Best Hotel Credit Cards With Valuable Status Benefits

I don’t live the high life.  I’m a simple guy who enjoys traveling.  For that reason, I’ve never really paid much attention to status and benefits with either airlines or hotels.

The point of this blog is to help you travel cheaply, not luxuriously.

Until this week, I’ve always assumed that traveling cheaply and luxuriously landed on opposite ends of the spectrum.  In other words, a person would be forced to choose either luxury or cheap.  However, when it comes to hotel status, it can help you enjoy some extra luxuries and save money.

Best Credit Card Elite Benefit Hilton Surpass Hilton Reserve: Hilton H Honors Gold Status

I’m updating this post July 2012, because the Hilton Surpass position of best credit card for hotel status has just been replaced by the Hilton Reserve card.  I highly recommend you check out this card if you’re interested in Hilton Gold status.

The American Express Hilton Surpass gives card holders one year of gold status.  The card has a $75 annual fee, but if you time it right, you can get far more than a $75 value from the card.

So, what’s the benefit of Gold Status?

  • 25% bonus on all base points earned
  • Complimentary high speed internet access.  In Budapest, the internet access would have cost about $15 per day.  Granted, I would never have paid that for a day of internet access, but it was nice for researching activities on vacation.
  • Free breakfast.  At the Hilton Budapest we had an option of eating in the Executive Lounge or the ICON restaurant.  The restaurant had beautiful views of the parliament building across the Danube, so we ate there most mornings.  The cost would have been $38 per person.  Of course, I wouldn’t have paid that for breakfast.  But, I also would have missed out on some delicious cheese, fruit, sausage, and the works.
  • Access to the Executive Lounge.  What we enjoyed about the lounge was free drinks between 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.  Neither my wife and I are ‘drinkers’ to be technical.  My drink of choice was Coke and Fanta for my wife.  However, after a hot afternoon walk it was nice to relax in the lounge and enjoy the drinks.  Also, each evening the lounge offered small snacks that included meats, vegetables, fruits, cheese, and bread.  Each evening we found that their offers were more than enough to fill us up for supper.  Free supper (we did tip!) was a nice unexpected money saving benefit of Hilton Gold.
  • Access to discounted point rates on 4+ nights (also a benefit to silver and diamond members).  Stay 4 nights at a category 4-7 hotel and get a 15% point discount on your stay; stay 5 nights and get a 20% point discount; stay 6 nights and get a 25% points discount.  For an upcoming stay we plan to visit a HHonors Reward Category 7.  That would normally cost 50,000 points per night.  However, by staying 6+ nights, it is 37,337 per night.  Also, it’s important to note that Hilton is the only hotel program that offers a points discount on stays as short as 4 nights.
Below is a sample of our free breakfast and view out the window at the Hilton Budapest.
Hilton gold elite
best hotel credit card
I was actually surprised that even as a lowly gold member, they actually treated us like we were special.  We checked in at the same time as another American couple who was on our shuttle.  They were given their keys and sent to their room.  We were greeted by one of the on-shift managers who showed us around the hotel and made sure we didn’t need anything before sending us up to our room.
Would I pay $75 to have those perks again?  Absolutely.  Again, this benefit only lasts for one year, so be sure you time your application to cover as many vacations as possible.  An alterative option that doesn’t involve a credit pull is to participate in the fast track to gold where you can get gold status after just four stays.
If you can spend $40,000 per year, you can also get Dimond status!
Other cards that offer hotel status benefits:
Note, many of these programs offer very limited benefits like a few bonus points for stays or free internet.  For that reason, I’m not going to spend a lot of time covering the benefits, but if you’re interested in a particular card or offer, then you can click on the appropriate link.


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