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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.
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…
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 Kayak.co.uk (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 hotelopia.com
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?