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 complimentary breakfast from the automatic Hilton Gold status that comes with it. And you can get to Diamond if you charge $40,000 in eligible purchases in a year.
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 with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $10,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months. 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 Diamond status, you get complimentary breakfast for yourself plus one guest registered to your room when you stay at certain hotels. For example, at a Conrad hotel, the perk is a continental breakfast. When staying at a Hilton Garden Inn, it’s a cooked-to order breakfast. Using this benefit regularly can help offset the card’s high annual fee.
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, so you'll have to put in a little work, too. But if you stay at Marriott family hotels regularly, this card could get you Platinum Elite status, which means complimentary breakfast for yourself plus one guest at almost all Marriott hotels. That’s because the card comes with 15 Elite Night credits.
Platinum status in the Marriott Bonvoy program kicks in after you’ve accumulated 50 Elite Night credits in a year. So if you don’t quite make the cut through travel, those 15 credits could put you over the top. The annual fee is $450.
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 125,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $200 in Statement Credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Offer Expires 5/12/2021. 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.
No foreign transaction fee.
Nerdy tip: You can also get the same 15 Elite Night Credits from other Marriott cards that come with less benefits (and lower annual fees), including the Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card. Terms apply.
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: Your complete guide
The bottom line
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 2021, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card