An Interesting Travel Hack

Hilton Diamond

Until recently I was of the impression that ‘earning’ Hilton Diamond through anything other than lots of hotel stays was more or less impossible. Even in the case of a status match, I assumed you’d need to have enough hotel stays to progress to a top tier. However, it seems I missed one route…

I covered ways to achieve Hilton Gold through: American Express Platinum, gifting and status matches here. With Hilton Honors Diamond however, in addition to the Gold benefits, you get:

– 100% Bonus Points

– Availability Upgrade (potentially up to a suite room type)

– Executive Lounge Access

– Premium Wi-fi

Of course, you can also expect to come above Gold in the pecking order for upgrades if availability is tight.

Based on fairly regular hotel stays the total value of all the Diamond benefits could potentially be £100’s. So I was interested in hearing how self-confessed new travel hack enthusiast John, achieved Hilton Honors Diamond based almost entirely on spending alone!

Read: Amex Gold Card Review

IHG Rewards Club Premium Credit Card

John started with the IHG Rewards Club Premium Credit card, issued by Creation. This card has a £99 annual fee and, as with most reward cards at 41.5 % APR is one you’d want to pay in full each month.

It’s benefits include:

20,000 Points Bonus after just £200 Spend

Free Night Certificate after £10,000 Spend in a year

Platinum Elite Status – offering 50% bonus points, room availability upgrades, extended check out and ‘guaranteed room availability’

2 IHG points earned per £1 spent

If you do stay at IHG properties, this makes it a decent card in its own right. IHG points are worth about 0.4p, so with minimal card spending for £99 you get about £80 in points plus mid-tier status. If you do then decide to use it as your primary card, like John, you’re also getting a free night at £10,000 spend, and another 20,000 points from your spending. The free stay could potentially be worth £200 plus if used at top end hotels (e.g. Intercontinental), and that’s another £80 of points earned on the spending too. In contrast the previous Hilton Honors credit card (no longer open to applications) required £10,000 spending to obtain mid-tier Gold status.

IHG brand hotels include Intercontinental, Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza.

The Interesting Bit

Here’s the interesting bit (and where John comes in!)… unlike some other reward cards, points earned on spending on the IHG credit card count as ‘base points’ towards status, in just the same way as points earned on stays. So John identified that if he spent enough on the card, plus some stays, it would actually be possible to achieve the 75,000 base points needed to obtain IHG top tier ‘Spire Elite Status’.

John told me:

‘I have tried hard to put all spending on it over the last few years, to get points for free hotel stays to enjoy with the family; we have had several long weekends in London for free with IHG hotels as a result.

I also put all my work expenses on it; company car fuel, and any travel costs. I average about 14 work hotel stays per year and made sure all of them were IHG hotels in the past, to maximise points. Plus I signed up for all their Accelerate promotions in the last few years to earn additional points.
To achieve Spire status our family spent just under £30,000 in the 12 months from Jan to Dec 2018, including 2 family holidays to get as many points as possible. The rest of the qualifying elite points were from hotel stays, mainly work stays.

In order to earn Spire Elite Status on spending alone, with no hotel stays, John would’ve needed to spend £37,500 on the card! (Although that would also be a further £300 points earned…).

IHG Benefits Chart:

Status Match to Hilton Diamond

So, having put all that effort into earning IHG Spire status – John then decided that actually he preferred the Hilton Diamond benefits instead, so he contacted Hilton and secured a status match! He then decided he liked it enough to book the required 8 stays in 90 days in order to retain this status through to 2020.

John puts a conservative estimate of £200 on the value of perks and extras he’ll gain from Hilton Diamond.

I must say, I’d tend to agree with this choice and evaluation of the two. In particular Hilton’s Free Breakfast and Lounge Access stand out as worthwhile perks – I also highly value the fact Amex points can be transferred to Hilton Honors (but not IHG) and Hilton have more top-end properties.

You can find Hilton’s status match info here

Conclusion

I was impressed at John’s approach here – which is why I asked him if I could write a post about it! Hilton Diamond requires 30 stays or 60 nights, which makes it difficult to obtain for many people. John’s approach meant he was earning points and getting perks and free stays with IHG en route to Spire Status, and he now has Hilton Diamond AND IHG Spire.

Obviously you have to be spending enough to put £30,000 on any card, and you could argue that spreading some of this onto other cards could have earned some healthy welcome bonuses along the way (for example on Amex Gold). However, without any need for card churning or organising spending, John got a number of free hotel stays with status perks, and two top tier statuses without masses of stays. Given that the majority of people earn little, or nothing, back on their every day spending, I’d say that’s a decent outcome for minimal effort.

Big thanks to John for sharing this with me!

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