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There’s nothing like the fun of checking into a hotel when you have elite status. First, you get to skip the line and go straight to the front desk, where you’ll likely receive a room upgrade. Then you’ll be told about all the free amenities you’ll have access to, possibly including free breakfasts, late checkouts and perhaps even free parking. And don’t forget that you’ll either be earning extra points on paid stays, or possibly spending fewer points on award stays. 

But you don’t have to pay for dozens of nights a year to earn elite status with your favorite hotel programs, as status is routinely offered through credit card use, award stays or a combination of both.

Unlike airline frequent flyer programs, you actually earn credit towards elite status when you redeem your points to stay at a hotel for free. (Yes, I said “free” as the vast majority of hotel award stays don’t require you to pay any taxes or fees).

How I Earn Top-Tier Globalist Elite Status With the World of Hyatt Program

Despite its somewhat awkward name, my favorite hotel loyalty program is the World of Hyatt, where I have achieved Globalist, the highest status in their program. This status normally requires 60 night stay credits per year; although they have reduced it to 30 night stays for 2020, in light of the pandemic. 

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But even 60 night stays is within my reach, as I enjoy their Hyatt Place and Hyatt House brands. Award nights at these properties tend to cost me just 5,000, 8,000 or 12,000 points per night.

But I stay nowhere near 60 nights a year. Instead, I have The World of Hyatt Credit Card from Chase, which offers me 5 night-stay credits each year, and another 2 night-stay credits for every $5,000 spent. So by fall, when I have an idea of how many night-stays I’ll earn  at hotels that year, I can dedicate some additional spending to that card to fill the gap, if necessary. 

And boy is it worth it! Beyond room upgrades, Globalists always receive free breakfasts, as well as waived resort fees and parking fees. These expenses can otherwise add up to hundreds of dollars on a longer stay.

I also receive 4 p.m. late checkouts and access to a Hyatt Concierge who assists me in my sometimes complicated travel plans. But even if you don’t achieve Globalist status, the credit card will still grant you entry-level Explorist status, which is a lot better than nothing. 

Earning Status in Other Hotel Programs

I also hold top-tier Wyndham status, which I received by having the Wyndham Rewards Earner® Business Card. This status includes late checkouts, suite upgrades and a welcome amenity kit at check-in. 

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I enjoy mid-tier Gold status with both Marriott and Hilton, by virtue of holding The Platinum Card® from American Express. Hilton Gold comes with late checkouts and a daily food and beverage credit at US hotels, and continental breakfast at non-US hotels. Both come with room upgrades and additional points earnings. 

Credit Cards That Earn Marriott Status

You can earn Marriott Status with these credit cards from both Chase and American Express.

Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card

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  • Our Rating 4.0/5 How our ratings work Read the review
  • APR20.74% - 27.74% (Variable)
  • Annual Fee$0
  • 60,000 60,000Marriott Bonvoy Points More Info

    Limited Time Offer! Earn 60,000 Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $240 (60,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points * 0.004 base)

This is a good choice if you’re interested in getting into the travel rewards game but don’t want to commit to an annual fee. This credit card offers a solid welcome bonus and can be a great place to start, especially if you’re loyal to Marriott—as with other hotel cards, this one offers outsized rewards on purchases made with the hotel brand.

Overview

The Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card is a solid choice if you’re interested in getting into the travel rewards game, but don’t want to commit to an annual fee. This credit card offers a solid welcome bonus and can be a great place to start, especially if you’re loyal to Marriott.

Pros

  • No annual fee to worry about
  • Great for beginners in the world of hotel loyalty
  • Robust travel, lost luggage, and purchase protections
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • Low-level Marriott status that comes with the card doesn't get you very much
  • Only makes sense for those that stay in Marriott hotels

This card also comes with 15 elite night credits, which is good for automatic Silver elite status, There’s no annual fee for this card. Our full review of the Marriott Bonvoy Bold has complete details about this popular hotel credit card.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

This product is currently not available via Slickdeals. All information about this product was collected by Slickdeals and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

  • Our Rating 4.0/5 How our ratings work Read the review
  • APR20.74% - 27.74% (Variable)
  • Annual Fee$95
  • 100,000 100,000Marriott Bonvoy Points More Info

    Limited Time Offer! Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $400 (100,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points * 0.004 base)

This is a good choice for people who are getting into travel rewards and plan to stay at Marriott properties several times a year. A lot of this card's value comes through its rewards program. Benefits include free elite night credits, a free annual anniversary night, a welcome bonus and more. Cardholders can also earn high points per dollar on eligible purchases at Marriott properties.

Overview

The Boundless credit card offers some solid benefits, including the free elite night credits, a free anniversary night every card membership year, a welcome bonus, Silver Elite Status and 2x points per dollar spent on travel and all other purchases.

Pros

  • Earn a free night certificate after each year you have the card
  • Redeem points for Marriott hotels
  • Generous rewards rates for Marriott hotel stays
  • Earn elite nights by spending on the card

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Marriott points aren't as rewarding as some other hotel points

This card comes with automatic Silver elite status, 15 elite night credits and automatic Gold status when you spend $35,000 on purchases within a calendar year. There is a $95 annual fee for this card. Read our full review of the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless.

Other Marriott Credit Cards

  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy Business™ Card

Credit Cards That Earn Hilton Status

  • Hilton Honors Card: This card offers complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status, and Gold status when you spend $20,000 in a calendar year. There’s no annual fee for this card. 
  • Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: This card offers complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status, and when you use it to spend $40,000 in a calendar year, you can earn top-tier Hilton Honors Diamond status.There’s a $95 annual fee for this card that’s waived the first year. 
  • Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card: This Hilton Amex credit card offers complimentary Diamond status to all cardmembers, and has a $450 annual fee. 
  • Hilton Honors Business Card: This Hilton business credit card offers Gold status and has a $95 annual fee. 

Earning Status With Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG)

IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card

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Secure application on issuer’s website

  • Our Rating 4.5/5 How our ratings work Read the review
  • APR20.74% - 27.74% (Variable)
  • Annual Fee$99
  • 140,000 140,000IHG Rewards Points More Info

    Earn 140,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening Dollar Equivalent: $700 (140,000 IHG Rewards Points * 0.005 base)

Aside from its astounding sign-up bonus, this card offers tons of value, especially for loyal IHG customers, like a free Reward Night on your account anniversary and Platinum Elite status as long as you remain a Premier card member. Plus, it offers a Global Entry, NEXUS or TSA Pre✓® fee credit every four years, and IHG Rewards Bonus points are redeemable at a variety of hotels.

Overview

Frequent customers of IHG hotels and other people who enjoy earning rewards nights for hotel stays and premium hotel status should consider picking up this card.

Pros

  • Generous rewards rate on IHG Hotels and Resorts purchases
  • Automatic IHG Rewards Platinum Elite status which gets you perks like upgrades
  • Free reward night every account anniversary, with the potential to be worth hundreds of dollars

Cons

  • Has an annual fee
  • Only makes sense if you plan to stay at IHG properties

This IHG hotel credit card from Chase offers you Platinum Elite status, which includes room upgrades, late checkouts and even free items from the room’s minibar. There’s a $99 annual fee for this card; read our full review of the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card.

Bottom line

If you travel more than just a few times a year, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t hold some level of elite status with your favorite hotel program. By learning how easy it is to earn elite status, and by choosing the right credit card to get you there, you’ll never be just another guest when you stay at a hotel. Get the absolute best deals on your trips with Travelocity Promo Codes and status-based discounts. Booking.com also offers loyalty programs that can help you save more. Booking.com promo codes can help you earn points and miles for your next trip.

JS

Jason Steele

Jason Steele is a journalist who specializes in covering credit cards, award travel and other areas of personal finance. As one of the nation’s leading experts in the credit card industry, Jason’s work has been featured at mainstream outlets such as Yahoo! Finance, MSN Money and Business Insider.