Hotel perks that come along with co-branded hotel credit cards are amazing. Believe it or not, hotel rewards credit card holders can get access to room upgrades, late checkout, free breakfast, lounge access, free nights and complimentary elite status at many properties simply for holding the card of a specific hotel chain.
Because I travel a lot, I have three co-branded hotel credit cards in my wallet that land me some of these great benefits anytime I stay at a hotel in the Hyatt, Marriott or IHG hotel property groups—even if I’m not a frequent guest with the brand. And I also have The Platinum Card® from American Express, which gives me benefits when I stay at Hilton hotels.
While not all hotel groups or credit cards offer the same perks, there are plenty of great hotel credit cards to choose from to help you land the benefits most important to you at whatever brand of hotel suits your accommodation style.
Here are six awesome benefits of hotel credit cards.
1. Free nights
The best perk any hotel can offer is a free room for the night! Almost all hotel credit cards offer some form of free night certificate allowing you to stay at any hotel within the hotel property group.
You’re most likely to earn free nights from a hotel credit card as part of a welcome bonus, when you meet a spending threshold on your credit card or as a gift each year on the anniversary of renewing your card. While these certificates are sometimes capped to a certain level of value, they can be worth hundreds or more every year.
When you get the World of Hyatt Credit Card by Chase, for example, you can earn up to 60,000 Hyatt points as a welcome bonus. You can earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months, and up to 30,000 more points by earning 2 bonus points per $1 spent on purchases that earn 1 point, up to $15,000 spent in your first six months.
If you earn 60,000 bonus points, that’s enough for two free nights at the most expensive Hyatt hotels. The card also gets you another free night certificate for a category 1-4 property after spending $15,000 in a year of card membership and yet another free category 1-4 night every year on your anniversary when you renew your card.
Some hotels give a special perk to credit card holders and elite members, gifting you an extra free night at the end of stay when you’ve used your reward points to book at least four nights in a row. This benefit, often referred to as “fifth night free,” is a great deal if you’re planning to use your award points for a longer vacation. Both Marriott and Hilton offer the fifth night free perk to their credit card holders, and IHG offers a variation of the benefit, giving you a fourth night free when you book three nights with points.
2. Free breakfast
Free breakfast may be my all-time favorite hotel perk. While you won’t fnd any specific credit card that lists free breakfast as a benefit, most hotel credit cards give the card holder complimentary mid-tier elite status as a perk. For example, when you get the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card*, you’re automatically gifted Hilton Honors Gold Status. And guess what Hilton Gold Members get as a benefit … free breakfast!
3. Room upgrades
Who doesn’t want to be upgraded to a room that’s nicer than the one they’ve paid for? Along the same lines of the free breakfast benefit, room upgrades are a common perk that you’ll have access to with the elite status granted to you by your credit card (when available on check-in).
For example, on one of my last trips before the pandemic I booked a regular king, resort view room at the IHG Crowne Plaza on the Dead Sea in Jordan. Though I don’t have any earned status with this hotel group and rarely stay at IHG properties, the Platinum Elite status I have automatically with my IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card landed me an upgrade to a one-bedroom suite with a balcony and view of tourists floating in the salt sea.
4. Late checkout
Want to stay in your room past the 11 a.m. checkout time? Late checkout is a pretty common perk for hotel credit card elite-status holders. For example, the Gold status gifted by Marriott and the Discoverist status gifted by Hyatt from their respective credit cards will let you extend your stay until 2 p.m. on the day of checkout at no cost—or as long as the room is available. IHG and Hilton will usually allow you to stay until 1 p.m. at the discretion of the hotel.
5. Lounge access
Did you know that many hotels have executive levels or club lounges that often serve coffee and snacks all day with free happy hour in the evenings? A few of the higher end co-branded hotel cards like the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Credit Card give you access to these areas normally reserved only for the hotel group’s highest level of elite members.
6. Fast track to higher levels of elite status
Every hotel card offers some level of elite status perks—but if these aren’t enough for you, there is still more good news: You can earn the highest levels of elite status with a hotel group faster when you’re a credit card holder.
For example, if you want to upgrade from the Marriott Bonvoy Silver or Gold status granted from your credit card to the highest levels of Bonvoy’s Platinum or Titanium elite status, each Marriott Bonvoy credit card you hold gifts you 15 credits toward the qualifying elite requirements. That means you’re 15 nights closer to elite status even before you stay a single night!
The bottom line
Hotel credit card perks can help you get upgraded rooms, higher status, complimentary breakfast and better hotel stays all around. If you’re thinking about taking a trip this year that includes staying in a hotel, adding a hotel credit card to your travel rewards earning strategy is certainly worth it.
All information about the World of Hyatt Credit Card, the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.