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Hotel credit cards are an easy way to accumulate loyalty points to book free nights. They also allow you to enjoy the same benefits as travelers who earn the same status by booking at least 40 nights a year. If you’re a casual traveler or simply want the elite benefits ASAP, these credit cards give you automatic hotel elite status.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Best Credit Cards for Hotel Elite Status

Hilton Honors

The information for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by Johnny Jet. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

American Express offers three co-brand Hilton Honors credit cards. Their premium option is the Hilton Honors Aspire American Express Card which gives you Diamond status which is the highest Hilton Honors membership tier.

Select Hilton Honors Diamond status benefits include executive lounge access, complimentary breakfast at all hotels, and a 48-hour room guarantee.

By owning the Aspire Card, you can enjoy these additional Hilton Honors benefits:

  • Hilton Resort statement credit
  • One annual free hotel night certificate
  • Second free hotel nighter certificate after $60,000 in annual card purchases
  • Priority Pass Select lounge membership (Enrollment required)
  • Terms apply

New cardholders can also earn 150,000 bonus points (worth up to 30 free nights!) by spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening.

The annual fee is $450 (See Rates & Fees). 

Marriott Bonvoy Credit Cards

The Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest rewards programs have been combined into a new rewards program now called Marriott Bonvoy. American Express offers a premium card and Chase carries the consumer credit card. Both are valuable in different ways.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant from American Express

The premium Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card earns cardholders Gold Elite status and 15 Elite Night credits (enrollment required). This hotel elite status level gives you enhanced room upgrades, premium internet access, and 2 p.m. late checkout.

Air travel benefits include Priority Pass Select lounge membership and Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

Enjoy up to $300 in statement credits each year of Card Membership for eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program.

Cardholders earn:

  • 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program
  • 3 points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines
  • 2 points on all other eligible purchases

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card is one of the most valuable options as cardholders can receive 1 Free Night Award every year after their Card renewal month. The Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points) at a participating hotel. Note that certain hotels have resort fees.

New Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card cardholders can earn 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points and 1 Free Night Award after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.

The annual fee is $450 (See Rates & Fees).

Learn more: Hotel Rewards Credit Cards

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

If you don’t need a premium travel credit card, the Chase-issued Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card only costs $95 annually. It comes with Silver Elite status and 15 Elite Night credits. Silver status lets you enjoy a 10% point bonus and late checkout.

Owning the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card also means you get hotel night good at any property that costs 35,000 points or less at each card renewal. Plus, cardholders can earn up to 17x total Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Card.

Additionally, earn 3x Bonvoy points per $1 on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year on grocery stores, gas stations, and dining.

Additionally, earn 1 Elite Night Credit towards Elite Status for every $5,000 you spend.

New Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card cardholders can earn 3 Free Nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Learn more: Hotel Rewards Credit Cards

IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card

The IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card gives you automatic Platinum Elite status. This is the second-highest status in the IHG Rewards Club program and lets you enjoy space-available room upgrades, a 50% point bonus, and elite rollover nights.

For frequent IHG travelers, the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card is a nice option. Cardholders can earn up to 26 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel. Also, earn 5x points per $1 spent on purchases on travel, gas stations, and restaurants. Earn 3x points per $1 spent on all other purchases. 

As an IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card cardholder, you’ll also get to enjoy a Reward Night after each account anniversary year at eligible IHG hotels worldwide.

Additionally, you can enjoy a reward night when you redeem points for any stay of 3 or more nights. 

As long as you remain a Premier cardmember, you can enjoy Platinum Elite status. Platinum Elite Status allows for room upgrades (when available), late check-out, welcome amenity at check-in, and more. Additionally, enjoy a Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS Statement Credit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card. 

New IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card cardholders can earn 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. 

The annual fee is $99.

Related: IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card Review

The World of Hyatt Credit Card

It’s hard to ignore The World of Hyatt Credit Card which helps you maximize one of the most robust hotel loyalty programs. You instantly get Discoverist hotel elite status that gives you premium internet and a free bottle of water daily. Discoverist members also earn 10% bonus points on stays, waived resort fees on bonus nights, space-available room upgrades, and free breakfast.

World of Hyatt cardmembers can upgrade their elite status faster as they receive 5 qualifying elite night credits each year. You earn an additional 2 elite night credits for every $5,000 spent.

Besides the elite status benefits, you also get a free night credit valid at any category 1-4 property each card anniversary. You earn a second free night award by making $15,000 in annual card purchases.

You also have the opportunity to earn up to 60,000 bonus points as a signup bonus. Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, earn 2 Bonus Points per $1 spent on purchases that earn 1 Bonus Point, up to $15,000, in the first 6 months of account opening.

Learn more: Hotel Rewards Credit Cards

Summary

As expected, premium hotel credit cards offer the best hotel elite status. But even settling for the lower-priced “mass consumer” cards still give you a jumpstart each year. You would need to spend at least 10 to 40 nights before you qualify for the same status level without the card.

What’s your go-to hotel loyalty program? Which hotel elite status level is your goal this year?

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, please click here.

And for rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, please click here.

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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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