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, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card 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 Rewards Credit Card: 100,000 miles for spending $20,000 within the first 12 months or 50,000 miles for spending $3,000 within 3 months of account opening. 2x miles everywhere. Miles can be redeemed for travel statement credits, which includes hotel stays. $95 annual fee.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®: 100,000 miles for spending $4,000 in the first 3 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. $550 annual fee.
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card: 1 free night every account anniversary and when redeeming points for 4+ nights. 125,000 points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. Up to 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel, 2 on gas stations and groceries, 1 everywhere else. Redeem for free nights. Annual fee: $89 that.
Hilton Honors American Express Card: 80,000 points for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months and an additional 50,000 points for spending a total of $5,000 in the first 6 months. Up to 7 points per $1 at Hilton Honors hotel or resort, 5 Hilton points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations, and 3 points everywhere else. Redeem points for free nights. $0 annual fee.
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.