We’re seeing airlines and hotels get creative in rewarding loyalty among their members as we approach the end of the year, and as these members look back on a year of reduced travel and look ahead at a year of uncertain travel plans.
The Hilton Honors program has rolled out a limited-time promotion to reward its top-tier Diamond and Lifetime Diamond members by allowing them to give the gift of Hilton Gold status to another member.
Since I suspect there are a couple of us who have earned Hilton Diamond status the “easy” way simply by applying for the Amex US Hilton Aspire Card, let’s take a closer look at this opportunity and how you might make use of it.
Hilton Diamond Members Can Gift Gold Status
Ordinarily, Hilton Honors allows Diamond members and Lifetime Diamond members to give the gift of elite status when they earn a certain number of elite nights every year:
- Diamond members who earn 60 elite qualifying nights in a year can give the gift of Gold status to another member
- Diamond members who earn 100 elite qualifying nights in a year can give the gift of Diamond status to another member
This year, members have been travelling much less than before, but Hilton “doesn’t want you to miss out on your Status Gift”.
And so, regardless of how many qualifying nights you’ve earned, Diamond members can gift status according to the following rules:
- Diamond members can give the gift of Gold status to another member
- Lifetime Diamond members can give the gift of Diamond status to another member
Eligible members will have received an email inviting them to elect a fellow Hilton Honors member for their status gift, which will last for 365 days since the day that it is bestowed.
The promotion lasts until January 31, 2021, so you’ll need to make your choice by then – and if the receiving member doesn’t have any travel plans over the upcoming month or so, then it arguably makes sense to gift the status as late in the promotion period as possible, allowing the recipient to enjoy Gold status until January 2022.
Hilton Gold Status Is Easy to Earn Anyway
At first, it sounds pretty exciting that Hilton Gold status is being distributed as gifts – after all, it provides members with free breakfast and a room upgrade when staying at Hilton hotels, which are pretty meaningful benefits. You might even be starting to think about whether you have any Hilton Diamond members in your circle of friends from whom you can ask for a favour.
However, ultimately this opportunity isn’t quite so attractive when you consider that Hilton Gold status is fairly easy to earn anyway.
Indeed, it’s a complimentary perk of the American Express Platinum Card here in Canada, so simply by having the Platinum Card, you’re automatically eligible to enroll in Hilton Gold status. What’s more, most reports indicate that Hilton members don’t necessarily lose their Gold status for a pretty long time even after cancelling the Platinum Card.
As a consequence of this, if you’re a current Hilton Diamond member and have a free year of Gold status to gift someone, you’ll ideally want to give that gift to a member who isn’t likely to earn Gold status on their own.
For example, if you’re playing the game in two-player mode, there’s not much point giving Gold status to your spouse or partner if they currently hold the Platinum Card anyway, or if they plan to get the Platinum Card at some point in the near future.
Consider giving the gift to someone you know who might be travelling over the upcoming year or so, but isn’t necessarily planning to pay the $499 net annual fee for the Platinum Card anytime soon.
In my case, pretty much everyone in my entourage either already has Gold status, or they already have the Platinum Card and I haven’t gotten around to enrolling them in Gold status yet. Therefore, I’ll probably host a contest for Prince of Travel members on Patreon who are interested in receiving a gift of Gold status and call it a day.
The Hilton Aspire Card Remains Extremely Powerful
This is a good opportunity to remind you of the insane value in the Amex US Hilton Aspire Card, which is the only hotel co-branded credit card that confers instant top-tier elite status within a major program.
In exchange for a US$450 annual fee, you get:
- 150,000 Hilton Honors points as a signup bonus
- A US$250 airline incidental credit per calendar year
- A US$250 Hilton resort credit per membership year
- A weekend free night certificate every membership year (which, in 2021, can be redeemed on any day of the week)
- Instant Hilton Diamond status
- Unlimited Priority Pass access for yourself and two guests
As you can see, if you can maximize the annual credits, then you can actually come out ahead on the annual fee year after year all while earning a free night certificate that can be redeemed on Hilton’s most expensive properties.
Moreover, you’ll enjoy continual top-tier Diamond status in the program, even if you only actually stay with Hilton once or twice per year. There’s something extremely powerful about sauntering into a Waldorf Astoria and getting all the perks thrown at you “in exchange for your loyalty”, even though you’ve only stayed at Marriott hotels or stuck with Airbnbs up until now.
(I met quite a few Europe-based Hilton loyalists on my recent trip to Dubai who actually need to stay at Hiltons to earn their Diamond status year after year – so the advantage of the Hilton Aspire Card very much feels almost too good to be true.)
In order to reward its most loyal members (including those who show their loyalty simply by holding and maximizing a credit card year after year), Hilton Honors is allowing Diamond members to give the gift of Gold status until January 31, 2021.
As a Diamond member, make sure to give some thought as to who among your circles probably won’t be earning Gold status the easy way themselves before bestowing your gift.
With both Hilton and Hyatt putting on creative promotions and incentivizing new members to pursue elite status within their program for 2021, the attention now turns towards Marriott Bonvoy and whether they decide to offer something similar for its elite members before the year’s end.