valid for hotels with a redemption level of 40,000 or less.

Why this benefit is valuable: IHG’s shift to dynamic pricing has meant that while some properties have increased in price, others are sometimes listed below the original pricing. Some of the highest-priced IHG properties, such as the InterContinental New York Barclays, can be priced as low as 40,000 points per night. We found cash rates of over $335 per night, giving it a redemption value of 0.84 cents per point. Having the IHG One Premier Business card can help you snag some of the best IHG hotels in the world for a fraction of the cost.

Other card details:

Check out TPG’s IHG One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card review for more information.


Official application link: IHG One Rewards Business Premier Credit Card


How we chose the best hotel credit cards that offer an annual free night

We considered various factors when selecting the best hotel credit cards that provide an annual free night. Most importantly, we only included cards that offer a free night (or enough points for a free night) to all cardholders at least once per year. As such, we excluded any cards, such as the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, that only provide an annual free night if the cardholder meets specific spending thresholds.

DJILEDESIGN/GETTY IMAGES

For cards that offer an annual free night (or enough points to cash in for a free night), we also considered whether cardholders can obtain an additional free night after reaching a spending threshold and other valuable card benefits like elite status and high bonus categories as well as the annual fee.

How hotel credit card free nights are awarded

Each hotel card featured in this guide offers at least one free night every year, either when your statement closes following the anniversary of your account opening or when you pay the annual fee. The free night will typically appear as an award or perk in your account. But some programs, such as Hilton, instead provide a certificate number that you must call to use.

1 HOTEL BROOKLYN BRIDGE/FACEBOOK

Hotel loyalty programs often restrict free-night certificates to the lower half of the program’s reward categories, but exceptions exist. And you typically have only one year to use each certificate.

Related: How to choose the best hotel loyalty program for you

How to maximize credit card annual free nights

You could use your free night award by itself for a one-night stay. Or, you could tack it onto a more extended stay booked with points or cash. You could even book multiple nights using free night awards if you have multiple yourself or are traveling with others who also have free night awards. However, if you book consecutive reservations, it’s best to let the hotel know so you can remain in the same room.

It typically makes sense to redeem awards for the highest category possible and compare the cash rate to the certificate’s value. However, don’t focus on maximizing a free night award so much that it goes to waste. Remember to redeem and stay before the expiration date with most free night awards.

FONTAINEBLEAU MIAMI BEACH/FACEBOOK

Typically, you don’t need to pay taxes when redeeming a free night. And Hyatt and Hilton typically waive resort fees on award nights. But you may still need to pay fees on award nights. In particular, if you’re traveling to a destination like French Polynesia or the Maldives, you’ll almost always still need to pay expensive transfer fees to get from the airport to the property, which is often on another island.

Related: How expiring credit card free night certificates led me to book a points and miles trip to Japan

Bottom line

Although some of the best hotel credit cards only provide an annual free night starting on your first cardmember anniversary, some offer the first annual free night shortly after you become a cardmember. Plus, all of these cards provide elite perks and valuable sign-up bonuses to eligible new cardholders. Adding one or more of these cards to your wallet now could be just what you need for your next trip.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire Amex card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex, click here.

Additional reporting by Emily Thompson and Christina Ly.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Tripessentials
Logo
Compare items
  • Total (0)
Compare
0
Shopping cart