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Hilton is one of the largest hotel chains in the world, with more than 6,500 properties to its name. It makes sense why you’d want to acquire elite status with this chain.
Elite status unlocks opportunities such as room upgrades, daily food and beverage credits and additional bonus points. The only question is: Which level of status should you go for? Let’s take a look at Hilton Gold versus Diamond and see which one is right for you.
The main differences
The major difference between a Diamond and Gold status levels is that one offers better upgrade opportunities, while the other is more limited.
Here's a summary of other differences you'll encounter:
Ease of earning. As a higher level of elite status, Diamond is considerably harder to earn than Gold. Both can be earned automatically by holding certain credit cards.
Wi-Fi. Premium Wi-Fi is complimentary for Diamond status holders. This connection channel requires a fee for other hotel guests and is typically faster than the typical offering.
Upgrades. Diamond status holders can be upgraded to a one-bedroom suite, whereas Gold status holders top out at executive floor upgrades.
Lounge access. Unless a Gold member is upgraded to the executive level, they will not have built-in access to the executive lounges that Diamond members do.
Earning elite status
Hilton Honors has the distinction of being the easiest elite status to acquire. Unlike other hotel chains, you can snag yourself top-tier Diamond status with select Hilton Honors co-branded credit cards. That’s not the only way to earn elite status, however. There are two main methods for getting Hilton elite status.
By staying at Hilton properties
The most well-known way of earning Hilton Honors elite status is by staying with the actual chain.
Due to COVID-19, Hilton has lowered the requirements for earning status by about 30% in 2022.
For Diamond chasers, you will need to complete 42 nights or 21 eligible stays, or earn 84,000 base points. Gold-level seekers will earn status after 28 nights or 14 eligible stays, or by earning 52,500 base points.
You earn 10x base points (5x at Tru and Home2 hotels) per dollar spent at Hilton on your room rate and other eligible charges.
By using various credit cards
Hilton elite status can also be earned via a number of different credit cards.
Hilton credit cards
Hilton has a total of four co-branded credit cards with American Express. All of these come with some level of elite status, ranging from the lowest tier, Silver, all the way to Diamond. Terms apply.
Three of these cards offer the ability to spend your way to a higher level of status:
Hilton Honors American Express Card: Comes with Silver elite status; spend $20,000 in a calendar year to earn Gold status.
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Comes with Gold elite status; spend $40,000 in a calendar year to earn Diamond status.
The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card: Comes with Gold elite status; spend $40,000 in a calendar year to earn Diamond status.
Hilton’s most premium card offering, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, offers complimentary Diamond elite status so long as you hold the card — no spending required. You will, however, have to pay the $450 annual fee.
Other travel cards
If you’re not looking specifically for a co-branded Hilton Honors credit card, there are still a few select cards out there than can help you gain access to elite status:
The Platinum Card® from American Express: Offers Gold elite status. Enrollment required. Terms apply.
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Offers Gold elite status. Enrollment required. Terms apply.
Founderscard: While not an actual credit card, this exclusive membership card offers Gold elite status.
As you can see, it’s very simple to earn Hilton’s Gold elite status, even if you don’t often stay at Hilton hotels. Diamond status is a little more expensive, but still achievable.
The most exciting thing about Hilton’s elite status is that it can be earned instantly; the second you hold an appropriate card, you’ll begin to receive the benefits of status. This is a far cry from other elite statuses, which may require you to stay 50 or even 60 nights before you’ll be eligible for similar perks.
» Learn more: Hilton vs. Marriott: Which one is right for you?
Hilton elite status perks
Gold and Diamond status levels vary in the perks included. You’ll get room upgrades, substantial amounts of bonus points and food credits with both Gold and Diamond elite status.
Up to an executive floor room.
Up to a one-bedroom suite.
Free bottled water
Daily food and beverage credit (U.S. hotels only) or continental breakfast (non-U.S. hotels)
Complimentary premium Wi-Fi
Executive lounge access
Not unless upgraded to executive-level room.
48-hour room guarantee
Elite status gifting
Yes, upon reaching a night threshold.
Diamond status extension
The main differences between the two status levels have to do with room upgrades — you’ll get up to a one-bedroom suite and executive lounge access as a Diamond member.
For the unfamiliar, Hilton's executive lounges offer free food and drinks throughout the day, which can mean saving a great deal of money if you take advantage. Diamond members always get executive lounge access, even if they’re not upgraded. Gold members will only receive this benefit if their upgrade includes a club-level room.
» Learn more: 4 things to know before joining Hilton Honors
Which is the best status for you?
The status that’s best for you will depend on your travel habits, your credit cards and how often you're heading to a Hilton hotel.
Best for occasional travelers: Hilton Gold elite status
If you typically travel once or twice per year, Gold level status will likely suit your needs, especially since it can be had via a variety of credit cards.
Although suite upgrades and guaranteed club lounge access are nice, they’re likely not worth the additional spend and effort you’ll put in trying to get Diamond elite status.
Overseas, you’ll still get free breakfast for yourself and another adult, while in the U.S., you’ll receive a daily food and beverage credit. Plus, as a Gold member, you’re still entitled to room upgrades, including those that’ll grant lounge access.
Best for families and more frequent travelers: Hilton Diamond elite status
Diamond status starts to come in handy pretty early during your travels, especially if you hold the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. One long vacation at a resort can help you use up the card’s $250 annual resort credit as well as the $250 airline fee credit. Terms apply.
» Learn more: How to make the most of the Hilton Aspire card
Diamond members in the U.S. will also be glad for executive lounge access, since the daily food and beverage credit of Gold status doesn't always cover the cost of breakfast. Plus, the evening canapés are nearly always accompanied by complimentary alcohol, which is otherwise very costly within a hotel.
Families will likely also value the upgrades to suites, which can provide much larger spaces. Be aware, though, that upgrades are at the discretion of the hotel; they aren’t guaranteed.
» Learn more: What's the best hotel elite status program this year?
Final thoughts on Hilton Diamond vs. Gold
Hilton has made its elite status some of the most accessible among hotel chains, which is great news for casual and business travelers alike. Gold elite status will likely suffice for most travelers since the benefits it provides are already fairly generous and it’s widely available via a variety of credit cards.
However, those who are willing to shell out for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card’s annual fee will see Hilton’s best benefits from the get-go. These include perks such as suite upgrades and executive lounge access, in addition to the annual credits that the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card offers.
Serious travelers and those with a large budget for annual fees will be well set with Hilton’s Diamond elite status.
All information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is no longer available through NerdWallet.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card