[Update: Some offers mentioned below have expired and/or are no longer available on our site. You can view the current offers from our partners in our credit card marketplace. DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
Many businesses offer their customers preferential treatment based on their status in its loyalty program or by having and using a specific credit card. As a result, some customers receive VIP-status perks, like instant upgrades when they travel and preferred seats at sporting and entertainment events.
If you would like to enjoy some of these instant upgrades, you may want to consider applying for one of these credit cards.
1. Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card
The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card (you can read our review here) offers you instant Gold status in the Hilton HHonors program, which features perks like free room upgrades, late checkouts and even free breakfast. (Full Disclosure: Citibank as well as Chase, American Express, Barclaycard and MasterCard advertise on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.) Cardholders also earn 10 points per dollar spent at Hilton properties, five points per dollar spent on airline and rental car purchases, and three points per dollar spent on other purchases. There is a $95 annual fee for this card and no foreign transaction fees.
2. Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard
This card is part of the World Elite MasterCard program, which features all sorts of opportunities for upgrades. For example, the World Elite car rental program offers you elite status with Avis, Budget, National, and Sixt, allowing you to skip the counter, receive discounts and enjoy upgrades. The World Elite Air program offers savings with several major airlines and even complimentary business class upgrades from qualifying fares on Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Swiss. In addition, cardholders earn double miles on all purchases and miles are worth one cent each as statement credits toward travel reservations. There is an $89 annual fee for this card that’s waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.
3. Delta Reserve Card From American Express
This card offers you lots of Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs), which can lead you to elite status in the Delta SkyMiles program and the opportunity for plenty of additional upgrades. New applicants can earn 10,000 MQMs after their first purchase, and another 15,000 MQMs after spending $30,000 in a calendar year. A further 15,000 MQMs is offered to those who reach $60,000 in purchases in the same calendar year. In addition, cardholders can receive upgrade priority over other travelers with the same level of elite status, but without this card. Other benefits include access to the Delta SkyClub lounges, a free checked bag and priority service at check-in and boarding. There is a $450 annual fee for this card and no foreign transaction fees.
4. The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card From Chase
This card offers guests special hotel privileges including three complimentary upgrades to the Ritz-Carlton Club Level each year, a $100 hotel credit on paid stays of two nights or longer, and automatic Gold Elite Status your first account year. Other benefits include unlimited access to the airport lounges in the Priority Pass Select network and a $300 annual airline travel credit that you can use for seat upgrades. There is a $395 annual fee for this card and no foreign transaction fees.
5. American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card
The American Express Premier Rewards Gold card (read the full review here) features American Express Preferred Seating, which includes access to premium seats for select cultural and sporting events, based on availability. Cardholders also have access to The Hotel Collection which features a $75 hotel credit toward qualifying dining, spa and resort activities, plus a room upgrade upon arrival, if available. To receive these benefits, you have to book a stay of at least two consecutive nights at participating properties with American Express Travel. There is a $195 annual fee for this card and no foreign transaction fees.
It’s important to note that these types of rewards credit cards are typically best suited for people who are able to pay each month’s statement balance in full to avoid interest charges, as these cards typically come with higher interest rates than cards that don’t offer such premiere rewards. It’s a good idea to read the terms and conditions of any card you are considering before applying — and to review your credit before you apply so you have an idea of what you may qualify for. (You can see where your credit currently stands by viewing two of your free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.)
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
At publishing time, the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card, Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard and American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.