Canada’s 9 Best Hotel Credit Cards

Whether you’re looking for free hotel nights or free room upgrades, every traveller needs a place to stay when they’re embarking on a trip.

Below we’ve outlined some of the best hotel credit cards in Canada.

Best Hotel Credit Cards

Best Hotel Credit Card for Free Nights

The Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card is the foremost co-branded hotel credit card in Canada.

With a signup bonus of 55,000+ Bonvoy points, you could spend 5 nights at limited service hotels or one night at a mid-tier brand. The bonus is granted after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

If you prefer quantity over quality, or your travel style consists of more offbeat destinations, you could instead redeem the points towards 10+ nights at some basic properties.

For the equivalent of less than $15 a night, you’d be hard pressed to find a hostel that cheap, even in the most underdeveloped tourist destinations.

Also, starting in your second year with the card, you’ll get an annual Free Night Award worth up to 35,000 Bonvoy points. That’s normally good for a room at most mid-tier hotels, and you should have no trouble finding one worth more than $120.

All things considered, the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card is a great one to keep, as it really pays for itself year after year.

When you do make cash bookings at Marriott properties, be sure to use this card to earn 5 points per dollar spent. Otherwise, the card earns 2 points per dollar spent, a strong base rate for a card that effectively pays you to have it through the annual Free Night Award.

Best Hotel Credit Card for Business Owners

Much like its personal variant, the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card provides all of the same perks, just targeted at the business market. It has a similar welcome bonus and an annual Free Night Award worth up to 35,000 Bonvoy points.

The cards have three key differences: the business card has a higher annual fee at $150, a higher minimum spend of $5,000 in the first three months to unlock the full bonus, and it earns 3 points per dollar spent on gas, dining, and travel expenses. These are very good earn rates across the board, and all on spending categories that many businesses will be able to expense.

It’s worth noting that 3 points per dollar spent on the American Express Business Edge Card (on gas and dining) would be worth 3.6 Bonvoy points after transferring them to Marriott Bonvoy at a 1:1.2 ratio. Still, the Amex Bonvoy Business card has a leg up, thanks to its higher base earn rate on uncategorized spending, plus the Free Night Award which can easily offset the annual fee.

Best Hotel Credit Card for Daily Spending

The American Express Cobalt Card earns Membership Rewards, a flexible points currency which can be transferred to the Marriott Bonvoy program.

MR points convert to Bonvoy points at a rate of 1:1.2. That means that when you spend at grocery stores or restaurants for a high-powered 5x points, you’re effectively earning 6x Bonvoy points on those purchases!

There have also been transfer bonuses in the past, offering bonuses of up to 30%, equivalent to a 1:1.56 transfer rate. If you choose to convert your points at this rate, you could be earning up to 7.8x Bonvoy points. That’s an incredible rate that you won’t find anywhere else for everyday purchases.

You can also transfer MR points to Hilton Honors at a rate of 1:1. Rooms at Hilton hotels tend to cost more points than those in the Marriott portfolio, but this transfer might still be handy if you’ve run out of other ways to earn Hilton points.

Best Hotel Credit Card for Elite Status

Oddly enough, the best credit card in Canada for hotel elite status isn’t actually a hotel co-branded card. Indeed, the two Marriott Bonvoy cards only grant entry-level Silver Elite status to cardholders.

Instead, the American Express Platinum Card is the cream of the crop. It gives automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status and Hilton Honors Gold status as an instant benefit upon signing up.

However, it’s worth noting that these fast-tracked status matches won’t accelerate your progress towards the next level up. If you’re gunning for Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite, for example, you’d still have to earn 50 nights the old-fashioned way, even if you earned Gold Elite automatically through the Platinum Card.

Still, for occasional hotel stays or if you’re not especially loyal to one particular brand, mid-tier status from the Platinum Card can be quite useful. Depending on the hotel chain, you’ll see perks like late checkout, complimentary room upgrades, welcome gifts, and even free breakfast in the case of Hilton Gold status.

As an added perk of the Platinum Card, you’ll also get access to the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts program, which provides additional benefits at many luxury hotels around the world.

These benefits include early check-in or late checkout, room upgrades, daily breakfast for two, etc., so they’re virtually on par with, if not better than, holding mid-tier elite status – even if you’re staying at an independent hotel!

Best Credit Card for Independent Hotel Redemptions

The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card is an incredible card for daily spending, with sky-high earn rates on groceries, dining, and entertainment, as well as strong rates on gas and transit. It’s ideal for people who earn a lot of points by spending on non-travel purchases, and use those points to book hotels.

The best feature of Scene+ points is how easy they are to redeem. You don’t have to book through the bank’s travel portal, or wait on hold with the call centre for hours. You can simply cash them out yourself against any travel expense on the card, at a fixed rate of 1 cent per point.

Scene+ points are a great choice for independent hotels that don’t participate in a loyalty program. You could also use them for flights, but there are many other ways to book flights on points at excellent value, so the Scotiabank cards are comparatively a better choice for hotels.

Best Credit Card for Paying for Independent Hotels

The TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card earns 4% back on travel bookings via Expedia for TD. This is by far the highest travel earn rate on any credit card.

The card fully embraces its role as a travel card, doubling down on the points redemption side as well. To obtain the full maximum value of your rewards, you have to use them on the Expedia for TD travel portal. This makes the TD First Class a “buy travel to earn more travel” card, a unique position amongst its peers.

It’s hard to cover all of your hotel stays with points and vouchers, and no matter how hard you try, most travellers will have to pay some cash out of pocket. In those cases, this is a great card for maximizing your rewards on those bookings. You can then use those points on Expedia’s wide-ranging platform to start scoring some free nights.

Best No Fee Hotel Credit Card

If you’d like to use points for hotel stays, but don’t want to pay annual fees for a credit card, consider the Scotiabank American Express Card.

Like its more premium Gold counterpart, this no-fee red card earns flexible Scene+ points, which can be used for any hotel redemption. You can book via Scene+ Travel or use your points as statement credit for any travel expense.

As for earning points, the card is a workhorse as far as no-fee cards go. You’ll earn 3 points per dollar spent at Empire grocery stores (including Sobeys brands), 2 points per dollar spent on other lifestyle categories, and 1 point per dollar spent everywhere else.

Best Credit Card for Foreign Hotels

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card is one of the only credit cards in Canada that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. This makes it an excellent choice for your day-to-day spending abroad.

That includes any travel arrangements you need to pay for. Most hotels around the world charge in the local currency, so you’d be dinged a surcharge on the exchange when settling your hotel bill with a different Canadian credit card.

Plus, this card earns Scene+ points on all purchases, including those denominated in foreign currencies, which you can use to offset the cost of your trip.

Best Credit Card for Hotel Burglary Insurance

A handful of travel credit cards offer protection in the event that your hotel room is burglarized. As long as there are signs of forced entry, the value of your damaged and stolen possessions (with some exceptions) is insured up to a specified maximum.

When comparing hotel burglary policies, it all comes down to which cards cover you for the highest losses. Also, for coverage to kick in, you have to pay for the hotel room in full with the credit card or its rewards program, so ideally you’d want to use a card whose rewards you’d use for a hotel stay.

A few top-tier credit cards offer coverage up to losses of $2,500, but the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Privilege Card stands above the rest for two reasons.

First, the card gives you a $200 annual travel credit. This reduces your annual fee to a net cost of $299, half the price of the premium Aeroplan cards that offer the same hotel insurance. Also, you can use the travel credit by booking a hotel through CIBC Rewards, and the card’s hotel insurance would subsequently cover your stay.

Second, Aventura points are low in the pecking order when it comes to flight rewards. It’s easy enough to get your airfare covered by other programs, but hotel points are harder to come by. Since it’s a bit tricky to find outsized value with CIBC Rewards, you may as well focus on hotels with them – a fixed-value program for a fixed-value booking.

The RBC Avion Visa Infinite generously offers the same coverage of up to $2,500 but with a much lower annual fee of only $120, and a lower income requirement. However, your credit card insurance won’t cover bookings made with gift cards, a popular way to use Avion points for hotels.

Since Avion points are more valuable for discounted gift cards or business class flights, it’s better not to rely on their credit cards for hotel insurance unless you’re paying the cash rate.

Hotel Credit Cards: What You Need to Know

When choosing a hotel credit card, you should familiarize yourself with what benefits a hotel credit card can offer, what features to look out for, and how hotel credit cards can fit into an optimized overall credit card strategy.

Why get a hotel credit card?

Hotel rewards are important because you’ll always need a place to stay. Whether you’re venturing overseas for a few weeks or spending a weekend closer to home, whether you travel by plane, train, boat, car, or on foot, a good night’s rest will set you up to enjoy your trip.

When you stay at a major hotel brand, it’s often a good idea to book with points by using their loyalty program. You’ll get free cancellations, no resort fees, and in many programs the Fifth Night Free on any award booking.

Also, if you’ve earned or are aiming for elite status with a hotel program, you’ll only be able to use your elite benefits and earn elite qualifying nights by booking with points or cash directly with the hotel program. Bookings made through third-party booking platforms won’t qualify.

As a side benefit, some hotel rewards can be transferred to an enormous variety of frequent flyer programs. This can open some doors to book sweet-spot flight rewards using points that are harder to earn through the major Canadian credit cards.

What should you look for in a hotel credit card?

The Canadian market for co-branded hotel credit cards is slim, with only Marriott Bonvoy offering bank partnerships here. For Hilton Honors, World of Hyatt, or IHG Rewards, you’d have to turn to US credit cards.

Whichever hotel cards you consider, the following benefits are quite common:

  • Large signup bonuses
  • Significant bonus points on spending at any of the chain’s subsidiary hotel brands
  • Annual free night certificates
  • Annual credits for use at any property
  • Property credits for each stay at specific brands
  • Automatic elite status qualification
  • Elite qualifying night credits (annual or with spending)

If you aren’t loyal to a single brand, or if your lodging style is a bit more freewheeling, the advantages of elite status aren’t quite as strong. In that case, you might be better off collecting any bank’s travel rewards program, or even cash back, and using those rewards to book your accommodations.

After all, there are a huge variety of types of places to stay. When you’re looking at an Airbnb or boutique hotel, a hostel, or an all-inclusive resort, a flexible rewards program is often the only way to book.

Alternatively, other premium travel credit cards (not co-branded with a hotel) often have hotel benefits of their own. You can book hotels through third-party services, like American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts or the Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection, and receive many of the same perks as members with elite status.

What’s the optimal strategy for hotel credit cards?

If you’re a dedicated traveller who wants to see as much of the world as possible by maximizing your credit cards, hotel credit cards will play a significant role in your strategy.

On the whole, it’s relatively easier for Canadians to earn points that will cover your flights at a good value, compared to hotels and other places to stay.

Therefore, the objective of your hotel credit card strategy is to give you as many free hotel nights using points as possible, while elevating the quality of all your hotel nights (whether free or paid) through elite status benefits.

The Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card and Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card are the two most prominent hotel co-branded credit cards in Canada.

By getting both cards, you’ll instantly unlock enough points for a couple of free nights via the welcome bonus, and then you can rely on the cards’ anniversary Free Night Awards every year to outweigh their respective $120 and $150 annual fees.

Either of these two cards also gives you 15 elite qualifying nights towards your Marriott Bonvoy elite status. Stay 35 more nights, and you’ll reach the 50 elite qualifying nights required for Platinum Elite status, which is where your elite benefits (like free breakfast, suite upgrades, and lounge access) really start to kick in.

The American Express Platinum Card is another straightforward way to boost your hotel experiences, offering mid-tier Gold status with Marriott, Hilton, and Radisson, as well as access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program to unlock elite-equivalent benefits at a wider range of luxury hotels around the world.

To further maximize points with the major hotel chains, you’d likely need to explore US credit cards, which offer a much wider range of more powerful credit cards among Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, and several other global hotel chains.

Meanwhile, if you prefer to stay at other forms of accommodation, like non-chain independent hotels, hostels, or Airbnbs, then your credit card strategy may be more scattered across the various Big 5 banks’ points programs.

These points currencies can all be used to offset against the cash expenses associated with these other types of lodging options, or in RBC and TD’s cases, redeemed at a good value for your accommodation of choice through the and Expedia portals respectively.

No matter your preferred travel style, your accommodations are likely the second-largest travel expense after your flights, so a solid hotel credit card strategy that works for you should be a top priority alongside maximizing points for flight rewards.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some questions we frequently hear from readers about the best hotel credit cards in Canada.

Will hotel status from my credit card give me elite qualifying nights?

No. Elite nights give you elite status, but elite status doesn’t give you elite nights.

For example, if you earned Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status by holding an American Express Platinum Card, you’d still need a full 50 elite qualifying nights to reach Platinum Elite, the next level up. Being Gold Elite doesn’t get you halfway there unless you’ve earned the qualifying nights to back it up.

When will I receive my 15 elite qualifying nights from the Marriott Bonvoy credit cards?

The 15 elite qualifying nights are typically deposited into your Marriott Bonvoy account within a few days after the credit card application is approved, and then on January 1 every year that you remain a cardholder.

Can I combine the 15 elite qualifying nights from the personal and business Marriott Bonvoy credit cards for a total of 30?

For the Canadian-issued Marriott Bonvoy credit cards, the answer is no: you can only earn a maximum of 15 elite qualifying nights per year, even if you hold both the personal and business versions of the Marriott Bonvoy credit card.

The only way to earn 30 elite qualifying nights from credit cards is by getting US credit cards. If you hold US-issued personal and business Marriott Bonvoy credit cards, then you’ll earn a total of 30 elite qualifying nights, or a total of 40 elite qualifying nights if your personal card is the Bonvoy Brilliant Card.

When will I receive my Free Night Award from the Marriott Bonvoy credit cards?

The Free Night Award is typically deposited into your Marriott Bonvoy account within eight weeks after the statement containing your renewal annual fee has been posted.

Can I pool points from different individuals’ Marriott Bonvoy credit cards into one account?

Yes, you can pool points between different Marriott Bonvoy accounts, although each account is limited to sending 100,000 points per calendar year and receiving 500,000 points per calendar year.

Points transfer can only be done over the phone. The sender should call Member Support and provide the recipient’s Marriott Bonvoy account number in order to initiate the process.

  1. Stephane

    Is it hard to find places in Canada that accept American Express card?

    1. Rachel YYZ

      Not any harder than finding places that accept credit card at all, in my opinion. The only big misses are Loblaws-owned brands and Costco, and I’ve never really had trouble outside of those two.

  2. Taylor

    Can I have receive 30 elite qualifying nights by holding both a personal Marriott Bonvoy Chase card in the US as well as a personal Marriott Bonvoy AmEx card in Canada?

  3. Jeff H TOR

    Which card do I get to accumulate Hyatt points?

    1. Ricky YVR

      The US-issued Chase Ultimate Rewards or Hyatt cards are the only option.

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