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The end of complimentary upgrades? Hilton to sell room upgrades to Gold and Diamond elites

Oct. 18, 2022
4 min read
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The end of complimentary upgrades? Hilton to sell room upgrades to Gold and Diamond elites
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There's more upgrade drama for Hilton Honors Gold and Diamond elite members.

As of Monday, the 7,000-property hotel megachain began selling paid upgrades to Gold and Diamond members during mobile check-in. This news was first reported by View from the Wing.

Earlier this year, Hilton piloted these same paid app-based upgrades for general and Silver members. Now, Gold and Diamond members will also be offered paid upgrades as an option when checking in with the Hilton Honors app. However, complimentary room upgrades are a benefit of Gold and Diamond status.

Hilton has told its properties that mobile check-in paid room upgrades are "intended to drive incremental revenue." Hilton room upgrades are completely at the individual property's discretion, as the Hilton Honors terms do not require hotels to upgrade any elite members, even when rooms are available.

Additionally, Hilton will start processing elite upgrades at Hampton Inn and Hilton Garden Inn properties Nov. 18. In the past, these brands — along with Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites, Home2 Suites, Hilton Grand Vacations and Motto — have been ineligible for elite upgrades. But again, these upgrades are processed at the hotel's discretion.

Related: How to redeem Hilton points for upgraded rooms

What could happen to Hilton Gold and Diamond upgrades

The Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa, one of my favorite hotels, could offer paid upgrades to overwater bungalows. HILTON

As mentioned, Hilton Honors Gold and Diamond members are eligible for what Hilton calls "space-available room upgrades." Gold members should receive upgrades up to executive-floor room types, while Diamond members should be given upgrades up to a one-bedroom suite.

I fear that most properties will effectively stop upgrading Gold and Diamond members unless a member pays for an upgrade. Since the terms of the Hilton Honors program do not require upgrades to be given on a complimentary basis, hotels have little incentive to provide upgrades. That's one of my major complaints about Diamond status.

When a hotel upgrades a guest, there are two primary considerations.

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First, a guest who receives an upgrade takes that room out of inventory for a paying customer. Hotels always have to weigh upgrades with the possibility that a guest might pay full price for a suite at the last minute. If an upgraded guest has filled that suite, that could be a considerable amount of lost revenue.

Additionally, larger rooms take longer to clean and have higher maintenance costs, especially since hotels generally do their best to keep their suites in top condition.

So for these reasons, there's little reason to upgrade a Gold or Diamond guest unless, of course, the guest is paying something for the upgrade. And while it makes sense for the property, this could mean that Hilton elite status is facing a huge devaluation.

Related: Hilton snaps back to pre-pandemic elite status requirements for 2023

Bottom line

Ultimately, paid upgrades at the time of mobile check-in are a way for Hilton to monetize room upgrades, even though Gold and Diamond members can be given upgrades based on status.

About a year ago, Hilton started offering confirmed upgrades for elite members up to 72 hours before arrival. But this most recent development leads us to believe that complimentary Hilton upgrades will be less common, even for top-tier Diamond members.

Depending on how properties react to this change, the move to upsell hotel upgrades could be a huge devaluation for Hilton elite members.

Have an upcoming vacation in mind? See how close you are to paying for it with points with the free TPG App!

Featured image by HILTON
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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Best for the well-traveled foodie
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

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
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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.

    670-850
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Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

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Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees