Do Hotels Know if I Earned Elite Status from a Credit Card?

Mar 8, 2015

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TPG reader Zach tweeted me to ask:

@thepointsguy — “Can a hotel tell if I got my status from stays vs. a credit card? Will they treat me differently if I got status through a credit card?”

Earning elite status is getting easier in general, because it’s often included as a benefit on co-branded credit cards. Status earned from a co-branded card is identical to status earned through nights or stays, so the answer to Zach’s question is no. Although corporate employees could probably tell the difference, front desk staff won’t have the inside scoop into how you earned your elite status. And frankly, they shouldn’t care anyway, because you’re valuable to them as a co-branded cardholder.

Shutterstock HOTEL
Front desk staff at a hotel won’t be able to tell how you earned elite status, and shouldn’t treat you any differently. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

That being said, there’s a grey area with respect to room upgrades. Hotels have algorithms to rank you based on your value as a customer, and that rank can impact your chances of getting an upgrade. Even if you got the two stays, five nights credit on your Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express, there may be a higher-ranking Platinum member who will get the upgrade because he or she is deemed more valuable to SPG.

Even with airlines, the front line staff won’t be able to see how you earned status, and if they do, they still shouldn’t treat you any differently.

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

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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