How to Get A Free Hotel Stay Every Year

PHOTO: Sofitel Hanoi, Vietnam

Do you catch yourself daydreaming from your cubicle and longing to travel to faraway places? Do you also think that you can’t afford a stay at a nice hotel every year? Think again.

To receive a “free” hotel stay every year, you’ll want to sign up for a co-branded hotel credit card of your choice. The reason that “free” isn’t really free is that you still have to pay an annual fee to hold all of these cards, but in many cases, the fee is much less than the cost of the room. However, beware–not every card comes with the benefit. Let’s take a look at which hotel credit cards offer a free annual night, their terms, and limits.

Hilton Honors Aspire Card: In addition to the $250 airline fee credit and $250 Hilton resort credit, you earn a Hilton Honors Annual Free Weekend Night Certificate with this Hilton-branded credit card. The certificate is issued within eight to 14 weeks after opening an account, and you can use it toward a one-night stay on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night at most Hilton properties, (with some exceptions). The card’s annual fee is $450, and you’ll want to make sure you use every credit to extract the most value possible from this credit card. Keep in mind that the certificate expires after one year. If you’re a big spender, you can earn another free weekend night after spending $60,000 on the card in any calendar year.

INSIDER TIPKeep in mind that the certificate expires after one year. If you’re a big spender, you can earn another free weekend night after spending $60,000 on the card in any calendar year.

 

IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card: With this credit card, you will earn a free night upon each account anniversary. To receive the Anniversary Free Night, all you have to do is keep the card past year one– and pay the annual fee of $89. The free night certificate will apply every year you keep the card. The free night can be redeemed within 12 months at any IHG property where a standard room costs up to 40,000 IHG Rewards points per night. Keep in mind: It’s not possible to break it up and book two nights at 20,000 points each, and the certificate expires if not used within a year.

You pay anywhere between $75 and $450 for a credit card, but you also earn a night at a hotel every year, which can cost more than the fee. The key is to redeem your free night strategically to make sure the perk outweighs the cost.

Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card / The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card: In case you haven’t heard all the points-and-miles and gossip, Marriott International bought Starwood, and the two loyalty programs have merged into one. You can redeem Marriott’s free night certificates at SPG and, Starwood’s free night certificates at Marriott. Each of these credit cards offers a Free Night Award upon account anniversary (and paying an annual fee of $95). The certificate is limited to 35,000 points per night and can be used at any hotel at this redemption level (or lower). Unfortunately, the free night certificate doesn’t cover resort fees associated with a property. The award night certificate expires one year after being issued.

Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury Card: If the word “luxury” sounds appealing, but the $450 annual fee on this credit card doesn’t, do not worry. So, what makes this card so special? Well, in addition to perks such as the $300 Marriott or Starwood statement credit and complimentary Gold Elite status with the chain, you earn a Free Night Award certificate with a redemption level of up to 50,000 points per night, which covers many JW Marriott, Le Méridien, and Westin hotel brands.

World of Hyatt Credit Card: The free night certificate that comes with the World of Hyatt Credit Card is limited to Category 4 (or lower) properties. In other words, it’s worth up to 15,000 World of Hyatt points. To find out which category a hotel of your choice is, visit this page. The free night posts to your account after you pay the annual fee of $75 and the statement with the fee on it closes. You can use the Free Night Award for a standard room at any Category 1-4 Hyatt-branded hotel within 12 months from its posting day. You must check out before the certificate expires. The benefit covers the room rate, taxes, and resort fees. Additionally, you can earn another free night certificate by spending $15,000 on the card within one calendar year.

Many consumers are wary of credit cards that carry annual fees. However, in most cases, the benefits outweigh the fees significantly. Think of getting free nights at hotels, for example. You pay anywhere between $75 and $450 for a credit card, but you also earn a night at a hotel every year, which can cost more than the fee. The key is to redeem your free night strategically to make sure the perk outweighs the cost.

Let’s use my personal experience as an example. A year and a half ago, I signed up for the Hyatt Card that offered 40,000 points as a welcome bonus. After redeeming the points for a wonderful trip in the Bahamas, I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to keep the card in my wallet for another year or not. A year later, I knew of an upcoming trip to Europe. The final destination was Spain, but the cheap flight I’d found was to Paris, so I needed to book two one-night stays in Paris on both ends of my vacation. I decided to keep the card and used the free night certificate at Hyatt Regency Paris Étoile, where the night I needed cost €248. I paid $75. Was the card worth keeping? You tell me.