The top five credit cards for hotel perks and privileges

By Chris C., April 4 2016
The top five credit cards for hotel perks and privileges

Many credit cards offer predictable perks like travel insurance and airport lounge access, but a select few also make sure you’re taken care of after your flight through great hotel benefits like free room upgrades and breakfast for every day of your stay.

Some cards achieve this by unlocking elite status in the various hotel loyalty programs, others provide similar perks when booking via the bank’s concierge service, and the best combine both benefits for a well-rounded ream of extras.

Whichever your pick or preferred hotel chain, here are the top five Australian credit cards for hotel perks and privileges that frequent travellers can use to improve their journeys or slash their travel costs by taking advantage of those included freebies.

American Express Platinum Charge Card

With the American Express Platinum Charge Card, there’s no need to spend time in hotels before you begin unlocking useful benefits: instead, you’re boosted instantly to Hilton HHonors Gold, Starwood Preferred Guest Gold, Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade and Club Carlson Gold Elite status before you’ve even left home, in return for the card’s $1,200 annual fee.

That means you can enjoy complimentary room upgrades and welcome amenities with Starwood, free breakfast and guaranteed room availability with Shangri-La and priority assistance and bonus points with Club Carlson right from the get-go.

You’ll also pocket a $300 Platinum Travel Credit every year which can go towards hotel stays booked via the AMEX website, and have access to the Fine Hotels and Resorts program, promising free breakfast, guaranteed 4pm late check-outs and free WiFi at some of the world’s most luxurious hotels.

Among them, the Park Hyatt Sydney, Crown Towers Melbourne, the Pudong Shangri-La in East Shanghai and The Ritz-Carlton in Hong Kong, with early check-ins and room upgrades also offered where available, along with an extra ‘special amenity’ that varies between hotels.

Citi Prestige Visa Infinite

Citi Prestige cardholders have more flexibility to book and stay exactly where they desire with one free hotel night included each year at any hotel or resort in the world – provided you book via Citibank’s concierge desk and are staying for four nights or more, including the free night.

Further, you’ll also enjoy a free night each year at one of Citibank’s web of four- and five-star partner hotels, and can be fast-tracked to Hilton HHonors Gold status after just four nights or two stays with hotels like Hilton, Conrad, Waldorf Astoria and DoubleTree by Hilton.

Rounding out the $700/year card are free room upgrades, daily breakfast for two and a late check-out at Starwood, Ritz-Carlton and Mandarin Oriental hotels, subject to availability when booked via the Citibank concierge team.

Hilton HHonors Macquarie Platinum Visa

Keeping things simple, the $295/year Hilton HHonors Macquarie Platinum Visa promises instant HHonors Gold status, which you’ll retain automatically for as long as you keep the card open.

What’s more, spending at least $40,000/year on the card sees you bumped up to Hilton HHonors Diamond status, and if you continue to spend above this amount you’ll never drop below Diamond – even if you stay with Hilton but several times a year.

Sweetening the deal is a free weekend night every year when spending at least $12,000 on the card (just $1,000 per month), plus a bonus weekend stay for new cardholders who spend $2,000 within the first three months.

HSBC Premier World MasterCard

A raft of Australian World MasterCards unlock free SPG Gold status after just one night, and the HSBC Premier World MasterCard is no exception.

Setting it ahead of the pack, you’ll pay no annual fee whatsoever and by registering for the Starwood fast-track promotion, need only spend one night in a Starwood hotel like Westin, W, Sheraton or Four Points in the Asia Pacific region (including Australia) to enjoy SPG Gold for a year.

Just call HSBC’s concierge desk to obtain your unique ‘bank promotion code’ for the offer, head to the Starwood website to register your details and pay for your stay with the HSBC World MasterCard.

Emirates Citi World MasterCard

Also boasting the same SPG Gold fast-track as with HSBC is the Emirates Citi World MasterCard

… yours for $149 in the first year and $299 thereafter: more expensive than HSBC for the same perk, but with other features like free airport lounge access and chauffeured airport transfers that might help balance the equation.

Also among the roster of World MasterCards in Australia are the Commonwealth Bank Diamond Awards, Diners Club + World MasterCard and Westpac Altitude Black duos, but which all come with higher first-year annual fees than the two we’ve included.

Also read: Hilton HHonors offers Silver, Gold, Diamond status match

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Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

29 Jan 2011

Total posts 157

The $200 American Express Platinum travel credit has now been increased to $300 for renewals After May.                          

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 478

Correct cssaus, but offset by the loss of Accor from the program - which for me is annoying as I use them extensively in NZ and Sydney!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Jul 2013

Total posts 11

Loss of Accor is the straw that broke the camel's back for me... Amex Platinum getting canned prior to next renewal. Hilton has far less value in Australia due to the tiny number of hotels, whereas Accor has multiple hotels in every city as well as regionals. 


04 Apr 2016

Total posts 2

Hi Chris do you know if the Hilton HHonours Maquarie Platinum Visa will award points for ATO payments ?

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2453

Hi csm, as this article did not address earning points or ATO payments, various regulations prevent us from providing what is deemed personal financial advice to readers beyond that published as general factual information in editorial.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 478


The AMEX Platinum charge card now includes Hilton Honours Gold Elite status. Per the comment below AMEX have added Hilton to the list of hotel perks but removed Accor...

Per the email Hilton sent me after registering:

  • Earn a 25% bonus on HHonors Base Points on all stays
  • Space-available room upgrades
  • Continental breakfast at select brands
  • Complimentary In-Room Internet access

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2453

Hi Mark, thanks for sharing – what you've posted doesn't reflect what appears on the American Express website, so we've sent off an enquiry to check this.

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2453

Hi again Mark, AMEX has confirmed the addition of Hilton HHonors Gold benefits on the Platinum Charge Card and also the $300 travel credit (effective from April 15 2016), so these have been updated in the article and will be updated on the AMEX site. Good catch!


06 Apr 2016

Total posts 1

Great article although I have comments about Hilton Honours Macquarie Visa.

When I started with this card I received HHonour Gold but now 1 year into using it I checked into the KL Sentral Hilton last night to be told I am now Silver. The local hotel say I'm demoted because of insufficient stays and they don't understand the HH MacQuarie Visa program. I have tried to contact HHonours but there automated call centre gets into a loop asking for the Hhonour number and 5 digit zip code (?) and then hangs up on you. 

Emails to MacQuarie Visa aren't answered after 24 hours. So I am voting with my feet on both the Card and Hilton. Also the $40,000 spend upgrade to Diamond seems to be a promise that isn't delivered.

I'll look at the cards you suggest but will need to ensure they have a human you can talk to when things go pear-shaped.

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2453

Hi Charles, I'd suggest calling rather than sending an email as many companies can take a week or two to reply.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

09 Dec 2015

Total posts 9

I was notified of the changes to the American Express Platinum Charge Card program last week and like markpk, I am also very annoyed at the loss of Accor platinum.

he extra $100 travel credit and the inclusion of HH gold does not cut it for me. I already have HH diamond....enough said.

I will probably retire later this year and will not renew my AMEX Platinum Charge Card; I was going to keep it for the Accor platinum benefit, travel credit, great travel insurance; but I will not have the spend now so will part ways after 20 happy years of membership.


08 Apr 2016

Total posts 2

Having recently just lost SPG Gold, I raced to HSBC to sign up for the $0 World card.

Turns out it is a package product product that requires you to have a Premier account with either $200k cash in it or a $500k mortgage with HSBC...not so free after all

It becomes a perk that you are actually paying for.

Will give Citi a go now with their annual fee and see if that is all that is required.

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