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The majority of people would love to travel more, but the cost of travel often holds them back. Hotel rooms can be a major travel expense, so it pays to learn how to get free hotel rooms or secure significant discounts. Here are some of our favorite tips to get free hotel rooms for your next vacation.
There are many ways to get free hotel rooms, but these are our favorite strategies because they are relatively easy to do and can earn bunches of hotel points in a hurry.
1. Earn a Welcome Bonus from a Credit Card
When you apply for a new credit card, you have the opportunity to earn a large number of hotel points when you meet the card's minimum spend requirements. Many of the minimum spending requirements can be hit just by putting your regular monthly expenses on the card. Some of the best hotel credit cards offer one-time bonuses of 100,000 or more points.
Both the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Card and IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card currently offer generous bonuses. Depending upon where you redeem them, these bonuses could be redeemed for multiple nights at your favorite hotel or resort.
Recommended Travel Credit Cards
Chase Sapphire Preferred®
60,000Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $1,380 (60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points * 0.023 base)
The card offers 5x points per dollar on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on dining (including eligible takeout and delivery services), as well as 3x points on select streaming services and online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs). This card earns 2x points on all other travel spending and 1x point per dollar everywhere else. Chase broadly defines travel to include not just airfare, hotels and rental cars, but expenses like parking, tolls and public transit too.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Companion Pass®Southwest Rapid Rewards Points
Limited-time offer: earn Companion Pass® good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening Dollar Equivalent:
1x - 3xPoints
Earn 3 points for every $1 on Southwest Airlines® purchases, 2 points for every $1 on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners, 2 points per $1 on local transit and commuting (including rideshare), 2 points per $1 on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming, and 1 point for every $1 on all other purchases.
United Gateway℠ Card
30,000United MileagePlus Miles
Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Dollar Equivalent: $420 (30,000 United MileagePlus Miles * 0.014 base)
1x - 2xPoints
Earn 2X United miles per dollar on United purchases, local transit and commuting and at gas stations. You’ll earn 1X mile per dollar on all other purchases.
60,000Citi ThankYou Points
Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou Points after making $4,000 worth of purchases during the first three months of account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $1,080 (60,000 Citi ThankYou Points * 0.018 base)
10X total ThankYou® Points per $1 spend on hotel, car rentals and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through June 30, 2024. 3X -- Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Other Hotels 3X -- Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets 1X -- Earn 1 Point on All Other Purchases
Rates & Fees
2. Annual Free Night Benefits
Many credit cards include an annual free night benefit that allows you to get a free hotel room. Some of them provide this annual free night just for renewing the card, while others require you to spend a certain amount before receiving your free nights.
Credit cards like the World of Hyatt Credit Card provide one annual free night just for having the card, plus the opportunity to earn another free night based on your spending. Whereas the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card requires you to spend $15,000 before earning a free hotel night.
Each hotel credit card has its unique restrictions and limitations. The Hyatt free night is good at participating Category 1-4 hotels. By comparison, the Hilton free night can be used at almost any Hilton family hotel. However, the Hilton free night is restricted to weekend travel only.
3. Earn Hotel Points on Your Purchases
Even when you're not staying at a hotel, you can earn hotel points on all of your purchases with a hotel credit card. While you'll get the highest number of points on your hotel purchases with these cards, many also offer bonus points on many of your regular expense categories.
Bonuses vary by hotel credit card, but many offer bonuses in a variety of categories, such as grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, travel and gym memberships. Additionally, they all offer a base number of points per dollar on non-bonus categories too.
How I Earn Elite Hotel Status Without Ever Paying With Cash
4. Take Advantage of Bonus Categories
Although credit cards offer bonus categories, not all of your purchases will fall into those categories. You can take advantage of your bonus categories with this awesome workaround. Places like grocery stores, gas stations, home improvement stores, and office supply stores offer gift cards for some of your favorite merchants.
When you buy gift cards from stores that offer bonus points on your purchases, you can turn non-bonused spending into extra hotel points towards your next vacation.
Say you're getting ready to do back-to-school shopping at a department store. However, that store doesn't qualify for one of your card's bonus categories. Simply make a quick stop at the grocery store or gas station (whichever one offers bonus points with your hotel credit card) and buy a gift card for that department store. Voila! You just earned extra hotel points and can now use that gift card to make your purchases.
5. Maximize Your Online Shopping
When shopping online, using a travel portal is a quick way to earn extra rewards. However, most hotel loyalty programs don't have their own shopping portals. Instead, you can earn Chase Ultimate Rewards or cash back on your online purchases.
Chase Ultimate Rewards can be used to book travel or transferred to airline or hotel loyalty programs. When you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®, your points are worth 25% or 50% more, respectively, when booking travel through the Chase Travel portal.
And, of course, cash can be used however you'd like to. We suggest depositing your cash back into a high-yield savings account. This can create a travel fund that earns interest and pays for future vacations.
Recommended High-Yield Savings Accounts
UFB Direct Secure Savings Account
UFB Direct breaks balances into five tiers, but, currently, there is only one interest rate.
No minimum deposit
SoFi Checking and Savings
0.50% - 4.60%
Customers earn 4.60% APY on savings balances when they set up recurring monthly direct deposit of their paycheck or benefits provider via ACH deposit. Alternatively, deposit at least $5,000 each month to earn 4.60% APY on your savings balance. Checking balances earn 0.50% APY
No minimum deposit
CIT Bank Platinum Savings Account
Earn 5.05% APY on balances over $5,000. Balances of less than $5,000 earn 0.25% APY. Annual Percentage Yield is accurate as of July 27, 2023. Interest rates for the Platinum Savings account are variable and subject to change at any time without notice.
$100 minimum deposit
CIT Bank Savings Connect Account
Annual Percentage Yield is accurate as of July 27, 2023. Interest rates for the Savings Connect account are variable and subject to change at any time without notice.
$100 minimum deposit
The Bottom Line
Paying for hotel rooms can put a major dent in your travel budget. By following these five simple strategies, it's possible to score free hotel rooms on your next vacation. You can earn extra hotel points on your spending or use the annual free night benefits of your credit cards. Get the absolute best deals on your trips with Travelocity Promo Codes and status-based discounts. Booking.com also offers loyalty programs that can help you save more. Booking.com promo codes can help you earn points and miles for your next trip.