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The best credit cards to jump-start elite status in the second half of 2022

July 07, 2022
40 min read
Boeing 787-9 business class
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Chasing elite status with a hotel or airline can be addicting. Once you get a taste of the benefits (such as upgrades, lounge access, bonus points and enhanced customer service), it’s hard to give them up. Depending on how frequently you travel, you could easily get hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars in value from elite status each year.

However, these lucrative perks come at a cost. With many airlines requiring customers to spend at least $3,000-$4,000 in a year and the major hotel chains typically requiring at least 10 nights per year to earn the lowest level of elite status, even starter-tier members have to spend a fair amount of cash to secure their status.

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Luckily, there are a number of credit cards that can help jump-start your progress. In fact, if you play your cards right (pun intended), you could have top-tier elite status in a major program by the time you finish reading this guide.

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The best credit cards for elite status in 2022

The information for the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select, Aviator Red, JetBlue Plus, Frontier Airlines and Hilton Aspire cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuers.

Why you should use a credit card to earn elite status

Hotel elite status could land you an upgrade to a suite. (Photo by Zvonimir Luketina/EyeEm/Getty Images)

The higher you get in the world of elite status, the more incremental value there is in moving up to the next rung. For example, going from a general member with Marriott Bonvoy up to a Silver Elite won’t be the most noticeable of differences, but moving from Gold to Platinum or from Platinum to Titanium can help you unlock elusive perks like aspirational suite upgrades.

Related: What is Marriott Bonvoy elite status worth?

Although some credit cards offer you the ability to enjoy status outright just by carrying them, many also offer the ability to earn elite qualifying miles or elite night credits to help bump you up to the next rung. In fact, many people will be better off using credit cards to augment their actual travel plans and bump themselves up to a higher tier.

If you don’t travel enough to earn some form of elite status on your own, you may have trouble fully utilizing the benefits and be hesitant about spending a large amount of money just to earn status.

However, a number of programs offer status to anyone who holds the right credit card, and if you’re not currently loyal to a single airline or hotel chain you can actually use these offers to guide your credit card strategy. For instance, this is why I recommend that anyone who travels occasionally but not frequently open the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express for automatic top-tier Hilton Honors Diamond status. Look into your favorite loyalty programs and their cobranded credit cards to see what types of status perks they may offer.

Is it worth it?

(Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Some credit cards on this list provide automatic status as a benefit to all cardholders, while some require you to spend tens of thousands of dollars a year to earn status or level up to a higher tier. A good example of this is the cobranded American Airlines cards which essentially now let you spend your way to status.

Not every person is going to be able to spend the amounts of money required responsibly, though, and you should never ever do anything to jeopardize your personal finances in the pursuit of elite status. Even if you can spend that amount, putting it all on one card sometimes carries a huge opportunity cost.

It might mean you aren’t able to earn any sign-up bonuses on new cards, or it might mean you’ll miss out on valuable bonus categories from using other cards. You’ll have to analyze your own travel patterns to make sure you’d get enough value out of this new level of status to justify that opportunity cost.

Related: Is airline elite status still worth it?

Other ways to earn elite status

With all this focus on credit cards, it can be easy to forget that many people earn status simply by traveling the requisite amount. With the exception of a few secretive unpublished top-tier ranks, most loyalty programs spell out quite clearly what you need to do in order to qualify for status. With U.S. airlines you’re looking at a mix of a spending requirement and some combination of flight miles or flight segments, while hotels will tally your yearly nights and/or stays.

Another great option is to consider a status match or challenge. The exact terms vary from program to program, but generally, with a status match you’ll send the airline or hotel proof of your current elite status with one of their competitors, and they’ll offer you an equivalent tier of elite status in their own program for a promotional period. You may be able to extend that status by completing certain flight or stay requirements.

Meanwhile, a status challenge allows anyone to start from scratch and leapfrog up to a higher tier of status by completing a designated amount of travel during a promotional period, often about three months.

Airline elite status

Although no credit card currently on the market gives elite status outright on any of the major U.S. airlines (there are some cards that will give you status on foreign carriers), many allow cardholders to earn incremental credits toward status that might just be the boost you need to jump into the elite ranks or reach a higher tier.

Depending on how much spending you put on your card, you may be able to earn status without ever setting foot on a plane. Below, we look at some airline credit cards that fall into this camp.

Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

 Citi®/ AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $450.

Welcome offer: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Elite status: For every dollar that you spend on a cobranded American Airlines credit card, such as this one, you’ll earn 1 elite qualifying Loyalty Point. This means that you can essentially spend your way to status, though you’ll still have to fly 30 segments per qualification year to be able to select Elite Choice Rewards at the Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum levels.

Unfortunately, credit card sign-up bonuses, limited-time spending offers and category multipliers are excluded from earning Loyalty Points. Additionally, when you spend $40,000 in eligible purchases on the card in a qualifying year, you can earn 10,000 more Loyalty Points, which might be just the boost you need to hit that next status rung.

Related: 14 ways to earn American Airlines elite status

Other benefits: Earn 2 miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 mile per dollar on all other eligible purchases. You'll get a full Admirals Club membership (while your authorized users enjoy club access when flying American) as well as your first checked bag free and priority check-in, airport screening and boarding privileges. Additional benefits include a 25% savings on eligible inflight purchases and an up-to-$100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit.

See our card review for more details.

Analysis: Having this card is a lot like having elite status — without the first-class upgrades. You get free checked bags, priority access on the ground and lounge access. Plus, any spending you put on the card will help you earn Loyalty Points toward earning actual elite status.


APPLY HERE: Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard


Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $99 (waived the first 12 months).

Welcome offer: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Elite status: For every dollar that you spend on this card, you’ll earn 1 Loyalty Point. Just remember that sign-up bonuses, limited-time spending offers and category multipliers are excluded from earning Loyalty Points.

Other benefits: Earn 2 miles per dollar on restaurants, gas stations and eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 mile per dollar on all other eligible purchases. You and up to four companions will get your first bag checked free on domestic American Airlines itineraries, as well as preferred boarding. You’ll also get a 25% discount on eligible inflight purchases and a $125 flight discount when you spend $20,000 or more on your card during your membership year and renew the card.

See our card review for more details.

Analysis: This card is ideal for casual American Airlines flyers who want a cobranded credit card that will help them earn Loyalty Points but don’t want to pay a high annual fee.

AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard

(Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $99.

Welcome offer: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you make a purchase and pay the annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days of card opening.

Elite status: As with the other cobranded American Airlines credit cards, you’ll earn 1 Loyalty Point for every dollar spent on the card.

Other benefits: Earn 2 miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 mile per dollar on all other eligible purchases. Additional benefits include an annual $25 statement credit on inflight Wi-Fi purchases, an annual $99 companion ticket after you spend $20,000 in purchases on the card in an account year, waived checked bag fees for the cardholder and up to four on the American Airlines reservation and a 25% statement credit for eligible inflight purchases.

See our card review for more details.

Analysis: This card is ideal for those that want a cobranded American Airlines card with a big sign-up bonus and a minimal spending requirement.

Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card

You get access to Delta’s 30,000-square-foot Sky Club at Los Angeles International Airport with this card. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $550 (see rates and fees).

Welcome offer: Earn 95,000 bonus miles after you spend $6,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first six months of account opening. Offer ends 11/9/22.

Elite status: On the Delta Reserve card, you’ll receive 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles for reaching $30,000, $60,000, $90,000 and $120,000 in calendar-year spending for a total of up to 60,000 MQMs — almost enough for Delta Platinum Medallion status. The card waives Delta’s Medallion Qualification Dollar requirement for elite status up to the Platinum level when you spend $25,000 on it in a calendar year and the MQD requirement for Diamond status when you spend at least $250,000.

Related: What is Delta Air Lines elite status worth?

Other benefits: Earn 3 miles per dollar on eligible Delta purchases and 1 mile per dollar on all other eligible purchases. In addition to a Sky Club membership, you’ll get two, one-time guest passes for the lounge, your first bag checked free and priority boarding on Delta flights, no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees), a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit (up to $100), an annual companion certificate (valid for Main Cabin, Comfort+ or first class), access to complimentary upgrades and complimentary access to American Express Centurion Lounges when flying Delta with a ticket purchased on the card.

See our card review for more details.

Analysis: This card is excellent for Delta flyers as it offers access to the most valuable perks of elite status — such as complimentary upgrades, lounge access and priority boarding — right off the bat. And if you want actual elite status, you can earn all the way up to Gold Medallion status (normally earned after 50,000 MQMs or 60 segments plus $6,000 MQDs) year after year purely through spending, or Platinum Medallion status (normally earned after 75,000 MQMs or 100 segments plus $9,000 MQDs) through spending and some minimal additional travel.


APPLY HERE: Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card


Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card

Delta One aboard a refurbished 767-400. (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees).

Welcome offer: Earn 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first six months of account opening. Offer ends 11/9/22.

Elite status: Waive Delta’s MQD requirement for elite status (up to the Platinum level) when you spend $25,000 on your card in a calendar year, plus earn 10,000 MQMs when you spend $25,000 on purchases in a year, and another 10,000 MQMs if you spend $50,000 in a year.

Other benefits: Earn 3 miles per dollar on eligible Delta purchases and hotel spending, 2 miles per dollar at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets and 1 mile per dollar on everything else. In addition to your first bag checked free and priority boarding on Delta flights along with no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees), this card offers a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit and domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your card.

See our card review for more details.

Analysis: With the current welcome offer, you won’t be able to earn status purely through spending with this card, but you’ll definitely get a nice boost and get to enjoy elite-like benefits, such as a free checked bag and priority boarding, before even earning status.


APPLY HERE: Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card


United Explorer Card

The United Explorer Card comes with two, one-time United Club passes each year. (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $95.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open.

Elite status: Earn 500 Premier qualifying points after spending $12,000 on the card each calendar year, plus an additional 500 PQPs with an additional $12,000 in spending, for a potential grand total of 1,000 PQPs per year. (Note that these bonus PQPs only count toward status up to Premier Platinum.)

Related: What is United Airlines elite status worth?

Other benefits: Earn 2 miles per dollar on United purchases and at restaurants and hotels, and 1 mile per dollar on everything else. Get your first bag checked free (you must include your MileagePlus number in your reservation and pay for the flight with the Explorer Card to receive this benefit), priority boarding and 25% inflight savings on United flights.

You’ll also get two, one-time United Club passes deposited into your MileagePlus account each year of cardmembership, expanded award availability and an up-to-$100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit.

See our card review for more details.

Analysis: Despite being an entry-level card, it offers a generous PQP boost and is jam-packed with premium travel perks, including annual lounge visits.


APPLY HERE: United Explorer Card


United Quest Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $250.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open.

Elite status: Earn 500 PQPs towards elite status for every $12,000 you spend on purchases with your card, up to 3,000 PQPs each calendar year with up to $72,000 in total credit card spending. This is nearly enough to get to United Silver status just with your card spending, and they can be applied to qualification up to Premier 1K.

Other benefits: Earn 3 miles per dollar on United purchases (immediately after earning your $125 annual United purchase credit), 2 miles per dollar on all other travel purchases as well as on select streaming services and at restaurants, and 1 mile per dollar spent on everything else.

Key benefits of the card include a $125 annual United purchase credit, as well as up to 10,000 miles back each year — you’ll automatically get 5,000 miles back into your account after the first two United award flights you take per anniversary year. You’ll also get a free first and second checked bag, an up-to-$100 TSA PreCheck/Global Entry application fee credit every four years, priority boarding, trip protection, expanded award availability and lower average award prices.

Related: No saver space, no problem: How to unlock additional award availability with United

Analysis: This card is great for big spenders who are chasing United elite status. The card also isn’t that expensive considering the $125 annual United credit effectively drops the annual fee to $125. Another unique perk is that it makes United elite members eligible for space-available upgrades when flying on United.


APPLY HERE: United Quest Card


United Club Infinite Card

(Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $525.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Elite status: Cardholders can earn up to 5,000 PQPs per calendar year in 500-point increments for each $12,000 put on the card.

Other benefits: Earn 4 miles per dollar on United purchases, 2 miles per dollar on all other travel and dining purchases, and 1 mile per dollar spent on everything else. The standout benefit of this card is the complimentary United Club membership, including access for two guests or one adult and dependent children under the age of 21.

It also offers the first and second checked bag free for the primary cardholder and one companion traveling on the same reservation on United-operated flights when they are purchased with the card. Other perks include a TSA PreCheck/Global Entry application fee credit, Premier Access travel services, expanded award availability and lower average award prices.

See our card review for more details.

Analysis: This card offers many elite-like perks, including Premier Access travel services and United Club access at the airport. That said, you can also use it to shortcut your way to actual elite status through spending.


APPLY HERE: United Club Infinite Card


Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

Enjoy priority boarding with A-List status. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $149.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months.

Elite status: You can earn 1,500 tier qualifying points for each $10,000 spent on purchases annually. This can help you get to A-List status with Southwest. All points earned with this card, including the sign-up bonus, count toward Companion Pass eligibility, too.

Related: What is Southwest Airlines elite status worth?

Other benefits: Earn 3 points per dollar spent on Southwest purchases; 2 points per dollar on Rapid Rewards hotel and car partners; 2 points per dollar on local transit and commuting (including ride-hailing services); 2 points per dollar on internet, cable, phone services and select streaming; and 1 point per dollar on everything else. You’ll get a $75 annual Southwest travel credit, four upgraded boardings per year (when available) and 25% back on inflight drinks and Wi-Fi purchases.

See our card review for more details.

Analysis: This card is great for Southwest flyers as it gives you a shortcut to both A-List status and the Companion Pass. The $99-per-year Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card offers the same sign-up bonus and TQP-earning benefit, but falls short of the Priority card as it lacks valuable benefits like the $75 annual Southwest travel credit and four upgraded boardings per year and only offers 6,000 anniversary points.


APPLY HERE: Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card


JetBlue Plus Card

Mosaic members get priority check-in, security and boarding. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $99.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 points after you spend $1,000 and pay the annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days of account opening.

Elite status: You’ll get automatic JetBlue Mosaic elite status after you spend $50,000 each year with the card. Alternatively, you can fast-track JetBlue’s new top-tier Mosaic+ status by spending $150,000 on the card in a calendar year.

Related: What is JetBlue elite status worth?

Other benefits: Earn 6 points per dollar on JetBlue purchases, 2 points per dollar at restaurants and grocery stores, and 1 point per dollar on everything else. You’ll also get an annual $100 statement credit toward the purchase of a JetBlue Vacations package, 5,000 bonus anniversary points, a 10% rebate on award flights, a free first checked bag and 50% off inflight food and cocktail purchases.

See our card review for more details.

Analysis: While it’s nice to be able to earn Mosaic or Mosaic+ status purely through spending with this card, it’s an expensive option. Mosaic status is typically achieved either by accruing 15,000 base points (spending $5,000 on JetBlue tickets) or by earning 12,000 base points ($4,000 in spending) and flying 30 segments. Meanwhile, Mosaic+ is typically earned with 45,000 base points ($15,000 in spending).

Frontier Airlines World Mastercard

Frontier elite members can stretch out in an emergency exit row for no additional cost. (JT Genter/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $79.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 points after you spend $500 in the first 90 days of account opening.

Elite status: All miles you earn with this card are both award miles and elite qualifying miles, so you can earn any level of Frontier status simply based on spending. Frontier offers three tiers of elite status: Elite 20k, Elite 50k and Elite 100k.

Other benefits: Earn 5 miles per dollar spent on purchases on Frontier’s website, 3 miles per dollar spent at restaurants and 1 mile per dollar spent on everything else. Enjoy no foreign transaction fees, Priority Zone 2 boarding, family mileage pooling, no points expiration when you make a purchase at least every six months and a $100 flight voucher every account anniversary after spending $2,500 or more during the preceding year on your card. Plus, you’ll get an award redemption fee waiver when you use your card to pay for the taxes and fees on Frontier awards.

See our card review for more details.

Analysis: Frontier may not offer the most valuable elite status out there, but being able to earn any level of status simply based on spending is terrific.

Related: The best credit cards to use on low-cost carriers

Hotel elite status

Hotel chains are a lot more generous than the airlines when it comes to giving away elite status. You can get automatic elite status with Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and IHG without staying at any of their properties or putting any spending on your card.

Related: On the hamster wheel of chasing hotel elite status? Buy it instead

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

Enjoy late checkout with Silver Elite status, but not upgrades. (Photo courtesy of Moxy NYC Downtown)

Annual fee: $95.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months from account opening.

Elite status: Receive automatic Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status, plus 15 elite night credits each calendar year toward reaching a higher status. Reach Gold status by spending $35,000 or more on purchases with your card in a calendar year. You can also earn one credit towards elite status for every $5,000 you spend.

Related: What is Marriott Bonvoy elite status worth?

Other benefits: Earn 6 Bonvoy points per dollar spent at over 8,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels; 3 points per dollar on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year on gas stations, grocery stores and dining; and 2 points per dollar on other purchases. Receive a free night award every year on your account anniversary when you renew your card, worth up to 35,000 points, and free premium in-room Wi-Fi during stays at Marriott Bonvoy properties.

See our card review for more details.

Analysis: Automatic Silver status is better than no status at all, but don’t expect benefits like suite upgrades and free breakfast. Silver status offers a 10% points bonus, late checkout (subject to availability) and access to an elite member reservation line.


APPLY HERE: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card


Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express

Platinum Elite status includes upgrades to suites. (Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $650 (see rates and fees).

Welcome offer: Earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership.

Elite status: Enjoy complimentary Platinum Elite status. Each calendar year, you also receive credit for 25 nights toward the next level of Marriott Bonvoy elite status.

Other benefits: Earn 6 points per dollar at eligible participating Marriott Bonvoy properties, 3 points per dollar at worldwide restaurants and on flights booked directly with the airline, and 2 points per dollar on everything else. Each year after your card renewal month, you’ll receive a free night award worth up to 85,000 points.

Cardholders currently receive an up-to-$300 annual statement credit valid for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide (up to $25 per month).

You will also enjoy up to $100 in credits for on-property charges when booking eligible stays of two nights or more at Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis properties. Other benefits include Priority Pass Select lounge access and a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit. Enrollment is required for select benefits and terms apply.

See our card review for more details.


APPLY HERE: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express


The Platinum Card from American Express

Get free breakfast on all stays booked through Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts. (Photo by Nicholas du Pont/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $695 (see rates and fees).

Welcome offer: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the card in your first six months of card membership.

Elite status: Cardmembers can register for automatic Hilton Honors Gold status and Marriott Bonvoy Gold status.

Other benefits: Earn 5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines and through American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year). Plus, earn 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotel bookings through amextravel.com and Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Aside from automatic elite status with Hilton and Marriott, you can get elite-like benefits at luxury hotels around the world by booking through Fine Hotels + Resorts.

The Amex Platinum also includes access to more airport lounges than any other card, a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit, up to $200 in annual airline incidental fee credits, up to $200 per calendar year in U.S. Uber credits, up to $100 per year in Saks Fifth Avenue shopping credits, an up-to-$200 hotel statement credit to use toward prepaid Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection bookings via Amex Travel (two-night minimum stay required for Hotel Collection properties), an up-to-$240 digital entertainment statement credit (split into monthly $20 credits), an up-to-$300 Equinox statement credit (up to $25 in monthly credit), discounted premium flight tickets via the Amex International Airline Program and complimentary memberships in Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, Avis Preferred and National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive, along with numerous other benefits. Enrollment is required for select benefits.

See our card review for more details.

Analysis: This is easily the best card for hotel stays across several top hotel brands. You can register for Gold elite status with both Hilton and Marriott but also enjoy highly valuable elite-like benefits on FHR stays. Every FHR stay comes with perks such as complimentary room upgrades when available, noon check-in, 4 p.m. checkout, on-site food and beverage credits and more.


APPLY HERE: The Platinum Card from American Express


The Business Platinum Card from American Express

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $695 (see rates and fees).

Welcome offer: Earn 120,000 points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the card within the first three months of card membership.

Elite status: As with the personal version, cardmembers can register for automatic Hilton Honors Gold status and Marriott Bonvoy Gold status and enjoy elite-like perks through Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts. These benefits extend to authorized users.

Other benefits: Earn 5 points per dollar on flights and prepaid hotels booked at American Express Travel, 1.5 points per dollar on eligible purchases in select business categories and eligible purchases of $5,000 or more (on up to $2 million of these purchases in the U.S. per calendar year) and 1 point per dollar on other eligible purchases. When you’re flying, you’ll enjoy up to $200 in annual airline fee statement credits at selected airline and access to Amex Centurion, Priority Pass and Delta Sky Club (when traveling on same-day Delta flights) lounges.

Additional benefits include up to $400 in annual statement credits toward U.S. Dell purchases and a 35% points rebate on flights booked through Amex Travel in first or business class on any airline (up to 1 million points back per calendar year), or in any class on the U.S. airline of your choice each year. Enrollment is required for select benefits.

See our card review for more details.

Analysis: If you need a business card that will help you jump-start elite status, look no further than the Amex Business Platinum. The card offers automatic elite status with some of the largest hotel programs and offers a number of other elite-like benefits.


APPLY HERE: The Business Platinum Card from American Express


Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card

(Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95 annual fee (see rates and fees).

Welcome offer: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on the card in the first three months of card membership.

Elite status: Automatic Hilton Gold status and the opportunity to earn Diamond status by spending $40,000 on purchases in a calendar year on the card.

Related: What is Hilton Honors elite status worth?

Other benefits: Earn 12 points per dollar at participating hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio; 6 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations; and 3 points per dollar on other purchases. You’ll get 10 Priority Pass lounge visits every year and can earn a weekend night reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your card in a calendar year. Enrollment is required for select benefits.

See our card review for more details.

Analysis: This card is ideal for those that want midrange status with Hilton and don’t want to pay a high annual fee. Hilton Honors Gold status is among the most valuable mid-tier hotel statuses out there, getting you an 80% points bonus, no resort fees and a fifth night free during reward stays, space-available upgrades, free in-room and lobby Wi-Fi, late checkout, free breakfast or food-and-beverage credits and two free bottles of water.


APPLY HERE: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card


Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express

An upgraded suite at the Hilton Dead Sea. (Photo by Carissa Rawson/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $450 (see rates and fees).

Welcome offer: Earn 150,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Elite status: Enjoy automatic top-tier Hilton Honors Diamond status.

Other benefits: Earn 14 points per dollar on eligible Hilton hotels; 7 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, car rentals booked directly with select car rental companies, and at U.S. restaurants; and 3 points per dollar on everything else. Get one free weekend night reward every year after renewal plus an additional night at eligible properties after you spend $60,000 on purchases on your card in a calendar year.

Enjoy up to $250 in statement credits each year of cardmembership for eligible purchases at participating Hilton resorts, up to $250 per calendar year in airline incidental fee credits, up to $100 in credits for qualifying charges at participating Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotels & Resorts on eligible two-night-minimum stays and Priority Pass airport lounge access. Enrollment is required for select benefits.

See our card review for more details.

Analysis: This card is a must for Hilton fans. Automatic Diamond status is as good as it gets, with perks like guaranteed lounge access (at properties that have them), suite upgrades, free breakfast or food-and-beverage credits and more. TPG values Hilton Diamond status at $3,025.

IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $99.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 140,000 bonus points plus a free night (up to 40,000 points) after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Elite status: Enjoy automatic IHG One Rewards Platinum Elite.

Related: What is IHG One elite status worth?

Other benefits: Earn up to 10 points per dollar at IHG properties; 5 points per dollar on other travel; 5 points per dollar on dining and gas stations; and 3 points per dollar on all other purchases. As a cardholder, you’ll get an annual award night certificate worth up to 40,000 points, a fourth-night-free reward on award stays of four or more nights, a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit of up to $100 and no foreign transaction fees.

See our card review for more details.

Analysis: As long as you’re spending more than a few nights a year at IHG properties, Platinum Elite status alone can be worth the card’s $89 annual fee. Standout perks include a 60% bonus on paid stays, room upgrades, late checkout and a welcome amenity.


APPLY HERE: IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card


World of Hyatt Credit Card

The Andaz Capital Gate hotel in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, is a Category 2 Hyatt property. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $95.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 more bonus points by earning 2 bonus points total per dollar spent on purchases that normally earn 1 bonus point on up to $15,000 in the first six months of account opening.

Elite status: Automatic Hyatt Discoverist status, although you also receive five qualifying night credits toward the next level of elite status each year and the opportunity to earn two additional night credits for every $5,000 spent on the card per calendar year.

Related: What is Hyatt elite status worth?

Other benefits: Earn 4 points per dollar at Hyatt properties; 2 points per dollar on local transit and commuting, at restaurants, on airline tickets and on fitness club and gym memberships; and 1 point per dollar on everything else. You’ll get one free night at a Category 1-4 hotel each year after your cardmember anniversary plus a second free night at a Category 1-4 hotel each year when you spend $15,000 on the card during your cardmember year.

See our card review for more details.

Analysis: Discoverist status is one of the more valuable lowest-tier hotel elite status levels. It comes with a 10% points bonus when staying at Hyatt properties, space-available upgrades to preferred rooms within the same category, a daily bottle of water, complimentary premium internet, late checkout, access to the elite reservation line, Pearl status with MGM Rewards and bonus points on American Airlines flights. Higher levels of status are also within reach if you’re willing to put some spending on the card.

An added bonus? If you reach Hyatt Explorist elite status or higher and have linked your AAdvantage and World of Hyatt accounts, you might be offered a status match or challenge for American Airlines elite status.


APPLY HERE: World of Hyatt Credit Card


Bottom line

There are a number of credit cards that offer elite qualifying miles, dollars and night credits that put earning or boosting your elite status within reach. A handful of cards even provide elite status outright. Just be sure to always take into account the opportunity cost before putting a significant amount of spending on your card simply to earn status, as the spending threshold may be more trouble than it’s worth.

Many airline or hotel cobranded cards that offer status boosts typically aren’t the most lucrative options out there for everyday spending. Aside from that, spending simply to get to elite status might not be entirely logical for folks who don’t actually travel much, since they won’t get a lot of value from elite status. However, if you do spend a decent amount of time on the road and need help bridging the gap to hit elite status faster, the credit cards discussed today can be extremely useful.

Already have elite status? Check to see what airline and hotel status match options are available to you. Just note that status that’s been granted or obtained through credit cards rather than earned may not be enough for a match.

Related guides

Additional reporting by Ethan Steinberg and Eric Rosen.

For rates and fees of the Delta Reserve Amex, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta Platinum Amex, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Surpass, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire, click here.

Featured image by Boeing 787-9 business class. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points60,000 points
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases