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3 reasons why Hilton should add a new elite tier above Diamond

Dec. 13, 2021
7 min read
Hilton Resorts World Suite
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Editor's Note

This post has been updated with new information.

There is lots to love about the Hilton Honors program — and perhaps the best part is how easy it is to achieve elite status. With the right Hilton credit card, you can get top-tier status without even spending a night at a Hilton. Additionally, Hilton Honors has further extended elite status through March 2023 and will continue to offer reduced qualification requirements for members in 2022.

That said, the program still has room for improvement.

As it stands today, Hilton's top-tier Diamond status isn't all that different from mid-tier Gold and lacks some key benefits that competing programs offer their most loyal customers.

One potential solution? Introducing a new elite tier above Diamond.

A few years ago, rumors were floating around that Hilton might introduce a "Diamond+" tier. Although this never came to fruition, it might be time for Hilton to reconsider the idea. Here's why.

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Zemi Beach House, LXR Hotels & Resorts. (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

Reward those who earn status through loyalty

Let me begin by saying I love my Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card and the automatic Hilton Diamond elite status I get with it. Although I typically only spend around 20 nights at Hilton properties each year (Diamond status typically requires at least 60 nights), I get the full VIP treatment every time thanks to my credit card.

The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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Related: Why Hilton's top credit card has me switching my hotel loyalty

Even without a Hilton credit card, it's easy to fast-track elite status. For instance, you can currently earn Diamond status after just nine nights by completing a status challenge. And that's not all. Hilton cut 2021 qualification requirements in half, so you only need 15 stays, 30 nights or 60,000 base points to earn Diamond this year.

Although they will be slightly higher, Hilton will continue to follow reduced qualification requirements in 2022, requiring 42 nights, 21 stays or 84,000 base points for Diamond. Furthermore, Hilton will automatically count all nights earned in 2021 toward 2022 status qualification.

This is all great for most travelers — but not for those who actually spend 60 nights or more at Hilton properties each year.

Hilton Honors elite status is very easily achievable. (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

While I obviously wouldn't want Hilton to devalue my Diamond status or necessarily make it harder to achieve, it also ought to show recognition to those who earn status the hard way. After all, those are some of Hilton's most important customers. A tier above Diamond, without any shortcut opportunities, would allow it to do just that.

Related: Which credit card earns the most points for Hilton stays?

Diamond lacks some key benefits

Adding a tier above Diamond wouldn't necessarily devalue Diamond status. After all, some major benefits currently missing from Diamond would be perfect to add for a higher tier.

For starters, although Diamond elites "may" receive suite upgrades, they're currently not guaranteed, even if there's availability. Additionally, several Hilton Honors brands don't offer any complimentary upgrades and some limit upgrades to just one category.

In 2019, Hilton was piloting confirmed suite night upgrades at booking — a benefit both Marriott and Hyatt offer to their respective high-level elites — but that was never officially rolled out. Instead, in late 2021, Hilton introduced automatic upgrades 72 hours before a planned hotel arrival. The only problem is that, based on our experiences and reader reports so far, the automatic upgrades are often only to rooms with a better view or on a higher floor — not to suites.

Related: How I landed a premium suite upgrade midway through my stay

As a Diamond member, a Hilton property might upgrade you to a suite like this. (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

Similarly, although Diamond members may receive late checkout, it must be requested and is subject to availability. Moreover, the program's terms don't state that higher-tier members necessarily get better late checkout benefits than members with no elite tier. Meanwhile, several other top hotel loyalty programs offer elite members guaranteed late checkout until a set time. For instance, World of Hyatt offers Discoverists and Explorists 2 p.m. checkout and Globalists 4 p.m. checkout. Meanwhile, Marriott Bonvoy offers Platinum Elite, Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite members 4 p.m. checkout.

Related: 6 amazing benefits that make Hilton Diamond status worthwhile

While Hilton partners with Lyft, it doesn't have a close relationship with any major airline. On the other hand, Marriott and Hyatt have partnerships with United and American Airlines and provide their elites reciprocal benefits. It would be great to see Hilton partner with an airline like Delta and offer its top customers automatic Medallion elite status. At a minimum, Hilton could offer top-tier elites complimentary Lyft Pink.

Marriott Bonvoy Titanium and Ambassador elites enjoy complimentary United Premier Silver status. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Suite upgrade awards, guaranteed late checkout and potential airline elite status would be great additions for a higher status tier without taking benefits away from Diamond.

Related: 5 ways Hilton Honors should improve its loyalty program

Match the competition

Hilton Honors currently offers three tiers of elite status: Silver, Gold and Diamond. In comparison, Marriott Bonvoy has five elite status tiers. Additionally, several chains, such as Marriott and IHG, offer invitation-only statuses.

Adding a fourth status tier would be totally reasonable for Hilton. None of the other hotel programs' top status tiers are as easily attainable as Diamond and, as previously discussed, many offer a lot more benefits.

Related: Comparing 4 top hotel elite status levels — and how to easily earn them

The welcome amenity at the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam. (Photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy)

Bottom line

There's no word on whether Hilton is considering adding a new top tier of elite status to its loyalty program. However, it would be a great way to recognize those who earn their status through stays. By doing so, Hilton also could match the competition by offering key benefits like confirmed suite upgrades and late checkout.

As the travel industry continues on the long road to recovery, companies like Hilton Honors need to get creative in enticing travelers to switch loyalty if those companies want to achieve long-term success.

Featured image by (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023