Guide to Hotel Co-Branded Credit Card Options
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This holiday season will see millions of Americans traveling all across the country. And while many may be staying with friends or family once reaching their destinations, many others will likely be visiting a hotel. In these cases, location may dictate which property they ultimately stay at. Nevertheless, there are plenty of benefits to brand loyalty when it comes to hotels. Similarly, with many popular hotel chains offering co-branded credit cards, these options could very well prove rewarding on stays this holiday season, into the new year, and beyond.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some popular hotel brands and their rewards credit card portfolios — including how many cards they offer, the range of annual fees, and more.
- Number of personal cards available: 3
- Annual fee (range): $0 to $450
There’s no doubt that Hilton is one of the most well-known names in the hotel industry. In line with that reputation, the company’s rewards credit card line-up tends to be well regarded among enthusiasts — especially their top-of-the-line Aspire card. Outside of that, however, Hilton also offers a no-annual-fee and midrange option as well.
Starting on the low end, the simply-named Hilton Honors Card features 7x points on Hilton hotel purchases, 5x points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, and U.S. supermarkets, and 3x points on all other purchases. Plus, the card includes Silver status. The $95 annual fee Hilton Honors Surpass card offers many of the same rewards but increases to 12x points on Hilton purchases and 6x points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, and U.S. supermarkets. It also earns cardholders complimentary Gold status, 10 complimentary lounge visits each year via Priority Pass Select membership, and the chance to unlock a Free Night Reward if you spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year.
Lastly, the Hilton Honors Aspire card boasts 14x points on Hilton purchases, 7x points on flights booked directly with the airline or via Amex Travel, 7x points on car rentals from select companies, 7x points at U.S. restaurants and 3x points on all other purchases. In terms of status, the Aspire includes complimentary Diamond status. But the most impressive superpowers of the $450 Aspire card include the Free Night Reward you’ll earn each card membership year, the unlimited airport lounge access via Priority Pass Select, the up to $250 in statement credits earned on eligible purchases made directly with participating Hilton Resorts each anniversary year, and the up to $250 Airline Fee Credits per calendar year, which are triggered by incidental fee charges made by the airline of your choice.
Overall, there’s something to like about each card in Hilton’s line-up. But, for those who can stomach the $450 annual fee and can make use of the benefits, the Aspire card has long been a favorite among frequent travelers. Still, those who prefer a lower annual fee option could be well-served by the rest of the slate as well.
- Number of personal cards available: 5
- Annual fee (range): $0 to $650
Marriott Bonvoy’s credit card line-up is unique in that it spans two issuers: American Express and Chase. What’s more, their slate runs the gamut in terms of annual fees. On the one end, there’s Chase’s Marriott Bonvoy Bold card with no annual fee while, on the high end, you have Amex’s Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card with its $650 annual fee. In the middle, there’s the $95 annual fee Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card as well as a pair of nearly-identical $250 annual fee cards: the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful from Chase and the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy from American Express.
Looking at the rewards, depending on which card they pick, customers can earn up to 6x points on Marriott Bonvoy purchases. In the realm of “everyday” spending, the Boundless offers 3x points at gas stations, grocery stores, and on dining (up to $6,000 in combined spending per year) while the Bountiful and Bevy feature 4x points at restaurants worldwide and at U.S. Supermarkets. Meanwhile, the Bold offers 2x points on all other travel purchases and the Brilliant has 3x points on flights booked directly with airline category, while also offering 3x on restaurant purchases worldwide.
Speaking of the Brilliant, the top-end card obviously includes the greatest number of benefits. First, helping offset that $650 annual fee is up to $300 in dining statement credits (up to $25 per month). Brilliant cardholders also earn complimentary Bonvoy Platinum status as well 25 Elite Night Credits per calendar year to put you closer to the next level. Plus, for each cardholder anniversary year, you’ll receive 1 Free Night Award worth up to 85,000 points.
With many cards to pick from across multiple issuers, those who find themselves staying at Marriott Bonvoy properties do have some choices to make when it comes to finding the right co-branded credit card. Luckily, all of these options can be rewarding in their own way. Ultimately, it will just come down to what perks you’re after and what your annual fee tolerance is.
- Number of personal cards available: 1
- Annual fee (range): $95
Believe it or not, Hyatt currently only offers a single rewards credit card for consumers (although there’s also the World of Hyatt Business Credit Card). So what does the personal World of Hyatt card offer? First, cardholders will earn an extra 4 points per dollar spent on purchases at Hyatt hotels — which, when added to the 5 Base Points per dollar spent that World of Hyatt members earn, this is a total of 9 points per dollar.
Additionally, customers will earn 2x points on airline tickets booked directly with the airline, local transit and commuting purchases, and fitness club/gym memberships. All other purchases will earn 1x points. In terms of perks, on every cardmember anniversary, cardholders will receive one free night at any Category 1–4 Hyatt hotel or resort. Plus, cardholders enjoy complimentary Discoverist status, receive 5 qualifying night credits per year towards earning higher status, and can earn 2 additional qualifying night credits for every $5,000 in spending they put on the card.
At an annual fee of $95, the World of Hyatt card is fairly modest. Yet, the line-up (if you can call it that) lacks a no-annual-fee option to downgrade to. Nevertheless, this card could be a good pick for Hyatt fans as well as those looking for a good entry point into the hotel credit card game.
- Number of personal cards available: 2
- Annual fee (range): $0 to $99
Even if you’re not familiar with the IHG name, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of their numerous brands such as Holiday Inn, InterContinental, Candlewood Suites, Crowne Plaza, and more. Despite that diversity in properties, the company’s co-branded credit card line-up is fairly streamlined, with just two options on the personal side. Namely, there’s the IHG Rewards Traveler card as well as the IHG Rewards Premier card. While the former has no annual fee, the latter carries a still modest $99 annual fee.
With the Traveler card, you’ll earn 5x points on IHG Hotel & Resort purchases, 3x points on monthly bills (utilities, internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming services), 3x points at gas stations, 3x points at restaurants, and 2x points on all other purchases. As for the Premier, it offers 10x points on IHG purchases, 5x points on travel purchases, 5x points at gas stations, 5x points on dining, and 3x points on all other purchases.
Turning to perks, while the Traveler card includes complimentary IHG Rewards Silver status, the Premier ups that to Platinum status. Meanwhile, both cards allow customers to earn a fourth night free when they redeem points for a four-night consecutive stay. Additionally, some Premier-exclusive benefits include an Anniversary Free Night (worth up to 40,000 points) each cardholder anniversary year, up to $50 in United TravelBank Cash each calendar, and more. In other words, if you’re an IHG fan, you really can’t go wrong with either of these credit card options.
- Number of personal cards available: 2
- Annual fee (range): $0 to $75
Like IHG, Wyndham’s personal card line-up is fairly slim at just two options. Despite that, these two cards have a lot to offer travelers. Between the Wyndham Earner and Wyndham Earner+ cards, guests will be able to enjoy a bevy of rewards and benefits.
Starting with the Earner card, cardholders can score 5x points on eligible purchases made at Hotels by Wyndham properties and 5x points on qualifying gas purchases. The card also earns 2x points on eligible dining and grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart) while all other purchases earn 1x. The Earner+ increases the rate to 6x on Hotels by Wyndham purchases, as well as on gas purchases. It also doubles the earnings on eligible dining and grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart) to 4x. Yet, all other purchases still earn 1x. As for perks, the Earner comes with complimentary Gold status, 7,500 bonus points each anniversary year if you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases, and more. The Earner+ has even more perks as it includes complimentary Platinum status and 7,500 bonus points each anniversary year with no spending requirement (other than paying the annual fee).
With the Earner+ card only carrying a $75 annual fee and the Earner card coming with no annual fee at all, travelers who prefer to hit the road and stay at Wyhndham’s vast array of properties can surely benefit from either of these card options.
Whether you already have a favorite hotel chain or are willing to build loyalty with the brand that offers you the greatest benefit, there are plenty of credit card options worth considering. Although the annual fees that come with some of these options can be intimidating, these cards also tend to offer benefits that at least offset if not completely cover the cost when maximized. Of course, many brands also offer no annual fee options if you’re a more casual traveler or just want to “test drive” a brand. Ultimately, before you set off on your holiday travels or next big trip, it may be worth seeing how these or other hotel rewards credit cards can benefit you along the way.
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