How to Get Hotel Elite Status for Free (or Almost Free) How to Get Hotel Elite Status for Free (or Almost Free)

How to Get Hotel Elite Status for Free (or Almost Free)

Bonus Points

AwardWallet receives compensation from advertising partners for links on the blog. Terms Apply to the offers listed on this page. The opinions expressed here are our own and have not been reviewed, provided, or approved by any bank advertiser. Here's our complete list of Advertisers.

Offers for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and The Ritz-Carlton™ Credit Card are not available through this site. All information has been independently collected by AwardWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer. Some offers may have expired. Please see our card marketplace for available offers.

They say you can't get something for nothing… but sometimes you can! In the world of rewards travel, chasing points and miles can result in an upgraded room or a comfortable seat at the front of the plane.

However, collecting points and miles is only part of the game. Earning elite status with a hotel chain or airline can make travel much more comfortable and rewarding. Elite members get special treatment, freebies, upgrades, discounts, and earn a lot more points.

The traditional route to elite hotel status requires a major investment of time and money to meet minimum stay requirements. Thankfully, there are several ways that savvy travelers can get hotel elite status for free (or almost free).

Elite status welcome gift
Welcome gifts are a fun perk that often comes with elite status at many hotels

World of Hyatt Elite Status for Free (or Almost Free)

Credit Cards

The The World of Hyatt Credit Card is one way to fast-track your progress to elite status. New cardholders receive World of Hyatt Discoverist status. Cardholders also get five elite nights each year, plus earn two elite qualifying nights for every $5,000 spent on the card each calendar year.

The World of Hyatt Credit Card
The World of Hyatt Credit Card
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Bonus Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 More Bonus Points by earning 2 Bonus Points total per $1 spent in the first 6 months from account opening on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 spent.
  • Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 More Bonus Points by earning 2 Bonus Points total per $1 spent in the first 6 months from account opening on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 spent
  • Enjoy complimentary World of Hyatt Discoverist status for as long as your account is open.
  • Get 1 free night each year after your Cardmember anniversary at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort.
  • Receive 5 tier qualifying night credits towards status after account opening, and each year after that for as long as your account is open
  • Earn an extra free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel if you spend $15,000 in a calendar year
  • Earn 2 qualifying night credits towards tier status every time you spend $5,000 on your card
  • Earn up to 9 points total for Hyatt stays - 4 Bonus Points per $1 spent at Hyatt hotels & 5 Base Points per $1 from Hyatt as a World of Hyatt member
  • Earn 2 Bonus Points per $1 spent at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airlines, on local transit and commuting and on fitness club and gym memberships
  • Up to 9X points total per $1 spent at Hyatt - 4X points per $1 when you use your card at Hyatt hotels & 5X points per $1 you can earn as a World of Hyatt member
  • 2X points per $1 spent at restaurants, on airlines tickets purchased directly from the airlines, on local transit and commuting and on fitness club and gym memberships
  • 1X point per $1 everywhere else

If you have a small business, you can sign up for the World of Hyatt Business Credit Card to get Discoverist status for yourself — plus up to five employees. Plus earn 5 Tier-Qualifying night credits for every $10,000 you spend in a calendar year.

World of Hyatt Business Credit Card
World of Hyatt Business Credit Card
Annual Fee$199
Welcome Bonus Earn 60,000 Bonus Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • 60,000 Bonus Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • 9 points total per $1 spent at Hyatt - 4 Bonus Points per $1 when you use your card at Hyatt hotels & 5 Base Points per $1 from Hyatt as a World of Hyatt member
  • 2 Bonus Points per $1 spent in your top three spend categories each quarter through 12/31/23, then your top two categories each quarter.
  • 2 Bonus Points per $1 spent on fitness club and gym memberships
  • 1 Bonus Point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Up to $100 in Hyatt statement credits - spend $50 or more at any Hyatt property and earn $50 statement credits up to two times each anniversary year.
  • 5 Tier-Qualifying night credits toward status and Milestone rewards for every $10,000 you spend in a calendar year.
  • World of Hyatt Discoverist status for as long as your account is open. Plus, Discoverist status to up to five employees
  • Up to 9X total points per $1 spent at Hyatt - 4X points per $1 when you use your card at Hyatt hotels & 5X points per $1 you can earn as a World of Hyatt member
  • 2X points per $1 spent on fitness club and gym memberships
  • 1X point per $1 everywhere else

In addition, you'll earn 2X points per $1 spent in your top three spend categories each quarter through 12/31/2023, then your top two categories each quarter. Eligible categories include:
  • Dining
  • Shipping
  • Airline tickets when purchased directly with the airline
  • Local transit & commuting
  • Social media & search engine Advertising
  • Car rental agencies
  • Gas stations
  • Internet, cable & phone services

Meetings and Events

An alternative to holding the The World of Hyatt Credit Card is to have your boss pay your way to elite status with Hyatt. With as few as three meetings booked at Hyatt, members can achieve the base Discoverist status. In a typical year, this requires 10 nights or 25K base points. At only 20 meetings for Globalist status, hosting meetings and events is a quick route to achieving elite status with Hyatt.

Earn Hyatt elite status for free by hosting meetings

Status Match

MGM Rewards Partnership: World of Hyatt doesn't offer a general status match but it does offer a match from MGM Rewards. This program is reciprocal, so if you want to secure status with the MGM Rewards program, you can match your existing World of Hyatt status.

Screen-Shot-2022-10-11-at-11.12.55-AM

American Airlines Partnership: American Airlines AAdvantage and World of Hyatt offer some reciprocal benefits to elite members of each program. AAdvantage Concierge Key members can immediately receive World of Hyatt Globalist status by linking their AAdvantage and World of Hyatt accounts.

If you don't have the highest levels of elite status with either program, all is not lost. This partnership offers periodic fast track opportunities for elite members to match between programs.

Hilton Hotel Elite Status for Free (or Almost Free)

Hilton is one of the largest hotel companies worldwide. Its Hilton Honors program includes 6,700+ properties across 122 countries and territories, including iconic brands like Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Hilton, Curio, and DoubleTree. There is a lot to love about the Hilton Honors program, and elite status comes with a host of perks.

Screen-Shot-2022-10-11-at-8.36.00-AM-1

Credit Cards

Hilton currently offers four co-branded cards that provide elite status to cardholders.

Enrollment is required for select Amex benefits.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
Annual Fee$450
Welcome Offer Earn 150,000 Bonus Points after you use your new Card to make $4,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, enjoy a free Weekend Night Reward within your first year and every year after renewal.
  • 14X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio
  • 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, car rentals booked directly through select rental companies, and at U.S. restaurants
  • 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card

In addition to the Hilton co-branded cards, The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express cardmembers receive Hilton Honors Gold status as one of the many benefits provided with each card.

That's a total of six credit cards that provide Hilton Honors elite status with no other activity required. The annual fees range from $0 on the Hilton Honors American Express Card card (Rates & Fees) to $695 for the The Business Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees). You need to take a close look at all of the benefits provided by each card before deciding how best to lock in your “free” status!

Elite Status Match

If you already have elite status with another hotel company, Hilton Honors offers an opportunity to match to Gold status and fast track to Diamond status. Simply visit statusmatch.hiltonhonors.com and complete the online request.

An application requires proof of your existing status with another hotel loyalty program and proof of a stay within the last 12 months. So, if you have elite status through a credit card, you need to complete one stay before requesting a match.

The Hilton status match is granted for a “trial period” of 90 days. Once your status match application is approved, you have 90 days to stay 5 nights in order to maintain Gold status through March 31, 2024. Right now, you can upgrade to top-tier Diamond status through March 31, 2024, if you stay 9 nights within that 90-day trial period.

Elite Status Gifting

Do you know a Diamond member? Hilton Honors Diamond members can “gift” status to other Hilton Honors members. Diamond members who stay 40 nights in a calendar year can gift Gold Status. After 70+ nights, they can gift Diamond status. This may be the fastest free route to status if you know the right people!

IHG One Rewards Elite Status for Free (or Almost Free)

Compared to other major hotel rewards programs, IHG One Rewards doesn't hold quite the same appeal for rewards travelers chasing status with elite hotel brands. However, the portfolio includes InterContinental, Six Senses, Kimpton, and Mr & Mrs Smith properties. Also, IHG can be a valuable program for budget-conscious travelers who want the simplicity of sticking with one loyalty program to earn and stay across a host of the IHG brands including Holiday Inn and Staybridge Suites.

IHG does have one of the best value co-branded hotel cards available today. The IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card delivers cardholders Platinum Elite status.

IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card
IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card
Annual Fee$99
Welcome Bonus Earn 175,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
  • Best Points Offer Ever - Earn 175,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Enjoy a Reward Night after each account anniversary year at eligible IHG hotels worldwide. Plus, enjoy a reward night when you redeem points for a consecutive four-night IHG® hotel stay.
  • Earn up to 26 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
  • Earn 5 points per $1 spent on purchases on travel, gas stations, and restaurants. Earn 3 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Platinum Elite status as long as you remain a Premier card member
  • Global Entry, TSA PreCheck® or NEXUS Statement Credit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card
  • IHG Rewards bonus points are redeemable at hotels such as InterContinental®, Crowne Plaza®, Kimpton®, EVEN® Hotels, Indigo® Hotels & Holiday Inn®
  • Earn 26 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
  • 5X points per $1 spent on purchases on travel, gas stations, and restaurants
  • 3X points per $1 spent on all other purchases

The earning for spending at IHG hotels breaks down as follows:
  • Earn 10X points for being a IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card member
  • Earn 6X points from IHG® with Platinum Elite Status, a benefit of having this card
  • Earn 10X points from IHG® for being an IHG® Rewards Club Member (Being a cardholder is not required to earn this bonus for participating in the IHG® loyalty program)

Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status for Free (or Almost Free)

With 30 brands and over 8,000 properties in more than 139 countries and territories, Marriott International has a huge global footprint. Marriott's Bonvoy program offers 5 elite tiers above its basic member level. And you can get Silver Elite, Gold Elite, or Platinum Elite status through credit cards.

Screen-Shot-2022-10-11-at-8.48.42-AM

Credit Cards

Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card
AmexBonvoyBiz
Apply Now
Rates & Fees
(Terms apply)
Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card
Annual Fee$125
Earn 75,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 75,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • Rates & Fees
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases

If you hold both a business and personal Marriott co-brand card, you can receive up to 40 elite night credits each year.

Elite Status Challenge

Marriott Bonvoy doesn't offer a status match to other hotel programs. There is an unpublished Status Challenge available. Bonvoy members should call 1-800-627-7468 to get information about the status challenge and select which challenge they would like to try:

  • Gold EliteChallenge: stay 9 eligible nights
  • Platinum Elite Challenge: stay 16 eligible nights

Once you start a challenge, you have until the end of the third month to complete it. So if I start on October 15th, 2022 I have until the end of January 2023 to complete the challenge. Only paid stays count as “eligible nights”.

Note that when I called Marriott to confirm this information, the Gold Challenge was quoted as 9 nights — not the 8 eligible nights which is widely reported. Always make sure to confirm the details of the challenge before you start!

RewardsPlus: United MileagePlus Partnership

Marriott Bonvoy partners with United MileagePlus to allow for reciprocal earning and shared elite benefits. Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite members can receive United MileagePlus Premier Silver elite status. Those with United Premier Gold status or higher can register here to secure Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status.

Elite Status Gifting

Ambassador Elites with Marriott can sometimes gift status to friends or family. Ambassador Elites may receive an Annual Choice benefit based on their own activity. These members can gift Silver Elite status upon achieving 50 elite night credits or Gold Elite status upon achieving 75 elite night credits.

Radisson Rewards Elite Status for Free (or Almost Free)

Radisson Rewards is the loyalty program for Radisson hotel brands, Country Inns & Suites, and Park Plaza. It doesn’t have the best coverage inside the U.S., but has more properties internationally, with a substantial footprint throughout Northern Europe and the Middle East.

Credit Cards

Radisson Rewards used to offer members elite status through a co-branded credit card. However, that card was discontinued in early 2022.

Elite Status Match

Radisson Rewards does not offer an official status match program. However, travelers who send a polite request to statusmatch@radissonhotels.com have matched elite status with other hotel and airline programs.

Final Thoughts

Elite status makes hotel stays more enjoyable. You can receive early check-in/late check-out, upgraded rooms, complimentary food and drinks, and more. Earning status without being a road warrior can make these benefits seem even sweeter.

Almost all of the credit cards mentioned above have an annual fee, so they are not technically ‘free’. However, take advantage of the airline, travel, and TSA PreCheck credits, lounge access, free anniversary nights, and other benefits, and these cards can more than pay for themselves.

Finally, there are two websites worth checking periodically:

  • StatusMatcher.com — Not all status matches are publicly advertised. StatusMatcher uses reports submitted by other rewards club members and includes success and failure rates. It also gives information about how to apply for status matches.
  • CardMatch — This site will ask for some personal information and run a quick check to see what special credit card offers you may qualify for.

For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: Hilton Honors American Express Card (Rates & Fees), The Business Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees), and Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card (Rates & Fees)

AwardWallet Tip of The Day
Did you know that for each airline within one of the global alliances you can view the balances across all carriers in this alliance? Click the alliance icon in the list of accounts next to any airline in an alliance to see the details.
Show me how

The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments

  • Shopaddict88 says:

    Do they still make the ritz carlton card?

    • Chase does still offer this card! However, it’s only available by product changing an existing Marriott card. Data points note that you need to have had the Marriott card open for at least a year before you can upgrade it to the Ritz.

  • Unclear on New Bonvoy Brilliant benefit

    Does Marriot cap Elite nights by holding a Bomvoy credit card at 15 persona card + 15 business card = 30

    or 25 Brilliant persona card + 15 business card = 40 ?

    40 would help with making Bnvoy Titanium now that every person who pays annual fee for Bovou Brilliant card is a Platinum – making status worthless in USA

    • You can earn up to 40 Elite Night Credits from credit cards – but only if you have a Brilliant + Bonvoy Business. Otherwise, you’re capped at 30 if you have the Bonvoy Business and a personal card.

  • IHG status may not be the most “valuable” of the big chains, but it’s the only chain that allows you to earn points for up to 9 rooms booked under your name concurrently (in North America) versus the max of 3 rooms for Marriott or 2 rooms for Hilton. It’s an interesting perk of the program.

  • Very useful information .. just discovered the blogs and they’re quite informative … thanks

    • It certainly is. If AW hasn’t thought of it already, a nice addition to their right sidebar, perhaps under “Page Contents” would be an up-to-date list of their most popular/valuable posts. You could measure popularity by visitors, # of comments, etc. But, it would be a great way to quickly show the potential value of many articles.

  • I agree that IHG isn’t the most awesome status but you can use points to “buy” Ambassador status which can be very valuable at IC hotels.

  • For the first time in 30+ years, I had zero air/hotel activity this year. I have both personal and business Marriott cards and lifetime gold status. Since the meeting backdoor is closed, what is the best way to quickly regain my Titanium status in 2021?

    • We’ve all been waiting to hear how Marriott is going to make earning elite status easier in 2021, but nothing has been shared yet. By having a personal and business card, you should be starting the year with 30 Elite Night Credits. That puts (at least) Platinum Elite in reach. And hopefully Marriott will do some sort of double elite night promotion or something to help us (me included!) get back to our typical status!

  • Michael DiNovi says:

    This is a good resource for keeping track of who and how in the status match arena. I have used a temporary status match to Hilton Diamond to piggyback onto other matches, et cetera, et cetera. Thank you for making this so convenient.

  • Agree that it’s really a great idea to get Hilton Diamond via Amex.

  • ngelo fonseca says:

    status match has been very common in hotel programs, but rare in airlines …

  • Great. but the free nights start at 5,000 points.

  • I have a question… New cardholders receive Discoverist Status with World of Hyatt. What happens if i have a Hyatt rewards program account? Can i use my account?

    • You sure can! Just list your World of Hyatt number when applying for the card and Chase/Hyatt will connect the new card with your existing World of Hyatt account.

  • Marriott Silver Elite status isn’t very high, but nonetheless, Marriott automatically granted it to AAA members upon request before the switchover to Bonvoy. Does Bonvoy have a similar program?

  • Very insightful, Thanks I’ve been meaning to give World of Hyatt a try this post definitely helps

  • The Hilton Honors Gold status is valuable and not to difficult to obtain.
    Otherwise as I have Priority Pass I am not actively searching a status with some airlines. You need a minimum of organisation to obtain this and so not too easy to receive with little notice after a flight booking.
    Another possibility I’m exploring is apply for some credit card which give me some benefits.

  • I’ve been more than happy with the status that comes from various hotel cards – bonus points, occasional upgrades and free breakfast. But I would suggest detailing how through reciprocal matching between World of Hyatt and M Life, you can get Explorist, not just Discoverist, status for free.

  • I remember around 5 years ago when Hilton gave me Gold status just for being a new member even though I had never even stayed with them before. And I didn’t have status with other hotels at the time either.

  • Gilberto Souza de Morais says:

    Those tricks are that helpful. Thanks for letting us know.

  • Jessica Arbai says:

    This was incredibly helpful and informative for such travelers/frequent flyers. Thank you so very much for this update!

  • Hotel elite status can really make for an extraordinary stay. Thanks for compiling all of this info in one place.

  • Great to use these status matches right before a stay or a vacation!

  • Q: Do these status tiers last forever once you get them and keep the card? Or do you have to hit a minimum spend each year to maintain/renew?

    • As long as you’re a cardmember you can re-up your status each year. If a status requires a spend, such as 75k on the Ritz Card for Platinum, then you’d need to do that each year.

      • To add to Howie’s response:

        Some credit cards confer a certain automatic status as a permanent perq (e.g., IHG Select and IHG Premier MasterCard cardholders automatically receive Platinum status, with no stay or spend requirements). In contrast, upgraded status achieved through meeting requirements for stays, spending, challenges, and/or acquired via status-tier matching, is only applicable for a specified, limited timespan, and keeping that upgraded status means meeting the requirements again by a certain deadline.

  • Combining credit card status and matches seems like a powerful one-two punch.

  • On a recent trip to Japan the perks associated with Hilton and Marriott gold status gained through the Amex Platinum card were easily worth the card’s entire annual fee. These included upgrades to top floor suites in Tokyo and Nagoya, free breakfast buffets, free wifi, lounge access with open bars and snacks, and fast check-ins at the concierge desks.

  • I have diamond status with Hilton and have used that to match status with other chains whenever it it turns out that I must spend the night in a hotel other than a HIlton. I don’t always get a status match, but it often happens, and it is free to ask and worthwhile if you succeed.

  • Great thread and really helpful post. Thanks

  • I see, seems get credit card can get points faster.

  • Nice to see all these options in one succinct post. Thanks for the info.

  • It is good that there are so many ways to get hotel status, but just a pity that there are no real short cuts to airline status.

  • I wish we traveled enough to automatically earn this status. But that is not us. We avoid credit cards with fees so that option is out as well. Maybe in the future we’ll travel more and make these levels.

    • I’d recommend revisiting your stance on credit cards with fees. Some of the most rewarding and best value credit cards come with a yearly fee – like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve. The benefits significantly outweigh the cost.

  • For room upgrade, etc., it’s definitely been worth it to me to continually hold a few of these cards.

  • I think Amex Platinum is the best for hotel status overall. Wish there were some airline status along with it too though.

  • Wow! The veil has been pulled back. I never knew you could do a status match, much less that there was a website that helped you to see which programs you could possibly match to. Thanks for this. Gonna save a lot more money this year.