Hilton

Hilton Gold vs. Diamond Status: What’s the Difference?

Hilton Gold and Diamond status has always been relatively easy to achieve, thanks to the Hilton credit cards. It’s why I recently picked up a Hilton Aspire Card from American Express. I wanted Diamond status without having to divert $40,000 worth of spending towards the Aspire Card. When I shared the news on Twitter, a few people asked me why I bothered with Hilton Diamond status and are the benefits significantly different from Hilton Gold? While Hilton Gold and Diamond status are very similar, there are a few key differences that make it worth upgrading:

Hilton Gold vs. Diamond Benefits: Room Upgrades

When it comes to room upgrades, there are a few differences between what Hilton Gold and Diamond members are entitled to. Both will receive upgrades based on availability. I’ve stayed at Hilton hotels as both a Gold and Diamond member. I’ve gotten upgraded on every single stay, except as a Gold member at the Conrad Chicago. To be fair, that room looked like an upgrade already and I didn’t need anything bigger or nicer than that.

That being said, the Terms of the Hilton Honors program do not guarantee upgrades of any kind. They do state that Gold members are eligible for “space available upgrades” to “preferred rooms.” Upgrades can extend “up to executive rooms.” Meanwhile, upgrades for Diamond members “may include suites,” including junior and 1-bedroom suites. In other words, you’re more likely to get upgraded to a suite as a Diamond member. That definitely rings true in my case – I got upgraded to a suite at the Hilton Munich Airport, Conrad Makkah, and even scored the Penthouse Suite at Conrad Bali thanks to my Hilton Diamond status. Based on my upgrade stats alone, having Diamond status is definitely worth it. 

Conrad Bali Penthouse Suite Pool

Hilton Gold vs. Diamond Benefits: Free Breakfast

Both Hilton Gold and Diamond members receive free breakfast, though that benefit varies by hotel brand. For example, Hilton Gold elite members get complimentary continental breakfast for up to two guests at Conrad, Hilton, Curio, and DoubleTree hotels…assuming they choose this benefit over 1,000 bonus points. The breakfast benefit also extends to Hilton Garden Inn hotels, where Gold elite members can choose between 750 points per stay or a hot breakfast for up to two guests. The difference for Hilton Diamond members? They receive free breakfast and 750 – 1,000 bonus points.

Breakfast at Conrad Bali's RIN restaurant
Breakfast at Conrad Bali’s RIN restaurant

Even though the complimentary breakfast is continental and only available for two guests, I’ve found hotels to be more generous. Especially as a Diamond elite member. I often book multiple rooms and receive this benefit for every guest on my reservation. When I booked three rooms at the Conrad Makkah two years ago, they not only upgraded two of our standard rooms to suites, they extended lounge access and buffet breakfast to all eight guests in our party. On trips like these, the Diamond breakfast benefit become incredibly valuable.

Hilton Gold vs. Diamond Benefits: Executive Lounge Access

Executive Lounge access is important to many of you and this is yet another area where being a Hilton Diamond member gives you an advantage. Diamond members are guaranteed Executive Lounge access at properties that have one. And while the official policy restricts lounge access to two guests per room, I’ve never had a problem bringing all registered guests (upwards of 3 per room) into the lounge. 

Hilton Sydney Grass Brasserie
Breakfast at Glass Brasserie, Hilton Sydney – one of the many perks reserved for elites

Gold elite members only receive lounge access if they’ve been upgraded to an Executive Floor room. There have been instances where I’ve been upgraded to a club room because the hotel staff probably figured it would be cheaper than sending me to the restaurant for breakfast. At the Hilton Sydney four years ago, the front desk agent not only upgraded me to an Executive Floor room with access to the lounge, but she also offered me free breakfast at Glass Brasserie because “it’s better.” That was an understatement. While Hilton’s policy restricts Executive Lounge access for Gold elites to those who’ve been upgraded to an Executive room, this sometimes motivates the staff to upgrade you. At least that’s been my experience as a Hilton Gold elite member.

Hilton Gold vs. Diamond Benefits: Free Wifi

Unless you’re looking to disconnect completely, wifi matters when you’re traveling. Hilton Gold elite members receive free standard wifi, while Diamond members get premium internet. In my experience, the premium version is significantly faster. It may not cost significantly more to pay for that upgrade, but it’s nice to get it free of charge as a Diamond member.

Hilton Gold vs. Diamond Benefits:  Bonus Points

Hilton is by far one of the best hotel rewards programs for earning free nights. Both via paid stays and credit card spending. Hilton members earn 10 points per $1 spent, which is already generous enough. Gold elite members receive an 80% bonus on top of that, while Diamond members qualify for a 100% bonus. Combine that with Hilton’s frequent double point promotions, credit card category bonuses, and the points on the cheapest hotel stay can really add up.

Hilton Diamond Status via the Aspire Card: Worth it?

The difference between Hilton Gold and Diamond status is pretty significant even if you’re not a frequent traveler. You’re more likely to get a room upgrade (especially to a suite), lounge access is a given, and you may get a better breakfast than the continental option Gold elites are entitled to. That’s not to say Hilton Gold status is worthless. It’s actually the best mid-tier status level of any hotel rewards program. But if you don’t mind paying the $450 annual fee on the Amex Hilton Aspire Card to secure Diamond status, then it’s worth the splurge. Especially with all the other perks the card offers.

In my case, I’ll easily off-set my annual fee with Amex Offers credits alone. The two hotel credits and annual free nights are just icing on the cake. Having Diamond status is absolutely worth it, especially with all the benefits offered by the Hilton Aspire card.

If you’re considering applying for a Hilton American Express Card, consider using my referral link. I’ll earn 20,000 Hilton bonus points if you get approved and you can do the same by referring friends and family.

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7 Comments

  1. I haven’t stayed in many Hilton brands internationally, but when I had been a diamond for several years, I rarely got upgraded in the states. Unless an upgrade is simply considered a base room on a higher floor. When being upgraded, does the front desk make a point to tell you about it? Nothing had been mentioned to me about receiving an upgrade, and the times I asked for one, they said they didn’t have anything available.

    • That sucks. That hasn’t been my experience though. I’ve gotten upgrades on mistake rates as a Diamond – they always let me know I’m being upgraded. You’ll definitely get better upgrades abroad though.

  2. I always call a month before & ask for upgrades before arrival – sometimes they will do dep on occupancy levels.

    Also imp not to pre-chk on the app fot a reg room or the front desk will only assign that upon check in & not an upgraded room.

    Am with you though Ariana, Hilton pretty much makes it easy to suite upgrade w Aspire & Plat is DEF worth it for upgrades/b’fast. Finally something with real value & little effort.

  3. The Hilton Ascend is the easiest way to MS HHonors via Supermarket GC’s IMHO. How do you?

  4. If you are a business traveler you should really avoid Hilton Properties. Long Standing Diamond member and get no respect. Had a minor dispute over some points. Multiple phone calls, online chat and several emails. Basically all said the same, sorry you are unhappy, hope you continue to stay at our properties, Ive been reviewing with other business travelers and the Sheraton and Marriott programs are much better. Actually they have not even read the emails. Just keep getting back the same exact boiler plate response except different signatures.

    • That hasn’t been my experience with Hilton. I’ve always received upgrades and their service has been great. I once had a billing issue with a hotel abroad and the hotel managed dug his heels in, refusing to honor the lower rate. Hilton corporate stepped in and wrote me a check. I’ve always been impressed by that.

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