How I Earned Hilton Gold Status with £32 and a Few Hours of my Spare Time

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Travel hacking is often about combining a few different elements together in ways that might not seem obvious. As regular readers will know, I am a big fan of elite status at hotel chains. But when it comes to Hilton Honors, I allowed my Diamond status to lapse at the end of March, since the benefits don’t justify – in my view – attempting to retain Hilton status the usual way, which is:

  • 30 stays or 60 nights in a calendar year for Diamond status
  • 20 stays or 40 nights in a calendar year for Gold status

But occasionally I do need to stay at a Hilton Honors hotel, and my lowly Silver status just wasn’t good enough. I do appreciate the two main benefits of Diamond or Gold status – room upgrades and free breakfast.

Of course, I could have requested a Diamond status match – that I wrote about here – but that is supposedly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I wanted to save that until the demise of SPG (in 2019?) forces me to revisit my hotel chain preferences.

Gold Fast-Track

So… I signed up for a fast-track to Gold. Miles wrote about it back in September. My quick application was successful and before long my Honors account was showing “4 stays required for Gold”.

So now I needed to complete 4 hotel stays within 90 days. Luckily I travel a lot with substantial flexibility to choose my own adventure…

The £32

I knew that I was going to be spending a weekend in Birmingham so, as is my habit, I looked at the various hotel chain options. Once I found a few alternatives within my price range and desired location, I looked for lower rates on (which allows me to check a number of competing websites and, most importantly, to filter by hotel chain). To my surprise – I normally only do BRG claims with Starwood Preferred Guest and World of Hyatt – I found a lower rate at a Hampton hotel and submitted a claim. Within a day I received the following reply:

Dear Mr Sowerby,

Thank you for submitting a ‘Best Price Guarantee’ claim for your upcoming reservation at the Hampton by Hilton Birmingham Broad Street. I have taken the liberty to review your reservation, as well as, the rate available on

I was able to confirm that a lower rate of £42.46 was available through the site.  I have lowered the rate on your reservation to match the rate found in addition to another reduction of 25% off the room rate for each night of your stay. The current new rate per night after the adjustment is £31.85. A new email of confirmation has been sent to you.

So that covered one stay, and for the bargain price of £31.85. (I chose to spend my other nights in Birmingham elsewhere, since anything over one night would be “wasted” as part of a Hilton elite status “stay”)

You can find details of Hilton’s Best Rate Guarantee (they call it Best Price Guarantee) by clicking here.

Three Reward Stays

Hilton Honors doesn’t distinguish between paid stays and reward stays when calculating elite status. So I was free to meet the fast-track requirements with reward stays.

Stay 1 – Hilton Garden Inn Istanbul Airport

For a trip I’ll write about at some future point, I required an overnight stay near Istanbul airport. I didn’t mind this in the least, because the Hilton Garden Inn is a Category 1 hotel costing 5,000 points per night. An absolute bargain…

Stay 2 – Hampton Inn Las Vegas Airport

I wrote about this hotel when I flagged a stealth devaluation taking place at Hilton Honors. You can read that post by clicking here. Luckily I had booked a stay before the price increase, so I only paid 20,000 points for a one-night stay.

Stay 3 – Back at the HGI Istanbul

On my way back to Europe, I had another overnight stay at Istanbul airport. Again I booked a reward stay using 5,000 points.

Earning 30,000 Hilton Honors points

First of all, I booked all 4 stays using the App. Miles wrote about this here. When each stay posted to my Hilton Honors account, I received a rebate of 500 points.

The remaining 28,000 points? Well, that’s where my free time comes into play. I’ve previously written about the reward options offered by E-Rewards – you can re-read that post by clicking here. Since I have an abundance of Avios at the moment, I have been choosing to payout my E-Rewards to Hilton Honors. So… 4 months of survey-taking provided the points needed for my three reward stays.


The most obvious sign that I’m an elite status junkie? That I wrote this entire post focusing on Hilton Gold status, rather than the fact that I actually needed these hotel stays so might have otherwise paid a total of £250-350. This is actually an important point, since you must physically check-in to a hotel to receive stay credit – so you can’t just book four Category 1 stays anywhere and expect to receive Gold status…

But I’m happy to achieve Hilton Gold status until 31 March, 2019 using £32 and a few hours of my time to pay for four one-night stays.

How inexpensively have you managed a Hilton Gold fast-track?


  1. Naomi Charlton says

    Hi Craig, hope you are well? Thx so much for this extremely helpful post!!

    I just had 1 quick query, do you have to wait until your previous Gold Status has expired before starting the Fast Track? This may seem a strange question but ours is expiring at end March & we have an Edinburgh Airport stay in Feb which I would ideally like to use as the 1st of the 4 stays required?

    V many thx – Naomi C xxxxx

    • Craig Sowerby says

      That’s an excellent question Naomi! I don’t think I can give a definitive answer. I personally prefer to let my status drop before trying to fast track it back – simply because I believe that makes it less likely that a human might intervene and query what I’m doing. (nobody wants an account audit / suspension) However I have seen the occasional report of people successfully applying for a Diamond challenge whilst still Diamond so I suspect what you have in mind can be done.

      • Naomi Charlton says

        Ah thx so much again Craig. I think I will give it a go & see what happens (as the window for retaining Gold the normal way will of course expire 31 Dec). It seems a shame to ‘waste’ a stay we already have planned. Of course I will report back when I end up banned from all Hilton Hotels worldwide due to my trickery!! – xxxxx

    • Miles Hunt says

      Hi Naomi – I successfully commenced a Hilton Gold fast track while already Gold, with no issue.

      Indeed, I actually completed the fast track while still Gold (in Feb, with my Gold expiring in March). Upon completing the fast-track, my Gold then ran for the rest of that year, the next year and till March of the year after that.

      • Naomi Charlton says

        Ah that is SO helpful – exactly what I am planning to try to do. Really good to know it’s feasible, thx very much Miles!! – xxxxx

  2. Adam says

    Just an update to let everyone know that e rewards have now scrapped the unlimited HH point redemptions and imposed new redemption time scales of once every 6 x Months.

    • Naomi Charlton says

      Ah that’s not good news?! So max 7000 HHonors points once every 6 months?

      Do you know if they’ve done it for other redemptions (e.g. Virgin Atlantic) as well?


    • Naomi Charlton says

      PS Just had quick look at E-Rewards/Hilton HHonors T&Cs online & it says once every 60 days rather than 6 months? That doesn’t sound too bad, probably as quick as I can collect 8000 E-Rewards points anyway despite my love of surveys!!

      Please let me know if you have better or more up to date info tho Adam?


  3. Adam says

    Doh, should of checked personally my account as I read it somewhere else. Your correct, it is every 60 x days so a lot better than originally thought but still not as good as it’s been with unlimited redemptions recently.

    • Naomi Charlton says

      Phew I’m relieved it’s not every 6 months anyway!! That probably mirrors my earning rate, but obviously unlimited was better….

      Thx so much for further clarification Adam…..xxxxx

  4. Alex W says

    How many hours does it genuinely take to earn 28000 honors through erewards? In my experience the return is less than minimum wage. Life’s too short!

    • Craig Sowerby says

      Depends on whether you answer truthfully, honestly and fully. Or whether you know how to speed read through and click on an answer that won’t get you disqualified… 😉

      • Naomi Charlton says

        Ah yes there are ways & means!! I actually find some of the survey topics quite interesting (but perhaps I am a very sad person?!) ?? xxxxxxxx

  5. RK says

    Hi Craig

    Off Topic but on the Hiton Honors Discount codes, it mentions instant Silver status, however cannot see a link?

    I see the fast tract to Gold, but no instant Silver status, please advise



    • Craig Sowerby says

      Good point. The HH Discounts page could probably use a quick refresh.

      Of course Silver is pretty much the most useless level of elite status. About the only valuable element is the 5th night free on reward bookings. I would certainly try to squeeze in the four stays of a Gold fast-track before trying to stay five nights on points at a nice hotel…

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