Hilton HHonors Diamond Status Through Credit Card Spending

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Last year I went for Hilton HHonors Diamond status by putting $40,000 of spend on my Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card.

Now, the card has a few lucrative bonuses beyond the sign-up bonus of two free weekend nights, including:

  • Hilton HHonors Gold status for as long as you have the card
  • A free weekend night certificate upon your account anniversary every year when you spend $10,000 on the card
  • Hilton HHonors Diamond status for any calendar year in which you spend $40,000 on the card

So is it worth putting $40,000 of spend per year on the card to get Diamond status over Gold status?

On paper the differences between Gold and Diamond status aren’t huge so I wasn’t actually convinced it would be worth it, though figured I’d give it a shot and report back. I shared my observations as an HHonors Diamond member, and for the most part didn’t find there to be a huge difference in terms of the experience as a Gold vs. Diamond guest.

I actually only just realized this week that my Diamond status is valid through March of next year. For whatever reason I thought Diamond status earned through credit card spend would only be valid for the remainder of the year in which it’s earned and then the first few months of the following year.

As it turns out it’s actually valid through March of 2015, so has quite a bit of life left.

Hilton-Diamond-Status-1

While I wasn’t about to put another $40,000 of spend on the card this year, I did realize that there’s a strategy to optimize earning Diamond status through credit card spend, if you’re so inclined.

Rather than putting $40,000 of spend on the card every year, you could put $40,000 of spend on the card every other year:

  • I earned Diamond status last year by putting $40,000 of spend on the card
  • Rather than putting another $40,000 of spend on the card this year, I could instead wait until 2015 and then try to put $40,000 of spend on the card in the first three months of the year (while my Diamond status is still valid), and then the Diamond status would be extended once again for the remainder of the year and the entire following year

Like I said above, I’m not convinced it’s actually worth putting the spend on the card for Diamond status, though it’s definitely a better option than putting $40,000 of spend on the card every year. And with some of the more creative spend options out there, it shouldn’t be impossible to spend $40,000 on a card in a quarter.

For what it’s worth this trick should work for both the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card and the American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass Card, both of which give you Diamond status after $40,000 worth of spend on either credit card.

Ultimately I do find the Citi Hilton Reserve Card to be worth keeping long term for the Gold status that you get for as long as you have the card, and I also find it worthwhile to put $10,000 of spend on the card per year, as you get a free weekend night certificate for doing so.

Whether or not the $40,000 of spend is worthwhile or not probably depends on your personal circumstances and which properties you’d stay at. At the very least it’s worth employing the above strategy to only have to spend $40,000 on the card every other year.

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Comments

  1. @ Mark — You either have to call, or if you look at your online summary it should reflect your status and say “To maintain Diamond status in 2015…” In that case you know your status is still valid for this year.

  2. Its not just 40K in spend in three months, its 40K in spend in three months that you DON’T spend on any other cards.

    If the spend is on stays at Hilton, there’s not much of an argument, since you’re getting 10 HH/$ spent on the Reserve. But of course even there you could get 12 HH/$ on the Surpass, or another 80,000 HH points.

    If you have to scrounge up spend a office supply stores, airlines, internet bills, supermarkets, restaurants, pharmacies, FedEx etc you could do better by using other cards. Even ignoring what you could get by putting that spend on new cards to earn bonuses.

    Plus as you say I haven’t found being HH Diamond to be that memorable.

  3. Note the Amex Surpass now also gives Gold status without any spend requirement

    These days you can MS $40k spend in a month. Do it at a grocery store with the Surpass card and you’d get Diamond status and 240k Hilton points which is not bad.

    But I do agree the value of Diamond over Gold is highly, highly marginal

  4. So, I got all excited to show that I know something lucky doesn’t know, and was going to post in the comments about how the $40,000 spend requirement on the citi hilton card is by cardmember year, not calendar year. Before I did, though, I thought I’d better look it up. And, sure enough, I was wrong.

    The important point, though, is that the free weekend night which comes with this card (which to me justifies the annual fee) is based on cardmember, not calendar year (so they make sure to get your annual fee before they give you the free night, presumably). Having these two spending benefits tied to different years makes things tricky if you generally only use this card to meet spending. If you move to an every-other-year $40k spend scheme to keep diamond, it’s probably good to keep this timing in mind. For example, if your anniversary month is March, you might want to split the $40k spending so that at least $10k is made on either side of your anniversary, so you get free nights for each year.

  5. @Peter @ Lantean; if you own a business, even a very very small one like I do (3 emps including me), spending about $14k a month on a card is nothing. Paying vendors, taxes, travel, supplies, utilities via CC adds up very quickly.

  6. I think their point is that even with access to high spend rate, there are more rewarding card bonuses to funnel that spend through.

  7. @ Lantean — I don’t personally, but there are lots of ways to get creative. Just to name a few:
    — Amazon Payments
    — Vanilla Reloads
    — Paying taxes by credit card

    Not something everything will want to do, but also if you run a business where you run a lot of money through a credit card it’s not too tough for many to put that kind of spend on a card.

  8. @ Nick — Yes, though both the Citi Hilton Reserve and AmEx Hilton Surpass Cards offer free Gold status for as long as you have the cards.

  9. Okay, so in 3 months you could do $5K per month or $15K in BB/Vanillas unbonused. And $3K in Amazon. That’s $18K. Another $15K in another BB and maybe another Amazon cycle to get to $36K and sure maybe you’re close enough. But still… for HH points?

    40K HH points are worth, what? $160?

    You could do exactly the same spend and get 40K SPG or 40K Hyatt worth $800. Is Hilton Diamond worth $640?d

    (again not assuming any spend on new credit card bonuses in a 3 month period, and that you don’t have a real business to cycle spend through)

  10. Glenn — you get 3x Hilton per dollar on this card even for nonbonus spend, so $40k in spending is 120,000 Hilton points, not 40,000. More significantly, anyone who has this card should already be putting $10k on it for the free night chainwide. (If you’re not getting the free night, and not spending on the card, why do you have it? Presumably it’s for the 10x at Hilton, but then get the Amex for 12k.) So, the question really is not whether to put $40k on the card every year, but instead whether to spend the extra $30k to get diamond (plus another 90,000 points).

    And, to take it even a step further, assuming you’re going to put $10k a year on the card for your free night, using Ben’s technique, you really only need to spend an additional $20k every other year on the card. As I noted above, the free night is based on cardmember year not calendar year, while the $40k spend for diamond is based on calendar year. So, for example, if you wanted to maintain permanent diamond status starting next year, and get your free night each year, for the minimum spend you would sign up for the card in February. In that case, it would go something like this:

    1) Sign up for the card next month and get your 2 free nights and your free points, and you’ll be gold all year as soon as approved.
    2) January 2015, spend $10k (get one free night for your first cardmember year)
    3) March 2015, spend $30k (get your second free night, for spending $10k in the first month of your new calendar year, and get diamond through March 2017 for having spent $40k in calendar year 2015).
    4) 2016 — you don’t need to use the card.
    5) January 2017, spend $10k to get your free night.
    6) March 2017, spend $30k to get another free night and diamond through 2019.
    7) 2017 — do nothing.
    Repeat.

    So, you’re spending $40k every two years for perpetual diamond, plus your free night every year, plus 120,000 points.

  11. @ Glenn — Well I think we can agree it’s worth putting $10K of spend on the card for the free weekend night certificate, so lets talk about the marginal spend between $10,000 and $40,000, which is $30,000. I value three HHonors points at 1.2 cents each, so lets put that up against your valuation of two cents each for Starwood or Hyatt points. Basically you’re giving up $240 of “value” for making that spend.

    Is Hilton Diamond worth $240? I’m not convinced, but I know for some it is.

    Again, the point of this post wasn’t to say you SHOULD go for Diamond status. As a matter of fact my conclusion in my last post was that it’s not worth it. But IF you want to, your best bet is the above strategy, in my opinion.

  12. Warning: Diamond status is NOT based on calendar year spending. It is based on calendar year billing cycle. And even at that on the date the charges post.

    If your Dec bill closes on Dec 1, all spend posting for the rest of Dec will be credited to the following year since it will be on your Jan bill.

    Even if you charge something to the card on Nov 28, if the charge doesn’t post until Dec 2, that gets credited to your bill on Jan 1 and counts to the following year. 🙁

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