The 10 Best Credit Cards for Hotel Upgrades & Perks [2021]

DoubleTree Beijing

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There are fewer ways to start your hotel stay on a more positive note than hearing the phrase, “You’ve been upgraded.” Whether it’s a more spacious room, a spectacular view, or both, receiving an upgraded experience for no extra charge is definitely a welcome perk.

There are several ways to secure an upgraded hotel room and other on-site benefits. One way would be to meet the hotel loyalty program’s annual stay (and occasionally additional spending) requirements to achieve elite status. Elite status can qualify you for those upgraded rooms, free Wi-Fi, breakfast, late checkout, and many more on-site benefits.

There is, however, a shortcut to receiving hotel program elite status, or elite-style benefits, by simply holding a hotel-branded credit card or premium travel rewards card.

That’s the focus of today’s article. We’re going to take a look at the best cards for securing upgraded hotel rooms and other on-site perks. We’ll dive into the top travel rewards cards that offer complimentary hotel loyalty program elite status, cards that offer perks at specific hotel collection properties, and hotel-branded cards that offer much more than just an upgraded room.

If you’re looking for those elusive upgraded accommodations with a view, you’ll want to stick with us as we discuss the best cards for securing these perks — complimentary, of course.

Best Personal Cards for Hotel Upgrades

Reges, a Luxury Collection Resort Spa, Cesme
The complimentary elite status that comes with your credit card may qualify you for room upgrades. Reges, a Luxury Collection Resort Spa, Cesme. Image Credit: Marriott

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Amex Platinum card is well known for its premium travel benefits, earning valuable Membership Rewards, and flexible redemption options. It’s also a great card for hotel elite benefits, including those that offer upgraded rooms.

How the Card Upgrades Your Hotel Experience

You’ll have plenty of opportunities for upgraded rooms, and more on-site perks, with complimentary hotel loyalty program elite status and elite-style benefits at specific hotel groups with the Amex Platinum card.

Here are the hotel-related benefits that come with the card (terms do apply):

  • Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status
    • In addition to room upgrades, Gold Elite status members receive the fifth consecutive reward night free, late checkout, free Wi-Fi, welcome points, and 25% bonus points earning on paid stays.
    • You’d normally have to stay 25 nights in a calendar year to earn Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status and be eligible for upgraded rooms.
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Status
    • Hilton Honors Gold status comes with free breakfast, room upgrades, the fifth consecutive award night free, late checkout, free Wi-Fi, and bonus points
    • To earn Hilton Honors Gold status, you would normally have to spend 40 nights or have 20 stays in a calendar year at Hilton properties.
  • Elite-Style Benefits at the American Express Hotel Collection
    • On stays of 2 nights or more, enjoy upgraded rooms, whenever available. In addition, you’ll receive a $100 hotel credit to be used on qualifying dining, spa, and resort activities. Use your card to reserve the prepaid reservation and earn 5x Membership Rewards points.
  • Elite-Style Benefits at American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts
    • Receive room upgrades when available, daily breakfast for 2, late checkout, early check-in, free Wi-Fi, and a welcome amenity worth at least $100. No minimum stay is required.

Hot Tip: Learn more about the Hotel Collection and Fine Hotels & Resorts in our overview and comparison of the benefits and perks of each program.

Why We Like the Card Overall

We like the Amex Platinum card for its long list of premium travel benefits which include worldwide access to more than 1,300 airline lounge properties. The card also earns valuable Membership Rewards points and comes with statement credits for specific purchases such as at Saks Fifth Avenue, Uber, and PayPal (through June 30, 2021).

You’ll learn more about all the travel insurance benefits that come with the Amex Platinum card in this article that goes into the details of each one.

Bottom Line: In addition to offering hotel elite status and benefits at luxury hotel collections, the Amex Platinum card earns Membership Rewards points that can be transferred to airline and hotel loyalty programs where the points can be redeemed for free hotel nights and flights. The card also comes with travel/shopping protections and benefits and is one of the best cards around that helps you upgrade your flight experience too.

Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card

How the Card Upgrades Your Hotel Experience

While the Chase Sapphire Reserve card does not come with hotel program elite status, the card does offer the opportunity for an upgraded experience at these hotel collection properties.

  • Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection Benefits
    • Receive an upgraded room, when available, a local amenity unique to the property, such as dinner, spa, or resort credit, etc., early check-in/late checkout when available, daily breakfast for 2, and free Wi-Fi.
  • sbe Hotels Benefits 
    • Enjoy an upgraded room, when available, a $30 hotel credit, the fourth night free, complimentary Wi-Fi, breakfast for 2 or a complimentary beverage, and late checkout.
  • Relais & Châteaux Benefits
    • Receive a VIP welcome amenity and complimentary breakfast.

Why We Like the Card Overall

We like that the card comes with a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership that provides worldwide lounge access to over 1,300 properties. The card also offers elevated earnings on travel and dining and comes with a $300 travel credit that is easy to use, even for upgraded hotel rooms.

The card earns valuable Ultimate Rewards points that can be redeemed for travel at 50% more value via the Chase travel portal or transfer to travel partners for even greater potential value. You’ll also find the card packed with premium travel insurance and shopping protections/benefits.

Hot Tip: Take advantage of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card’s promotional offers including Pay Yourself Back (select categories through September 30, 2021, and December 31, 2021), gas and grocery purchases counting towards your $300 travel credit (through December 31, 2021), $120 in Peloton statement credits (through December 31, 2021), and $60 in DoorDash food delivery credits (through December 31, 2021). 

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

The Hilton Aspire card is one of the best hotel-branded cards available and is known for offering a unique package of hotel-related perks just for having the card.

How the Card Upgrades Your Hotel Experience

The Hilton Aspire card is the only hotel-branded card that comes with valuable top-level hotel elite status. With Hilton Honors Diamond status you’ll enjoy the best that the Hilton Honors loyalty program has to offer.

Here are some of the hotel perks you’ll enjoy with the Hilton Aspire card:

  • A generous welcome bonus worth several free hotel nights
  • Free weekend hotel night certificate after card approval and each card anniversary
  • The benefits of Diamond status including upgraded rooms (even suites when available), free breakfast, lounge access, free Wi-Fi, bonus points, and a welcome amenity
  • 14x earnings at Hilton properties when paying with your card
  • $250 Hilton Resort credit
  • $100 credit for a 2-night or more stay at Waldorf Astoria or Conrad properties
  • Terms Apply

Without the Hilton Aspire card, you would need to stay 60 nights, 30 stays, or earn 120,000 points in a calendar year to achieve top-level Hilton Honors Diamond status.

Why We Like the Card Overall

The Hilton Aspire card is packed with travel benefits such as worldwide lounge access via Priority Pass Select membership.

The card also comes with hundreds of dollars in statement credits for specific purchases including a $250 airline incidentals credit and a $20 monthly dining credit (through December 31, 2021, enroll via Amex Offers). In addition to elevated earnings at Hilton, you’ll receive 7x earnings on qualifying flights, car rentals, and at U.S. restaurants.

For those looking for a Hilton-branded card with a lower annual fee with complimentary Gold status and corresponding upgrade benefits, check out the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card.

To learn more about all the best Hilton-branded cards and the associated benefits, check out our complete overview.

Bottom Line: All Hilton-branded credit cards come with a generous welcome bonus that can be redeemed for free hotel nights, elevated earnings at Hilton, on-site benefits, and complimentary elite status. If you stay at a particular hotel brand even once or twice a year, you’ll benefit from having a hotel-branded credit card. 

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

CardHotel RewardsSample Benefits/Fees
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
Apply Now
(at Amex's secure site)
  • 6 Marriott Rewards Points/$1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • Up to $300 statement credit for purchases at Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • Gold Elite status, Priority Pass Select Membership, complimentary anniversary night, premium internet access
  • Annual fee: $450
  • Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card, click here.

Marriott Bonvoy offers one of the largest global hotel footprints, with thousands of properties worldwide. Having thousands of properties in which to enjoy your hotel benefits is a big plus.

How the Card Upgrades Your Hotel Experience

Why We Like the Card Overall

The card offers 3x earnings on flights purchased directly from the airline and 2x earnings on all other purchases. In addition, the card comes with a $20 monthly dining credit for purchases at U.S. restaurants (through December 31, 2021, enroll via Amex Offers).

You’ll find every Marriott-branded card comes with hotel elite status or elite qualifying nights that help you reach higher elite status faster. Learn more about all of these cards in our article on the best cards for Marriott Bonvoy loyalists.

Bottom Line: Having a Marriott Bonvoy-branded card creates a faster path to elite status. Receive 15 elite qualifying night credits each year with a personal Marriott Bonvoy card and 15 additional elite qualifying night credits for having a Marriott Bonvoy business card, for a total of 30 elite qualifying nights. It takes just a total of 25 nights to qualify for Gold Elite status, 50 for Platinum, and 75 for Titanium. 

Best Business Cards for Hotel Upgrades

AlRayyan Hotel Doha Curio Collection by Hilton
Having an upgraded room when traveling for business can make your stay much more comfortable. AlRayyan Hotel Doha Curio Collection by Hilton. Image Credit: Hilton

Just like the personal consumer versions, these business cards also offer travelers the opportunity for upgraded hotel experiences.

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

You’ll enjoy all the same hotel upgrade benefits with the Amex Business Platinum card as the personal consumer version — Gold Elite status with Marriott Bonvoy and Gold status with Hilton Honors plus elite-style benefits at The American Express Hotel Collection and Fine Hotels & Resorts.

Why We Like the Card Overall

We like that the Amex Business Platinum card earns valuable Membership Rewards points that can be redeemed for travel via Amex Travel or transferred to travel partners for the potential of even greater value.

In addition, you’ll find value in statement credits of $200 for Dell Technology purchases, $200 credit for airline incidental fees, and $30 per month credit for PayPal purchases (through June 30, 2021).

With car rental benefits, shopping protections, and a long list of valuable travel insurance benefits, there’s plenty of value to be derived from the card.

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Enjoy complimentary Gold status with the opportunity to earn Diamond status after spending $40,000 on the card in a calendar year.

You can expect these hotel benefits with Gold status:

  • Free breakfast, room upgrades up to executive room level, and free Wi-Fi
  • No resort fees on award stays
  • 80% bonus points earnings on spending at Hilton properties

Why We Like the Card Overall

  • Generous welcome bonus worth several free hotel nights
  • Lower annual fee
  • Earn 1 free hotel night certificate by spending $15,000 on the card in a calendar year, spend $60,000 and receive an additional free night certificate
  • 12x earnings at Hilton, 6x earnings on select business and travel categories, and 3x earnings on all other purchases
  • Worldwide lounge access to over 1,300 properties with complimentary Priority Pass Select membership
  • Terms Apply

If your business involves travel and staying at Hilton properties, investigate the Hilton Business Amex card to see if it could be a fit for your operation.

Your points will go further when you utilize Hilton’s fifth-night free benefit. Reward stays of 5 nights or longer receive a credit for the average of the rewards points spent.

Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card

Unlike the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card that comes with Gold Elite status, the business card comes with just Silver Elite status and an option to spend a significant $60,000 in a calendar year to achieve Gold Elite status.

Silver status does not include upgraded rooms at Marriott properties, however, we like that the card provides a faster path to elite status, a free hotel night certificate each year, and elevated earnings at Marriott. The card also comes with a lower annual fee.

Why We Like the Card Overall

  • Generous welcome bonus worth several free hotel nights
  • 15 elite qualifying night credits towards higher elite status — just 25 total nights are required for Gold Elite status
  • Free hotel night certificate at card anniversary
  • 6x earnings at Marriott
  • 4x earnings at U.S. restaurants, U.S. shipping, U.S. wireless, and U.S. gas stations
  • 2x earnings on all other purchases
  • Terms Apply

If your travel includes just 10 annual nights stayed at Marriott properties, you’ll automatically qualify for Gold Elite status if you have the Marriott Bonvoy Business card. If you have both the personal and business versions of the card, you’ll receive a total of 30 elite qualifying nights which would automatically qualify you for Gold Elite status that comes with upgraded rooms and more.

For the Marriott Bonvoy business traveler loyalist, the card should be a consideration.

Hot Tip: American Express-issued cards all have access to Amex Offers that frequently contain hotel savings or bonus earnings. Recent examples include a $50 statement credit after making a $200 Marriott purchase, $50 back on a $250 Hyatt purchase, and $50 back on a $175 purchase at Hampton Inn or Hilton Garden Inn hotels. Both business and consumer personal cards are eligible for Amex Offers. 

Additional Credit Cards for Hotel Upgrades

Radisson Blu Hotel & Residence, Maputo
Hotel-branded credit cards make it easier to secure that upgraded room with a view. Radisson Blu Hotel & Residence, Maputo. Image Credit: Radisson Hotels

World of Hyatt Credit Card

Having the World of Hyatt Credit Card enhances the benefits you’ll find with the popular and robust World of Hyatt loyalty program. You’ll receive complimentary entry-level Discoverist status that offers upgraded rooms at most Hyatt properties. The card also comes with an annual free hotel night, late checkout, waived resort fees, and bonus points on Hyatt stays.

With a stellar welcome bonus, 9x earnings at Hyatt, and 2x earnings on all other purchases for the first 6 months after card opening (maximum $15,000 in purchases), it’s easy to earn free nights. After the 6 months, dining, flights, gym memberships, and transit purchases earn 2x points per dollar spent and 1 point on all other purchases.

Hot Tip: Qualification requirements for earning World of Hyatt elite status have been reduced for 2021. Learn more about the value of elite status, more details on the benefits at each level, and how to qualify

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
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

We like the IHG brand because you can find an IHG property just about anywhere. And if you stay at IHG properties, even occasionally, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised at how the IHG Premier card can earn you free nights and improve your IHG experience.

Here are the features and benefits you can expect from having the card:

  • A generous welcome bonus worth several free hotel nights (after meeting minimum spending requirements)
  • A lower annual fee
  • An annual free hotel night certificate at card anniversary
  • Complimentary Platinum Elite status
  • 25x points per dollar spent at IHG
  • 2x points at gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores

Platinum Elite status comes with room upgrades, late checkout, 50% bonus points at most properties, free Wi-Fi, and guaranteed room availability. To earn Platinum Elite status, members would normally need to stay 30 nights or earn 30,000 points in a calendar year.

To learn more about elite benefits in the IHG Rewards program, check out our article where we go into more detail.

Radisson Rewards™ Premier Visa Signature® Card

Radisson loyalists will find that having the Radisson Rewards Premier card kicks up the comfort level when staying at Radisson properties and offers additional Radisson Rewards points-earning opportunities.

Cardholders also receive the following benefits:

  • Generous welcome bonus
  • Complimentary Gold status that includes upgraded rooms, 25x bonus points per $1 spent, late checkout/early check-in, and more
  • 15 elite qualifying nights towards Platinum status
  • 10x earnings at Radisson for each dollar spent on the card
  • 40,000 bonus points at each card renewal
  • Earn up to 3 free hotel night certificates — 1 for each $10,000 in purchases made on the card each year

Radisson Rewards Gold status normally requires staying 30 nights or 20 stays each year.

The Best Credit Cards for Hotel Upgrades — Summary

The Hotel Collection Italy
Enjoy the on-site perks offered at unique hotels throughout the world with our featured hotel-branded or premium travel rewards cards. Image Credit: The Hotel Collection

Now it’s time to summarize the upgraded hotel room benefits you’ll receive from each of our featured cards.

CardHotel Upgrade Benefits 
Amex Platinum card

Amex Business Platinum card

  • Gold Elite status with Marriott Bonvoy and Gold status with Hilton Honors that qualifies members for complimentary room upgrades
  • Elite-style benefits at The Hotel Collection and Fine Hotels & Resorts
Chase Sapphire Reserve card
  • Elite-style benefits, including room upgrades at Luxury Hotels & Resorts and sbe Hotel brands
  • $300 travel credit that can be used for upgraded hotel rooms
Hilton Aspire card
  • Top Diamond status that comes with upgraded rooms, including suites, when available
  • $250 resort credit that can be used for upgraded rooms
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card
  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status, spend $75,000 on the card to receive Platinum Elite status — both statuses qualify for complimentary upgraded rooms
  • $300 credit each year for Marriott purchases that could be used for upgraded rooms
  • 15 qualifying elite night credits toward higher status
Hilton Business Amex card
  • Hilton Honors Gold status that includes upgraded rooms
  • Spend $40,000 in a calendar year to achieve Diamond status
Marriott Bonvoy Business card
  • Mariott Bonvoy Silver status plus 15 elite qualifying nights towards higher status (25 nights total needed for Gold status)
  • Spend $60,000 per year on the card for Gold status
Hyatt Credit Card
  • World of Hyatt Discoverist status that includes upgrades to premium rooms at most Hyatt properties
  • 5 elite qualifying nights towards any level of elite status
IHG Premier card
  • IHG Rewards Platinum Elite status that includes the benefit of upgraded rooms
Radisson Rewards Premier card
  • Radisson Rewards Gold status that qualifies for upgraded rooms

Final Thoughts

If you spend even a few nights a year at a specific hotel brand, you’ll benefit from having a hotel-branded credit card. At the very least, you’ll earn reward points faster, which allows you to redeem for more free hotel nights and receive on-site benefits that make your stay more comfortable.

Most points don’t expire as long as you have the associated card, so even if you don’t stay at a hotel brand frequently, you can still take your time earning your next free hotel night while enjoying the perks of a hotel-branded card.

If you do stay frequently at a specific brand, a hotel-branded card or premium travel rewards card could deliver even greater value.

We’ve given you an overview of some of the hotel-related benefits that come with our featured cards but there may be even more features and benefits offered on each card — the most significant being travel insurance benefits and protections and also shopping benefits and protections. Prior to applying for any card, you’ll want to review the card’s entire earning, redemption, and benefits package plus the applicable rates and fees.


The information regarding the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, and Radisson Rewards™ Premier Visa Signature® 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 Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, click here.


Frequently asked questions

What is the best credit card for getting upgraded hotel rooms?

The best card for securing upgraded hotel rooms will be the 1 that aligns with the brand you’ll be frequenting and your spending mix.

For example, if Hyatt is your brand of choice, you’ll want a card that offers upgraded rooms, elevated earnings, and good-value redemptions at Hyatt.

To dig deeper into hotel-branded cards, you’ll want to check out our recommendations for Marriott Bonvoy loyalists, Hilton Honors loyalists, frequent guests at IHG, and for those who prefer World of Hyatt.

You’ll also find plenty of hotel elite and elite-style benefits on premium travel rewards cards.

What credit score do I need for a hotel credit card?

It depends on the specific hotel-branded card, but you will generally need a very good to excellent credit score to be approved for a Marriott, Hyatt, or Hilton hotel-branded credit card. According to Equifax, a very good score could range from 740 to 799, and an excellent score would be 800 and above.

Other hotel-branded cards may grant approval with just a good credit score, which is considered 670 to 739.

Of course, the higher your score, the more likely you will be approved.

Are hotel credit cards worth it?

If you stay at a particular brand, its hotel-branded card can definitely be worth it.

You could receive elevated earnings on your spending at that property, upgraded rooms, on-site amenities, special room rates, free hotel nights, and other hotel benefits that make having a hotel-branded card worthwhile.

How does the fifth night free work?

One benefit that comes with joining a hotel loyalty program can be the opportunity to receive your fifth hotel reward night free.

Marriott offers the fifth consecutive reward night free for program members and Hilton offers the fifth consecutive reward night free for its elite members.

Marriott simply charges points for the first 4 nights and then no charge for the fifth night. Hilton applies an average credit based on all 5 nights and charges the reduced amount after the credit is applied.

The IHG Rewards program offers a fourth-night free benefit.

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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