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When it comes to getting hotel status, there is an easy and a hard way. But is it even possible to get hotel status in Canada easily?
First, let’s explore the different hotel loyalty programs out there. There are multiple hotel chains that offer different tiers of hotel status to reward their customers for their loyalty. Generally, the higher the status you qualify for, the more benefits you get to enjoy.
Depending on which status you attain, you’re awarded different types of perks. This can include complimentary breakfast for two, room upgrades, late checkout, lounge access and even free parking on award stays.
Hotel Membership Tiers
There are numerous hotels chains out there. For simplicity, I’ll only be covering the big four:
To earn status, you typically need a certain number of nights a year at a hotel brand. Not all statuses among hotel chains are equal as you’ll see below.
|Status Tier||Nights Required/Year||Benefits|
|Silver||10||10% more points earn rate, priority late checkout subject to availability, complimentary Wi-Fi|
|Gold||25||25% more points earn rate, 2PM late checkout, complimentary Wi-Fi. Enhanced room upgrade based on availability|
|Platinum||50||50% more points earn rate, 4PM late checkout, complimentary Wi-Fi. Enhanced room upgrade including select suites if available, lounge access if available and choice of points, breakfast1 or amenity, 5 Suite Night Awards (SNAs) or 5 Elite Nights|
|Titanium||75||Same as Platinum except 75% more points earn rate on cash stays + 40K Hotel Night Certificate and Silver status with United Airlines|
|Ambassador||100 +$23K US spend||Same as Titanium + flexibility to have 24-hour stay + Ambassador service|
Note 1: Breakfast is not offered at certain properties such as Ritz Carleton for example, regardless of elite status tier.
|Status Tier||Nights Required/Year||Benefits|
|Member||0 – 9||No resort fee on reward stays + complimentary Wi-Fi|
|Silver||10||Member benefits + 20% more points earn rate,|
|Gold||40||Silver benefits + 80% more points earn rate, room upgrade if available, complimentary continental breakfast or food/beverage credit, milestone bonuses|
|Diamond||60||Gold benefits + 100% more points earn rate, lounge access if available, premium Wi-Fi, Diamond status extension, elite status gifting|
|WORLD OF HYATT|
|Status Tier||Nights Required/Year1||Benefits|
|Member||0-9||5x points earn $1US spent, no resort fees on award stays, MGM Sapphire status tier match, and SLH benefits|
|Discoverist||10 or 25K base points2 or 3 meetings||5x points earn $1US spent + 10% bonus points earned on purchases, no resort fees on award stays, MGM Pearl status tier match, SLH benefits, premium Wi-Fi, preferred room upgrade, 2PM late checkout if available and American Airlines benefit of earning Hyatt points|
|Explorist||30 or 50K base points or 5 meetings||Discoverist benefits + 5x points earn $1US spent + 20% bonus points earned on purchases, MGM Gold status tier match, room upgrades but excludes suites and rooms with club lounge access,|
|Globalist||60 or 100K base points or 20 meetings||Explorist benefits + 5x points earn $1US spent + 30% bonus points earned on purchases, room upgrades up to standard suites or rooms with club lounge access, free parking on award stays, free breakfast for up to 2 adults and 2 children, 4PM late checkout if available, and Guest of Honor benefit to share status benefits|
Note 1: You can also earn milestone rewards based on nights or base points earned per year.
Note 2: The base points are earned by spending on a US Chase Hyatt credit card.
IHG ONE REWARDS
|Status Tier||Nights Required/Year1||Benefits|
|Club Member||0-9||Complimentary Wi-Fi and late checkout 2PM|
|Silver||10||Club member benefits + 20% more points earn rate|
|Gold||20 or 40K points||Silver member benefits + 40% more points earn rate and rollover nights for next year’s status|
|Platinum||40 or 60K points||Gold benefits + 60% more points earn rate, reward night discounts, complimentary upgrades when available, early check-in when available and welcome amenity (points or drinks/snack)|
|Diamond||70 or 120K points||Platinum benefits + 100% more points earn rate, and free breakfast, points or snack|
Note 1: You can also earn milestone rewards based on nights earned per year.
No Status? Become A Member
Regardless of which hotel chain you frequent, you should sign up with all the major hotel loyalty programs. There are no minimum nights or spend required to become a member.
While the member benefits are very minimal and basic, they’re still better than nothing. As a member, you get complimentary Wi-Fi and earn points for cash stays.
What’s more? Hilton and Hyatt reward programs waive resort fees for award stays. In the case of IHG One Rewards, they even give you 2PM late checkout if you request it, but it’s of course subject to availability.
Now what if you value benefits like complimentary breakfast, lounge access and suite upgrades? For those, you will have to earn elite status. This typically involves spending a considerable number of nights at any of these hotel chains to earn meaningful status. Just have a look at the tables above to get an idea of the nights required for each of the hotel loyalty programs.
For example, with the World of Hyatt program, the most valuable elite status tier is Globalist. The catch? You have to stay 60 nights or manage to earn 100,000 base points by putting a significant amount of spend at WoH properties.
Earning top tier status may be easy if you’re a digital nomad, road warrior or simply stay at hotels very frequently. But what if you don’t? Is there an easier way to earn higher tier status?
Hotel Co-branded Credit Cards in Canada
The cheapest and easiest way is via credit cards. There is one Canadian credit card issuer that offers a hotel co-branded credit card that can help you towards earning higher elite status. This is American Express Canada.
They offer the American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card and the American Express Marriott Bonvoy Business credit card. By holding either of these two cards, you earn 15 elite nights each year. This means you’ll automatically have Silver elite status.
Sure, having Silver status with Marriott Bonvoy isn’t exciting. However, by getting 15 elite nights via credit card, you reduce the number of elite nights you need to earn Platinum elite status. You will only need to earn 35 nights as opposed to 50 nights if you didn’t hold a Canadian Amex Marriott Bonvoy credit card.
Unfortunately, you cannot stack the elite nights by holding both the personal and business Marriott Bonvoy cards. This is unlike the US credit cards. That’s right! If you hold both the personal and business versions of the US Marriott Bonvoy credit cards you can stack ’em.
Other Canadian Hotel Co-Branded Credit Cards
Which other credit card issuers offer hotel co-branded credit cards in Canada you ask?
None. Nadda. Only American Express and only for the Marriott Bonvoy hotel loyalty program.
Hilton, Hyatt and IHG are non-existent. It’s scandalous! Ultimately, you have to put in more effort to get hotel elite status in Canada. Pretty awful, eh?
Going Back in Time – A Recent Canadian Credit Cards History
Before the birth of the dreaded Bonvoy, there used to be an MBNA Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) credit card issued by MBNA. Then MBNA and SPG parted ways and American Express Canada become the new issuer. Amex offered both personal and business versions of the SPG credit cards.
At one point, Chase was even in the Canadian credit card market. They offered a Marriott Rewards Visa credit card that came with automatic Silver status by holding this card. This all tragically came to an end in early 2018. This is when Chase Marriott Visa cardholders received letters notifying them of Chase’s exit of the Canadian market.
Thankfully, when Marriott decided to acquire SPG, the Canadian American Express converted the SPG co-branded credit cards to Marriott Bonvoy instead of discontinuing them altogether. Phew!
Then there’s Capital One. For a short period of time, they offered two IHG Rewards co-branded credit cards in Canada.
They used to offer the Capital One IHG Rewards Club Mastercard. This card came with Platinum elite status for life by simply holding this card and it came at a cost of $120 annual fee. I actually held this card once just before they discontinued it and earned 60,000 IHG points.
They also offered a no fee version, the Capital One IHG Rewards Club Platinum Mastercard, which came with Gold elite status. Sadly, Capital One decided to discontinue both of these cards in 2015.
Even MBNA, which used to offer the Best Western Rewards Mastercard discontinued this card suddenly in October 2022.
May they all rest in hotel loyalty peace.
What about Hilton Honors and World of Hyatt co-branded credit cards?
They never existed in Canada, but we can only hope that one day this will change!
Canadian Amex offers a premium charge card that provides a benefit of obtaining hotel status. The American Express Platinum card offers Gold status for the following hotel loyalty programs:
- Hilton Honors
- Marriott Bonvoy
- Radisson Rewards
This is the easiest way to attain mid-tier hotel elite status with a few hotel programs in Canada.
The most lucrative of the three is the Hilton Gold status since you receive complimentary continental breakfast for two, at least outside of the US. In some cases, the hotel may grant you full breakfast or in-room service if it’s a brand amenity.
If you’re staying at Hilton property in the US, you now get a food and beverage credit that you can apply towards the cost of your breakfast or other meals you have at the hotel. The credit amount varies by hotel brand and by certain locations in the US including Hawaii. This was a devaluation temporarily introduced in 2021 and then recently become permanent for US properties.
Even with Hilton’s dilution of this breakfast benefit in the US, it’s still better than Marriott Bonvoy which doesn’t offer complimentary breakfast if you hold Gold elite status.
Note that even though you get Gold status, you won’t be awarded any elite nights by holding this credit card. This means if you want to aim for Platinum status with Marriott Bonvoy or Diamond Status with Hilton, you’ll be starting from scratch.
The Land of Credit Card Utopia
If you hold a Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Identification Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), along with a US address, then you have the possibility of accessing US credit cards. Why US credit cards? Well, the choices are endless.
Looking just at hotel co-branded credit cards, Chase and US American Express have five credit cards combined that earn Marriott Bonvoy points. This doesn’t include upgrading to the Ritz Carleton card that Chase offers or downgrading to the no fee Marriott Bonvoy card that American Express offers.
While the US has many rules around welcome bonuses, you just need to pay attention to their terms and conditions. This way you know when to time your application to qualify for the bonuses offered by Chase and American Express for their Marriott Bonvoy co-branded credit cards.
If you hold the American Express Marriott Bonvoy Business credit card, you automatically get 15 elite nights. If you also hold a personal card, such as the premium American Express Bonvoy Brilliant credit card, you get 25 elite nights. Combined, you will have 40 elite nights to start the year!
If you have this combo, this means you’re only 10 nights short of earning Platinum elite status or 35 nights if you want to aim for Titanium elite status. The Bonvoy Brilliant card also automatically grants you Platinum status just by holding this card.
For Hilton, American Express has three personal credit cards and one business card. If you hold the premium version of the card, the American Express Aspire credit card, you automatically have Diamond status, which is the highest tier. This card arguably offers the most value out of all the hotel co-branded credit cards in the market in my humble opinion.
For IHG, Chase has two personal cards and one business card. If you hold either the IHG Premier credit card or the IHG Premier Business credit card, you will have Platinum status.
Now Platinum status with IHG One Rewards isn’t like Marriott Bonvoy’s Platinum status. This IHG status tier does not offer complimentary breakfast. It does however come with a few perks, such as room upgrade, early check-in, higher points earning on cash stays and a welcome amenity choice of points or drinks/snack.
If you want breakfast, you will need to aim for Diamond status. The Chase IHG co-branded credit cards do not offer elite nights to help you towards status.
For World of Hyatt, Chase has one personal card and a business version that they introduced in 2022. The World of Hyatt credit card comes with Discoverist status. You also earn 5 elite nights towards next tier status each year by holding this card and an additional 2 elite nights every time you spend $5,000 on this card.
Similarly, the Chase World of Hyatt Business credit card grants you Discoverist status by holding this card. The difference with this card compared to the personal version is that you can rack up elite nights at a slightly faster rate. You earn 5 elite nights each time you spend $10,000 on this card.
In a nutshell, the Chase Hyatt cards offer low tier status. Yet, you can score higher status by putting significant spend on the Hyatt co-branded credit cards.
Credit cards aside, hotel loyalty programs will run various promotions, such as earning double elite nights for each night’s stay. This will supercharge the number of elite nights you earn if you take a vacation or staycation during a double elite nights promotional period.
For example, let’s say you go on vacation for one week and stay at a Marriott Bonvoy hotel, this will earn you 14 nights instead of 7 nights. At the time of writing this post, Marriott Bonvoy is currently running a double elite nights promotion, which Anshul wrote about recently.
Another way that can help you in reaching status or earning a higher status tier is by doing mattress runs. This basically means you book hotels that are cheap in cash or points just to earn the elite nights you need to reach the next status tier.
This strategy may be useful if say you’re short a few nights of reaching a meaningful status tier. For example, if you already earned your way to Marriott Platinum status and your short just 3 nights to reach Titanium status, it makes sense to do a mattress run if you can find a category 1 hotel that costs 5,000 points.
The total cost of 15,000 points for 3 nights will help you earn Titanium status that comes with a Free Night Award certificate worth 40,000 points if you select this as a benefit. There are other perks that come with Titanium status, such as getting Silver status with United Airlines.
Mattress runs are more beneficial if there’s a double elite night promo to help reduce your costs. Of course, you will have to do the math to see if doing a mattress run is worth it to earn higher tier status.
Status Match or Challenge
Another possible way of attaining hotel elite status is by doing a status match. Typically, this works when you already have hotel status with one hotel program and then use this to ask for a status match with a different hotel program.
Usually, if the hotel program agrees to offer a status match it will be temporary and they’ll likely have conditions where you have to stay a certain number of nights in a short period of time to continue with this status.
Although, this is not always the case. For example, years ago, I was able to use my Marriott Bonvoy status to get Diamond status with Best Western. It’s nothing special, but it was a very simple process and I didn’t have to stay at a BW to have this high tier status.
Another example is if you have Hyatt status, you can use it to match to MGM status and vice versa.
So is earning hotel elite status hard in Canada?
I would say it is for the average Canadian traveller. Especially when you compare the Canadian credit card market to the US one for hotel co-branded credit cards. Our neighbours to the South have it really easy!
If you don’t have access or interest in US credit cards, I would say the easiest way is to get the American Express Platinum charge card to get Hilton Gold status.
The Platinum card does come with a substantial annual fee. However, if you can get value out of it by taking advantage of the other perks as well, such as airport lounge access, then it could be worth considering.
Do you have hotel elite status?
If you want to share you how you earned your hotel elite status or have any questions on status, please drop it in the comments below.