Top Hotel Credit Cards Offering Elite Status (2021)

Top Hotel Credit Cards Offering Elite Status (2021)

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I’ve written about the best hotel credit cards offering free nights, either as an annual benefit or as a reward for reaching certain spending thresholds. In many cases, these anniversary free night certificates can more than justify the annual fees on cards, given that they can be redeemed at some great hotels.

For example, both the World of Hyatt Credit Card (review) and IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card (review) offer anniversary free night certificates that can be redeemed at hotels with nightly rates that are way higher than the cards’ annual fees.

That’s only one perk that potentially makes hotel credit cards useful, though. One of the other awesome things about some credit cards is that they can make it easy to earn elite status.

Nowadays it’s possible to earn top tier elite hotel status with several hotel credit cards, and the opportunities to earn status with credit cards keeps improving.

Best Hotel Credit Cards For Elite Status For September 2021

In this post I wanted to take a look at all the ways you can use US-issued credit cards to earn elite hotel status. In some cases, you get status just for having a card, and in other cases, a certain amount of spending is required.

There are potentially all kinds of benefits to hotel elite status, ranging from free breakfast to late check-out to bonus points to suite upgrades. Obviously the higher your status, the better the perks.

Here are all the options, organized alphabetically by program and then by hierarchy of elite tiers (note that when I list the regular qualification requirements I’m using pre-coronavirus numbers, since many hotel groups have lowered elite qualification requirements for 2021):

Choice Privileges Gold Status Credit Cards

Choice Privileges Gold status ordinarily requires 10 nights per year, but can be earned with the following card:

There are no cards that offer Choice Privileges Platinum or Diamond status.

Choice Privileges Gold members receive a welcome gift

Hilton Honors Silver Status Credit Cards

Hilton Honors Silver status ordinarily requires four stays or 10 nights per year, but can be earned with the following card:

Hilton Honors Gold Status Credit Cards

Hilton Honors Gold status ordinarily requires 20 stays, 40 nights, or 75,000 base points per year, but can be earned with the following cards:

Hilton Honors Diamond Status Credit Cards

Hilton Honors Diamond status ordinarily requires 30 stays, 60 nights, or 125,000 base points per year, but can be earned with the following cards:

Hilton Honors Gold & Diamond members receive free breakfast at most Hilton hotels

IHG Rewards Club Gold Status Credit Cards

IHG Rewards Club Gold status ordinarily requires 10 nights or 10,000 base points per year, but can be earned with the following card:

IHG Rewards Club Platinum Status Credit Cards

IHG Rewards Club Platinum status ordinarily requires 40 nights or 40,000 base points per year, but can be earned with the following cards:

  • IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card (review), $89 annual fee — status is valid for as long as you have the card
  • IHG Rewards Club Credit Card, $49 annual fee (no longer open to new applicants) — status is valid for as long as you have the card

IHG Rewards Club Spire Status Credit Cards

IHG Rewards Club Spire status ordinarily requires 75 nights or 75,000 base points per year, but can be earned with the following card:

  • IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, $89 annual fee — points earned on this card count as base spend towards status, so spending $75,000 on non-bonused purchases, or $37,500 on gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants, would earn you Spire status
  • Points transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards also anecdotally seem to count towards IHG status, so transferring over 75,000 points should earn you Spire status
IHG Rewards Club Platinum members receive room upgrades

Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite Status Credit Cards

Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status ordinarily requires 10 nights per year, but can be earned with the following cards:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card (review), no annual fee — offers 15 elite qualifying nights per year, which is more than enough for Silver status
  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card from Chase (review), $95 annual fee — offers 15 elite qualifying nights per year, which is more than enough for Silver status
  • Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (review), $125 annual fee (Rates & Fees) — offers 15 elite qualifying nights per year, which is more than enough for Silver status.
  • Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card, $95 annual fee (no longer open to new applicants) — offers 15 elite qualifying nights per year, which is more than enough for Silver status
  • Marriott Bonvoy Business Credit Card, $99 annual fee (no longer open to new applicants) — offers 15 elite qualifying nights per year, which is more than enough for Silver status
  • Marriott Rewards Premier Card, $85 annual fee (no longer open to new applicants) — offers 15 elite qualifying nights per year, which is more than enough for Silver status

Note that each Marriott Bonvoy member can earn at most 30 elite nights per year from credit cards, with 15 elite nights coming from a personal card, and 15 elite nights coming from a business card.

Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status Credit Cards

Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status ordinarily requires 25 nights per year, but can be earned with the following cards:

Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite Status Credit Cards

Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status ordinarily requires 50 nights per year, but can be earned with the following cards:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, $450 annual fee — earn status when you spend $75,000 on the card in a calendar year
  • The Ritz-Carlton Credit Card, $450 annual fee (no longer open to new applicants) — earn status when you spend $75,000 on the card in a cardmember year

There are no cards that offer Marriott Bonvoy Titanium or Ambassador status.

Marriott Platinum members receive complimentary suite upgrades

Radisson Rewards Americas Gold Status Credit Cards

Radisson Rewards Americas Gold status requires 30 nights or 20 stays per year, but can be earned with the following card:

Radisson Rewards Gold members receive room upgrades

World of Hyatt Discoverist Status Credit Cards

World of Hyatt Discoverist status ordinarily requires 10 nights or 25,000 base points per year, but can be earned with the following cards:

World of Hyatt Explorist Status Credit Cards

World of Hyatt Explorist status ordinarily requires 30 nights or 50,000 base points per year, but can be earned with the following cards:

  • The World of Hyatt Credit Card, $95 annual fee — the card offers five elite qualifying nights annually, plus two additional elite nights for every $5,000 spent, so spending $65,000 would earn 31 elite qualifying nights, which is more than enough for Explorist status

Note that for 2021 World of Hyatt elite requirements have been cut in half, so status is even easier to earn.

World of Hyatt Globalist Status Credit Cards

World of Hyatt Globalist status ordinarily requires 60 nights or 100,000 base points per year, but can be earned with the following card:

Note that for 2021 World of Hyatt elite requirements have been cut in half, so status is even easier to earn.

World of Hyatt Globalist members receive complimentary suite upgrades

Wyndham Rewards Gold Status Credit Cards

Wyndham Rewards Gold status ordinarily requires five nights per year, but can be earned with the following card:

Wyndham Rewards Platinum Status Credit Cards

Wyndham Rewards Platinum status ordinarily requires 15 nights per year, but can be earned with the following card:

Wyndham Rewards Diamond Status Credit Cards

Wyndham Rewards Diamond status ordinarily requires 40 nights per year, but can be earned with the following card:

Wyndham Rewards Diamond members receive room upgrades

Credit Card Hotel Elite Status Summary

It’s pretty remarkable that nowadays you can earn top tier status with Hilton and Wyndham just for having a credit card, and with Hyatt and Marriott you can earn top tier status with credit card spending. Until recently these tiers were all much more difficult to achieve.

On top of that, there are many mid-range credit cards that offer status just for having the card, which can be valuable as well. For example, it’s really easy to earn Hilton Honors Gold status, and that gets you perks like free breakfast at most brands, bonus points, and more.

If you are going to spend money on your hotel credit card to earn status, just make sure you consider the opportunity cost of that spending.

Which credit cards do you find to be most valuable for earning elite hotel status?

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: Hilton Honors American Express Card (Rates & Fees), The Business Platinum® Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card (Rates & Fees), The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees), Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (Rates & Fees), and Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (Rates & Fees).

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  1. Eskimo

    Missing the Sonesta. Gives you their top Elite status.

    As usual, some hidden gem gets left out because bloggers give no love (or maybe they don't love bloggers)
    Even blogs picked up all the massive IHG or Marriott conversion, still no love.
    This card was even covered a bit in the past, still no love.

    1. Joe1293

      Explain about Sonesta loyalty program
      I am very intrigued

  2. Reno Joe

    As a multi-year Ambassador Elite at Marriott who spends six figures a year on hotels (as well as Globalist), I'm here to tell you that devalued and elusive tier benefits have made hotel tier status meaningless. Ben (and other web sites) have shared numerous stories on this as well as "stuff" that specific properties try to pull . . . and the hotel networks side with the property owners.

    On the other hand, American Express'...

    As a multi-year Ambassador Elite at Marriott who spends six figures a year on hotels (as well as Globalist), I'm here to tell you that devalued and elusive tier benefits have made hotel tier status meaningless. Ben (and other web sites) have shared numerous stories on this as well as "stuff" that specific properties try to pull . . . and the hotel networks side with the property owners.

    On the other hand, American Express' Fine Hotels and Resorts program offers Platinum / Diamond / Globalist-like benefits . . . and you actually receive them . . . and you still earn your points in your loyalty program network.
    (You do NOT need to book via the loyalty program network directly.) FHR benefits are available via the AMEX Platinum Card and the AMEX Business Platinum Card. If you're not going to a FHR property, fine. These cards grant Marriott Gold Elite status and Hilton Gold Elite status. But, remember, hotel tier status is a mug's game -- and we're the mugs.

    1. Eskimo

      Let's not forget, Amex rates are typically more expensive than booking direct. Where do you think they get the money for your breakfast or $100 hotel credit (which properties are already charging higher compared to outside)

      I don't know what FHR gives that doesn't get the same devaluation as status benefits.
      Late checkout, I can't remember the last time I was denied.
      Upgrades, do you really think FHR gets higher upgrade priority than...

      Let's not forget, Amex rates are typically more expensive than booking direct. Where do you think they get the money for your breakfast or $100 hotel credit (which properties are already charging higher compared to outside)

      I don't know what FHR gives that doesn't get the same devaluation as status benefits.
      Late checkout, I can't remember the last time I was denied.
      Upgrades, do you really think FHR gets higher upgrade priority than elites or do you even get them? 2 floors higher is an upgrade, ha!!!
      Breakfast, hit or miss only when elites get breakfast in the lounge and FHR gets in a restaurant.

      The only difference is the $100 credit which you're subsidizing it with higher rates.

      FHR still does have many great deals, but I wouldn't count of Amex most of the time.

      Is hotel status is a mug's game, FHR is also a mug's game, and we're still the mugs.
      Applies to airlines too.

    2. DCS

      Just as a broken clock is right twice a day, I knew that I would sooner or a later agree with @Eskimo on something.

      The notion, advanced by @Reno Joe, that one gets more "value" out of booking stays through FHR than directly with hotel chains is the silliest thing I've read in a good while.

      I, for one, still get a ton of value out of my top elite status with both hotel and...

      Just as a broken clock is right twice a day, I knew that I would sooner or a later agree with @Eskimo on something.

      The notion, advanced by @Reno Joe, that one gets more "value" out of booking stays through FHR than directly with hotel chains is the silliest thing I've read in a good while.

      I, for one, still get a ton of value out of my top elite status with both hotel and airline loyalty programs because I know how to take advantage of what is offered.

      Case in point: I just returned last evening from a 5-night stay at the Grand Islander by Hilton Grand Vacations in Honolulu, HI. With my “red eye” flight back to NYC departing HNL at 9pm, I needed to be able to stay in my hotel room as late as possible. So, as a HH Diamond, I decided to request a 6pm late checkout; the manager was consulted; the request was approved without a fuss, and, technically, Hilton Grand Vacations isn’t even part of Hilton Worldwide Inc. anymore!

      Q.E.D

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DCS

Just as a broken clock is right twice a day, I knew that I would sooner or a later agree with @Eskimo on something. The notion, advanced by @Reno Joe, that one gets more "value" out of booking stays through FHR than directly with hotel chains is the silliest thing I've read in a good while. I, for one, still get a ton of value out of my top elite status with both hotel and airline loyalty programs because I know how to take advantage of what is offered. Case in point: I just returned last evening from a 5-night stay at the Grand Islander by Hilton Grand Vacations in Honolulu, HI. With my “red eye” flight back to NYC departing HNL at 9pm, I needed to be able to stay in my hotel room as late as possible. So, as a HH Diamond, I decided to request a 6pm late checkout; the manager was consulted; the request was approved without a fuss, and, technically, Hilton Grand Vacations isn’t even part of Hilton Worldwide Inc. anymore! Q.E.D

Eskimo

Let's not forget, Amex rates are typically more expensive than booking direct. Where do you think they get the money for your breakfast or $100 hotel credit (which properties are already charging higher compared to outside) I don't know what FHR gives that doesn't get the same devaluation as status benefits. Late checkout, I can't remember the last time I was denied. Upgrades, do you really think FHR gets higher upgrade priority than elites or do you even get them? 2 floors higher is an upgrade, ha!!! Breakfast, hit or miss only when elites get breakfast in the lounge and FHR gets in a restaurant. The only difference is the $100 credit which you're subsidizing it with higher rates. FHR still does have many great deals, but I wouldn't count of Amex most of the time. Is hotel status is a mug's game, FHR is also a mug's game, and we're still the mugs. Applies to airlines too.

Joe1293

Explain about Sonesta loyalty program I am very intrigued

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