Guide to Free Hotel Elite Status with Credit Cards - Running with Miles
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Guide to Free Hotel Elite Status with Credit Cards

mid-tier elite
Written by Points Tutor

Find out how you can get free hotel elite status across many programs just by having the right credit cards! In fact, you may already have them!

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This post comes to us from Nick Lundegard, who writes over at PointsTutor.com. Nick’s points obsession started a couple years ago when he was road warrior and realized how he was able to earn hundreds of thousands of points through credit cards and travel loyalty programs. He has been able to redeem those points for thousands of dollars in free travel including a $3100 honeymoon. He aspires to teach everyone to do the same on his blog.

Over the years, I’ve earned upgrades, free lounge access, free meals and more from both airline and hotel loyalty programs. Needless to say, I’m a huge fan of loyalty programs. While many programs or program tier levels require you to travel frequently, others are actually obtainable with credit cards. Let’s take a look at which credit cards offer free hotel elite status and what the benefits of those statuses are.

Guide to Free Hotel Elite Status with Credit Cards

IHG
free hotel elite status

The IHG Hotel group includes brands such as Intercontinental, Holiday Inn, and Kimpton. This hotel group offers Platinum Elite status with their Chase IHG Rewards Club Select card and, while IHG Platinum status is not the most rewarding of statuses, it is a great status to status match to other hotel loyalty programs.

Credit Card:

Chase IHG Rewards Club Select

  • Elite status offered: Platinum Elite
  • Annual Fee: $49 (waived first year)

Highest Status: Platinum Elite, 3rd highest tier out of 4

Status benefits:

  • Platinum: Complimentary room upgrades, 50% points earning bonus, points don’t expire, extended check out, elite rollover nights

Hiltonfree hotel elite status

The Hilton Group includes hotels such as Hilton, the Conrad, Hampton Inn, and more. Earn Gold status (with possible Diamond status) with the Hilton Surpass card which can earn free breakfast and upgrades.

Credit Cards:

Amex Hilton Honors Surpass Card

  • Elite status offered: Gold status, upgrade to Diamond status by spending $40,000 annually on the card
  • Annual Fee: $75 (waived first year)

Amex Hilton Honors Card

  • Elite status offered: Silver, upgrade to Gold status after spending $20,000 annually on the card
  • Annual Fee: $0

Citi Hilton Honors Reserve card

  • Elite status offered: Gold, upgrade to Diamond status after spending $40,000 annually on the card
  • Annual Fee: $95

Citi Hilton Honors Visa Signature card

  • Elite status offered: Silver status, upgrade to Gold status after spending $20,000 annually on the card
  • Annual Fee: $0

American Express Platinum card (Different versions: Mercedes Benz, Charles Schwab, Morgan Stanley) Business version: American Express Business Platinum card)

  • Elite status offered: Hilton Gold status, SPG Gold status (also Marriott and Ritz Carlton Gold when linking your SPG, Marriott and Ritz Carlton accounts)
  • Annual Fee: $450

Highest Status: Gold status, 3rd highest out of 4 tiers ( or earn Diamond status, highest tier, by spending $40,000 annually)

Status benefits

  • Diamond: 50% bonus points earnings, 48 hour room guarantee, lounge access (select hotels) plus Gold member benefits
  • Gold: 25% bonus points earnings, 5th night free on reward nights, free upgrades (select hotels), free breakfast (select hotels), free bonus points, plus Silver member benefits
  • Silver: 15% bonus points earnings, complimentary fitness access, free water bottles at select hotels

Marriott (Ritz Carlton)free hotel elite status

The Marriott Group includes brands such as Marriott, Ritz Carlton, and Courtyard. Marriott and Ritz Carlton operate separate elite programs but they offer reciprocal benefits (ex. Marriott Gold is the same as Ritz Gold). Note: You can only have either a Marriott account or Ritz Carlton account. Marriott recently purchased SPG and you are able to link your SPG, Ritz Carlton and Marriott accounts to status match each program to the highest status achieved with any program.

Credit Cards:

Chase Marriott Rewards Premier card

  • Elite status offered: 15 elite credits (automatic Silver status), 1 additional elite night for every $3,000 in spending ($105,000 to earn Gold status, $180,000 to earn Platinum status)
  • Annual Fee: $95

Ritz Carlton Rewards card

  • Elite status offered: Gold status (spend $10,000 annually to maintain Gold status), upgrade to Platinum status after spending $75,000 annually
  • Annual Fee: $450

American Express Platinum card (Different versions: Mercedes Benz, Charles Schwab, Morgan Stanley) Business version: American Express Business Platinum card)

  • Elite status offered: Hilton Gold status, SPG Gold status (also Marriott and Ritz Carlton Gold when linking your SPG, Marriott and Ritz Carlton accounts)
  • Annual Fee: $450

American Express Starwood Preferred Guest card (Business version: American Express Business Starwood Preferred Guest)

  • Elite status offered: SPG Gold status after spending $30,000 annually on the card (also Marriott and Ritz Carlton Gold when linking your SPG, Marriott and Ritz Carlton accounts), (Business version earns free Sheraton lounge access regardless of elite status)
  • Annual Fee: $95

Highest Status: Gold status, 3rd highest out of 4 tiers ( or earn Diamond status, highest tier, by spending $40,000 annually)

Status benefits:

  • Platinum: Arrival gift plus Gold benefits
  • Gold: 25% bonus points earning, guaranteed room type, room uprade, complimentary enhanced internet
  • Silver: 20% bonus points earning

SPG
free hotel elite statusThe Starwood Group includes brands such as the Sheraton, Westin, and St. Regis. Starwood was recently acquired by Marriott and now you can link your Marriott and SPG accounts and receive the highest elite status you have with either program for both programs.

Credit Cards:

American Express Starwood Preferred Guest card (Business version: American Express Business Starwood Preferred Guest)

  • Elite status offered: SPG Gold status after spending $30,000 annually on the card (also Marriott and Ritz Carlton Gold when linking your SPG, Marriott and Ritz Carlton accounts), (Business version earns free Sheraton lounge access regardless of elite status)
  • Annual Fee: $95

Chase Marriott Rewards Premier card

  • Elite status offered:15 elite credits (automatic Silver status), 1 additional elite night for every $3,000 in spending ($105,000 to earn Gold status, $180,000 to earn Platinum status)
  • Annual Fee: $95

Ritz Carlton Rewards card

  • Elite status offered: Gold status (spend $10,000 annually to maintain Gold status), upgrade to Platinum status after spending $75,000 annually
  • Annual Fee: $450

American Express Platinum card (Different versions: Mercedes Benz, Charles Schwab, Morgan Stanley) Business version: American Express Business Platinum card)

  • Elite status offered: Hilton Gold status, SPG Gold status (also Marriott and Ritz Carlton Gold when linking your SPG, Marriott and Ritz Carlton accounts)
  • Annual Fee: $450

Highest Status: Gold status, 2nd highest out of 3 tiers (or earn Diamond status, highest tier, by spending $75,000 annually)

Status benefits:

  • Platinum: 50 night choice benefits, welcome gift, upgrade to best available room at check-in (suites included), Club/Executive lounge access, plus Gold benefits
  • Gold: 50% bonus points earning over Preferred, late check out, upgrade to enhanced room (subject to availability), welcome gift, Crossover Rewards with Delta, China Eastern and Emirates

Hyattfree hotel elite status

Hyatt includes brands such as Hyatt, Park Hyatt and Hyatt Place.

Credit Card:

Chase Hyatt card

Elite status offered: Platinum status (will be Discoverist status)

  • Annual Fee: $75

Highest Status: Platinum

Status benefits:

  • Platinum: 15% bonus points earning, upgrade to preferred rooms, complimentary premium wifi

Choice Hotelsfree hotel elite status

Choice Hotels include brands such as Comfort Inn, Sleep Inn and Clarion.

Credit Card:

Barclaycard Choice Privileges card

Elite status offered: Gold status

  • Annual Fee: $0

Highest Status: Gold

Status benefits:

  • Gold: 10% bonus points earning, book 50 days in advance for reward nights, 250 bonus points or a snack or beveragat at check-in for stays at U.S. Comfort Suites hotels

Club Carlsonfree hotel elite status

Club Carlson includes hotels such as Radisson Blu, Country Inn & Suites and Park Plaza.

Credit Cards:

U.S. Bank Club Carlson Premier Rewards card (Business version: U.S. Bank Club Carlson Business Rewards card)

  • Elite status offered: Gold status
  • Annual Fee: $75

U.S. Bank Club Carlson Rewards card

  • Elite status offered: Silver status
  • Annual Fee: $50

Highest Status: Gold

Status benefits:

  • Gold: 15% discount on food and beverages at participating hotel restaurants, 35% bonus points earning, in-room welcome gift, and Silver benefits
  • Silver: 10% discount on food and beverages at participating hotel restaurants, complimentary room upgrade, 15% bonus points earning, rollover nights, early check-in, late check out, elite member line

Conclusion

As you can see, many credit cards offer elite hotel status and many of the benefits can be quite valuable. While the majority of these cards have annual fees, if you use the hotel elite status and other perks of the credit card, you can easily receive double, triple or even more value from the annual fee you pay. Out of this list, my favorite credit card is the Amex Platinum card as it offers elite status to 4 programs (Marriott, SPG, Ritz Carlton and Hilton). I would also argue, the elite benefits of these programs are some of the best. You can receive free upgrades, lounge access and free breakfast from the Gold status of all these programs.

Did I miss any credit cards? If so, post down below.

Points Tutor

Thank you Running With Miles for giving me the opportunity to share my love of points on your blog!

Editorial Note - Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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About the author

Points Tutor

Nick Lundegard writes at PointsTutor.com, a blog which specializes in teaching you to use credit cards and travel loyalty programs to earn hundreds of thousands of points a year for free travel.

3 Comments

  • From the article:
    “Chase Hyatt card
    Elite status offered: Platinum status (Soon to be Explorist status)”

    Isn’t the Chase Hyatt card going to offer the lower Discoverist level instead of the middle Explorist level (after 3/1)?

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