Free Nights and More via 4 Favorite Hotel Credit Cards!

Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.

Airline miles may get the most attention, but hotel points can be just as valuable, and are often even easier to use.  Not only are the often easier to use, but believe it or not, they are actually even faster to rack up than airline miles via rewards earning credit cards.  Here are four of my favorite hotel rewards credit cards, and some of the reasons why I think they can be great tools in racking up family travel for much, much less.

Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card:

This card may not get you a room in the Maldives or Fiji, but it can get you nights at some pretty great spots in a hurry.  The sign-up bonus awards 50,000 points after the first purchase and 35,000 more points once you spend $2,500 on your card within the first 90 days, but that’s just the start.

Radisson Blu Aruba

Radisson Blu Aruba

It is also pretty killer for everyday use as it awards 5x points on everyday purchases (10x at participating Carlson Rezidor hotels).  You also get Gold status just by having the card, though honestly that has never done very much for me personally.

Radisson Blu in Amsterdam

Radisson Blu in Amsterdam

The real gem of this card is that the last award night is free.  There is no other card that offers a benefit even remotely similar to this, and it makes this card one of my absolute favorites.  I have used the last award night free benefit in London, Norway, Paris, and more.  If you do two night stays, it essentially doubles the value of your points and you do not have to have enough points for that last night in your account in order to use the “last award night free benefit”.

In Europe many Club Carlson properties actually have family rooms or suites that can hold more people than the standard two that many normal rooms in Europe can manage.

Use Club Carlson points in Paris and beyond

Use Club Carlson points in Paris and beyond

There is a $75 annual fee with this card, but it also awards 40,000 points on each renewal so it is a keeper for me well beyond the first year.

IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card

Just like with Club Carlson, IHG may not get your high end resort juices flowing (though they actually do have some high end properties, too!), but the IHG card can help you rack up points to use everywhere from Small Town USA to Florida to New York City to Paris and even Bora Bora (overwater villa for 50k points per night!).

Bora Bora Overwater Villa

Through March 31st, the card awards 70,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months.  It also awards Platinum status and an annual award night you can use at IHG Hotels around the world at each anniversary in exchange for the $49 annual fee.  While the IHG card does not give a last award night free perk, it does award 10% of your redeemed points back each year, up to 100,000 points.  That is a pretty unique perk that doesn’t exist on any other hotel card that I know of.

My favorite hotel bed at the Intercontinental Times Square

My favorite hotel bed at the Intercontinental Times Square

This is a very solid hotel card to not only get, but keep in order to utilize the annual award night for the $49 annual fee.  Paying $49 and getting a night in London, Miami, New York, or Australia is pretty fantastic!  I am excited to see how the purchase of Kimpton Hotels will be handled and when those hotels might come into the fold!

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

The SPG Amex doesn’t have any cool built-in perks or awesome bonus category payouts (other than 2x at SPG hotels), but it is still the best way for most of us to earn SPG points.  SPG points are so valuable that I have had this card for years even if it is for the most part just a straight 1x earning card.

SPG hotels start at just 2,000 points per night and they can be used to secure rooms at awesome ski hotels, on Disney property, in Hawaii, and beyond.  The sign-up bonus is currently 10,000 points after the first purchase and another 15,000 Starpoints after you make $5,000 in purchases within the first 6 months.  They sometimes run limited time bonuses of 30,000 sign-up bonus points, so if you aren’t in a hurry to get the card, I would keep an eye out for that offer.


Westin Beaver Creek

Hyatt Visa Signature (tip: best offer often come when trying to make a reservation on

The Hyatt Visa awards one of my favorite sign-up bonuses with two nights at any Hyatt hotel around the world after spending $1,000 in the first three months – because boy are there some awesome Hyatts out there!  I’m partial to their family friendly resorts like the Grand Hyatt Kauai and Hyatt Regency Aruba, but also loved the Andaz Maui, Park Hyatt Paris Vendome, Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, and am really looking forward to trying out one of their new all-inclusive properties in a couple of weeks!

Grand Hyatt Kauai

Grand Hyatt Kauai

I don’t have this card yet, but my tentative plan is to get it at the same time my husband does a little bit down the line, and then take our family of four to one of the family friendly all-inclusives to have four nights of vacation virtually totally “free” just by virtue of the cards.

Park Hyatt Paris Vendome

Park Hyatt Paris Vendome

The Hyatt Visa pays 3x at Hyatts, 2x, on restaurants, airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, and on car rentals, 1x elsewhere.  It comes with a $0 introductory fee the first year, then $75 annually.  That annual fee will get you a free night at a Category 1-4 property at each anniversary.  Some examples of Category 4 properties are Hyatt Escala Lodge at Park City, Grand Hyatt Washington DC, Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort, Hyatt Olive 8 in Seattle, and Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress.  I have stayed at many of those properties and think any of them are a great deal in exchange for a $75 annual fee!

Being able to use the points and perks from these cards is a great way to travel to some fabulous destinations while keeping the costs of your vacations low.

Do you have a favorite hotel rewards credit card?

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

Disclaimer: The comments below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. Summer,

    I have the IHG card and my anniversary has come and gone and I do not see the free night. Where would it be displayed or do I have to call and request? How does it work? Thanks for the help!!!

  2. Are you going to do review of your recent stay at the Hyatt Regency Aruba? I’m looking forward to through review including tips for families.

  3. I totally agree with your assessment of the SPG card. For many years, I used it for all my un-bonused spend, and got great value out of the SPG points earned. The only reason I’m not still using it that way is because I have a nice “stash” of SPG points, and the even better value Club Carlson offers for stays in Europe (and a few American cities as well).

  4. I agree with your review of the Club Carson credit card. I love the 2nd night free on award bookings. Just to let you know there is a Radisson Blu Resort hotel in Fiji (Denarau Island). I stayed there last year for 4 nights only paid for 2, its a nice resort hotel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *