How to manufacture Hilton Diamond status

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Hilton Gold status is really good.  It includes room upgrades (such as this one at the Conrad Hilton Chicago) and both free internet and free breakfast at most properties.  And, its ridiculously easy to get.

Top tier Diamond status has all of the benefits of Gold status and adds guaranteed Executive Floor Lounge access.  However, there are far fewer paths to achieve this level of status.  Below I’ll summarize the easiest paths to Gold status, and how to manufacture Diamond status through spend.

HiltonDoubleTreeSuite

Hilton Elite Requirements

If you were to seek elite status the old fashioned way, by staying at Hilton hotels, you would face the following paid night requirements:

  • Silver: four stays or 10 nights
  • Gold: 20 stays, 40 nights, or 75,000 base points
  • Diamond: 30 stays, 60 nights, or 120,000 base points

Elite Benefits

You can find Hilton’s list of elite benefits here.  To summarize (bolding is mine):

  • Silver: 5th night free awards; 2 free bottles of water per stay; 15% points bonus for stays
  • Gold: Silver benefits, plus free room upgrade; free internet; free breakfast at most properties; 25% points bonus for stays
  • Diamond: Gold benefits, plus guaranteed Executive Floor Lounge access

Easiest Paths to Gold

Here are some of the easy ways to get Hilton Gold status.  For an up to date list, please see: How to fast track to meaningful hotel elite status.

  • Get the Amex Hilton HHonors Surpass card. $75 annual fee.
  • Get the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card.  $95 annual fee.
  • Get the no-fee Amex Hilton HHonors card.  This card offers Hilton Gold status each year in which you spend $20,000 on the card.
  • Email HHonors@hrcc-hilton.com and ask if you can “fast track to Diamond status”.  Include proof of top tier elite status with a competing hotel chain.  The result is that they are likely to enroll you in a challenge in which you need to complete a number of paid nights to achieve Diamond status.  Even better, they will give you complementary Gold status (at least, that’s what happened to me).
  • Watch for promotions.  Hilton has been known to offer easy paths to Gold status quite often.

Manufacture Hilton Diamond Status

If Gold status isn’t enough for you, you can get top tier Diamond status instead.  The trick is simply to spend $40,000 in a calendar year on either the Hilton HHonors Surpass Amex card or the Hilton HHonors Reserve card from Citibank.

Here’s a quick overview of each card:

Hilton HHonors Surpass from Amex

  • 12X Hilton spend; 6X U.S. restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations; 3X everywhere else.
  • Free gold status.
  • Diamond status with $40K spend within calendar year.
  • $75 annual fee.

Hilton HHonors Reserve from Citi

  • 10X Hilton spend; 5X airline & car rental; 3X everywhere else.
  • Free Gold status.
  • Diamond status with $40K spend within calendar year.
  • Free weekend night with $10K spend in cardmember year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • $95 annual fee.

Which is better for manufacturing Diamond status?

The benefits of each card are so similar that it can be a tough call as to which is better.

Surpass card advantages: Better bonus categories (e.g. 6X supermarkets, etc.) and lower annual fee.

Reserve card advantages: Free weekend night with $10K spend, no foreign transaction fees, and better worldwide acceptance as a Visa card.

In general, if you plan to meet most of the $40K spend within bonus categories, such as supermarkets, then go with the Surpass card.  If you spend all $40K within the 6X bonus categories, you’ll earn 240,000 points in the process.  That’s 120,000 points more than you would earn with the Reserve card at 3X.

If you plan to meet most of the $40K spend outside of the Surpass card sweet spots (i.e. not in restaurants, supermarkets, or gas stations), or if you simply find it easier to manufacture spend with a Citi Visa card, then go with the Citi Reserve card since it will give you a free weekend night along the way and it can be used internationally without foreign transaction fees.

Diamond Status for 2 years

With either card, you’ll receive Diamond status once you’ve reached $40,000 of spend within a calendar year.  At that point, you’ll keep the status for the rest of that year and all of the next year.  So, if you’re able to put a huge amount of spend on the card early in the year, you can keep status for almost two full years.

A simple strategy for keeping Diamond status indefinitely is to meet the $40K spend requirement once every two years (and early in the year).  In order to avoid annual fees, some people I know downgrade their Surpass card to the no fee version once they get Diamond status.  Then, once status elapses, they upgrade to the Surpass card and go for it again.

Conclusion

Hilton Gold status is easy to get and it offers some really nice benefits.  If you really want top tier status, though, you can get that simply by spending $40,000 within a calendar year on either of two credit cards.

In this post I’ve detailed how to earn top tier Hilton elite status through spend, but I didn’t address whether or not it’s a good idea.  In my opinion, Gold status is worth getting.  It’s easy to get and its very nice to have, especially if you stay in Hilton hotels often.  Diamond status would be even better, especially if you stay often at properties with Executive Floor Lounges.  However, depending upon your travel habits, dedicating your spend (and annual fees) to other cards may make more sense.

What do you think?  Is it right for you?  Please comment below.

 

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