Best Mid-Tier Hotel Elite Status And How To Earn It

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Every major hotel chain offers some form of loyalty program that recognizes and rewards frequent guests. Most of these programs offer several tiers of elite status levels, allowing members to earn more perks as they climb the elite status ranks.

Traditionally, the only way to earn elite status with a hotel loyalty program was to stay with the hotel for the required stays or nights. Not anymore though. As hotel brands compete to fill beds and increase occupancy rates, rewards programs have created multiple paths to reach elite status.

You can earn anywhere from mid- to top-tier elite status as a benefit of select credit cards, through status matches and reciprocal agreements with airlines, promotions, and occasionally even through a status challenge. This article examines which hotel programs offer the best mid-tier elite status, as well as tricks to earning that status.

Free continental breakfast for Marriott Platinum Elite

Hilton Honors Gold

Gold is Hilton’s mid-tier elite status and offers some of the best mid-tier status benefits—especially when combined with the global reach of the Honors program. Free breakfast from a mid-tier program is always going to be a value winner. Plus, Hilton Honors elite status unlocks 5th night free on award stays—which can drop the cost of redemptions by up to 20%.

Hilton Gold benefits

  • 80% bonus on all Honors Base Points
  • Receive every 5th night free on award stays
  • Elite rollover nights
  • Daily food and beverage credit (U.S. hotels) or continental breakfast (non-U.S. hotels)
  • Space-available upgrades at Waldorf-Astoria, Conrad, Curio, Hilton and DoubleTree

How to earn Hilton Gold from stays

Hilton Gold typically requires 28 nights, 14 stays, or earning 52,500 Honors Base Points. Award stays count towards elite status.

Card that award Hilton Honors Gold as a benefit

Enrollment is required for select Amex benefits.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Offer Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points plus a Free Night Reward after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • 12X Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio
  • 6X Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations
  • 3X Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card

Other Hilton credit cards that award Hilton Honors elite status

The Hilton Honors American Express Card receives complimentary Hilton Silver status with a fast track to Gold after spending $20K on the card in a calendar year.

Want to earn even higher elite status? The $450 annual fee Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card offers top-tier Platinum elite status as a complimentary benefit.

Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite

Gold Elite status is Marriott Bonvoy's second tier of elite status. While not quite as valuable as Hilton Gold, Marriott Gold still offers plenty of benefits—and it's slightly easier to earn.

Marriott Gold Elite benefits

  • 25% bonus points on stays
  • Enhanced room upgrade (based on availability)
  • 2 p.m. priority late checkout (based on availability)
  • Welcome gift of points
  • Enhanced in-room internet
  • Complimentary enhanced in-room internet
  • Ultimate reservation guarantee

How to earn Marriott Gold Elite from stays

Marriott Gold requires 25 Elite Night Credits in a calendar year. Award stays count towards elite status.

Cards that award Marriott Gold Elite as a benefit

Other ways to earn Marriott Bonvoy elite status

The Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card, Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card, and Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card all offer 15 Elite Night Credits toward elite status credit each year.

On its own, one card is only enough to earn Bonvoy Silver status automatically, but these nights can offer a good kick-start toward Bonvoy Gold status. It's possible to earn a total of 30 nights toward status qualification by having one personal Marriott card and one business Marriott card. That's enough to qualify for Bonvoy Gold Elite status.

Read more: How to Get 30 Marriott Elite Night Credits Through Credit Cards

Another way of gaining Gold Elite status with Marriott Bonvoy is the reciprocal agreement with United MileagePlus through RewardsPlus. United members that have earned Premier Gold status can register for Marriott Gold Elite status as one of the benefits.

World of Hyatt Explorist

Hyatt offers arguably the most valuable top-tier status (Globalist). Unfortunately, Hyatt doesn’t offer the same level of benefits for its mid-tier status: Explorist.

While World of Hyatt Explorist status requires slightly fewer nights to earn compared to the competition, it's not as easy to earn. World of Hyatt elite status is not easily earned through credit cards. Plus, Hyatt doesn't offer a 4th or 5th-night free benefit like other hotel programs.

There are some unique perks of Hyatt Explorist — such as an elite status match with MGM Rewards. But, all things considered, Hyatt is still lagging behind the competition when it comes to mid-tier status.

World of Hyatt Explorist benefits

  • 20% point bonus
  • Status match to MGM Rewards Gold status
  • Premium internet
  • Upgraded room — excluding club-level rooms and suites
  • 2 pm late check-out (as available)
  • Earn Hyatt points from American Airlines flights
  • 72-hour room guarantee

Plus, if you earn Explorist by spending 30 nights at Hyatt, you'll earn 4x Club Lounge Access Awards — or 2x Club Lounge Access Awards plus a Category 1-4 free night award — through Milestone Rewards.

How to earn Hyatt Explorist from stays

World of Hyatt Explorist elite status requires earning one of the following:

  • Staying 30 elite nights — including award stays
  • Earning 50,000 base points
  • Hosting 10 meetings or events

Cards that award Hyatt Explorist as a benefit

No World of Hyatt credit cards offer Hyatt Explorist as a direct benefit. Both the The World of Hyatt Credit Card and World of Hyatt Business Credit Card only offer cardholders entry-tier Discoverist elite status. However, World of Hyatt credit cards can help you toward World of Hyatt elite status.

Cardholders of the The World of Hyatt Credit Card earn 5 elite qualifying nights each year as a benefit of holding the card. Plus, you'll receive 2 elite qualifying nights toward Explorist or Globalist status for every $5,000 you spend on the The World of Hyatt Credit Card in a calendar year.

Meanwhile, cardholders of the World of Hyatt Business Credit Card earn 5 elite qualifying nights for every $10,000 spent annually.

IHG One Rewards Platinum Elite

IHG offers a relatively easy points earning structure, budget redemption options, and elite rollover credits. That's made IHG Platinum Elite status worthwhile — even if it isn't one of the most rewarding mid-tier status options overall. And it's about to get even better. The newly renamed “IHG One Rewards” program is introducing new elite status perks starting in June 2022.

IHG Platinum Elite benefits

  • 50% point bonus — increasing to a 60% bonus starting in June 2022
  • Elite rollover nights
  • Priority check-in
  • Welcome amenity
  • Complimentary room upgrades (if available)
  • Points don't expire
  • Guaranteed room availability
  • Early check-in (subject to availability) — starting in June 2022
  • 2 p.m. late checkout (if available) — starting in June 2022
  • Reward night discounts — starting in June 2022

How to earn IHG Platinum Elite status from stays

IHG Platinum Elite requires 40 nights or earning 60,000 qualifying points. Award stays count towards elite status.

Which cards award IHG Platinum Elite as a benefit?

Other ways to earn IHG One Rewards elite status

In March 2022, IHG introduced a new way to spend your way to top-tier Diamond Elite status. Cardholders of the IHG Rewards Premier Card or IHG Rewards Business Card will be upgraded to Diamond Elite status upon spending $40,000 in purchases in a calendar year.

Cardholders of the $0 annual fee IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card automatically get Silver Elite status. Upgrade your status to Gold Elite by spending $20,000 in a calendar year.

Radisson Rewards Gold

Radisson Rewards and Radisson Rewards Americas don’t receive the same attention in the U.S. as in other parts of the world. But it's a program worth considering if you travel overseas, particularly if you’re traveling to Europe or the Middle East.

Radisson Rewards Gold Benefits

  • 25% point bonus
  • In-room welcome gift
  • 72-hour room availability guarantee
  • Early check-in and late checkout (if available)
  • Complimentary room upgrade (if available)
  • Elite rollover nights
  • 15% discount on food & beverages

How to earn Radisson Rewards Gold status from stays

Radisson Rewards — and Radisson Rewards Americas — Gold elite status requires 30 qualifying nights or 20 qualifying stays. Award nights and Points + Cash bookings count toward elite status.

Which cards award Radisson Rewards Gold as a benefit?

Cardholders of the Radisson Rewards™ Premier Visa Signature® Card earn Gold elite status. But you won't get it automatically. Instead, you'll need to make your first purchase using your card to activate the status. Then it can take 6-8 weeks for your upgraded status to take effect. You will continue to maintain Gold status so long as your Account remains open and in good standing.

Which Hotel Mid-Tier Elite Status is Best?

The answer of which mid-tier status is best likely won't be the same for everyone. But, we certainly have an opinion. For us, first prize goes to Hilton Honors Gold as the best mid-tier elite status among hotel chains. Runner-ups are Marriott Bonvoy Gold and the much-improved Platinum Elite status.

Free breakfast (or a food and beverage credit in the U.S.) and the 5th night free add tangible value to Hilton Honors Gold status. These benefits will save you money over the long term, as long as you use them. And with multiple card cards offering Hilton Gold — or an easy fast-track to Gold — as a benefit, it's one of the most accessible elite tiers on the market.

As far as rewards cards go, if you are looking to get mid-tier elite status across multiple programs, the Amex Platinum and Business Platinum Card are hands-down winners—offering Hilton Honors Gold and Marriott Gold as a benefit.

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