We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
BIG SPENDER SERIES:
- What can Big Spenders get from spending on credit cards?
- Sign-up bonuses, cash back, and domestic US flights
- Airline & Hotel cards with bonus miles for Big Spending
- Spend your way to airline elite status
- Spend your way to hotel elite status
- Spend your way to lifetime airline and hotel elite status
- Companion passes for Big Spending
- Transferable or “everyday” cards for Big Spenders
Hotel Elite Status via Credit Card Spending
The following cards give you extra hotel elite points once you cross a certain amount of spending on the card.
In my opinion, the best deal is spending $40,000 within a calendar year on the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card or the American Express Hilton Surpass card and earning top-tier Hilton Diamond status which gets you room upgrades, free breakfast and internet, and other perks of being a top-tier elite member.
You will also get 120,000 Hilton redeemable points for spending $40,000 on both cards. However, you will get 1 free night for spending more than $10,000 on the Citi Reserve card.
If you spend the $40,000 on the American Express Hilton card you will get access to the AXON awards where you only need 145,000 Hilton points (instead of 200,000 points) to book 4 nights at a top category 7 Hilton using an AXON award.
Spending $30,000 for Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Gold status seems like a waste to me, especially since you can get SPG Gold status for free with the American Express Platinum card.
I also wouldn’t spend $20,000 on the American Express Surpass card just to get Hilton Gold status, when I can get it for just a $95 annual fee with the Citi Hilton Reserve card.
I also wouldn’t spend $180,000 within a calendar year just to get Platinum status with Marriott because their top tier elite status isn’t particularly attractive, but your goals (and spending ability) could be very different from mine!
- A Calendar Year refers to the 12 months from January 1 to December 31 of any year
- Redeemable points refers to miles which you can redeem for a hotel night or other merchandise
- Elite points refers to miles which can NOT be redeemed for award seats, but count towards elite status in a hotel’s loyalty program
Top Tier Hotel Elite Status
You can earn top-tier:
- Hilton Diamond status after spending $40,000 within a calendar year on the Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express in addition to 120,000 Hilton Points (3 points per $1 spent)
- Hilton Diamond status after spending $40,000 within a calendar year on the Citi Hilton Reserve card in addition to 120,000 Hilton Points (3 points per $1 spent) AND 1 free weekend night
- Marriott Platinum status after spending $180,000 on the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier card within a calendar year in addition to 180,000 Marriott points (1 point per $1 spent)
Mid Tier Hotel Elite Status
You can earn mid-tier:
- Ritz-Carlton Gold elite status after spending $10,000 on the Ritz Carlton credit card, within a calendar year, in addition to 10,000 Ritz points
- Hilton Gold elite status after spending $20,000 on the Hilton Surpass card, within a calendar year, in addition to 60,000 Hilton Points (3 points per $1 spent for regular spending)
- Starwood (SPG) Gold elite status after spending $30,000 on the SPG business card, within a calendar year, in addition to 30,000 SPG points (1 point per $1 spent for regular spending)
- Marriott Gold elite status after spending $105,000 on the Chase Marriott Premier card, within a calendar year, in addition to 105,000 points (1 point per $1 spent for regular spending)
Spend Your Way to Hotel Elite Status – The Details
1. Best Western
Link: Barclays Best Western MasterCard (Personal)
- Earn a 1 tier elite status upgrade when you spend $6,000 within 1 calendar year
Both the Citi Hilton Reserve and the American Express Surpass card let you earn Hilton Diamond status by spending $40,000 within 1 year.
However, the Citi Hilton card does not have a foreign transaction fee, and gets you 1 free weekend night for spending $10,000 within a year. You also earn 10 points at Hilton hotels with the Citi Hilton Reserve compared to 9 points with the American Express reserve card.
But having the American Express Hilton card, gets you access to discounted AXON awards, so the best option could be spending $40,000 on the Citi Hilton Reserve, but keeping a fee-free version of the American Express Hilton card to get access to the discounted AXON awards.
Citi Hilton Reserve
Link: Citi Hilton Reserve (Personal)
- Top-tier Hilton Diamond status when you spend $40,000 within a calendar year & Gold elite status just by keeping the card
- 1 free weekend night after spending $10,000 within each membership year
American Express Hilton Surpass
Link: American Express Hilton Surpass (Personal)
- Top-tier Hilton Diamond status when you spend $40,000 within a calendar year & Gold elite status after spending $20,000 in a calendar year
- Free Hilton Gold elite status for 1st year (free internet & breakfast!) and Silver elite status after 1st year makes you eligible for discounted AXON and VIP awards
Link: Chase Marriott Premier (Personal)
Link: Chase Marriott Premier (Business)
- 15 nights credit toward elite status every year (free silver elite status); 1 night elite credit for every $3,000 spent
- Spend $105,000 for Gold elite status; $180,000 for Platinum elite status within a calendar year
You need 50 nights for Gold status and 75 nights for Platinum status, but you get 15 nights credit just by having the Chase Marriott cards.
So you need only 35 nights (50 nights – 15 nights credit) for Gold elite status or $105,000 (35 nights X $3,000 per night)
And 60 nights (75 nights – 15 nights credit) for Platinum status or $180,000 (60 nights X $3,000 per night)
Link: Chase Ritz Carlton Rewards (Personal)
- Free Gold elite status for the first year; maintain gold status by spending $10,000 each calendar year after 1st year
Link: American Express SPG card (Personal)
Link: American Express SPG card (Business)
- Mid-tier SPG Gold status after spending $30,000 a year with the SPG Business card
- 2 stays and 5 nights credit towards elite status each calendar year on the personal and business cards
- 25% bonus when you transfer SPG points to select airlines in increments of 20,000 points
Starwood Gold elite status via American Express Platinum card
- Earn free SPG Gold elite status. Call 1-888-625-4990 to activate SPG gold elite status