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Which Card Is Best for Hotel Elite Status Through Spending?

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TPG reader Chris sent me a message on Facebook asking:

“My wife and I both have jobs with minimal travel (less than 10 days a year), but have considerable personal credit card spending, and we’d like to know which is the best hotel branded credit card that offers elite status through spending but doesn’t require stays/nights?”

Hotel elite status can almost be more lucrative than airline elite status. Perks like free breakfast or WiFi (depending on the program) can add up quickly. A lot of co-branded hotel credit cards now offer elite status if you spend a certain amount annually.

Choose a credit card that will get you hotel elite status. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
Choose a credit card that will get you hotel elite status. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

The first one I would recommend is the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card. Off the bat this card gives you Hilton Gold status, which I believe is the best all around hotel mid-tier elite status out there, as you get Club access and free breakfast. You can also earn Diamond status if you hit $40,000 a year in spending. Additionally, after you hit the $10,000 mark on that card, you get a free Category 1-4 hotel stay, which could easily pay for the annual fee. I think that card is one of the best hotel co-branded cards available.

Starwood status is my favorite elite status to have. I’ve been qualifying for Platinum for years now, and SPG Gold is also pretty decent. Just last year they added free internet as a benefit on that tier. Many people don’t know that you get SPG Gold just for having an Amex Platinum card. You simply have to call the number on the back of the card and ask for your free Starwood Gold status. Another option is the Starwood Preferred Guest Amex, which gives you Gold status after you spend $30,000 annually.

The newest credit card to offer top-tier status is the Chase Ritz-Carlton card. This card gives you Gold status for your first year as a cardmember, and you can maintain it by spending $10,000 annually. You can also earn Platinum status by spending $75,000 a year. Platinum status won’t always get you club access or room upgrades, but there are some free Club access certificates and an airline rebate credit, so that card could work for you if you like staying at high-end Ritz-Carlton properties. This status also transfers over if you stay at Marriott properties.

Those are my picks for the top cards to get hotel elite status through spending. For more info on hotel branded credit cards, check out this post.

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at

The Platinum Card® from American Express

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  • Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • 5X points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 a year for baggage fees and more at one airline. Terms Apply.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations worldwide. Terms Apply.
  • Enroll to enjoy the benefits of complimentary Hilton HHonors™ Gold Status with your Platinum Card.®
  • No interest charges because you pay your balance in full each month.
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Intro APR Regular APR Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Rating
N/A N/A $450 0% Excellent Credit