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8 Best Credit Cards That Offer Hotel Elite Night Status for Free

Advertiser Disclosure: This post includes references to offers from our partners. We receive compensation when you click on links to those products. However, the opinions expressed here are ours alone and at no time has the editorial content been provided, reviewed, or approved by any issuer.

If you’re on the road more days than you’re home, and you tend to stay with the same hospitality hotel chains (also called “families”) when you travel, you may already have a hotel credit card or two in your wallet.

Whether it’s delivering the benefits you deserve is another question.

Many co-branded hotel credit cards — cards whose benefits are limited to specific hospitality families — confer complimentary or heavily discounted elite status. Smaller numbers of premium travel rewards credit cards also do, along with a handful of elite small-business credit cards.

Choosing the Right Elite Status Credit Card

Not all elite status benefits are alike, though. The right card with the right elite status benefits can reduce your annual lodging expenses by a four-figure sum, more than offsetting even the greatest of annual fees.

The wrong card, by contrast, may do little but gather dust in your desk drawer, quietly collecting an annual fee you’ve agreed to pay for no good reason.

The difference between “right” and “wrong” here depends, in part, on the specifics of the benefit itself: the base points multiplier, the room upgrade allowance, and the value of any other perks, such as flexible checkout.

It also depends on your travel habits and patterns: how often you travel, to where, at what price points, and your preferred hospitality families and hotel loyalty programs.


Top Credit Cards for Elite Status at Hotels & Resorts

This list includes the very best hotel credit cards for elite status at major hotel brands and resort chains. Several major hospitality families are represented here. Those that aren’t don’t have co-branded credit cards with sufficiently generous elite night benefits. Despite the omissions, there’s a very good chance you’ll find a card and status benefit to suit your travel patterns and preferences.

Unless otherwise noted, status extends through the end of the calendar year following the year in which it’s earned. For instance, status earned on July 31 of Year 1 extends through December 31 of Year 2.


1. The Platinum Card® From American Express

Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Status and Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status (Enrollment Required and Terms Apply)

Amex Platinum Card Art 2 4 21

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The Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the few general-purpose travel rewards credit cards with hotel elite status benefits worth mentioning.

Actually, the Platinum Card has two proper hotel elite status benefits for cardmembers: complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status and Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status. Enrollment is required to earn this benefit and terms apply.

Hilton Honors Gold status normally requires 20 discrete paid stays in a year, 40 total paid nights in a year, or 75,000 base points earned in a year.

Bonvoy Gold Elite status normally requires 25 eligible nights in a year, including redemption nights. Enrollment is required to earn these benefits.

Hilton Honors Gold status holders enjoy select perks such as:

  • An 80% boost to base Hilton Honors point earnings on qualifying paid stays
  • Complimentary room upgrades when available, up to Executive room type
  • Complimentary breakfast with every stay
  • Unlimited Milestone bonuses

Select Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status perks include:

  • A 25% boost to base Bonvoy point earnings on qualifying paid stays
  • Up to 500 bonus points as a welcome gift with each stay
  • Flexible checkout times
  • No blackout dates for Bonvoy point redemptions
  • Complimentary room upgrades when available (terms vary by property)

The Amex Platinum Card has some additional benefits worth noting:

  • Welcome Offer: Earn 100,000 bonus Membership Rewards points when you spend at least $6,000 within six months of opening your account. Plus, earn 10 points per $1 spent on eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. during the first six months your account is open (up to $25,000 in combined purchases).
  • Earning Rewards: Earn 5 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year. Earn 5 points per $1 spent on prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel. All other eligible purchases earn an unlimited 1 point per $1 spent.
  • Redeeming Rewards: Redeem for a wide variety of items at the American Express Membership Rewards portal. The best redemption values typically accrue on travel booked directly through American Express Travel. Other options include statement credits, gift cards, and general merchandise.
  • Introductory APR: None.
  • Key Fees: The annual fee is $695. There is no foreign transaction fee. See rates and fees page.
  • Other Perks: Amex Platinum has too many value-added perks to name. Additional hotel benefits include a $200 hotel credit on prepaid Fine Hotels and Resorts or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card, perks valued at $550 on average per stay at properties in the Luxury Hotels and Resorts Collection, a $200 annual airline fee credit with the airline of your choice (enrollment required), complimentary access to more than 1,200 airport lounges worldwide (enrollment required), and up to $200 in Uber credits per year (enrollment required).

See our American Express Platinum Card review for more information. Find out how you can apply for this card here.

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2. Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status

Bonvoy Brilliant Card Art 10 15 20

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The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is one of the best credit cards on the market, period. Gold Elite status is just one of its many benefits.

Bonvoy Brilliant cardholders enjoy complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status each year and qualify for Platinum Elite status with $75,000 in eligible spending in any calendar year. Platinum Elite status normally requires 50 eligible nights (including redemption nights) per calendar year.

Select perks include:

  • A 50% bonus on base point earnings
  • Complimentary room upgrades where available, including select suites
  • Complimentary hotel lounge access where available
  • Super-flexible late checkout (up to 4pm)

Here’s what else you’ll get from the Bonvoy Brilliant card:

  • Welcome Offer: Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new card to make $3,000 of eligible purchases within the first 3 months of card membership. That’s worth up to 10 free nights at hotels participating in the Bonvoy program. Plus, earn up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within the first six months.
  • Earning Rewards: Earn 6 Bonvoy points per $1 spent at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program. Earn 3 points per $1 spent on U.S. restaurants and on nights booked directly with airlines. Earn 2 points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.
  • Redeeming Rewards: The best way to redeem Bonvoy points is for free nights at participating hotels and resorts. Redemption requirements for free award nights begin at 7,500 points for budget-friendly Category 1 properties and rise to 85,000 points at pricey Category 8 properties. As a cardholder, you’ll never have to worry about blackout dates.
  • Introductory APR: None.
  • Key Fees: The annual fee is $450. There is no foreign transaction fee. See rates and fees page.
  • Other Perks: Additional perks include a $300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit each year for eligible purchases at participating hotels, one free night award per year at participating Bonvoy properties after your account anniversary, complimentary airport lounge access at more than 1,000 locations worldwide (enrollment required), and a $100 Marriott Bonvoy property credit at participating properties. Terms apply.

See our Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card review for more information. Find out how you can apply for this card here.

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3. Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card From Chase

Automatic Silver Elite Status; Gold Elite Status With $35,000 Spend in a Calendar Year

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

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The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card confers complimentary Silver Elite status to cardholders in good standing. Cardholders who manage to spend at least $35,000 in a calendar year qualify for Gold Elite status without the requisite nightly stay or base point requirements.

Silver Elite status normally requires 10 paid nightly stays. Select benefits include:

  • A 10% bonus on base points earned on qualifying Bonvoy stays
  • Dedicated reservation lines
  • Priority late checkout
  • No blackout dates for redemptions
  • Free WiFi where available
  • Exclusive member rates on paid Bonvoy stays

Here’s what else to expect from the Boundless card:

  • Sign-Up Bonus: Earn 3 free nights (with each night valued up to 50,000 points) after qualifying purchases, plus earn 10x total points on eligible purchases in select categories.
  • Earning Rewards: Earn up to 17x Bonvoy points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. Earn 2x points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.
  • Redeeming Rewards: Redeem for free nights with no blackout dates at participating hotels and resorts, starting at 7,500 points for Category 1 properties and rising to 85,000 points at pricey Category 8 properties. Cash-assisted redemptions may require fewer points.
  • Introductory APR: None.
  • Key Fees: The annual fee is $95. There is no foreign transaction fee. See rates and fees page.
  • Other Perks: Enjoy a free award night every year after your account anniversary.

See our Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card review for more information. Find out how to apply for this card here.

Apply Now


4. Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card

15 Elite Night Credits Per Year (Enough to Qualify for Silver Elite Status)

Bonvoy Bold 9 30

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The Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card confers 15 complimentary elite night credits to cardholders in good standing each calendar year. That’s more than enough to qualify for Silver Elite status. Earn 10 additional elite night credits through paid or award stays, and you’ll nab Gold Elite status.

With no annual fee for card membership, Bonvoy Bold’s elite status benefit is a tremendous value. Here’s what else to expect from this card:

  • Sign-Up Bonus: Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend at least $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership.
  • Earning Rewards: Earn up to 14x points per $1 spent on purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels and resorts. Earn 2x points per $1 spent on all other eligible travel purchases. Earn 1x point per $1 spent on all eligible nontravel purchases.
  • Redeeming Rewards: Redeem for free nights with no blackout dates at qualifying Bonvoy hotels and resorts. Redemptions start at 7,500 points for Category 1 properties and rise to 85,000 points for Category 8 properties. Cash-assisted redemptions may require fewer points.
  • Introductory APR: None.
  • Key Fees: There is no annual fee or foreign transaction fee.
  • Other Perks: Bonvoy Bold offers a range of complimentary travel protections and travel insurance benefits, including travel delay reimbursement, baggage delay reimbursement, and lost luggage reimbursement.

Find out how to apply for this card here.

Apply Now


5. World of Hyatt Credit Card

Complimentary World of Hyatt Discoverist Status

World Of Hyatt Card Art 9 1 20

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The World of Hyatt Credit Card promises complimentary World of Hyatt Discoverist Status to cardholders in good standing.

Discoverist status normally requires World of Hyatt members do to one of the following in a calendar year:

  • Complete 10 qualifying nights at participating properties
  • Earn 25,000 base points on qualifying stays
  • Hold three qualifying meetings or events at participating Hyatt properties

Select Discoverist benefits include:

  • A 10% bonus on base points earned on qualifying Hyatt hotel stays
  • Resort fee waivers on award nights
  • Flexible checkout times
  • Bonus points on bookings with select travel partners, including American Airlines and Avis

Here’s what else to expect from the World of Hyatt Credit Card:

  • Sign-Up Bonus: Earn up to 60,000 bonus points during the first six months of card membership. This is a two-part bonus. First, you’ll earn 30,000 points after you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases in the first three months. Second, you can earn up to an additional 30,000 points by earning 2 bonus points per $1 spent on eligible purchases that normally earn 1 bonus point, up to a total of $15,000 in purchases. The full bonus is worth up to 12 free nights at participating Hyatt properties.
  • Earning Rewards: Earn unlimited 4 bonus points per $1 spent at participating Hyatt properties. Earn unlimited 2 bonus points per $1 spent on purchases at restaurants, with local transit and commuting providers, of fitness and gym memberships, and directly with airlines. Earn an unlimited 1 bonus point per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.
  • Redeeming Rewards: The best way to redeem accumulated Hyatt points is for award nights at participating Hyatt properties. Award night redemptions start at 5,000 points for standard rooms in budget-friendly Category 1 hotels and top out at 30,000 points for standard rooms at pricey Category 7 hotels. Cash-assisted redemptions may require fewer points.
  • Introductory APR: None.
  • Key Fees: There is a $95 annual fee. There is no foreign transaction fee.
  • Other Perks: Earn up to two free award nights when you remain a cardholder in good standing: one award night after your account anniversary and another in any year when you spend $15,000 or more on eligible purchases. Both award nights are valid at Category 1 through 4 properties.

See our Chase World of Hyatt Card review for more information. Find out how to apply for this card here.

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6. IHG® Rewards Club Premier Card

Complimentary IHG Rewards Club Platinum Elite Status

Ihg Rewards Club Premier 9 30

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The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Card comes with complimentary Platinum Elite status in the family’s Rewards Club loyalty program.

Platinum Elite status normally requires 40 qualifying nights or 40,000 base points earned in a calendar year. Select benefits include:

  • A 50% boost to base points earned on qualifying stays
  • Award nights, points plus cash redemptions, and bonus point packages count toward elite status
  • No blackout dates for award nights
  • Opportunities to earn bonus points with partner vendors, including Hertz
  • Complimentary room upgrades where available
  • A $30 spa credit per stay where available

Here’s what else to expect from the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card:

  • Sign-Up Bonus: Earn 150,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 or more on eligible purchases during your first three months of card membership.
  • Earning Rewards: Earn 10 IHG Rewards points per $1 spent on purchases at Intercontinental Hotel Group hotels, in addition to 15 points base points earned per $1 spent on IHG purchases as a Platinum Elite status holder. Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on purchases everywhere else.
  • Redeeming Rewards: The best way to redeem is for award nights at participating IHG properties, starting at 10,000 for standard rooms at the lowest-tier properties and topping out at 60,000 for standard rooms at the highest-tier properties. Cash-assisted redemptions may require fewer points. You can also transfer points to participating airline partners, usually at a 5-to-1 ratio.
  • Introductory APR: None.
  • Key Fees: The annual fee is $89 after the first year (when the introductory annual fee is $0). There is no foreign transaction fee.
  • Other Perks: Earn 10,000 bonus points when you spend $20,000 or more with your card in a calendar year. Enjoy one free award night each year your account remains in good standing. When you book an award stay of four consecutive nights or longer, you’ll get the fourth night free.

See our IHG Rewards Club Premier Card review for more information. Find out how to apply for this card here.

Apply Now


7. Hilton Honors American Express Card

Automatically Qualify for Hilton Honors Silver Status

American Express Hilton Honors Card

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The Hilton Honors American Express Card automatically qualifies cardholders for Hilton Honors Silver status (terms apply). Benefits include:

  • A 15% bonus on all Hilton Honors base points earned on Hilton stays.
  • A free fifth night on stays of five nights or longer.
  • Complimentary fitness center access at participating properties.

And, when you spend at least $20,000 in a year, you’ll automatically qualify for Hilton Honors Gold status (terms apply), whose benefits include:

  • An 80% bonus on all base point earnings.
  • Complimentary room upgrades where available.

The Hilton Honors American Express Card’s rewards program is nothing to sneeze at either. Earn:

  • 7 Hilton Honors points per $1 spent on eligible hotel stays within the Hilton portfolio.
  • 5 points per $1 spent on U.S. supermarket, U.S. gas station, and U.S. drugstore purchases.
  • 3 points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.

Redeem your Hilton Honors points for hotel stays and more. Terms apply.

  • Welcome Offer. Limited-time offer: 100,000 Honors points when you spend at least $1,000 in purchases on the card within 3 months of account opening, plus up to $100 in statement credits against Hilton hotel purchases during the first 12 months of cardmembership. These offers expire Aug. 25, 2021.
  • Earning Rewards. This card has a three-tiered rewards program. Earn 7 Hilton Honors points for every $1 spent at Hilton Hotels and 5 points per $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations, and U.S. drugstores. Earn 3 points per $1 spent on everything else.
  • Redeeming Rewards. Redeem for award nights at Category 1 properties for as little as 5,000 points, or use Points + Money to earn free room nights faster. If you’d like to redeem for another form of travel, transfer your accrued points to participating airline frequent flyer programs. Terms apply.
  • Key Fees. There is no annual fee or foreign transaction fee. Cash advances both cost the greater of $10 or 5%. See rates and fees page.

See our American Express Hilton Honors Card Review for more information. Find out how you can apply for this card here.

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8. Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Automatic Complimentary Gold Status; Upgrade to Diamond Status After $40,000 in Eligible Purchases in a Year

Hilton Honors Amex Card Art 2 6 20

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The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card confers automatic and complimentary Gold status on all cardholders in good standing. Those who spend at least $40,000 in qualifying purchases in a year receive a complimentary upgrade to Diamond status through the end of the following year.

This card has a great rewards program too:

  • All eligible purchases made directly with hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio earn 12 Hilton Honors points per $1 spent.
  • Select business purchases earn 6 Honors points per $1 spent, including purchases at gas stations, U.S. purchases of shipping, and wireless communications purchases made directly with providers.
  • Select partner travel purchases also earn 6 points per $1 spent, including flights booked directly with airlines or Amex Travel and car rental purchases made directly with car rental companies.
  • U.S. restaurant purchases earn 6 points per $1 spent as well.
  • All other eligible purchases earn 3 points per $1 spent.

And this card has an excellent limited-time welcome offer too.

  • Welcome Offer: Limited-time offer: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend at least $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of cardmembership, plus up to $100 in statement credits against purchases at any Hilton hotel properties during the first 12 months of cardmembership. This offer expires Aug. 25, 2021.
  • Key Fees: The annual fee is $95. There is no foreign transaction fee. Cash advances cost the greater of $5 or 3%. Late and returned payments cost up to $39.
  • Introductory APR: None.
  • Regular APR: The variable regular APR for purchases ranges from 15.74% to 24.74% APR, depending on prevailing interest rates and your personal creditworthiness. For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, please visit this rates and fees page.
  • Other Perks: Enjoy one free weekend night reward after you spend $15,000 on your card in a calendar year, then another weekend night reward when you spend an additional $45,000 on your card in the same calendar year (for a $60,000 total annual spend). Plus, enjoy 10 complimentary airport lounge visits at participating lounges with Priority Pass Select (enrollment required).

See our Hilton Honors American Express Business Card Review for more information. Find out how to apply for this card here.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, please visit this rates and fees page.

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Final Word

This list includes today’s best hotel and general-purpose travel credit cards for elite status at hotels and resorts worldwide. But frequent travelers know better than most that the travel credit card space is in constant flux. Bonuses, promotions, and card perks come and go and come again.

If you expect to be back in the travel credit card market sooner rather than later, do yourself a favor and check back here before you apply. You might be surprised by what’s changed and what — if anything — remains the same about the best hotel credit cards on the market.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Card, please visit this rates and fees page.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express, please visit this rates and fees page.

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, please visit this rates and fees page.

For rates and fees of the Platinum Card® from American Express, please visit this rates and fees page.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, please visit this rates and fees page.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

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