My top 3 picks for the best cobranded hotel credit card


I have five hotel credit cards. But I believe each of my cards provides enough perks to justify paying its annual fee for the foreseeable future. In particular, most of my hotel credit cards offer an annual free night that can more than justify the annual fee before even considering any other perks.

However, readers and friends often ask me what hotel card is best. My answer typically depends on the person’s preferred hotel loyalty program, budget and travel style. After all, the best hotel credit card for me may not be the best for you.

Each year at the TPG Awards, our readers select one best hotel credit cards, but there are several worthy candidates for this title. So, today I’ll discuss my top three picks. In doing so, I’ll present arguments for why each of these cards is best.

My picks for the best hotel credit card

The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Before diving into why I think each of these three cards could be named the best hotel credit card, let me first discuss why I didn’t list any Marriott Bonvoy cards. I have two Marriott Bonvoy cards and I get great value from the annual free night award and elite-qualifying night credits my cards provide each year. Indeed, earning up to 40 elite-qualifying nights from Marriott credit cards each year helps me maintain high-tier Marriott Bonvoy elite status.

But the three cards discussed in this article all have key aspects that could justify the card being named “best.” And although having at least one Marriott Bonvoy card is undoubtedly recommendable for Marriott loyalists, I don’t believe any Marriott Bonvoy cards offer showstopper benefits that would justify the title of the best hotel card.

Related: Why I’m keeping my Marriott Bonvoy Boundless for the long term

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

The Hilton Aspire is easily the best hotel credit card in my eyes. After all, you’ll receive top-tier Hilton Diamond status as long as you hold the card. The card also offers other perks, including annual statement credits and a free night reward each year that can more than offset its $550 annual fee (see rates and fees).

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BENJI STAWSKI/THE POINTS GUY

Here are some reasons why I believe the Hilton Aspire is the top hotel credit card.

Earning rates

Based on TPG’s valuation of Hilton Honors points at 0.6 cents each and the card’s massive earning rate of 14 points per dollar spent at Hilton properties, the Hilton Aspire offers an excellent 8.4% return on hotel spending.

That’s better than what I’d earn with my typical go-to card for booking hotels, the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, which awards 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary year across a number of categories, including travel.

Related: 7 reasons to get the Amex Hilton Aspire card

Top-tier Hilton Diamond status

Many hotel credit cards can help you earn elite status or provide low-to-mid-tier status. But the Hilton Aspire provides top-tier Hilton Honors Diamond status. And Hilton Diamond status offers some excellent benefits when staying with Hilton, including:

  • Daily food and beverage credit at U.S. hotels and continental breakfast at non-U.S. hotels
  • Space-available room upgrades (up to one-bedroom suites)
  • Executive lounge access when available
  • 100% elite status bonus on all the Hilton Honors base points you earn
BENJI STAWSKI/THE POINTS GUY

My husband and I have enjoyed excellent upgrades and buffet breakfasts due to his Diamond status, including during stays at the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton in Penang, Malaysia, and the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Fiji.

Related: 3 reasons why Hilton should add a new elite tier above Diamond

Annual free night reward

Hilton Aspire cardholders get a free night reward each year to use at almost any property worldwide. Cardholders can earn a second free night reward each year after spending $30,000 and a third free night reward after spending $60,000 on purchases in a calendar year.

Many hotel credit cards offer annual free night certificates. But most programs limit annual free night rewards to particular point ranges or categories. The Hilton Aspire free night reward is unique and extremely valuable because you can use it at almost any Hilton property.

Related: Hilton to open the country’s first net-zero hotel

Other perks

The Hilton Aspire also provides many other benefits that can help justify the card’s $550 annual fee (see rates and fees), including:

  • Up-to-$400 Hilton resort credit (up to $200 bi-annual) each cardmember year for eligible purchases made directly with participating Hilton Resorts using your card.
  • Up-to-$200 airline fee credit (up to $50 each quarter) each calendar year for flight purchases made directly with an airline or through AmexTravel.com.
  • Up-to-$100 Hilton on-property credit when you use your card to book an eligible two-night minimum stay at participating Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotels & Resorts through HiltonHonorsAspireCard.com or by calling Hilton Honors at 855-292-5757 and referencing ZZAAP1.
  • Up-to-$189 Clear Plus credit annually when you pay for a Clear Plus membership using your Aspire credit card.
BENJI STAWSKI/THE POINTS GUY

Check out our full Hilton Aspire card review for more information.

IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card

The IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card provides many benefits that can justify the card’s modest $99 annual fee. And combining these benefits makes the IHG Premier a solid contender for the best hotel card.

And this card is currently offering 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Here’s a quick look at the most valuable aspects of the IHG One Premier.

Anniversary reward night

The benefit that most easily justifies the card’s annual fee is the anniversary reward night with a redemption value of 40,000 points or less for one standard room night. However, you can add points from your IHG One Rewards account to redeem your anniversary night at hotels above the 40,000-point redemption level.

KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Based on TPG’s valuations, 40,000 IHG One Rewards points are worth $200. So, even if you use your anniversary night for a night that would otherwise cost 20,000 IHG points, you’ll effectively recoup the card’s annual fee. But, especially since you can top off your anniversary night with points, it should be easy to get a much higher value from your anniversary night.

You’ll also get Platinum Elite status as an IHG One Premier cardholder. Platinum Elite status is the second-highest level of elite status with IHG One Rewards and provides benefits including:

  • Complimentary room upgrades
  • Late checkout (2 p.m., if available)
  • Elite rollover nights
  • 60% bonus earnings on top of base points
  • Exclusive access to discounts on reward nights at participating hotels

Thanks to these benefits, I’ll happily keep Platinum Elite status as a perk of my IHG Premier instead of striving to earn Diamond Elite status. However, I plan to hit some of the elite night thresholds to earn specific milestone rewards.

4th-night reward

The fourth-night-reward perk of the IHG Premier allows you to pay zero points for every fourth night on reward stays of four nights or longer. Although this perk isn’t helpful if you don’t redeem IHG points for stays of four nights or longer, this benefit provides significant value to me since I live on the road as a digital nomad.

KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

My husband and I each have an IHG Premier. One year, we used the fourth-night-reward perk provided by these cards on 11 award stays. We saved 185,000 points thanks to this perk, which TPG values at $925.

If you’re doing the math, this means we redeemed about 555,000 IHG points in that year. Of course, there are many ways to earn IHG One Rewards points. But, to fuel this level of spending, we often take advantage of IHG promotions and buy points during periodic IHG promotions that offer a 100% bonus.

Related: My Miami hotel didn’t open in time: Here’s how IHG handled my reservation

Other perks

The IHG Premier offers some other valuable benefits, including:

  • 10 points per dollar spent at IHG properties when you pay with your IHG Premier.
  • A Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or Nexus application fee credit every four years.
  • A $100 statement credit and 10,000 bonus points after spending $20,000 each calendar year.
  • Up to $50 in United TravelBank Cash each calendar year after registering your IHG Premier with your MileagePlus account.

Check out our full IHG One Premier credit card review and apply for the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card.

World of Hyatt Credit Card

The primary argument for the World of Hyatt Credit Card is that you can spend on the card to reach top-tier status. I don’t think this perk is enough to beat out the Hilton Aspire, which provides top-tier Hilton Diamond status as a cardmember benefit without requiring extra spending. Even so, in this section, I’ll discuss how you can use the World of Hyatt card to reach Globalist status.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Earn World of Hyatt Globalist status through spending

One perk of the World of Hyatt Credit Card is five qualifying night credits toward your next tier status every year. You can also earn two additional qualifying night credits toward your next tier status every time you spend $5,000 on your card.

Hyatt’s top-tier Globalist status requires 60 tier-qualifying nights, 100,000 base points or 20 meetings or events. So, if you want to qualify for Hyatt Globalist on nights and have the World of Hyatt card, you could:

  • Stay 55 nights
  • Stay 49 nights and spend $15,000 on your card
  • Stay 39 nights and spend $40,000 on your card
  • Stay 19 nights and spend $90,000 on your card
  • Stay zero nights and spend $140,000 on your card

So, if you have the World of Hyatt card and are working toward earning Globalist status, you can see where you stand near the end of each year and get the remaining nights you need through spending.

Related: Why the World of Hyatt credit card is great for family travelers

Other perks

The World of Hyatt card has other benefits that may provide value and justify its $95 annual fee:

ARIANA ARGHANDEWAL/THE POINTS GUY

Check out our World of Hyatt credit card review and apply for the World of Hyatt Credit Card.

Bottom line

Many hotel cobranded cards can offer tremendous value, but the three cards highlighted above offer the best bang for your buck.

The Hilton Aspire card has the highest annual fee, but it comes packed with benefits.

The best hotel credit card for you depends on your preference. In particular, if you prefer to stay with a specific hotel loyalty program, you should consider whether getting a cobranded card with this program would be beneficial since many provide elevated earning rates, free nights, elite benefits and on-site credits.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire, click here.



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