Many credit cards offer perks like frequent flyer points and airport lounge access, but some cards take care of you after your flight, with benefits such as hotel room upgrades, daily breakfast and complimentary late check-outs on eligible stays.
Some cards achieve that by boosting you to the elite tiers of various hotel loyalty programs, while other cards have VIP arrangements direct with participating hotels that you can take advantage of.
You may also find yourself enjoying a completely free hotel stay each year courtesy of your credit card, or may be able to use points earned from your credit card spend towards your next hotel visit.
Wherever you prefer to stay, here the top five Australian credit cards (and charge cards) for maximising your hotel perks, points and privileges.
1. American Express Platinum Charge Card
For hotel perks and privileges, the AMEX Platinum Charge Card is the complete package, boosting you to elite status in four separate hotel loyalty schemes: unlocking Hilton Honors Gold, Starwood Preferred Guest Gold, Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade and Club Carlson Gold Elite memberships, which offer perks ranging from room upgrades and late check-out through to daily breakfast and complimentary WiFi.
Cardholders also enjoy access to the American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts program – again offering a host of benefits with every booking at high-end hotels across the globe – and receive a $300 Platinum Travel Credit every year which can be applied towards a hotel stay or a flight to get you there.
What's more, points earned via this card can be converted across to Hilton Honors and Starwood Preferred Guest (plus 10 airline programs including Qantas Frequent Flyer, Virgin Australia Velocity and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer), with double points awarded on all hotel, airline and international transactions.
There's an annual fee of $1,200 to pay, although eligible new cardholders who apply and spend at least $1,500 in the first three months will fetch a bonus 80,000 Membership Rewards Ascent Premium points, on-par with 80,000 Hilton Honors, Qantas, Virgin Australia or Singapore Airlines points/miles, or 40,000 Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints.
2. Citi Prestige Visa Infinite credit card
Next in line, Citibank's flagship Citi Prestige Visa Infinite credit card, offering one free hotel night each year at a range of luxury properties, plus one free night every time you book a hotel stay of four nights or more anywhere worldwide via the card's concierge service.
Cardholders are also fast-tracked to Hilton Honors Gold status after just two stays or four nights spent in Hilton hotels worldwide within a 90-day period, after registering for the promotion via the Visa Infinite website.
You'll also fetch triple points on all hotel spend – plus all airline, restaurant and international charges – with Citibank Rewards points convertible into Club Carlson, Hilton Honors and IHG Rewards Club points, along with frequent flyer points in a range of programs including Velocity and KrisFlyer for a $700 annual fee, or you can direct-earn Qantas Points by opting in and paying a higher $749 annual card fee.
3. Hilton Honors Macquarie Platinum Visa
For spenders chasing hotel status alone, the Hilton Honors Macquarie Platinum Visa is a solid choice, providing a Hilton Honors Gold card for as long as you keep this credit card, with an upgrade to Hilton Honors Diamond when spending $40,000 or more on the card each year.
Every Aussie dollar spent at hotels and resorts within the Hilton Portfolio (including Hilton, Conrad, Waldorf Astoria, DoubleTree by Hilton and more) also delivers four Honors points in addition to the points you'd normally earn from the stay, while everywhere else, one dollar spent earns one Hilton Honors point.
Also on offer is a free 'weekend night certificate' to use at a participating hotel of your choice when you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with the first three months of opening your account, plus another certificate every year you spend $12,000 or more on the card.
4. All World Mastercards issued in Australia
If your wallet packs a 'World' Mastercard, you're eligible for a fast-track to Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status after just one stay at a participating hotel within the Asia Pacific region – and once you have SPG Gold, you can link this with your Marriott Rewards account to enjoy instant Marriott Rewards Gold Elite status too.
World Mastercards eligible for this offer include Westpac Altitude Black, Emirates Citibank World, HSBC Premier, Commonwealth Bank Diamond Awards, the Bankwest World and Bankwest Qantas World cards and the Diners Club companion World Mastercard.
Just be aware that not all Starwood hotels are part of this offer, that registration is required before you stay and that you'll need to pay for your full hotel bill using your World Mastercard to qualify.
AusBT's step-by-step guide: How to get SPG Gold, Marriott Gold Elite from just one hotel stay
5. Qantas Frequent Flyer Diners Club Card, regular Diners Club Card
Diners Club cardholders, whether holding the Qantas or Diners Club Rewards cards, have access to the Diners Club Privileges program: extending benefits such as room upgrades, late check-outs, hotel club lounge access and often daily breakfast for two when booking the stay through Diners Club.
Benefits vary between hotels and some also provide a US$100 food and beverage credit per stay as well, including at top hotels like Shangri-La Sydney, the Park Hyatts in Sydney and Melbourne, The Langham hotels in Sydney and Melbourne also, and the InterContinental Sydney, among others.
Diners Club Rewards points earned from spending on the 'non-Qantas' card can also be converted into hotel loyalty points with Club Carlson, Hilton Honors, IHG Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest, but whichever Diners Club card you choose, ask for the optional companion World Mastercard to take advantage of your fast-track to SPG Gold and Marriott Gold Elite as outlined in the section above.