Is It Worth Spending $15,000 on a Credit Card for a Free Night?

by joeheg

As a benefit, several co-brand hotel credit cards offer a free night in return for meeting a spending threshold in a calendar year. At the beginning of the year, the spending counter resets to zero. Once meeting the required amount, a free night is deposited into your account. Typically this free night is good for one year from when it arrives in your account.

There are co-branded credit cards, available from Hilton, Hyatt, and Marriott, which offer a free night after spending $15,000. However, each free night comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. The question is whether it is worth putting $15,000 on any of these credit cards in order to earn an extra free night.

World of Hyatt Visa

a close-up of a credit card

With the World of Hyatt card, you earn an additional free night at any category 1-4 hotel if you spend $15,000 during your cardmember anniversary year.

Unfortunately, most top-level properties located in large cities in the Americas, like Park Hyatts, Andaz and Thompson, are out of reach since they’re category 5 or higher. There are some nice places you can stay, including the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando and the Hyatt Residence Club Sedona, Piñon Pointe. You’ll be able to find a Category 4 hotel anywhere except a large city like New York, Miami, or San Francisco.

However, if you’re traveling to Southeast Asia, the Park Hyatt in Siem Reap and Hyatt Regency Danang are category 4 or lower.

The one year I earned an extra free night, we used it at the Grand Hyatt Washington D.C. and saved over $400.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card

a credit card with numbers and symbols

The Hilton Honors AMEX Surpass co-brand card doesn’t provide a free night as a perk on renewal. Instead, you earn a free night reward after spending $15,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year.

Unlike the Hyatt free night, the Hilton Honors award is good at any Hilton hotel, with a small list of exceptions.

We switched spending from the Hyatt card to our Hilton Surpass last year and earned the free night. We’ll have to see where we get to use it in 2024.

Marriott Bonvoy Bevy AMEX & Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful

a credit card with a chip and a line of orange linesa credit card with a logo and a line of orange lines

Both the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy American Express and the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful Visa cards award a 50K point free night award after spending $15,000 in a calendar year.

Marriott Bonvoy allows members to add up to 15,000 points to a free night award to book a more expensive room. So with a 50,000 free night, you can stay at a hotel charging up to 65,000 points per night.

Final Thoughts

Although I was uncertain if we could use the Hyatt free night for a good value, it turned out to be a great deal. This year, we have a Hilton free night, which will be easier to use since it is applicable to almost every Hilton hotel. However, the primary concern is that we prefer to stay at a luxurious hotel for more than one night, so we will have to book additional nights using Hilton points.

The Marriott Bonvoy free nights typically offer less value for the same 50K points when compared to Hyatt and Hilton free nights. While Marriott’s free nights usually offer a room in the $200-$250 per night range, the Hyatt and Hilton free nights usually provide rooms worth $300-$400, which is a better value for your spending.

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer as to which free night is best for spending $15,000 on a co-brand card. It all boils down to whether or not you can put the free night to good use. Since you have to complete the spending the year before you use the free night, there’s always some risk involved.

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Christian December 21, 2022 - 2:50 pm

I love the category 1-4 Hyatt night after spending $15,000 but I use my card for business expenses to pave my way toward Globalist status so it’s more of an incidental benefit.

On a side note, I’m not sure it matters a lot but both the Hyatt Regency Miami and the Hyatt Regency Coral Gables are category 3 hotels so staying in a well located quality place at a good price in Miami is actually pretty easy.

joeheg December 21, 2022 - 9:57 pm

Darn my shoddy research!! I checked SF and knew about Manhattan. I figured the same would be true in Miami.

Jim January 6, 2024 - 8:34 pm

I came here to say the same thing. Hyatt Regency Miami, Coral Gables, Hyatt House, and Hyatt Place.

Also, the two Hyatt hotels in Jersey City (Hyatt Regency and Hyatt House) are Category 4 and next to a subway that’s one stop away from Manhattan and have amazing views of NYC. They’re super convenient if you’re driving in from Jersey or PA, as you don’t have to cross the bridges into NYC and deal with the traffic.

JohnB December 22, 2022 - 5:49 pm

My household has 2 IHG cards that give a free night annually and the Amex Marriott legacy card that offers the same. I do not put spend on these cards to earn extra nights. I would rather put $15K of spend to earning a SUB. The only spend I put on hotel CCs, is for that hotel brand. Unless they offer a promo that earns more points or cash-back. Which Chase and Amex do thru their offers on their websites. I just did an offer on my Hilton Amex that gave $80 credit for purchasing shades from SelectBlinds. It amounted to 20% discount on something we had to purchase.

But I repeat, putting $15K of spend on hotel card is something I would never do. Now, if a person uses their hotel CC for business spend, by using other people’s money, go for it.

Stefano January 6, 2024 - 7:32 pm

With the Hyatt card you are also earning 2 qualifying nights for every $5000. So you really are getting 7 nights towards status (the six you earn from spend, plus the free night when you use it). Additionally you get 5 for just holding the card, bringing you to 12. Not too shabby in my opinion.

Jeff January 6, 2024 - 9:37 pm

We put $15K in groceries (6x Hilton points) on the Surpass each year and stack two of them to stay at the Hotel Del Coronado every other year. You just need to time when you cross that $15K threshold because the certificate gets issued pretty quickly and is only good for 12 months. We try to cross it in December and then the following January charge a lot on the card so we get the second certificate by May or June. Then we have two certificates that are both good for at least 6 months and use points for a third night. The rates there regularly run $700+ so it’s a great value and experience.

Robert January 7, 2024 - 11:35 am

I got 3 Hilton free last year but have been unable to redeem. It seems like every time I want to book a hotel, the room is available for hundreds of thousands of points PER NIGHT. My Marriott free nights got Bonvoyed but Hilton is ridiculous and no one talks about it. People value Hilton points at 0.5 cpp but I assign much lower value given that there seems to only be peak pricing. Are you traveling to the Del in off peak seasons?

Fivegirls January 7, 2024 - 12:02 pm

Like JohnB, I won’t spend $15k on a credit card just for a free night. I have to consider the opportunity cost. That same $15k can usually get me 3-5 credit card bonuses, earning AT LEAST 250,000 points/miles across different programs. To me this is worth much more than one free night.

I also don’t have unlimited spend, so I’d likely make up the difference by using Plastiq to pay my mortgage or other bills. This would cost me $435 (2.9%) in fees, which essentially means I am paying $435 to spend the night in that hotel. Would I really choose to do that if I were just spending my own cash?

It’s easy to get caught up in this game to earn “free” travel, but it’s never really free. I have taken my family all over the world with this game, but I have to be careful to calculate the cost, including the opportunity cost, of annual fees and big spending. And in the case of $15k free nights, I’ve decided they’re not worth the cost.

Steve S January 7, 2024 - 12:24 am

Not only that Stefano, but you also receive 15,000 Hyatt points in addition to the free night cert and 7 status nights. 15k points are a worthy free night in and of themselves!

AC January 7, 2024 - 1:17 pm

Absolutely worth it provided you don’t have to manufacture spend or miss other opportunities. I run $150,000 – $180,000 a year through my credit cards (vast majority of my spend) and pay them all off monthly. I easily run $15,000 of unbonused spend through both my Hyatt Visa and Hilton Surpass cards (1.5-1.7 value which isn’t out of line with any other card I have) and usually can run $40,000 through my Surpass to keep my Diamond status. Again this doesn’t take away from any of the bonus categories for my Amex Platinum, Amex Gold or Chase Sapphire Reserve card. If you don’t have the level of organic spend I do maybe an issue but not for me.


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