Which Credit Cards Offer Hilton Elite Status?

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Nowadays there are so many opportunities to fast track your status using credit cards. For example, I have both the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, and each gives me two elite qualifying stays and five elite qualifying nights towards status annually. That’s a nice jumpstart to renewing Platinum status, or in my case, getting renewed for 100-night Ambassador status.

SPG-Amex-1

Since I’ll inevitably be a Marriott loyalist soon enough due to the Starwood takeover, the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card has a slightly different system. Just for having the card you receive 15 elite credits per year, and then you get an additional elite credit for every $3,000 you spend on the card. That might seem like a lot of elite credits upfront, but Marriott also has rather inflated elite tiers.

Marriott Platinum requires 75 nights, so in theory spending $180,000 on the Marriott credit card would get you their top tier status. That’s a significant amount of spend, though.

Marriott-Status

But as far as hotels go, the loyalty program which makes it easiest to achieve useful status through credit cards is Hilton HHonors. They have co-brand agreements with both American Express and Citi, and all of their credit cards offer some sort of status. So I figured I’d outline the status opportunities.

The following cards offer Hilton elite status:

Hilton HHonorsTM Card from American Express (no annual fee)

  • Silver status for as long as you have the card
  • Gold status when you spend $20,000 on the card in a calendar year

Hilton HHonorsTM Surpass® Card from American Express ($75 annual fee)

  • Gold status for as long as you have the card
  • Diamond status when you spend $40,000 on the card in a calendar year

Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve Card ($95 annual fee)

  • Gold status for as long as you have the card
  • Diamond status when you spend $40,000 on the card in a calendar year

The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN ($550 annual fee for the Personal Platinum and $450 for the Business Platinum)

Should you aim for Silver, Gold, or Diamond status?

HHonors-Status

Simply put, Silver status won’t get you much. You get a points bonus, but aside from that, don’t expect much.

For the average traveler, I think Gold status is the sweet spot. You get access to the club lounge based on availability, and otherwise you receive free breakfast. Breakfast is one of the most valuable elite perks out there, so I think this is a worthwhile status for minimal effort. You’ll also often get room upgrades.

Conrad-HK-Breakfast
Breakfast buffet at the Conrad Hong Kong

If you stay at Hilton properties more often, you may find it worthwhile to go for Diamond status. That gets you guaranteed lounge access, and in theory makes you eligible for suite upgrades, though only at the hotel’s discretion. Some people claim they get suite upgrades every time, while those of us who don’t want to be the front desk’s worst nightmare get them once in a while. Still, you’ll usually at least get some sort of a decent room upgrade.

Hilton-Suite
I recently got a suite at the Hilton Queenstown

Which card offers the best value for elite status?

If the goal is to get Hilton Gold status for as cheap as possible, your best bet is the Hilton HHonors Surpass Card, which has a $75 annual fee.

If the goal is to earn Hilton Diamond status through credit card spend, I’d recommend the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card over the Hilton HHonors Surpass Card. While the card’s annual fee is $20 higher, you’ll be better rewarded for your $40,000 of spend. That’s because the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card offers a free weekend night certificate after spending $10,000 on the card in a year, which can be redeemed at one of Hilton’s top properties (which ordinarily cost up to 95,000 points per night).

Conrad-Koh-Samui-100
Redeem your free weekend night certificate at the Conrad Koh Samui

However, if the goal is simply to get Gold status as part of a suite of other benefits, it’s tough to beat the Amex Platinum Card. While the card has a $550 annual fee, it offers a $200 annual airline credit, access to Delta SkyClubs and Amex Centurion Lounges, a Priority Pass membership, access to Fine Hotels & Resorts, and more. I think that’s the best overall value. It’s also worth noting that even authorized users on the card get Hilton Gold status, while for the other cards only the primary cardmember gets that status.

Lastly, I should note that Hilton also offers status matches at the moment, so if you have elite status with another program, you can match your status.

Bottom line

While Hilton HHonors isn’t my favorite loyalty program in the world, there’s no denying that having status with them is useful, given the thousands of hotels they have around the world. Right now I’m Hilton Diamond through a status match, but once that expires I’ll be perfectly happy through Hilton HHonors Gold status through one of the above credit cards.

Do you have Hilton elite status, and if so, how do you earn it?


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Comments

  1. Right now I am a Diamond member due to a recent status match.
    Before that I was (and after that I will be) a Gold member by having the HHonors Visa card from DKB.
    I enjoy my diamond status while I have it, because it gives me free breakfast even when choosing the points. Gold status doesn’t do that.

  2. I have Gold status – for a few years now – via the Hilton Amex Surpass Card.

    Side question: has anybody achieved Diamond status when their original Hotel program was Gold only? Or is the Diamond match only via highest tiers from other programs?

  3. @Lucky sez: “Some people claim they get suite upgrades every time, while those of us who don’t want to be the front desk’s worst nightmare get them once in a while.”

    They are not just claims. Some of us have provided links to posts on discussion groups with PHOTOS showing the inside of, e.g., 12 of 12 or 100% complimentary suite upgrades that we got in 2014. Don’t you believe your own lying eyes? 😉

    Being “the front desk’s worst nightmare” is precisely what won’t get you very many complimentary suite upgrades, since “pushy” is simply the wrong way to go about it. Poor understanding of things work, in fact, suggest that rather than to peddle the ridiculous notion that any loyalty elite perks are “guaranteed”, travel bloggers would do better to educate themselves and then to begin “coaching” their readers on how to be “creative” to maximize their benefits, “guaranteed” or otherwise. To have just 4 DSUs per year, even if they were “guaranteed”, would simply not dot it for my pattern of traveling, which sometimes includes stays that are longer than 7 nights and would require burning 2 DSUs to stay in a suite. There is a lesson, especially for travel bloggers, in reports that I’ve seen this space by a few SPG loyalists who seem to play the game with a full deck, and swear that they are more successful getting complimentary suite upgrades at check in than using so-called confirmable SNAs. That is what as I would expect…

    G’day!

  4. Let me clean up the following very important part of my comment above, which I posted from a smartphone while in transit and came out a bit cryptic…

    “Being “the front desk’s worst nightmare” is precisely what won’t get you very many complimentary suite upgrades, since “pushy” is simply the wrong way to go about it. THE poor understanding of HOW things work, in fact, suggests that rather than to peddle the ridiculous notion that any loyalty elite perks are “guaranteed”, travel bloggers would do better to educate themselves and then to begin “coaching” their readers on how to be “creative” to maximize their benefits, “guaranteed” or otherwise. To have just 4 DSUs per year, even if they were “guaranteed”, would simply not dot it for my pattern of traveling, which sometimes includes stays that are longer than 7 nights and would require burning 2 DSUs to stay in a suite. There is a lesson, especially for travel bloggers, in reports that I’ve seen IN this space by a few SPG loyalists who seem to play the game with a full deck and swear that they are more successful getting complimentary suite upgrades at check in than using so-called confirmable SNAs. That is as I would expect…”

    Much better… 🙂

  5. I’ve had Hilton Gold status via AMEX Biz Plat for a few years and have also recently acquired the Citi and AMEX Hilton cards for bonuses. In the past, I never cared what hotel I stayed in as long as I felt safe and the room had a kitchen/kitchenette. The highest status I ever received was through the CCs. Anyway, recently my business travels have taken me to a city full of Hilton suites hotels and I will achieve Diamond by the end of next month. After that, I hope the status match Gods will comply with my requests.

  6. Customer service is always a factor with cards too, and not just the points, miles, perks or offers.

    Interesting test case with my Citi Hhonors card (recently acquired through this site). I duly put $2,700 on the card in the first month and got my bonus miles. So far, so good.

    But inexplicably the check I sent them for payment went missing, and of course Citi slapped me with fees and interest ($50 or so). Now that is understandable if customers just don’t pay, pay late or send a bad check. But I sent my payment in good time and good faith, and it vanished – either USPS or Citi lost it.

    Naturally I called Citi and explained, and sent a formal letter demanding that these fees be reversed. I also stopped the check and sent a replacement of course.

    But will Citi reverse the charges? Other cards have always done so in the past when there has been a misunderstanding – I ALWAYS pay in full and on time, and my FICO is 850. If Citi get petty here, that’s a serious black mark on their cards. And a veto as far as I am concerned.

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