Forget about piling up points or earning elite status. One of the best reasons to open and carry a co-branded hotel credit card is that many come with an annual free night certificate.
Each year you renew your card, you'll earn one of these certificates to use for a free, one-night stay at many hotels within that chain. Often, these certificates alone are worth far more than what you're paying in annual fees for the card. And some hotel chains even allow you to top off your certificate with additional points to cover higher-end properties.
But here's the thing: Not all hotel free night certificates are created equally. Each hotel chain – and their specific credit cards – has different rules that will affect how you can take advantage. But play your cards right, and these free night certificates can easily make keeping these cards in your wallet worth it each and every year.
Read on for a full round-up of the best co-branded hotel credit cards offering free night certificates.
- World of Hyatt Free Night Certificates
- Marriott Bonvoy Free Night Certificates
- Hilton Honors Free Night Certificates
- Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) Free Night Certificates
World of Hyatt Free Night Certificates
The World of Hyatt Credit Card
World of Hyatt offers both the consumer World of Hyatt Credit Card and a business version, the *world of hyatt business*. But only the consumer card offers a free night certificate – and it's among the best
Each year you hold the card (starting your second full year with the card), you'll receive a free night certificate. These certificates can be redeemed at any category 1-4 Hyatt property. That covers Hyatt hotels that cost up to 15,000 points per night – or more when Hyatt is charging peak rates. There are some great properties in the U.S. and abroad like the Andaz Savannah, the Thompson Chicago, Park Hyatt Mendoza in Argentina, Andaz Capital Gate in Abu Dhabi, and many more.
Considering the card has an annual fee of only $95, you shouldn't have to work too hard to get much more value out of the certificate than you're paying for the annual fee. It's the biggest reason I continue to hold this card. Plus, you can earn an additional free night certificate each year for every $15,000 you spend on your card.
Make sure to read our full review of the World of Hyatt Card, and check out the best ways to use Hyatt free night certificates!
Click Here to learn more about the World of Hyatt Credit Card.
Marriott Bonvoy Free Night Certificates
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card
The *bonvoy brilliant* is the top dog in Marriott's credit card portfolio. It charges an annual fee of $650 each year (see rates & fees) … but with that, you get a ton of benefits that can easily offset that fee.
To start, each year on your cardmember anniversary, you'll get a free night certificate that can be redeemed for any property that costs 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points or less. But after Marriott shifted to a dynamic pricing model for award stays – charging unpredictable points rates that hinge mostly on the cash cost – there's a silver lining: Marriott also introduced an award top-off feature.
This means Marriott Bonvoy credit cardholders have the ability to “top off” a free night award certificate with up to 15,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. So for example, if you have a free night certificate to use at any Marriott property that costs up to 85,000 points each year, you could apply up to 15,000 of your own Marriott points to book a property that costs up to 100,000 points. This feature makes it possible to use the annual free night from the Bonvoy Brilliant card at most of Marriott's properties around the world.
On top of the free night certificate (which you will start receiving in your second year of card membership), you'll also get up to $300 each year in statement credits to use at restaurants (handed out in $25 monthly increments).
The card also comes with complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status and 25 elite night credits each year to help you climb the status ladder even higher. When swiping the card, you'll earn 6x Bonvoy points for every dollar spent at Marriott Bonvoy Hotels, and 3x Bonvoy points at restaurants worldwide and on flights booked directly with the airline. Finally, you'll earn 2x points per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.
To top it all off, the card comes with a Priority Pass Select membership that gives you access to over 1,300 airport lounges across the globe.
Learn more about the card_name
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card
The Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card is the mid-tier card in Marriott's credit card portfolio with a much more palatable annual fee of $95 each year. But even with that smaller annual fee, the card still offers a lot of value that can easily offset it. Add in the free night certificate you get starting in your second year, and it can easily make sense to keep this card in your wallet.
When it comes time to use the free night certificate from your Boundless Card, you'll have fewer choices than the free night you get with the more expensive Brilliant. It is only valid for properties costing 35,000 Bonvoy points or less each night.
With the ability to top off free night award certificates, you could use the certificate plus 15,000 points to book a free night at any property that costs up to 50,000 points each night.
The card also earns 3x Bonvoy points for each dollar spent up to $6,000 in combined purchases each year at grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants, and 6x Bonvoy points per dollar spent at Marriott hotels. You'll earn 2x points per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.
Finally, the card provides complimentary Bonvoy Silver Elite status and earns 15 elite night credits towards Marriott Bonvoy elite status each year you hold the card.
Click Here to learn more about the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card
Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express Card
The *Bonvoy Business* also offers an annual free night certificate for properties that can be booked for up to 35,000 Bonvoy points each night. This benefit starts in your second year, after renewing your card.
But again, you'll be able to apply up to 15,000 additional Bonvoy points to this free night certificate that allows you to book a property costing up to 50,000 points each night.
The card carries an annual fee of $125 (see rates & fees). But if you use this certificate right, you can easily offset that.
The card also earns 6x Bonvoy points per dollar spent at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, 4x Bonvoy points per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers, and on U.S. purchases for shipping. You'll earn 2x Bonvoy points on all other eligible purchases.
Finally, by spending $60,000 in a calendar year, you can earn an additional free night certificate which can be redeemed at properties costing 35,000 points each night.
Think your small business wouldn't qualify? You might be eligible for business cards and not even know it!
Learn more about the *Bonvoy Business*.
Hilton Honors Free Night Certificates
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
Part of that makeover included raising the annual fee to $550 (see rates & fees), but it comes with an insane amount of credits and benefits that can easily offset that. And it starts with a lucrative hotel free night certificate.
Each year you hold the card, you'll get a free night certificate that can be used for a standard room at almost any Hilton hotel in their entire portfolio (subject to availability).
That makes the free night that comes with the Aspire Card one of the most powerful hotel free night certificates you'll find. You can also earn a second free night certificate after spending $30,000 in a calendar year, plus a third after spending $60,000 annually.
That's up to three free Hilton nights each year potentially on the table, even before you factor in any points you'd earn on the card. I was able to use two of mine last fall at the iconic Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego.
In addition to the powerful free night certificate, the Hilton Aspire Card also provides automatic Hilton Honors top-tier Diamond status just for holding the card. Hilton is the only hotel chain that will give you top status just for holding the right credit card, unlocking benefits like room upgrades, and credits of up to $25 each day to use for dining during your stay.
The card also provides up to $400 in resort credits, split up into two yearly installments: $200 from January through June, then another $200 from July through December. This can be used for just about anything you charge to your room, including spa treatments, restaurant charges, and more. You will also get a $100 Hilton on-property credit when you book at least a two-night paid stay at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad properties through HiltonHonors.com/aspirecard
And if that isn't enough, you'll get up to $200 in what they call “flight credits,” meaning they can easily be used for airfare outright. These flight credits are divvied up quarterly, with $50 available every three months. Just use your Hilton Aspire Card to pay for a ticket and the credit should kick in. These are use-it-or-lose-it benefits, so every quarter you forget to use it would mean you'd lose $50.
All information about the Hilton Aspire Card has been collected independently by Thrifty Traveler and has not been reviewed by the issuer.
Learn more about the Hilton Honors Aspire Card. (for full disclosure, this is our personal referral link)
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
The *Hilton Surpass* also provides a free night certificate good at nearly any Hilton property, but only after you spend $15,000 on your card in a calendar year.
Thankfully, that's not the only way to get a free night with the Suprass Card. Hilton and Amex recently added a Hilton statement credit of up to $200 a year, eligible to use at any Hilton property worldwide – it's not just usable at Hilton resorts, as is the case on the high-end Hilton Aspire.
But like the airline credit available on the Aspire card, this is a quarterly benefit: You'll get $50 in statement credits to use at Hilton properties once every three months. If you don't use it in the appropriate timeframe, you'll lose it.
You'll also get Hilton Honors Gold and National Car Executive Club status, just for holding the card. Hilton Gold status will get you free breakfast at almost any Hilton hotel abroad, or a daily food and beverage credit at U.S. properties.
The Hilton Surpass card has an annual fee of $150 (see rates & fees).
Learn more about the *Hilton Surpass*.
Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
Like the Hilton Surpass Card, The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card provides a free weekend night certificate that can be used for stays on any night of the week… but only after you spend $15,000 on your card in a calendar year. You can earn a second weekend night certificate when you spend an additional $45,000 on the card in the same calendar year.
The card also provides a Priority Pass Select membership – though you'll be limited to only ten visits each year.
You'll also get Hilton Honors Gold status just for holding the card. This will get you free breakfast at almost any Hilton hotel abroad, or a daily food and beverage credit at U.S. properties.
The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card has an annual fee of $95 (see rates & fees).
Not sure if you're eligible for a small business credit card? You might be surprised!
Learn more about the *Hilton Honors Business*.
Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) Free Night Certificates
IHG® One Rewards Premier Credit Card
The *ihg premier* provides an annual free night certificate for properties costing up to 40,000 IHG points each night. Like many other cards on this list, that benefit becomes available in your second year of holding the card.
IHG has long been an afterthought for many travelers but after making some big changes to its loyalty program a couple of years back, the hotel chain is more relevant than ever. Among the most notable of those changes is that IHG added the ability to top off annual free night certificates with an unlimited number of points. This essentially allows cardholders to book any hotel in the IHG portfolio.
You'll also be able to link your United MileagePlus account and get up to $50 of United TravelBank cash each calendar year that you hold the card. Plus, the card includes some other nice perks like automatic IHG Platinum elite status and a fourth-night free benefit on award stays – meaning you only need to use points for the first three nights of your stay and your last one is free.
The card has an annual fee of $99.
Learn more about the *ihg rewards club premier*.
IHG® One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
Small business owners who frequently stay at IHG properties might be better off with the *IHG Business*. Like the personal version, this card also provides an annual free night certificate for properties costing up to 40,000 IHG points each night. Similar to most of the other cards on this list, that benefit becomes available in your second year of holding the card.
The IHG Premier Business card is a near-carbon copy of the personal version … and that's not a bad thing. Beyond the annual free night certificate, you'll also get automatic Platinum Elite status, up to $50 each year in United Travel Bank Credit, and your fourth night free on award stays. Plus, you get a credit of up to $100 every four years to cover the cost of Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
This card also has an annual fee of $99.
Not sure if you're eligible for a small business credit card? You might be surprised!
Learn more about the *IHG Business*.
Credit cards offering hotel free night certificates can be a great way to easily recoup the annual fee you pay each year. In fact, many of the free night certificates provided by these credit cards can easily allow you to get two to four times the value you pay for the fee each year. It's the biggest reason to keep many of these cards in your wallet for the long haul.
Lead photo courtesy of Hilton Hotels