The Guide to Hilton Elite Status

For travelers who stay frequently at Hilton properties, elite status can provide both savings and comforts.
Sally French
Elina Geller
Sam Kemmis
By Sam Kemmis,  Elina Geller and  Sally French 
Updated
Edited by Kevin Berry

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Hilton is one of the largest hotel chains, with more than 6,800 properties in 122 countries and territories. There are 18 different brands, ranging from the luxurious Waldorf Astoria to the budget-friendly Hampton Inn. Points can be used at all of these properties, and if you have Hilton elite status, you can get a lot of perks when staying at the hotels.

Hilton Honors elite status can be earned the traditional way — by staying at hotels — or by holding a Hilton credit card. If you’re thinking of switching hotel loyalty from another program or have some Hilton stays coming up, you may wonder how Hilton’s elite status works and how it can positively impact your hotel stay.

Here's everything you need to know about the Hilton Honors elite status system, from earning status to using it. The elite status program is relatively simple, but there are plenty of details to unpack.

Hilton Honors status levels summarized

Hilton has three elite levels: Silver, Gold and Diamond, and a member level (which you earn just by signing up for a Hilton Honors account). As you climb the elite status ladder, you receive all the benefits of the preceding levels, and much more. Here are some of the best benefits of each level:

  • Hilton Member status: No resort fees on award stays and free Wi-Fi.

  • Hilton Silver status: 20% bonus points earned on stays, free bottled water, fifth night free when booking a consecutive five-night stay on points and elite rollover nights.

  • Hilton Gold status: 80% bonus points earned on stays, upgrades, milestone bonuses, and daily food and beverage credit in the U.S. and continental breakfast abroad.

  • Hilton Diamond status: 100% bonus points earned on stays, executive lounge access (among hotels that offer them), status extension, premium Wi-Fi, 48-hour room guarantee and elite status gifting.

The perks really begin at Silver status, with the ability to book five nights for the price of four when using points. Consider it a sort of 20% discount for five-day stays paid for on points.

Further, when you reach Hilton Gold, free breakfast can be a big money saver, especially if you’re staying in an expensive city. When you reach Hilton Diamond, you can score a free upgrade to a suite and also access Hilton’s executive lounges, which offer perks like free food and drinks during the afternoon. Though, that assumes your hotel has an executive lounge (and many hotels, particularly many within the U.S., actually do not have one).

With Diamond status, you can get space-available room upgrades, like this suite at the The Monsaraz San Diego, which is a property under the Tapestry Collection by Hilton. Photo by Sally French/NerdWallet.

Earning status is pretty simple with Hilton, especially because holding certain Hilton credit cards makes it possible to automatically earn the highest tier of elite status — without even setting foot in a Hilton hotel.

How to earn Hilton elite status

You earn Hilton status in a few ways:

  1. Hilton hotel stays: Earning enough qualifying nights, qualifying stays or qualifying base points per calendar year at a Hilton property.

  2. Holding a Hilton credit card that offers automatic elite status as a benefit.

  3. Holding the The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express or the Centurion Card from American Express.

Here’s what’s needed to earn each of the three tiers:

Hilton Silver

Hilton Gold

Hilton Diamond

Earn this many qualifying stays in a calendar year

4 stays.

20 stays.

30 stays.

OR earn this many qualifying nights in a calendar year

10 nights.

40 nights.

60 nights.

OR earn this many qualifying base points in a calendar year

25,000 points.

75,000 points.

120,000 points.

OR hold this credit card

For elite status earned through hotel stays, you'll maintain your status for the remainder of the year in which you reach it, as well as the entire following year. So if you earn Gold status in July 2023, you’ll keep it through December 2024.

If you receive status from holding a credit card, you will earn your status as soon as you get the card and you’ll maintain the status for as long as you keep the card.

1. Earning Hilton status through hotel stays

The most traditional way of earning Hilton status is by staying at Hilton hotels. You can earn the status through a combination of qualifying nights, qualifying stays or qualifying base points.

What’s a “qualifying night” and “qualifying stay”? Aha, technical terminology to make sure people earning points rightfully earn them. If your friend works for Hilton and hooks you up with free rooms, those won't count toward earning status. Status must be earned through "qualifying" methods, which generally means cash bookings made directly with Hilton. Be careful when booking through a third-party travel agency like Hotels.com or Expedia, as that may not count toward reaching elite status.

Qualifying nights or stays at any of Hilton's brands count toward earning elite status. So sure, you could spend $1,000 for a lavish night at the Waldorf Astoria to earn one qualifying night, but you could also find yourself a sub-$100 Hampton by Hilton room and qualify just as well.

Hilton brands include:

  • Canopy.

  • Conrad.

  • Curio Collection.

  • DoubleTree.

  • Embassy Suites.

  • Hampton.

  • Hilton Garden Inn.

  • Hilton Grand Vacations.

  • Hilton Hotels.

  • Home2 Suites.

  • Homewood Suites.

  • LXR.

  • Motto.

  • Signia.

  • Tapestry Collection.

  • Tempo.

  • Tru.

  • Waldorf Astoria.

What’s a “qualifying base point”? These are points earned through the bookings described above. Basically, they’re Hilton points earned through stays but not other means, such as through credit cards, other promotions or elite status bonuses (described below).

2. Earn status by holding one of Hilton's credit cards

Many hotel companies offer a middling-tier of elite status automatically for holding one of its branded credit cards. But Hilton is especially generous, in that its credit cards offer high tiers of elite status, just for you holding its card.

Credit card

Annual fee

Status level

$0.

Silver.

$150.

Gold.

$95.

Gold.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

$550.

Diamond.

Hilton Honors American Express Card
NerdWallet rating 

The biggest perk of having Silver status is the ability to get the last night free when booking a five night stay on points. If you have a five night Hilton hotel stay coming up and you plan on using points, consider applying for the Hilton Honors American Express Card just to take advantage of the last night free.

Perhaps most impressive is the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. Even though it has a $550 annual fee, you'll earn automatic Diamond status, on top of the card's oodles of other benefits including a complimentary night each year, up to $200 airline credit toward eligible airline purchases (up to $50 each quarter) and $400 annual Hilton resort credit (up to $200 semi-annually), which can easily justify that cost. Terms apply.

3. Earn status by holding an American Express card

The Platinum Card® from American Express
NerdWallet rating 

If you don't want to hold a Hilton-branded credit card (which isn't unreasonable, given they earn Hilton Honors points which are not as flexible as AmEx Membership Rewards), consider a general, premium travel credit card.

The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express both offer automatic Hilton Gold status. Each of the cards come with hefty annual fees, but they provide massive value if you use all the perks.

If you have the ultra-exclusive Centurion Card from American Express, you get Hilton Diamond status. The card is invitation only and you need to be a big spender, but if you have it, you benefit from top tier Hilton status.

Hilton status levels and benefits at every tier

Each Honors tier offers increasingly useful benefits, as you’d expect. Here’s what you can expect to get as you climb through the Hilton ranks..

Silver

Gold

Diamond

Bonus points

20%.

80%.

100%.

Bottles of water at check-in

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Fifth reward night free

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Room upgrades

None.

Up to executive rooms, when available.

Up to one bedroom suites, when available.

Complimentary breakfast

No.

Yes.

Yes.

Lounge access

No.

No.

Yes.

Status extension

No.

No.

Yes.

What do all those perks mean? Here's a quick rundown of some of the best Hilton benefits:

Bonus points: These are extra points earned from eligible bookings. The base earning rate at most properties is 10 points per dollar spent, so Silver members earn 2 extra points, Gold members earn 8 extra points, and Diamond members earn 10 extra points. The more Hilton points you earn, the more points you have to redeem for a free Hilton night.

Fifth reward night free: All elite members get a fifth consecutive night free when booking with points. There is no limit to how often this benefit is used, though it maxes out at four free nights within a single (20-night) booking.

Status extension: Diamond members can extend their status if they fail to meet the requirements. However, this benefit is only available to members who have both:

  • Maintained Diamond status for three years, previously. These do not need to be consecutive.

  • Stayed 250 nights or earned 500,000 base points.

Waived resort fees for stays booked on points: Resort fees can be brutal, but when you book a stay on points, you won't owe them. That can be a huge money saver at properties with mega resort fees.

Resort fees at the Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, cost $45 per day. But, they cover lavish amenities like the hotel's Twist waterslide and its decked out fitness center. Book on points to avoid this extra charge. Photo by Sally French/NerdWallet.

Lifetime Hilton Diamond status

Plenty of hotel chains offer lifetime status, and Hilton is no different. However, unlike Marriott, which offers lifetime status for each of its elite tiers, Hilton only offers lifetime status for Diamond, its highest level.

To earn Hilton Lifetime Diamond status, you would need to maintain your Diamond status for 10 (non-consecutive) years and meet one of the following conditions:

  • Stay 1,000 paid and/or reward nights.

  • Earn 2,000,000 base points.

The Diamond status provided to holders of the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card or the Centurion Card from American Express, count toward the requirement, so if you hold one of these cards for the 10 required years, you’ve met the first part of the requirement. The next set of criteria is much more difficult as there’s no way of getting around staying 1,000 nights or earning 2,000,000 base points. However, if you’re a traveler who is able to meet these requirements, you can look forward to Lifetime Diamond status.

What is Hilton Honors status worth?

In NerdWallet’s annual analysis of the best hotel elite status programs, we sought to determine how much value the major U.S. hotel loyalty programs deliver to guests. Here's how Hilton Honors did.

Value of benefits

Cost to earn

Elite earning rate

Silver

$20.

$1,460.

1.3%.

Gold

$904.

$5,840.

15%.

Diamond

$4,168.

$8,760.

48%

Lesser-known Hilton elite status perks

Hilton includes some additional benefits along with its status levels. While some perks like free water make a small difference, other perks are much more valuable.

Rollover nights

Hilton has joined some other hotel rewards programs in offering “rollover” nights for elite status. Any extra qualifying nights beyond those needed for the tier you earn in a given year will count toward the following year’s status. So if you stay 30 nights in 2023, you’ll get Silver status (which requires 7 nights) and start 2024 with 23 extra elite qualifying nights.

Notably, this benefit only applies to nights, not the stays or points requirements. That’s another reason to not get too clever splitting one stay into several for the sake of elite status.

Points pooling

Hilton members can transfer points to each other at a 1:1 ratio in increments of 1,000 points and up to 500,000 points. This is a valuable perk, especially if you’re booking a stay with someone who also has Hilton points, and together (but not separately) you have enough points for the reservation.

Points pooling is allowed after you’ve been a member for 30 days as long as you’ve had activity in your account. If you don’t have any activity, you’ll need to wait 90 days to pool. So keep this in mind if you have a Hilton stay coming up and you might need to pool points. Luckily any activity, even buying something through a Hilton shopping portal should count.

If you’re sending points to another member, you’re able to send a total of 500,000 points per year and can make up to six transactions. If you’re pooling points with someone, you can pool up to 2,000,000 points up to six times.

In NerdWallet’s annual analysis of the best hotel elite status programs, we sought to determine how much value the major U.S. hotel loyalty programs deliver to guests. Here's how Hilton Honors did.

Value of benefits

Cost to earn

Elite earning rate

Silver

$20.

$1,460.

1.3%.

Gold

$904.

$5,840.

15%.

Diamond

$4,168.

$8,760.

48%

Is Hilton Honors elite status worth it?

The short answer: “It depends.”

There's certainly a big difference across tiers, say Silver versus Gold or Diamond. It’s very easy to earn Silver (10 nights), and — unless you're going the credit card route — relatively difficult to earn Gold (40 nights). This gap is reflected in the benefits; there’s a big value difference between these two, as well.

For example, Silver elites earn 20% bonus points for stays, while Gold elites earn 80% (and Diamond elites earn a whopping 100% extra). And Silvers don’t even get room upgrades or free breakfast, while Golds and Diamonds get both. You could make the argument that Silver isn’t really much of an “elite” status, at all.

If you’re earning status from a credit card: It's easy (and not particularly expensive) to earn Hilton elite status simply by holding one of its branded credit cards. But — and perhaps this is obvious — just realize that the benefits are only valuable when you actually stay at Hilton properties. In other words, you can take the “shortcut” of earning Hilton status through a credit card — but if you’re not actually staying at Hilton hotels, you won’t reap the benefits or value. And if you stay enough at Hiltons to make elite status pay off, you might earn that status “organically” regardless.

That said, between the $400 Hilton resort statement credit and $200 airline fee credit, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card — which offers automatic Hilton Honors Diamond status — can certainly be worth its $550 annual fee. Terms apply.

If you’re considering earning status from qualifying stays: If you’ve already stayed at enough Hilton hotels in a year to earn Gold status, then the roughly $3,000 difference in value between Gold and Diamond can be worth justifying chasing Diamond status. That’s especially true if you’re staying at a hotel with an executive lounge where you can take advantage of its meals and beverages, or you tend to book last-minute and the 48-hour room guarantee might turn out to be a lifesaver.

Gold status is the best of any hotel mid-level status: NerdWallet evaluates the elite status programs of the major hotel chains each year. And in 2023, Hilton Gold status won NerdWallet's award for best mid-level status program. That's thanks largely to a generous 80% point bonus and free breakfast offering.

If you’re thinking of switching from another hotel program: Make sure to compare the benefits of the tiers you’d earn at each program. Gold status at Hilton will vary considerably in value from the Gold level at most other programs (and yes, it's better than the rest). Check out our hotel loyalty program reviews for more info.

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 2024, including those best for:

Cards for Hilton from our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-5x

5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

Points

Intro offer

60,000

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Points
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
4.7
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

2x-5x

Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

Miles

Intro offer

75,000

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

Miles
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
4.9
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

2x-10x

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.

Miles

Intro offer

75,000

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.

Miles
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