Full Disclosure: How I Got My Hilton HHonors Diamond Status Instantly, for Free

Just days ago I shared my elite status update and why I chose each program. Since that was meant as a window into my actual travels, and I reported just 4 stays and nights with Hilton for the year, I thought an update was appropriate.

I now have Hilton HHonors Diamond status.

Downgraded to Silver

I was a Silver. For the past several years I’ve been an HHonors Diamond from credit card spend. I figured that I would get a soft landing to Gold, which in the limit is just as good, but was given silver instead when I didn’t requalify.

Hilton bumped me up to Gold as a courtesy, a generous offer which I declined. They moved me back to silver.

Targeted Diamond Offer for American’s Top Tier Elites

A couple of weeks ago American AAdvantage was sending out targeted offers to top elites to become Hilton HHonors Diamond members. I’ve seen some reports of targeted Gold status. I assumed I did not get targeted.

It turns out that I must have been busy, and the email likely looked like the usual marketing stuff that I try to read in case there’s useful blog content but that I sometimes skip.

Jetsetter’s Homestead wrote about receiving the offer yesterday. I remembered deleting something from American just yesterday as well so I searched my deleted items email folder. And there it was.

What’s more, I had apparently deleted it twice, because the email was a reminder about the offer!

    Subject: Don’t forget your exclusive offer from Hilton HHonors

We’re teaming up with Hilton HHonors to reward your frequent travel. Sign up, and you’ll be immediately rewarded with Hilton HHonors Diamond status. With Diamond status, you can enjoy complimentary space-available room upgrades, in-room and lobby Wi-Fi, and a 50% bonus on all HHonors Base Points, which helps you earn your free stays even faster.* Plus, earn 25,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles when you complete three stays by December 31, 2014**.

(Emphasis mine.)

My Hilton HHonors account updated more or less instantaneously. Interestingly the registration process did not require me to input my Hilton HHonors number, American and Hilton had already done the data match. So a single click from the email, followed by a click on a web page to register, accomplished it.

I’m glad to be a Hilton Diamond again, even if more or less it’s the same thing as Gold.

Of course status doesn’t much matter unless you use it. I’ve stayed four nights total, over four stays, so far this year with Hilton — three of those at the Hilton JFK. Even silvers get free internet there. I’m not a huge fan of their lounge, and if I’m overnighting near the airport I’m generally leaving before breakfast anyway.

What Kind of Partnership Are We Seeing From American and Hilton?

Delta and Starwood introduced Crossover Rewards, an attempt to share each others’ best customers — they will tell you that Starwood customers fly Delta more and spend more with Delta, for instance. Marriott and United got into the act together.

That’s left American and Hilton as the only remaining possible dance partners. Hyatt has too small a footprint to be the major partner of the world’s largest airline, and IHG Rewards Club doesn’t have a meaningful elite program. Still, Hilton and Delta have remained close (despite Delta’s Starwood partnership), continuing to offer credit towards Delta elite status via Hilton stays.

There may not be any full fledged partnership brewing between Hilton and American, though I’m certain it’s been discussed. In fact, what Hilton is doing here is exactly what I would do if I were running a program. Giving out bonus points the way Delta and Starwood are doing, to all members, is really expensive. Targeting top tier frequent travelers with status, and awarding them bonus points for getting into the habit of switching brands, seems like a good investment.

Remember that marketing really does come down, more or less, to figuring out who your customers are and where to find more people like them. American’s Executive Platinums (and United 1Ks, Delta Diamonds) are exactly the customers that Hilton, Starwood, and Hyatt want.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I think you buried the lede on that offer, Gary: “Plus, earn 25,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles when you complete three stays by December 31, 2014.” That’s what grabbed my attention. Very generous! Makes me wish I was an AA elite.

  2. Sadly I didn’t get the reverse offer – AA Plat for Hilton Diamonds, even though I’m Diamond, though some obviously did. I would probably have taken them up on it and completed the challenge. But I have a double miles & points offer from Marriott & United which was targeted so I guess I will stick with them for the next few months.

  3. This is really interesting if they do potentially do a crossover program. Since one can “easily” manufacture Hilton Diamond status with $40K spend, would this potentially yield AA Gold/Platinum status? And therefore would seem like a devaluation to current AA elites.

  4. @Corey – I’m on the same boat. It may have just ended up on spam, but I can’t seem to find it. I wonder if calling the exp line helps. Any thoughts, Gary?

  5. Turns out I’m not subscribed to email special offers etc. May not have been the criteria, but you wouldn’t want to rule yourself out because of that.

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