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3 No Annual Fee Credit Cards That Will Earn You Free Hotel Stays


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The more popular credit cards we see discussed are often ones that come with a lot of impressive benefits and high welcome offers but they’re also often accompanied by relatively high annual fees. In this post I’m moving away from cards like that. In this post, the three cards I highlight don’t charge an annual fee and don’t have a long list of amazing benefits, but they do all come with welcome bonuses big enough to book multiple free nights at hotels around the world.

Before I go any further allow me to set some appropriate expectation levels: None of the cards I’m going to discuss below offer welcome bonuses that are big enough to book multiple nights at the world’s best hotels (a single night, maybe). Hopefully, the fact that all the cards mentioned below don’t charge an annual fee makes this obvious but if I don’t mention it now I’m bound to get someone who complains 🙂

I’m not going to focus heavily on the merits of the various cards that you’ll find below, as the key thing I’m trying to highlight here is the number of free hotel nights that a new cardholder will be able to book once they’ve fulfilled the welcome offer requirements. Some of the cards have very useful benefits and earning rates as well as a good welcome offer, but they’re not what’s important in this post.

Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card is issued by Chase and, as with all the cards in this post, it doesn’t come with an annual fee. The current welcome offer on this card is as follows:

Earn 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points after you spend $1,000 on the card in the first three months of card membership.

The card’s earning rates are:

  • 3 points/dollar at Marriott properties worldwide
  • 2 points/dollar on all other travel
  • 1 point/dollar on all other spending

Aside from the welcome offer, the two key selling points of the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card are:

  1. It doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees
  2. It offers cardholders 15 elite night credits per year which are enough elite nights for Silver Elite status and, more importantly, they’re a good jump-start towards the number of nights needed for more meaningful elite status.

To get a better idea of what the welcome offer is worth, we need to take a look at the Marriott Bonvoy award chart:

The 50,000 points on offer here are enough to book a single night at properties like the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove

…the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa

The Langley (reviewed here)…

…the Ritz-Carlton Cancun

…the St. Regis Bangkok

…or the JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach (all during standard or off-peak seasons).

Or it’s enough to book multiple nights at properties in Categories 1 through 4.

Put simply: The welcome offer is large enough for a single night of luxury or, realistically up to 6 nights in less luxurious brands.

Find out how to apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card

IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card

The current welcome bonus available on the IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card is as follows:

Earn 75,000 IHG Rewards Club points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Note: If you currently have an IHG Rewards Club Credit Card from Chase, or you earned a new cardmember bonus on that credit card within the last 24 months, you are not eligible to receive another of the same credit card.  

The card’s earning rates are:

  • 5 points/dollar on spending at IHG Hotels & Resorts worldwide
  • 2 points/dollar on spending at gas stations
  • 2 points/dollar on spending at grocery stores
  • 2 points/dollar on spending at restaurants
  • 1 point/dollar on all other spending

In addition to the very good welcome offer, the IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card key selling points are the following:

  1. Card holders get the 4th night free on IHG award bookings of 4 nights or more
  2. It doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

Annoyingly, IHG Rewards no longer publishes an award chart so, combined with the dynamic award pricing that IHG uses, it’s not simple to say, definitively, what free nights this card can offer…but this is what we can say:

  • With only one or two exceptions, the top properties that participate IHG Rewards cost no more than 70,000 points per night, so this welcome bonus is enough for a night of luxury at a number of great properties around the world.
  • IHG’s dynamic pricing means that hotels will cost more points during busy periods but it also means that those of us prepared to travel at less busy times can pick off some great deals. Here, for example, is the Crowne Plaza Albert Embankment in the very heart of London costing just 27,500 points per night. The welcome bonus on the IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card would be more than enough for two nights here and a cardholder would be left with enough points for a further stay at one of IHG’s cheaper properties.

  • As far as stays of 3+ nights go, the points in the welcome offer aren’t enough for any of the higher-end properties…but 75,000 points should be able to book a 3-night stay at a Holiday Inn/Holiday Inn Express property in various places around the world.

Find out how to apply for the IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card

The Hilton Honors Credit Card From American Express

I’m not going to go into great detail about why I think this is an excellent card as I’ve only recently published a post dedicated the Hilton Honors Credit Card from American Express (see here) but here are the key things you need to know:

  • The card doesn’t charge an annual fee
  • The current welcome offer is for 80,000 Hilton Honors Points after you spend $1,000 on the card in the first three months after opening your account. Note: The welcome offer is not available to applicants who have or have had this card in the past.
  • The card’s earning rates are as follows:
    • 7 points/dollar at all properties in the Hilton portfolio
    • 5 points/dollar at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. restaurants, and U.S. gas stations
    • 3 points/dollar on all other eligible purchases
  • Aside from the welcome offer, the key selling points of the Hilton Honors Credit Card are:
    • It offers complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status which opens up the Hilton 5th night free benefit on award bookings.
    • Cardholders can earn Hilton Honors Gold status after spending $20,000 in purchases on the card in a calendar year
    • It doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees

Just like IHG, Hilton Honors no longer publishes an award chart so the cost to stay at various Hilton properties worldwide can vary significantly. Some properties like the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills never charge less than 95,000 points per night (so the welcome offer on the Hilton Honors Credit Card isn’t high enough to book a property like that), but it will still be able to book a single night of luxury at properties like the Conrad London St James (reviewed here)…

….the Conrad Centennial Singapore (reviewed here)…

…or the Conrad Chicago:

For a multi-night stay the level of hotel that you book will have to be lowered (unsurprisingly), but that doesn’t mean that they value you get can’t still be excellent.

80,000 points are more than enough for 3 nights at the DoubleTree Bangkok

2 nights at the Hilton London Canary Wharf

…or 3 nights at the DoubleTree Shanghai:

And all of this from a credit card that doesn’t charge an annual fee!

Find out how to apply for the Hilton Honors Credit Card from American Express

Bottom Line

The three cards I’ve highlighted above are all free to hold and as long as you’re not putting any spending on the card that you wouldn’t otherwise have made, the welcome bonuses on all three cards can be used to book free single night stays at some of the best properties around the world or they can be used to book free multi-night stays at middle-tier properties worldwide.

The miles and points hobby is all about booking great travel as cheaply as possible and it doesn’t get any cheaper than “free” 🙂

Featured Image: Ritz-Carlton Cancun courtesy of Marriott

A Favorite Card

The Hilton Honors Aspire Credit Card from American Express is a high-end credit card that comes packed with benefits that make this a must-have card for anyone who loves staying at Hilton properties. This card is currently offering a huge 150,000 point welcome bonus (after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months) and offers cardholders Hilton Honors Diamond status for as long as they hold the card. (Annual fee: $450)

Our Favorite Benefits:

  • Hilton Honors Diamond status
  • $250/year Hilton resort statement credit
  • Complimentary weekend night every anniversary
  • Membership of the Priority Pass lounge program
  • Earn 14 points/dollar on Hilton purchases

Click for more details on the Hilton Honors Aspire Credit Card

Regarding Comments

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

1 COMMENT

  1. […] Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan mileage sales are processed by Points.com so that eliminates the scope to earn a travel/flight/airline bonus by using a credit card that offers bonus points for shopping in one of those categories (e.g. the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card). With that option closed off, this makes this sale a good opportunity to use a credit card on which you’re working towards a welcome bonus (e.g. buying just 37,000 miles points in this sale would see you meet the welcome offer requirements for two of the three excellent no-annual-fee hotel cards discussed in this post). […]

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