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One of the most popular travel hacks is getting elite status with a major hotel chain without meeting the usual requirements for that status, preferably without actually meeting the usual requirements for top level elite status at ANY hotel chain. The team at InsideFlyer have written frequently about the Hilton HHonors status match. Its most recent iteration was written about by Tom in the summer of 2016.
This version of the status match remains in place, and publicly available through this website. The calendar has ticked over to 2017, however, and this means that any matched status will be valid for the rest of the calendar year, as well as the next. So… 2017 and 2018 in short. And, as this soon-to-be former HHonors Diamond member can attest, your status doesn’t drop on 1 January (assuming you didn’t requalify), but carries through to 31 March.
As a result, if you are granted the status match now and complete the stay requirements, your status should be valid until 31 March, 2019! (even though the website has not been updated to reflect this, Loyalty Lobby is reporting that a reader recently requested the match and was approved through 31 March, 2019)
How it Works
As a reminder of the offer, you need to start out with elite status from one of Hilton‘s competitors. They list the usual suspects, but will definitely consider many other chains such as Best Western or Club Carlson.
In general, HHonors will match the competition’s top level status to HHonors Diamond (i.e. Diamond, Globalist, Spire, Platinum, etc.) If the competing chain has a relevant mid-tier status, such as Marriott Gold, then this can occasionally be matched to HHonors Diamond, but you might only be matched to Gold.
If approved, HHonors members will enjoy their matched status for a period of exactly 90 days. This can be extended until 31 March, 2019 by completing:
- 4 stays for Gold status
- 8 stays for Diamond status
The process of requesting a status challenge is simple. You must fill in the online form with your first name, last name, email address, HHonors account number, and the status you’re hoping to match. You must also upload proof of your competing status, as well as proof of a stay within the past 12 months with that hotel chain.
Apparently people have been caught photo-shopping proofs of competing status and stays, with their HHonors account shut down and any points balance confiscated, so I don’t recommend doing that!
Meeting the Requirements
Eight stays within ninety days is quite ambitious, but is obviously based on the fact that regular Diamond qualification requires 30 stays in a year (so 8/90 is roughly one quarter of the stays in one quarter of the year). This works out well for those who can accumulate many one-night stays, but is quite difficult for those who have less frequent, but longer hotel stays.
I know that many people recommend using HHonors points to meet the stay requirements. There are several Category 2 hotels in the United Kingdom costing 10,000 points per night. (the Hampton in Newport, Wales was moved up on 11 January, 2017) Londoners can easily find rates of £40-50 per night at the Hilton in Croydon, which can be reached with a combination of train and local bus.
Personally I think it’s worth considering paid rates instead of points. HHonors points have value (I use 0.5 cents / 0.4p) and, if you’re going to do 8 mattress runs, it tends to focus the mind to consider whether spending £300-500 for Diamond status is actually worth it for your travel patterns (which obviously isn’t enough to reach 30 stays per year or else you’d already be Diamond). Of course, you would also earn points on whatever you spend, as well as 2,000 bonus points per night between 1 February and 30 April, 2017. Each stay as a Diamond member will also earn you 1,000 welcome amenity points at a full service property or 250 points at a Hampton.
Two Final Words of Warning
First, don’t apply for a status match just because you can. HHonors specifically points out that this is a once-in-a-member’s-lifetime opportunity. If you aren’t likely to manage eight stays within 90 days, or have no realistic plans to visit one of the nicer HHonors properties – where Diamond status might actually make a notable difference – then perhaps it is best to wait until a more appropriate time.
Second, don’t apply for this status match if you already have HHonors Diamond status. I was quite amused by a Flyertalk thread of late 2016. Somebody (hopefully not an InsideFlyer reader) had already received a status match, back in late 2015 when there were no stay requirements. This match was good until March 2018. However, this person incorrectly assumed that his status would drop in March 2017, since he didn’t meet the usual requirements. Therefore, he decided to be clever and apply for this updated version of the status match, which is really a challenge. The expiry date of his Diamond status was then shortened to February 2017, with the requirement to do eight stays to extend it to March 2018, which he actually already had. HHonors were unsympathetic, but after some mocking from forum readers, he has not updated us on the final outcome…
Long story short… don’t apply for this status match/challenge whilst you are already Diamond! I will become a lowly Silver on 1 April, and hopefully this opportunity will still be available then, but I won’t be silly enough to “travel hack” my HHonors account until then…
If you think it quite generous to offer 2+ years of status, you’re right, although it’s actually not much different from standard elite status qualification and therefore a bit more sustainable than it might first appear. If you are starting from nothing and do 20/30 stays, you will be immediately upgraded to Gold/Diamond for the remainder of 2017. Since you reached the re-qualification hurdle, your status would be valid for 2018. And, if you don’t re-qualify in 2018, until 31 March, 2019. So, this status challenge opportunity doesn’t diverge substantially from that. You are unquestionably getting 90 days status for free, then a short-cut to re-qualification that is proportionally the same as the regular rules. Just make sure to visit a nice Conrad hotel in Asia with your new Diamond status!