Get a hotel credit card now, while the welcome bonuses are high

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Many consumers’ spending habits have changed dramatically since the onset of COVID-19, and many folks continue to avoid travel due to the ongoing pandemic, so it might seem like an inopportune time to apply for a new travel rewards credit card.

In an attempt to win new customers and keep the ones they already have, though, many credit card issuers are extending extraordinary sign-up bonuses and slates of new benefits geared toward what people are actually purchasing these days.

That’s why now might be an excellent moment to apply for a new rewards credit card. Hotel credit cards, in particular, are posting some of the highest welcome offers we have ever seen and introducing new perks to boot.

So if you’ve been thinking about applying for a hotel credit card, but have put it off for the time being, here are six reasons why you might want to do so now.

We’re focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won’t be worth it if you’re paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it’s important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.

1. Welcome bonuses are at all-time highs

At first glance, it might seem counterintuitive to raise the welcome offers on hotel credit cards since so few people are hitting the road. But that’s just what many issuers are doing in the hopes of getting people who might not otherwise be interested in one of their cards to apply.

For example, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is currently offering 150,000 bonus points after new cardholders spend $4,000 in the first three months of cardmembership, and the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is offering 130,000 bonus points after new cardholders spend $2,000 in the first three months.

If Marriott is more your speed, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card just launched a new limited-time offer, too. New cardholders can earn up to 125,000 bonus points – 100,000 after spending $5,000 within the first three months of card membership, and an additional 25,000 after their first account anniversary (offer ends January 13, 2021). That’s a total of 50,000 more points than are usually available with this card.

The Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card isn’t far behind, offering 100,000 bonus points after making $5,000 in purchases within the first three months, plus up to $150 in statement credits toward eligible purchases on US advertising in select media in the first six months. With both cards, you also receive complimentary Platinum elite status for a year beginning in February 2021 and ending January 31, 2022, which is unprecedented.

For its part, the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card has also upped its offer to 140,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Any of those bonuses alone make these cards worth applying for. Keep in mind that you typically need to have excellent credit to qualify for offers like this. But if that’s you, why not get in on offers that haven’t been around for long and might not be back?

2. There are more interesting offers, too

It’s not just that sign-up bonuses are higher than ever before; some hotel credit cards are also offering more creative incentives for folks who apply.

Most notably, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card is offering new cardholders five free nights after spending $5,000 on their new card within the first three months from account opening. Each of those free night certificates can be redeemed for a night costing up to 50,000 points, meaning your windfall could be worth up to a total of 250,000 points, depending on where you redeem them.

That said, there are some terms to be aware of – for instance, the certificates are only valid for a year after issuance, and the points level excludes many of Marriott’s top-category hotels. But if you can operate within the bounds of the bonus conditions, five free nights isn’t bad for a single welcome bonus.

Regular APR

15.99% – 22.99% Variable

Credit Score

Good to Excellent

  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

    • Earn 5 Free Nights after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
    • Our Best Free Night Offer Yet
    • Earn 6X Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy™.
    • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
    • 1 Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
    • Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year. Path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.
    • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
    • No foreign transaction fees.
    Pros
    • Annual free night reward for hotels that cost up to 35,000 points can be worth more than annual fee
    Cons
    • The only lucrative bonus category is participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
    • Upgrading to Gold status requires spending $35,000 on the card in an account year,


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    3. You have more time to rack up rewards

    If you’re one of the many travelers who has curtailed trip plans for the time being, you might wonder if you need a hotel credit card at all.

    If you don’t plan to venture out ever again, you might not. But chances are, if you traveled before COVID-19, you’d like to travel again once the situation becomes more manageable, even if it is just within a car ride of home. While that might still be months away, it gives you extra time both to earn a new card’s bonus, as well as racking up points on everyday purchases that you can redeem for stays once you do start traveling again.

    In the case of the The World Of Hyatt Credit Card, you can earn 25,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months, and an additional 25,000 bonus points after spending $6,000 total within six months. So if you’re not going anywhere for now, might as well go for that higher possible bonus over the extra three months and rake in twice the points.

    4. Some cards waive annual fees for the first year

    Still on the fence and wondering if it’s worth paying an annual fee for a card whose perks you might not be able to optimize for a while? That’s a smart question to ask yourself. At least the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is waiving its $89 annual fee for the first year, giving you 12 months to see if you like having it before actually going out-of-pocket to keep it.

    5. You can enjoy limited-time benefits

    Many issuers have been offering limited-time perks, such as bonus earning in new categories, or the ability to redeem statement credits for different types of purchases in order to help customers during these tough times.

    Earlier this year, both the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card let cardholders use annual statement credits that are normally only applicable either to hotel or on-property purchases toward charges at US. restaurants as well. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card and Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card earn 10 points per dollar spent at US gas stations, US restaurants including takeout and delivery, and participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels on up to $7,500 in each category through the end of October.

    These benefits changes tend to last only a couple months, but as the situation evolves, some issuers might continue adding limited-time perks to keep cardholders interested. So even if you apply for a new card now, you might be able to take advantage of some in the coming months.

    6. Boost your credit score

    Some banks have been lowering certain clients’ credit limits over the past several months. In turn, this can lower your credit score by making the amounts you owe seem larger compared to your overall line of credit, even if you continue to spend responsibly and pay on time.

    Your credit score might take a hit of two to five points per inquiry for a credit card application, over the long run. However, applying for a new card and getting a higher line of credit can eventually boost your score. Assuming that you use your card responsibly, keep your balances low and pay off your statements on time, of course.

    The best hotel credit cards to apply for now

    With all that in mind, here are some of the best current hotel credit card offers and why you might want to apply now.

    Regular APR

    15.74% to 24.74% variable APR on purchases

    Credit Score

    Good to Excellent

    Featured Reward

    150,000 points after you spend at least $4,000 in your first 3 months of account opening

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  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

    • Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card membership
    • 14X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio
    • 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, and on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies
    • 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your card at U.S. restaurants
    • 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your card
    Pros
    • Complimentary top-tier Hilton elite status
    • Get a weekend night reward each year after you renew your card
    • High welcome bonus
    • Valuable annual statement credit for eligible Hilton purchases
    Cons


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    Why apply now: Two words – welcome offer. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card continues to extend one of the best bonus offers ever available for any hotel credit card. New members can earn up to 150,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of card membership. Its annual fee is $450, but this card is packed with other perks that you can put to use when traveling and otherwise, including an anniversary free weekend night that you can redeem at nearly any Hilton property around the globe.

    Regular APR

    15.74%-24.74% Variable

    Credit Score

    Good to Excellent

    Featured Reward

    130,000 points after you spend at least $2,000 on eligible purchases in your first 3 months of account opening

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  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

    • Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
    • Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
    • Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.
    • Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
    • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
    • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
    • $95 annual fee.
    • Terms Apply.
    Pros
    • High welcome bonus
    • Complimentary Hilton Gold elite status
    • Generous bonus categories for earning points
    Cons
    • Weekend night reward requires spending $15,000 on the card in a year
    • Not much in the way of complimentary benefits beyond Hilton Gold status


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    Why apply now: If the Aspire card’s annual fee and spending requirement are outside your budget, consider this wallet-friendlier option, with an annual fee of just $95. Its welcome offer is not much less than the Aspire’s, at 130,000 points, which is the best it has ever posted, and requires just $2,000 in spending within three months to earn it.

    Regular APR

    15.99% – 22.99% Variable

    Credit Score

    Good to Excellent

  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

    • Earn 5 Free Nights after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
    • Our Best Free Night Offer Yet
    • Earn 6X Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy™.
    • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
    • 1 Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
    • Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year. Path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.
    • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
    • No foreign transaction fees.
    Pros
    • Annual free night reward for hotels that cost up to 35,000 points can be worth more than annual fee
    Cons
    • The only lucrative bonus category is participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
    • Upgrading to Gold status requires spending $35,000 on the card in an account year,


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    Why apply now: While it’s not for everyone – especially if you simply want points that you can use at any Marriott you prefer rather than those just costing up to 50,000 points per night – this card’s current bonus is still incredible. Earn five free night certificates worth up to 50,000 points apiece after spending $5,000 in the first three months of account opening. That’s enough for a decent vacation at some pretty high-end hotels, all for a card with a $95 annual fee.

    Regular APR

    15.74% to 24.74% variable APR

    Credit Score

    Good to Excellent

    Featured Reward

    Earn up to 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn an additional 25,000 bonus points after your first anniversary of Card Membership. Offer Expires 1/13/2021.

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  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

    • Enjoy complimentary Platinum Elite status with your Card for the 2021 status year. Offer Expires 1/13/2021.
    • Enjoy up to $300 in statement credits each year of Card Membership for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
    • Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy Hotels. 3 points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines. 2 points on all other eligible purchases.
    • Receive 1 free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees.
    • Enjoy unlimited airport lounge visits when you enroll in Priority Pass Select membership.
    • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
    • $450 annual fee.
    • Terms Apply.
    Pros
    • Annual statement credits can save you money on Marriott stays
    • You get a free reward night each year after your account anniversary
    Cons
    • High annual fee
    • Other cards are more rewarding for earning points on your spending


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    Why apply now: Amex has done a pretty incredible job at finding creative ways for cardholders to use their travel-related benefits even during these sedentary times. This card let members apply the $300 in annual Marriott Bonvoy statement credits – usually only good for purchases at participating hotels – toward US restaurant bills for a few months. Chances are if this keeps dragging on, they might announce more limited-time perks like this. The card costs $450 per year, but is offering up to 125,000 bonus points to new cardholders.

    Annual Fee

    $89 (waived the first year)

    Regular APR

    15.99% – 22.99% Variable

    Credit Score

    Good to Excellent

    Featured Reward

    140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening

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  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

    • Earn 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
    • Enjoy a Reward Night after each account anniversary year at eligible IHG hotels worldwide. Plus, enjoy a reward night when you redeem points for any stay of 4 or more nights
    • Earn up to 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
    • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
    • Platinum Elite status as long as you remain a Premier card member
    • Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card
    • IHG Rewards Club Bonus points are redeemable at hotels such as InterContinental®, Crowne Plaza®, Kimpton®, EVEN® Hotels, Indigo® Hotels & Holiday Inn®
    Pros
    • Anniversary reward night can be worth more than the annual fee
    Cons
    • Could offer better rewards on non-IHG purchases


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    Why apply now: This card usually only offers 80,000 to 120,000 points as a bonus, but right now, you can score up to 140,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months after account opening. Plus, the $89 annual fee is waived the first year.

    Regular APR

    15.99% – 22.99% Variable

    Credit Score

    Good to Excellent

  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

    • Earn 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend $6,000 total within 6 months of account opening.
    • Free nights start at 5,000 points
    • Receive 1 free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort after your Cardmember anniversary
    • Earn an extra free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel if you spend $15,000 during your cardmember anniversary year
    • Get automatic World of Hyatt Elite status and 5 qualifying night credits every year as long as your account is open
    • Earn 2 qualifying night credits towards tier status everytime you spend $5,000 on your card
    • Earn 9 points total for Hyatt stays – 4 Bonus Points per $1 spent at Hyatt hotels & 5 Base Points per $1 you can earn as a World of Hyatt member
    • Earn 2 Bonus Points per $1 spent at restaurants, on airlines tickets purchased directly from the airlines, on local transit and commuting and on fitness club and gym memberships
    Pros
    • Valuable annual reward night
    • Hyatt points are valuable, and this card earns 2x points on several bonus categories
    • If you spend a lot on this card, you can earn a second free night
    Cons
    • Not too many extra benefits


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    Why apply now: More time to earn a sign-up bonus means more points to redeem when you’re ready to travel again. Earn 25,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 within three months of account opening, and 25,000 more after spending a total of $6,000 in six months. Those extra points are worth a free night at some of Hyatt’s nicest hotels, but can be redeemed for a couple nights in a combination of hotels in categories 1 – 4, too.

    Regular APR

    15.74%, 19.99% or 24.99%

  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

  • Pros
    • Complimentary Platinum elite status
    • Strong points earning on Wyndham stays and gas stations
    • Annual bonus of 7,500 points for your cardmember anniversary
    • 10% points discount for booking gofree Wyndham award stays
    Cons
    • $75 annual fee
    • Relatively modest sign-up bonus

    Why apply now: Barclays and Wyndham Rewards recently overhauled their slate of co-branded cards, including this new piece of plastic, which is offering 45,000 bonus points (enough for up to six free nights) after you spend just $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. It also comes with automatic Platinum status, which can come in handy with perks like car rental upgrades and early check-in.

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