4 credit cards that can get you the highest level of hotel elite status

The pool at the Park Hyatt New York. Facebook / Park Hyatt New York
  • Hotel elite status can get you perks like free breakfast, room upgrades, and bonus points on your stays.
  • While you can earn hotel status by racking up elite-qualifying nights with a hotel chain, some credit cards offer automatic elite status to cardholders.
  • The Hilton Honours Aspire Card from American Express is the only card to offer top-tier hotel elite status to cardholders just for having the card: You get Hilton Diamond status which comes with perks like a 100% points bonus.
  • Other cards, like the World of Hyatt Credit Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, offer middle-tier elite status automatically, with the option to earn top-tier status when you meet spending requirements.

If you’ve seen the movie Up in the Air, you might have felt a pang of jealousy when the main character, Ryan Bingham, bypassed the lines at hotel check-in desks and stayed in beautiful hotel suites courtesy of his elite status. He was on the road constantly, racking up elite-qualifying nights to get those status perks. But you don’t have to spend dozens of nights in hotels to get top-tier status.

Below is a round-up of hotel credit cards that get you top-tier status – either just for being a cardholder, or for meeting certain spending requirements in a year.

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Hilton Honours Aspire Card from American Express

The Hilton Honours Aspire is the only credit card that offers top-tier elite status right out of the gate. Cardholders get Diamond elite status just for being a cardholder, and it takes effect almost immediately – in my case, I noticed the upgrade a day after I was approved for the card.

Hilton Diamond members get free breakfast, club lounge access, accelerated earnings on paid Hilton stays (100% point bonus) and complimentary suite upgrades based on availability. These are all incredibly valuable perks that can save you money on future Hilton stays while accelerating the number of points you can earn.

In addition, the Hilton Aspire Card earns 7 points per dollar spent on direct flight bookings, car rentals and dining at US restaurants. Charging Hilton stays to this card boosts your already-high earning rate with 14 points per dollar spent. As an added spending incentive, you’ll receive a free weekend night after spending $US60,000 on your card. That’s in addition to an annual free weekend night that is issued just for renewing the card every year.

The only downside to this card? The annual fee is a bit steep at $US450. I personally keep this card in my wallet because of the tremendous value I get out of the Hilton Diamond membership alone.

Click here to learn more about the Hilton Honours Aspire card from our partner The Points Guy.

Hilton Honours American Express Surpass® Card

If you’re not quite willing to pay the $US450 annual fee on the Hilton Aspire Card, you may want to opt for the Hilton Honours Surpass Card instead. The card has a $US95 annual fee and comes with mid-tier Hilton Gold elite status, which offers some pretty substantial benefits, including free breakfast and an 80% point bonus on paid stays.

If Gold elite status isn’t sufficient, you can upgrade to Diamond status by charging $US40,000 in eligible purchases to your card every calendar year. Considering the average American household has $US40,814 worth of non-housing expenditures every year, hitting that threshold may be more attainable than you might think.

In addition to elite status benefits, Hilton Surpass cardholders earn 12 points per dollar spent at Hilton hotels and 6 points at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations in the US. Those are very common spending categories for most people, so there’s potential to further maximizing household spending with this card.

Click here to learn more about the Hilton Honours Surpass card from our partner The Points Guy.

World of Hyatt Credit Card

The World of Hyatt Credit Card comes with instant Discoverist status, which includes perks like a 10% bonus points on all eligible spending, premium internet access, late checkout, and room upgrades based on availability.

If those benefits don’t sound quite as exciting as those offered to top-tier elites, you can spend your way to higher status.World of Hyatt card holders can 5 elite-qualifying nights every year, plus 2 additional nights for every $US5,000 spent. Earning top-tier Globalist status would require $US140,000 worth of credit card spending the first year and then $US125,000 every year to re-qualify. For big spenders who prefer this over completing 55 to 60 nights at Hyatt, it’s a solid option.

Click here to learn more about the World of Hyatt card from our partner The Points Guy.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card

If you’re looking to earn Marriott Bonvoy elite status, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card is a great option. The card offers Gold elite status, plus the ability to upgrade to Platinum status after spending $US75,000 in a calendar year. While Marriott Platinum isn’t quite top-tier status, it does come with premium perks like enhanced room upgrades (based on availability), club lounge access, free breakfast and a 50% bonus points on paid stays, among other benefits

Click here to learn more about the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card from our partner The Points Guy.

Top-tier hotel elite status can be incredibly useful when it comes to saving on travel expenses like breakfast and earning more points. Being able to get these perks from a credit card is ideal because it frees you up to stay at hotels that offer you the best rates rather than forcing you to pick one chain repeatedly to earn status.