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Hotel Rewards Credit Cards

Credit cards that are co-branded with a hotel offer rewards on spending that can be redeemed for free night hotel stays. Selecting the card for you will depend on your budget, spending patterns and hotel preferences. There are a few competitive options available, whether or not you spend a lot of time on the road.

Hotel Rewards Credit Cards

We analyzed the hotel rewards credit cards available in the UK, considering welcome bonuses, free-night vouchers and overall spending rewards.

Below are highlights of some UK hotel credit cards; there may be other products in the marketplace with better features. The best hotel credit card for you will depend on your individual situation.

The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card offers 1X or 2X points on your spending, plus you can earn a 10,000 Starpoint welcome bonus and a free weekend night in each year you spend £25,000. One limitation of the free weekend night award is that it can only be redeemed at a hotel in categories 1 - 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.

Summary

  • Rewards rates around 2.8% on SPG & Marriott purchases and 1.4% elsewhere
  • 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 (spend £25k each year)
  • Redeem Starpoints for flights
  • Annual fee of £75

IHG Rewards Club Premium Credit Card

The IHG Rewards Club Premium Credit Card is another hotel rewards card. Cardholders can earn rewards rates of 2% on IHG spend and 1% elsewhere, plus a welcome bonus and the chance to earn a free night every year. 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. 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.

Summary

  • Rewards rates around 2% on participating Hilton Worldwide purchases and 1% elsewhere
  • Platinum Elite status
  • 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)
  • Annual fee of £99

Hilton HHonors Platinum Visa Card

The Hilton HHonors Platinum Visa Card is a hotel rewards card with no annual fee. For every £1 you spend on the Hilton HHonors card at participating hotels within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio, you'll earn 3 HHonors Bonus Points. Every £1 spent elsewhere earns you 2 HHonors Bonus Points. Given our estimated value of an HHonors point to be 0.5 pence, you will see ongoing rewards rates of 1.5% on participating Hilton spend and 1% elsewhere. HHonors Points can also be exchanged for miles at Virgin Atlantic, Hawaiian Airlines, or Sri Lankan Airlines:

Miles Conversion Rates
10,000 HawaiianMiles for 15,000 HHonors Points (1:1.5)
10,000 Virgin Flying Club miles for 15,000 HHonors Points (1:1.5)
20,000 FlySmiLes miles for 10,000 HHonors points (2:1)

Summary

  • Rewards rates around 1.5% on participating Hilton Worldwide purchases and 1% elsewhere
  • Gold Elite Status (when you spend £10k each year)
  • One free night e-certificate (when you spend £750 in first 90 days)
  • Earn 2,500 Bonus Points for each of your first four stays in your first 12 months
  • No annual fee

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
Hilton HHonors Platinum VisaOne free night e-certificate when you spend £750 in first 90 days

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/aNone

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

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

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