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Continuing our series on the best ways to achieve hotel elite status, this week we look at whether you can earn top-tier elite status in a hotel loyalty program as a benefit of holding a credit card alone? And if not, is there a fast track to achieving the highest tier on the loyalty ladder.
Originally the domain of a select group of A-list guests, top-tier elite status was created to reward frequent guests who remained loyal to a hotel brand. The hotel awards perks, privileges, and special access to those travelers it considered an asset.
Achieved through staying a set number of stays or nights, reaching a certain threshold of annual spend, or earning ‘elite qualifying nights’ through promotions, and select credit cards, top-tier elite status with a major hotel chain has long been one of the primary ambitions of points collectors, and 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, in the range of a 30%-100% bonus on top of the base points awarded a loyalty member for a paid stay.
- Opportunity to status match to the highest elite tier of other loyalty programs, either through a promotional status match like Hiltons Honors' Diamond Status Match run earlier this year, or through an established reciprocal agreement such as RewardsPlus, which offers Marriott Bonvoy and United MileagePlus members elite privileges in the partner program
- It may sound slightly old-school, but there is also a definite cool factor in achieving the highest elite status within your chosen loyalty program. The special treatment from hotel staff, welcome gifts, skipping queues, and complimentary lounge access all combine to give you the sense that your business is genuinely appreciated.
Can You Earn Top-Tier Hotel Elite Status as a Credit Card Benefit?
Yes, you can. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card offers top-tier Diamond Elite status just for holding the card, the only hotel rewards card to provide the highest elite tier in any rewards program we're aware of. Enrollment is required for select Amex benefits.
To achieve top-tier elite status with cards outside of Hilton, the options involve a combination of holding a credit card, a fast-track through a reduced number of nights or a minimum spend requirement, and in some cases, a status match or two.
Upgrade from Mid-Tier to Top-Tier Elite Status Using Fast Tracks
While the majority of loyalty programs offer a helping hand or a fast-track to top-tier elite status, some programs make it a lot harder than others.
Hilton Honors Diamond
For a portion of 2017, Hilton Honors offered a status match to Hilton Diamond status. The easiest route to achieving elite status if you currently hold it with another program, and one of the ways in which loyalty to one brand can open up premium access at opposition hotel chains (through achieving elite status and then status matching).
However, if you don’t already possess top-tier status at another program or via the Hilton Aspire, two of Hilton's co-brand 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, and Diamond status if you spend $40,000 in a calendar year.
Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite
The easiest way to achieve Platinum Elite status with Marriott Bonvoy is via the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card or The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card. Both cards gift Gold Elite status, but you also have the opportunity to spend your way to Platinum Elite status when you make $75K worth of purchases on the cards in an account year.
There is no way of reaching Titanium Elite or Ambassador Elite status via credit card spend, the only help being the 15 elite night credits you'll receive as a co-brand cardholder.
IHG Rewards Club Spire
The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card from Chase comes with IHG Platinum status as one of the cards many benefits. But, outside of the regular 75 nights or 75k elite qualifying points, IHG does not offer a fast-track to Spire Elite status.
The Spire Elite level within IHG® Rewards Club will be awarded to you if you have a minimum of 75 nights at qualifying rates; earn at least 75,000 Elite Qualifying points during a calendar year.
Club Carlson Concierge
As we covered in last week's post on the best mid-tier elite status, both the Club Carlson℠ Business Rewards Visa Signature® Card and Club Carlson℠ Premier Rewards Visa® Card earn Club Carlson Gold status, opening up one of the highest points earning elite tiers of any available to U.S. consumers.
And while Club Carlson doesn’t offer a specific fast-track to achieving Concierge Elite, if you already have Gold status or above when you’re approved for either credit card, you’ll receive a one-time credit of 15 nights towards obtaining or maintaining Concierge Elite status after your first purchase on the card.
If you are already a Gold or Concierge Elite member in the Club Carlson program at the time that you applied for your Account, you are eligible to earn a one-time credit of 15 nights towards obtaining or maintaining Concierge Elite status after opening your Account and your first Net Purchase on the Card.
World of Hyatt Globalist
World of Hyatt Credit Card only offers Discoverist status as a benefit, the lowest elite tier of Hyatt’s loyalty program. However, you can achieve Hyatt Globalist solely through spending on the World of Hyatt Credit Card, or via a combination of elite qualifying nights earned via spending (2x nights for every $5,000 spent on the card), and stays at Hyatt properties. An example of the latter strategy might look something like this:
- 60 nights required to reach Globalist
- – 5 nights received annually as a cardmember
- – 1 free night earned after $15K spend (annual free night won’t post until after card anniversary, the second year you’d have 2 nights)
- – 5 nights. An average number of nights redeemed from the World of Hyatt Card signup bonus (could be as high as 12 if redeemed at Cat 1 properties or as low as 2 at Cat 7)
- – 15 nights, either paid revenue stays or points stays booked as part of your annual travels. The reality is, if you’re not staying a minimum 15-20 nights per year with Hyatt, you have no business chasing top-tier status in the first place.
- 60 – 26 = 24 elite nights required
- 24 / 2 = 12 x $5,000 = $60,000 spend required to reach Globalist, $50K if you’re requalifying which only requires 55 elite nights.
To wrap up, the Hilton Aspire is the only credit card to offer top-tier elite status as a benefit, plus there are five rewards cards that offer achievable fast-tracks.
- Spend $40K on either the Hilton Business Card or Hilton Surpass cards you’ll receive Hilton Honors Diamond
- Spend $75K on the Ritz-Carlton Card or Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card and receive Marriott Platinum Elite
- Earn 2x elite night credits for every $5,000 spent on the World of Hyatt Credit Card
Outside of the Hilton Aspire, we see the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card as the better option of the cards, opening up a fast-track to one of the best elite tiers available to U.S. consumers. Although we give Hyatt Globalist the edge over Marriott Platinum and Hilton Diamond. In addition to the traditional benefits associated with hotel elite status, Marriott also has reciprocal agreements with United, Emirates, and China Eastern which qualify you for elite benefits when you fly.
If you have any fast tracks or tricks for earning top-tier elite status, without going down the traditional path of staying the required stays/nights, we’d love to hear from you in the comments!
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