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When you’re traveling, the first problem that you have every day is what to have for breakfast. If you’re staying in a nice hotel, the breakfast at the restaurant in the lobby can be tempting, but shockingly expensive. But when you have to search the surrounding area for a bite to eat, it can take a large chunk out of your day.

Thankfully, I never face those problems, as I enjoy free food for breakfast at nearly all of the hotels I visit. Here’s how I do it.

Earn Elite Status With the Hotel Loyalty Program

Most large hotel chains will provide complimentary breakfast to guests who have elite status with their loyalty program. But before you dismiss this as an option for frequent business travelers who spend dozens of nights a year on the road, think again. It can be very easy to obtain elite status by having the right travel credit card in your wallet.

American Express

For example, the American Express® Platinum Card offers cardmembers Hilton Gold status. The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card also offer Hilton Gold. Enrollment is required for select benefits and terms apply.

World of Hyatt

With the World of Hyatt program, you’ll need to earn top-tier Globalist status in order to enjoy their free breakfast benefit. Among the most spectacular Hyatt breakfasts I’ve enjoyed are the buffets at the Andaz Papagayo in Costa Rica and the Swan Court at the Hyatt Regency Maui, both of which are spectacular and normally quite expensive (and can easily tide you over until-mid afternoon).

And while earning Globalist status normally requires 60 night stays, you can earn it in 2021 with just 30 night stay credits. Better yet, you can earn five night stay credits just by having their World of Hyatt card from Chase, and another two night stay credits for every $5,000 spent. I earn Globalist status every year using a combination of award stays, which count towards elite status, the five night stay credits offered by the credit card and credit card spending.

Marriott Bonvoy

The Marriott Bonvoy program makes it harder by only offering free breakfast to Platinum elite members, which requires 50 night stay credits. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card (enrollment is required for select benefits and terms apply) and the Marriott Bonvoy Business® Card offer several night stay credits. The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ and Marriott Bonvoy Bold cards from Chase also offer night stay credits each. Depending on the card, these can range from 15 to 25 night stay credits.

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Club Lounge Access

Having elite status can also offer you access to the hotel’s club lounge, if it has one. This can often be a way to enjoy a quick breakfast before you head out. Hyatt Globalist, Marriott Platinums and Hilton Gold member members can access these lounges.

IHG only offers executive club lounge access to those with its Royal Ambassador status, which requires a $200 annual membership. But for a little extra (dollars or points), you can usually book rooms on the club lounge level to enjoy access.

Hotels That Offer Free Breakfast

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to get free breakfast on your next vacation is simply to book a room at a brand that offers it to all guests.


Within the Marriott chain, such brands include Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, SpringHill Suites, Fairfield Inn and Suites and Element.


Hyatt offers free breakfasts at both Hyatt House and Hyatt Place properties, so long as you book your room directly through Hyatt.


Hilton offers free breakfasts to guests of its Canopy, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, Home2 Suites, Homewood Suites and Tru hotels.


Best Western as well as many Choice and Wyndham hotel brands also offer free breakfast to all guests.

Booking Hotels Through Portals

There are several hotel programs that offer guests a range of benefits when you book through their program. For example, American Express Platinum cardholders can book rooms through their Fine Hotels & Resorts program and receive complimentary breakfasts and other amenities. The same is true with the Chase Luxury Hotel Collection and the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection.

If All Else Fails, Just Ask

When hotel guests suffer a service failure of some kind, a common response is to offer the guest a free meal, such as breakfast. I once received a very nice breakfast at a fancy hotel in Austin, Texas after letting them know that the toilet in our room wasn’t working when we arrived. And another time, I received a free breakfast at a Chicago hotel after complaining that the housekeeping staff woke me up before 8 AM.

So if something significant has occurred to disrupt your stay, don’t hesitate to request breakfast if the manager asks what they can do to make it up to you.

The Bottom Line

When taking a vacation, you can always save money by planning to receive a free breakfast one way or another. By using these strategies, you can enjoy your morning meal, without much of the hassle or expense.


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.