Lifetime elite status has been a goal of mine since I got onto the road warrior carousel/roller coaster 15 years ago. My father was a million miler with the American Airlines AAdvantage program long before I became a road warrior. Heck, for one of his milestone birthdays he had also just hit 2 million lifetime miles on American. The cake had a bigger AA logo than the Happy Birthday message.
Back when I hit lifetime Marriott status in 2018, I kinda thought I was done with lifetime status for a while. It was due to their acquisition of Starwood Preferred Guest. At that point, I had already finished Hyatt lifetime status, which is, by far, my favorite lifetime status. And, I already had the highest level of lifetime status American Airlines offered, Platinum status. That status became less valuable when American announced a 4th level in their program, in between Platinum status and top-tier Executive Platinum.
The only other lifetime status on the horizon was United Airlines status, where I was still 300,000 miles shy of their bottom-tier lifetime status, lifetime Premier Gold. United only counts actual flight miles, and you need 1,000,000 flight miles to earn lifetime Premier Gold. It’s been a slow and steady path to lifetime status with United. Up until the pandemic, I hadn’t been focused much on lifetime status. When the pandemic grounded me, I mistakenly figured that my pursuit of lifetime status was on hold.
Lifetime Hilton Diamond Status
While Hilton Diamond status isn’t as valuable as Hyatt Globalist, it’s still a worthwhile status to hold onto. Diamond status comes with room upgrades, though at time of check-in as opposed to at booking. On top of free breakfast and a welcome amenity, you’ll also get club lounge access in those properties that have one. Those sorts of benefits can save a family plenty of money on vacation. Diamond members also get bonus points, generally 10 points per dollar spent at most full-service properties.
Lifetime Hilton Diamond status can be achieved a couple of different ways. In both cases, you’ll need to have Diamond status for at least 10 years (those years don’t need to be consecutive). Hilton is rare among large hotel chains, in that you can earn top-tier Diamond status by holding a credit card. The Hilton Honors AMEX Aspire card, which carries a $450 annual fee, also comes with Diamond status. Even status earned via credit card counts to the 10-year requirement. Along with 10 years of Diamond status, you’ll also need to achieve one of the following:
- 1,000 nights stayed in Hilton properties (paid or reward nights)
- 2 million base points
I hadn’t previously been focused at all on lifetime status with Hilton. That meant both goals were pretty far out of reach for me. Due to a long-term work project, I had amassed a couple hundred Hilton nights and some spending by the end of 2019, still a long way away from either goal. Still, I had 7 years of Diamond status, so there was a chance this might come to fruition long-term.
Early in the pandemic, Hilton announced that they were partnering with American Express to make spending more rewarding on Hilton AMEX cards. One of the benefits they added was the ability to earn base points from credit card spending in 2020. While I was well short of the 1,000 night goal, this temporary change worked really well in my favor. The Hilton AMEX Surpass card that I keep in my wallet earns 12 points per dollar on all Hilton spending as well as 6 points per dollar at restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations.
While we were keeping employees off airplanes there was still regular business spending as well as some hotel and restaurant expenses. Since I had roughly 8 months worth of credit card spending that would count to that 2 million base point requirement, it definitely seemed achievable. And, by the end of 2020 I had managed to cross that threshold.
The Final Two Pennies
If it’s one thing I’ve learned in over two decades of earning miles and points, it’s to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. Almost two decades later, I’m still mad at myself for missing out on an opportunity to earn lifetime Fairmont hotel status. When the opportunity to lock up Hilton Diamond status popped up, it seemed worth it to pursue.
I’ve still got two more years of Diamond status that I need to rack up. With status extensions due to the pandemic and Hilton’s rollover nights policy, that part seems pretty achievable.
Hyatt Globalist is still my go-to hotel elite status. At one point I thought Starwood Preferred Guest lifetime status would be the one I relied on most. The Marriott merger changed that. I ended up in the same position when American Airlines changed their status levels and made my lifetime Platinum status much less useful. The time may come when Hilton Diamond status is something I come to rely on regularly. For now, it’s great to have the status locked up. There’s no question that a Hilton stay for our family will be more rewarding with Diamond status in my pocket.
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