Hilton Quietly Increases Qualification Requirements for Elite Status

Hilton HHonors has just updated its terms and conditions with new requirements to qualify for elite status in 2013.

The nights you’ve spent in 2012 will still get you 2013 status, this change isn’t retroactive. Rather, this changes the number of stays and/or nights you need in 2013 to earn status for the remainder of 2013 and 2014.

  • There are no changes to the qualification requirements for Silver.

  • Gold goes from 16 stays, 36 nights, or 60,000 base points to 20 stays, 40 nights, or 75,000 base points. Each qualification method increases.

  • Diamond goes from 28 stays, 60 nights, or 100,000 base point to 30 stays, 60 nights, or 120,000 base points. Stays and base points increase, albeit less dramatically in percentage terms than they do for Gold, and the number of nights required doesn’t change.

This makes no sense to me whatsoever. You can now spend 30 nights at Hilton properties to earn Gold status, or get a co-branded credit card with a $95 annual fee. You can spend $40,000 in a year on their Citibank Hilton Reserve Visa or the American Express Hilton Surpass card and earn Diaond. Or you can stay even more with Hilton than before. Status becomes increasingly out of reach through actual stays, but has become much easier just by getting a co-branded credit card. (See Why Hilton Gold is Worth $95 and Two Free Nights More than Pays that Back)

And I’m a big advocate of Gold over Diamond status with Hilton. Of course in absolute terms Diamond is a more rewarding level. But it isn’t so much more rewarding as to be worth much extra effort in my experience. Gold is a good enough status level, and it’s become a giveaway — to all but Hilton’s own most frequent guests.

The only thing I can imagine is that the status ranks have swelled so much with how easy Hilton has made things given their credit card relationship, that they’re trying to manage the number of elites at each level — and the easiest way they have to do this is to make qualification as a hotel guest harder.

As for the way this is rolled out, I don’t like changes to the terms and conditions of a program being made without an announcement coming out first. It’s not great when we have to learn about changes by having someone read the terms and find them. It’s certainly still possible that Hilton could make big announcements of these changes. Presumably they could still do so during the month of December and it’ll still be before folks are actually making 2013 stays.

But with prepaid hotel stays, many have already made non-changeable plans for 2013. Plans that they could regret if their decisions were predicated on earning elite status through their loyalty. Hilton won’t actually make this exception, but it seems to me that no-notice or such late-notice changes to elite status qualification ought to serve as justification for penalty-free cancellation of prepaid, otherwise non-refundable hotel reservations.

(HT: mtlfire on Milepoint)

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. […] and it’s pretty significant in the grand scheme of things.  As View From the Wing reports, Hilton is essentially telling people they should go get their co-branded credit card.  They increased the requirements to achieve Gold status, their mid-tier elite level.  You needed […]


  1. I’m 2 stays away from reaching Diamond for 2013, but don’t really have any travel planned for the rest of the year. Is the difference between Gold and Diamond worth a mattress run? I can get nights for under $80 at a Hilton near me, so is having Diamond for 2013 (when I do have a fair amount of travel planned) worth ~$160 more than just Gold?

  2. Bumping Hilton spend requirements to $7,500 for Gold and $12,000 for Diamond looks worse than nights or stays qualifications.

    HHonors certainly has given members incentive to concentrate activity with credit card.

  3. Seems to be that they will also change the terms for free Gold / Diamond with their credit card partners to correspond to change in terms for earning elite status through stays/nights/$$.

  4. Please keep in mind the thousands of loyal non-US Hilton guests without an SSN , who thus are not eligible to even apply for the Citi HHonors Reserve card…

  5. Chris, I would say yes it’s worth it. Although like Gary said, the differences are minor, you can expect upgrades a lot more frequently as a Diamond. Look for a mattress run on Dec 25 or Dec 30. I’ve found those to be quite cheap.

  6. Hilton is difficult regardless. Their points required is out of line almost every time I check which is how I have accumulated 700,000 points and only used them once in 3 years. I just book a deluxe room and the Paris Westin for 100,000 SPG points. I checked Hilton and for same 7 nights was just over 1,000,000 yes you read that right 1 million points. What is up with that. Domestically SPG blows Hilton away again every time I have checked. Can you tell me how to use my Hilton points without feeling like I am getting a raw deal?

  7. Maybe Hilton should declare themselves as hotel chain for US citizens only. Not only almost all promotions are just for US folks, and that US folks can get Gold with credit card for just 95$, but hotel stays in EU are much more expensive and now this?? Hilton, just say F*** Y** European folk, and we will go and take our EUROs to Mariott or Hyatt or Starwood or Carlson…

  8. Why even bother to have an elite program based on stays at all? Just make it a CC-only benefit since that’s almost what they’re doing for many folks. How I recall the days when HHonors had good redemption rates, rolling elite years, etc – used to be my main program.

  9. I miss Adam Burke
    At least he ran the HH program superbly and listened to customers
    After earning Diamond for 12 years I’m done
    It seems like when the company moved East their common sense went
    South 🙂

  10. So the credit card companies are cozying up with HHonors, the loyalty program of Delta, er I mean Hilton, uh, I meant Delta, no wait…

  11. Oh yay, more difficult to earn status for those of us outside the US who are without a decent CC option!

  12. This means I’ll have to work harder in 2013 onwards to retain Gold status. Since I’m not from US, I have no access to the Citi Hilton Reserve Card.

    Worst still, I only travel for leisure. So looks like I’ll have to hotel hop between properties alot more now…

  13. This will make it slightly harder for me to balance both Hilton HHonors Diamond and SPG Platinum next year but I think I can still manage both. Unless of course I start looking at Hyatt stays or something crazy like that…

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