One of the best, and most rewarding, things about hotel co-branded credit cards is that many of them offer a free night certificate each year on your card’s renewal date. For many travelers, the value that they receive from these annual free night certificates completely offsets what they pay in the annual fee and then some!
Of course, not all free night certificates are created equally as some can be significantly more valuable than others depending on how you use them. In this guide, we will take a look at the best credit cards that offer a free night certificate across 6 major hotel chains, and why you should consider adding a hotel credit card to your wallet.
Why You Should Consider a Hotel Credit Card
You might be wondering, why should I have a hotel credit card instead of 1 that earns transferable points? Well, while every points and miles traveler should have a transferable rewards credit card as their go-to, adding a hotel credit card as well can help upgrade your travels even further!
For example, in addition to a free night certificate, almost every hotel credit card offers benefits designed to improve your hotel stay, like complimentary elite status, additional points on stays, and even credits for use at the hotel.
Having complimentary elite status with a hotel can get you perks like room upgrades, free breakfast, early check-in, and late checkout. So, if you stay with a certain hotel group at least a few times a year, you can benefits tremendously by keeping a hotel credit card in your wallet.
Here is a look at some of the best cards that can offer you a free night certificate at 6 of the most popular hotel chains.
Credit Cards That Offer Free Night Certificates
The Hilton Honors program boasts a portfolio of over 6,000 properties worldwide and offers 3 different credit card options to earn free night certificates.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
The Hilton Aspire card provides 1 free weekend night award with your new card and every year after renewal. You can earn an additional night after you spend $60,000 on purchases on your card in a calendar year.
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
While the Hilton Surpass card does not directly offer a free night certificate as a benefit of being a cardholder, you can spend your way to 1 by spending $15,000 on the card within a calendar year.
The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
As with the Hilton Surpass card, the Hilton Business Amex card requires you to spend $15,000 on the card within a calendar year in order to receive the certificate.
Hot Tip: While only the Hilton Aspire card comes with a free night certificate automatically, the free night certificates that you can earn through spending on other Hilton cards are actually quite valuable because of their ability to be redeemed at any Hilton hotel worldwide, whereas other programs limit you to a free night at hotels within a certain category.
World of Hyatt
The World of Hyatt program is the smallest chain featured in our guide but is a fan favorite in the points and miles community thanks to its lucrative award chart and generous benefits for top-tier elite members. However, it offers just 1 credit card that allows you to earn free night certificates.
The World of Hyatt Credit Card
With the World of Hyatt card, cardholders receive a free night certificate that can be redeemed at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel, plus the opportunity to earn another free night certificate after spending $15,000 on the card within a calendar year.
Hot Tip:World of Hyatt members can also earn an additional Category 1-4 free night certificate after completing 30 elite nights, and a Category 1-7 free night certificate after 60 elite nights. But thanks to the World of Hyatt card’s automatic 5 elite nights credits, the number of nights you’ll actually need drops to 25 and 55, respectively.
IHG One Rewards
IHG is another large chain offering over 6,000 hotels throughout the world, and it offers 2 co-branded IHG One Rewards card that come with a free night certificate.
IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card
The IHG Premier card offers you 1 free night certificate on your account anniversary each year that can be redeemed at IHG hotels costing up to 40,000 points per night, though you can also opt to top this up with an additional 15,000 points for a nicer hotel.
IHG® Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
The new IHG Premier Business card is a great option for business owners who want IHG status since it comes with Platinum Elite status in addition to a free night certificate.
Perhaps the most popular chain on our list amongst award travelers, Marriott offers a network of over 7,000 hotels, and Marriott Bonvoy members have 3 credit card options with which to earn free night certificates.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
Marriott’s premium card option, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, offers 1 free night certificate every year on your account anniversary that can be used at any hotel costing at or under 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card
The lower annual fee Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card also offers an annual free night certificate but it is limited to hotels costing up to 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.
Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card
Those with the Marriott Bonvoy Business card will earn 1 free night certificate useable at any Marriott hotel costing up to 35,000 points, plus the ability to earn an additional certificate after you spend $60,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year.
Hot Tip: Have free night certificates from multiple Marriott Bonvoy credit cards? You can stack those free night certificates together to book a longer award stay!
Last but not least, Wyndham, the largest hotel chain featured with over 9,000 properties, offers 3 separate card options to Wyndham Rewards members looking to earn free nights.
Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Plus Card
The Wyndham Rewards Earner+ card offers an annual point bonus instead of a free night certificate. Each year, cardholders receive 7,500 Wyndham Rewards points that can be redeemed however they choose. 7,500 points are enough for a free night at tier-1 Wyndham hotel, or you could put those points towards a more expensive hotel.
Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Card
Since the Wyndham Rewards Earner card charges no annual fee, you don’t receive points annually for holding the card, but you can earn 7,500 bonus points each anniversary after you spend $15,000 on purchases in a calendar year.
Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Business Card
Wyndham Rewards Earner Business cardholders receive the best annual bonus of the bunch, getting 15,000 points when they renew their card each year. This is enough for a free night at a tier-2 Wyndham hotel, or 2 free nights at a tier-1 hotel.
Hot Tip: Wyndham cardholders also get a 10% discount on the number of points needed for a free night, bringing the usually tiers of 7,500, 15,000, and 30,000, down to 6,750, 13,500, and 27,000, respectively.
The 7 Most Valuable Credit Card Free Night Certificates
If you’re wondering which credit card free night certificates can offer you the most value, we’ve got you covered! Below we’ve placed a monetary value on each certificate and then ranked them in descending order.
To determine a value for a given free night certificate, we took the highest point value that a free night certificate could be redeemed for and then multiplied that by our cent per point valuations for that hotel group. We then discounted that figure by 10% due to the fact that a free night certificate is less flexible than its point equivalent, and rounded up to the nearest whole number.
For example, 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points are worth $245 based on our valuations, but after the 10% discount, we’ve assigned the value of a Marriott free night certificate (redeemable at a hotel costing up to 35,000 points per night) at $220 due to its lack of flexibility in comparison.
We’ve also only included cards in our rankings that offer an annual free night, or points, as a benefit of holding the card, and have omitted cards that require you to meet a certain level of spend in a calendar year to receive one.
Of course, any sort of valuation for points or free night certificates is entirely subjective, so feel free to do your own analysis to determine what a card’s free night certificate is worth to you based on your own travel habits.
With that said, here are our top 9 most valuable credit card free night certificates.
1. Hilton Aspire Card ($428 Value)
The free night certificate from the Hilton Aspire card is valid at virtually any Hilton property in the world, with a few notable exceptions like all-inclusive resorts, most Hilton Grand Vacations properties, and other select “distinctive resorts.”
Hilton no longer publishes an award chart, but top-tier hotels in the program can cost up to 95,000 points per night, like the luxurious Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort and Spa.
Hot Tip: Usually, Hilton free night certificates can only be redeemed on weekend nights, but now through the end of 2021, Hilton free night certificates can be redeemed on any day of the week!
2. Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card ($315 Value)
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant cardholders receive an annual free night certificate that can be redeemed at any Marriott property costing up to 50,000 points per night.
3. World of Hyatt Card ($243 Value)
World of Hyatt cardholders receive an annual free night certificate that can be redeemed at any Category 1-4 hotel in the Hyatt portfolio. Andaz Savannah and Andaz San Diego, both category 4 hotels, are great options since they are both centrally located in popular destinations, and many Andaz properties often are found in much higher categories.
Hot Tip: Hyatt switched to a peak/off-peak award chart in late 2021. However, Hyatt free night certificates will continue to be able to be used at any Category 1-4 property on any night, even if the night is under peak pricing.
4. Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card and Marriott Bonvoy Business Card ($220 Value)
Free night certificates from both the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card and the Marriott Bonvoy Business card, can be redeemed at any Marriott hotel costing up to 35,000 points per night.
The JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort Spa is one such property that would be eligible for your free night; it offers 5 restaurants, a spa, a gym, a hot tub, 3 outdoor pools, a kids’ club, and a private beach.
5. IHG Premier Card ($180 Value)
The free night certificate from your IHG Premier card can be redeemed at any IHG hotel that costs less than 40,000 points per night. While IHG One Rewards no longer uses an award chart, and hotels are priced using a dynamic pricing model, there are still many great hotels in the program whose award night cost averages around 40,000 points per night.
One such example is the Intercontinental Budapest, which is one of the nicest hotels in the city and comes with views of the Danube, the second-longest river in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site that separates the city into Buda and Pest.
6. Wyndham Rewards Earner Business Card ($135 Value)
Wyndham Rewards Earner Business cardholders receive 15,000 points each year on their account anniversary when they renew their card.
Of course, you can then spend these points however you choose, as points have much more flexibility over a standard free night certificate, but 15,000 points are enough for a free night at any tier-2 Wyndham hotel. The Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay would be a great use of these points as it is a beautiful property and nightly rates can reach upwards of $300 a night!
7. Wyndham Rewards Earner+ Card ($67.50 Value)
Those with the Wyndham Earner+ card receive 7,500 bonus points on their account anniversary each year, which can either be put towards more expensive stays or used towards a free night at a Tier-1 Wyndham property.
While you’ll be hard-pressed to find many luxury properties in Wyndham’s Tier-1 category, there are many that can still offer great value thanks to their prime location, like the TRYP by Wyndham Mexico City World Trade Center Area that is nestled right in the heart of the Mexican capital.
With the sheer number of points and miles credit cards out there, it can be easy to overlook hotel credit cards — but you should really think twice before doing so! After all, if you stay with a hotel group with any sort of regularity, you won’t just earn extra points on those stays, but you could also receive automatic elite status, room upgrades, late checkout, and of course those coveted free night certificates.
Ultimately, hotel credit cards are an excellent way to enhance your stays, and the free night certificates you receive largely offset the annual fee you pay each year. So for travelers, the question is not if you should get a hotel credit card, it is just a matter of which one(s) you should choose!
The information regarding the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Plus Card, Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Card, and Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Business Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
For rates and fees of The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card, click here.