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Save on Summer Travel

You can score free lodging by using a credit card issued by a hotel chain.

Road warriors, take note: If you always book your room in a hotel that belongs to a favorite hotel chain, you could benefit from using a hotel credit card. That's because with a hotel card you'll earn points both for staying at the hotel and for paying for your room with the card (you accrue points for all general spending, too).

So even though hotel-card issuers are upping the ante for their pricier properties, you'll pile up the points faster toward a stay at a luxury hotel. For example, Starwood recently raised the requirement for a free room at the St. Regis in New York City to 35,000 points from 25,000, and Hilton and Hyatt have added new luxury categories for which you need larger numbers of points.


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Or you could earn a free stay at a less-pricey hotel and take the family. Apply for a no-fee Choice Privileges Visa card (866-505-7477; by August 16, spend $150 within 75 days of opening the account and you'll receive two nights' free lodging at more than 1,000 hotels in North America.

Sign up for a no-fee Chase Priority Club Rewards Visa (888-215-3049;, and a night at a Holiday Inn Express is on them. Use a Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card (800-223-2670; once and receive enough points for three free nights at a Four Points Sheraton. Plus Amex is waiving the $30 annual fee for the first year.


Hilton HHonors has two programs: a no-fee Hilton HHonors Platinum American Express (800-223-2670; and Hilton HHonors Visa Signature card (800-895-8322; Make your first purchase with either and enjoy a complimentary night at a Hampton Inn.

For the best credit card deals, see our tables.