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Last-minute tips for locking in hotel elite status

Nov. 30, 2022
12 min read
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Having hotel elite status can make a significant impact on the quality of your vacation. While airline elite status is helpful when traveling to or from a destination, you'll enjoy hotel elite status benefits for the duration of your trip.

If you haven't traveled enough to earn or maintain your elite status this year, here are some last-minute tips you need to know to lock in your benefits for another year.

How to earn hotel elite status

Grand Hyatt Nashville. HYATT

If you want to earn hotel elite status, the traditional option is to book as many hotel stays as necessary to get elite night credits or points for the level you want to earn. Since many of us don't travel that much, travelers also need to take advantage of the other avenues that hotel loyalty programs offer for qualification.

Here are the most common ways to earn elite status:

  • Elite night credits: You'll earn one elite night credit for every eligible paid night stayed at a participating property. Most hotel programs also count award nights and "points and cash" stays toward elite status, and you may be able to earn elite night credits with some credit cards.
  • Stays: How often you stay at one of the hotel's properties. Whether you stay one night or multiple nights, it counts as one stay.
  • Points earned: Earn points based on your spending at participating hotels. Generally, only "base points" count toward elite status, which generally excludes bonus points earned from status, promotions and other offers. Spending money with partners may also apply, depending on the program.
  • Credit card elite status: Many hotel and travel credit cards offer automatic elite status as a benefit.
  • Renewing your credit card: Each year that you renew your hotel-cobranded credit card, you may receive elite night credits toward earning elite status.
  • Spending on credit card: Some hotel credit cards allow you to earn elite status or make progress toward it based on your spending each year.

Related: Is hotel elite status worth it anymore?

Hilton Honors

The Lloyd Stamford, Tapestry Collection by Hilton. CHRIS RANDALL/HILTON
 SilverGoldDiamond
Nights7.28.42.
Stays3.14.21.
Base points17,500.52,500.84,000.

End of the elite year: Dec. 31.

Hilton is one of the hotel loyalty programs that count award stays toward elite status qualifications. If you have Hilton Honors points or free night certificates, redeeming them for free nights gets you closer to elite status.

For travelers who want Hilton elite status benefits right away, the quickest path is getting one of Hilton's many cobranded credit cards. Even the no-annual-fee Hilton Honors American Express Card includes complimentary Silver elite status, with the ability to earn Gold when you spend $20,000 per year.

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card includes complimentary Gold elite status. When you spend $40,000 in a calendar year, you'll be upgraded to Diamond status. Small-business owners get the same elite status benefits with the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card.

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For members who don't want to deal with the high spending hurdle, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card includes automatic Diamond elite status. While this card has a premium annual fee, the annual free night, high earning power and up to $500 in annual credits more than make up for it for people who stay at Hilton properties regularly.

The information for the Amex Hilton Aspire card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: 3 reasons I’ll open the Amex Hilton Aspire Card before arriving at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives

IHG One Rewards

Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY
 Silver EliteGold ElitePlatinum EliteDiamond Elite
Qualified nights10.20.40.70.
Qualified pointsN/A.40,000.60,000.120,000.

End of the elite year: Dec. 31.

IHG offers several ways to earn elite status, including when booking award stays using points or free night certificates. However, with the introduction of IHG One Rewards, points earned from credit card spending no longer count toward elite status points qualification.

IHG offers three different credit cards featuring complimentary elite status, including one with no annual fee. The IHG Rewards Traveler Credit Card comes with Silver Elite status automatically and an upgrade to Gold Elite when you spend $20,000 in a calendar year.

Both the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card and the IHG Rewards Premier Business Credit Card include automatic Platinum Elite status. Although IHG credit card spending no longer earns qualified points, you can earn Diamond Elite status by spending $40,000 on either of these cards in a calendar year.

Another option for earning IHG One Rewards elite status is to buy an InterContinental Ambassador membership. For $200 or 40,000 points, you'll enjoy Ambassador benefits for 12 months from the date of purchase. This membership features numerous benefits, including automatic Platinum Elite status.

Related: I stayed at the InterContinental New York Times Square as a Platinum Ambassador: Here’s what it was like

Marriott Bonvoy

A Marriott sign in Hamburg, Germany. JEREMY MOELLER/GETTY IMAGES
 Silver EliteGold ElitePlatinum EliteTitanium EliteAmbassador Elite
Nights10.25.50.75.100, and $20,000 in spending.

End of the elite year: Dec. 31.

Marriott makes earning elite status simple and straightforward. You must spend nights in its hotels, have a credit card that offers elite status or earn elite night credits from its credit cards.

Nights from redeeming Marriott Bonvoy points and free night certificates also count toward elite status qualification. Its top-tier status is Ambassador Elite, which not only requires you to stay 100 nights, but you must also spend $20,000 at Marriott properties each year. Note that this requirement is going up to $23,000 in 2023.

Chase and American Express offer various Marriott personal and business credit cards that include complimentary elite status. All of these cards include at least 15 elite night credits toward your desired status level, including the no-annual-fee Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card. With the recent upgrades, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card now includes 25 elite night credits.

Members can stack elite night credits from the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card with any of the personal cards to earn 30 elite night credits each year (or 40 if you have a Brilliant card), putting higher elite tiers easily within reach.

The Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card includes complimentary Gold Elite status, while the Brilliant card provides automatic Platinum Elite status among other premium benefits. Likewise, business owners receive automatic Gold Elite status when they have the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card and can upgrade to Platinum Elite by spending $75,000 a year on the card.

No Marriott card includes Titanium Elite or Ambassador Elite status. However, you'll earn one elite night credit for every $5,000 you spend on the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card each year.

Related: 6 reasons to strive for Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite status

World of Hyatt

The Park Hyatt in Washington, D.C. HYATT
 DiscoveristExploristGlobalist
Nights10.30.60.
Base Points25,000.50,000.100,000.
Meetings and events3.10.20.

End of the elite year: Dec. 31.

With Hyatt, you can achieve elite status based on nights stayed or base points earned at properties. When calculating elite night credits, it also includes nights booked with World of Hyatt points or free night certificates.

There are two Hyatt credit cards available – one for consumers and one for business owners. Both cards have unique features that can help you earn Hyatt elite status quickly.

The World of Hyatt Credit Card includes entry-level Discoverist elite status. While this status may not offer many standout benefits, you can spend your way to a higher status. You start out with five qualifying night credits every year, and you'll earn an additional two night credits for every $5,000 you spend on the card.

Business owners also receive Discoverist status with the World of Hyatt Business Credit Card. However, this business card is unique on this list because it allows the cardholder to give the gift of Discoverist status to up to five employees. Additionally, you'll receive five tier-qualifying night credits for every $10,000 you spend in a calendar year. This rate is 25% higher than what's offered by the personal version of the Hyatt card.

Related: Here’s how to quickly stock up on Hyatt points for your next vacation

Other ways to earn hotel elite status

The Chicago Athletic Association. HYATT

You can earn hotel elite status — or at least receive similar benefits — in other ways than having a hotel cobranded credit card. Use these strategies if you don't want to be tied down to one hotel's credit card.

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express: This luxury travel card includes complimentary Hilton Honors Gold and Marriott Bonvoy Gold elite status. To receive these benefits, you must contact American Express customer service to activate them. You also receive these statuses with The Business Platinum Card® from American Express.
  • Fine Hotels + Resorts: An exclusive hotel booking program for Amex Platinum cardholders offers elite-level benefits and promotions at premium properties worldwide. This includes things like an on-property spending credit, room upgrade and late checkout.
  • The Hotel Collection: Offers benefits at participating properties and is available to people with an Amex Platinum or American Express® Gold Card.
  • Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection: When you have a Visa Signature card and book through this website, you'll receive exclusive perks at participating properties.
  • Mastercard Travel & Lifestyle Services: Book a room at any of more than 4,000 participating properties with your eligible Mastercard to receive elite-level perks.

Related: What elite status TPG's points and miles team is keeping for 2023

Bottom line

For travelers who are running out of time to earn hotel elite status this year, there's still hope.

Many of the most popular hotel loyalty programs have alternative ways to earn elite status without going on a massive mattress run. In most cases, you'll receive elite status just for holding one of the hotel's cobranded credit cards. If you want even higher status, you may be able to earn it through spending on your card.

When these options aren't feasible, take a look at hotel booking programs aligned with Visa, Mastercard and American Express. They offer elite-level benefits without qualifying or requiring loyalty to any particular hotel program.

Featured image by ERIC ROSEN/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.

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TPG featured card

Best for the well-traveled foodie
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
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$250

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

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
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

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • 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

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees