The Best Hotel Credit Cards for Free Nights

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If you travel often, you’re probably pretty good at trimming your expenses on the road. Whether that means deploying innovative strategies to find cheap flights, keeping costs low in airports and restaurants, or snagging last-minute hotel deals, you know how to get where you’re going for less.

And you probably know that one travel hack has near-legendary cost-cutting capabilities: the annual free night or nights offered by some premium hotel rewards credit cards. Often, this benefit comes with no strings attached. You get your free stay or stays every year you remain a cardholder in good standing.

Even one annual free night can be worth hundreds of dollars at higher-end properties, and cards that offer multiple free nights typically offset their annual fees multiple times over. Which makes it all the more important to choose wisely.

The Best Hotel Credit Cards for Free Nights

These are the best credit cards on the market for people seeking free stays at their favorite hotel properties. 


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Each does at least one thing really well, whether it’s delivering a valuable award night benefit regardless of spend level or providing additional travel benefits that enhance the card’s overall appeal. Our best overall pick delivers the best award night benefit around, in our judgment.


Best Overall: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card 1

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card from Chase offers the best overall value for frequent travelers seeking free hotel nights. 

The free night benefit itself is simple and generous: one free night each year after your account anniversary, good for stays at properties that require up to 35,000 Bonvoy points per night. There’s no spending requirement associated with this benefit.

Bonvoy Boundless comes with an attractive free night bonus offer for new cardholders as well: Earn three free award nights after qualifying purchases, with each bonus free night having a redemption level up to 50,000 points*. (You can also earn 10x total points on eligible purchases in select categories as a new cardholder.) 

*Certain hotels have resort fees.

Additional features:

  • Up to 17x Bonvoy Points on Eligible Purchases: Earn as many as 17x points per $1 spent on all eligible purchases at participating Marriott properties.
  • Automatic Silver Elite Status: Benefits include a 10% points bonus on eligible Marriott spend.
  • Upgrade to Gold Elite Status: Spend at least $35,000 on your card in a year and you’ll enjoy benefits like a 25% points bonus on eligible Marriott spend.
  • Base Rewards: Earn unlimited 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Key Fees: $95 annual fee; no foreign transaction fee.

Find out how to apply for this card here.

Apply Now


Best New Cardmember Bonus: IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Ihg Rewards Club Premier Credit

The IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card has the best new cardholder offer of any hotel credit card right now — and that offer just happens to include a free night. 

The details: You can earn 125,000 bonus points plus a free night award at eligible IHG properties after you spend at least $3,000 on eligible purchases on your card during the first three months your account is open. 

This bonus is worth more than 12 full award nights at the lowest-priced IHG properties. 

Moving forward, you’ll earn one complimentary award night each year you remain a cardholder in good standing. This benefit does not have a spend requirement and is good at a wide range of eligible IHG properties.

Additional features:

  • Up to 25x Total Points on IHG Purchases: Earn up to 25x IHG points on all eligible purchases at IHG properties. This breaks down as 10x bonus points per $1 spent with your card and 15x base points per $1 spent as an IHG Rewards Club member.
  • Unlimited 2x Rewards Categories: Earn 2x points on eligible purchases at restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores.
  • Base Rewards: Earn unlimited 1x points on most other eligible purchases.
  • Automatic Platinum Elite Status: Enjoy benefits like a 50% bonus to base point earnings as long as your account remains in good standing.
  • Key Fees: $89 annual fee; no foreign transaction fee.

Find out how to apply for this card here.

Apply Now


Best for Business Travelers: Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card

Marriot Bonvoy American Express

The Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card offers the best value of any business credit card for travelers seeking free night benefits. 

Like the Bonvoy Boundless card, it offers one free night each year at participating Marriott properties as a benefit of card membership, with no spend requirements or other hoops to jump through. 

If you can swing $60,000 in eligible spending in a calendar year, you’ll earn an additional free night. Both free night awards are good for redemption at hotels that require 35,000 or fewer points per night.

Terms and conditions apply — see this card’s rates and fees.

Additional features:

  • 6x Points on Eligible Purchases at Marriott Properties: Earn 6x points on eligible purchases throughout the Marriott universe.
  • 4x Categories: Earn 4x points on eligible purchases made at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telecom purchases made directly with U.S. providers, and on U.S. shipping purchases
  • 2x Categories: All other eligible purchases earn 2 points per $1 spent.
  • Complimentary Bonvoy Silver Elite Status: Enjoy benefits like a 10% points bonus on eligible Marriott purchases.
  • Upgrade to Gold Elite Status: After you make $35,000 or more in eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year, you’re upgraded to Gold Elite Status, with benefits like a 25% points bonus on eligible Marriott purchases. 
  • Welcome Offer: 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. Plus, earn up to $150 back in statement credits on eligible purchases made with your new card during the first three months. Terms apply.
  • Key Fees: The card’s annual fee is $125. There are no foreign transaction fees. Cash advances cost the greater of $5 or 3%. Late and returned payments cost up to $39. For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, please visit its rates and fees page.
  • Regular APR: The variable regular APR ranges from 15.74% to 24.74%, depending on creditworthiness and other factors. For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, please visit its rates and fees page.

Find out how to apply for this card here.

Apply Now

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, please visit this rates and fees page.


Best for Moderate Spenders: World of Hyatt Credit Card

Word Of Hyatt Credit Card

The World of Hyatt Credit Card promises two free night awards with just $15,000 in annual spending. These awards come as follows:

  • One free night award after your cardholder anniversary, with no spend requirement
  • Another free night award after you spend at least $15,000 in eligible purchases in a calendar year

Both award nights are good at low- to midpriced Hyatt properties — specifically, Tier 1 to Tier 4 properties.

Additional benefits:

  • Complimentary World of Hyatt Discoverist Status: Enjoy benefits like a 10% bonus on base point earnings and resort fee waivers on reward nights as long as you remain a cardholder in good standing.
  • Bonus Points on Bookings With Select Travel Partners: Partners include American Airlines and Avis.
  • Sign-Up Bonus: Earn up to 60,000 bonus points during the first six months of card membership with a two-part bonus. First, earn 30,000 points after you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases in the first three months. Second, earn up to an additional 30,000 points by earning 2 bonus points per $1 spent on eligible purchases that normally earn 1 bonus point, up to a total of $15,000 in purchases. 
  • 4x Points Categories: Earn unlimited 4 bonus points per $1 spent at participating Hyatt properties. 
  • 2x Points Categories: Earn unlimited 2 bonus points per $1 spent on purchases at restaurants, with local transit and commuting providers, on fitness and gym memberships, and directly with airlines. 
  • 1x Points Categories: Earn unlimited 1 bonus point per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.
  • Key Fees: There is a $95 annual fee. There is no foreign transaction fee.

Find out how to apply for this card here.

Apply Now


Best for Upscale Travel: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card has the longest list of perks and value-added benefits of any card on this list. That’s to be expected from a credit card with a $450 annual fee (see rates and fees) — although it’s worth every penny if you take full advantage of what Bonvoy Brilliant offers. 

The free night award itself is straightforward and easy to attain. You’ll simply earn one free night reward at participating Bonvoy properties every year your account remains open and in good standing (terms apply). 

Additional features (terms apply to all these benefits):

  • Automatic Gold Elite Status: Enjoy a 25% bonus on base point earnings at participating Marriott properties and complimentary room upgrades where available.
  • Upgrade to Platinum Elite Status: Spend $75,000 on your card in any anniversary year to unlock benefits like a 50% bonus on base point earnings and complimentary hotel lounge access where available.
  • Annual Travel Credit: Earn a $300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit each year after you make eligible purchases at participating hotels.
  • Welcome Offer: 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. Plus, earn up to $200 in statement credits on eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within the first six months of card membership. Resort fees may apply. Terms apply.
  • 6x Rewards Category: Earn 6x points at participating Marriott hotels.
  • 3x Rewards Categories: Earn 3x points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines.
  • Base Rewards: Earn 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Key Fees: $450 annual fee; no foreign transaction fee (see rates and fees).
  • Other Benefits: Enjoy complimentary airport lounge access at more than 1,000 locations worldwide (enrollment required) and a $100 annual Marriott Bonvoy property credit at participating properties (terms apply).

Learn more about this card and find out how you can apply here. 

Apply Now


Methodology: How We Select the Best Credit Cards for Free Hotel Stays

We consider several important factors when evaluating the top hotel credit cards for free award nights. Some relate to the award night benefit itself, while others have more general bearing on these cards’ overall usefulness to the user — or to their net cost. 

Number of Free Nights Per Year

This is the most important determinant of a free night card’s raw value. The more free nights you get each year, the more value you can extract from the card.

Most free-night cards offer just one per year. But some offer two, and a precious few offer even more, albeit with significant earning and redemption restrictions. All else being equal, we prefer the more generous cards.

Spend Requirements to Get the Free Night(s), If Any

Not all free-night credit cards require you to meet an annual spending threshold to claim the free night or nights. We give preference to cards that waive the spend requirement and give you a free night simply because you continue to be a cardholder. Failing that, we prefer cards that don’t require massive amounts of spending to earn the benefit. 

Restrictions on Free Night Redemption

The fine print on free-night credit cards could put a damper on your getaway plans. Specifically, many issuers restrict free night redemptions to less luxurious properties. This is usually done by assigning every eligible property a “tier” based on price and limiting redemptions to lower tiers only.

Annual Fee

Most premium travel rewards credit cards charge annual fees. These range from relatively modest (under $100) to eye-watering (approaching $1,000). 

It’s often possible to offset credit card annual fees through earned rewards and by taking advantage of potentially valuable perks like annual free nights. Still, our position is: the lower the annual fee, the better, and no annual fee is best of all. We make card selections accordingly.

Rewards Program

The quality of a travel credit card’s rewards program has a big impact on its overall value. Most of the credit cards on this list generously reward hotel purchases or travel purchases more generally, and a few have nontravel bonus categories that further enhance their rewards programs’ value.

All else being equal, we prefer hotel credit cards that reward spending on things other than only hotel stays.

Other Hotel Benefits

A free night is a fantastic benefit, but why stop there? Many premium hotel rewards credit cards offer other benefits for loyal guests too. These include but aren’t limited to:

  • Complimentary membership in the co-branded hotel’s loyalty program, often at a higher tier than entry level
  • Property credits — often $100 per stay — that can be applied to paid services like spa treatments and rentals
  • General statement credits against hotel bookings, usually reset annually
  • Special perks with your stay, such as complimentary breakfast or welcome gifts
  • Preferred rates or rooms at eligible properties 

The more generous these benefits, the better the card, in our book.

Other Travel Benefits

Many of these cards also offer general travel benefits with impressive potential value. These include:

  • General annual statement credits against eligible travel purchases
  • Complimentary airport lounge access for the cardholder and guests
  • Complimentary membership in other travel loyalty programs
  • Exclusive perks and benefits with other travel vendors, such as car rental companies
  • Discounts or rewards with local travel providers, such as Uber and Lyft

Again, the more impressive the benefit lineup, the better we consider the card to be.


Free Hotel Night Credit Card FAQs

You have questions about credit cards that promise free nights at your favorite hotels. We have answers.

Can You Get a Free Hotel Night Credit Card With Bad Credit?

Never say never, but your chances aren’t good. Premium travel rewards credit cards generally require good or excellent credit. If your FICO credit score is under 700, you’ll find your pickings slim. 

Don’t lose hope altogether. Apply for a credit card you’re more likely to qualify for, like a secured credit card or entry-level cash-back credit card. Use this card responsibly and pay your balance on time to build credit over time. Sooner than you think, you may be eligible for a much more generous credit card.

Do You Need a Credit Card to Get a Free Hotel Stay?

No, but it could be the quickest way to make it happen. 

If you’re a member of a hotel brand’s loyalty program, you’ll earn rewards points on every stay — with or without a co-branded credit card. Eventually, you’ll earn enough points to cover the cost of a night’s stay. If you don’t want to wait, you can subsidize the cost, using your points to pay less out of pocket.

A free-night credit card with no spend threshold dispenses with the purchase requirement, of course. So getting a credit card that automatically gives you a free night as long as you’re a cardholder in good standing is the easy, lower-cost path.

What’s the Best Hotel Brand for Free Nights?

One measure of a free night reward’s quality is how widely you can use it. 

Hotel brands with fewer properties overall naturally have fewer options for exercising your right to a free room. Likewise, hotel brands that restrict how you can use your free night — usually through tier restrictions or blackout dates — aren’t ideal. 

Always read the fine print on your card’s free night benefit. If you’re not sure you’ll be able to take advantage of it due to those restrictions, consider another option.

How Much Do You Need to Spend to Get a Free Hotel Night?

As little as nothing. The best hotel credit cards for free nights don’t impose spending requirements for this benefit — you simply get a free night (or more) each year you stick with the issuer.

Otherwise, free-night spend requirements vary widely but are often pretty steep. Expect to spend at least five figures in a calendar year or card anniversary year — and maybe well into five-figure territory — before you can claim your reward.


How to Choose the Best Credit Card for Free Hotel Nights

To choose the best free-night card, consider your top travel and spending priorities, along with your ability to meet any spend requirements to qualify for the free night. Ask yourself:

  • Whether you’re loyal enough to any particular hospitality brand to go after their co-branded card(s), regardless of what the annual free night award or other benefits look like
  • How widely you’d like to be able to redeem your free night
  • How well each candidate card’s rewards program lines up with your spending habits
  • What other hotel and travel benefits each card offers
  • Whether you’ll earn enough benefits, including the free night, to justify the annual fee and other card fees

There’s no wrong answer here. But you do want to make sure you can get the most out of your hotel credit card. 

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Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he’s not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

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Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) vs. Credit Cards – How Are They Different?

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Everyone loves immediate gratification. Get what you want today, and avoid paying for it until later.

At a cost, of course.

Credit cards have allowed consumers to do this for decades, but a growing number of buy now, pay later (BNPL) services have entered the market as an alternative. So how do the two models differ, and which one should you use, if any?

What Is Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL)?

Buy now, pay later services offer short-term financing for consumer goods. You pay them back in installments over a short period of time, usually less than a year but up to four. 


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Most BNPL services require an upfront deposit, such as 25% of the purchase. Some come with a preset number of payments for the remaining balance. Others let you select from a range of payback schedules. 

Let’s say your refrigerator goes kaput on you unexpectedly. You find a new refrigerator for $700 at the appliance store, but you don’t have $700 to spare in your checking account. So you use a BNPL service and put down $200 at checkout, agreeing to pay the remaining $500 over the next three months.

Some BNPL services don’t even charge interest when you choose a fast repayment plan. 

Common BNPL services include: 

Some, such as Affirm and PayPal, also offer credit or debit cards in addition to BNPL plans.


How Is Buy Now, Pay Later Different From Credit Cards?

Generally speaking, you can only use BNPL services to pay at retailers. You can pay with credit cards for virtually any cost, from gasoline to airfare to utility bills to even rent payments. 

Credit cards also offer more flexibility for repayment. You can pay down your credit card balance at your own speed, although credit card companies typically charge high interest rates for any balance carried over from one month to the next. Most charge late fees if you don’t make the minimum payment on time.

In contrast, BNPL services often charge 0% interest. Some don’t even charge late fees.

Credit card companies sometimes charge other fees as well. These include balance transfer fees, annual fees, cash advance fees, and foreign transaction fees.

A credit card is a type of revolving credit, also known as a credit line. You pay down your balance then charge it up again as long as you don’t exceed your preset spending limit. A BNPL service is a fixed installment loan with a predetermined payment schedule, similar to a mortgage or auto loan. 


Pros and Cons of Buy Now, Pay Later

Before choosing BNPL services over credit cards, make sure you understand the pros and cons of each.

Advantages of BNPL

When it comes to paying for retail goods, BNPL companies have several distinct advantages, including no hard credit check and the potential for fast approval.

  1. Fast Approval. When you create an account with a BNPL service, you often get prequalified instantly to pay with them. Then you simply pay with them when checking out at approved retailers.
  2. No Hard Credit Check. BNPL companies typically use a soft credit check to pull your credit report. This doesn’t ding your credit score the way that a hard inquiry does. 
  3. Potential for Interest-Free Credit. While credit cards might offer a brief introductory 0% APR period, all start charging interest on balances eventually. Some BNPL companies offer true 0% interest options. 
  4. Potential for No Fees. Moreover, some BNPL services don’t charge any fees at all, including late payment fees or prepayment penalties. 
  5. Flexible Repayment Terms. Many BNPL companies offer a range of repayment schedules, from a few weeks to a few years. 

Disadvantages of BNPL

Of course, buy now, pay later services come with their own downsides as well. Keep them in mind when opting for BNPL over a traditional credit card. And mind the typical risks of deferring payment as well, such as the risk of digging yourself into a hole of debt that you can’t easily climb out of.

  1. Not All Companies Accept BNPL. You can pay with a credit card almost anywhere. This isn’t the case with BNPL. If a particular retailer doesn’t accept BNPL payments, you’re out of luck. 
  2. No Rewards. Many credit cards come with juicy rewards. These include travel reward cards, cash back reward cards, in-store reward cards, restaurant reward cards, and beyond. BNPL services generally don’t offer rewards programs.
  3. No Other Perks. Beyond rewards, credit card users often get other perks such as rental car insurance and airport lounge access. That’s not the case with BNPL.
  4. Potential for Interest. Depending on the service and plan you choose, you may pay significant interest on your purchase. The net cost could be comparable to or even higher than a traditional credit card.
  5. Downside Credit Reporting. Most BNPL providers don’t report monthly payments to the credit bureaus, which could improve your credit score over time. However, if you default on your BNPL loan, the lender may report your outstanding balance to the credit bureaus. This could harm your credit score and make it more difficult to qualify for credit in the future. 
  6. Rigid Repayment Plan. When you pay with BNPL, you lock yourself into a rigid payment plan. You have no flexibility to pay your loan back more slowly if you hit a financial emergency. 

The Verdict: Should You Choose Buy Now, Pay Later or Credit Cards?

Keep the following in mind as you decide whether to use a BNPL service or traditional credit card.

You Should Use Buy Now, Pay Later If…

Buy now, pay later is a better fit if:

  • You Like Fixed Payment Schedules. Some people prefer fixed start and end dates. If you appreciate having exact installment payments due on specific dates, rather than the more open-ended repayment schedule typical of credit cards, BNPL is a better fit. 
  • You Have Trouble Opening a Credit Card. If you have weak credit or no credit history, you may have a hard time opening a credit card. You may find it easier to get approved for BNPL services.
  • You Hate Late Fees. If you can’t abide by late fees, you’ll appreciate that some BNPL services don’t charge them. However, if you routinely fail to make your owed payments, you may have a deeper budgeting problem that you should fix first. 

You Should Use Credit Cards If…

You might love BNPL services, but you can’t use them for every cost. Consider opening at least one credit card, even if you set it aside for emergency use only. 

In situations where you do have a choice of payment method, credit cards are a better fit if:

  • You Maximize Rewards. You can score free travel, meals, hotels, and cash back with reward credit cards. BNPL services rarely if ever offer rewards.
  • You Can Actually Use the Perks. If you travel frequently, credit card perks like airport lounge access and rental car insurance are a real help. Opt for a credit card rather than a BNPL plan if you actually use these sorts of perks and they justify any annual fee you have to pay. 
  • You Consistently Pay Off Your Balance Each Month. For responsible consumers who pay off their balance in full each month, credit cards offer nothing but upside. You can come out ahead by earning rewards without actually paying a cent in interest. Just make sure you earn enough to offset any annual fee.
  • You Want Extra Cushion for Your Emergency Fund. Your emergency fund can consist of more than just your savings account. I like to keep an unused credit card set aside as another resource I can fall back on in an emergency.
  • You Want to Build Credit. Credit cards report to the three major credit bureaus, every month, good or bad. If you make payments on time each month, credit cards offer an easy way to build credit history. Just remember that if you don’t pay off your balance in full each month, you’ll have to pay interest charges.

Both Are Great If…

It doesn’t hurt to have both credit cards and one or two prequalified accounts with buy now, pay later services. 

It’s possible that you’ll find both in the same package. Some credit cards have started offering built-in BNPL options, such as the American Express Plan It and Citi Flex Pay features. 

If you can’t find a suitable credit card with built-in BNPL, consider the following scenarios where it helps to have both.

  • The Seller Doesn’t Accept BNPL. Sometimes you don’t have a choice but to pay with plastic, even if you prefer BNPL.
  • You Need Longer Than a Month to Pay Off a Large Purchase in Full. Carrying a credit card balance over from one month to the next means paying interest on it. If you put your everyday costs on a credit card but you know you’ll need longer than a month to pay off a one-time large purchase, you can opt for a BNPL service offering 0% APR. 
  • You Have a Retailer-Specific Card. You might love BNPL services but have one retailer you frequent that offers stellar rewards on their in-store card. You can use that card exclusively with that retailer for the rewards, while opting for BNPL elsewhere.
  • You Have a Travel-Specific Card. Likewise, you might prefer BNPL for everyday purchases, but use a card for specific purchases like car rentals for the perks. 

Final Word

Even if you love buy now, pay later services, consider opening a credit card for the flexibility and credit reporting it offers. If you’ve had trouble qualifying for a credit card in the past, start with a secured credit card 

As you research BNPL services, double check the interest rate, fees, payment schedule flexibility, retailer variety, credit requirements, and refund and exchange policies. You may discover that it helps to set up accounts with multiple BNPL companies to maximize the number of retailers you can use them with. 

And regardless of whether you pay with a credit card or BNPL service, make your payments on time. Otherwise, you’ll find it’s much easier to spiral into debt than it is to escape it. 

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G. Brian Davis is a real estate investor, personal finance writer, and travel addict mildly obsessed with FIRE. He spends nine months of the year in Abu Dhabi, and splits the rest of the year between his hometown of Baltimore and traveling the world.

Source: moneycrashers.com

[Update] American Express Will No Longer Offer Free Guest Access To Centurion Lounges (Starting Feb 2023), Fee Reduced

Update 1/15/22: There is now a spend tracker showing your progress toward the $75,000 spend threshold for guest access. Hat tip to Parts_Unknown-

Update 7/1/21: Cardholders will be able to bring two guests aged 2 through 17 for $30 per person, rather than the previously announced $50.

Update 4/9/21: American Express has officially confirmed this, not sure it was needed considering the terms were updated on their own site (now removed) but good to know for sure.

Original post: American Express has updated the terms for Centurion lounges and beginning February 1, 2023 you’ll no longer get to guests access for free (terms have now been updated again and don’t show these terms, but you can view a screenshot below). Instead a fee of $50 will be charged per guest. If cardholders spend $75,000 within the prior calendar year (or current calendar year) the $50 fee will be waived.

This is an interesting change as for some people it’ll actually be a positive as it should help to reduce overcrowding. For others this will be a huge negative as Centurion Lounge access with guest access is the main perk of the card. This seems to favor business travelers rather than leisure travelers. This was also one of the rumors surrounding the annual fee increase on the personal Platinum card.

Source: doctorofcredit.com

You can now get a free massage with your Priority Pass membership at certain airports – The Points Guy


You can now get a free massage with your Priority Pass membership at more airports – The Points Guy


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Source: thepointsguy.com