Earning Elite Status With a Hotel Promo — Reader Success Story

Mar 30, 2018

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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Vladimir, who found a clever way to maintain his Hilton Diamond benefits. Here’s what he had to say:

I’m a European expat working and living in Turkey. For years I traveled extensively for work and stayed mostly at Hilton properties worldwide, so I was a Diamond member dating back to 2013. Most of my stays were paid for by my employer, so when my travel slowed down after moving to Turkey, I began looking for a way to extend my Diamond status without breaking the bank. We don’t have access to the same credit cards you have in the U.S., so I didn’t bother much with promotions and bonuses, but then I read your post about the recent “Points Unlimited” promotion and got an idea.

I realized that I could spend 5,000 points on an award night at a category 1 property (of which there are three in Istanbul alone). Thanks to the promotion, I would earn 2,000 points in return immediately, plus another 10,000 points after every five stays. As a Diamond member, I would also earn between 750 and 1,000 points from the My Way hotel benefit at select properties. That meant for investing 5,000 points, I would earn between 4,750 and 5,000 points in return. By the way, some Hiltons in Istanbul (like the brand new Hilton Garden Inn Umraniye) are pretty amazing!

I started booking different Hilton properties in Istanbul during my free evenings (I did travel a bit for work this year as well), and night by night I managed to reach the 30 stays necessary to retain my Diamond status. I got back almost the same number of points I spent, enjoyed some really pleasant evenings at the hotels I visited, and earned Diamond status through the end of March, 2020. Thank you for sharing your tips on how to maximize the return on both money and points invested!

Hotel programs generally don’t offer points on award stays. In fact, they often deny rewards and elite benefits even on paid stays if you book through a third party. On the bright side, however, some programs do count award stays toward elite qualification. Hilton, Starwood and Marriott have all done so for years, and Hyatt added its name to the list in 2018. The same goes for mixed points + cash awards, all of which makes earning status each year a bit easier.

Of course, there are other (perhaps more straightforward) shortcuts to hotel status. For example, this year Amex launched the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express, which offers complimentary top-tier Diamond status to all cardholders. Alternately, some co-branded hotel credit cards offer elite credits as a standard benefit or spending bonus rather than provide status outright. If those options are off the table, then look for more creative approaches like the one Vladimir took. Major hotel programs are almost always running one or more promotions, providing great opportunities to boost your account balance or take a mattress run.

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! To thank Vladimir for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to info@thepointsguy.com; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure.

Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Featured image courtesy of Shaoyang Zhou/Getty.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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