Should You Ever Aim for Hilton Honors Status the “Hard Way”?

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Hilton Honors is one of the largest hotel chain loyalty programmes. Although it is far from the “best” in my opinion, Hilton Honors does deliver a few things quite well, making it a popular choice for InsideFlyer readers. And once you’ve accumulated a few nights / stays with Hilton Honors in a calendar year, you might start wondering whether to aim for elite status via the standard method of annual stays or nights.

Qualifying for Elite Status the “Hard” Way

The levels of status that you should be interested in are Gold and Diamond, as these levels will get you free breakfast, room upgrades, etc.

Diamond Status

To achieve or retain Hilton Honors Diamond status, you need to earn either:
(1) 30 stays in a calendar year, or
(2) 60 nights in a calendar year, or
(3) 120,000 Hilton Honors Base Points in a calendar year

A “stay” is defined as one or more consecutive nights in the same hotel, irrespective of the number of times you check in and out.

Gold Status

To achieve or retain Hilton Honors Gold status, you need to earn either:
(1) 20 stays in a calendar year, or
(2) 40 nights in a calendar year, or
(3) 75,000 Hilton Honors Base Points in a calendar year

 

Benefits of Achieving Status “the Hard Way”

Regular readers will be well aware that Hilton Honors offers no shortage of shortcuts to elite status, and I’ll come to that later…  But what incentives are you offered for staying often at Hilton hotels, apart from the standard points, etc.?  Not much actually… just some bonus points.

The treatment you receive at any particular hotel is based on your status, not on how you achieved it.

There are a couple of Diamond perks that depend more on your total nights in Hilton properties, rather than how you achieved your Diamond status…

Lifetime Diamond status

In order to achieve Lifetime Diamond status with Hilton Honors, you are required to have 10+ years of Diamond status plus:

  • 1,000 lifetime nights (paid or reward) OR
  • 2 million base points (i.e. $200,000 of pre-tax spend)

One thing to keep in mind is that those Diamond years need to be “completed”. It isn’t particularly clear whether a “status matched” Diamond year qualifies, but the 1,000 night requirement will make it nearly impossible to “travel hack” Lifetime Diamond status merely from fast tracks and status matches.

Diamond Extension

Hilton Honors offers a one-off opportunity to extend Diamond status by a year. To qualify to must have:

  • 3 years of Diamond status PLUS
  • 250 lifetime nights (paid or reward) OR
  • 500,000 base points (i.e. $50,000 of pre-tax spend)

Hilton does make clear in the Diamond Extension FAQs that a “status matched” Diamond year qualifies.

7. If I did a status match, does that year of Diamond status count towards this benefit?

Yes, any time-period in which a member held Diamond status will count in regards towards eligibility of the Diamond Status Extension benefit.

However that answer is actually as clear as mud. If you achieve (directly or via status match) Diamond status in 2019, you only receive 1 year of “credit” as a Diamond, even though you would be Diamond for the rest of 2019, all of 2020 and the first three months of 2021…

The Shortcuts to Hilton Honors Elite Status

Since there are fewer benefits to “real” Diamond and Gold than you might expect, here is a quick look at a few of the shortcuts to Hilton status that we often write about here at InsideFlyer.

Credit Cards

Gold status can be achieved via…

Fast Track

Gold status can be earned with 4 stays (paid or reward) in a 90-day period. Click here for details.

Status Match

If you have elite status with a competitor (complete with a stay history to prove it), you can apply for a status match challenge. You will enjoy matched status for 90 days, with the ability to extend it for the rest of 2019, as well as all of 2020, by completing:

  • 4 stays for Gold (including if you aim for Diamond but fall short)
  • 8 stays for Diamond

Click here for further details.

 

Conclusion

It seems pretty obvious to me. Why bother staying 20 or 30 times / 40 or 60 nights at Hilton hotels, when you can merely apply for yet another fast track or status match. Even though these are notionally “once in a lifetime” deals, Hilton Honors doesn’t seem to mind if you repeatedly fast track your way to status. Even though the hotel chain is notorious for “if everybody is elite then nobody is”, you can also count on receiving free breakfast as a Gold and guaranteed lounge access as a Diamond – you might not mind missing out on the softer benefits more likely to be found at Hyatt and Marriott.

The major risk? That one day Hilton Honors will decide to stop these fast track opportunities just when you were counting the days before signing up for one…

What do you think? Does Hilton Honors’ frequent giveaway of elite status devalue the whole thing? Or cause you to stay at Hilton instead of the competition?

Comments

  1. Andrew H says

    “Although it is far from the “best” in my opinion”

    Which do you think is the best? I’m guessing not Marriott Bonvoy (too many troubles lately)

  2. Pangolin says

    I think Hilton used to status match BW Diamond to HH Diamond but no longer do so (BW Diamond is given away like candy).

    I also think they no longer match IHG Platinum (easy to get via the Creation card) to Diamond but now match to Gold.

    So using a matched status to Diamond and then doing the 8 stay challenge is not as easy as it was.

    I need 38 nights this year to retain Diamond, which seems a stretch, but I should at least be able to make Gold.

    Time for Joe to publish another one of his articles on how to get a large number of nights/stays for very little $$$.

    • Joe Deeney says

      Haha – I was actually just thinking about doing a little report about a recent trip to Istanbul – which, of course, included excellent value Hilton stays!

  3. TheSkintTraveller says

    For anyone who doesn’t stay much in Hilton hotels, Amex Plat is still for me the easiest way to get HH Gold without the need to even stay to retain.

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