Elite Status Hotels

The Most Frustrating Hotel Elite Status to Earn

hotels do listen
Written by Charlie

Hotel elite status is a great way to access hotel perks and benefits. But, there is one hotel elite status that is not so great if you earn it!

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!

Read more: Guide to Free Hotel Elite Status with Credit Cards

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! 🙂

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.



    I so appreciate your thoughts here. Similarly, as one who earns Diamond the hard way, it so frustrates me that they have been doing status matches (through Feb 2019) in recent times.

    Meanwhile, I am busting it to ensure that I maintain the Diamond status they are practically giving away. AND DILUTING MY UPGRADES. 🙂

  • It’s important to realize these statuses are used more as marketing tools these days, sure earn it if you’re spending other peoples money. But don’t spend your own money just to qualify for some “fools” gold status.

  • “strategic” status earning is the way to go, not going out of your to crank them out unless you’re a consultant. A single UA platinum status comps Hertz PrezCircle and Marriott Gold, and by extension, SPG Gold.

    I’ve love to see what is to happen to the Delta/Starwood partnership. After losing both Costco and jetBlue (intentionally or not), Amex now has a huge incentive to keep them together, but I’m sure Oscar (along with Chase) would try to sweet talk Sorenson into an exclusive one.

    Trying to play both sides for fools doesn’t always work. Just ask Hilton. They kept 2 issuers but ended up having neither pay particular attention to them.

  • IDK. I originally got Diamond as a status match. I’ve been diamond ever since and here in August have already earned diamond for another year. So at least in my case, extending diamond status was a smart business move for Hilton.

    I’d like to hear from people who work the front desks, and see if they really say “oh yeah we are flooded with diamonds.” About 5 Years ago at a Hampton Inn in Orlando, the girl checking me in actually commented “you are the only gold or diamond checking in tonight.”

  • The worst by far is IHG — you can get platinum with credit card ( easy way ) or stay 75 nights to earn platinum and still dont get free breakfast lol that’s nuts

    • I had definitely considered it (and wrote about that very thing in the past) but I went with Hilton Gold since there are so many cheap/free ways to get it. But, you are right, ridiculous the requirements!

  • If free breakfast is the end all be all elite status benefit, which many seem to think is the case….I can solve all your problems. Just stay at the following hotels at nearly any major and most other cities in the world:
    Hampton Inn
    Drury Inn
    Holiday Inn Express
    Country Inn and Suites
    Fairfield Inn
    Residence Inn
    Embassy suites
    La Quinta
    Super 8
    Red Roof
    Comfort Inn
    Econo Lodge
    Most Best Westerns, Adagio’s and many others

    • I LOVE Drury Inns! They are really excellent properties. And you are right about the breakfasts! I actually have a post coming soon about that. For me, it is a nice perk but not something that will change the game for me since I otherwise am not normally a (big) breakfast eater.