4 Credit Cards That Give You A Free Hotel Night Every Year

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There are a variety of factors that can make a credit card appealing. In general, I look at the following three things when considering a credit card:

  • The sign-up bonus (how much value does the card offer me just for completing a minimal amount of spend)
  • The return on everyday spend (how many points will I earn on this card for the purchases I’d make anyway)
  • The ongoing perks (does the card offer any anniversary perks or other benefits that make the card worth holding onto)

With that in mind, I figured I’d talk a bit about the four hotel credit cards that offer you an annual free night in a hotel just for holding onto a credit card and paying the annual fee. In my case, I have several cards I hold onto just for the perks, without actually putting a significant amount of spend on them. That’s because the perks more than justify the annual fee.

For the average consumer, I think one of the best ongoing perks offered by a card is an annual free hotel night. After all, who doesn’t want a free hotel night every year? With that in mind, below are the four credit cards that offer an annual hotel night every year upon the account anniversary, roughly in order of how I value them:

IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card

Annual fee: $49 (waived the first year)

This is hands down the best. Just for holding onto this card you get an anniversary free night certificate every year. This can be redeemed at virtually any IHG property across the world.

This includes properties like the InterContinental London Park Lane, which often retails for $500+ per night. You get that all for a card with an annual fee of less than $50 per year.

IHG-Anniversary-Night-3

On top of that you get IHG Rewards Club Platinum status as well as a 10% refund on all points you redeem, up to 100,000 points per year. That’s the icing on the cake.

This is the premium hotel credit card with the lowest annual fee and the all around most useful annual free night perk. In my opinion this is a hotel credit card that just about everyone should have.

The Hyatt Credit Card

Annual fee: $75

The Hyatt Credit Card offers an annual free night certificate upon your account anniversary each year, valid at Category 1-4 properties.

That doesn’t cover all Hyatt properties in the world, though does cover a majority of Hyatts. I think virtually anyone would get at least $75 of value out of such a certificate, given that there are lots of ~$300 per night hotels within these categories.

Beyond that, for being a card member you receive Platinum status with Hyatt Gold Passport. Admittedly it’s not the most valuable status, but it’s better than nothing.

Park-Hyatt-Siem-Reap
Redeem your annual free night certificate at the Park Hyatt Siem Reap

Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Annual fee: $85

Marriott also offers an annual free night certificate upon your account anniversary each year. In their case it’s valid at Category 1-5 properties, which also includes a majority of their hotels around the world. Marriott has a total of nine categories of hotels. So while you won’t find hotels in New York or London in these categories, in most other markets you shouldn’t have any trouble finding an eligible property.

Not only does Marriott have a massive global footprint, but it’s about to get even bigger thanks to their takeover of Starwood. Just about everyone should be able to get at least $85 of value out of that annual night, in my opinion.

JW-Marriott-Beijing
Redeem your annual free night at the Category 4 JW Marriott Beijing

Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Annual fee: $75

This card doesn’t offer a “straight” annual free night certificate, but rather offers 40,000 points upon your account anniversary each year. For context, here’s how many points are needed for a complimentary free night at a Club Carlson property:

Club-Carlson

As you can see, that’s more than enough points for a free night at a Category 1-4 property. Furthermore, with these points you can always pool them from one year to the next, so you have enough for a longer trip.

Radisson-Blu-Bangkok
The Radisson Blu Bangkok is a Category 4 Club Carlson property

Bottom line

Ultimately there are a lot of great credit cards with ongoing perks that more than justify the annual fee. However, the above are probably the most “no brainer” hotel cards out there. Whether you’re a frequent traveler or not, I imagine a vast majority of people would get outsized value out of something like the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card, where you’re getting a night at any IHG property in the world just for paying the $45 annual fee.

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Comments

  1. Marriott gives you a free night……but very few category 1-5 hotels in my experience are ones i would go out of my way to stay in as in most US markets they are OFF the beaten path

  2. I’m soon staying at the London Intercontinental Park Lane for $49, courtesy of the IHG credit card. I suspect that it’s just a matter of time before they start eliminating really expensive hotels from this perk.

  3. I think your ranking is pretty spot on but I’d with a big gap between IHG and Hyatt and then a even larger gap from Hyatt to Marriott/Carlson.

    I’ve used my wife/my IHG free nights for 2 in Thalasso Bora Bora and 2 in IC HK. The former the resort still got $3k+ of my money for food etc. Still think the benefit is good for the hotel owners because most people will book more nights at the property and spend cash on other stuff while there.

    Trying to find a spot to use our two IHG free nights by January, needs to be a domestic property good for a weekend trip most likely from the DC area. Any ideas welcome!

  4. Marriott always come as the worst cost/benefit which escalates my fear on what will happen to SPG once the merge is done. They are very frugal.

  5. Jeremy,

    Two of you at Bora Bora for how many nights to incur $3000 in food and other costs?? holy crap. how expensive is the food there??

  6. Club Carlson issued an e-certificate in addition to the 40K points this year. Not sure if that was a spend bonus or if it went to everyone. Only knew about it because it showed up in my award wallet account. Pleasant surprise.

  7. Juno, my wife and I stayed six nights at the IC Thalasso Bora Bora in August 2015. The $3,000 was the total of all charges while at the resort which includes the very expensive airport return transport by boat, food/beverage, several spa treatments, several activities (jetski, tours, etc), ambassador membership cost to secure upgraded room for part of our stay, etc. If I had to guess off the top of my head the total for food and beverage was about 60-70% of the total bill. Dinners at their more expensive restaurants were approximately $75/person for three course meals. An amazing honeymoon for sure and I’d go back in a second!

  8. Jeremy,

    How were you able to find 6 awards night for Thalasso Bora Bora .

    I do not see any awards night until july 2017, until when IHG lets you book it.

  9. All of the Category 4 Marriott properties I once upon a time booked with our free certificates went up to 5, 6, and even 7. My last certificate went unused, since didn’t have any need for a free room at the Fargo North Dakota Residence Inn. 🙁

    I was happy to get the points from the sign up bonus, but when the AF came due, I cancelled the card with no regrets.

  10. Kris, I booked a year out back in 2014 so availability was a lot better then but still hard to come by.

  11. Do you need to stay at an IHG property each year to keep the card and free night active? Or just to spend something small on it each year?

  12. David,

    You do not to stay at any IHG property, nor you need to put any spend on the card, just pay $49 AF.
    After the first year and paying $49 AF, free night will appear in your IHG account.

  13. @Jeff: It’s likely the spend requirement certificate (spend $10K in a calendar year to qualify). Look at the restrictions on it to check. The major downside for that certificate is that it can only be used at domestic Radisson hotels, whose quality can vary widely in the US. So not exactly much of an incentive.I wish they would include their Country Inns, or make any Radisson worldwide eligible for that cert.

    They did offer another certificate that could be used worldwide, at any property. But that was last year, as a one-time way to make up for them taking away the 2-for-1 perk; but you had to call US Bank and complain to get the certificate.

  14. I’m using two free IHC CC nights at the London Park Lane, too. Used one of my Hyatt bites at Capitol Gate, Abu Dahbi lasted year. Waiting for my chase Marriott card to be approved. Passing on Carlson.

  15. I have all four, plus I got the Wyndham credit card when the deal was 15K anniversary Wyndham points (one night anywhere). Unfortunately now the Wyndham anniversary bonus offer is 6K.

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