Hilton elite status review (Elite status now easier to earn with program updates due to COVID-19)

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With Hilton status, you can enjoy a variety of perks and bonus Hilton Honors points each time you visit one of the chain’s hotels. And even better, you might be surprised how easy it is to earn and maintain Hilton elite status.

It’s a perk of every one of the best Hilton credit cards, including the Hilton Honors American Express Card, Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. Though which status level you get depends which card you choose.

The information for the Hilton Aspire card and Hilton Surpass card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Below we’ll take a look at all the levels of Hilton status, and review the perks that come with each level. We’ll also share tips on the easiest ways to earn each status tier. And, give you a rundown of the temporary changes to Hilton’s loyalty program that have been made in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

With four levels of Hilton elite status, which is most worth the effort to earn it and what are the differences? (Photo by tupungato/iStock by Getty Images)

Hilton’s elite status response to COVID-19

Due to COVID, Hilton has relaxed its rules for elite status in 2020. All elite status that expired on Mar. 31, 2020, will now be extended to March 31, 2021. Plus, Hilton Honors members who have status expiring on Mar. 31, 2021, will have their status extended through Mar. 31, 2022.

In addition, Hilton is also freezing points expiration through Dec.31, 2020. Normally, Hilton points expire if you don’t earn or redeem anything in 12 months. And any Weekend Night Reward certificates earned with select Hilton Amex cards will be extended. All Weekend Night Rewards that were unexpired as of Mar.11, 2020, and all new certificates issued through Aug. 30, 2020, will be valid through Aug. 31, 2021.

Lastly, Hilton announced that all stays completed from Jan. 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020, will automatically roll over and count towards 2021 – 2023 Hilton elite status. This is good news for anyone who may have completed a few stays before travel came to a halt. And given the uncertainty of the next few months, it’s nice to know you’ll have a longer period of time to work toward earning status.

What is Hilton Elite status and how do I earn it? 

BenefitMember (0-9 nights)Silver (10+ nights)Gold (40+ nights)Diamond (60+ nights)
Hilton Honors Discount ratexxxx
Points toward free nights & moreX20%80%100%
No resort fees on reward staysxxxx
Fifth night free on reward stays xxx
Two free bottles of water xxx
Elite Rollover Nights xxx
Space-available room upgrades  xx
Free continental breakfast  xx
Executive lounge access   x
Diamond status extension   x
48-hour room guarantee   x
Elite status gifting   x

Hilton status tiers

With Hilton elite status, you’ll get an upgraded experience for all stays at Hilton hotels and there is no cost to get started. Here is what you can expect from each level of elite status.

Member tier

As the base tier for all members, you need to sign up on Hilton’s website for their rewards program.

  • Member discount (a lower room rate exclusively for Hilton members)
  • Earn points toward free nights (10 points per dollar at most hotels)
  • No resort fees on award stays
  • Digital check-in and digital key through the Hilton app
  • Free standard Wi-Fi
  • Late checkout
  • Ability to transfer and pool points with friends and family for free

This is the base tier that you get just for opening a new account. There is absolutely no reason that you should be staying at a Hilton hotel without enjoying these perks because, again, it costs nothing to sign up. Plus, if you are earning points anyway (which of course you want to), then you want to set up this account.

Silver Status Comes Complimentary With the Hilton Honors American Express Card Which Earns You Benefits Like Late Checkout and Free Water Bottles in Your Hotel Room
Late checkout is offered at the base Member elite status tier. (Photo by monkeybusinessimages/iStock by Getty Images)

Overall, there isn’t anything too exciting about this tier. The most notable benefits are free Wi-Fi and late checkout. It is actually surprising that Hilton offers late checkout for all members as a base-tier perk. Many other hotels reserve this benefit for a higher level of elite status.

The member discount isn’t anything to get too excited about. It usually matches the price you find from online travel agencies like Priceline or Hotels.com.

You will earn 10 base Hilton points per dollar you spend during your stay on room charges (including expenses charged to your room) except at Tru and Home2Suites, where you’ll earn 5 Hilton points per dollar. Since Hilton points tend to be worth about 0.5 cents each, this is about 5 cents per dollar in value during your stay.

Hilton Silver status tier

Complete any of the following during a calendar year:

  • Four stays
  • Stay 10 nights
  • Earn 25,000 Hilton base points
  • Hold a Hilton Honors American Express card; status is complimentary
  • Everything from the Member tier
  • Earn 20% bonus Hilton points (12 total points per dollar at most hotels)
  • Receive the fifth night free on award stays of five or more consecutive nights
  • Two free bottles of water
  • Elite-tier rollover nights

Silver elite status is relatively easy to earn. It’s available after four stays with Hilton (which could be as few as four nights if you spend one night per stay). The easiest way to maintain Silver elite status is by having the Hilton Honors American Express Card, which offers complimentary Silver status as long as you keep the card open. Plus, this card has no annual fee (See rates and fees), so there is no reason to ever close it.

The 20% bonus Hilton points per dollar on Hilton hotel stays helps you earn your next free stay even faster. This tier also introduces elite-tier rollover nights, which makes it easier to maintain your elite-status tier the next year.

For example, say you stay 15 nights this year at Hilton. Because only 10 nights are needed for Silver status, the five “extra” nights will roll over and give you a five-night head start going into the next year.

The Hilton Garden Inn Belo Horizonte costs only 10,000 points per night, so for 40,000 Hilton points, you can stay five nights here, thanks to the fifth-night-free perk. (Photo courtesy of Hilton)

Another huge perk that we love with this tier status is the fifth night free perk on award stays. If you use Hilton points to book a stay of five or more consecutive nights, you can enjoy the fifth night free. So on a five-night award stay, it only costs the number of points for four nights.

Hilton Gold status tier

  • Complete 20 stays
  • Stay 40 nights
  • Earn 75,000 Hilton points
  • Hold the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card or Hilton Honors American Express Business Card; it’s complimentary with either card
  • Everything from the Member and Silver tiers
  • Earn 80% bonus Hilton points (18 total points per dollar at most hotels)
  • Free room upgrade when available (up to Executive room type)
  • Complimentary breakfast at all hotels
  • Unlimited milestone bonuses

The Hilton Gold status elite tier is arguably one of the best deals in all hotel elite-status tiers. It packs tons of benefits and perks and is still attainable for folks who travel somewhat frequently.

There is a ton of value with this elite-status tier. All of these perks will significantly improve the quality of your stay at a Hilton hotel.

Most notable is free complimentary breakfast. The quality of this breakfast will vary on the hotel brand — a Hampton Inn might offer a continental breakfast but the more luxurious Conrad or Waldorf Astoria brands will offer a credit for breakfast at the hotel restaurant.

In addition, you can also expect space-available room upgrades up to an Executive room type. Generally, these upgrades yield “enhanced rooms,” which often are rooms with better views. So paying for a standard room in New York City, you might get moved to the same room but facing Central Park.

Free breakfast is offered at all Hilton hotels for Gold status members, like this continental breakfast plate at the Waldorf Astoria Grand Wailea in Hawaii. (Photo by Jasmin Baron)

There are lots of opportunities to earn tons of Hilton points thanks to the 80% bonus points you receive during your stays. There are also milestone bonuses which allow you to earn thousands more bonus points for completing certain amounts of nights per year.

The easiest way to maintain this elite status tier is by having the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass or Hilton Honors American Express Business credit cards. They both offer complimentary Gold elite status as long as you keep the card open. With one of these cards you can enjoy the perks of Hilton Gold status, without needing to build up or maintain 40 nights of traveling per year.

Hilton Diamond status tier

  • Complete 30 stays
  • Stay 60 nights
  • Earn 120,000 Hilton points
  • Hold the Hilton Honors Aspire from American Express card; it’s complimentary
  • Everything from the Gold, Silver, and Member tiers
  • Earn 100% bonus Hilton points (20 total points per dollar at most hotels)
  • Free space-available room upgrade (up to one-bedroom suite)
  • Free premium Wi-Fi
  • Executive lounge access
  • Diamond status extension
  • 48-hour room guarantee
  • Elite status giving

On the highest end, Diamond elite status offers the best perks for Hilton’s most loyal travelers. Getting to this tier requires a lot more travel but Hilton again gives you the opportunity to earn the status by holding a certain card.

The Hilton Honors Aspire from American Express card comes with this complimentary status. Keep in mind that this premium travel card does have a high annual fee of $450 (See Rates & Fees).

Diamond elite members will enjoy better room upgrades compared to Gold elite members. Diamond members can be upgraded to premium rooms, up to an actual suite. In addition, Diamond members have access to executive lounges in Hilton hotels that have them. These lounges are similar to airport lounges, with food and drink plus a quiet and comfortable place to relax and work.

Another notable benefit is free access to premium Wi-Fi. All other status tiers include free Wi-Fi but the premium Wi-Fi option is usually an additional charge (~$7 to $15 per day, depending on the hotel). Hilton describes it as “up to three times the speed of standard internet and ideal for high-definition video streaming and large file downloads.” They don’t guarantee a specific download speed, but they do promise that it is adequate for streaming and heavy internet work.

Diamond members get premium Wi-Fi, which allows you to reliably work and stream with the best Wi-Fi speeds that Hilton offers. (Photo by pio3/Shutterstock)

As with the Gold tier, you can expect to earn lots of Hilton points. Diamond members earn 100% bonus points, meaning 20 total Hilton points per dollar spent at most hotels.

In addition, there is also the option to gift Gold elite status to someone else after you stay 60 nights with Hilton and that same gifted status will be upgraded to Diamond after you stay 100 total nights within the same year.

Which Hilton status tier is the best value?

Overall, we think Hilton Gold status is the best overall value. Silver elite status doesn’t offer that many significant benefits other than Hilton’s fifth-night-free perk, but Gold members enjoy significant benefits that can greatly improve your hotel stay.

Gold status is also easy to get because it is complimentary to cardholders of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass (See Rates & Fees) or Hilton Honors American Express Business (See Rates & Fees) credit cards. Both of these cards have $95 annual fees, which the perks of Gold status easily justify.

In addition, you’ll earn 12 Hilton points per dollar when you use either of these cards at Hilton hotels PLUS base Hilton points (10 points at most Hilton hotels) and the 80% bonus. This means at most Hilton hotels, you will earn a whopping 30 Hilton points per dollar (10 base points + 80% bonus = 18 Hilton points + 12 Hilton points = 30 total Hilton points).  With a value of 0.5 cents per Hilton point, this is like getting 15 cents back per dollar.

Pro tip: Always charge everything to the room. Whenever you go to dinner at the hotel, grab a drink, buy a round of golf or even buy a pack of gum from the gift shop, always ask if you can charge it to your room, because these charges will earn you 10 to 20 points per dollar when paid for as part of your room charges. Plus, you still earn the bonus points from your credit card on top of that.

Credit cards that offer Hilton status

Hilton credit cards include:

  • Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Best overall Hilton card for points travelers (Diamond status)
  • Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Best mid-tier card with great spending bonuses (Gold status)
  • The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card: Best business credit cards for earning Hilton points (Gold status)
  • Hilton Honors American Express Card: Best for no annual fee (Silver status)

Each of these cards comes with some level of status. But if you’re looking for top tier Diamond status, you’ll have to opt for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. Be sure to check out our guide to the best Hilton cards here

It’s also worth noting that you can get Hilton Gold status with both The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express.

FAQs about Hilton elite status

What is Hilton elite status gifting? 

Elite status gifting allows those with eligible status to gift status to a friend or loved one. Those with at least 60 nights (the minimum needed for Diamond status) can gift Gold and those with at least 100 nights can gift Diamond status. You must earn the status within the calendar year and elite rollover nights don’t count towards the number of nights you need to stay in order to be able to earn or gift status.

Can you get lifetime Diamond status? 

Yes, you can get lifetime Diamond status with Hilton. But you’ll need to meet the following requirements: 

  • Earn Hilton Diamon status for 10 (non-consecutive) years and achieve one of the following:
    • Complete at least 1,000 total paid/award nights OR
    • Earn 2 million base Hilton points

As you can see, Hilton makes it pretty difficult to achieve lifetime status. Those who travel a lot for business will certainly have a leg up on the rest of us regular folk. But it’s still no easy feat. And considering you’ll get Diamond status simply by holding the Hilton Aspire card, that’d be my recommendation for achieving status if it’s important to you.

How to join Hilton Honors 

Joining Hilton’s loyalty program is free and easy. In just a few simple steps you can register with the Hilton Honors program. Here’s our guide to setting up a Hilton account.

Do Hilton points expire? 

Hilton points usually expire after 12 months of inactivity. But due to COVID, Hilton has paused points expirations through Dec. 30, 2020.

How do you maintain Hilton status?

Having a credit card that offers Hilton status (like the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card or The Platinum Card® from American Express) is really the easiest way to maintain status. Aside from that, you’ll have to regularly meet the stay requirements needed to earn and maintain status. 

Bottom line

Hilton offers great value for its elite status members. Getting started is easy, and you immediately receive benefits with the lowest tier.

The Hilton elite status tiers include:

  • Member status: Free standard Wi-Fi, late checkout and more
  • Hilton Silver status: Free bottles of water and fifth-night-free perk
  • Hilton Gold status: Space-available room upgrades, milestone bonuses, free breakfast and tons of bonus points
  • Hilton Diamond status: Premium Wi-Fi, executive lounge access, free room upgrades up to one-bedroom suites

And the good news is, maintaining status is as easy as having the right credit card. The Hilton Aspire card, for example, offers top tier Diamond status. With the right credit card, you can enjoy the perks offered by elite status without needing to achieve the minimum number of nights required for that tier.

Do you use any cards to enjoy the perks of elite status? Let me know which Hilton card is your favorite.

For the latest tips and tricks on traveling big without spending a fortune, please subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets email newsletter.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express, please click here

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass, please click here

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, please click here

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Card, please click here

Meghan Hunter is an editor for Million Mile Secrets. She covers points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. Her work has also appeared in The Points Guy.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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