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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:
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.
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.
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.
Redeem your annual free night certificate at the Park Hyatt Siem Reap
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.
Redeem your annual free night at the Category 4 JW Marriott Beijing
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:
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.
The Radisson Blu Bangkok is a Category 4 Club Carlson property
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.