The Best Credit Cards for Complimentary Hotel Elite Status

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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.

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 Platinum Card® from American Express not only provides hotel elite status with two major hotel chains but it is also loaded with a long list of luxury travel benefits.

The Hotel Elite Status Benefit

The Platinum Card® stands out as the only credit card that offers you elite status at two mid-level hotels. 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 statutes include, but are not limited to:

Hilton Honors Gold:

  • Room upgrades
  • Complimentary breakfast
  • 5th consecutive award night free
  • Late checkout
  • Free internet
  • 80% bonus points on hotel stays

Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite:

  • Room upgrades
  • 5th consecutive reward night free
  • Late checkout
  • Free internet
  • 25% bonus points on hotel stays
  • Welcome amenity points

Additional Reasons to Have the Card

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

  • Generous welcome bonus
  • Complimentary access to over 1,200 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 credits
  • 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 through Amex Travel
  • Authorized users (add up to 3 for a total of $175) receive lounge, 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 two, late checkout, and complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Car rental program status and benefits with Hertz, National, and Avis

To learn more about the Platinum Card® from American Express, check out the value of having the Platinum Card and the first things you should do when you receive the card.

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 Branded Credit Cards

Hilton Nassau
Receive complimentary elite status with Hilton branded credit cards. Hilton Nassau image courtesy of hilton.com

Hilton Honors Aspire

The Hotel Elite Status Benefit

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:

  • Entry Level – Silver – Standard free Wi-Fi, late checkout, 5th consecutive reward night free, 20% bonus points on hotel stays, and no resort fees on award stays
  • Mid Level – Gold – All Silver benefits plus room upgrades, complimentary breakfast and 80% bonus points on hotel stays
  • Top Tier – Diamond – All Silver and Gold 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.

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

Additional Reasons to Have the Card

  • A generous welcome bonus
  • Priority Pass Select lounge membership
  • Annual free weekend hotel night
  • $250 Hilton Resort statement credit
  • $250 Airline incidental fee reimbursement (statement credit)
  • $100 property credit for 2-night stay at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad properties
  • Supercharged 14 points per dollar earnings at Hilton properties worldwide
  • Elevated 7 x earnings on flights and dining
  • Earn 3 Hilton Honors Points per dollar on every other purchase

Hilton Honors Elite Status – Card Summary

Each Hilton Honors branded credit card comes with a level of complimentary elite status in their 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 Branded Credit CardComes With:Spend Your Way To: 
  • Diamond Elite Status
  • N/A
  • Gold Elite Status
  • Diamond Elite Status – after spending $40,000 on the card in a calendar year
  • Silver Elite Status
  • Gold Elite Status – after spending $20,000 on the card in a calendar year

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 a required number of hotel nights or stays annually. 

Marriott Bonvoy Branded Credit Cards

Marriott Bonvoy Elite
Marriott Bonvoy combines all of the previous loyal programs into one. Image courtesy of Marriott Rewards.

Marriott has branded credit cards issued by both American Express and Chase. Cards from both issuers come with complimentary elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy Rewards program.

The Hotel Elite Status Benefit

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

  • Entry 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
  • Mid Level – Gold Elite – all Silver Elite benefits plus room upgrades, welcome points, free premium internet, and 25% bonus points for hotel stays/qualifying purchases
  • Upper Mid-Level – Platinum Elite – all Silver Elite and Gold Elite 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
  • Top Tier – Titanium Elite – all Silver Elite, Gold Elite, and Platinum Elite benefits plus 75% bonus points for hotel/qualifying purchases
  • Upper Top Tier – Ambassador Elite – all Silver Elite, Gold Elite, Platinum Elite, and Titanium Elite 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 PointSaver discounted award nights.

This is not an all-inclusive list of Marriott Bonvoy elite benefits. You can access a description of each benefit and additional information on the entire program here.

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 +$20,000 spend with Marriott

Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status – Card Summary

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

Marriott Bonvoy Credit CardComes with:Spend Your Way to:
  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
  • Gold Elite Status
  • Platinum Elite – after spending $75,000 in a calendar year
  • Silver Elite Status
  • Gold Elite – after spending $35,000 in a calendar year
  • Silver Elite Status
  • Gold Elite – after spending $35,000 in a calendar year

Additional Reasons to Have a Marriott Branded Card

  • Free hotel night certificate each card anniversary renewal
  • Earn 6 points per dollar spent at Marriott properties
  • Faster path to elite status with 15 total elite qualifying night credits per year
  • 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 each come with complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Elite status, an option to spend your way to a higher elite status level, and 15 qualifying elite night credits each year. There is a limit of one 15-night credit no matter how many Marriott Bonvoy credit cards you have. 

The World of Hyatt Credit Card

Hyatt Regency Maui
Image of Hyatt Regency Maui courtesy of Hyatt.com.

The Hotel Elite Status Benefit

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

  • Entry Level – Discoverist – Premium complimentary internet, free breakfast at participating Hyatt Place properties, resort fee waived on award nights, basic room upgrade, 2 pm late checkout, and early 12 pm check-in
  • Mid Level – Explorist – All the benefits of Discoverist plus upgrades to the best room available, excluding suites
  • Top Tier – Globalist – All the benefits of Discoverist and Explorist plus complimentary lounge access, upgrades to suites when available, Guest of Honor privileges to gift award nights to family/friends, 4 pm 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 normally takes to achieve World of Hyatt elite status in a calendar year for each level of the program:

Elite Status LevelNights or Points Needed
  • Discoverist
  • 10 nights or 25,000 base points
  • Explorist
  • 30 nights or 50,000 base points
  • Globalist
  • 60 nights or 100,000 base points

It would normally require staying 10 nights or 25,000 earned base points to earn Discoverist elite status that comes complimentary with the World of Hyatt card.

In addition, the card also grants 5 qualifying night credits toward the next elite level, Explorist status, which requires 30 elite qualifying nights (or 50,000 base points). 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 World of Hyatt credit card.

Additional Reasons to Have the 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
  • 9 points per dollar spent at Hyatt
  • 2 points per dollar spent on flights, local transit, fitness/gym memberships, and restaurants
  • 1 point per dollar for all other purchases

Bottom Line: The World of 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 World of Hyatt credit card at the rate of 2 nights for every $5,000 spent on the card. 

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Holiday Inn Express Orange Beach
Image courtesy of Holiday Inn Express Orange Beach, FL.

The Hotel Elite Status Benefit

The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card comes with complimentary mid-tier IHG Platinum Elite status. Here’s a summary of what each level of IHG Elite status offers:

  • Entry level – IHG Gold Elite – Complimentary Wi-Fi, extended checkout time, reward nights count toward elite status, and 10% bonus point earnings on qualifying hotel purchases
  • Mid-level – IHG Platinum Elite – Gold Elite benefits plus 50% bonus points on hotel purchases, complimentary room upgrades, and room availability guarantee
  • Top Tier – IHG Spire Elite – Gold Elite and Platinum Elite 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 upgrade

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

It normally requires staying 40 qualifying nights each calendar year to achieve Platinum Elite status with IHG.

Additional Reasons to Have the Card

  • 10 points per dollar spent at IHG
  • 2 points per dollar at supermarkets, gas stations, and restaurants
  • Free hotel night certificate at card anniversary
  • 4th 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 free night certificate, the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card offers good value. 

Radisson Rewards™ Branded Credit Cards

Chicago skyline
The Radisson Hotel Group has more than 1,400 properties worldwide. Image courtesy of Radisson Rewards.

The Hotel Elite Status Benefit

Radisson Rewards™ Visa cards come with either complimentary Radisson Rewards™ Gold or Silver status.  Here is a benefit summary for each level of Radisson Rewards™ hotel statuses:

  • Entry Level – 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
  • Mid-Level – Gold – all Silver benefits plus increased food/drink discount of 15% on property, earn 25 points per dollar spent at Radisson Hotel Group hotels, and an in-room welcome gift
  • Top Tier – Platinum – all Gold 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

Radisson Rewards Elite Status – Card Summary

The following Radisson Rewards® credit cards receive complimentary elite status:

Radisson Rewards™ Credit CardElite StatusEarning Power
  • Radisson Rewards™ Premier Visa Signature® Card
  • Radisson Rewards™ Visa Business Card
  • Gold
  • 15 elite qualifying nights awarded each year toward status
  • 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 Signature® Card
  • Silver
  • 10 elite qualifying nights awarded each year toward status
  • Earn 6 points per dollar spent at Radisson Group properties
  • Earn 3 points per dollar for all other purchases
  • 25,000 bonus points at card renewal

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
  • 25,000 to 40,000 points at card anniversary renewal
  • Elite qualifying nights each year to help reach a higher elite status
  • Low $50-$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® Card

Wyndham Rewards® offers 2 branded credit cards and both come with complimentary elite status in the Wyndham Rewards program.

Unfortunately, both cards have the same name. One of the cards comes with a $75 annual fee; this card will be referred to as the Wyndham Rewards 75 card to differentiate it this article but that is not its official name.

The Hotel Elite Status Benefit

Wyndham Rewards CardAnnual FeeElite StatusEarning Power
Wyndham Rewards Card$0Gold3 points per $1 spent at Wyndham properties
Wyndham Rewards 75 Card$75Platinum5 points per $1 spent at Wyndham properties

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

  • Entry Level – Wyndham Rewards Gold – discounted member rates, free internet, dedicated phone line, preferred room upgrades, late checkout, and discounts on local experiences
  • Mid Level – Wyndham Rewards Platinum – all Gold benefits plus early check-in, rental car partners upgrade benefit, and bonus points for hotel stays
  • Top Tier – Wyndham Rewards Diamond – all Gold and Platinum benefits plus suite upgrades, the ability to gift Gold status,  and a welcome amenity

Additional Reasons to Have a Wyndham Rewards Card

  • You’ll earn free nights quickly with 3-5 points earned per dollar spent at Wyndham properties
  • Both cards earn 2 points per dollar spent at supermarkets, on utilities, and at gas stations
  • All other purchases earn at least 1 point per dollar spent
  • The Wyndham Rewards 75 Card awards 6,000 points at card anniversary 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 in the Wyndham hotel portfolio. Reward nights range from 7,500 to 30,000 points per night.

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 one 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 rewards 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.


*Featured Image Credit: Marriott.com

FAQ

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.

Those with lower annual fees tend to have less benefits.

Another factor in selecting a hotel credit card would be earnings. If you stay predominately at one 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 one 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 “5th 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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