Even though I’m an HHonors elite I really dislike prepaid hotel rates, and I can’t imagine earning Hilton’s status based on nights or stays.
First of all, Gold is the best HHonors status to have and not Diamond (considering tradeoffs).
Second of all, get Hilton Gold just for having a credit card. Free breakfast, free internet, occasional upgrades.
The Citi Hilton Reserve Visa has a $95 annual fee, and for that price you can concentrate your stays and status-earning on another chain that’s more rewarding like Hyatt or Starwood, and still have status with one of the ‘biggest’ hotel programs so that you aren’t a nobody walking in the door of a property in a city that doesn’t have Hyatts or Starwoods.
That’s my strategy — Hyatt and Starwood are the most rewarding programs in my opinion (by far), but they aren’t everywhere. So you ‘need’ Marriott, Priority Club, or Hilton because it will be hard to avoid stays with one of those chains.
I find Hilton to be the most rewarding of the biggies and the fact you don’t actually have to stay to earn status means you can drop into one of their proeprties 3 or 4 times a year, be treated as an elite, just for having their credit card. So why bother earning status ‘head in bed’?
The Hilton credit card does offer referral credit to me if you use my link and are approved. I definitely appreciate that. The 2 free weekend nights after $2500 spend within 4 months which come with the card is the best available offer. And getting a major hotel program’s mid-tier elite status just for having their credit card does seem to me one of the best deals in travel, a killer app for the frequent guest.