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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – Citi Hilton Honors Reserve Card
TPG reader Robert sent me a message on Facebook to ask about the calendar for hotel elite status:
“Does Hiliton HHonors status carry over to the new year? I’m trying to figure out how long my status is valid.”
Last week I answered a question about the elite status calendar for airlines, after which I got several messages from readers like Robert looking for similar information on hotels. As I mentioned in that post, knowing the timeline for elite membership can help you meet the qualification requirements and get the most out of your benefits once you’ve earned them. The details vary from one hotel program to another, but the general idea is pretty consistent.
As with airlines, there are two important sets of dates: the qualification period and the membership period. Qualification for status in Hilton HHonors (and other major hotel programs) coincides with the calendar year, so you have twelve months (from the beginning of January to the end of December) to complete the night/stay requirements.
The membership period is when your elite status is active. For Hilton, that begins as soon as you meet the qualification threshold and continues 15 months beyond the end of that calendar year. For example, if you earn Gold status in June of 2016, it will last for the rest of 2016, all of 2017 and through March 31, 2018 (assuming you don’t re-qualify).
Hilton HHonors offers a slightly more generous timeline than other programs. Hyatt Gold Passport, Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest and Club Carlson give you status for 14 months beyond the year in which you earn it. That means status earned in 2016 would last through the end of February 2018 (instead of March). IHG Rewards is a bit stingier, giving you only until the end of the following calendar year (in this example, through December 2017).
Keep in mind that the membership period can vary depending on how you attain status. The timelines above are for status earned by meeting the traditional night/stay requirements, but the rules differ for status earned in other ways. For example, the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card gives you Gold status as long as you’re a cardmember, but closing your account will cause your status to expire the following March (again, assuming you don’t qualify in any other way).
That’s the case for most co-branded cards whether the status is automatic or earned through spending. However, some cards (like the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card) actually give you elite-qualifying credits, and status earned that way should follow the normal timeline. Elite status earned from cross-program partnerships (like RewardsPlus) or from status matches/challenges may also have a different expiration date.
Also keep in mind that some hotel programs offer soft landings for expiring elite status, which means you’ll be bumped to a lower tier rather than dropped entirely. Hilton doesn’t typically have soft landings, but Marriott, Club Carlson and others have been known to offer them on an individual basis. If your status is expiring this year, it’s worth asking to see if you can salvage some part of it.
Check out these posts for more on earning, maintaining and maximizing hotel elite status:
- Comparing Top-Tier Hotel Elite Status
- Valuations of elite status with Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Starwood and Club Carlson
- The Best Hotel Credit Cards for Earning Elite Status