If you’ve ever had to spend the day at a coffee shop with Wi-Fi because your hotel’s official check-in time isn’t until 3 p.m., or had to spend a few extra hours at the airport because you were booted from your room at 11 a.m., you know how valuable early check-in and late check-out can be.
Elite status with various hotel chains often includes check-in/out perks. But if you aren’t able to complete the number of stays necessary to earn elite status, you might consider a credit card that gives you it automatically.
As with many benefits, though, there’s plenty of fine print associated with early check-in and late check-out perks. Here are some stipulations to look out for followed by a chart that summarizes which cards can let you check in earlier — and let you sleep in on check-out day.
Check-in benefits are rare
Some hotel-affiliated cards give you access to an expedited check-in line in the lobby. Others go a step further and allow you to check in before the hotel’s standard check-in time. Early check-in is rare, however, and no hotel chain or affiliated card guarantees the ability to use this perk. That makes sense, as there’s no guarantee the previous guest will vacate your room before you arrive – especially if they’re availing themselves of any late check-out perks they have.
Late check-out is more common – but terms are often vague
You’ll notice the terms and conditions for cards and chains providing late check-out are almost always vague — many mentions of “upon request,” and very few concrete mentions of just how late you can stay. In general, you have to notify the front desk of your departure plans and hope for the best. You might request 4 p.m. check-out only to have the property give a counter offer of 1 p.m.
If you want to get into which properties are most likely to grant you late check-out and exactly how much longer they’ll let you occupy the room, comb through the lengthy discussions on FlyerTalk.
Late check-out is rarely guaranteed – and will cost you
Most hotels and cards that advertise late check-out won’t guarantee it. After all, if the hotel is booked solid, the property can’t overburden its housekeeping staff by letting you occupy the room longer.
If guaranteed late check-out is a must for you, the only plastic that will give it to you is the Platinum card (personal and business version) from American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner). However, you must also book within AmEx’s Fine Hotels & Resorts portfolio. That means you’re paying $450 per year for the card plus however much it costs to stay at a property in AmEx’s portfolio (which includes some of the most luxurious properties in the world).
It’s not a make-or-break benefit
Check-in/out perks are nice to have, but are far less important than the return on spending the card gives you and perks that have a calculable monetary value (such as free nights). If you frequently fly into your destination late in the evening and depart early in the morning, early check-in and late check-out probably won’t be that important to you anyway. So, rather than factoring them in to your application decision, they’re perks to be aware of so you don’t miss out once you have the card.
|Cards that offer early check-in / late check-out benefits|
|Hotel chain||The card you’ll need for check-in/out benefits||Automatic status granted with card||Check-in benefits||Late check-out benefits||Late check-out guaranteed?|
|IHG||IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card ($49 annual fee)||Platinum Elite||Priority check-in lane||“Extended” check-out. Time depends on property.||No, subject to availability. Not available in all regions.|
|Marriott||($85 annual fee)||Silver Elite||N/A||“Priority” late checkout. Notify front desk of your planned departure time, and they’ll try to accommodate you.||No, subject to availability.|
|Hilton||Hilton HHonors Visa Signature, Hilton HHonors card from American Express (no annual fee)||Silver Elite||N/A||Late check-out. Schedule with front desk.||No, subject to availability.|
|Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card ($95 annual fee, no longer available on CreditCardForum); Hilton Honors Surpass card from American Express ($75 annual fee, no longer available on CreditCardForum.com)||Gold Elite|
|American Express Platinum card||Gold Elite|
|Choice Hotels||No card required – check in/out benefits granted to all Choice Privileges members||Elite Gold Status (again, not required for check-in/out benefits)||Express check-in||As late as 2 p.m. Request with hotel before posted check-out time passes.||No, subject to availability|
|Starwood||American Express Platinum Card and Business Platinum||Gold Preferred Guest. You must request enrollment via your Platinum card.||N/A||4 p.m. late check-out||No, subject to availability|
|Hotels in American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts portfolio||American Express Platinum Card and Business Platinum. Must book with Fine Hotels & Resorts program.||N/A||Early noon check-in, when available||4 p.m. late check-out||YES|
|Hotels in Visa’s Luxury Hotel Collection||Eligible Visa cards (Visa Signature, Signature Preferred, Signature Business). Must book via Visa’s travel program.||N/A||N/A||3 p.m. late check-out||No, subject to availability|
|Hotels in MasterCard’s Luxury Hotels and Resorts portfolio||World Elite MasterCard. Must book with MasterCard’s travel service.||N/A||Early check-in, when available||Late check-out||No, subject to availability.|
|Chase Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection||MileagePlus Club card ($95 annual fee), MileagePlus Club card ($450 annual fee)||N/A||Early check-in, when available, at select properties||Late check-out at select properties||No, subject to availability|
|Ritz-Carlton||Ritz-Carlton Rewards credit card||Gold Elite||N/A||Priority late check-out. Contact front desk with desired departure time.||No, subject to availability|