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The information related to Hilton Honors American Express Aspire and Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card has been collected by AwardWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Plenty of credit cards offer signup bonuses with either free points or a free night certificate, but do you know which cards offer a bonus each year available to cardmembers that keep their account active? Some of these annual perks come just by being a cardmember, where others require a minimum spend to receive a bonus. Regardless, your cost, other than the annual fee and meeting those spend requirements is zero. We've summarized the offers available and will break each one down to cover the value they provide.

Luxury Hotel at Night

Credit CardAnnual BonusAnnual Fee
IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit CardOne free night at any IHG property worldwide. As long as there is a standard room available you're able to use this free night. Bonus: Room must be booked by the expiration date of the certificate, however, the actual stay can occur at any bookable time in the future. This is the best free night offering in our opinion.$49
Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit CardOne free night at any Marriott Category 1 through 5 property worldwide. Marriott has a huge footprint, but this certificate is limited to lower category redemptions only. Take a look at some Marriott value/budget redemption options as ways to get a solid value from this certificate.$85
The Hyatt Credit CardOne free night at any Hyatt Category 1 through 4 property worldwide. While Hyatt limits this certificate redemption to its lowest 4 tiers, there are some fantastic properties in those tiers. If you can find a Hyatt property for your desired location, there is great value to be had here.$75
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire CardOne Weekend Free Night Certificate each year on your account anniversary. While there are some exclusions, almost all of Hilton's massive global portfolio is available for redemption.$450
Club Carlson℠ Premier Rewards Visa Signature® CardOne free night at a Club Carlson property in the United States when you charge $10,000 then renew your card by paying the Annual fee. Additionally, you receive 40,000 renewal bonus points each year when you renew your card by paying the Annual fee. This card is a double-whammy. If you spend $10,000 on the card you'll earn a free night good at any property in the US and on that $10,000 in spend you'll also earn 50,000 Club Carlson points (5 points per dollar). When you pay the $75 annual fee you'll also receive a bonus 40,000 points as well. The biggest challenge with Club Carlson is that they have limited aspirational properties in the United States, however, if you're looking for more value-based redemptions and want to rack up a ton of points, this is a solid deal.$75

How We'd Use These Free Nights

Each of these free nights has a different potential value. The free night from the IHG Rewards Card is the least expensive to acquire and has the least amount of limitations, which is why it is our favorite, and we'd never want to use it at an airport hotel. However, the free nights earned from the Club Carlson Premier Visa are a perfect example of how you could get great value from an airport hotel. This is what we'd do with each of the options:

IHG Rewards Free Night

This is a perfect free night to pair with a significant other or travel buddy to get a weekend away. The bonus with these certificates is that if you time it correctly, typically within about three weeks of the expiration of your certificate, your next year certificate will deposit to your account and you'll have two nights that you can cash in — your expiring one and your new one. Pair it with a buddy, and you've got four free nights anywhere in the world!

Some of our favorite redemptions include the InterContinental Sydney and the InterContinental London Park Lane.

Marriott Rewards Free Night

The Category 1-5 limitation on this free night can make it a challenge if you want to stay in a large city. Our best advice for this one is cash it in at a smaller city, or perhaps a high-end Marriott in Southeast Asia like the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa.

World of Hyatt Free Night

Hyatt has some Category 4 gems that make this free night valuable. Pair it with a buddy, and you've got a nice weekend getaway.

Hilton Honors Free Night

The biggest barrier to entry with this card is the $10,000 spend requirement. Given that this free night doesn't come without some associated effort, we'd encourage you to think aspirational. Perhaps a Waldorf or high-end Hilton property in New York or San Francisco where rates would easily top $300/night.

Club Carlson Free Night

This is the wild-card in the bunch. While you'll net 40,000 bonus points each year just by paying the annual fee on the card, if you spend $10,000 you'll get a free night at any property in the US, and of course you'll earn 50,000 points on that $10,000 spend. The spend + points earning + bonus points each year keep this interesting.

While there are few Club Carlson aspirational properties in the US, the Radisson Martinique on Broadway in New York and the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago are two top-notch places if you're looking to visit either city. Alternatively, save your Club Carlson rewards for those nights you need at an airport hotel or smaller cities where you can redeem for as little as 9,000 points/night ($1,800 of credit card spend).

Which is Best?

Your goals will dictate which free night(s) work for you, but we think the IHG Rewards Card and its free night certificate are a must-have. Look at the other options to fill your points and miles portfolio to max out your redemptions each year. Which of these are your favorite?

Hotel Credits Cards That Provide Free Annual Night Bonuses
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Comments

  • My Wyndham Rewards Visa gives me 15,000 points on each account anniversary, which is good for a free night at any Wyndham brand hotel.

  • IHG far and away the best deal here.

  • The IHG Rewards card is by far my favorite! It has def come on handy!

  • I love the IHG Rewards Select Credit Card. Stayed in Moab, Utah this year using my free night certificate. The room was priced at over $200.

  • kripal singh says:

    Can i use IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card for stay at high priced hotels in time square or vegas ?

  • Hyatt Card is the best deal going…Scored two free nights at the Andaz Tokyo and every year a category 4 hotel room for the $99 annual fee…get this card it is a no brainer

  • I often forget about the free night certificate at hotels. I’m booking at the Marriott right now to use it! Thanks!

  • This is great! If I can pair some of these cards with my AA miles, I can basically go on vacation for free or very cheap! Sounds great to me and a win win.

  • I’m glad that the Marriott one is now good for a year instead of expiring in 6 months.

  • the Hilton Honors Surpass card from AMEX earns you a Free Weekend night on your anniversary date of Card approval.

  • DaWoodMan1 says:

    While free nights certificates as an annual incentive to a card are nice, I wish it was annual points (that can be used toward a free night) instead. With an annual free night certificates, I always worry about being able to find time to get away and use it. And if I don’t use it, I feel like I’m missing out on the benefit, whereas if the points just get deposited into my account, I can use them at my leisure and I don’t feel crunched for time.

    Oh well, I suppose the lesson here is that I need to work less 🙂 and obviously an annual benefit is better than no annual benefit.

  • I’ve so far looked pretty skeptically at these one-night-free offers — I feel like I’d get tempted to stay two or three nights, eating away at the value by using that as justification to stay somewhere more expensive than I’d otherwise choose.

    • I generally combine the free night with a couple of nights using points. Benefit of the free night cert is that it does not get devalued when the program (inevitably) increases the redemption level for award nights.

  • Leslie Johnson says:

    IHG points/free nights are the best. Hotel’s from basic to rather lux all over and redemption is easy!

  • We got the free IHG and used only 30,000 points for a $300 a night room in DC this weekend. Totally worth it.

  • Hyatt and SPG are my favourites, although SPG doesn’t have free nights

  • Like everyone else says, the IHG card is amazing. $49 annual fee is a no-brainer for a free night, Platinum status speeds up earning on IHG stays, and the sign-up bonus can easily get you two or there nights at a high (if not top) tier property. Plus spending min. is only $1k. A steal.

  • Citi was great, but it is disappearing unfortunately .

  • Aren’t the Citi Reserve applications no longer showing up online?

  • Will have to utilize the Marriot free night abroad in a lower category. Thanks for the info.

  • I love my Hyatt card and its free night!

  • Love when you do these blog posts comparing everything and letting us know and see which is best. It really helps to focus on what I’d liked to do for the year. I do track all my point accounts pretty well but with all my options it’s wonderful having someone help now and then to remind me.

  • Free nights are a great incentive to keep annual fee cards.

  • Carlson used to be great when they had the BOGO on awards stays, however, they have a big footprint in Europe. IHG is my go to in the US.

  • I still have the 7 day Marriott pass and want to take my family somewhere great…any recommendations?

  • The IHG card’s free night benefit is definitely the star of the bunch.

  • Hard to find decent Club Carlson hotels in the US. I am gifting my points to my husband and maybe we’ll use them near Disneyland. Also I’m finding the Hyatt and Marriott hotels I might want to stay at are above the free night category. I wish I could use points and the free night certificates to upgrade the category!

  • Considering the a IHG for the free night. Some good redemption opportunities

  • Great post! Thanks for posting.

  • Which bank offers the Club Carlson card??

  • Camilla Sauder says:

    We used our Marriott free night at an Autograph collection hotel. It was very nice.

  • Honestly the IHG card is a no brainer… easy to get more than 49 dollars worth for that certificate. Most of these credit cards should be worth the AF imo

  • I have had mt IHG Rewards card for a year, and it’s well worth the annual fee for the anniversary night. Pro tip – IHG’s survey for points site is generous and easy!

  • Even with all the changes to the Hyatt program this year, I still do love my Hyatt card and the free anniversary night!

  • Well this is not a credit card promotion, I have found the free night you get at hotels.com after staying 10 nights to be a useful perk .

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