Which Credit Cards Give You Hotel Elite Status?

Filed Under: Credit Cards, Hotels
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I find hotel status to be almost invaluable for a frequent traveler, though perhaps I’m a bit biased as someone who lives in hotels full time. Whether it’s room upgrades or free breakfast or lounge access or premium internet, the value of status can quickly add up.

The good news is that often you don’t actually have to spend 50+ nights per year at hotels in order to earn status which will prove valuable. Instead, there are credit cards out there which will either get you status in a hotel program, or at a minimum get you a fast track towards status in a hotel program.

So I figured I’d compile a list of the hotel perks offered by various credit cards, and then share my thoughts on which are most valuable:

Club Carlson

Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card

  • Club Carlson Gold status for as long as you have the card


Hilton HHonors

Hilton Honors™ Aspire® Card

  • Hilton HHonors Diamond status for as long as you have the card

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

  • Hilton HHonors Gold status for as long as you have the card
  • Hilton HHonors Diamond status when you spend $40,000 on the card in a calendar year


World of Hyatt

The World Of Hyatt Credit Card

  • Automatic World of Hyatt Discoverist status for as long as your account is open
  • 5 Qualifying night credits toward your next tier status every year
  • Earn 2 qualifying night credits towards your next tier status every time you spend $5,000 on your card


IHG Rewards Club

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

  • IHG Rewards Club Platinum status for as long as you have the card


Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card

Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card

  • 15 elite qualifying nights towards status annually
  • Silver Elite status for as long as you have your card
  • Gold status when you spend $35,000 on the card in a calendar year


The Ritz-Carlton™ Card

  • 15 elite qualifying nights towards status annually
  • Gold Elite status for as long as you have your card
  • Platinum Elite status after spending $75,000 on the card each account year


The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • Hilton HHonors Gold status for as long as you have the card


Which credit card hotel status perk is most valuable?

Obviously there’s lots more to the above cards than just the status they offer. For example, many of the above cards offer an annual free night certificate, which in many cases more than justifies the annual fee.

In general, I’d say it’s tough to beat the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, in terms of them offering HHonors Gold status for as long as you have the card. That comes with executive lounge access and/or breakfast, which I consider to be the single most valuable elite perk. Given how Hilton has properties in so many places, that’s a value which is tough to beat.

Meanwhile if you’re into Ritz-Carlton or Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton™ Card is tough to beat, given that it offers Gold status for the first year, and requires just $10,000 of spend in subsequent years to maintain it. That’s a great value, especially given that Ritz-Carlton Rewards Gold gets you the equivalent of Marriott Gold benefits at Marriott properties.

Bottom line

Having the right hotel credit card can be a great way to get status (or at the least get a fast track to status) with your favorite hotel loyalty program. Personally I have status with Club Carlson, Hilton, and IHG thanks to having their co-branded credit cards, and my status with SPG is helped by having their co-branded credit cards as well.

Which credit card hotel status perks do you value most?

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  1. Thanks for your posts Lucky! I absolutely love reading them daily.
    This may be a silly question: if you are given a hotel elite status through a credit card (like the Hyatt platinum or the Hilton gold), do you start from 0 stays/0 nights? Or do you begin with minimum stays/nights needed for your status?

  2. Of course, nowhere does it indicate what the hotel status perks really are…and whether or not they’re worth it. Depending on your budget, club access and breakfast just aren’t that big a deal for many, including me. (I prefer room service breakfast whenever possible. And if I’m alone, I usually prefer room service meals in general.)

    Other than those perks, only upgrades are left to have value. Most upgrades, though, just aren’t worth that much–just a room category improvement that often has little impact on the overall experience. In all the years I’ve been Marriott Gold, I’ve infrequently been offered an upgrade, and I’ve never had an upgrade which made me think Gold is worth the effort. (I have Marriott Gold now simply by being UA Premier Gold.) In the years I was IHG Platinum and Hilton Gold, I must say I’ve had more or less the same experience–barely a room category upgrade. So I could care less about those credit cards or those programs’ elite status, to be honest.

    Only Hyatt Diamond and SPG Platinum really have much value…and you can’t achieve those statuses through credit cards. You can argue that SPG Gold sometimes has value, and that is worth chasing–or getting the Amex Plat or spending on SPG cards. But only Hyatt Diamond and SPG Platinum get you some seriously good upgrades, suites, better point earnings, etc.

  3. I don’t find any of the status that comes with those cards very meaningful. I agree Hhonors gold is the clear winner except I have found too many times I have not been upgraded to get lounge access and every award stay, they refused to offer the Hilton gold elite perks.

    Hyatt and SPG status at the top level are excellent but their mid tier level SPG gold ir Hyatt platinum are pathetic to say the least.

  4. @Lucky have you heard anything about the Chase Hyatt offering Diamond at a higher spend threashold? I few months back I heard some rumblings that this may be coming but haven’t heard anything since.

  5. Noob question. What exactly does this mean on SPG “you get two elite stay credits and five elite night credits”. So this just means credit toward next status?

  6. “Hilton HHonors Gold status when you spend $20,000 on the card in a calendar year, or when you make four Hilton stays within 90 days of account opening.”

    Do the four stays have to be on the card itself? I will be traveling for work and all my travel must go through a corporate card.

  7. @lucky you forgot to mention American Express centurion. It currently offers the following to Middle East based centurion card holders:
    1. Hilton diamond (for as long as you have the card)
    2. Jumeirah Sirius gold (for as long as you have the card)
    3. Club carlsson gold (for one year)
    4. GM discovery black (also for one year)

  8. Good summary.
    I think Carlson and IHG are underrated: I find those status levels very useful – I’ve received a number of upgrades to beautiful rooms and suites by Carlson and IHG just for having the credit card. I travel a lot in Asia and Europe and would say I get upgraded at least 70% of the time, even though they are not “guaranteed”. In both cases, the cards also offer a free night or points for the annual fee, so there is no downside for me in having them.

  9. I agree with Rupert. I read a comparison between Marriott, Hilton and IHG. The volume of mid to upper level hotel chains offered by IHG was considerably more than the other two which is why I chose IHG.
    With Platinum I usually get room upgrades and when the hotel is “fully booked”, I use my status to get a rooms which are not available.
    Carlson is fabulous for Radisson in Europe. The wife and I got a Jr. suite upgrade in Vienna for 17 euros per night with breakfast and mini bar included. We we’re so happy! I suppose perceptions and expectations play a role in customer satisfaction..

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