2023 Edition: Best Credit Cards for Hotels

What credit card should you use for hotel stays? It depends on how you book and how you pay.

Paying for your hotel stays with the right credit card can be a great way of racking up miles to fund your next trip. However, given the variety of ways you can book and pay, picking the right card isn’t always straightforward.

In this post, we’ll look at different scenarios, and the best card to use in each.

💳 What’s the Best Card for…
This guide forms part of the “best card” series. Check out other category specific guides below, or the overall guide here.
✈️ Air Tickets
💗 Charity 🚗 Car Purchase
🍽️ Dining
🏫 Education🥡 Food Delivery
🏥 Hospitals🏨 Hotels
☂️ Insurance
Petrol🚍 Public Transport🛒 Supermarkets
🚰 Utilities

How do hotel transactions code?

When determining the right card to use for hotel transactions, we need to consider two things:

  • MCC
  • Whether the transaction is processed online or offline

MCC

🏨 Pay directly with hotel🌐 Pay via OTA
  • MCC 3500-3999 (major hotel chains)
  • MCC 7011 (other hotels and AirBnB)
  • MCC 4722

If you’re paying at the hotel directly at the front desk or on its official website, the transaction will code in the MCC 3500-3999 range for major hotels, or MCC 7011 for smaller hotels and AirBnB.

⚠️ Caveat

Just because a hotel is part of a chain does not necessarily mean it’ll code under the chain’s corresponding MCC in the 3500-3999 range. As the screenshot below shows, it’s possible for chain hotels to code as 7011, so take heed.

If you’re paying for a hotel through an online travel agent (OTA) like Agoda, Booking.com,  Expedia, Hotels.com or Trip.com, the transaction will code as MCC 4722.

Do keep in mind that booking a hotel via an OTA is not necessarily the same as paying for a hotel via an OTA.

  • If you book via an OTA and pay at the time of booking, your transaction will code as MCC 4722
  • If you book via an OTA and choose a “pay at hotel” rate, your transaction will code as MCC 3500-3999/7011

In case you’re uncertain about the MCC, there’s three ways of looking it up before making a purchase:

MethodEase of UseReliability
HeyMax●●●
📱 Instarem app●●●●
🤖 DBS digibot
●●●

Online/offline

Virtually every hotel will require you to provide a credit card to secure your booking (except Hotel 81, at least for phone bookings!).

However, depending on the rate you’ve selected, payment may either be made at:

  1. The time of booking
  2. The time of check-in/check-out

(1) is generally for prepaid and non-cancellable rates, while (2) is generally for flexible and cancellable rates. In other words, (1) is likely to be processed online, while (2) is likely to be processed offline.

⚠️ Caveat

You’ll notice I’ve used terms like “generally” and “likely”. That’s because I’ve encountered  situations with Hilton and GHA where supposedly prepaid and non-cancellable rates were charged offline at the hotel, at the time of check-in. 

That’s not a bad thing mind you, because it lets you use your GHA DISCOVERY Dollars to pay for a prepaid rate.

Stays booked directly with the hotel

If you’re booking directly with the hotel or paying at the front desk, the following cards can be used to earn 4-6 mpd.

Singapore hotels

CardEarn RateRemarks
UOB Lady’s Card
Apply
6 mpd
🖥️ 🛎️
Max S$1K per c. month. Must choose travel as bonus category
Review
UOB Lady’s Solitaire
Apply
6 mpd
🖥️ 🛎️
Max S$3K per c. month. Must choose travel as bonus category
Review
DBS WWMC
Apply
4 mpd
🖥️ 
Max S$2K per c. month
Review
HSBC Revolution
Apply
4 mpd*#
🖥️ 🛎️
Max S$1K per c. month
Review
UOB Pref. Plat. Visa
Apply
4 mpd^
🛎️
Max S$1.1K per c. month
Review
UOB Visa Signature 
Apply
4 mpd*
🛎️
Min S$1K max S$2K local contactless spend per s. month
Review
*If paid at front desk, must use contactless payments (tap physical card or use mobile wallet)
^Must use mobile payments (do not tap physical card)
#Will exclude MCC 7011 from 1 January 2024
🖥️ = Paid online | 🛎️ = Paid at front desk

Overseas hotels

CardEarn RateRemarks
UOB Lady’s Card
Apply
6 mpd
🖥️ 🛎️
Max S$1K per c. month. Must choose travel as bonus category
Review
UOB Lady’s Solitaire
Apply
6 mpd
🖥️ 🛎️
Max S$3K per c. month. Must choose travel as bonus category
Review
DBS WWMC
Apply
4 mpd
🖥️ 
Max S$2K per c. month
Review
HSBC Revolution
Apply
4 mpd*#
🖥️ 🛎️
Max S$1K per c. month
Review
UOB Pref. Plat. Visa
Apply
4 mpd^
🛎️
Max S$1.1K per c. month
Review
UOB Visa Signature 
Apply
4 mpd
🖥️ 🛎️
Min S$1K max S$2K FCY spend per s. month
Review
*If paid at front desk, must use contactless payments (tap physical card or use mobile wallet)
^Must use mobile payments (do not tap physical card)
#Will exclude MCC 7011 from 1 January 2024
🖥️ = Paid online | 🛎️ = Paid at front desk
❓ Where’s the Citi Rewards Card?
The Citi Rewards Card earns 4 mpd on all online transactions, except travel (defined as airlines, cruises, hotels, rental cars, trains) Therefore, it wouldn’t be the right card to use here, as you’ll earn just 0.4 mpd.

For overseas hotels, you can also consider pairing Mastercards (except DBS) with the Amaze Card to earn the same miles, with lower FCY transaction fees. 

Stays booked through OTAs

If you book your hotel through an OTA, you could potentially earn up to 10 mpd with the right card. 

There’s two scenarios here:

  1. You book through the OTA’s public landing page
  2. You book through the OTA’s special landing page for certain cardholders (e.g. Citi x Agoda or DBS x Expedia)

Either way, I’m assuming you choose the Pay Online rate. If you choose the Pay at Hotel rate, then your card is only charged at the time of check-in/out, and you should refer to the previous section.

Public landing page

CardEarn RateRemarks
UOB Lady’s Card
Apply
6 mpd
Max S$1K per c. month. Must choose travel as bonus category
Review
UOB Lady’s Solitaire
Apply
6 mpd
Max S$3K per c. month. Must choose travel as bonus category
Review
DBS WWMC
Apply
4 mpd
Max S$2K per c. month
Review
UOB Visa Signature 
Apply
4 mpd
(if FCY)
Min S$1K max S$2K FCY spend per s. month
Review
KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card
Apply
3 mpd*With min. S$800 spend on SIA Group per m. year
Review
*For Agoda, AirBnB, Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com, Kaligo, Traveloka, Trip.com, UOB Travel

Special landing page

 AgodaExpediaKaligo
Citi PM Card7 mpd10 mpd
DBS Altitude6 mpd10 mpd
OCBC 90°NUp to 7 mpd
UOB PRVI Miles*6 mpd6 mpd
*Can also book hotels via UOB Travel for 6 mpd

These bookings must be made through the specified landing pages, which I’ve linked to in the table above. You will be required to make payment at the time of booking. 

A word of warning: bookings made through these pages can be more expensive than if you were to go through the generic website (though not always). You should make a point of comparison shopping, and should the price on the special landing page be higher, you need to decide if the differential is worth the miles.

What if I’m buying hotel points?

Purchases of hotel points from Points.com (which processes sales for Hilton Honors, IHG, Marriott Bonvoy and World of Hyatt) will not code as hotel transactions.

Instead, these code as USD transactions under MCC 7399 (Business Services Not Elsewhere Classified). You can use the following cards instead:

CardEarn RateRemarks
Citi Rewards Card
Apply
4 mpdCap of S$1K per s. month 
UOB Visa Signature
Apply
4 mpdMin S$1K, max S$2K FCY spend per s. month
SCB Visa Infinite
Apply
3 mpdMin spend S$2K per s. month
UOB PRVI Miles
Apply
2.4 mpdNo cap 
UOB VI Metal Card
Apply
2.4 mpd No cap
HSBC TravelOne Card
Apply
2.4 mpdNo cap
S. Month= Statement Month | C. Month= Calendar Month

Conclusion

Using the right card for hotel bookings can earn as much as 10 mpd towards your next trip, but be careful because there’s a lot of variables at play: booking direct vs an OTA, paying online versus at the hotel, paying in local currency vs FCY.

If you’re booking through a special bank x OTA website, do take care that you’re not paying significantly more. Extra miles are nice, but not if you’re paying over the odds for them!

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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Jeremy

I’ve encountered a situation where booking directly through the hotel online with advance payment does not earn 4mpd on the WWMC. Guessing that this is because the hotel took the credit card info I filled and separately input them into their terminal, making it an “offline” transaction. In such cases, would it be correct to say that the UOB Lady’s card will be a safer bet if we are unsure how it’s processed since for Lady’s card it does not matter whether it’s offline or online?

Tony

Thanks for the comment and this is useful for my future travels.

Jon

Can the DBS WWMC be used for hotel points purchases, or is that excluded?

Perplexed potato

You mean the HSBC Revolution doesn’t give 4mpd for stays booked via Agoda?? Oh gosh….

Pchoz

Why no mention of Citi prestige card?

Raymond

Because this is about the “best credit cards” rewards? Prestige will be good if 4NF can be triggered, otherwise, its mpd is nowhere near 4mpd.

Jun

If I book a hotel via one of the public landing page websites, by they say that payment will be charged directly by property, that will screw up my miles right?

Jwt

Is it common to pay over counter for hilton members? It’s always that case for IHG

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