Hilton’s New Instant Free Gold Status Offer

Hilton HHonors is giving away instant free Gold status through May 2013 to Visa Infinite cardholders.

The way they verify that you’re eligible, i.e. that you have a Visa infinite card, is by asking you to enter the first six digits of your card. Those six digits are ‘issuer identification numbers’ that say what kind of a card it is.

Great in theory, you have to know the first six digits of a Visa Infinite card to take advantage of the promotion. But that information is even available on Wikipedia, the very first result found in a Google search.

Which means that anyone can effectively take advantage of the promotion. As a Hilton Diamond member already I haven’t actually tested this out, I’m interested in it as a purely academic matter. But apparently entering the first listing in Wikipedia, for Masterbank of Russia, unlocks the page. (If I bothered looking at the code on the page I might find other ways to unlock it as well.)

Then again, they might not be trying all that hard to exclude ‘ineligible’ members considering that this past summer they gave away Hilton Gold to anyone with a Visa Signature card though that was for three months only and this is for a full year. Though in that case, existing Gold and Diamond elites got 5000 bonus points as a ‘consolation prize’ as well.

Though the benefits do vary slightly by brand and property, roughly speaking Gold status gets a (generally quite modest) upgrade, continental breakfast, free internet, and discounts on multi-night award stays.

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. Gary–You’re telling people who don’t have a Visa Infinite card to lie/cheat their way into getting status? Really?! You’re encouraging people to blatantly scam Hilton right now…even if the card information is available on the internet, that doesn’t make it right.

  2. @Andrew I am not telling anyone to do anything. I am sharing the offer. I don’t even give them the codes, I just share that they are available through Wikipedia and Google. I’ve specifically said this is not something I’m doing. And it’s up to anyone reading to decide for themselves what they do with the information. To me, it really was just fascinating.

  3. Worked for me. And, as a result, I’ll be giving Hilton $1,000+ of business in a couple weeks that I most likely would not have done otherwise. That’s a win/win to me, and probably enough to make sure I meet status in 2012 for 2013. Thanks for posting!

  4. As Steelsnow already pointed out, the offer only works with cards from certain regions.

    Canada is not included, hence the reason your CIBC and TD Infinite cards aren’t working people!

  5. Thank you. As a result, any planned Marriott and Hyatt stays will be switched to Hilton by day’s end.

  6. @Andrew how could this be anything but GOOD for Hilton?? Look at all these people who will now switch their reservations for the year to a Hilton as a result! Besides, they’ll pull it or revoke the status if it really hurts them. You can trust a major corporation will do whatever is in their own best interest.

  7. Many thanks Gary. You are a wonderful blogger. Keep up the good work. I will book with Hilton throughout this promotion period even though I think the 40K bonus may not work for me.

  8. It would be wise simply for Hilton to quietly honor this. The promotion provides them with a competitive edge … especially over IHG and Marriott which now offer far better credit card signup bonuses if you use the right links (80K Priority Club points and instant Platinum status, 70K Marriott points w/free night + status credit).

  9. well i already am Platinum memeber so wont be of use to me but does anyone know of anyway i can get 2,500 points free right away if i can pull it off i wont have to pay for a $400 hotel room since it will all be covered by points 🙂 thanks

  10. I am Gold and qualified for 2013, but the 40K after 4 stays is an incentive!! Anyone else that is already gold signing up?

  11. Look CLOSELY @ details…..each stay must be paid with Visa Infinite card to qualify for 40,000 HH points. No complaints here though…..I’ll be sitting in the Executive Lounge @ Doubletree next weekend in NOLA! (i hope)

  12. Warning: Amid the concern of some about us cheating Hilton, some of us may be taken in by Hilton as well. To get the 40K bonus points for 4 stays by the end of May, you have to pay for them with that qualifying Infinite card. Which is hidden in the small print many of us didn’t read.

    Lots of people will probably do what I was about to do, until I read the posts above. Namely, go out of your way to stay in Hilton properties to get the 40K bonus, then not qualify for it because we didn’t use the right card.

    Hilton may have the last laugh here, if people switch stays from other chains, or even do an optional “points stay”. They will get the extra business, and yet not have to give anything extra for it.

    Surely Hilton isn’t covert enough to “scam the scamers” this way. Or are they?

  13. Amazing. My Gold status was expiring and I wasn’t sufficiently motivated to do anything about it (I thought about getting the Surpass card, but I’ve never gotten around to “wasting” an application). This shows procrastication can be a good thing. 🙂 And to May 2013! Nice.

    Does anyone recall what constitutes a “stay” with HHonors for the 40K bonus? Like can it be booked through Expedia? 40K HHonors points isn’t terribly exciting, but it’s obviously something.

    My next HHonors stay is at an Embassy Suites. Two free waters and two candy bars coming up! I cannot contain my excitement. Wait, maybe I’ll pick the salty snack. 🙂

    But, somewhere, maybe I’ll get a room upgrade or a breakfast out of this. Thanks!

  14. Still seems to be working, but you need to be more creative in searching for the first six digits. Try google image search rather than web search.

  15. strangely i just tried this and i keep getting “invalid registration”. when i use a wrong password, it does tell me “login failed”, so it seems something is off with my account when trying to sign-up. did anybody else get that problem?

  16. zimpff,

    I had exactly the same message. Tried Firefox, Chrome and Safari..

    Anyone ??


  17. Getting “invalid registration” as well in IE/FF/Chrome. Although my old account expired and I had to sign up for a new one, maybe the servers need to sync first?

  18. If you see ‘invalid registraion’ after submitting, you might want to change your account country to the issuing country of the card number you’re using. It worked for me, might work for you too (hopefully).

  19. @Mike @andrew
    I had that same message. Almost gave up until I read Matthew’s post. That worked for me too. I changed me address

  20. You have to change the country on your honors account. The 411945 number is for a bank in the Russian federation. After I did that adjustment it worked perfect and my account now says gold.

  21. Just tried it on Jan 25th. Took it with russian address, said congratulations, but several hours later…..still blue not gold

  22. mine finally went through BUT still shows blue as stutus even thought it seemed to go through… fishy

  23. Nobody else is concerned that the RUSSIAN codes work? I think I’ve probably got a file thick enough already from the Crnivore without lying and committing fraud using a Russian bank number. Can’t imagine that’s worth it.

  24. February 16, 2012 – tried several times with errors, then updated country to Russian Federation and now I went from Blue to Gold instantly!!!

  25. Thanks again Gary! I am currently in a European Hilton hotel that charges almost €30 for internet access. My gold status got me free breakfast, lounge access, internet and an upgrade to an executive room. The best part is that I am booked through a Priceline opaque booking and I saved almost 70% off the best rate I could find online.

  26. Thanks for this – I received my Gold card yesterday and it is valid until March 2014!

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