Best Hotel Rewards Credit Cards

We analyzed the hotel rewards credit cards available in the UK in order to find the best value for your wallet. See our recommendations to find the best welcome bonuses, free-night vouchers and overall spending rewards.

The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.

  • Learning
    How Does a Hotel Rewards Credit Card Work?
  • Comparing
    Summary of the Best Hotel Rewards Credit Cards
  • Choosing
    How To Pick a Hotel Rewards Credit Card for You

Hotel Rewards Credit Cards with Free Nights

Credit cards that are co-branded with a hotel offer some of the best rewards rates in the marketplace—the most sought-after reward being the chance to earn a free night. Selecting the best card for you will depend on your budget, spending patterns, and hotel preferences. With a few very competitive options available, there is a good hotel rewards card for nearly everyone, whether or not you spend a lot of time on the road.

Best Hotel Card with Free Nights: The Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Credit Card from American Express

Consider this if you spend over £25k a year to earn a free weekend night award.

Purchase Rate (variable) 19.9%
0% on Purchases for up to n/a
0% on Balance Transfers for up to n/a
Initial Balance Transfer Fee n/a
FX Fee 2.99%
Cash Fee 3% (min £3)

The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card is the highest rewarding and most flexible hotel rewards program. Besides 1X or 2X points on your spending, you can earn a 10,000 Starpoint welcome bonus and a free weekend night in each year you spend £25,000. For those who will spend more than £25k a year on their card, the SPG card is the most valuable hotel rewards credit card. One limitation of the free weekend night award is that it can only be redeemed at a hotel in categories 1 to 4, excluding the higher-end hotels in categories 5 and 6.

We value SPG points at around 1.4 pence apiece, yielding a rewards rate of 1.4% on your regular spend. Until November 2017, earn double points on SPG & Marriott purchases for a rewards rate of 2.8% on your hotel spend. There is a £75 annual fee—the break even analysis shows you'd need to spend at least £5,500 on regular spending a year, or half that at Starwood properties, in order to make up the cost of the annual fee. Starpoints can also be redeemed for flights on over 150 airlines (no blackout dates), usually transferred at a ratio of 1:1.

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) and Marriott Rewards have recently merged, but continue to operate as two separate entities. They are expected to combine in 2018 and will keep all 30 brands. In the meantime, join both the Marriott Rewards program and the SPG program and link your accounts to get points and benefits at all of the combined hotels. Once you’ve linked your accounts, you can transfer points between them in order to redeem across the portfolio. Points are transferred at a rate of 1 Starpoint = 3 Marriott Rewards Points. Linking accounts also serves to match your status in one program with the other.

Pros
  • Rewards rates around 2.8% on SPG & Marriott purchases and 1.4% elsewhere
  • Earn 1 Starpoint for every £1 spent on general spending
  • Earn 2 Starpoints for every eligible £1 spent at participating SPG & Marriott Rewards properties, until 31 December 2018
  • Earn a 10,000 Starpoint welcome bonus (spend £1k in first 3 months)
  • Earn SPG Gold Preferred Status (spend £15k each year)
  • Earn a free weekend night each year (spend £25k)
  • Redeem Starpoints for flights
  • Travel inconvenience insurance
Cons
  • Annual fee of £75
  • Free night can't be redeemed at top-tier properties

IHG Rewards Club Premium Credit Card

Consider this if you spend at least £10k a year to earn a free night.

Purchase Rate (variable) 19.9%
0% on Purchases for up to n/a
0% on Balance Transfers for up to 12 months
Initial Balance Transfer Fee 3% (min £3)
FX Fee 2.99%
Cash Fee 3% (min £5)

The IHG Rewards Club Premium Credit Card is another great hotel rewards card. Very competitive rewards rates of 2% on IHG spend (and abroad) and 1% elsewhere in the UK, plus a generous welcome bonus and the chance to earn a free night every year, mean this card has the potential to create a lot of value. You will need to spend £5,000 at IHG properties or £10,000 on general spending to cover the cost of the annual fee. Actually, £10,000 of annual spend is a magic number on this card, as it also entitles you to the free night voucher. One thing we really like about the IHG card is that the free night voucher can be used at any IHG Rewards Club hotel; it is not limited to lower hotel categories. Used at a luxury property like the InterContinental in London or one of the InterContinental properties in Paris, this benefit can be worth hundreds of pounds.

Pros
  • Solid rewards rates around 2% on participating IHG purchases and abroad and 1% elsewhere in the UK
  • Earn 2 points for every £1 you spend in the UK
  • Earn 4 points for every £1 you spend in an IHG location in the UK
  • Earn 4 points for every £1 you spend abroad
  • One free night voucher each year in which you spend at least £10,000
  • Welcome bonus of 20,000 IHG Rewards Club points (when you spend £200 in first 3 months)
  • Platinum Elite status
  • Contactless
Cons
  • Annual fee of £99
  • Free night can't be redeemed at top-tier properties

Hotel Credit Cards with No Annual Fee: IHG Rewards Club Credit Card

Consider this if you want a hotel rewards card with no annual fee.

Purchase Rate (variable) 19.9%
0% on Purchases for up to n/a
0% on Balance Transfers for up to 12 months
Initial Balance Transfer Fee 3% (min £3)
FX Fee 2.99%
Cash Fee 3% (min £5)

The IHG Rewards Club Credit Card is the free version of the £99 per year IHG Rewards Club Premium Credit Card. For a free card, it offers decent rewards rates of approximately 1% on IHG spend and abroad, and 0.5% elsewhere in the UK, plus a pretty good welcome bonus. As a free card, there's no chance to earn a free night each year. If you think you'll spend at least £10,000 annually on the card, we'd recommend taking at look at the paid card (above) for the chance to earn a free night each year.

Pros
  • Solid rewards rates around 2% on participating IHG purchases and abroad and 1% elsewhere in the UK
  • Earn 1 points for every £1 you spend in the UK
  • Earn 2 points for every £1 you spend in an IHG location in the UK
  • Earn 2 points for every £1 you spend abroad
  • Welcome bonus of 10,000 IHG Rewards Club points (when you spend £200 in first 3 months)
  • Gold Elite status
Cons
  • Annual fee of £0

Free Hotel Nights: How to Get Them

Below is a quick overview of how to get free hotel stays through hotel credit cards.

Hotel Credit CardFree Night Details
Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from AmexOne free weekend night (usable in category 1 - 4 hotels) in each year you spend £25,000
IHG Rewards Club Premium Credit CardOne free night voucher each year in which you spend at least £10,000

How Hotel Rewards Credit Cards Compare

To compare the hotel rewards credit cards listed here, we calculated the value the average UK consumer would earn on each one, over two years. First, we gathered data on the average household expenditures across different spending categories (e.g., food, dining, petrol, etc.) based on the "Family Spending, 2015 Edition" report from the Office of National Statistics. We found that the average UK household has about £22,000 of expenses that can be charged to a credit card each year. We allocated £600 of this annual budget to hotel spending. After organizing the data into general and hotel categories, we applied each card's respective rewards rates.

To make the analysis more complete, we also calculated the rewards for slightly larger spend of £25,000 per year, because this level of spending triggers a free night on the SPG card. The chart below illustrates these rewards over the first two years with the cards, for both average and higher spending levels.

A graph showing the rewards over first two years with the 3 best hotel rewards card, the SPG Credit Card, the IHG Rewards Club Premium Credit Card, and the Hilton HHonors Credit Card, for average UK spending and higher spending
Rewards on 3 Hotel Rewards Cards over 2 Years, for both Average UK Household Spend and Higher Spending (Note: Hilton HHonors not currently available to new applicants)

Summary of Hotel Rewards Credit Cards

Below is a summary of hotel credit card across different categories.

For...CardEstimated Ongoing Rewards RatesSpend/Year to Earn 1 Free NightAnnual Fee
Annual Spend > £25,000Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from Amex2.8% on SPG spend; 1.4% elsewhere£25,000£75
Annual Spend from £10,000 - £25,000IHG Rewards Club Premium Credit Card2% on IHG spend; 1% elsewhere£10,000£99
Low Annual Spend < £10,000Hilton HHonors Platinum Visa1.5% on Hilton spend; 1% elsewheren/a£0
IHG Rewards Club Credit Card1% on IHG spend; 0.5% elsewheren/a£0

How to Choose a Hotel Rewards Card

The three hotel co-branded rewards cards highlighted in this articles can all create value for your hotel and everyday spending. We think choosing the right card for you depends on a few factors. First, how much will you spend on the card per year? Be aware of annual spend triggers for a free night:

Earn a free night with annual spend of...
IHG£10,000
SPG£25,000

With the recent merger between Starwood and Marriott, each of the three credit cards mentioned here offer access to a wide range of hotels around the world. We don't expect you to be limited for choice on any of the cards, no matter where you want to go.

Brands

When choosing between these three hotel rewards credit cards, consider if there are any particular hotel brands you seek out. If you do have a favourite, e.g., InterContinental, W, or The Luxury Collection, see which rewards program it fits into. That way you can save up for free nights on a special holiday.

SPG and Marriott Rewards Brands, Around 7,000 properties
The Ritz CarltonSt. RegisJW MarriottThe Luxury Collection
W HotelsEDITIONMarriott HotelsSheraton
Marriott Vacation ClubDelta HotelsLe MeridienWestin
Autograph CollectionDesign HotelsRenaissance HotelsTribute Portfolio
Gaylord HotelsCourtyard HotelsFour PointsSpringHill Suites
Protea HotelFairfield Inn & SuitesAC HotelsAloft Hotels
Moxy HotelsMarriott Executive ApartmentsResidence InnTownePlace Suites
element
Hilton HHonors Hotels, Around 4,600 properties
Waldorf AstoriaConradCanopy
HiltonCurioDoubleTree
Tapestry CollectionHilton Garden InnHampton
truHome2 SuitesHomewood Suites
Embassy SuitesHilton Grand Vacations
IHG Hotels, Over 5,000 properties
InterContinentalKimptonhotel Indigo
Even HotelsHualuxeCrowne Plaza
Holiday InnHoliday Inn ExpressHoliday Inn Club Vacations
Holiday Inn ResortStaybridge SuitesCandlewood Suites

The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.