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You don’t have to spend a lot of nights in a hotel in order to earn meaningful hotel elite status.
In fact, sometimes you don’t have to spend any time.
Below, I’ll show you how to use some credit cards to fast track your way to meaningful elite levels.
These are levels that will provide you with real value like better upgrades, free breakfast, and even lounge access.
Table of Contents
For each of the three elite programs below the optimal strategy is to:
- Take advantage of automatic elite night credits (Marriott, Hyatt)
- Utilize spend bonuses for elite night credits/free night certificates (Hyatt, Marriott)
- Use points and free night certificates to help cover qualifying nights (All)
- Fall back on automatic elite status offered by the card (Hilton, Hyatt)
Generally, I don’t think that the huge spend bonuses to earn elite status are worth it for hotel cards.
For example, spending $35,000 for Marriott Gold is not something I’d recommend pursuing on its own.
Too much spend, too little benefits.
But the spend bonuses to earn elite night credits can often come in handy, especially if it means racking up an additional free night and milestone benefits. See Hyatt.
The Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card will hook you up with 15 elite night credits upon approval and 1 Elite night credit for each $5,000 you spend.
Those 15 elite night credits will stack with the 15 elite night credits offered by the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card.
This means that you could start off each year with 30 elite nights which puts you only 20 nights short of Marriott Platinum status.
(These 15 elite night credits post within 60 days of account opening.)
Platinum is the first Marriott elite status that actually has value to me because you can get free breakfast and lounge access.
These Marriott cards also offer you free nights (redemption level up to 35,000 points) after your account anniversary so you can always use them to help you get even closer to status levels in the future.
That’s the second highest elite level with Marriott.
I’m still debating whether or not I want to chase Titanium status again, since so far it has been a little bit of a let down.
But some people do find it worth it and enjoy the perks that come with it like 48-hour guarantee availability and United Silver status.
Gold is good enough for free breakfast ($10 to $25 dining credit in the US) and the occasional lounge access (assuming you get upgraded to a room on an executive floor).
So you don’t have to actually stay at any Hilton property to get some solid elite benefits.
Of course, if you want to go straight to the top of the food chain you can always get the The Amex® Hilton Aspire Card which gives you automatic Diamond status.
Because it’s so easy to achieve Hilton status with credit cards it does feel watered down compared to others.
That can make things a little tough when trying to get upgrades or late check-out but it doesn’t have an effect on some of the benefits like getting your dining credits.
I mean, who cares if 99% of the other guests are also “elite” if it still means you’re getting a free breakfast?
All information about the The Amex® Hilton Aspire Card has been collected independently by UponArriving.
World of Hyatt
Yes, it’s the bottom of the totem pole but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the status with an upgrade here and there and consistent late check out.
Here are the current elite requirements:
Where the World of Hyatt Credit Card will really help you with elite status is that it offers 5 qualifying night credits every year.
That puts you 25 nights away from Explorist.
Once you get to 30 nights needed for Explorist you could have 4 Club Lounge Access Awards stashed away via milestone awards.
You can also earn 2 additional qualifying night credits towards your next tier status every time you spend $5,000 on the World of Hyatt Credit Card.
So even with the modest annual spend of $15,000, you could be only 19 nights away from Explorist (plus you’d have an additional free night).
But right now, the real play with Hyatt it is to get the World of Hyatt Business Credit Card currently offering 60,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first 3 months.
The reason this offer is so special right now is that if you apply before October 6, 2022, you also get 2 Tier-Qualifying Night Credits for each night you stay from 8/23/22 through 12/31/22.
That means you could basically cut the elite requirements in half.
As you can see, you don’t have to spend months in a hotel to earn meaningful hotel elite status.
Even spending 20 to 25 nights in a hotel a year can qualify you for elite levels offering valuable perks.
With the help of free night certificates and earned welcome bonuses that often means that you only have to come out of pocket for about 15 to 20 nights per program.
And if you factor in points earned along the way, that’s probably shaving off a few more nights, depending on your spend and redemptions.
So it’s very feasible for some people to pursue middle and upper level elite statuses with multiple hotel programs by utilizing credit card benefits in a strategic way.
Advertiser Disclosure: UponArriving has partnered with affiliate partners and may receive a commission from card issuers. UponArriving does not display all credit card offers and affiliate relationships may impact how offers are presented.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analysis & recommendations are UponArriving’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.
Amex Disclosure: Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.