Why You Might Want a No-Fee Hotel Credit Card (Even If You Don’t Travel Often)


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Even if you only travel a few times a year, a hotel credit card with no annual fee can be worthwhile just for the perks alone. Many of these entry-level cards include free nights on rooms, insurance coverage, priority reservations, and no foreign transactions fees. Here’s a closer look at some of the best deals.

Most people get hotel cards for the rewards points

The primary benefit of hotel credit cards are the reward points that you receive with each transaction, and they’re usually worth about 50 cents per point earned. These points also have bonus multipliers if you use the card for specific purchases, such as hotel room or restaurants. These cards also come with welcome bonuses that offer bunch of points for meeting spending targets when you first get the card. For example, the Hilton Honor American Express is currently offering 130k points (worth $780) if you spend $1,000 in the first three months.

But there are other perks, too

The thing about no-fee credit cards is that you don’t really need to spend a lot of money—or travel a lot—to get value from the cards. Various perks are automatically included, like free nights, room upgrades, and insurance coverage. With that in mind, here’s a look at what some top hotel chains offer, for cards with a $0 annual fee:

Marriott Bonvoy Bold Card 

  • Automatic Silver Elite member status, which gets you priority late checkout and 10% bonus points on stays.
  • Lost luggage and delay insurance.
  • Exclusive reservation phone line.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Hilton Honors American Express Card 

  • Automatic Silver Elite status, which adds a 20% bonus to points earned.
  • A fifth night free on standard rooms for stays of five nights or more, if booked using rewards points.
  • Rental car insurance.
  • If you spend $20,000 in a calendar year, you’ll be automatically upgraded to Gold status with even more benefits, including room upgrades, and a daily food and beverage credit.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Best Western Rewards Mastercard

  • Automatic Gold status, which gets 10% off rooms, plus early check-in and late checkout.
  • Spending $5,000 or more every 12 billing cycles qualifies you for additional 20,000 bonus points.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Wyndham Rewards Earner Card

  • Automatic Gold Elite status, which includes free wifi, preferred room selection, and late checkout.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Hotels.com Rewards Visa Credit Card

  • Cellphone insurance.
  • Travel insurance.
  • For the first year you get free breakfast, airport transfers, and free wifi at selected properties.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

As with other credit cards, you’ll want to make sure that you pay off any charges on your hotel card right away to avoid interest charges (otherwise the perks might not be worth the expense). And if you sign up for a bunch of hotel cards, keep close tabs on the balance for each one, perhaps with calendar reminders or automatic alerts.