The Best Credit Cards for Complimentary Hotel Elite Status [2021]

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The comfort and convenience of having hotel elite status is truly a pleasure when traveling.

What’s not to love about getting upgraded to a suite, enjoying complimentary Sunday brunch in the hotel restaurant, or occasionally being provided with your own personal butler?

There are also the more subtle pleasantries of a fresh fruit plate waiting for you when you arrive or being able to check out late.

Elite benefits would be expensive if you had to put a price tag on each one. The cost of a room upgrade, paying for premium Wi-Fi, or breakfast in the hotel restaurant would add up quickly.

However, if you play your cards right, you can score hotel elite status without staying the 50 or so nights each year it normally takes to earn it.

Here’s a collection of credit cards that actually come with hotel elite status or offer an alternative faster path to achieving it, rather than earning it through the normal hotel loyalty program process. But that’s not all these credit cards offer — you’re going to find some rather unique benefits that every traveler can appreciate.

Update: Due to COVID-19, many hotel loyalty programs have extended points and status expiration, reduced elite qualification, adjusted free night awards, and incentivized with credit card bonuses. For more details, visit our article: Coronavirus (COVID-19): Hotel Elite Status Extensions, Changes, and Updates.

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The Platinum Card® from American Express

It may seem unusual to receive complimentary hotel elite status from a card that is not affiliated with a hotel chain.

However, the Amex Platinum card not only provides hotel elite status with 2 major hotel chains but it is also loaded with a long list of luxury travel benefits.

Amex Platinum Card’s Hotel Elite Status Benefits

The Amex Platinum card stands out as the only credit card that offers you elite status at 2 mid-level hotel brands. For just having the card, you’ll receive Gold level elite status with both Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy hotel rewards programs.

The benefits of these statuses include, but are not limited to:

  • Hilton Honors Gold
    • Room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, fifth consecutive award night free, late checkout, free internet, 80% bonus points on hotel stays
  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite:
    • Room upgrades, fifth consecutive reward night free, late checkout, free internet, 25% bonus points on hotel stays, welcome amenity points

Additional Reasons To Have the Amex Platinum Card

The Amex Platinum card is a premium travel rewards credit card that includes many luxury perks and benefits like:

  • Generous welcome bonus
  • Complimentary access to over 1,300 airport lounges in the American Express Global Lounge Collection
  • Up to $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck statement credit
  • Up to $200 per year in Uber Cash
  • Up to $200 per year in airline fee credits
  • Elevated earnings of 5 Membership Rewards Points per dollar spent on flights directly purchased from airlines or with Amex Travel and prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel
  • Authorized users (add up to 3 for a total of $175) receive lounge access, rental car program elite status/ benefits, and hotel benefits
  • 2-night bookings or more at The Hotel Collection or Fine Hotel & Resorts receive benefits such as room upgrades, breakfast for 2, late checkout, and complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Car rental program status and benefits with Hertz, National, and Avis

Note that the hotel elite status that comes with the card is not automatic. You must log in to your online Amex Platinum card account and register under the benefits tab.

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express also comes with the same Hilton Honors Gold and Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status. It, too, is loaded with luxury travel benefits specifically designed for the frequent business traveler.

Hilton Honors Credit Cards

Hilton Bali Resort
Receive complimentary elite status with Hilton-branded credit cards. Hilton Bali Resort. Image Credit: Hilton

All Hilton Honors credit cards issued by American Express include complimentary elite status in the Hilton Honors loyalty program, with 3 of 4 cards including a spending path to a higher status level.

Hilton Honors Elite Status Benefits

The perks of having Hilton Honors hotel elite status are many. Here’s a snapshot of what each level of Hilton Honors elite status offers:

  • Silver — Standard free Wi-Fi, late checkout, fifth consecutive reward night free, 20% bonus points on hotel stays, and no resort fees on award stays
  • Gold — All preceding benefits plus room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, and 80% bonus points on hotel stays
  • Diamond — All preceding benefits plus premium free Wi-Fi, upgraded rooms can include suites, 100% bonus points on hotel stays, executive lounge access, and the ability to gift elite status

Here are the 2021 annual stay requirements in order to earn each status level:

Elite Status Level2021 Requirements
Silver2 stays, 5 nights, or 12,500 base points
Gold10 stays, 30 nights, or 37,500 base points
Diamond15 stays, 30 nights, or 60,000 base points

Hilton Honors Credit Cards and Their Elite Status Benefits

Each Hilton Honors-branded credit card comes with a level of complimentary elite status in the Hilton Honors loyalty program. Additionally, you have the option to meet spending level requirements on your card to reach an elevated level of elite status.

Here’s a summary of elite status that comes with each card and how to reach the next level:

Hilton Honors Credit CardComes WithSpend Your Way To
  • Diamond
  • N/A
  • Gold
  • Diamond after spending $40,000 on the card in a calendar year
  • Silver
  • Gold after spending $20,000 on the card in a calendar year

Additional Reasons to Have the Hilton Aspire Card

Unlike credit cards that come with only mid-tier hotel program elite status, the Hilton Aspire card is the only credit card that comes with top-tier hotel elite status. You’ll receive Hilton Honors Diamond status just for having the card.

To qualify for Diamond status, you would normally need to have 30 stays, 60 nights, or earn 120,000 Hilton Honors base points in a calendar year. Diamond Elite status comes complimentary with the card and is valid as long as you have the card.

The Hilton Aspire card also comes with these other great benefits:

Bottom Line: All Hilton Honors-branded credit cards come with elite status in the Hilton Honors program. You’ll also have the fast-path option to spend your way to higher status without staying the required number of hotel nights or stays annually. 

Marriott Bonvoy Credit Cards

four points by sheraton cocoa beach dog friendly
Marriott Bonvoy-branded cards issued by Amex and Chase come with complimentary Marriott Bonvoy elite status. Four Points by Sheraton Cocoa Beach. Image Credit: Marriott

Both American Express and Chase issue Marriott Bonvoy-branded cards that come with complimentary elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program.

Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status Benefits

The Marriott Bonvoy Rewards program has several elite tiers. Here’s a general overview of what you can expect at each elite level:

  • Silver Elite — Special member hotel rates, free internet, dedicated phone line, 2 p.m. late checkout, and 10% bonus points on hotel stays/qualifying purchases
  • Gold Elite — All preceding benefits plus room upgrades, welcome points, free premium internet, and 25% bonus points for hotel stays/qualifying purchases
  • Platinum Elite — All preceding benefits plus lounge access, 4 p.m. late checkout, welcome gift choice, annual special gift choice, 50% bonus points for hotel/qualifying purchases, and room upgrades including suites
  • Titanium Elite — All preceding benefits plus 75% bonus points for hotel/qualifying purchases
  • Ambassador Elite — All preceding benefits plus a dedicated concierge ambassador representative

All elite members have the ability to combine cash and points to book rooms and have access to purchase PointSavers discounted award nights.

In order to qualify for any elite status level with Marriott Bonvoy, you would normally need to meet the following requirements each calendar year:

Elite Status LevelNights Required
Silver Elite10
Gold Elite25
Platinum Elite50
Titanium Elite75
Ambassador Elite100 +$14,000 spend with Marriott (revised for 2021)

Hot Tip: For 2021, Marriott is gifting all members 50% of the elite night credits that their tier earned them in 2020.

Marriott Bonvoy Credit Cards and Their Elite Status Benefits

Here’s a look at the level of elite status that comes complimentary with each Marriott Bonvoy-branded credit card:

Marriott Bonvoy Credit CardComes WithSpend Your Way To
  • Gold Elite
  • Platinum Elite after spending $75,000 in a calendar year
  • Silver Elite
  • Gold Elite after spending $35,000 in a calendar year
  • Silver Elite
  • Gold Elite after spending $35,000 in a calendar year
  • 15 elite nights toward status which qualifies you for Silver Elite status (10 nights are normally needed)
  • N/A

Additional Reasons to Have a Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card

  • Free hotel night certificate at each card anniversary renewal
  • Earn 6x points per dollar spent at Marriott properties (Marriott Bold card earns 3x)
  • A faster path to elite status with 15 elite qualifying night credits per year (maximum 30 elite night credits)
  • Ability to qualify for higher elite status by meeting spending thresholds on the card
  • American Express or Visa Signature travel and shopping benefits

Bottom Line: Marriott Bonvoy-branded credit cards listed above each come with complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Elite status. Most cards also have an option to spend your way to a higher elite status level, and all come with 15 qualifying elite night credits each year. If you have both a personal consumer Marriott Bonvoy-branded card and a business card, you can receive up to a maximum of 30 elite night credits per year.

World of Hyatt Credit Card

Park Hyatt Saigon Park Suite
Enjoy complimentary elite status with the Hyatt Credit Card. Park Hyatt Saigon Park Suite. Image Credit: Hyatt

World of Hyatt Elite Status Benefits

The World of Hyatt Credit Card comes with entry-level Discoverist status.

  • Discoverist — Premium complimentary internet, free breakfast at participating Hyatt Place properties, resort fee waived on award nights, basic room upgrade, 2 p.m. late checkout, and early 12 p.m. check-in
  • Explorist — All preceding benefits plus upgrades to the best room available, excluding suites
  • Globalist — All preceding benefits plus complimentary lounge access, upgrades to suites when available, Guest of Honor privileges to gift award nights to family and friends, 4 p.m. late checkout, and free parking at resorts when booking award nights

All elite-level members receive a dedicated reservation line, a special check-in area at the hotel, member discounted hotel rates, a free bottle of water each day, and corresponding MGM M life Rewards elite status.

Here’s what it takes in 2021 to achieve World of Hyatt elite status in a calendar year for each level of the program:

Status Tier2021 Qualifying Nights2021 Qualifying Points
Discoverist512,500
Explorist1525,000
Globalist3050,000

Hyatt Credit Card and Its Elite Status Benefits

World of Hyatt Credit Card - Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 More Bonus Points by earning 2 Bonus Points total per $1 spent in the first 6 months from account opening on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 spent.

We like how you also get one free night at any Category 1–4 Hyatt hotel (or resort) every year after your cardmember anniversary. See how to best use your free night for maximum value!

It would normally require staying 10 nights or 25,000 earned base points (or 5 nights or 12,500 base points in 2021) to earn the Discoverist elite status that comes complimentary with the Hyatt Credit Card.

In addition, the card also grants 5 qualifying night credits toward the next elite level, Explorist status, which typically requires 30 elite qualifying nights or 50,000 base points (or 15 nights or 25,000 base points in 2021). You can also spend your way to elevated status as you receive 2 additional qualifying elite night credits for each $5,000 spent on the Hyatt Credit Card.

Additional Reasons To Have the Hyatt Credit Card

  • Free night certificate at card renewal anniversary
  • Spend your way to a higher status with 2 elite qualifying nights for every $5,000 spent on the card
  • Up to 9x points per dollar spent at Hyatt – 4 Bonus Points per $1 spent at Hyatt hotels and 5 Base Points per $1 from Hyatt as a World of Hyatt member
  • 2x points per dollar spent on flights, local transit, fitness/gym memberships, and restaurants
  • 1x point per dollar for all other purchases

Bottom Line: The Hyatt Credit Card comes with entry-level elite status plus 5 qualifying night credits to accelerate your progress toward mid-level status. You can earn additional elite qualifying nights by spending on your Hyatt Credit Card at the rate of 2 nights for every $5,000 spent on the card. 

IHG Rewards Credit Cards

InterContinental Hotels Pattaya Resort
Receive elevated earnings when using your card at IHG Hotels & Resorts properties. InterContinental Hotels Pattaya Resort. Image Credit: IHG

IHG Rewards Elite Status Benefits

Here’s a summary of what each level of IHG Rewards Elite status offers:

  • Gold Elite — Complimentary Wi-Fi, extended checkout time, reward nights count toward elite status, and 10% bonus point earnings on qualifying hotel purchases
  • Platinum Elite — All preceding benefits plus 50% bonus points on hotel purchases, complimentary room upgrades, and room availability guarantee
  • Spire Elite — All preceding benefits plus 100% bonus points on hotel purchases, choice of gift when qualifying for Spire Elite status, and Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Five Star elite status and 1-class vehicle upgrade

Due to COVID-19, all elite nights earned in 2020 have been rolled over to 2021 and elite requirements for 2021 have been reduced by 25%:

Status Tier2021 Qualifying Nights2021 Qualifying Points
Gold Elite770,000
Platinum Elite3030,000
Spire Elite5555,000

IHG also has an Ambassador level status that can be purchased for $200 per year ($150 renewal) and includes a buy one/get one reward weekend night, Intercontinental benefits, and a 10% rebate on award night purchases.

For more information, refer to our guide to the IHG Rewards loyalty program.

IHG Rewards Credit Cards and Their Elite Status Benefits

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card

IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card
Apply Now
(at Chase's secure site)
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn up to 15 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
  • Earn 2x points on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants; then 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
  • Good to Excellent Credit Recommended (670-840)
  • No Annual Fee
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Apply Now
(at Chase's secure site)
  • Earn 125,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn up to 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
  • Earn 2x points on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants; then 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
  • Enjoy a Reward Night after each account anniversary year at eligible IHG hotels worldwide. Plus, enjoy a reward night when you redeem points for any stay of 4 or more nights
  • Platinum Elite status as long as you remain a Premier card member
  • Good to Excellent Credit Recommend (670-850)
  • Annual Fee: $89

The IHG Premier card comes with complimentary Platinum Elite status.

The IHG Traveler card has no annual fee and you can qualify for Gold Elite status after spending $10,000 in a calendar year.

Additional Reasons to Have an IHG Rewards Credit Card

  • Earn tons of points when spending at IHG
  • Earn 2x points at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants and 1x point for everything thing else
  • Free hotel night certificate at card anniversary
  • Fourth consecutive award night is free
  • 10% rebate on award night purchases
  • Up to $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit
  • Spend $20,000 each anniversary year and receive 10,000 bonus points

Bottom Line: With complimentary IHG Platinum Elite status for as long as you have the card, a low annual fee of $89, and an annual reward night certificate, the IHG Premier card offers great value. 

Radisson Rewards Credit Cards

Radisson Blu Kuwait
The Radisson Hotel Group has more than 1,400 properties worldwide. Radisson Blu Kuwait. Image Credit: Radisson

Radisson Rewards Elite Status Benefits

Radisson Rewards credit cards come with either complimentary Radisson Rewards Gold or Silver status. Here is a benefit summary for each level of Radisson Rewards elite status:

  • Silver — Member-only hotel rates, 10% food/drink discount on property, 2 complimentary bottles of water per day, room upgrades, early check-in, late checkout, and earn 22 points per dollar spent at Radisson Hotel Group hotels
  • Gold — All preceding benefits plus 15% food/drink discount, 25 points per dollar spent at Radisson Hotel Group hotels, and an in-room welcome gift
  • Platinum — All preceding benefits plus 20% food/drink discount, 35 points per dollar spent at Radisson Hotel Group hotels, free breakfast, and dedicated Platinum Member Services phone line
Elite Status LevelNights/Stays Required
Silver9 nights / 6 stays
Gold30 nights / 20 stays
Platinum60 nights / 30 stays

Radisson Rewards Credit Cards and Their Elite Status Benefits

The following Radisson Rewards credit cards receive complimentary elite status:

Radisson Rewards Credit CardElite StatusEarning Power
  • Radisson Rewards™ Premier Visa Signature® Card
  • Gold
  • Earn 10 points per dollar spent at Radisson Group properties
  • Earn 5 points per dollar for all other purchases
  • 40,000 bonus points at card renewal
  • Radisson Rewards™ Visa® Card
  • None
  • Earn 3 points per dollar spent at Radisson Group properties
  • Earn 1 point per dollar for all other purchases

Additional Reasons to Have a Radisson Rewards Card

  • New account bonus worth up to 9 free nights
  • Elevated earnings at Radisson properties
  • Earnings on every purchase
  • 40,000 points at card anniversary renewal
  • Elite qualifying nights each year to help reach a higher elite status
  • Low $0 to $75 annual fee
  • Visa Signature travel benefits

Actual benefits will vary depending on which Radisson Rewards card you select.

Hot Tip: Radisson Rewards offer an affordable alternative for free hotel nights in locations where other hotel chains may be scarce or expensive. Finland, Malta, Hungary, and Poland are just a few examples of where you can find good value with Radisson Rewards

Wyndham Rewards Credit Cards

Dolce by Wyndham Hanoi Golden Lake
Each of Wyndham Rewards’ credit cards comes with elite status. Dolce by Wyndham Hanoi Golden Lake. Image Credit: Wyndham

Wyndham Rewards offers 3 branded credit cards and all come with complimentary elite status in the Wyndham Rewards program.

Let’s look at how the cards compare in the status provided and earnings at Wyndham properties.

Wyndham Rewards Elite Status Benefits

Here’s what you can expect from each Wyndham Rewards elite status level.

  • Gold — Discounted member rates, free internet, dedicated phone line, preferred room upgrades, late checkout, and discounts on local experiences
  • Platinum — All preceding benefits plus early check-in, rental car partners upgrade benefit, and bonus points for hotel stays
  • Diamond — All preceding benefits plus suite upgrades, the ability to gift Gold status, and a welcome amenity

Members can advance in status quickly in 2021 as Wyndham Rewards has reduced the qualifying night requirements due to COVID-19. The updated requirements are:

Elite Status Level2021 Requirements
Gold3 nights
Platinum9 nights
Diamond24 nights

Wyndham Rewards Credit Cards and Their Elite Status Benefits

Wyndham Rewards CardAnnual FeeElite StatusEarning Power
Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Card$0Gold3x points per $1 spent at Wyndham properties
Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Plus Card$75Platinum5x points per $1 spent at Wyndham properties
Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Business Card$95Diamond8x points per $1 spent at Wyndham properties

Additional Reasons to Have a Wyndham Rewards Card

  • Generous welcome bonuses
  • You’ll earn free nights quickly with 3 to 8 points earned per dollar spent at Wyndham properties
  • Wyndham Rewards Earner + card and Wyndham Rewards Earner Business card offer additional bonus-earning categories
  • Bonus points at card renewal

Learn about all the ways you can earn lots of Wyndham Rewards and the best way to maximize redeeming those rewards in these helpful guides.

Hot Tip: Wyndham hotel properties include budget hotel chains such as Super 8 and Days Inn but you’ll also find plenty of luxury properties. Reward nights range from 7,500 to 30,000 points per night.

Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card

Federal Pointe Inn, Ascend Hotel Collection
Enjoy a wide variety of unique properties or familiar budget accommodations with Choice Privileges. Federal Pointe Inn, Ascend Hotel Collection. Image Credit: Choice Hotels

Choice Hotels offers a simple loyalty rewards program that is enhanced by having a Choice Privileges-branded card.

Let’s look at what you can expect from elite status membership with Choice.

Choice Privileges Elite Status Benefits

  • Gold — Receive exclusive member rates, 10% bonus points, early check-in, late checkout, reserved parking, an elite customer hotline, elite welcome gift, Your Extras, and elite gift cards. Gold members may also roll over up to 9 elite qualifying nights each year to jumpstart earning elite membership the following year.
  • Platinum — Receive all preceding benefits plus 25% bonus points, rollover elite qualifying nights up to 19 each year, and Avis Preferred Plus membership.
  • Diamond — Receive all preceding benefits plus 50% bonus points and rollover up to 39 elite nights each year.

Now let’s look at what it takes to achieve elite status membership. For 2021, Choice Privileges has published the following reduced requirements for achieving Membership elite status.

Elite Status Level2021 Requirements
Gold7 nights
Platinum15 nights
Diamond25 nights

Choice Privileges Card Elite Status Benefits

The Choice Privileges card comes with a generous welcome bonus worth up to several free hotel nights, complimentary Gold elite status, and the benefit of earning 15 points per dollar spent at Choice properties. These earnings are in addition to the bonus points that are earned on your stay with Gold status.

Additionally, if you spend $10,000 in a year on the card, you’ll receive 8,000 bonus points.

Additional Reasons To Have a Choice Privileges Card

  • $0 annual fee
  • 5 points per dollar when purchasing points or gift cards
  • 2 points per dollar earned on all other purchases
  • Introductory 0% APR on balance transfers (terms, and fees apply)

To learn more about the Choice Privileges loyalty program, how to earn Choice Rewards points, and redeeming Choice Privileges Rewards points for excellent value, you’ll want to access our informative articles.

Best Western-Branded Rewards Cards

Best Western Hotel, Massena, Nice, France, Europe
Your Best Western status can get you benefits all over the world. Best Western Plus Hôtel Masséna in Nice, France. Image Credit: Edinburghcitymom via Shutterstock

While the Best Western Rewards loyalty program wouldn’t be described as the most dynamic rewards program, having a Best Western-branded card enhances elite status and makes earning rewards easier. Earning rewards at a faster rate also means you’ll earn free nights faster.

We’ll look first at the benefits of elite status, then see how a Best Western-branded card works to accelerate your earnings.

Best Western Rewards Elite Status Benefits

  • Gold — 10% bonus points on stays, special member rates, early check-in/late checkout, a welcome gift or choice of points, room upgrades, bottled water
  • Platinum — all Gold benefits plus a 15% bonus points on stays
  • Diamond — all Gold benefits plus a 30% bonus points on stays
  • Diamond Select— all Gold benefits plus a 50% bonus points on stays

Best Western Rewards has extended current member elite status through January 2022 and lowered elite status requirements for 2021.

You’ll need to reach 1 of the options listed in each section to earn elite status in 2021.

Elite Status Level2021 Requirements
Gold5 nights, 3 stays, or 5,000 points
Platinum7 nights, 5 stays, or 7,500 points
Diamond15 nights, 10 stays, or 15,000 points
Diamond Select 25 nights, 20 stays, or 25,000 points

Best Western-Branded Credit Cards Elite Status Benefits

With generous welcome bonuses worth several free hotel nights, elevated earnings at Best Western properties, and complimentary elite status, a Best Western-branded card could deliver value if you’re a Best Western loyalist.

Here’s how the 2 Best Western cards compare.

Best Western CardAnnual FeeElite StatusEarnings
Best Western Rewards® Premium Mastercard®$59Platinum
  • 20x points per dollar spent at Best Western (10x points per dollar when staying at Best Western, additional 10x points earned when using the card)
  • Earn 20,000 points after spending $5,000 each 12 billing cycles
Best Western Rewards® Mastercard®$0Gold
  • 13x points per dollar (10x for when staying at Best Western, additional 3x points earned when using the card)
  • Earn 16,000 points after your first stay (after card approval)

Additional Reasons to Have a Best Western Credit Card

  • Both cards offer a generous welcome bonus — check for the latest offer before applying
  • 2x points per dollar on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Special member rates (10% discount)

Bottom Line: Although the complimentary elite status that comes with having a Best Western-branded credit card doesn’t deliver a lot of benefits, a branded card does make earning rewards a faster process which in turn makes it easier to earn free hotel nights. For great ideas on the best properties to book with your rewards, check out our recommendations. 

Hotel Elite Program Status Matches and Challenges

There is another option for achieving elite status with a hotel loyalty program, and that is to leverage your current elite status to gain corresponding elite status with another program.

Hotel status matches (a literal match of your current status with another hotel loyalty program) and status challenges (involving a required number of stays) are fleeting and may only be available during a short window of time. If you want to learn more, check out our comprehensive guide on how to status match with hotel loyalty programs.

Hot Tip: Some hotel loyalty programs have been known to grant a status match, or challenge, to members who have received granted status via their hotel-branded credit card. While your experience could vary, if you have your eye on a specific elite program, it doesn’t hurt to request a status match using your credit card-granted elite status. 

Final Thoughts

Hotel elite status can add tremendous value during your travels. If you can secure elite status just by having the hotel-branded credit card or another travel rewards credit card, it’s a logical choice.

Hotel elite status is not the only benefit you’ll receive no matter which card you select. Just be sure, especially if you’re paying a significant annual fee, that you’re getting benefits you can actually use and that deliver significant value. For example, if a card has a $75 annual fee but offers a free hotel night at renewal, you’ll only maximize the value if you use that hotel night.

All of the cards featured today have generous welcome bonuses that can be redeemed for several free hotel nights. You’ll need to pay close attention to the spending requirements to make sure you qualify for the bonus. Some cards require just 1 transaction to receive the bonus while others have spending requirements that need to be completed in the first 90 days after card approval.

A hotel-branded or a travel credit card that offers complimentary hotel elite status is definitely worth it if you frequent the associated brand and can use the additional benefits offered by the card.


The information regarding the Hilton Honors American Express Card, Radisson Rewards™ Premier Visa Signature® Card, Radisson Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card, Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Card, Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Plus Card, Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Business Card, and Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer. 

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.


Frequently asked questions

Which is the best hotel credit card?

The best hotel credit card for you will depend on your level of spending, the brands you prefer, and whether the elite status/benefits that come with the card are valuable to you.

The best hotel card will also depend on your tolerance for paying an annual fee. While premium rewards credit cards have higher annual fees, the benefits (if you use them) can offset those fees.

Cards with lower annual fees tend to have fewer benefits.

Another factor in selecting a hotel credit card would be earnings. If you stay predominately at 1 brand, you will generally fare better with that hotel’s branded credit card.

If you stay at a variety of brands and travel frequently, a premium travel rewards credit card could be a better fit.

Is hotel elite status worth it?

If you frequently stay at a specific hotel chain, elite status can make your stay more comfortable and allow you to earn free nights faster by earning bonus points for each stay.

Even entry-level elite status can bring benefits such as late checkout, free internet access, and discounted rates.

Receiving hotel elite status just for having the hotel-branded credit card is a plus. You’ll have no requirement to stay a specific number of nights each year but will still be able to enjoy the benefits of hotel elite status.

How does the free night certificate work?

Each credit card will vary as to how you earn or redeem your free night certificate.

Most credit cards award the free night certificate after your first card anniversary renewal. Once you’ve paid your annual fee, you’ll usually receive an email informing you that your free night is available for use.

Free night certificates are generally valid for just 1 year. Some credit cards require that you actually book and stay the free night prior to expiration. Others require that you just book the free night.

Additionally, your card may come with an extra free hotel night when you book nights with points. These are usually described as “fifth consecutive award night free” or similar language.

This is a great offer because if you book 5 nights, you will only pay for 4. For example, if an award night is 25,000 points, you would pay only 100,000 points for 5 nights versus 125,000 points.

What are the best hotel rewards programs?

The best hotel rewards program for you will be the one that rewards you for your hotel purchases, aligns with your hotel brand of choice, and offers benefits you can actually use.

The great news is that joining hotel loyalty programs is free. This means that you can always join a hotel’s loyalty reward program prior to staying at that hotel brand.

Just being a member can yield benefits such as late checkout, free internet, and a complimentary newspaper.

Hotel rewards programs also allow you to earn points to use towards free nights and if you stay frequently enough, you can earn elite status which offers even more benefits.

When you find a hotel reward program you like, having the hotel-branded credit card can serve to enhance that relationship with more benefits, elevated rewards earning, and even complimentary elite status.

Christine Krzyszton

About Christine Krzyszton

Christine, who lives in Northern Michigan, travels about 300,000 miles a year despite her remote location. Her expertise is traveling the world on a weekend with no pre-determined destination in mind, letting the cost of the airfare determine where she will go. She has over four million flown miles and elite status on all three major domestic carriers.

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