With travel still in flux in 2021, hotel chains are eager to gain back loyal customers by slashing the requirements for earning elite status in their loyalty programs.
Hilton Honors has reduced its elite status qualifications this year by half. But does this mean you should chase status with the program?
Here’s a look at all the things you should consider before pursuing Hilton Honors elite status in 2021.
Hilton Honors elite status requirements in 2021
For 2021, Hilton Honors is reducing status qualification requirements for all tiers in the program by 50%. These Hilton rewards levels make it a lot easier to earn elite status in the program. Here’s what's required to earn status:
Hilton status level
» Learn more: Hilton Honors: The complete guide
Comparing elite status across hotel brands
To decide whether you should pursue Hilton Honors status in 2021, first compare Hilton’s offer with some other major hotel loyalty programs.
How elite status requirement reductions stack up
Here’s how much some programs are reducing the requirement to earn elite status:
World of Hyatt
IHG Rewards Club
25% to 30% depending on tier
World of Hyatt status requirements
With World of Hyatt’s 50% reduction in elite status requirements, here’s what it will take to earn status with Hyatt in 2021.
Hyatt status levels
Marriott Bonvoy status requirements
Marriott Bonvoy is gifting its members 50% of their 2019 tier earned elite night credits. As you can see, unlike other hotel programs, this reduction is not as generous, as it targets only existing elite members.
Marriott status level
Elite night credits
IHG Rewards Club status requirements
IHG’s reduced requirements for 2021 are:
IHG status level
So ... what’s the best hotel elite status program to chase in 2021?
The best hotel elite status to pursue this year is a toss-up between Hilton Honors and World of Hyatt. Globalist status with World of Hyatt offers exceptional perks, like priority access to rooms, free parking on award nights and breakfast. While the total night requirement is the same compared to Hilton Honors' top status tier, 30 nights, Hyatt came in at first place in our analysis of the best elite status programs.
On the flip side, Hyatt doesn’t have as many properties as Hilton, so if you go with Hilton you'll have more choices in terms of hotels, resorts and destinations around the world.
» Learn more: Your guide to booking award nights with Hilton Honors
Will you get value from elite benefits at Hilton?
Before chasing Hilton Honors status, compare the benefits of each Hilton status tier to see which ones will provide the most return for your investment.
Consider each perk's individual value
For many travelers, benefits like free breakfast and lounge access will likely give the highest return. Suite upgrades are also a drool-worthy perk. However, do they really make your stay that much more enjoyable or help keep more money in your pocket?
Determine how much money can be saved
When comparing benefits, calculate how much money they can save you. Suite upgrades are nice, but if you don't normally book suites, you're not actually saving any money.
However, if you frequently pay for hotel breakfast, you're saving a good amount every time you get free breakfast. Likewise, lounge access can save you money during your stay, especially if you're traveling with family, because it usually includes snacks and drinks for free.
» Learn more: Benefits of the Hilton Honors loyalty program
An even easier way to earn Hilton Honors status
If you are looking to attain Hilton Honors top-tier Diamond status, there may be a more practical way to get it. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card gives you automatic Diamond status. The $450 annual fee is steep, but this fee can pay for itself if you put the card perks to good use. Terms apply.
The bottom line
Hilton Honors reduced elite status requirements in 2021 offer an excellent opportunity to reach a higher status tier. If Hilton is your go-to brand when traveling, a higher elite status level means you’ll enjoy more perks when you stay. But if you are not loyal to Hilton, it may make sense to chase status with World of Hyatt, which is also offering a 50% reduction in elite status requirements.
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 2021, 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