Hilton Honors Status: How to Earn It and How Much Is It Worth?

Hilton Honors Status: How to Earn It and How Much Is It Worth?

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer.

If you want star treatment when you check in to your hotel and extra rewards for your stays, you may want to pursue Hilton Honors elite status.

One of the top hotel loyalty programs, Hilton Honors offers three levels of elite status that can make you feel like a VIP, with perks such as complimentary water, complimentary breakfast, extra rewards galore and a fifth night free when you book a stay with your points.

Getting Hilton Honors status can definitely be worth the cost and effort for the right traveler, and it's easy to earn: You automatically qualify for the lowest tier of Hilton status just by signing up for Hilton's no-annual-fee card. Let’s take a look at the perks offered at each level, the dollar value of the benefits you get and how to decide if getting Hilton status is worth it for you.

Hilton elite status levels

The Hilton Honors loyalty program offers three elite status levels: Silver Elite, Gold Elite and Diamond Elite. All levels of elite status allow you to earn extra bonus points on your hotel stays and offer little perks like free water and internet access to sweeten your stays.

Here’s an overview of how to earn Silver, Gold or Diamond Hilton status, how many bonus points you get at each tier and perks you can enjoy during your stays — from free room upgrades to executive lounge access.

Hilton elite status levels

Hilton Silver

How to earn it: 4 qualifying hotel stays or 10 qualifying hotel nights or 25,000 base points in a year; a Hilton Honors American Express Card membership

Points earned: 12 points/$1 (or 6 points/$1 at Tru by Hilton and Home2 Suites by Hilton)

Key benefits: Fifth night free on standard room reward stays, two free bottles of water at some hotels, elite rollover nights

It’s very easy to earn Silver status, which can improve your stays a bit and help you earn points a little faster than if you didn’t have elite status. However, there’s a huge jump in value between Silver and Gold status. If you travel and stay at Hilton hotels more than just a few times a year, it may be worthwhile to go for the Gold status.

Hilton Gold

How to earn it: 20 qualifying hotel stays or 40 qualifying nights or 75,000 base points in a year; a Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card or The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card membership

Points earned: 18 points/$1 (or 9 points/$1 at Tru by Hilton and Home2 Suites by Hilton)

Key benefits: On-property MyWay benefit, complimentary room upgrades at some hotels, complimentary continental breakfast at all hotels, unlimited milestone bonuses

Gold membership is a sweet spot for all but the most frequent and loyal Hilton travelers, though it’s easy to get Gold status by paying an annual fee for a credit card that offers it as a benefit. This tier gives you a rich range of benefits that can make your hotel stays more pleasant and allow you to earn free stays faster.

Hilton Diamond

How to earn it: 30 qualifying stays or 60 qualifying nights or 120,000 base points in a year; a Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card membership (or spending $40,000 in a year in qualifying purchases on a Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card)

Points earned: 20 points/$1 (or 10 points/$1 at Tru by Hilton and Home2 Suites by Hilton)

Key benefits: Executive lounge access, guaranteed reservations when booking at least 48 hours in advance, a one-time option to extend Diamond status for a year, ability to gift elite status to another Hilton Honors member

Diamond status is worth more than double the dollar value of Gold status (read on to see our valuations of the status levels and their perks), but it’s quite a bit harder (or more expensive) to earn. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card offers Diamond status among its benefits and charges a $450 annual fee. This level of status is probably worth earning only for the most frequent and loyal Hilton travelers.

Hilton Honors benefits

Fifth night free

This lucrative Hilton Honors benefit, offered to all Hilton members with elite status, gives you a free night when you book a standard room reward stay of five consecutive nights or longer. You can use the fifth night free benefit on as many stays as you wish every year.

For longer stays, you can get up to four free fifth nights on stays of 20 nights or longer. In that case, you’d be charged 0 points for your fifth, 10th, 15th and 20th nights.

The fifth night free benefit can’t be used with paid stays or with Hilton’s Points & Money rewards stays.

Preferred room upgrade

One of the best ways to get a hotel room upgrade is to earn the perk as part of your elite status with a hotel loyalty program. The Hilton Honors preferred room upgrade benefit is available to Gold and Diamond members. These members may be given upgrades to preferred rooms when available at certain hotels, including Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Canopy by Hilton, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton and Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts.

These upgrades are given based on availability at the time of arrival, vary by property and may include rooms with desirable amenities or views. Upgrades are given only for one room for the member, even if the member reserved and is paying for additional rooms.

Diamond members may be upgraded to junior, standard or one-bedroom suites. However, upgrades exclude executive suites, villas and specialty floors or towers as determined by each hotel.

Hilton Honors complimentary breakfast

A number of Hilton brand hotels offer complimentary breakfast for all guests. These include:

  • Embassy Suites by Hilton
  • Hampton by Hilton
  • Homewood Suites by Hilton
  • Home2 Suites by Hilton
  • Tru by Hilton

However, for the most part, the rest of the Hilton brand hotels charge for breakfast, and that cost for a full breakfast is usually $10 to $15 plus tax at properties like Hilton Garden Inn and DoubleTree. At luxury properties like Conrad and Waldorf Astoria, breakfast can be much more expensive. Regardless of the property, Gold and Diamond status Hilton Honors members get a free continental breakfast at Hilton brand hotels.

Elite tier rollover nights

Silver, Gold and Diamond members are all eligible for elite rollover nights. At the end of the calendar year, any extra qualifying nights you've earned beyond the requirement to meet your current status tier can be rolled over toward earning status the following year.

For example, you need 10 qualifying nights to get Silver status. Let's say you stay 14 nights in a calendar year — you'd start the following year with four qualifying nights that rolled over from the previous year.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hilton recently announced that it will allow all 2020 nights to roll over to 2021 to give members a better shot at earning or maintaining status.

Milestone bonuses

Milestone bonuses allow members to earn bonus points by staying a certain number of nights during a calendar year. The following milestone bonuses are available to Gold and Diamond members:

  • Earn 10,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after staying 40 eligible nights during a calendar year, and an additional 10,000 bonus points for every 10 additional nights you stay.
  • Earn an extra 30,000 Hilton Honors bonus points when you reach 60 eligible nights during the year. This is in addition to the 10,000 bonus points you get when you hit that milestone.
  • The maximum number of night stays in a calendar year is 365, meaning you can earn a maximum of 360,000 milestone bonus points.

Executive lounge access

Executive lounges are only available at select Hilton hotels, and you’ll get access to them if you’re a Diamond status member. Lounges tend to be in the Hilton, Conrad and Waldorf properties, which attract a lot of business travelers.

These are exclusive lounge spaces that offer complimentary breakfast in the morning and a range of drinks and appetizers in the afternoon and evening, sometimes including hot food and alcoholic beverages. These lounges usually have a business center complete with a printing station as well as televisions and seating areas. Some even offer fantastic views of their location.

Diamond status extension

This unique perk gives select Diamond members a one-time chance to extend their Diamond status for one additional year without meeting any requirements. This could come in handy if you take a break from traveling heavily for one year but want to maintain your Diamond status.

To qualify for this elite perk, you need to have been a Diamond member for at least three years (they don’t have to be consecutive) and have stayed at least 250 nights or have earned at least 500,000 base points since joining the program.

MyWay hotel benefits

The MyWay hotel benefits allow Gold and Diamond Hilton Honors members to choose from a menu of perks during a hotel stay. Generally, these members can choose between a free continental breakfast (or a food and beverage credit) for themselves and one additional registered guest or get as many as 1,000 Hilton Honors bonus points per stay, though in some cases a room upgrade may also be on offer. MyWay welcome gift options vary by property.

48-hour room guarantee

Hilton Diamond members also get a 48-hour room guarantee. This means that even if a particular hotel is booked, you can still get a room there as long as you make a reservation at least 48 hours before your planned arrival.

However, this perk doesn’t mean you’re 100% guaranteed to get a room. For example, the guarantee can’t be used when a hotel is overbooked by 10% or more (2% or more in some properties), or when there’s a special event like a convention or festival that causes “extraordinary demand.” The perk also doesn’t apply if you’re paying for your room with Hilton Honors points or a free night certificate.

How to join Hilton Honors

Joining Hilton Honors is easy and free. Go to the Hilton Honors website and click the blue “Join Hilton Honors” button.

How to join Hilton Honors

In order to sign up for Hilton Honors, you'll need to fill out a brief form with your name, email address, phone number and mailing address. It can be completed in minutes.

Hilton Honors Join Page

Once you've signed up for the Hilton Honors program, you can start taking advantage of new benefits and tracking your progress toward higher status levels and free night awards. When you log into your account, you’ll be able to view past stays, upcoming reservations, the number of points you have and the number of points you still need to earn in order to reach the next membership status level.

Hilton Honors Dashboard

You can also check in digitally from your Hilton Honors account and select your room for any upcoming stay.

Tip: Make life easier by downloading the Hilton Honors App on the Apple App Store or Google Play. The app allows you to book, choose your room, check in and unlock your door with your phone. When it’s time to go, you can check out digitally too.

How to earn Hilton status

You can earn Hilton status by completing a certain number of qualifying stays or qualifying nights during a calendar year.

In a calendar year, you can earn Silver status with four qualifying stays or 10 qualifying nights, Gold status with 20 qualifying stays or 40 qualifying nights and Diamond status with 30 qualifying stays or 60 qualifying nights.

But what counts as a qualifying hotel stay and what is a qualifying night? Here’s how these terms are defined in the Hilton Honors program:

  • Qualifying hotel stays — A qualifying stay is a group of consecutive nights spent at the same participating hotel, whether or not the guest checks out and checks back in. A stay purchased with rewards or points plus money counts as a qualifying stay for the purpose of earning status. There are a number of types of stays that are excluded from the definition of an “eligible stay.” Stays that do not count include stays that are part of tour operator packages, were bought at travel agency discount rates, were provided at no cost or as part of a barter deal or where reservations were made through third-party booking websites.
  • Qualifying nights — A qualifying night is a single night spent at a participating hotel as part of a qualifying stay. The same exclusions that apply to qualifying stays also apply to qualifying nights.
  • Base points — Points earned on “eligible folio charges” — i.e., room rate, food and beverage, telephone, laundry, pay-per-view movies, entertainment and recreational facilities, and other incidental charges charged to your room during your stay. Expenses that aren’t charged to your room don’t earn base points. Also, points earned by other methods (e.g., points earned on credit cards, including their sign-up bonuses) do not count as base points.
SilverGoldDiamond
Qualifying stays42030
Qualifying nights104060
Base points25,00075,000120,000

So remember to book with the hotel, and not through a third-party booking site, if you want your stay to count toward elite status.

Fast tracks to Hilton status

Credit cards

The best hotel credit cards offer elite status to cardholders. The good news is, you can essentially “buy” Hilton status by opening one of several Hilton co-branded credit cards or The Platinum Card® from American Express and paying the annual fee.

One American Express (Amex) credit card offers Silver status for no annual fee, three Amex cards offer Gold status (with one offering the chance to earn Diamond status based on your yearly spending) and one Amex card offers Diamond status. For frequent international travelers, it's worth noting that none of these cards have foreign transaction fees.

Here are the Amex credit cards that earn you automatic elite status with Hilton:

Credit cardStatus benefitsAnnual fee
Hilton Honors American Express CardHilton Honors Silver Status$0
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® CardHilton Honors Gold Status$95
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire CardHilton Honors Diamond Status$450
The Hilton Honors American Express Business CardHilton Honors Gold Status$95
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressHilton Honors Gold Status$550

Need help deciding which Hilton Honors card is right for you? Check out our guide to the best Hilton credit cards and choose the one that fits your spending and travel patterns.

Status match

A status match is a Hilton Honors offer that allows members of other hotel loyalty programs to try out the corresponding level of Hilton status for free for three months. If you complete enough Hilton stays during your trial period, you earn Hilton Honors status and may even get an upgrade.

HH Status Match

To find current offers, go to the Hilton status match page. As of August 2020, these are the status match offers from Hilton Honors:

  • Gold status match: Stay 10 nights in 90 days to keep your status through March 31, 2022.
  • Diamond status upgrade: Stay 18 nights in 90 days to get your status upgraded to Diamond through March 31, 2022.

You can request a status match by filling out a form online. You'll need to provide proof of your status with another hotel loyalty program and show that you've stayed at one of its hotels at least once in the past 12 months. Screenshots are acceptable as proof.

Gift elite status

Diamond members who reach 60 nights in a year may gift Gold elite status to another Hilton Honors member. Elite rollover nights do not count toward the nights required to make an elite status gift.

When you gift Gold elite status, it lasts 365 days. If you gift Gold elite status and then reach 100 nights during that year, the gift is automatically upgraded to Diamond status and the clock gets restarted on the date the upgrade begins.

Employer status

Do you work for a large company? You may qualify for a fast track to Hilton status through your employer. Hilton has instant status offers for employees of Bayer, Dell, IBM and other big companies.

The easiest way to find out if your employer has a program is to do an online search for your employer name and Hilton Honors to look for a sign-up landing page. You’ll need to enter your work email address to sign up.

If you qualify for employer status, you could get instant Silver status and be able to earn Gold status by staying eight nights or Diamond status by staying 16 nights within 90 days after you register.

Hilton Honors lifetime status

It's possible to earn Diamond status for life with Hilton, but it's not easy. Hilton doesn't offer lifetime status for its Gold or Silver tiers.

In order to earn lifetime Diamond status with Hilton, you’ll need to do the following:

  1. Qualify for Diamond status for at least 10 years (they don't have to be consecutive) AND...
  2. Complete at least 1,000 paid or reward nights OR...
  3. Earn at least 2 million base points over the life of your membership

This is difficult for even the most frequent travelers to qualify. However, it is doable for folks who constantly travel and always stay with Hilton. It's worth noting that you can complete the first requirement by simply having the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card for 10 years.

How much is Hilton Honors status worth?

Check out the chart below for an at-a-glance overview of the annual value of each level of Hilton Honors status:

Silver status value: $30Gold status value: $1,450Diamond status value: $3,180
  • 20% bonus on base points earned: $15
  • Fifth night free on reward stays: $15
  • 80% bonus on base points earned: $300
  • Unlimited milestone bonuses: $50
  • Complimentary breakfast at all hotels: $600
  • Room upgrades up to Executive room type (dependent on availability): $400
  • Fifth night free on reward stays: $100
  • 100% bonus on base points earned: $480
  • Unlimited milestone bonuses: $300
  • Complimentary breakfast at all hotels: $900
  • Room upgrades up to one-bedroom suite room type (depending on availability): $1,200
  • Executive lounge access: $150
  • Fifth night free on reward stays: $150

The value you actually get out of Hilton status will vary based on your travel habits and how you use the program. To give you a general idea of how much Hilton Honors status is worth, we’ve crunched the numbers, assuming you complete just enough stays to reach a tier and that bonus points are worth 0.5 cents each. It’s worth noting that frequent and luxury travelers will get a lot more value out of each status tier than infrequent or budget travelers.

Here are our dollar valuations of some of the main benefits and perks that come with Hilton Honors status.

Value of complimentary breakfast: $15/night, $600 to $900/year

Breakfast is free at Hampton Inn, Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites, Canopy, Home2 and Tru properties. At a DoubleTree or Hilton Garden Inn, breakfast is typically around $12 to $15. At luxury properties such as Conrad and Waldorf Astoria, the cost of breakfast can easily reach $40 per person. Assuming you stay at a mix of different properties, we average the value of complimentary breakfast at $15/night, which comes to $600/year for a Gold member and $900/year for a Diamond member.

Value of room upgrades: $10/night, $400 to $1,200/year

Hilton has a reputation among some travelers of infrequently offering room upgrades or only upgrading guests to the next best room. Upgrades can be worth anywhere from $30 to more than $100 if you get a suite, but suite upgrades are pretty unlikely, even for Diamond members. We'll assume you get a room upgrade about 25% of the time. This makes the room upgrade benefit worth an average of $10/night for Gold members ($400/year) and $20/night ($1,200/year) for Diamond members.

Value of executive lounge access: $150/year

Aside from complimentary breakfast, which we've already included in our calculations, executive lounge access gets you free appetizers and refreshments. If you travel abroad frequently, lounges usually include complimentary alcoholic beverages, though this perk is rare at U.S. properties. Executive lounges are only available at select properties, so we'll assume you get to take advantage of this benefit a handful of times each year and give it an annual value of $150.

5th night free on reward stays: $15 to $150/year

If you're a Silver member, you likely won’t accumulate enough points to book a five-night stay unless you book 5,000-point hotels or use a Hilton co-branded credit card to earn points, so we only value the benefit at $15. Gold and Diamond members are more likely to use this benefit, so we give this benefit a value of $100 for Gold members and $150 for Diamond members.

Is Hilton status worth it?

Hilton Honors is one of the top hotel loyalty programs, and it provides an array of perks and a high level of value for frequent travelers. But what if you aren’t sure if it makes sense to get Hilton status, or what tier is best for you?

Let’s take a look at each level of elite status and who might, or might not, find it worthwhile to attain:

  • Silver Elite status — It’s quite easy to reach Silver status, and you can get it for free with a no-annual-fee Amex Hilton card. But is Hilton Silver status worth it? At a value of only $30 a year, it may not be worth getting Silver status if you almost never travel.
  • Gold Elite status — It’s quick and easy to attain Gold status at a cost of less than $100 by opening a co-branded Amex Hilton Honors card that offers it as a benefit. Is Hilton Gold status worth it? It can be, as long as you travel enough to get more than $100 worth of benefits, which is fairly easy. For example, a room upgrade, a few bottles of water and a week’s worth of complimentary breakfasts could be enough to give you your money’s worth for the year. Gold status may be the sweet spot for many regular travelers.
  • Diamond Elite status — You can get Diamond status for a $450 annual fee on the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card — and it’s worth almost triple that amount for very frequent travelers who stay at Hilton hotels 60 or more nights per year. Those who travel even more and are very loyal to Hilton brands can get even greater value. So, when is Hilton Diamond status worth it? In general, only very loyal frequent travelers will find it worth the cost or effort to get the highest level of Hilton status.

The Hilton Honors program offers some very valuable benefits, but only you can decide if Hilton Honors status is worth it to you. The value you will get out of each status tier depends quite a bit on how much you travel and what percentage of the time you choose Hilton hotel brands.

In addition, you may want to review the specific perks offered at each tier and think about how important they are to you personally. For example, if you love a big breakfast, that perk alone could make Hilton status worth it. But if you always skip the first meal of the day, you might need to look at other perks, such as upgrades or the fifth night free on reward stays, to determine if status is worth it to you.

FAQs about Hilton status

What is Hilton elite status?

Hilton elite status allows Hilton Honors loyalty program members to get a variety of perks and privileges, from complimentary breakfast to lounge access, and earn greater rewards for staying at Hilton properties. There are three main tiers of Hilton elite status: Silver Elite, Gold Elite and Diamond Elite.

Does using points count toward Hilton status?

Reward stays with Hilton still count toward earning elite status. This means that even when you book with points, you'll be working toward Silver, Gold and Diamond status.

Your rewards stay will count toward your status as long as you are a “registered, staying and paying guest” at a participating hotel. That means, if you pay for your rewards stay with your own points, it counts toward status.

Do Hilton points expire?

Hilton points do not expire if your account stays active. However, you can lose your points if you’re removed from the Hilton Honors program for inactivity on your account for a period of 15 consecutive months. Activity that can keep your account active and prevent you from losing your points includes buying, earning or donating points or staying at a Hilton property. One easy way to keep your account active is to earn points by making a purchase with a Hilton cobranded credit card.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Hilton put a “pause” on the expiration of all points scheduled to expire by Dec. 31, 2020.

What is Hilton elite status gifting?

Hilton elite status gifting is a special perk available only to Diamond Elite members. If a Diamond member stays 60 nights in a calendar year, they can gift Gold Elite status to any Hilton Honors member. (Remember, it’s free and quick to sign up for Hilton Honors.) If the Diamond member reaches 100 nights in that same year, the gift is automatically upgraded to Diamond status. This can be a great way to give the gift of luxury perks to a loved one who doesn’t travel as frequently as you.

How do you get Hilton Gold status for free?

The easiest way to get Hilton Gold status for “free” is to open a Hilton Honors credit card that offers the perk. Both the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card offer complimentary Gold status — these cards do come with an annual fee ($95 for both), but the value of the benefits they provide would ideally offset the cost of the fee. Another option: Get into the good graces of a Diamond Elite member and ask if they’d be willing to gift you Gold status.

How many points do you need for Hilton Diamond status?

You need to earn 120,000 base points in a year for Hilton Diamond status. However, earning base points is just one way to reach the highest level of Hilton Honors status. Other options include completing 30 stays or 60 nights in a year or getting the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

How do you check for Hilton lifetime status?

There’s currently no easy way for Hilton Honors members to check their progress toward earning lifetime Diamond status. However, Hilton has plans to make a Hilton lifetime elite tracker available in the Hilton Honors app sometime in 2020. In the meantime, you can call Hilton Honors customer service at 800-548-8690 to talk with a representative to check your progress toward lifetime status.

When does Hilton status reset?

Hilton status is earned based on your activity during a calendar year, defined as January 1 through December 31. Once a Hilton Honors member earns an elite status level, they get to keep it for the rest of the calendar year plus 15 months starting on the first day of the following calendar year. Thus, Hilton status normally resets on March 31 of every year.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hilton is extending the status of elite members. Members with 2019 status that was scheduled to expire on March 31, 2020 received an automatic extension through March 31, 2021. And 2020 elite status will be extended through March 31, 2022.

Can you buy Hilton Diamond status?

You can essentially “buy” Diamond status by getting the right Hilton Honors credit card. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has a $450 annual fee and comes with complimentary Diamond status. The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card has an annual fee of $95 and comes with complimentary Gold status — however, if you spend $40,000 in eligible purchases on the card, you get Diamond status the following year.

Do Hilton reward nights count toward status?

Yes, Hilton qualifying reward nights count toward status. Both paid and rewards stays, including Points and Money Rewards stays, count toward status and may be rolled over into the next year with the elite rollover nights benefit available to Silver, Gold and Diamond members.

How do you maintain Hilton status?

There are several ways to maintain Hilton status. You can either earn the same level of status again during the year, or you can keep a Hilton credit card that offers complimentary Hilton status as long as your account is open. If you’re a qualifying Diamond member, you can use the Diamond status extension perk one time to keep your status for an extra year.

The information related to Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.

Allie Johnson is a freelance content writer who covers personal finance, small business and travel. She writes about maximizing credit card rewards, jetting around the globe on points and miles and an array of other topics. She earned a degree in magazine journalism from Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.

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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).