How To Get Elite Hotel Benefits Just By Having A Credit Card

Hotels provide special elite benefits to frequent guests of the hotel chain as a thank-you for being good customers. While each chain has different benefits for differing levels of membership, the things you’ll usually see offered are a welcome gift, free wifi, early check in, late check out, an upgraded room and a variety of other perks.

Pferdschwemme (Horse Pond), as seen from our (upgraded) room at the Goldener Hirsch

While I’d like to think that we are traveling all the time, we actually aren’t. We stayed outside of our home for 43 nights in 2017. The breakdown of our stays looks like this:

  • Marriott – 7 nights
  • Hilton – 6 nights
  • Hyatt – 6 nights
  • IHG – 5 nights
  • Starwood – 3 nights
  • Kimpton – 2 nights
  • Choice – 1 night
  • Independent Hotels – 13 nights

These type of hotel stays like does not make it worthwhile for any hotel chain to offer me their premium benefits. That’s fine with me though, because by not having to earn any loyalty to a hotel program, I’m able to pick any hotel that I want based on our needs. I still would like to have some of those perks given to guests with elite status, so I do the next best thing. I get status by having the hotel’s co-brand credit card. The status these cards provide do not have any spending requirement, but some of them will offer you a higher level of status once you spend a certain amount on the card in a calendar year.

Here’s a list of the cards that offer some type of elite status as a benefit. Please note that links to credit cards in this post may pay a referral bonus.

IHG Rewards Club


Just by having the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card (no longer available) and the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, you automatically get Platinum Elite status with IHG. This would normally require staying for 40 nights or earning 40,000 points in a year. The annual fee for the IHG card is $89.

Benefits of Platinum Elite membership are listed as:

  • Extended Check Out
  • Free Internet
  • Priority Check-In
  • 50% Bonus Earnings on Top of Base Points
  • Complimentary Room Upgrades

World of Hyatt

Holding the World of Hyatt Credit Card will give you Discoverist status in the World of Hyatt program. This is the first level of the Hyatt loyalty program and you would normally have to stay 10 nights or earn 25,000 points in a year to quality. The annual fee for the Hyatt Credit Card is $95.


Benefits of Discoverist status are listed as:

  • Complimentary premium Internet where available
  • Bottle of water daily
  • Upgrade to a preferred room based on availability at check-in
  • Dedicated check-in reserved for elite members
  • Extend your stay until 2:00 PM upon request (subject to availability at some locations)
  • Resort fees are waived on free night awards

Radisson Rewards

When you have the Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature® Card, you are automatically granted Gold status in the Radisson Rewards program. To earn this status, you would normally need to have 20 stays or 35 nights per calendar year. Annual Fee for the card is $75.

I haven’t focused on this program because the Carlson brands in the U.S. are not places that I stay very much (Radisson, Park Inn and Country Inn & Suites). However this program may be of interest if you are traveling to Europe, where the Radisson Blu hotels are quite nice. In 2017, my father stayed at the Radisson Blu Alcron Hotel in Prague and it looked wonderful.

Room at the Radisson Blu Akron Hotel in Prague, one of the Carlson hotels

Benefits of Gold status are:

  • Complimentary Room Upgrade, when available
  • 25% Point Bonus for eligible stays
  • Early check-in or late checkout upon request
  • In-Room Welcome gift
  • 15% discount on food and beverages

Hilton Hotels

As of 2018, American Express is the exclusive issuer of the Hilton credit cards. They have two cards available that offer Hilton status as a benefit.

When you have the Hilton Honors Ascend card you get Hilton Honors Gold status. Earning this status would normally require 20 stays, 40 nights or earning 75,000 Honors base points in a calendar year. The annual fee for the Hilton Surpass AMEX card is $95. Actual benefits are difficult to list because they differ depending on what brand of Hilton hotel you are staying at. I’ll list some benefits but you can see the whole list at the Hilton Honors website.

  • 80% Elite Status Bonus on base points
  • 5th Night Free on reward stays
  • Standard Internet Access
  • Late check out
  • Two complementary bottles of water (per stay)
  • Continental breakfast (depends on the hotel)
  • Space available upgrades (depends on hotel)

The Hilton Honors Aspire card grants the cardholder top level Diamond status. This status would otherwise take 30 stays, 60 nights or 120,000 Honors base points in a calendar year. This status doesn’t come cheap. The Aspire card has a $450 annual fee. Diamond status gives you the following benefits (most of which are the same benefits you get with Gold)

  • 100% Elite Status Bonus on base points
  • 5th Night Free on reward stays
  • Premium Internet Access
  • Late check out
  • Two complementary bottles of water (per stay)
  • Continental breakfast (depends on the hotel)
  • Space-available upgrade to a preferred room

Marriott/Starwood Hotels

Marriott has credit cards issued by both Chase and American Express. There are many changes happening as the former Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest programs are being combined in August 2018.

The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus card from Chase will give the cardholder automatic Silver Elite status in the new program. This card has a $95 annual fee.

Having Marriott Silver Elite status gives you the following:

  • 10% bonus points on eligible stays
  • Complimentary in-room internet (if booking with Marriott)
  • Priority Late Checkout

The Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express will also provide Silver Elite status. This card also has a $95 annual fee.

American Express Platinum Card

While the American Express Platinum card is not a co-branded card, it does provide status with two hotel programs as a benefit but you actually get status with three programs.

With the Platinum American Express card, you automatically receive Hilton Gold status and Marriott Gold Elite status. These benefits don’t come cheap as the Platinum card has a $550 a year annual fee. I know that seems steep but it can really end up being worth it depending on how much you travel.

I’ve already gone over what Hilton Gold gets you, as it’s the same level of membership that you’ll get with the AMEX Hilton Ascend card. However, Marriott Gold Elite status provided by the AMEX Platinum card is better than what you’ll get with either Marriott/Starwood co-brand card. To earn Marriott Gold Elite, you would normally have to stay for 25 nights in a calendar year. The benefits of being a Starwood Gold Elite member are:

  • 25% bonus on eligible stays
  • Enhanced room at check in
  • Gold Welcome Gift of Points
  • Complimentary enhanced in-room internet
  • 2PM late check out, subject to availability and hotel.



Final Thoughts

As you can see, it’s very easy to get some type of hotel elite status just by having the right credit cards. Personally, I wouldn’t get any of these cards just for the elite status but fortunately, the hotel cards also come with other perks that I find worth paying the annual fee for, like a free night certificate, so getting status in addition is a welcome bonus.

Do you have any of the hotel co-brand cards? Do you think the status that they give is worthwhile? Let us know what you think.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary



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