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Earning elite status with a hotel program can be both tough and expensive. It's possible to achieve mid-tier hotel elite status with credit cards quite easily. But how about top-tier elite status? Can you earn top-tier hotel elite status from credit cards?
Let's take a look at some of the shortcuts and hacks to do so.
Benefits of Top-Tier Hotel Elite Status
Originally the domain of a select group of A-list guests, top-tier elite status was created to reward frequent guests who remained dedicated to a hotel brand. The hotel awards perks, privileges, and special access to those travelers it considered an asset.
Achieved through a set number of stays or nights, reaching a certain threshold of annual spending, or earning ‘elite qualifying nights’ through promotions and/or spending on select credit cards, top-tier elite status with a major hotel chain has long been one of the primary ambitions of points collectors. It's with good reason.
A few of the benefits top-tier elite status can offer include:
- The highest level of perks and benefits available to loyalty program members.
- The ability to earn more points than other loyalty members, receiving 30%–100% bonus points during paid stays.
- Opportunity to status match to the highest elite tier of other loyalty programs.
- There also can be a “cool factor.” The special treatment from hotel staff, welcome gifts, ability to skip queues, and complimentary lounge access all combine to give you the sense that you are genuinely appreciated.
Can You Earn Top-Tier Hotel Elite Status From Credit Cards?
The short answer is yes, you can earn top-tier hotel elite status by holding a hotel credit card. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card offers top-tier Diamond Elite status just for holding the card. This is the only consumer (personal) hotel rewards card to provide the highest elite tier in a rewards program. Enrollment is required for select Amex benefits.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card comes close, providing Platinum Elite status as part of its 2022 benefits refresh. While it doesn't offer top-tier Ambassador Elite status (or even Titanium Elite status), Platinum Elite is the Marriott Bonvoy tier where high-quality benefits begin.
It's also possible to achieve top-tier elite status through other credit card strategies. These include holding multiple credit cards or combining credit and perks with spending requirements. A status match also could help.
Shortcuts to Hotel Elite Status Via Credit Cards
Most hotel loyalty programs offer a helping hand or a fast track to top-tier elite status, and combining this with your credit card benefits can be a winning shortcut. However, some programs make it much harder than others.
It's possible to obtain top-tier Diamond status through a status challenge. Hilton's status challenge provides Gold status for 90 days and requires you to stay a minimum of eight paid nights within 90 days to maintain that status. To achieve Diamond status, stay 14 paid nights within 90 days.
Two of Hilton's co-branded credit cards offer a fast-tracked method of attaining Diamond elite status. The The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card and Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card both offer automatic Gold status, plus a path to Diamond status by spending $40,000 on your card in a calendar year.
IHG One Rewards
Both the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card and IHG One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card come with IHG Platinum Elite status as one of the card's many benefits. In addition, you can earn top-tier Diamond Elite status by spending $40,000 on one of these cards in a calendar year.
Alternatively, you might be able to take advantage of a fast-track promotion to Diamond Elite status.
Another way to score Platinum Elite status is by purchasing InterContinental Ambassador status for $200 or 40,000 IHG points. One of the several perks of InterContinental Ambassador is Platinum Elite status.
The easiest way to achieve Platinum Elite status with Marriott Bonvoy is by holding the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card. It provides complimentary Marriott Platinum Elite status as one of its key benefits.
It's also possible to attain Platinum Elite status through a challenge. Call Marriott at 800-627-7468 (see here for numbers outside the U.S.) to request the challenge. You'll need to stay eight paid nights for Gold Elite or 16 paid nights for Platinum Elite, and this must be done by the end of the third month after the current month. Thus, if you register in June, you have until the end of September to complete the challenge.
It's also possible to unlock Titanium Elite status via spending on Marriott hotel credit cards. However, it's not easy. You can start with up to 40 Marriott Elite Night Credits by holding the right cards — boosting you toward these elite status levels. But you need significant spending on your cards to climb beyond that.
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card provides one Elite Night Credit for each $5,000 spent, but earning 35 Elite Night Credits — the difference between the 40 nights you can start with and the 75 nights needed for Titanium Elite status — requires $175,000 of purchases.
World of Hyatt
The World of Hyatt Credit Card and World of Hyatt Business Credit Card only provide automatic Discoverist status — the lowest elite tier of Hyatt’s loyalty program. However, you can achieve Hyatt Globalist status solely through credit card spending or through a mix of stays and credit card spending.
Hyatt qualifying nights are earned at the following rates:
- World of Hyatt Card: Two qualifying nights for each $5,000 of purchases
- Hyatt Business Card: Five qualifying nights for each $10,000 of purchases
Remember that the World of Hyatt Card also provides five qualifying nights annually as a built-in cardholder benefit.
Lastly, Hyatt's partnership with American Airlines has provided status matches and fast-track opportunities at multiple points. Watch for these to re-open if interested.
It's possible to use credit cards to earn top-tier hotel elite status. Some (like the Hilton Aspire) provide this benefit as a built-in cardholder perk. Others provide significant shortcuts by holding the right credit card(s).
Other hotel programs provide status matches and challenges, helping you quickly reach top-tier status. However, you'll need to requalify for status the traditional way in the ensuing years, so take that into consideration.
Do you have any other tips for earning top-tier elite status through a combination of credit cards and shortcuts? Let us know!
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