The most reliable ways to get free hotel rooms are to use a credit card with hotel rewards, and to join hotels’ free loyalty programs. Plus, you can always ask a hotel to match a better price you’ve found, and checking in late can sometimes lead to free upgrades since the hotel will have a better sense of which rooms won’t be needed. But for fully comped stays, credit cards and loyalty programs are your best bet.
With credit cards, there are two paths you can take. If you’re not particularly loyal to any one hotel chain and value flexibility, just get a travel rewards credit card whose points or miles can be redeemed for stays at any hotel. For instance, Capital One Venture and Chase Sapphire Reserve let you book hotels using rewards on their travel portals.
But if you tend to favor one hotel chain over others, the most efficient way to get free nights is with a co-branded hotel card. You’ll earn the most rewards at the hotel chain in question, redeemable for free nights. And if you join the hotel’s loyalty program, you’ll usually get an extra point or two per dollar spent, on top of what the card gives you.
Here are the best cards to get free hotel rooms:
Capital One Venture Credit Card: $500 travel statement credit for spending $3,000 within three months of account opening. 10x miles at Hotels.com/venture, 2x miles everywhere else.
Miles can be redeemed for travel statement credits, which includes hotel stays. $95 annual fee, waived the first year.
Chase Sapphire Reserve: $750 in free travel (including hotel stays) for spending $4,000 in the first three months. $300 annual statement credit for travel purchases, again including hotel reservations.
3 points per $1 on travel and dining (1 point per $1 on all other purchases). Redeem for hotels on Chase’s travel portal, at 1.5 cents per point. $450 annual fee.
Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card: 50,000 points for making your first purchase, and 35,000 points for spending $2,500 in the first 90 days. 40,000 points every year for renewing your card. 10 points per $1 spent at Carlson hotels (5 everywhere else).
Redeem points for free nights, starting at 9,000 points per night. Combine points and cash if you have at least 5,000 points. $75 annual fee.
IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card: 1 free night every account anniversary. 60,000 points for spending $1,000 in the first three months. 5,000 points for making at least one purchase and adding an authorized user within the first three months. 5 points per $1 at IHG hotels, 2 on gas stations and groceries, 1 everywhere else.
Redeem for free nights starting at 10,000 points per night and get 10% back each time you redeem. $0 annual fee for the first year, $49 after that.
SPG Preferred Credit Card from American Express: 25,000 points for spending $3,000 in the first three months. Up to 5 points per $1 at participating Starwood hotels, 2 at participating Marriott hotels, and 1 everywhere else.
Redeem points for free nights starting at 3,000 points per night. $0 annual fee for the first year, $95 after that.
The easiest way to get free hotel rooms is to get a credit card that rewards you with them. That’s because you’ll be earning free stays with every purchase you make, not just on reservations. But you can also earn free nights by joining a hotel’s loyalty program. Every time you book a stay, you’ll earn points that you can redeem for free nights. Similarly, Hotels.com has its own loyalty program. Members get 1 free night for every 10 stays they book on the website.