These Credit Cards Offer Elite Status on Hotels & Rental Cars
Knowing which credit cards offer elite status simply by having the credit card is the easiest path to elite status. Elite status on airlines, with rental car agencies, or with a hotel brand can offer a slew of perks. Move to the front of the line, get upgrades, better food, nicer views…the list goes on. People extoll the perks of elite status, but some of us are too lazy or too cheap to work for it. Here are the credit cards which give you elite status just by keeping them in your wallet. It’s free and is available automatically! (though you sometimes have to activate it)
Updated January 29, 2022
Rental Car Elite Status from Credit Cards
Earning elite status from rental car agencies is possible with several credit cards. To maximize this further, numerous rental car agencies also do status matches. This means you could open credit cards for status in one program then match to status in another. Check out Status Matcher for options on this.
Avis Car Rental
Avis Car Rental and its Avis Preferred program offer 2 tiers: Preferred and Preferred Plus. Signing up for the Preferred program is free. The following cards offer perks at Avis:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve – The CSR offers discounts on your Avis rentals which makes earning status cheaper.
- American Express Platinum Card – Connecting your Avis Preferred benefits to your Platinum card to receive one class of car upgrade. This is at no charge but not guaranteed — only when available.
- American Express Business Platinum – Same perks as the personal Platinum listed above.
- United Club Infinite Card – Complimentary Avis President’s Club status
- United℠ Presidential Plus℠ Card – Complimentary Avis President’s Club status
- The Ritz-Carlton Card from Chase – Even though you won’t be elevated to Preferred Plus, you get a dedicated reservation line, upgrades when available, and 25-50% more points on your rentals. Set up your account at this link.
- U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card – Get Avis Preferred Plus status
- World Elite Mastercards – This is a catch-all, because numerous cards fall into this grouping. World Elite Mastercards offer perks beyond normal Mastercard credit cards. You’ll first need to register your card here. Afterwards, you can claim your travel benefits. One of the benefits is Preferred Plus status with Avis. That will offer discounts, upgrades, skipping the line, and more.
The following cards qualify as World Elite Mastercards:
- Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard
- Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard
- Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard
- Citi Prestige Card
- AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite Mastercard
- AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard
- Citi Premier Card
- Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard
Hertz rental car company has the Gold Rewards program. There are 3 tiers: Gold, Five Star, and President’s Circle. Signing up is free. Anyone with Gold status or above will have cars waiting outside. You can skip the line and don’t need to go inside. The following cards offer perks at Hertz:
- American Express Platinum Card – All flavors of the American Express Platinum Card offer Gold status with Hertz Gold Rewards. Additionally, your Platinum Card’s benefits include free upgrades on your car and discounts on your rentals.
- American Express Business Platinum – Offers the same Hertz tier and upgrade perks as the personal Platinum Card. Upgrades of one class of car will be awarded at no charge when available, and you receive discounts on the rental price.
- U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card – Automatic Hertz Gold Plus status
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card – Complimentary Hertz President’s Circle status
National Car Rental
National Car Rental’s status program is Emerald Club. There are three tiers: Emerald, Executive, and Executive Elite. The following credit cards offer elite status for free at National:
- American Express Platinum Card – Receive Emerald Executive status with National. Benefits include guaranteed upgrades, the ability to choose any car you want on the lot, discounts on premium cars, and no waiting in line. Choose between a selection of rewards from each rental. You also earn benefits on rentals with their partner Enterprise Rent-A-Car. You also get a free rental after every 6 paid rentals at this level.
- American Express Business Platinum – Offers the same tier and upgrade perks as the personal version of the card at National. You’ll receive the same Emerald Executive status.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve – Receive Emerald Executive status with National. Using your CSR means you’ll earn 3x points by using the Sapphire Reserve card to pay for your rental.
- The Ritz-Carlton Card from Chase – Receive Emerald Executive status with National. You’ll also receive discounts up to 25% by using your Ritz-Carlton Card to pay for the rental. Set up your account here.
- U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card – Complimentary Emerald Executive Club status.
- World Elite Mastercards – Again, this covers multiple cards. After registering your World Elite Mastercard, you can claim Emerald Executive status with National Car Rental.
Launched in 2012, Silvercar is an all-Audi rental car company that operates a bit differently. Don’t expect the standard rental car facility, and everything is managed through the website or the app. Because they’re a non-standard rental agency, retrieving your car varies from airport to airport.
They do have a rewards program, but there’s only one tier, and they say everyone is a VIP in their program. While not specifically a status elevation, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Ritz-Carlton Card offer discounts of up to 30% at Silvercar as a perk. Sign up for your account and validate your eligibility for discounts here. You must add your CSR to your account and use that as the payment method to get the discount. The full terms are here.
Sixt is gaining steam in recent years as a rental agency. They were THE agency when I lived in Germany. Sixt Advantage Circle offers 4 tiers: Express, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond.
- World Elite Mastercards – Again, this covers multiple cards. After registering your World Elite Mastercard, you can claim Platinum status with Sixt.
Hotel Elite Status from Credit Cards
Numerous credit cards offer elite status as a free perk, covering a wide range of levels and hotel brands. Simply by having these cards in your wallet, you can earn elevated status. The perks, upgrade levels, and types of status vary widely.
There are a ton of cards offering various levels of status in Hilton Honors. There are 4 levels of status: Member, Silver, Gold, and Diamond. All levels have resort fees waived on points stays and can share points with each other for free. Since Hilton has an exclusive agreement with American Express for cards, you won’t see any other issuers here. The following credit cards offer elite status with Hilton:
- American Express Platinum Card – Receive Gold status, which includes room upgrades, free bottled water, 5th night free on award stays, and free breakfast.
- The American Express Business Platinum – Receive the same perks and Gold status with the business version as the personal version.
- American Express Hilton Aspire Card – Offers top-tier Diamond status with this card. Earn extra benefits, including everything from Gold plus suite upgrades, premium internet access, gifting elite status to others, Executive Lounge access, and a 48-hour room guarantee. This comes from a $450 annual fee.
- The Hilton Honors Card By American Express – Receive Silver status, which earns points at a higher rate on stays than “Member” status. You’ll also receive free bottled water and your 5th night free on award stays. There’s also no annual fee on this card.
- American Express Hilton Honors Business Card – Automatic Gold status comes with this card. There’s a $95 annual fee.
- American Express Hilton Surpass Card – Receive Gold status by keeping this card in your wallet and paying the $95 annual fee.
The World of Hyatt Credit Card from Chase comes with automatic Discoverist status. You’ll earn 10% bonus on points from stays, waived resort fees on award nights, premium internet. There’s free bottled water, preferred rooms when available, and late checkout at this level. You can also match your status to Pearl status with M Life Rewards from MGM.
The IHG Rewards Club program includes 5 tiers: Club, Gold, Platinum, Spire, and Intercontinental Ambassador. After numerous devaluations and changes to free night certificates, this program ranks low on most people’s priorities. However, it is possible to receive status from a credit card.
The IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card from Chase comes with automatic Platinum status. Along with room upgrades, you’ll receive a welcome gift, spa credits, free mini bar access, and late checkout.
Additionally, the United Club Infinite Card offers Platinum Elite status in IHG.
Marriott’s Bonvoy program has 6 tiers: Member, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Titanium, and Ambassador. Yes, it has its fans and its detractors, but earning status isn’t overly difficult. Additionally, these credit cards offer elite status with Marriott:
- American Express Bonvoy Brilliant Credit Card – Receive automatic Gold status with this card. Earn 25% extra points on your stays, get a 2pm late checkout, and receive a gift of points at check-in. When available, you’ll also receive room upgrades. This card also has a $300 annual credit for spend at Marriott properties. This can tack on more free nights or free meals.
- American Express Bonvoy Business Card – Receive Silver status via a credit of 15 elite nights in your account. Silver status gives you a 10% bonus on points earned from stays and late check-out when available.
- American Express Platinum Card – Receive automatic Gold status. Less the $300 perk, you’ll receive the same benefits as above.
- The American Express Business Platinum – Receive the same perks and benefits as the personal card. You get Gold status by enrolling in your card benefits section of the website.
- Chase Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card – Receive 15 nights of credits per year, which automatically gives you Silver status.
- Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card – Receive the same Silver status as the Bold credit card. Note: this credit card has a $95 annual fee (the Bold card has no fee), but you get a free night certificate every year with this card–something the Bold card doesn’t offer.
- The Ritz-Carlton Card from Chase – Get automatic gold status with this credit card in your wallet. Enjoy the same benefits listed above.
MGM Resorts has the M Life Rewards program. There are 5 tiers: Sapphire, Pearl, Gold, Platinum, and Noir. The only credit card that offers elite status with M Life is their own M Life Rewards Mastercard. This gives automatic Pearl status. Earn 10% bonus points, comps for playing casino games, an express line at the buffet, and free self-parking. You also get early access to ticket sales for events at MGM properties.
The former Club Carlson program has become Radisson Rewards. There are 4 tiers: Club, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. These credit cards offer elite status with Radisson Rewards:
- Radisson Rewards Visa Signature Card – Receive automatic silver status with this card in your wallet. This qualifies you for discounted pricing on paid stays, 22 points per dollar on spend at their properties (instead of just 20), discounts on food at the hotel, free bottled water during stays, early check-in and late check-out. When available, you’ll get upgraded rooms, as well.
- Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature Card – Offers gold status from having this card. This means you get all of the above benefits and more. Earn 25 points per dollar, bigger discounts, better upgrades, and a 72-hour room guarantee. You’ll also receive a welcome gift at check-in (these are often snacks or fruit plates).
- Radisson Rewards Visa Business Card – The business version offers the same Gold status as above, earning the same perks.
Sonesta hotels and their Travel Pass program keep popping up lately. You can pool points for use at their properties around North America, Egypt, and the western parts of South America. They have 3 tiers: Member, Preferred, and Elite. Only one credit card offers elite status at Sonesta: the Sonesta World Mastercard from Bank of America.
With this card in your wallet, you’re automatically elevated to “Elite” — the top tier. Late check-outs, upgraded wifi, dedicated reservation line, and a $15 credit to the snack shop are included at this level. Additionally, you only need 12 nights per year to qualify, so this status isn’t unobtainable on your own. Also, receive a 15% discount on dining, room upgrades (but you’ll have to pay for suite upgrades), free non-alcoholic drinks, and a welcome gift. However, I couldn’t find any information listing what these are. Lastly, you’ll have a choice between club lounge access or free breakfast each day.
Wyndham’s loyalty program is Wyndham Rewards. There are 4 tiers: Blue, Gold, Platinum & Diamond. There have been some devaluations / changes and lawsuits against the company lately, but you can still attain value by having Wyndham status. The following credit cards offer elite status with Wyndham:
- Wyndham Rewards Visa Card (no annual fee version) – For no annual fee, this card gives you Gold status. Receive preferred rooms at check-in, late check-out, and other standard benefits like awards that never expire.
- Wyndham Rewards Visa Card ($75 annual fee version) – It has the same name but a different structure. The card has a bigger sign-up bonus, $75 annual fee, and you’ll receive automatic Platinum status. With Platinum, you’ll receive early check-in privileges, status match to Caesars Rewards, and car rental upgrades at Avis & Budget after linking your accounts.
It is possible to receive elite status with hotels or rental car agencies without any effort. Some credit cards offer elite status for free, simply by having the card. Open the card, pay the annual fee (if there is one), and enjoy the perks. Room upgrades or late check-out add a nice touch and convenience. Things like free meals, free parking, or credits at the snack shop go beyond that and add cost savings. Cash that stays in your pocket is the winner when I have a choice of options. Which of these cards do you think provides the most bang for your buck on elite status?