Get Hotel Status and Free Night Stays With These Credit Cards

Over water bungalow at Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa. Image courtesy of Hyatt

Having elite status with a hotel chain can make your stay a little more comfortable when you’re away from home, especially if you’re traveling with kids. And you don’t have to be on the road 24/7 to earn stays to get these perks. There are various hotel credit cards and general credit cards that will make your travels more pleasant and comfortable.

The major hotel chains have partnered with various banks to provide numerous options for us consumers to obtain elite status without even having to stay a single night at their properties. I say why not take advantage of these options. There are many options so I will try to break it down for you here and you can choose what best fits your family’s needs.  I will only be focusing on the four major hotel brands in this post.

In this post:

  • New World of Hyatt and Chase Credit Cards
  • The Marriott/Starwood/Ritz Carlton Partnership
  • Hilton Honors American Express Card
  • IHG Chase Credit Card

New World of Hyatt and Chase Credit Cards

A Park Suite at the Park Hyatt New York.

I am a big fan to the Hyatt program hence I put it at the top of my list.  On March 1st, 2017, the old Hyatt Gold Passport program rolled over to the new World of Hyatt program.  Some say its for the better and but from what I’ve been reading, most think its for the worse.  You can be the judge.

Before with the Hyatt Gold Passport program, all you needed was 25 stays or 50 nights to obtain Diamond status, their highest status.  With the new World of Hyatt elite program, Globalist require 60 nights for the first year and then 55 nights for subsequent years to maintain Hyatt’s highest status.  The pros to the new Globalist status include suite upgrades upon availability at check-in.  I say we’ve been upgraded 90% of the time we’ve checked in this year which means bigger rooms and suites that leads to more comfort for the family.  The best part of being a Globalist is the free breakfast.  I don’t need to worry about what to feed the kids and we’ve saved lots of money by taking advantage of this benefit.

The new Chase Hyatt Credit Card offers a 40,000 sign-up bonus  after you spend $2,000 within the first three months of account opening.  If you add an authorized user and they make a purchase within the first 3 months, you will receive another 5,000 points. The annual fee is $75.  You get one free night each year at a category 1-4 hotel or resort, no foreign transaction fees, automatic Discoverist status, free internet, 2 pm late check when available, and other perks.  The old version of the card was a little better in terms of the sign-up bonus, 2 free nights at any category hotel. However, the free nights had to be used up within the year.  Now the 40,000 to 45,000 points stay in your account forever and there is no rush to use them as long as your account remains active.

This is a good starter card for those that travel more within the US since there aren’t that many Hyatt’s footprint worldwide isn’t as big as some of the other hotel chains. Personally I am very fond of the Park Hyatt (category 6-7).  I also like Hyatt because you can book a room for as cheap as 5,000 points.  Of course it won’t be a category 6 or 7 hotel but it’s a free room. Their half points and half cash deals aren’t bad either.  And most Park Hyatt you can book anywhere from 25,000 to 30,000 points per night.  This is relatively “cheap” compared to Marriott or Hilton that requires anywhere from 50,000 to 80,000 points per night.

Now the question becomes how do you get more Hyatt points?  You open up Chase Credit Cards and earn Chase Ultimate Reward points. More specifically you open up either the Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card ($95 annual fee with first year waived) and/or the Chase Reserve card ($450 annual fee, not waived the first year).  Both cards have its advantages.  Both cards offer 50,000 sign-up bonus after meeting $4,000 minimum spending within the first 90 days of account opening.

I will break down the higher annual fee credit cards in another post so for now refer to the link to learn more about the perks.  But as for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, it offers 2x points for travel and restaurants purchases which help you earn Chase Ultimate Reward points faster.

Let’s say you choose to sign up for the Hyatt Credit card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card, you will end up with 47,000 Hyatt points and 54,000 Chase points (including the minimum spends).  You can then transfer the 54,000 Chase points to Hyatt which is an instant transfer to net a total of 101,000 Hyatt points.  You can stay 3 to 4 nights at a Park Hyatt (25,000-30,000 points/night) or stay a Hyatt Regency for 5 nights (20,000 points/night) or 8 nights at a Hyatt House that comes with free breakfast regardless of status.

If your significant other signs up for another Sapphire Preferred Credit Card, you’ll get another 50,000 points.  After doing the math, you would only have spent $75 (Hyatt Credit card annual fee) to net the 155,000 points from two Sapphire Preferred Credit Cards and the Hyatt card.  I say that’s a pretty good deal! If this doesn’t make sense please leave a comment below and I can explain further.

If you are interested in applying for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, please use my referral link.

If you are interested in the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, please use this referral link.

The Marriott/Starwood/Ritz-Carlton Partnership

The Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Oahu, a SPG Category 6 hotel. Image courtesy of Starwood.

Marriott’s recent merger with Starwood and its ownership of the Ritz-Carlton brand allows us to obtain elite status with multiple credit cards. It is important to note that you can status match at Marriott to Ritz-Carlton to Starwood and vice versa. Having status at one of these chains allows you to have status across all three, which is pretty amazing.

The first option is the Marriott Reward Premier Credit Card or the business version which gives you a 80,000 sign-up bonus after meeting $3,000 minimum spend within the first 3 months.  This qualifies you automatically for Marriott Silver Status. Get an additional 7,500 points by adding an authorized user and making a purchase within the first 3 months of activation. You also get one free stay on your anniversary sign-up date.

You get 15 credits towards your next Elite membership level and for every $3,000 spend you get another 1 credit. There’s no limit to the number of elite night credits you can obtain through this option so you can make it all the way to either Gold (50 elite nights) or Platinum (75 elite nights) all through credit card spend.  However you have to see if this option makes sense for you. Putting all your spend on one credit card may not be the best idea here.

The second option is my favorite through the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card (referral link) or the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express.   Both cards come with a 25,000 sign-up bonus and 5 nights and 2 stays each year towards elite status.  However, if you apply for both cards the credits do stack giving you a total of 10 nights and 4 stays. That puts you so much closer to Gold status (10 stays or 25 nights) and on your way to Platinum status (25 stays or 50 nights).  It’s important to also note that if you spend $30,000 in a calendar year on either Starwood cards, you are automatically awarded Gold status without any stays or nights.

The reason why I really like the Starwood credit cards is because of their many airline transfer partners.  Most of the airlines are 1:1 point transfer partners, and for every 20,000 points transferred, Starwood will give you an extra 5,000 points for free!  That’s a 25% bonus!  No other card on the market does this!

The third option is through either the Platinum Card from American Express ($550 annual fee with a $200 annual travel credit and $200 Uber credit) or the Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN ($450 annual fee with a $200 annual travel credit), which automatically give you free Starwood Preferred Gold status.  This is the easiest way to get Gold status but each card comes with high annual fees.  I will talk about and justify these fees in another post about premium credit cards.

The fourth and final option is the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card, which comes with automatic Gold status and renewed yearly with $10,000 in spend. The card, however comes with a hefty $450 annual fee but does include a $300 travel credit.  If you spend $75,000 yearly you will be awarded Ritz-Carlton Platinum status which can be matched across to Marriott and Starwood.

Hilton Status with American Express

Waldorf Astoria Chicago. Image courtesy of Hilton.

I am a current Hilton Diamond member due to a status match back in 2016 that allows me to keep my status until 2019. I didn’t have to spend a penny to get this status. Luckily I was able to get into this status match last year. Hotels will have status matches from time to time so pay attention to those. I will try to post them here if I hear of any new ones.

Hilton has 14 brands with 4,600 hotels in 104 countries.  That’s a pretty decent footprint in the hotel world.

Citi used to offer two co-branded credit cards with Hilton but that partnership has ended. American Express offers the Hilton Honors Surpass Card, which offers complimentary Gold status (normally takes 20 stays, 40 nights or 75,000 Hilton Honors Based Points) and the ability to earn Diamond with $40,000 in one calendar-year spending. The card has a $75 annual fee with the following benefits:

25% ELITE STATUS BONUS: With Gold elite status, you automatically receive a 25% bonus on all the Hilton Honors Base Points you earn.

5TH NIGHT FREE: Silver, Gold and Diamond members will get every 5th night free4 when booking a reward stay of five nights or more using all Points.

IHG Chase Credit Card

Intercontinental Hong Kong. Image courtesy of IHG

Similar to Hyatt, there is only one credit card sponsored by the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) chain of hotels, and that’s the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card.  The card comes with a 80,000 point sign-up bonus and complimentary IHG Platinum status. IHG Platinum isn’t quite impressive as the other hotel chains’ comparable status levels but it does come with a free anniversary night each year.  The free night can be used at any of the 5,000 IHG properties world wide.  This card isn’t the best but it’s not a bad deal for $49 annual fee, which is waived the first year.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not endorsed by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.  Reader acknowledges that the author gets referral point bonuses for readers using the referral links above.  

8 Replies to “Get Hotel Status and Free Night Stays With These Credit Cards”

  1. Thanks for this post!
    I have the Chase Sapphire card, but none of the others mentioned. We are planning to be in Oahu for about a week. Would you recommend I sign up for SPG over the others? (keeping in mind hotel/room accomodations as well)

    1. Thanks Stephanie! If you already have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card, then are you willing to sign up for another or have your husband sign up for one. This will get 54,000 points with the spending minimum. If you sign up for the Starwood card(SPG), you’ll get 25,000 points but that’ll only get you 1 free night at the Sheraton Waikiki since its a 20,000/night at that category 6 hotel. If don’t want to do neither of the above options then sign up for they Hyatt card which will get you 40,000 Hyatt points after meeting spend and 1 free night at a category 1-4 (Hyatt Place Waikiki is a category 4 – 12,000 points/night). What I would recommend is opening another Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card and the Hyatt card to maximize your hotel accommodations. SPG is better used for airline redemptions in my opinion. Occasionally SPG has discount days where you can buy their points for 30% off and those may be good times to buy points to redeem for hotels or air.

    1. Personally I think the best card to use for Amazon is the Chase Ink card, not the be confused with the new Chase Ink Preferred card. The older Chase Ink card has a 5% bonus for shopping at Office locations such as Office Depot, Staples and Office Max. You can go there and buy $500 Amazon gift cards and pay with your Chase Ink card. Then proceed to load those into your amazon account. I still do this and it’s awesome! If anyone needs a referral for the Chase Ink Card please message me.

  2. Thanks for all this great information!

    I’ve been following your blog and reading all your tips about how to travel smarter. I’m so clueless about all that stuff and would like to know how to benefit from all those points. We travel a decent amount, at least once a year, but I’ve just been booking things the old fashioned way. :-/

    My husband has been traveling for work and is required to pay for his hotel stays on his personal credit and then will get reimbursed. He has been using our regular credit card that gives cash back, but I was wondering if there is a better credit card that would give us either cheap/free hotel stays and/or flights.

    What do you recommend?

    1. Thanks Ngami. It is never too late to get into the credit card game. I will recommend reading my recent post about Hotel Status using credit cards. I think the best way to start would be with the Chase credit cards, such as the Chase Preferred, Chase Reserve and Chase Freedom. If you like I can write a post about some beginner credit cards that you can start with. My goal is to get more than 1 point per dollar spent back. I don’t expect to travel for free but whatever I can to decrease my costs especially with kids.

      1. Thanks Mike!
        We currently have the Costco Citibank Visa that we use for most everything. It says we get 3% cash back for dining and travel.

        I was looking at the Chase Preferred you mentioned. It gives double points for dining and travel. And of course the 50,000 sign on bonus if we use $4k in the first 3 months.

        My husband thinks cash back is always better than getting points. Is he right? Or is there an advantage in earning points instead of cash back?

        Thanks!

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