Back in March I shared my thoughts as to whether it’s worth earning Hilton HHonors Diamond status through the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card. I picked up the card earlier this year and found it worthwhile for the two free weekend nights at any Hilton property worldwide after completing minimum spend. I redeemed these nights at the Conrad Hong Kong, a stay that would have otherwise cost me 80,000 HHonors points per night through Hilton’s post-devaluation award chart.

At the time I also found the card worthwhile for HHonors Gold status, which you get for as long as you have the card. One of the issues with Hilton is that they don’t do much to differentiate between Gold and Diamond status. As a Gold member you get complimentary internet and breakfast/lounge access, which as far as I’m concerned are the two single most valuable hotel elite benefis.

So earlier in the year I decided to (creatively) spend $40,000 on the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card, as I wanted to see whether there was any noticeable difference between Gold and Diamond status. On paper there are two major differences between Gold and Diamond status as far as I’m concerned:

  • Diamond members are guaranteed executive lounge access, while it’s based on availability for Gold members. That being said, in practice I’ve never been denied lounge access as a Gold. Maybe I was just lucky.
  • The terms & conditions of the program give Diamond members suite upgrades at the hotel’s discretion. This is different than Starwood where Platinum members get guaranteed suite upgrades based on availability at arrival, but instead with Hilton it’s entirely at the hotel’s discretion. I don’t think there are many Hilton Diamond members getting suite upgrades anywhere close to a majority of the time, though.

So several Hilton stays later, what are my thoughts? The funny thing is that my first stay as a Hilton Diamond member was exceptional. I stayed at the Hilton Budapest, which admittedly is in dire need of a renovation, but was both proactively recognized for having my first stay as an HHonors Diamond member and given a suite upgrade.

Hilton_Budapest01
Hilton Budapest suite living room

Hilton_Budapest21
Hilton Budapest suite living room view

So naturally I figured “wow, Hilton Diamond status is awesome.” Unfortunately that’s the only stay where I received any recognition I don’t think I would have otherwise received as a Gold member. Since then I’ve received at best executive rooms with all my stays, including at the Conrad Hong Kong, Hilton Frankfurt Airport, Hilton Frankfurt, Hilton Singapore, Hilton Paris Charles de Gaulle, etc.

So for what it’s worth I don’t think it’s worth going for Hilton Diamond status, as there are so many easy ways to earn Hilton Gold status:

While I purchased a Milepoint Premium membership I’ll be keeping the Citi Hilton Reserve Card, in part because of the free weekend night you get for spending $10,000 on the card per calendar year. While I don’t foresee putting spend on the card to maintain Hilton Diamond status, I do value the free weekend night quite a bit, to the point that it makes sense to me to put $10,000 of spend on the card per year.

For those of you that are Hilton Diamond members, how does your experience with upgrades compare to mine?

(In the interest of full disclosure, I earn a referral bonus for anyone approved through some of the above links. Thanks for your support!)

  1. December 29th, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Erik said,

    I’d say your experience is spot on. I was Diamond for something like 7 years straight, then my destinations and corporate policies changed so that I was staying in Hiltons less often. In general, I would say that most of the time I was given a nice room on the Executive floor, but I can count the number of suite upgrades on 1 hand during that time. Usually a nice welcome amenity but nothing significantly different than Gold. I was disappointed when I got downgraded to Gold, but found the actual hotel experience was still pretty much the same so I never tried to creatively recover Diamond. The only thing I missed was the extra points multiplier and the ability of the Diamond line to “force” an award into a property that wasn’t showing availability (but I think they killed that benefit).

  2. December 29th, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Pat said,

    I’ve been a Hilton Diamond for 10+ years and this is my final year maintaining that status with them. In my 30 stays with them this year, I was given a suite once at a Hilton where I am a regular. I will switch over to the Surpass card and drop to gold. My travel/stay patterns have changed over the past few years to Hyatt, which in my experience does a fantastic job in recognizing their Diamonds.

    I have come to realize that pursuing Hilton status is like staying in a bad relationship. I didn’t know how bad it was until I was a Hyatt Diamond. :)

    I will maintain some sort of free status until I burn through my 650K Hilton points.

  3. December 29th, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    Kevin said,

    Agree with the other posters – was Hilton Diamond for several years – Definitely not worth it for me to continue to pursue. I got a suite upgrade once in about 5 years, and that was at the Conrad Bangkok – all other stays a various properties were “upgraded” to better rooms on the Executive floors.

    My company policy changed about 2 years ago – when I started staying at Hyatt and Marriott I haven’t looked back.

  4. December 29th, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    ABC said,

    Let me reduce 624 words into one resounding NO.

  5. December 29th, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    justSaying said,

    It’s best value may be in using to parlay the Hyatt Diamond challenge…..

  6. December 29th, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Gary said,

    I didn’t bother re-upping Hilton Diamond this year, I decided it wasn’t even worth $40k of my spend.

  7. December 29th, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    Alan said,

    Damn you can get it so easily via credit cards! Sadly I have to earn it the old fashioned way with stays! I had a couple of times as a Gold when I wasn’t upgraded, so it’s good to know I have definite lounge access. I’ve also had some really nice upgrades, esp in the Conrad Singapore (corner suite) and Hilton Lake Taupo (top floor suite that was more like an apartment!). Hilton SFO Union Square also gave me a nice room and allowed me to check in at 9am,which was brilliant. So although i don’t like the devaluation or how hard it is to earn points without a US credit card, I do like the treatment I receive and the competitive prices I find they normally have – plus a much bigger worldwide footprint compared to small chains like Hyatt.

  8. December 29th, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    ucipass said,

    As a gold I did not receive executive floor access at the Hong Kong Conrad.

  9. December 29th, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Nate said,

    As a Hilton Diamond I received suite upgrades frequently. After the devaluation I switched to Hyatt and SPG. Hyatt lounges are shittier. 75 nights with SPG this year. Not one suite upgrade; not even using a SNA.

  10. December 29th, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Marilyn Attia said,

    Just completed our last stay this weekend in order to maintain our Diamond status. Although I occasionally recieve a suite upgrade here in the states, it’s worth keeping for all the upgrades and guaranteed concierge in Europe. The lounges overseas are so well stocked my husband and I on occasion have eaten meals and cocktails gratis. Am also a Platinum Hyatt member, so few hotels in Europe am considering dropping it.

  11. December 29th, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    phil said,

    internationally it’s definitely worth it, I’ve rec’d an upgrade 80-90% of the time. Macao I had a room as large as the first floor of my house, and that was on point redemption. Good experience in Beijing as well. Also, I’ve found that the biz lounge is more flexible if you are travelling with people without status. US/Canada there’s no diff for it, but the more you travel internationally, the better it is

  12. December 29th, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Jeffrey said,

    I’ve been both Hilton Diamond and Marriott Platinum for a year (after some aggressive status-matching and briefly having Hyatt Diamond and whatever Starwood’s top level is for a few months as well). My travel is almost entirely domestic, btw, and to a lot of tier-2 markets where Hilton/Marriott are the major game in town (Hello Rochester!). Other than accelerated points, Hilton’s top-tier Diamond status bears no difference from Gold — I always got lounge access but only in rare circumstances was there an upgrade. Marriott, on the other hand, seems to have suites galore and is extremely generous with upgrades. Marriott concierge lounge food is general superior to Hilton and the rare SPG property that offers it. I’m also not a card-flipper so my status is based solely on earned stays; methinks 2014 is the year of Marriott.

  13. December 29th, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    Nathan said,

    Is that cardmember year or calendar year?

  14. December 29th, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    flyerdude88 said,

    I earned Hilton Diamond for the first time in mid-2011. Honestly apart from the rare last minute award booking at the Diamond rate, I never received any benefit of value that you can’t get as a gold. I was treated about the same as I was treated at Hyatt’s with my PLT status and SPG with my Gold status (despite those being mid-tier levels and Diamond being top tier)

  15. December 29th, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    Carl said,

    Generally Diamond benefits are weak at HH. I would never make an stay or night based effort to achieve it. But it’s fairly easy to get by credit card. Hyatt and SPG love their elites more. I guess that HH business model is based on less engaged travelers.

    After about 4 years as Diamond, tt doesn’t feel to like Diamonds get much more than Golds at most HH properties.

  16. December 29th, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    WeddingSpend said,

    @justSaying you don’t even need HHonors Diamond for the Hyatt diamond trial. Gold will suffice. Another reason HHonors Diamond is not worth putting extra effort in for.

  17. December 29th, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    Andy said,

    I have been a hilton diamond since 2010. I gave it up in 2013 (only 6 nights stay in 2013 at hilton). My diamond will end in Feb 2014 and I do not plan to pick it up. While I still have about 370,000 hhonor points, I plan to apply for an amex or citi hilton card to earn gold status before I burn my hhonor points — plan to stay in hilton in auckland, new zealand in dec 2014 (because marriott and starwood and club carlson do not have hotels in new zealand).

    i am extremely disappointed with hilton because of 1. devaluation; 2. poor customer services; 3. abrupt surcharge.

  18. December 29th, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    Nick said,

    Making 10 to 15 trips to CVS is not that difficult, I guess I’m not surprised Hilton Diamond is somewhat of a letdown vs say 100 night SPG Platinum.

  19. December 29th, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    Sean M. said,

    I’ve been either Hilton Gold or Diamond for approximately the last 15 years. There is no discernible difference between the way you are treated at most properties. It definitely isn’t worth an additional effort to go for Diamond.

  20. December 29th, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    Scottrick said,

    You don’t even need to be a Hilton Gold yourself to get the perks. My wife was Hilton Gold during an award stay that I booked using my points as a Hilton Silver (I’d unwittingly let my status lapse). They still upgraded us to an executive room at the Conrad Hong Kong and provided all Gold benefits.

  21. December 29th, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    UAPhil said,

    Nathan, the free night after $10,000 spend is per cardmember year (e.g. starting on your card anniversary date). I suspect the $40,000 Diamond benefit is the same.

    I agree that spending $10,000 to get the annual free night is worthwhile (30,000 points plus a free night are worth about $400, or 4 cents per dollar).

  22. December 30th, 2013 at 5:31 am

    lucky said,

    @ Nathan — As UAPhil notes, it’s based on cardmember year and not calendar year.

  23. December 30th, 2013 at 5:41 am

    ffi said,

    The Reserve Costs 95$ & Cash value of 10k spend is 200$
    For that you get 30k points – worth at most 0.5c, so 150$ and a free night (balance cost of 150$ so far)

    You can get the Surpass for 75$ (with free Priority Pass) – Better value

  24. December 30th, 2013 at 5:58 am

    ffI said,

    The cost of HH D is 40k spend – 800$ lost cash
    The 120k miles are worth 600$ at most
    The rest is 200$ = worth the free night from Citi Reserve?

  25. December 30th, 2013 at 7:45 am

    chitownflyer said,

    The upgrades from Diamond status can be a mixed bag. Some hotels offer the minimum Executive room and lounge access, but others may offer a nice suite. A negative development is that some Hiltons are NOT upgrading their Gold members to the Executive floor even when space is available and only offering a one category room upgrade. See this Milepoint thread for further info.

    http://milepoint.com/forums/threads/hilton-berlin-no-free-upgrades-to-ef-for-golds.33769/

  26. December 30th, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Ray said,

    In 7 years of Diamond status, I have never received an upgrade in the US hotels and the only true benefit above the Gold status breakfast and wifi I have received are the Lounge access in Europe. The only reason I stay with Hilton is the Embassy Suites and Homewood Suites are reasonable rates for the 3-4 night stays and I like the extra space. Do any of the other chains have as many suite locations thru the US to make a change?

  27. December 31st, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Robert Hanson said,

    Executive rooms are usually 2 levels above the basic room. My recent experience as a Gold with Hilton in Europe is that you only get upgraded one level. So if you book the basic room, you will only get upgraded to “deluxe”, not to Executive.

    That said, I don’t see the Lounge access as being aspirational enough to spend $40K on this cc to get it. And since using BB for that much would use up 80% of the annual BB allowance, along with $320 in fees, I’m not doing that either.

    I’d rather have 40K miles instead.

  28. December 31st, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    JustSaying said,

    always a joy to hear from you robert……..happy new year!

  29. January 22nd, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    John W. said,

    I’ve been Diamond for 3 years now and my primary travel is in the US, and I have been very happy with Hilton upgrades and Diamond perks, so far.
    I frequently book on short notice and I have a great benefit in the Diamond short notice booking.

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