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