Buying top-tier elite status for $400? I’m doing it… would you?

I’ll openly admit I’m a sucker for status matches and challenges, and I received a targeted offer yesterday from Hilton HHonors to fast track to Diamond Status. What to do, what to do? First, here’s the offer:

I’m already Gold through March of 2013 and this offer would require I complete six stays by the end of the year. I already have two reservations booked that will qualify, so I’m “only” four away from Hilton’s top tier.

My first stop was Flyertalk, where two knowledgeable threads have been battling out the same question – “Is Diamond status any better than Gold?” – for more than a decade. My three-minute review of each thread basically tells me… “Not so much.”

Hilton lacks in their top-tier status compared to others by not offering Diamonds upgrades to suites based on availability at check-in or otherwise, among other perks. If suite upgrades were a published benefit, I do it in a heartbeat. Few, very few, reports from Diamonds on those threads said they’d occasionally get a suite now and then.

Otherwise, the benefits from Gold to Diamond are marginal. Diamonds get an extra 25% bonus points per stay (50% of base), guaranteed lounge access if not upgraded to an Executive Floor – I’m 90% getting Executive Floor as a Gold – and apparent incredible support from the “Diamond Desk.”

So then I start thinking about next year. What are my travel plans? Where am I flying? Am I going to redeem points next year? Internationally, Diamond status seems to be the level where things happen according to the threads. Hmm… I have several trips planned next year already that Diamond would come in handy overseas, both award and revenue travel.

No one can really answer the question “Is Diamond better than Gold?” other than yourself since it’s relative to what’s most important to you. Will the benefits exceed the cost of obtaining them? Could I just pay for a better room/experience next year for less? And then the gnawing “status” thing gets in my way. “Top tier! Top tier! Top tier!” my subconscious calls out.

Ugh. I actually have a very limited travel schedule for the remainder of the year. I just locked in 1K status with United Airlines and was satisfied with Gold in HHonors next year. Now this. If I don’t travel any more, it’ll cost me roughly $400 for those four mattress runs given I’m certain I can find $79 – $89 rates to qualify for the offer.

Then, the Million Miler program with United creeps into my head. I’m sooo close. If I’m crazy next year, I can hit it. I’d have to do Ben-style flying, but it’s certainly plausible. Plus, I already have multiple international trips booked next year for which Diamond “might” pay off. $400 out-of-pocket now for top-tier in HHonors? I’m doing it and here’s why:

  • Diamond status seems to be essential internationally for the best rooms and perks.
  • I have a nice balance in HHonors right now, the 25% extra bonus points for Diamond will booster that for a possible incredible redemption.
  • Since I’m close to million-miler status with United, a few more mileage runs this year might be worthwhile to ease my “pain” next year. Sometimes the one-nighters with a mattress run offer the best value per EQM.
  • I already have $2,000+ in travel credits with United I can use next year. I spent less than that this year for 1K.
  • A suite now and then? Might be nice, especially at the properties I frequent who know me so well already. I think they’d be more prone to give an “off-the-book” upgrade.
  • I have to stick it in here somewhere… “Top Tier Status!” Yes, I get satisfaction out of it. Shallow, insecure, elitist… take your pick.
  • Status match opportunities in 2012. Maybe Hyatt, Priority Club or Starwood is better for me. Now is the time to have top-tier status when I can change my plans next year without consequence should I be able to match in another program.

Am I missing anything? I’d love to hear from current Hilton Diamonds, but if anyone has read this far… what do you think? If you were me, would you do it or not?  Humor me and vote below:

[poll id=”3″]

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  1. Great post! I received the same offer from Hilton, except I am currently a Silver, so the offer was to help me bump up to Gold. I already have enough travel planned for the year to hit Gold anyway, but now that I’m getting double night credits (for work I tend to have 5+ night stays, so I qualify for hotel status via nights) it might be worth it to shoot for Diamond. I’ve been looking for a decent summary of the two tiers to determine what is best for me. I think I’m going to wait until my Montreal stay next week posts, and check that I am in fact receiving double night credits, not just double stay credits, as part of this promo.

    • Hi Lindsay,
      Thanks! Besides my unique reasoning for going for Diamond, the consensus on Flyertalk seems to point to it’s just not really worth it. You’ll definitely appreciate Gold and glad you’ll be getting it on your own anyway. The free Wi-Fi & lounge access I’ve received has been ideal. Hilton’s system seems to credit promos immediately, so hopefully your stay next week will double right away.

  2. Loved the post Darren. Yes, go for it! It will make me feel better about the crazy things I’m about to do to reach Delta Platinum 🙂

  3. Another benefit of Diamond at Hilton is you can get a Diamond Challenge at Hyatt which makes it easier to get Hyatt Diamond on light years. ( they do it for Hilton Gold too but Diamond to Diamond match/challenge is probably a safe bet incase they drop the gold option for challenge)

    I think Hyatt Diamond is the best program of base line premium hotels.

    Hilton Diamond domestically is a mish mash but when you need help they step up and that can be worth $400 easily on just one trip

  4. So, how about SPG Gold? I’m three stays away for the year. Should I find three Thursday or Sunday nights (for the triple points) to mattress run to a local cheap Starwood hotel?

    • I was comp’d SPG Gold in 2008…I haven’t looked it up, but I don’t believe Golds get lounge access in that program, so the points would be the draw there. For you, it’d come down to how much you stay at hotels, would the extra points get you to an award that would negate the spend required for the mattress runs, and so on. 🙂

  5. Does the fine print state that they have to be paid stays? Why spend $400 when you can look for cheap redemptions and just give up points.

    A couple of years ago I was two stays short of Diamond, so I redeemed two different nights at a hotel nearby that was opportunity (7,500 points) and another a point stretcher. It worked!

    The real value in diamond is the diamond force! When you want to redeem for a stay that is not available during high demand.

  6. Fun post as you wracked your brain about whether or not to do it! 🙂 So far I’ve only been Diamond during one int’l trip, to Australia, and I definitely appreciated the great service I got from the Diamond Desk to book (and alter) reward night stays for regular rooms at the Hiltons in Cairns and Sydney, one of which showed no award availability on the website. I haven’t used any benefits internationally while on Gold status so can’t compare, but while they didn’t put me in any suites, I was happy with the decent upgrade to a Spa-floor room at the Hilton Cairns, along with buffet breakfast at their restaurant rather than just the Executive Lounge. Same story at Sydney’s Hilton regarding breakfast, along with a regular room on the Executive floor right next to the Lounge, which made it feel like going to my living room to hang out (just not in my underwear). The Diamond Desk and front desk service, along with guaranteed Lounge access, would justify the expense/effort for me. Enjoy your travels!

    • Thanks for your input Ben. I’ve heard nothing but praise for the Diamond Desk, so glad to hear you concur. I frequent Australia, so your detailed experiences there appeal to me… very happy you included that!

  7. There is no challenge required at Hyatt: Hilton Diamond will get you status matched with them for a year, as well as Starwood Platnum, Priority Club Platnum, Carlson Black VIP, Best Western Diamond, Accor top level, and other smaller brands like Lowes.

  8. George- is this a YMMV situation? I called and they told me that I could only do the 2 month trial. I have PC Plat, BW Diamond, ClubCarlson Gold, and HHonors Gold.

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