Why Pay to Stay at a Hotel When You Can Earn Free Nights with Your Credit Card? (Hyatt vs Ritz Carlton vs Starwood Cards)

Aside from cash back, travel rewards are the most popular incentive offered by credit card rewards programs. 

People are either hesitant to spend their money on travel or only travel for business, so earning their next trip while using their Starwood card or Hyatt credit card to pay for things like groceries or entertainment is a fun proposition. Although most people think of discounted plane tickets when they think of travel rewards credit cards, there are also credit cards in partnership with hotels that are willing to offer free stays as part of the card’s rewards.

Why Pay to Stay at a Hotel When You Can Earn Free Nights with Your Credit Card? (Hyatt vs Ritz Carlton vs Starwood Cards)

Image source: Pixabay

This comparison of the Hyatt credit card, the Ritz Carlton rewards card, and the Starwood Preferred credit card will give you a bird’s eye view of a few of the hotel rewards cards on the market.

These cards are set up in partnership with hotels so that customers can benefit by spending and staying at these hotels. If you have a brand favorite, it’s as simple as getting the rewards card it’s associated with. And of course, these cards also come with the traditional rewards that help with the cost of your plane tickets.

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Comparison Review List

The list below is sorted alphabetically (click any of the names below to go directly to the detailed review section):

High Level Comparison Table

Hotel Cards

Purchase APR

Annual Fee

Hyatt Credit Card

16.24% to 23.24%


Ritz Carlton Rewards® Credit Card

16.24% to 23.24%


Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card



Table: The above list is sorted alphabetically

Hyatt Credit Card Review

The Hyatt credit card is a rewards card offered by Chase Bank in partnership with Hyatt Hotels. This Hyatt credit card review will provide the information customers need to determine whether this credit card and accompanying rewards program is right for them.

Hyatt Credit Card Details

The Hyatt credit card has a variable APR of 16.24% to 23.24%. It carries an annual fee of $75. The most important details this Hyatt credit card review can touch on are the rewards, since this is the biggest incentive for consumers to choose this card.

hyatt credit card

Image Source: Hyatt Card Launch

Customers who make $2,000 worth of purchases using their Hyatt credit card within the first three months receive two free nights at any Hyatt hotel worldwide. That can equal significant savings if you are planning a far-flung trip, since accommodations take a huge chunk of anyone’s travel budget.

You can also receive 5,000 bonus points if you add an authorized user to your Hyatt credit card and then make a purchase within the first three months.

As expected, the Hyatt credit card rewards members for spending money on products and services offered by Hyatt.

For every dollar you spend at Hyatt properties using your Hyatt credit card, you will receive three times the points. You get 2 points for every dollar spent on airline tickets that are bought directly from the airline and from car rental agencies.

Of course, the Hyatt credit card does allow you to earn points on money spent on things that are outside of the Hyatt properties or do not involve travel; they just do not carry the same premium points rate. All other purchases receive a point a dollar.

Another important detail to point out in this Hyatt credit card review is that the points you earn on your Hyatt credit card never expire. So long as your account is open, your Hyatt points remain available to redeem whenever you need them, for use on your timeline.

Hyatt Credit Card Reviews: What Customers Have to Say

Often, we want to know the experience of other consumers who have used a product that we are considering. There are several accounts online from Hyatt credit card customers who are willing to share their experience for the education of others.

One Hyatt credit card review makes an interesting point about the Hyatt credit card: it does not offer affiliate links. Often, credit card companies will offer affiliate links so that bloggers or individuals who tell their friends and family about a product can share in the profits. As this blogger notes, Hyatt does not offer such a product, letting the card speaks for itself.

This Hyatt credit card review also makes the very useful point that it is not unattainable to reach the spending amount required to get the two free nights. According to his breakdown, you only need to spend about $333 per month to get to the $1,000 in three months, which can easily be done and affordably so if you buy your groceries and gas, for example, using the Hyatt credit card and then pay it off with the cash you were planning to use.

A common complaint with rewards cards is that reaching a decent number of points to redeem for a trip or a flight is next to impossible. Clearly, that’s not the case with the Hyatt credit card.

You can also get one free night for as few as $5,000 on your Hyatt credit card once per year in celebration of your cardmember anniversary. Furthermore, you get purchase and travel coverage, and you do not have to pay foreign transaction fees when using your card.

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Ritz Carlton Rewards Credit Card Review

The Ritz Carlton Rewards credit card is another hotel rewards card that is offered by Chase Bank. The Ritz-Carlton credit card is a partnership between the Ritz Carlton hotel chain and Chase Bank. With the Ritz Carlton card, customers can make purchases on their Ritz credit card to earn Ritz Carlton rewards card points that they can put toward free travel accommodations.

ritz-carlton credit card

Image Source: The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card

Ritz Carlton Credit Card Review: Rates & Fees

The Ritz-Carlton credit card comes with a variable APR of 16.24% to 23.24%. The Ritz Carlton card’s annual fee is a whopping $450. It does make sense that the Ritz credit card would come with a pricier annual fee since the Ritz Carlton reward credit card is tied to a luxury hotel chain and, as a result, provides perks related to a high-priced hotel company.

This Ritz Carlton credit card review will help consumers decide whether the fee is worth it.

Ritz Carlton Credit Card Review: Ritz-Carlton Credit Card Rewards Program

The big question about the Ritz-Carlton credit card is this: is the pricey fee on the Ritz Carlton card really worth it? You may spend all this money on your Ritz credit card’s annual fee (and interest toward your Ritz Carlton rewards credit card if you carry a balance) and never actually reap enough rewards to justify the cost of your Ritz Carlton rewards card.

First, let’s break down the Ritz-Carlton credit card rewards program and see how you earn points with the Ritz Carlton rewards credit card.

When you apply and are approved for a Ritz Carlton rewards card, like most cards, there is an introductory offer that provides extra rewards. If you spend $5,000 on purchases using your Ritz-Carlton credit card within the first three months of receiving your Ritz Carlton rewards card, you receive three complimentary nights at participating Ritz Carlton hotels.

The implicit assumption here is that a consumer who applies for a Ritz-Carlton credit card has a fairly high income and enough money that making $5,000 worth of purchases over a 3-month period (whether that means putting groceries, gas, or entertainment on their Ritz Carlton card) would not be that big of a burden.

Still, that means that you would have to spend a little over $1,600 a month on your Ritz credit card for three months in order to reap the bonus rewards.

High Earning Potential for Points with the Ritz Carlton Card

There is high earning potential when it comes to collecting rewards using your Ritz-Carlton credit card. For every dollar spent using your Ritz Carlton rewards credit card at a Ritz Carlton hotel or partner hotel like JW Marriott, you earn 5 points toward your Ritz Carlton rewards card.

If you use your Ritz Carlton rewards credit card to make a purchase directly from an airline or car rental company, you earn 2 points for every dollar spent using your Ritz-Carlton credit card.

All other purchases made using your Ritz-Carlton credit card are still eligible to earn points, but those purchases earn one point toward your Ritz Carlton rewards card account for every one dollar spent.

Much like the Hyatt credit card, also offered by Chase Bank, your Ritz-Carlton credit card offers benefits like travel and purchase coverage in addition to sparing you from foreign transaction fees when you use your Ritz Carlton card in another country.

Speed Through Airport Security with Your Ritz-Carlton Credit Card

One point that we would be remiss to leave out for this Ritz Carlton credit card review would be the reimbursement for the Global Entry application fee. Global Entry is a program that helps travelers breeze through customs when they are returning to the U.S. from abroad.

Of course, there is a fee associated with applying for this special status. The fee is currently $100. If you use your Ritz-Carlton credit card to pay for this application fee, the cost will be reimbursed to your Ritz Carlton card in the form of a statement credit. People who sign up for the Ritz credit card are likely frequent travelers, so this perk may be particularly attractive to those individuals.

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Starwood Credit Card Review

The Starwood credit card from American Express is the only hotel rewards credit card on this list that is not offered by Chase Bank. Nevertheless, the Starwood Preferred credit card comes packed with Starwood hotels credit card rewards that make the product worth considering in comparison to the other two.

starwood credit card

Image Source: Starwood Credit Card

The American Express brand is known for two things: high annual fees and exceptional customer service. For many individuals, the latter makes up for the former. And if you are looking for a card that provides you with as many resources as possible while you are traveling, then the Starwood credit card and its Starwood hotels credit card rewards program may be an option for you.

Starwood Preferred Credit Card Rates & Fees

The Starwood Preferred credit card carries a variable APR of 19.99% for regular purchases. If you want to make a cash advance using your Starwood hotels credit card, then that transaction carries a variable APR of 21.99%.

The Starwood credit card comes with an annual fee of $120, putting the Starwood Preferred credit card in between the other credit cards on the list in terms of affordability.

Starwood Preferred Credit Card Rewards Program

For starters, when you receive your Starwood hotels credit card, there is an introductory bonus. If you spend $500 within the first three months of opening your Starwood credit card account, you receive 20,000 bonus Starpoints, which are worth up to 5 free nights.

Every dollar charged to your Starwood card receives one point. The lack of premium points offers on the Starwood credit card may be a bit disappointing to some customers. The other cards on the list offer premium points for specific purchases made at hotels or airlines.

The Starwood card does have limited offers occasionally that allow customers to earn more points on their Starwood hotels credit card. There are limited time offers available for Starwood Preferred credit card holders.

Currently, if you make a purchase using your Starwood card at any participating SPG or Marriott Rewards hotel between November 15, 2016, and November 15, 2017, you will receive 2 points per dollar spent toward your Starwood credit card.

Additional Perks and Services of the Starwood Credit Card

You also get a free weekend night award when you spend at least $40,000 in one calendar year on your Starwood Preferred credit card. You can also upgrade to the Gold member Starwood card when you reach $30,000 in purchases on your Starwood credit card.

Moreover, if you refer a friend to the Starwood card rewards program and that friend is approved, you can receive a referral bonus of 10,000 Starpoints.

You can use your Starwood credit card points at over 1,200 different hotels in almost 100 countries without worrying about blackout dates. The Starwood card rewards program also allows Starwood Preferred credit card holders to experience a wide variety of hotel brands, including The Luxury Collection, St. Regis, W Hotels, Le Méridien, Westin, Aloft, Element, Sheraton, and Four Points by Sheraton.

There are also several airline transfer partners with the Starwood hotels credit card. Starwood card customers can transfer their Starpoints for rewards miles at 30 different airlines, usually 1:1, with almost 30 different airlines.

Nerdwallet called the Starwood credit card one of the “top hotel cards and a great pick for the luxury-hotel enthusiast.”

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Conclusion – Spend & Earn Points Toward Your Travel Accommodations

Whether you prefer the Hyatt, the Ritz-Carlton, or the Starwood chain of hotels, there is a rewards program out there for your preferred hotel company.

The Hyatt credit card, Ritz Carlton card, and the Starwood Preferred credit card all offer rewards programs that allow you to save toward your next trip and enjoy other perks along the way.

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