[Update: Some offers mentioned below have expired. You can view the current offers from our partners here —American Express Platinum card, Hilton HHonors card from American Express, American Airlines AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard from Citi, JetBlue Plus Card and Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express. Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
Don’t you love it when you get VIP treatment? It’s especially appreciated when you’re traveling and you can enjoy perks like priority service and upgrades to a better airplane seat or hotel room.
And as some frequent travelers know, the key to earning VIP treatment can be holding the right credit cards. Some credit cards offer elite status in hotel and rental car programs to all cardholders, regardless of how much they spend, and there are several cards that allow you to earn elite status with airlines and hotel programs when you reach specified annual spending thresholds. In addition, there are some cards that offer credits towards elite status when you spend a certain amount.
The Cards That Offer Elite Status to All Cardholders from Day One
Many credits only require you to open an account in order to earn elite status with a travel provider. For example, the American Express Platinum card (reviewed here) offers all cardholders both Gold status in the Starwood Preferred Guest program and the Hilton HHonors program, as well as elite status with Avis, Hertz and National car rental companies. However, cardholders will need to request these status upgrades individually. Mid-level elite status in hotel programs is also a feature of credit cards such as the IHG, Hyatt and Marriott Rewards card from Chase, as well as the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card (reviewed here) and the Hilton HHonors Surpass Card from American Express. (Full Disclosure: Citibank, as well as American Express, Barclaycard & Chase advertise on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)
The Cards That Offer Elite Status to High Spenders
Other credit cards only offer elite status to their highest spenders. For example, the new JetBlue Plus personal and business cards from Barclaycard offer Mosaic elite status in the TrueBlue frequent flier program to those who spend $50,000 on their cards with a calendar year.
According to Kristen Bowdoin, director of the JetBlue partnership, Barclaycard US: “The ability for cardmembers to earn Mosaic status solely from the spend on their credit card is a great example of how we’re trying to help loyal JetBlue customers get even more out of their JetBlue experience. Not every cardmember who loves JetBlue is an avid flier and this benefit offers them a new opportunity to earn Mosaic status beyond the required segments and flight points.”
Once earned, Mosaic status offers priority check-in, security screening and boarding as well as two free checked bags and free alcoholic beverages. In addition, Mosaic members have the ability to upgrade to Even More Space seats with extra legroom for as little as 200 points.
Holders of the Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express (reviewed here) can receive Gold status by spending $30,000 within a calendar year. Gold status offers perks such as priority check-in, 4 p.m. late checkouts and room upgrades.
The Hilton HHonors Surpass card from American Express offers instant Gold status, but cardholders can be upgraded to Diamond status when they use their card to spend $40,000 in a calendar year. Diamond status offers late checkouts, room upgrades and even free breakfast.
The Hilton HHonors card from American Express has no annual fee, but offers Gold status after cardholders spend $20,000 in a calendar year. Gold status also offers late checkouts, room upgrades, and even free breakfast.
The Ritz-Carlton rewards credit card from Chase offers cardholders automatic Gold status in their first year, which they can maintain by using their card to spend $10,000 each account member year. Gold status offers guests complimentary room upgrades, late checkouts and exclusive point bonuses. Furthermore, you can reach their Platinum Elite status when you use your card to spend $75,000 per account year, which offers cardholders bonus points, an arrival gift, room guarantees and two complimentary nights at The Ritz-Carlton.
The Cards That Speed Up Your Path Elite Status
Finally, there are several cards that don’t necessarily offer elite status for spending alone, but offer points, miles or night-stay credits towards elite status that can be combined with other qualifications to help you reach elite status sooner. For example, the Delta SkyMiles Reserve card from American Express offers 15,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) after cardholders spend $30,000 in a calendar year, and another 15,000 MQMs after reaching $60,000 of spending in a year. Likewise, the American Airlines AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard from Citi offers 10,000 elite qualifying miles after spending $40,000 within a calendar year. Finally, the Hyatt credit card from Chase offers two stay credits and five night credits toward Diamond status upon spending $20,000 in a calendar year, and an additional three stay credits and five night credits toward Diamond status upon spending $40,000 total in each calendar year.
By choosing the right credit card for your purchases, you can receive VIP treatment when you travel even sooner that you might have thought you could. But before you set your heart on a credit card and its potential travel benefits, remember that rewards cards are often only available to consumers with good credit. Take a few minutes to check your credit (you can get two free credit scores every 30 days on Credit.com) and research credit cards that may suit you best before applying for anything.