Friday, September 30, 2016

Guaranteed Getaway: Credit Cards That Offer a Free Hotel Stay Each Year

While hotel points can go a long ways toward helping you achieve a heavily discounted trip, a free night’s stay can only sweeten the deal. Fortunately, a handful of hotel credit cards offer just that – a free night you can redeem every year, regardless of how many points you have.

Four Credit Cards that Offer a Free Hotel Stay Each Year

While some of these free nights are earned on your account anniversary, others are offered as a bonus for meeting a minimum spending requirement. If you’re interested in earning a free night or two, check out the following cards and details:

Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card

The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card offers an array of free nights you can take advantage of. Not only do you earn two free weekend night certificates after spending $2,500 on your card within the first 90 days, but you score a free weekend night certificate on your account anniversary when you spend $10,000 on your card annually as well. A $75 annual fee does apply, but it is more than offset by the fact that two free nights can be worth up to $1,000.

The downside to this offer, however — at least for business travelers — is that your free nights are only good on weekends. After calling Citi, I confirmed that weekends include Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings. So if you’re in the market for a Monday to Friday trip, you’ll be out of luck with this offer. But if you’re craving a weekend away, it might be perfect for your needs – and if you’re planning a week-long vacation, you can at least score two of the weekend nights for free.

Highlights:

Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Just like the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card, the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card offers a signup bonus in addition to a free night on your cardmember anniversary. Currently, this offer doles out 80,000 Marriott points after you spend $3,000 on your card within the first 90 days. As a bonus, you’ll get 7,500 additional points when you add an authorized user and they also make a purchase, plus one free night stay at any Category 1-5 property after you carry the card for 12 months. An $85 annual fee does apply, and it is not waived the first year.

Highlights:

Club Carlson℠ Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card

The Club Carlson℠ Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card offers a pretty sweet deal for people who love free hotel stays. With this card, you’ll earn an amazing 85,000 points after you spend $2,500 on your card within the first 90 days. As an added bonus, you’ll also get another 40,000 points each year on your cardmember anniversary. Since Category 1 properties start at just 9,000 points per night, you can stretch both bonuses fairly far. Plus, you’ll earn 10 points for every dollar spent at Club Carlson properties and five points for every dollar spent elsewhere.

Highlights:

IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card

The IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card offers one of the best “free night” promotions in the business. This is mostly because you can use the free night you earn each year on a hotel stay at any InterContinental Hotels Group property in the world. There are no limitations other than award availability, and you can easily stretch the value of this free night quite far by booking one of their high tier properties.

For example, an overnight at the InterContinental Le Moana Bora Bora can easily cost $600 per night, yet it is free with your annual free night certificate. Since this card also comes with a hefty signup bonus, it is a no-brainer if you love to travel and don’t mind staying only at InterContinental Hotels Group properties. Plus, the $49 annual fee is waived the first year.

Highlights:

How to Get the Most Out of Your Free Nights

While earning a free night or two can help you save on travel, it pays to be strategic about it. These tips can help you find the right offer and extract the most value out of your free night benefit:

Weigh the pros and cons of annual fees.

Although you may not want to pay an annual fee, doing so can garner a ton of value. After paying the $49 annual fee on the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card, for example, you can easily score a hotel night worth $400 or more. If you’re fee-averse, you can also consider a no-fee rewards credit card instead.

Related:

Choose a hotel chain you’ll actually use.

A free night won’t do much good if you’ll never be able to use it. Before you sign up for a co-branded hotel credit card, make sure to browse available properties to make sure they’re in line with your expectations and travel habits. Also make sure your hotel brand actually has properties in countries and regions you plan to visit.

Book high-value properties with your free night.

When it comes to your free nights, you don’t want to use them at the cheap hotel or motel down the street if they’re valid at any of the hotel chain’s properties! To get the most value out of this benefit, stick to booking higher-end properties with your free night. Not only will this let you stay in nicer places than normal, but you’ll get more “bang for your buck” as well.

Consider pairing several travel or hotel credit cards for a longer trip.

If you can’t decide between hotel or travel credit cards, getting more than one might be your best bet. Consider getting a top-tier travel credit card with transferable points, plus a hotel credit card – or even two hotel credit cards that complement each other. The more points and free nights you earn, the easier it will be to piece together a longer trip out of your free nights.

Final Thoughts

Hotel points are great, but free nights are even better. And with any of these cards, you’ll get a little bit of both. If you pair one of these cards with an awesome travel or airline credit card, you might even be able to book the bulk of your upcoming vacation for just a fraction of the cost.

For the best travel deals, make sure to check out our comprehensive guides on the best travel and rewards cards on the market.

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The post Guaranteed Getaway: Credit Cards That Offer a Free Hotel Stay Each Year appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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