Is Hilton Considering A New Diamond+ Top Tier Status?

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There are things I both love and hate about Hilton HHonors. I love the fact that I can easily maintain Hilton HHonors Gold status just for having the Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve CardThe Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN, etc. That status gives me free breakfast and/or executive lounge access, which is the hotel elite status perk I value most.

Conrad-Hong-Kong-Club-Lounge
Conrad Hong Kong executive lounge

At the same time, Hilton has a top tier Diamond status, and I don’t love the fact that they don’t offer much in the way of incremental benefits for earning that status. The status is relatively easy to earn, as you can earn Hilton Diamond by spending $40,000 per year on the Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve Card, which is pretty good for top tier hotel status. At the same time, I feel bad for the people actually putting in the 60+ nights required to earn the status, since they’re not getting much in the way of incremental rewards.

What are the differences between Hilton Gold and Diamond?

Over the years I’ve been both Gold and Diamond with Hilton, and I haven’t found there to be much of a difference. On paper the differences include:

  • Diamond members earn a 50% points bonus, while Gold members earn a 25% points bonus
  • Diamond members get guaranteed access to club lounges, while Gold members get access based on availability (though they get breakfast otherwise, which many prefer to lounge access anyway)
  • Diamond members get complimentary premium internet, while Gold members get complimentary standard internet
  • Diamond members may receive prioritized room upgrades, including to suites

However, there are two things that Hilton doesn’t offer their top tier elite members that could really help to differentiate status:

  • Guaranteed 4PM check-out, which is offered by Hyatt, Marriott, and Starwood
  • Confirmed and/or guaranteed suite upgrades of some sort; with Hilton’s current terms, you can be upgraded to a suite at the hotel’s discretion, which is very different than being entitled to a suite upgrade based on availability (Hyatt and Starwood even offer some form of confirmed suite upgrades)

Hilton-Queenstown - 11
Could Hilton finally be introducing some sort of suite upgrade benefit?

So clearly there’s an opportunity for Hilton to enhance their top tier status.

Is Hilton Diamond+ the answer?

Doctor of Credit has the details of a rumored new premium Hilton credit card. At this point we don’t know the timeframe or if it will even come to market, but the thing that intrigues me the most about this $395 annual fee card is that it will supposedly offer Diamond status for as long as you have it, and then Diamond+ status when you spend at least $60,000 on the card in a calendar year.

The intriguing thing here is the card offering Diamond+ status, since as of now that’s not even a thing. Again, we don’t yet have a sense of the timeline of this, but it suggests to me that Hilton will very shortly be announcing a new top tier status level, and it’ll likely be called Diamond+.

I suspect that if Diamond+ status is in fact introduced, it will come with guaranteed late check-out and/or some form of suite upgrades. That could come in the form of space available suite upgrades at check-in, or otherwise a certain number of confirmed suite upgrades per year (I suspect the latter is most likely).

Regardless of how it’s implemented, I’m a bit surprised to see Hilton introducing an additional elite tier, rather than reworking their existing tiers. Under the new system they’d have four elite tiers, and it sure seems like there wouldn’t be much differentiation between Gold and Diamond.

Then again, perhaps the above is exactly the reason they’d keep a Diamond tier — it allows them to continue to offer it through a premium credit card as a base benefit. It would be tough for them to differentiate a higher annual fee credit card if it also “only” offered Gold status.

Bottom line

At this point it’s all speculation, though it sure seems very likely that Hilton will soon announce a new top tier status, and that the status will be called Diamond+. We don’t know what the benefits will look like, though I’d put my money on the point of differentiation being with guaranteed late check-out and/or suite upgrades.

What would you like to see from a new Hilton Diamond+ tier?

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Comments

  1. The number of lounges in the Priority Pass network is also very wrong on that mock-up advert. It’s over 900 now so I’d say the advert was doctored using a 3-4 year old template.

  2. @Lucky sez: “At the same time, Hilton has a top tier Diamond status, and I don’t love the fact that they don’t offer much in the way of incremental benefits for earning that status. The status is relatively easy to earn, as you can earn Hilton Diamond by spending $40,000 per year on the Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve Card, which is pretty good for top tier hotel status. At the same time, I feel bad for the people actually putting in the 60+ nights required to earn the status, since they’re not getting much in the way of incremental rewards.”

    Oh boy, he went there again, prompted this by what sounds like someone trolling travel blogosphere’s self-anointed ‘ loyalty gurus’!

    Well, two can play that game.

    In the comments section of a travel blog, a poster made this very astute remark:

    “…can’t help but notice that over time, they [travel blogs] all pretty much say the same thing, you could take one “guy’s” name on one and put it on another, and you probably wouldn’t even notice.”

    With that in mind consider the following. Although once upon a time HH Gold and Diamond elite levels, like the CURRENT MR Platinum and Gold elite levels, were quite similar, HHonors decided way back in 2012 to put real distance between their Diamond and Gold elite levels, by introducing several Diamonds-only perks, including complimentary suite upgrades. However, as is customary in the travel blogosphere echo chamber, the outdated, obsolete and demonstrably bogus claim that HH Diamond and Gold levels are not “materially different” still gets repeated again and again. Here’s a sampling and remember the astute quote above about how travel bloggers just copy one another:

    “There’s not much difference between HHonors Diamond and HHonors Gold status in my experience…” [or its variant in this post] – Lucky

    “I don’t really consider Diamond to be meaningfully better than Gold, though, in Hilton’s program” –Gary Leff

    “HH Diamond is only marginally better than Gold” –Scott Mackenzie

    “It seems like a little much to us for a status that isn’t much better than their Hilton Gold status.” – Joe Caldwell

    See the clear herd mentality, where no one bothers to examine the facts, because it is simply easier to repeat what someone else claimed, even if it’s demonstrably bogus or the claim had long been outdated?

    Like I said, the two elite levels that can be easily shown to be marginally different are MR Platinum and Gold levels, as Golds get all the Platinum perks (e.g., suite upgrades), except for the following (don’t take my word for it, look it up):

    — Guaranteed Platinum Arrival Gift is available at all participating Marriott hotel brands.
    — 48-hour Guaranteed Availability: Limited to Platinum Member’s personal guestroom.
    — Platinum Elite Reservations Line: Exclusive reservations number available for Platinum Elite Members.

    That’s it.

    By contrast:
    — Room upgrades for HH Golds exclude SUITES, one of my top HH Diamond perks.
    — HH Golds can access the exec lounge ONLY if they are upgraded to the exec floor, which is a lottery in itself, especially in the US.
    — On property perks, number of elite bonus points, and so on, favor HH Diamonds, making it easy for them to earn load of points…

    While just those items already differentiate HH Golds and Diamonds, the mother all differentiators is the very powerful HH “Diamond Force” perk, which on paper sounds like the “48-hour Guaranteed Availability” perk that top elites in other programs (e.g. MR Plats) have, but HH DF is much, much more when the chips are down. I wrote “the book” on HH “Diamond Force”, which I updated just over a week ago to demonstrate that the perk is alive and well, and I will provide the link to in the next post to avoid having this one held up in moderation.

    BTW, @Lucky, please don’t feel “bad” for me! Although I have completed just 7 stays this year, I have just 3 more stays to go before I requalify my HH Diamond on BASE POINTS or SPEND. Total number of nights when I requalify? Less than 40 [i.e., less than needed to reach top elite status in most other programs]. Who needs 60+ nights or spend $40K when one can qualify for Diamond by spending just $12K? For a $40K spend I’d make HH Diamond 3 years in row! See the holes in what passes for the highest in travel wisdom?

    Bottom line: anyone making the demonstrably bogus claim that there is no “material difference” between HH Diamond and Gold elite levels is either not making the most of their HH Diamond status [by not playing the game with a “full deck”], or they do not know much about the HH program to be pontificating, or both.

  3. Come on though… Gold status’ exclusion of suite upgrades is about as concrete as Diamond status’ inclusion… it’s really hotel discretion. Hyatt does the same excluding suite upgrades for Platinum members, yet I’ve been upgraded to a suite in that tier before. (Didnt spend long as Platinum, admittedly)

    Sure you have some extra verbage to throw at them if they try to deny you as a Diamond (vis a vis the T&C’s), but with the methodology you use to obtain upgrades it sounds far-fetched that they’d differentiate between Gold and Diamond when determining whether to oblige.

  4. Someone at AMEX, a dog food company, meant to hit “enter”, double pressed “+” and “enter” together, and never fixed it. There won’t be a “Diamond+” tier.

  5. Really, really have to agree with @DCS on this one based on my experience. Lounge access is HUGE to me–not just for breakfast but for dinner (a good lounge has plenty of food at dinner time), for happy hour (normally two hours with free wine) and for water and soft drinks during the day. I have been Hilton Diamond for the past two years and Gold for several years before then. I was absolutely denied access to the lounge on several occasions as Gold, and would have been denied access during the past two years if I weren’t Diamond. Also, I have seen Diamond Force many times be the difference between a reasonable redemption rate and a ridiculous one. I am a Marriott Platinum and a Hyatt Diamond as well, but Hyatt often doesn’t have a hotel where I want to be, and Marriott won’t give me lounge access at resorts. I don’t understand why bloggers (including Joe Brancatelli, who I pay to read) keep saying Hilton Gold and Diamond are practically the same. No way I am letting my Hilton Diamond lapse!

  6. I have long maintained that the HH program is of little value and utility unless you are on the road a lot and pay full price at short notice for what is often an inferior product and location, at an unattractive price

    Take the free night that the HH card gives you but, beyond that, there is more value elsewhere

  7. I don’t quite get the logic of the article. Yes, the difference between HH Gold and Diamond isn’t huge, although 50% more stays are required to reach Diamond. But why do you think that an additional tier, again with very few additional benefits, would resolve this?

    As a HH Diamond you usually get a 4pm check out, but unlike with SPG Gold (which is actually a much lower tier), it’s not guaranteed. As far as suite upgrades are concerned, I’m under the impression it really depends on the availability. Many properties outside the US have only a very small number of suites (e.g. one or two), which they firstly try to sell on the market and then give away to loyal customers.

  8. @Andy – Hilton already has arguably the smallest delta in benefits between mid- and top-tier status of any hotel program (cause, you know, it’s so “vibrant” and all). Since you can easily spend your way to top tier Diamond (vs. actually needing to stay in the hotel), it makes total sense that the benefits as written are quite light.

    So – instead of adding to a weak Diamond tier, they’ll just create a new one that will better mirror other programs’ better top tiers, with actual guarantees and such. Maybe they will wizen up and not allow one to spend their way to it.

  9. @DSK — ++1

    “Joe Brancatelli, who I pay to read) keep saying Hilton Gold and Diamond are practically the same”

    There is critical thinking in the echo chamber. They just hear a claim; it fits their own bias so they just appropriate it and cut and paste it from there on. Maybe you should stop paying to read this Joe B. guy?

  10. I checked into a Hilton hotel in the summer and asked about Gold upgrades and was told none were available. Another person in our group was Hilton diamond and was told the same. Meanwhile the hotel website was clearly offering upgraded rooms for sale, for the same nights as our stays. We both saw this on our phones as we checked in. Hilton upgrades are bogus. I just collect the points for free nights. And the free breakfast with status is nice too. But I’m a business traveler and I can expense breakfast anyway, so where’s the real benefit for me?

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