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Hilton Honors Has Begun Selling Upgrades to Elite Members

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James Larounis

James Larounis

Senior Content Contributor

Countries Visited: 30U.S. States Visited: 35

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in...

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Hilton Honors, like most hotel loyalty programs, has offered complimentary upgrades to elite members for years. It’s one of the major reasons to be loyal to a particular hotel chain, and the higher status you have, usually the better upgrade you’ll receive. While Hilton Honors isn’t ending complimentary upgrades, it has implemented a new paid upgrade system where you can secure an upgrade in advance, a move that will likely upset many travelers.

Current Upgrade Benefits for Hilton Honors Elites

In short, there’s nothing necessarily changing about the current model. Hilton Honors Gold and Diamond members will be eligible for complimentary upgrades just as they were before:

  • Hilton Honors Gold members, the mid-tier status, usually are eligible for preferred type rooms. These may mean a better view, a higher floor, an executive room (without lounge access), etc.
  • Hilton Honors Diamond members receive the same eligibility for preferred rooms, but may also receive a standard suite. Traditionally, a Diamond member would receive a better room over a Gold member.

Hilton’s program is very unique in that it doesn’t require the property to upgrade to a specific category of room, such as a suite. While World of Hyatt and Marriott Bonvoy specifically require a hotel to upgrade a guest to a standard suite if it’s available, Hilton Honors keeps the scheme very vague, and even if a suite were open, you’re in no way guaranteed or entitled to it.

What Is Changing

Upgrades to select rooms will now be offered as a paid option during digital check-in. Image Credit: Daniel Ross

Now, Hilton Honors has begun offering all elite tiers — Silver, Gold, and Diamond — the opportunity to purchase an upgrade in advance when checking in. There’s no set rate for these upgrades, and they’ll of course vary depending on the room, type of hotel, etc., but the system is intended for you to upgrade into a desired room category in advance of arriving at the hotel, creating more revenue for the property itself.

There are 2 ways you can now get upgraded:

  • You can arrive at the hotel as a Gold or Diamond member and receive a complimentary upgrade at that time to an eligible room, but risk not receiving your desired room or an upgrade at all.
  • You can secure an upgrade in advance by paying for it, but lose the ability to receive that upgrade for free.

Bottom Line: Most of the changes to paid upgrades are intended to add additional revenue to the hotel, similar to how they sell other services at an extra cost.

Final Thoughts

These changes could be beneficial to Silver or regular members who otherwise wouldn’t receive an upgrade at all, though Gold and Diamond members will likely be upset that upgrades they could have gotten for free are now being sold to all. You’ll want to keep your eye out during the digital check-in process to see if paying for an upgrade in advance makes sense for you.

About James Larounis

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in dozens of travel publications.


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