Hilton Honors is the loyalty program for one of the world’s biggest hotel chains. Its elite status program can offer significant value for those who are able to reach the higher status tiers.
Hilton Gold status is the first elite tier that unlocks benefits that are worth chasing, including free breakfast, room upgrades, and late checkout. Meanwhile, Hilton Diamond status takes things to the next and final level with further entitlements like better upgrades, lounge access, and status gifting.
Let’s take a look at a few of the best ways you can earn Hilton Gold and Diamond status without necessarily following the traditional approach.
What Makes Hilton Gold and Diamond Status Valuable?
Gold status is the first elite level that allows for free breakfast for the status holder and one additional guest. Additionally, Gold members are eligible for a space-available room upgrade up to an executive room type.
These benefits, grouped with late checkout subject to availability, makes Hilton Honors Gold status very much worth pursuing – it’s certainly a more valuable mid-tier status compared to, say, Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite.
One level above Gold, Diamond status is the highest status one can reach within Hilton’s loyalty program. In addition to what Gold members receive, Diamond members are eligible for better upgrades to standard suites, as well as access to a hotel’s executive lounge if it’s available.
Free breakfast and lounge access is a sure-fire way to significantly cut costs on food while travelling. Suite upgrades can also significantly enhance your trip, and it’s always worth seeking them out by combining your elite status with your “suite-talking” skills.
Amex US Hilton Aspire Card: Instant Hilton Diamond Status
Unlike any other hotel loyalty program out there, Hilton offers easy pathways to elite status through a number of credit cards.
The US-issued American Express Hilton Honors Aspire Card is an extremely appealing fast-track option to earn Hilton Diamond status. This is one of the strongest hotel rewards cards in all of North America for those who are able to use its ongoing benefits.
In addition to the instant Hilton Diamond status for the entire time the card is open, you’ll also enjoy:
- A US$250 airline incidental fee credit once every calendar year
- A US$250 Hilton resort credit once every membership year
- A Hilton Free Weekend Night Reward once every membership year
- 14x Hilton Honors points on all Hilton purchases
- A Priority Pass membership with an allowance of two guests
All of the above is offered in exchange for a US$450 annual fee. As you can see, if you maximize both annual credits, you’ll end up coming out ahead by US$50 while also getting to redeem a Free Weekend Night Reward (which is valid at Hilton’s top-tier properties) as well as Diamond status to enjoy along all of your Hilton stays.
For those who decide to pursue Hilton status through this avenue, this is a rare “one step and done” opportunity among top-tier hotel elite statuses.
Simply get the card and hold onto it year after year, and you won’t have to worry about qualifying or re-qualifying for Hilton status ever again.
Amex Platinum Card, etc.: Instant Hilton Gold Status
If you’d rather not get into the game of US credit cards, the good news is that you can also earn instant Hilton Gold status via Canadian credit cards too.
Hilton Gold status comes as a perk of the American Express Platinum Card and the Business Platinum Card by American Express. By simply holding either of the cards, you can easily enroll in the Hilton Honors program with Gold status, which is valid for as long as you’re a cardholder.
Meanwhile, the following US-issued credit cards also offer automatic Hilton Gold status just for having the card:
- American Express US Platinum Card
- American Express US Business Platinum Card
- American Express US Business Gold Card
- American Express US Hilton Honors Surpass Card
- American Express US Hilton Honors Business Card
With the non-co-branded cards on both sides of the border, you’ll need to manually register for the Hilton Gold status benefit upon activating the card. Meanwhile, with the Hilton co-branded cards issued in the US, Gold status will be granted automatically.
Either way, just like the Hilton Diamond status via the Aspire Card, you’ll continue to enjoy the status level for as long as you’re a cardholder without having to qualify the traditional way.
Lastly, it’s worth noting here that the Hilton Surpass and Business card will allow you to upgrade to Diamond status by spending US$40,000 on the card in a calendar year, while the no-fee Amex US Hilton Card allows you to upgrade to Gold status by spending US$20,000 on the card in a calendar year.
Neither of these spend-based options are particularly attractive, however, when you could simply apply for a higher-tier card in the same family and earn the status instantly.
Status Challenge to Hilton Gold or Diamond
Hilton offers a chance for those who hold elite status with a different hotel loyalty program to try Hilton Honors Gold status for 90 days.
In order to qualify for a status match, you must meet all three of the following conditions:
- You must currently have either Silver or no membership level with Hilton Honors.
- You must have never registered for this status match before.
- You must submit proof of current status with one of the following loyalty programs:
- Marriott Bonvoy (Ambassador, Titanium, Platinum, or Gold Elite status)
- IHG One Rewards (Gold, Platinum, Diamond Elite)
- World of Hyatt (Explorist, Globalist)
- Best Western Rewards (Diamond, Diamond Select)
- Choice Privileges (Diamond Elite)
If you stay seven paid nights at a Hilton property during the 90-day status challenge period, you’ll be able to keep Gold status through the following calendar year, until March of the calendar year after that.
And if you stay a total of 12 paid nights within that 90-day period, you will be upgraded to Diamond status for the same period.
This is an amazing way to quickly earn either Gold or Diamond status with Hilton for those who have an upcoming trip planned, and aren’t looking to sign up for a credit card to earn status. Even if you fail to meet the required nights, you would still have access to all of the Gold benefits for the full 90 days.
In the past, Hilton has also offered some very attractive targeted status challenges. One example, which has since expired, is when you only needed to spend four nights within 90 days to earn Gold status.
Unlike the regular status challenge, reward nights did count in this case. This would be an exceptionally easy way to earn Gold status, and is definitely worth keeping an eye out for in case it ever comes back and you are eligible.
Earning Hilton Status with Hotel Stays
If you are looking to earn elite status by going the traditional route, you’ll need to actually stay with Hilton hotels regularly in order to qualify. The good news is that the path set out in 2022 is a bit easier.
Normally, you would be required to accomplish one of the following three within a calendar year to achieve Gold status:
- Stay 40 nights at a Hilton property.
- Complete 20 stays at a Hilton property.
- Earn 75,000 base points.
However, for 2022, you only need to accomplish one of the following within a calendar year to reach Gold status:
- Stay 28 nights at a Hilton property.
- Complete 14 stays at a Hilton property.
- Earn 52,500 base points.
For reaching Diamond status the traditional way, you normally need to complete one of the following within a calendar year:
- Stay 60 nights at a Hilton property.
- Complete 30 stays at a Hilton property.
- Earn 120,000 base points.
For 2022, the requirements to reach Diamond status have been dropped:
- Stay 42 nights at a Hilton property.
- Complete 21 stays at a Hilton property.
- Earn 84,000 base points.
Note that stays and nights booked with points or Free Night Rewards also count towards those totals. Additionally, if you book four nights with Hilton Honors points, you will enjoy the Fifth Night Free benefit, further adding another night to the annual amount.
A “stay” is defined as the total number of consecutive nights spent at the same hotel, whether or not a guest checks out and checks back in again. This means someone could have all their stays be only one-night stays, therefore only having to spend 14 nights for Gold status or 21 nights for Diamond status in 2022.
“Base points” are earned by spending money at Hilton Hotels at a rate of 10 points per US$1. This means that to qualify for status via base points, you’d need to spend US$5,250 for Gold status and US$7,500 for Diamond status at Hilton properties in 2022.
Unlike qualifying nights and stays, base points can be earned on up to four rooms per stay, as long as all rooms are being paid for by one person. This is another reason to be the helpful friend or family member on the next big trip, as long as they pay you back of course.
It’s also worth noting that Hilton offers “Elite Rollover Nights” for their members who already hold Silver, Gold, and Diamond status.
With this feature, members can carry forward any excess qualifying nights to add to the night total for the next year. Keep in mind, however, that only nights are rolled over: base points and stays are not.
Gift Hilton Status to Another Member
Lastly, another way of quickly earning Gold or Diamond status is by having it gifted to you.
Hilton Diamond members who have stayed a total of 40 nights in 2022 are able to give the gift Gold status. Meanwhile, Hilton Diamond members who have stayed 70 nights in 2022 are able to gift Diamond status to someone of their choosing.
In the past, in order to gift Gold and Diamond statuses, Diamond members had to reach 60 and 100 nights respectively, and it’s likely that this will revert back to the higher requirements in the future.
Gifted members will have the elite status and all of the accompanying benefits for the next 365 days.
Hilton Honors Gold and Diamond statuses are absolutely worth pursuing, whether you’re a Hilton loyalist or someone who just wants to enjoy useful benefits on the occasional Hilton stay.
The easiest way of earning Gold status is by simply holding the Canadian-issued American Express Platinum Card or Business Platinum Card by American Express, or one of the many Amex US credit cards that also offer this benefit.
For those aspiring to earn the top-tier Hilton Diamond status, the easiest way is through the aptly named Amex US Hilton Aspire Card, which is one of the most powerful travel credit cards in North America.
Whether you’re checking-in to a surprise larger-than-life hotel suite, enjoying another generous helping at an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet, or relaxing in an executive lounge with a beverage, earning Hilton Gold or Diamond status can certainly elevate any trip – especially since the status levels are so straightforward to pursue.
I am unsure if Hilton still offers complimentary breakfast to Gold or Diamond card holders. I have been a Diamond member for many years now and seems to be getting “food credits” at a substantially lower value than the cost of a breakfast.
Pre-pandemic, I had an Amex Platinum card and got Marriott and Hilton Gold status. I really like that Hilton Gold gives breakfast. Wife and I stayed (paid) at the Hilton Tokyo and they gave us lounge access as well. A few other stays, also paid, at Double Trees and the breakfasts were good. Marriott Gold is next to worthless.
The problem is earning points with Hilton. Their points used to be worth much less than SPG/Marriott. Now that’s changing with Marriott’s devaluation. Maybe it’ll be time to get a US Hilton Aspire Card and ditch Marriott. Too bad because I used to really like SPG. How can we earn Hilton Honors points as easily as Marriott here in Canada? i’m not going to put spend in a US card.