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9 hotel credit cards that offer free nights after each account anniversary — and 7 alternatives that can save you money on stays each year

Submitted by Tech Insider on June 23, 2022 - 3:25pm

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The best hotel credit cards have one outstanding benefit that gives cardholders the incentive to renew year after year: Free night certificates and/or bonus points that are worth more than the annual fee.

It's basic math — nobody likes annual fees, but if you know you'll save more money than you're paying in fees, a hotel credit card is a no-brainer.

Read more: I haven't paid for a hotel room in 10 years — here's how I stay for free

I've got several hotel credit cards that I continually renew because I've historically saved more than double the annual fees. If you stay in hotels even a few times per year anyway, consider building your hotel credit card portfolio. You might be shocked at the value an inexpensive card can net.

Let's take a look at all the credit cards that come with either annual free night certificates or bonus points simply for renewing your card each year. These are the ones you can currently apply for — cards that offer these benefits but have been discontinued are not listed.


Which credit cards offer annual bonus hotel points/free nights?

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card offers by far the most valuable free night certificate of any credit card, referred to as Weekend Night Rewards. After each cardmember anniversary, you'll earn one night at nearly any Hilton hotel on the planet (see exclusions here) — including hotels that cost 150,000 points per night. 

Insider values Hilton points at 0.5 cents each, on average. That means you could potentially get up to $750 in value from this certificate — or significantly more, depending on where you stay. For example, the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island costs 120,000 points per night, but regularly retails for $2,000 per night. This is an excellent use of a weekend night reward.

Read more: 5 luxury resorts where you can get great value from the Amex Hilton Aspire free night certificate — plus use up to $250 in credits

Weekend Night Rewards are normally valid only from Friday to Sunday. But any certificates you earn in 2021 or 2022 can be redeemed any day of the week, giving you significantly more flexibility.

You've also got the opportunity to earn an additional Weekend Night Reward after spending $60,000 on your card in a calendar year.

This card charges a Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card annual fee Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card - Rates & Fees. But as you can see, you can easily offset that fee with this Weekend Night Reward alone.

The card also comes with:

We consider this to be one of the best credit cards on the market.

Read more: Amex Hilton Aspire review

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card is a Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card annual fee card that comes with an annual free night certificate worth 35,000 points after your cardmember anniversary. Insider estimates Marriott points to be worth 0.7 cents each, meaning this certificate is worth up to $245, on average.

You can reserve more than 7,000 Marriott hotels around the world with this certificate. But you'll soon be able to combine up to 15,000 points with this certificate to reserve hotels costs up to 50,000 points per night.

Read more: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card review

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card also comes with:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card
  • 15 elite night credits each calendar year (helpful for reaching elite status faster)
  • Automatic Marriott Silver elite status

If you can use this annual free night certificate each year, you'll almost certainly get more value from the card than you're paying for the annual fee.

Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card comes with a free night award after your card renewal month identical to the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card: 35,000 points, which Insider estimates to be worth up to $245. However, this card comes with a slightly higher Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card annual fee Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card - Rates & Fees.

Still, you should have no trouble offsetting that price tag by redeeming your certificate. After all, finding a hotel room for $125 is, unfortunately, becoming more and more difficult.

This card also affords you the opportunity to earn a second 35,000-point free night award after you spend $60,000 on purchases in a calendar year.

Again, you'll soon be able to add up to 15,000 points to these certificates to reserve Marriott hotels that charge 50,000 points per night or less.

Read more: Amex Marriott Bonvoy Business Card review

The Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card also offers:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
  • 15 elite night credits (can be stacked with the 15 elite night credits you receive from a Marriott personal card)
  • Automatic Marriott Silver elite status

This card is a great tool for anyone who qualifies for a small-business card and frequents Marriott hotels.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is Marriott's premium credit card, with an annual fee of Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card - Rates & Fees. For that price, you'll get an improved free night award worth up to 50,000 points every year after your Card renewal month.

Insider estimates Marriott points to be worth 0.7 cents, making this certificate worth up to about $350. That said, it's certainly possible to get significantly more value depending on where you stay — and you've got 7,900+ qualifying Marriott hotels to choose from.

For example, you could book a standard guest room during off-peak dates at the ION Adventure Hotel, Nesjavellir, a Member of Design Hotels in Iceland, which is difficult to book for under $400.

Ion Adventure Hotel
ION Adventure Hotel costs 50,000 Marriott points per night on off-peak dates, and it's a great base camp for a Northern Lights expedition.

Marriott will soon allow you to tack on an extra 15,000 points to this certificate, as well. That means you'll be able to reserve rooms costing 65,000 points or less per night.

Read more: Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card review

The card also comes with:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
  • Up to $300 annual statement credit for spending with Marriott (room rate, spa, food, etc.) (offer ends 9/22/22 and will be replaced with a benefit of up to $25 in statement credits per month for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide)
  • 15 elite night credits per calendar year (helpful to achieve elite status)
  • Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership**
  • Automatic Marriott Gold elite status

This card is well worth the annual fee if you stay at Marriott even a couple of times each year. I've got it myself and have no intention of canceling it.

The World Of Hyatt Credit Card

The World Of Hyatt Credit Card comes with a free night certificate for any Hyatt Category 1-4 hotel after each account anniversary. You can also earn a second free night certificate after spending $15,000 on purchases in a calendar year.

Insider estimates Hyatt points to be worth 1.5 cents each, on average. Category 4 hotels can cost up to 18,000 points per night during peak season, making this certificate worth up to around $270.

Hyatt hotels aren't nearly as prolific as hotel chains such as Marriott and Hilton. If you're not traveling to a big city or a touristy area, there may not be a Hyatt hotel nearby. If you can make use of it, however, it'll easily offset the card's The World Of Hyatt Credit Card annual fee.

Read more: World of Hyatt Credit Card review

This card also offers:

  • The World Of Hyatt Credit Card
  • World of Hyatt Discoverist elite status
  • Five elite night credits each calendar year
  • Two elite night credits for every $5,000 in purchases

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card comes with a IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card annual fee. You'll receive a free night worth up to 40,000 points after you pay this fee each year.

Insider estimates IHG points value to be 0.7 cents each, making this bonus worth up to $280, on average.

IHG doesn't have award categories, and each hotel's award price can change dramatically. However, this certificate can be used at thousands of hotels worldwide, making it an exceptionally valuable benefit for a card with such a low annual fee. You can even combine it with as many IHG points as you like to reserve any IHG hotel.

Read more: IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card review

The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card also offers:

  • IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
  • IHG Platinum elite status
  • Diamond elite status after spending $40,000 on purchases and making one additional purchase each calendar year with the card
  • Fourth reward night free when you redeem points for a stay of three or more nights
  • Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS application fee credit
  • 20% discount when you purchase points with your card
  • 10,000 bonus points and a $100 statement credit after spending $20,000 on purchases and making one additional purchase each calendar year
  • Up to $50 in United TravelBank Cash each calendar year

If you're an avid IHG customer, this card will pay off big.

IHG® Rewards Premier Business Mastercard®

The IHG® Rewards Premier Business Credit Card comes with a IHG® Rewards Premier Business Credit Card annual fee. You'll receive a free night worth up to 40,000 points after you pay this fee each year. Again, Insider estimates IHG points value to be 0.7 cents each, making this bonus worth up to $280, on average.

This 40,000-point certificate can be combined with your IHG points stash to increase the number of hotels with which you can use it. For example, if you wanted to reserve a night at a five-star hotel for 90,000 points, you'd pay 50,000 points + your annual free night certificate.

Plus, you can earn an additional certificate worth 40,000 points each calendar year you make $60,000 in purchases.

Read more: IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card review

The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card also offers:

  • IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
  • Automatic IHG Platinum Elite status
  • Diamond elite status after spending $40,000 on purchases and making one additional purchase each calendar year with the card
  • 10,000 bonus points and a $100 statement credit after spending $20,000 on purchases and making one additional purchase each calendar year
  • Fourth reward night free when you redeem points for a stay of three or more nights
  • Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS application fee credit
  • Up to $50 in United TravelBank Cash each calendar year

Wyndham Rewards® Earner Plus Card

The Wyndham Rewards® Earner Plus Card comes with a very reasonable Wyndham Rewards® Earner Plus Card annual fee, but also comes with a bonus of 7,500 points each cardmember anniversary. That's not a "free night certificate," per se, but it's enough for a free night at many Wyndham hotels.

Insider estimates Wyndham points to be worth 0.8 cents each, making this bonus worth around $60. Wyndham isn't known for upscale hotels (you're probably familiar with its brands like Days Inn, Hawthorne Suites, Howard Johnson, Ramada, etc.).

Read more: Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus credit card review

The Wyndham Rewards® Earner Plus Card comes with:

  • Wyndham Rewards® Earner Plus Card
  • Automatic Wyndham Platinum elite status (good for benefits like bonus points, early check-in, and the ability to select a preferred room)
  • Cardmember booking discount on paid stays
  • 10% discount on Go free awards

Wyndham Rewards® Earner Business Card

The Wyndham Rewards® Earner Business Card is a Wyndham Rewards® Earner Business Card annual fee card that comes with 15,000 bonus points after each account anniversary. Again, Insider estimates Wyndham points value to be 0.8 cents each, making this bounty worth around $120.

However, a great use of Wyndham points is by redeeming them for stays at Vacasa rentals. Rates start at 15,000 points per bedroom, so this annual bonus could save you hundreds for a night in a villa or cabin.

Read more: How to earn, redeem, and maximize Wyndham points

The Wyndham Rewards® Earner Business Card comes with:

  • Wyndham Rewards® Earner Business Card
  • Automatic Diamond elite status (comes with benefits like late checkout, early check-in, and suite upgrades when available)
  • Cardmember booking discount on paid stays
  • 10% discount on Go free awards

This is the best card Wyndham offers.

Don't forget cards with travel credits you can use toward hotel stays

World of Hyatt Business Credit Card

The World of Hyatt Business Credit Card doesn't offer an annual free night, but it does come with up to $100 in Hyatt statement credits per year. You can put that towards your stay — and even get a free night if you're lucky enough find a sub-$100 room rate.

Read more: World of Hyatt Business Credit Card review

This card comes with a World of Hyatt Business Credit Card annual fee, but it also offers:

  • World of Hyatt Business Credit Card
  • Automatic Hyatt Discoverist elite status (benefits like waived resort fees on award nights, preferred room upgrades, late checkout, etc.)
  • Gift Discoverist status to up to five company employees
  • Five Tier-Qualifying night credits toward status and Milestone rewards for every $10,000 you spend in a calendar year
  • 10% redemption rebate after you spend $50,000 in a calendar year

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express comes with a $200 hotel credit each calendar year to be used through either Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts or The Hotel Collection (two-night minimum stay).

Access to Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts is a big selling points of the The Platinum Card® from American Express. You'll get elite-like benefits such as room upgrade when available, free breakfast for two, and a property credit unique to your hotel (often a $100 credit for food, beverage, spa, etc.).

You'll almost certainly have trouble keeping your bill below $200 when booking through these portals, so this credit isn't exactly an annual "free" night.

Read more: My plan to maximize the Amex Platinum card's new $200 hotel credit for a nearly free luxury stay

The The Platinum Card® from American Express charges a The Platinum Card® from American Express annual fee The Platinum Card® from American Express - Rates & Fees — but it's also stuffed with valuable benefits like:

Read our Amex Platinum Card review for more reasons why this card is worth the annual fee. 

Citi Premier® Card

The Citi Premier® Card has emerged as one of the best rewards generators in the credit card game. For a Citi Premier® Card annual fee card, its bonus is high (Citi Premier® Card) and its earning rates are incredible (3 Citi ThankYou points per dollar on air travel, gas stations, restaurants, supermarkets, and hotels).

This card also comes with an annual $100 credit for a single hotel stay that costs $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) booked through the Citi ThankYou travel portal. This is certainly not a "free" stay each year, but it can amount to a free night if you're booking five nights at a $100 hotel.

Read more: Citi Premier credit card review

The Citi Premier® Card is otherwise not a good option for your travel purchases. It's got no travel protection whatsoever.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is widely considered to be the best beginner points credit card. It comes with a palatable Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card annual fee, more than half of which can be offset by the card's annual $50 credit for hotels booked through the Chase Travel Portal. Again, this likely won't be enough for a totally free night, but it's a heavy discount.

Read more: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card review

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card also comes with:

If you're interested in credit card travel insurance, the Sapphire Preferred will give you the biggest bang for your annual fee.

Honorable mentions

There are a few other credit cards that come with general annual travel credits that you can use for a free hotel stay if you so desire. 

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® — Up to $300 in statement credits each cardmember year toward travel purchases (including hotels).
  • Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card — Up to $300 per year in statement credits toward Capital One Travel bookings (including hotels). You'll also get 10,000 bonus miles on each account anniversary, which is worth at least $100 toward hotels — or potentially more if you transfer them to Wyndham.
  • U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Card — Up to $325 annual credit that reimburses dining and travel purchases (including hotels).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How do you use a free night certificate?

With most hotel chains (like IHG, Hyatt, and Marriott) you can redeem your certificate online at checkout. Here's an example of Marriott's reservation page. Before you pay, you can choose whether you want to redeem points or a free night certificate.

If you're staying at a hotel with an award price significantly lower than your free night award is worth, it's better to pay with points. The hotel below costs 35,000 points, and my certificate covers hotels costing up to 35,000 points — so it's a good use.

Checkout page for the Sheraton Grand Dubai — demonstration for how to use free night certificates.
You can choose at checkout whether to redeem points or a qualifying certificate.


Hilton will not allow you to redeem a Weekend Night Reward online. You'll have to call them at 800-446-6677 and relay your desired hotel and dates to the customer service representative.

Can you use free night certificates at any time?

While most hotel free night certificates can be used any time, Hilton issues Weekend Night Certificates that are only valid for Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night. However, any certificates issued in 2021 or 2022 can be used any day of the week.

Can you use free night certificates in tandem with a 5th night free?

Hilton and Marriott offer a benefit that provides you with a fifth night free when you book five consecutive award nights. For example, a five-night stay at a hotel that costs 50,000 points per night would cost just 200,000 points. IHG offers a similar perk for its co-branded cardholders, but you'll get a fourth reward night when booking three or more nights with points.

Unfortunately, free night certificates don't count as an award night in this context. You'll have to use actual hotel points to qualify for these fourth or fifth-night free perks (though there is anecdotal evidence of Hilton customers managing to find phone agents that can attach a weekend night reward to a fifth-night free booking).

Do free night certificates expire?

Free night certificates usually expire within a year of the issue date. There have been many exceptions lately, with hotels pausing expiration due to a stagnant travel industry in the wake of coronavirus restrictions.

Even if your certificate does expire, that may not be the end of the road. I recently had a Hyatt free night certificate expire, and Hyatt was gracious enough to credit my account with 10,000 Hyatt points. If it turns out you can't use your certificate, perhaps you'll at least get some points out of it.

Read more: I haven't stayed in a hotel in over a year — here's how I'm using all the credit card points and free night certificates I've saved up

Do anniversary points expire?

Points are far more flexible than free night certificates — though the annual payout is often less valuable.

Points will not expire a year from the issue date. They still can expire if your account is inactive for a specific period of time. Check the hotel loyalty program's terms for the specifics. Expiration will usually occur after 1.5 or two years.

Read more: How to keep points and miles from expiring

How do I earn an annual free night certificate?

With the above cards, the only step is to pay the annual fee. Your free night certificate should be available to you within a few weeks. Some hotel cards, like the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and the The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card offer free night certificates each year, but to unlock them you must spend a significant amount of money on your card.

Some of the cards above also offer additional free nights on top of the automatic certificates you'll receive after account renewal, but they're only awarded after big spending requirements.

Read the original article on Business Insider