In the loyalty world, focus has changed a lot from those that put in the nights or miles to those who do a lot of spending (no matter the nights) or that use the brand’s credit card. This works great for the reward credit card enthusiast who can pick up a card for the bonus points and get some elite level while they are at it but it really is frustrating for the member who actually puts in the nights to reach that hotel elite status.
The Most Frustrating Hotel Elite Status to Earn
There are a couple of candidates for this position of the most frustrating hotel elite status to earn but I believe the worst has to be Hilton Honors Gold.
Why Hilton Honors Gold May be the Most Frustrating Hotel Elite Status to Earn
Hilton Honors Gold is Hilton’s mid-tier elite level and it actually has something hugely beneficial with it – the ability to select free breakfast as a MyWay option at many Hilton brands. Free breakfast is normally something you would only get with a top tier status so that is really great.
How To Earn Hilton Honors Gold
To earn Hilton Honors Gold, you need to do one of the following:
- 20 stays in a calendar year
- 40 nights in a calendar year
- 75,000 Hilton Honors Base Points in a calendar year
Let’s put it in perspective – if you were to stay 40 nights at SPG properties instead, you would only be 10 nights shy of their highest status, SPG Platinum. Staying 20 times at SPG properties would leave you just 5 nights away from Platinum status. But, with Hilton, you only get Gold status.
Free Hilton Honors Gold to Cardholders!
So, why is this the most frustrating hotel elite status to earn? It is because Hilton basically gives it away through credit card perks and semi-regular challenges of staying just 4 times in a period of time! Let’s see how easy it is to get Hilton Gold status with credit cards:
- Have an American Express Platinum card (Hilton Gold is a benefit you need to register for but it is free)
- Have a Citi Hilton Reserve (no longer issued)
- Have an Amex Hilton Surpass
- Have the basic Amex Hilton card and spend $20,000 on it in a year
And all of that is possible without staying a single night at a Hilton hotel! This makes it incredibly frustrating for the road warrior who puts in the nights and earns the status. And I really feel for you! This is even worse if you have Hilton Gold by earning it and by having the credit card because it means you get nothing else as a result of having both!
Is This A Better Option?
What would make it better? To be honest, while I enjoy hotel elite status with many brands thanks to credit cards, I think the best approach is the way Marriott does it. They give elite night credits to their credit card holders (SPG does this as well but it does not give you an elite status just for having it). The Marriott Rewards credit cards give you 15 nights towards elite status.
Since Marriott Rewards Silver status only requires 10 nights, you automatically receive that as a credit card holder. But, if you are going for Marriott Gold (which you can get by combining your SPG Gold with Marriott – and you can get SPG Gold by having the Amex Platinum card!), that requires 50 nights and having the card leaves you 35 nights away.
If you want to go for the whole thing and get Marriott Rewards Platinum, again, the credit card gives you those 15 credits (and 1 credit for every $3,000 spent on the card) and that leaves Marriott Platinum only 60 nights away instead of 75.
Again, I enjoy various elite status levels because of credit cards so I am happy with it. But, I do think brands like Hilton are doing a bad job of rewarding the people that are spending more time in their hotels than some guy/lady who stays 2 times in a year but has the credit card. Hopefully, Hilton will consider making some move to something similar to Marriott or maybe giving Hilton Gold members who earn it extra perks/benefits – just leave my free breakfast alone! 🙂