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Who doesn’t like free breakfast? Whether staying at a budget hotel or splurging on a European vacation, a comped breakfast is a perk everyone can enjoy.
That's why so many frequent travelers aim to figure out how to get complimentary hotel breakfast regularly. While it's true that many hotel loyalty programs offer complimentary breakfast to top-tier elite members, not everyone travels enough to reach elite status. Luckily, there's another, more fast-tracked way to access these perks: Get mid- to upper-level status by holding a premium co-branded hotel credit card.
The caveat? You will have to pay an annual fee. But if you travel frequently, the advantages of having one of these cards can far outweigh the cost.
How it works
Some premium co-branded hotel credit cards come with automatic elite status, which means complimentary breakfast when you stay at certain hotels and resorts. Hotels differ in that some provide this perk in a dedicated club lounge, while others serve elites complimentary breakfast in the hotel’s main restaurant.
Here's a roundup of hotel credit cards that offer complimentary breakfast to consider adding to your collection.
Credit cards that offer complimentary breakfast for travelers
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
This card doesn’t come with as many red-carpet perks as the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, but it gets you a daily food and beverage credit from the automatic Hilton Gold status that comes with it. Hilton's daily food and beverage credit can be redeemed any time of day at all properties that don't otherwise offer free breakfast to all guests. The amount of the credit varies by hotel brand, but generally speaking, more upscale hotel brands offer a higher credit.
Benefits of Hilton Gold status include 80% bonus points on stays, Milestone Bonuses and room upgrades.
With its modest $95 annual fee, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card can be a solid option for less-frequent Hilton guests who are looking for a few extra perks, like complimentary breakfast.
Other benefits of this card include:
Welcome bonus: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
Earn a weekend night reward after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your card in a calendar year.
Earn 12x Hilton Honors points on eligible purchases charged at Hilton hotels.
Earn 6x points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations.
Earn 3x points for all other eligible purchases.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card offers some of the best perks you’ll find anywhere. This card carries a high annual fee of $450, but you automatically get Diamond status — the top tier in the Hilton Honors program, which gets you VIP perks when you stay with Hilton.
By holding either Gold or Diamond elite status, you get a daily food and beverage credit to use on breakfast — or any meal of the day (brunch, linner and late-night snacks are all eligible) at all properties that don't otherwise offer free breakfast to all guests. The amount of the credit varies by hotel brand, but generally speaking, more upscale hotel brands offer a higher credit.
Other benefits of this card include:
Welcome bonus: Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card after you use your new Card to make $4,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
14x Hilton Honors points for eligible charges at Hilton properties.
7x points on flights booked directly with airlines or AmEx Travel and on car rentals from select car rental companies.
7x points at U.S. restaurants.
3x points for all other eligible purchases.
$250 in Hilton resort credits every year.
$250 credit each year for airline incidental fees charged to your card.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card won’t automatically get you complimentary breakfast, but it'll help you get closer to earning it once you put in a still-significant amount of effort yourself.
Platinum Elite status will get you complimentary breakfast at almost all Marriott hotels. But to reach Platinum status in the Marriott Bonvoy program, you'll have to have accumulated 50 Elite Night credits in a year. The card, which has an annual fee of $450, gives you 15 Elite Night credits, so you have to stay a far fewer-35 nights to get you to that free breakfast.
But once you have status, it can be worth it. Marriott has been revamping its menu items, including the November 2021 relaunch of breakfast at its Aloft Hotels brand, which serves up trendy menu items including a plant-based sandwich featuring Beyond Meat’s signature breakfast sausage, Funfetti and maple-glazed cinnamon rolls, and Nutella waffles.
» Learn more: The complete guide to elite status with Marriott Bonvoy
At some Marriott brands, Platinum members get to choose their welcome gift, one of which is complimentary breakfast. At other brands, you will be able to enjoy breakfast in the lounge. Unfortunately, there are a few properties where you won’t get complimentary breakfast, like at Ritz Carlton hotels or at Autograph Collection, Renaissance Hotels or EDITION properties that do not have a lounge.
Other benefits of this card include:
Welcome bonus: 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. Terms Apply.
$300 annual statement credit for eligible purchases at Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
6x Marriott Bonvoy points on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
3x points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines.
2x points on all other eligible purchases.
Annual free night award redeemable for a room costing 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Certain hotels have resort fees.
Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership with unlimited visits to participating airport lounges. Enrollment required.
No foreign transaction fee.
Chase credit cards can help you get complimentary breakfast at hotels, too
Chase Bank's relationship with Luxury Collection Hotels and Resorts means that certain cardholders can get complimentary breakfast when stays are booked on Chase’s Luxury Collection Hotel website or by calling Luxury Collection Resorts directly. This isn’t always worthwhile since your hotel room might cost more when booked through the Luxury Collection than if you booked directly on the hotel’s website.
But if you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve®, United Club℠ Infinite Card or another qualifying Chase card, check rates through Luxury Collection to see if they add up to a good deal for a complimentary breakfast.
» Learn more: Hilton Honors elite status: Everything you need to know
If you're looking for ways to get free hotel breakfast ...
Complimentary breakfast can make any hotel stay even better, and carrying the right travel credit card can help you get this perk, often by getting you elite status in a hotel loyalty program.
To view rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, see this page.
All information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is no longer available through NerdWallet.
To view rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, see this page.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card