How to Get Hotel Elite Status for Around $320 per Year

Elevate your hotel stays with complimentary elite status by opting for inexpensive credit cards with rewards.
Carissa Rawson
By Carissa Rawson 

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There are thousands of places to stay when you travel, whether you opt for boutique hotels, vacation home rentals or hotel chain properties. While the latter may lack some of the charm of their competitors, they can also be highly rewarding and budget-smart because of their loyalty programs.

Frequent travelers to chain hotels can enjoy perks such as complimentary breakfast and late check-out. These may seem out of reach to you if you’re not a frequent traveler, but you don't have to travel all that often to earn elite status with several hotel programs.

Here's how to earn elite status with four hotel chains for $320 per year.

Why go for hotel elite status?

Hotel chains entice travelers to return in a variety of ways, including rewards programs. Generally, you’ll need to spend a certain number of nights or a certain amount of money to earn these statuses.

However, many hotels partner with credit card issuers to offer co-branded credit cards. One of the perks of holding these cards tends to be complimentary elite status.

This status applies as long as you hold the card, which means there’s never a minimum stay or spending requirement. Simply having the card is enough to have the status.

Savvy travelers, then, can take advantage of credit cards to get all the perks of hotel elite status without shelling out the big bucks. Benefits vary, but can include room upgrades, free Wi-Fi, early check-in, complimentary breakfast, extra bonus points and free nights on award stays.

Earning Hilton Honors Gold elite status

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
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The first status on this list is probably the most valuable, since Hilton Honors™ Gold Status comes with various benefits. Hilton is also one of the largest hotel chains in the world, with nearly 7,300 properties spanning 123 countries. This means it’ll be relatively easy to take advantage of the perks offered by your newly-minted elite status.

Here's how to get complimentary Hilton Honors™ Gold Status: apply for the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card. The card charges a $150 annual fee, but provides a lot of value in return. Terms apply.

Along with Gold status, cardholders can receive $200 per year in Hilton credit, rental car elite status, travel insurance and the ability to earn a Free Night Reward. Terms apply.

Gold status at Hilton includes a lot of perks, which is why it offers high value relative to its peers. Depending on where you’re staying, you’ll receive a daily food and beverage credit or complimentary breakfast.

You’ll also get the fifth night of your stay free on award bookings, room upgrades, free bottled water and an 80% bonus on points earned.

Earning Wyndham Rewards Platinum status

Wyndham may not be at the top of your list when it comes to hotel stays, but it deserves a closer look. With more than 9,000 properties around the world, Wyndham brands range from budget options to luxury resorts.

Wyndham has a couple of credit cards. The Wyndham Rewards Earner® Card comes with no annual fee and offers you the chance to earn 7,500 bonus points per year (enough for one award night), Wyndham Rewards Gold status and a 10% rebate on redeemed points.

There is also the Wyndham Rewards Earner® Plus Card. This card charges a $75 annual fee but rewards you with Platinum elite status. Wyndham’s Platinum status is also fairly rewarding. You’ll get early check-in, late checkout, 15% more bonus points and your preferred choice of room. This is in addition to free rental car upgrades at Avis and Budget.

Earning Caesars Rewards Platinum status

The benefits from the Wyndham Rewards Earner® Plus Card doesn’t stop at Wyndham. Because of its partnership with Caesars Rewards, those who have elite status with Wyndham can also get elite status with Caesars.

All you need to do is register your account online and match via Caesars’ website. You’ll be given Platinum elite status as long as you maintain status with Wyndham.

Benefits of Caesars Platinum status include free valet parking, 15% off at casino gift shops and discounts on hotel stays.

Earning IHG One Rewards Platinum status

IHG® One Rewards Premier Credit Card
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The final status on this list comes from the popular hotel chain IHG, which has more than 6,000 properties worldwide.

TheIHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card, charges a $99 annual fee and provides complimentary Platinum status to cardholders. You’ll also receive a free night certificate (worth up to 40,000 points) each year, $50 in United TravelBank Cash per year and your fourth night free on all award stays. Even without elite status, that makes this card a compelling option.

However, IHG Platinum status is also valuable on its own. Platinum members can expect to receive room upgrades, early check-in, late checkout and a welcome amenity at check-in. These can vary but often include a free drink or two at the bar.

If you’re interested in hotel elite status for cheap

Hotel elite status can be an excellent tool to have in your pocket, especially if you travel every year. However, there’s no need to commit massive amounts of time and money to earning hotel status each year.

Instead, play smarter and opt for inexpensive credit cards that’ll provide you with complimentary elite status. You can thank us from the breakfast buffet.

To view rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® 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 2024, including those best for:

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