How to Get a Hotel Room Upgrade

How to Get a Hotel Room Upgrade

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Do you love that feeling of walking into your hotel room to find a wall-sized window with a breathtaking view of the city skyline — or, depending on your destination, magnificent mountains or crashing ocean waves? A room with a view is just one of the benefits you can get when you learn how to score a hotel room upgrade.

Staying in a better hotel room with special perks can turn a normal trip into a luxury getaway that makes you feel like a VIP. A room upgrade can take you from a basic king or queen to a corner room or one on a higher floor. Or, if you snag the ultimate in upgrades, you may even get a suite with a cozy, stylish living area for hanging out and a separate sleeping area for privacy.

There are many different ways to get a free hotel room upgrade, and methods vary by hotel and brand. This guide will give you an overview and some hotel room upgrade secrets that can get you into a better room even if you’re not a seasoned traveler.

The basics: Getting free hotel upgrades

Getting hotel upgrades can sometimes be a matter of luck. You may get an upgrade because the type of room you booked is unavailable or there’s an issue with your room and the hotel staff want to go out of their way to make things right.

If you don’t luck into an upgrade, you may be able to sweet talk your way into one. You may have a better chance of getting an upgrade if you are staying at the hotel for a special occasion like a milestone birthday or anniversary and you call ahead to ask. Of course, there are no guarantees. Your success may depend on who you talk to, what their mood is like that day and how nicely you ask.

You may also be much more likely to get an upgrade on a slower day than on a busy one. Hotels sell rooms in rates based on tier levels and generally charge more for a nicer room. While hotels want to satisfy guests, they also want to make money. So, during busier times, corporate headquarters may issue rules restricting upgrades in order to maximize revenue.

A suite at the Park Hyatt in Dubai (image credit: Hyatt)
A suite at the Park Hyatt in Dubai (image credit: Hyatt)

It’s also a good idea to join all the major hotel rewards programs to up your chances of getting an upgrade. As a hotel rewards program member, you are more likely to get upgraded and can even purchase an upgrade using any points you earn from previous stays. The easiest way to get a guaranteed room upgrade is to reach elite status with a hotel rewards program.

This may be easier said than done if you don’t travel frequently. But there’s a workaround: With some hotel brands, you can get elite status and room upgrades by getting a co-branded hotel credit card.

What is a hotel room upgrade?

A hotel room upgrade is a change from a basic or standard room to a room or suite with better amenities or qualities.

For example, many hotels charge significantly more for rooms with views of the city, a park, a lake or an ocean than for rooms with views of random streets or building rooftops. But if you book a basic room, you may be able to get switched to a room with a view at no extra cost when you check in.

Room upgrades vary widely depending on the brand of the hotel in which you are staying and the types of rooms available. Examples of upgrades include getting moved from:

  • A smaller room to a larger room or suite
  • A lower-floor room to a higher-floor room
  • A room with a poor view to a room with a great view
  • A middle-of-the-hall room to a corner room
  • A room with a queen bed to a room with a king bed

If you are a light sleeper, a room upgrade can get you a large corner room away from the elevator and ice machines. If you’re traveling with your family, a room upgrade can move you from a standard room with two queens to a suite that offers a bonus room with an extra TV. Keep in mind that the hotel staff know the hotel best, and many hotel rewards programs give them discretion to decide what constitutes an upgrade. So while you may be dreaming of a spacious suite, you could just end up getting a similar room on a slightly higher floor.

Getting a hotel room upgrade through a loyalty program

Joining and achieving elite status in a hotel rewards program is one of the best ways to snag an upgrade. Hotel programs offer multiple tiers of elite status that you can earn based on how frequently you stay and how much you spend. Most hotel programs require you to reach a middle level of elite status before you get free upgrades as a perk.

Don’t travel enough to earn mid-level elite status? You may be able to get elite status by paying to join a special program with the hotel or by getting and using a co-branded hotel credit card. A few cards automatically grant you a level of elite status that comes with free upgrades while other cards offer status at a lower tier with the opportunity to move to a higher tier when you spend a certain amount per year on the card.

Read on to get an overview of all of the major hotel loyalty programs and details on how you can get upgraded through each one.

A room with a view at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort (image credit: Hilton)
A room with a view at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort (image credit: Hilton)

How to get an upgrade – Hilton

The Hilton Honors program is a rewards program offered by Hilton hotels that includes 10 brands and over 4,000 locations around the world. The Hilton Honors program offers three elite tiers. You need to reach Gold elite status — the mid-level tier — to begin getting free upgrades.

When you join the Hilton Honors rewards program, you become a non-elite member and you get the following benefits:

  • A member discount
  • Earn 10 points per stay at most Hilton hotels and resorts
  • Earn 5 points per stay at Tru and Home2 hotels
  • No resort fees on reward stays
  • Standard in-room and lobby Wi-Fi
  • Late check-out

Silver is the lowest elite tier of the program, and it does not come with automatic free upgrades. To become a Silver member, you need either four stays, 10 nights or 25,000 Hilton Honors base points per calendar year. As a Silver member, you get the standard member benefits plus:

  • Earn 20% bonus points on qualified stays
  • Fifth night free when booking a stay of five nights or longer using points
  • Two free bottles of water
  • Elite tier rollover nights

Gold is the mid-level elite tier for the program and the first level at which you can begin getting free upgrades. To become a Gold member, you will need either 20 stays, 40 nights or 75,000 Hilton Honors base points in a calendar year. As a Gold member, you will receive all of the lower tier benefits plus:

  • Earn 80% bonus points on qualified stays
  • Space-available room upgrade up to an executive room type
  • Complimentary breakfast

Diamond is the highest elite level of the Hilton Honors rewards program. To become a Diamond member, you will need at least 30 stays, 60 nights or 120,000 Hilton Honors base points in a calendar year. As a Diamond member, you will receive all of the benefits of the lower tiers plus:

  • Earn 100% bonus points on qualified stays
  • Executive lounge access
  • Diamond status extension
  • A 48-hour room guarantee
  • Elite status gifting

As you can see, you will need to earn Gold or Diamond elite status to qualify for free room upgrades with Hilton. If you don’t stay in hotels frequently enough, you can achieve status by getting a credit card (see below).

You can also purchase room upgrades using your rewards points. When available, there are options to book premium rooms using your points rather than just the standard room type. When booking online, the Hilton rewards site shows you which options are available and the number of points required for the stay.

How to get an upgrade – Hyatt

World of Hyatt is the rewards program for Hyatt brand hotels. The World of Hyatt program offers three elite levels, all of which can get you free upgrades.

Member is the standard non-elite level of the World of Hyatt membership, and perks include:

  • Up to a 10% discount at participating hotels
  • Earn elite qualifying points at participating restaurants and spas
  • Free internet
  • Complimentary breakfast at participating hotels
  • Use points for free nights with no blackout dates
  • Free night after staying at five different Hyatt brands
  • A one-category room upgrade, based on availability

Discoverist is the first level of elite status for the World of Hyatt rewards program. To reach Discoverist level, you will need to stay 20 qualifying nights, earn 35,000 base points or hold three qualifying meetings or events in a calendar year. In addition to the benefits of the standard member level, you get:

  • Earn 10% bonus points on qualifying purchases
  • One free bottle of water daily
  • Late checkout at 2 p.m. when available
  • Free premium internet where available
  • Two club lounge access awards
  • Expedited check-in at special elite members area
  • Get a preferred room at check-in when available

Explorist is the mid-level tier for elite membership. To become an Explorist, you will need to stay a minimum of 30 qualifying nights, earn 50,000 base points or hold 10 qualifying meetings or events in a calendar year. In addition to the benefits of the lower tiers, you get these perks:

  • Earn 20% bonus points on qualifying purchases
  • Get upgraded rooms on qualifying nights

Globalist is the highest level of elite membership. To make it to Globalist status, you will have to stay 60 qualifying nights, earn 100,000 base points or hold 20 qualifying meetings or events in a calendar year. You get all of the perks of the lower tiers along with these benefits:

  • Earn 30% bonus points on qualifying purchases
  • Room upgrades, up to standard suites
  • Club lounge access, including breakfast
  • Late checkout at 4 p.m. when available

One of the nice things about the World of Hyatt program is that elite members of all levels can get free upgrades when rooms are available. The higher your membership level, the nicer the upgrade.

With World of Hyatt, you can use points to upgrade your room in one of two ways. You can book a suite or premium suite at a higher cost when using your rewards points for a free night. Standard rooms cost at least 5,000 points while standard suites cost at least 8,000 points at booking. A premium suite will cost you at least 10,000 points. Not booking your free reward night room but still want an upgrade? No problem. You can also purchase upgrades at Hyatt hotels with points for paid nights:

Regency Club or Grand Club upgrade3,000 points per night
Suite upgrade6,000 points per night
Premium suite upgrade9,000 points per night

How to get an upgrade – IHG

IHG brand hotels offers the IHG Rewards Club loyalty program and has 5,200 locations in more than 100 countries. The program has three elite status tiers. You need to reach the middle-level tier of IHG elite status, Platinum elite status, to begin getting free upgrades. If you don’t want to wait, you can pay $200 a year to buy into the InterContinental Ambassador program, which comes with automatic Platinum status and a one-category room upgrade.

You automatically become a non-elite Club level member when you join the program, and you get the following benefits:

  • Earn 10 points per $1 spent at most hotels, and 5 points per $1 spent at extended stay properties
  • Exclusive rates for members
  • Complimentary internet
  • Custom stay preferences
  • A $30 in-room spa credit, at participating locations
  • No blackout dates for reward nights
  • Earn points with IHG Rewards Club Dining, OpenTable and Grubhub

Gold is the lowest elite tier in the IHG rewards program. To reach this level, you will need to stay 10 qualifying nights or earn 10,000 qualifying points. In addition to all of the benefits of Club level, you get the following benefits:

  • Earn 10% bonus points on top of base points
  • Points don’t expire
  • Late checkout
  • Priority check-in
  • Welcome amenity/ raid the bar at Kimpton Hotels

Platinum Elite is the middle tier of elite status, and it requires a minimum of 40 qualifying night stays or 40,000 qualifying points. In addition to all of the benefits of lower tiers, you get:

  • A 50% bonus on points (instead of 10%)
  • Complimentary room upgrades
  • Guaranteed room availability for reservations made at least 72 hours in advance for one room only when available
  • Elite rollover nights, meaning you can roll unused points into the next calendar year

Spire Elite is the highest tier of elite status, and it requires a minimum of 75 qualifying nights in an IHG hotel or 75,000 qualifying points. In addition to all of the benefits of lower tiers, Spire offers:

  • A 100% bonus earning on points (instead of 50%)
  • Extended check-out, when available
  • Check-in as early as 10 a.m. when you request it
  • Inner Circle amenity at Kimpton Hotels

InterContinental Ambassador is a special program that you can buy into for $200 per year. You get Platinum Elite status in the IHG rewards club plus:

  • A guaranteed one-category room upgrade
  • Late 4 p.m. check-out
  • Free weekend night when you pay for one weekend night
  • Welcome fruit platter
  • Restaurant and bar credit of up to $20 per stay
  • Complimentary mineral water

With the IHG loyalty program, you won’t qualify for a room upgrade until you reach Platinum Elite status. When booking rewards nights with points, you can choose upgraded rooms but they will cost you more points. With IHG, room upgrades may include: rooms on higher floors, corner rooms, newly renovated rooms and rooms with preferred views. The more luxurious the hotel and the nicer the room, the more it will cost you in points.

How to get an upgrade – Marriott

The Marriott Bonvoy rewards program offers guests the opportunity to earn points by staying at one of the nearly 7,000 Marriott properties across the world. There are five elite membership tiers. You need to reach the third elite Marriott Bonvoy tier, Platinum Elite, in order to start getting free room upgrades.

Simply sign up for the program to become a non-elite member. Benefits include:

  • Free in-room internet
  • Exclusive member rates
  • Access to mobile key entry
  • No blackout dates when booking reward nights

Silver Elite is the lowest elite level membership tier. To reach this status, you will need to stay 10 nights in a calendar year. On top of standard member benefits, this level includes:

  • Earn 10% bonus points on stays
  • Priority late checkout when available
  • Access to the Elite reservation line
  • Ultimate reservation guarantee: If there isn’t a room available, they will pay for you to stay in a room nearby

Gold Elite is the lower middle level of elite status, and you will need to stay a minimum of 25 nights in a calendar year to reach this status. It provides all of the benefits of lower tiers plus:

  • Earn 25% bonus points on stays (rather than 10%)
  • Free room upgrade, when available, for your room only
  • Late checkout at 2 p.m.
  • Welcome gift of 250 to 500 bonus points

Platinum Elite is the higher middle level of elite status and requires a minimum of 50 nights in a calendar year. You get all the benefits of lower tiers plus:

  • Earn 50% bonus points on stays (rather than 25%)
  • Free room upgrade including suites, when available, for your room only
  • Welcome gift choice of points, breakfast or amenity, based on brand
  • Lounge access
  • Late checkout at 4 p.m.

Titanium Elite is the upper level elite status and requires a minimum of 75 nights in a calendar year. It offers all of the benefits of the lower levels plus:

  • Earn 75% bonus points on stays
  • Free room upgrade, including suites, when available, for your room only
  • Room guarantee when you book your room by 3:00 p.m., 48 hours in advance
  • Complimentary United MileagePlus Premier Silver Status

Ambassador Elite is the highest level elite status tier and requires a minimum of 100 nights in a calendar year plus $20,000 annual qualifying spending. In addition to all of the benefits offered by the lower level tiers, you will also receive the following benefits:

  • Personal assistance with your stays
  • The flexibility to choose your 24-hour check-in and checkout times with Your24
  • Earn 75% bonus points (rather than 50%)
King corner room with a view of the Washington Monument at the Washington, D.C. JW Marriott Hotel (photo credit: Marriott)
King corner room with a view of the Washington Monument at the Washington, D.C. JW Marriott Hotel (photo credit: Marriott)

With Marriott Bonvoy, you will not become eligible for automatic room upgrades until you reach Gold Elite status. You can get a higher level room upgrade when booking using a cash copay, an option that allows you to pay for a room upgrade when you are booking a reward night using points. If you have enough extra points and don’t want to pay cash, you can book a better room by redeeming more points when you make your reservation. The number of points will vary by hotel and room type.

Getting hotel room upgrades with credit cards

Getting a co-branded credit card can get you to elite status quickly and may even automatically grant you a high enough status to begin getting free upgrades immediately. Another plus is that hotel credit cards often come with welcome bonuses. If you want more flexibility than a co-branded card offers, you can also transfer points into hotel programs from transferable credit card programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards. You can then use your points to get upgrades.

Here are a few of the best credit cards listed on our site for hotel upgrades:

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Want the best Hilton credit card for upgrades based on our analysis? The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has an annual fee of $450 but grants you automatic Diamond status, the highest tier. That means you immediately start getting free upgrades. The card also offers these benefits:

  • 7 points per $1 spent on flights booked directly with airlines or AmexTravel.com, at U.S. restaurants, or on cars booked directly with select car rental companies
  • 3 points per $1 spent spent on all other purchases
  • One weekend night reward per year plus another when you spend $60,000 on the card in a year
  • $250 Hilton Resort statement credit
  • Terms apply.

Hilton Honors American Express Card

$0

15.74%-24.74% Variable

Good/Excellent

  • Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Honors portfolio of brands.
  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with your Card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
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If you don’t want to shell out a large annual fee, the Hilton Honors American Express Card has a $0 annual fee and gives you free Silver status elite membership and the opportunity to earn Gold status, which comes with free hotel room upgrades, through annual spending on the card. The card also offers these perks:

  • Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in eligible purchases on your Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • 7 points per $1 spent on eligible purchases at participating hotels
  • 5 points per $1 spent at restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations
  • 3 points per $1 spent spent on all other purchases
  • Lowest hotel rate guarantee when you book through AmexTravel.com or Amex will refund you the difference
  • Terms apply.

The World Of Hyatt Credit Card

The World Of Hyatt Credit Card

  • On Chase's Secure Website

$95

15.99% - 22.99% Variable

Excellent

  • Earn 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend $6,000 total within 6 months of account opening.
  • Free nights start at 5,000 points
  • Receive 1 free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort after your Cardmember anniversary
  • Earn an extra free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel if you spend $15,000 during your cardmember anniversary year
  • Get automatic World of Hyatt Elite status and 5 qualifying night credits every year as long as your account is open
  • Earn 2 qualifying night credits towards tier status everytime you spend $5,000 on your card
  • Earn 9 points total for Hyatt stays - 4 Bonus Points per $1 spent at Hyatt hotels & 5 Base Points per $1 you can earn as a World of Hyatt member
  • Earn 2 Bonus Points per $1 spent at restaurants, on airlines tickets purchased directly from the airlines, on local transit and commuting and on fitness club and gym memberships
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The World Of Hyatt Credit Card has a $95 annual fee and gives you automatic elite status at the lowest tier, which comes with free hotel room upgrades. World of Hyatt is one of the only hotel programs to give upgrades at all tiers of elite status. The card also offers these perks:

  • Earn up to 50,000 Bonus Points - 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus an additional 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend a total of $6,000 on purchases within the first 6 months of account opening.
  • 9 base points + 4 bonus points per $1 spent on qualifying stays at Hyatt properties
  • 2 points per $1 spent commuting, at restaurants and coffee shops, on airline tickets and on fitness club or gym memberships
  • 1 point earned per $1 on all other purchases
  • 1 free night every year on your membership anniversary
  • 1 additional free night when you spend $15,000 during your anniversary year
  • 5 qualifying night credits each year toward your next tier status
  • Plus 2 additional night credits when you spend $5,000 on your card
  • Save 20% on points purchases

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card has an $89 annual fee and gives you automatic Platinum Elite status, which comes with free room upgrades, as soon as you get the card. The card also offers these perks:

  • Earn 125,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
  • 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
  • 2 points per $1 spent at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Receive 10,000 bonus points each anniversary year during which you spent $20,000
  • Fourth reward night free
  • Save 20% on points purchases
  • Get a free night every year after account anniversary
  • Complimentary upgrades
  • Elite rollover nights

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card has a $450 annual fee and grants you automatic Gold elite and the ability to get Platinum elite status, which comes with free upgrades, by spending at least $75,000 a year on the card. The card also offers these perks:

  • Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of account opening.
  • 6 points per $1 spent for qualifying stays at Marriott hotels
  • 3 points per $1 spent directly with airlines and at U.S. restaurants
  • 2 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • $300 annual statement credit for eligible purchases at Marriott Bonvoy hotels

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • On Chase's Secure Website

$95

15.99% - 22.99% Variable

Excellent

  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
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The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has a $95 annual fee and the following sign-up bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. You can easily turn these points into room upgrades at many hotels. The card also offers these perks:

  • 25 points earned per $1 spent for qualifying stays at IHG
  • 2 points earned per $1 spent on travel and dining
  • 25% more in travel redemption when you redeem through the Chase rewards site for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit of $100 every 4 years as reimbursement
  • 1:1 points transfer to IHG Rewards Club, Marriott Bonvoy and World of Hyatt

American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

$250

See Rates & Fees

Excellent/Good

  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
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The American Express® Gold Card has a $250 annual fee and also offers the following sign-up bonus: Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months. You can use these bonus points to get room upgrades at a variety of hotels. The card also offers these perks:

  • 4 points per $1 spent at participating restaurants and when you shop at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 annually)
  • 3 points per $1 spent when you book directly with airlines or on amextravel.com
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • $120 dining credit (up to $10 monthly applied as a statement credit)
  • $100 airline credit (applied as a statement credit for incidental fees charged to your card, up to $100 per calendar year)
  • $100 hotel credit on qualifying charges, plus a room upgrade
  • Payment flexibility allows you to carry a balance with interest or pay in full each month
  • Terms apply.

For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here.

Choosing your best hotel credit cards for upgrades

If you’re getting a credit card specifically to get hotel upgrades, you’ll want to consider applying for a card that grants you automatic elite status at a tier high enough to start getting complimentary upgrades immediately. With most hotels, that means you want status at the middle elite tier or higher.

Some cards that grant automatic high-level status also charge hefty annual fees, so you’ll have to weigh the cost against the value of the upgrades, the other perks and your ability to earn status in another less costly way.

You may also want to crunch the numbers on your annual spending and calculate how much you expect to spend on the card. If you spend enough, getting a card that offers a higher level of elite status based on your annual spending could be your most economical path to free upgrades.

Can you tip the front desk staff to get an upgrade?

What if you’re working on elite status but you want upgrades now? Could a tip get you a better room? It’s always helpful to tip the front desk receptionist when you’re seeking special treatment, but it’s best to do it to be nice and not to view it as a scenario where you’re “owed” an upgrade. Tipping may not even be necessary. Simply asking for an upgrade in a friendly manner can go a long way toward getting you elite treatment at a hotel. But keep in mind that hotel staff often are bound by the rules of their supervisors, and an upgrade may not be available.

Hotel upgrade tricks & tips

Now you’ve got the details on all the guaranteed ways to score a complimentary room upgrade at various hotel brands. However, it can take time to become an elite member at a hotel, and you may not travel enough to reach or maintain that status. Even if you don’t have status, here are five tips that may help you snag a free upgrade to a more luxurious room:

  1. Join one or more hotel loyalty programs. Even if you aren’t an elite member, you will be recognized as a reward member and that may be enough to get you upgraded.
  2. Avoid travel sites and book directly with the hotel. Many times hotels cannot modify reservations booked on third-party sites. They can, however, make changes to reservations booked directly.
  3. Ask staff for a hotel room upgrade. Not sure how to ask for a hotel room upgrade? Be friendly, ask politely and directly and definitely mention if you’re celebrating a special occasion.
  4. Let staff know if you have an issue. Don’t make up a problem just to get an upgrade. But if you do find ants marching across your bathroom or notice an odor of fried food or cigarettes, don’t hesitate to go down in person and nicely (and discreetly!) let the front desk staff know what happened.
  5. Plan your stay during the off season. You may be much more likely to get an upgrade to a room with an ocean view in a beach resort town in October, for example, than you are in May.

Becoming an elite member grants you automatic upgrades when you reach a certain level, but just getting a hotel credit card can provide a great shortcut. Otherwise, be nice to the hotel staff and simply ask. Now that you know how to maximize your chances of a hotel room upgrade, you can rest easy knowing you may be enjoying great views or a sweet suite on your next vacation.

The information related to Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card and IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and have not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.

Allie Johnson is a freelance content writer who covers personal finance, small business and travel. She writes about maximizing credit card rewards, jetting around the globe on points and miles and an array of other topics. She earned a degree in magazine journalism from Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).