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Hilton Honors Diamond vs. IHG One Rewards Diamond
IHG recently revamped its loyalty program, and replaced its former top tier Platinum Spire status into Diamond. How will IHG’s top-tier Diamond status compete against other hotel loyalty programs’ top-tier status? I’ll be comparing it with Hilton Diamond as of this post.
Hilton Honors Diamond vs. IHG One Rewards Diamond- How to Get Both Status
Hilton Honors Diamond remains as one of the easiest top-tier hotel status you can get by just opening the American Express Hilton Honors Aspire Card. Without it, you’d need to stay 60 nights or 30 stays.
On the opposite hand, you’ll need to stay 70 nights in a single calendar year to reach IHG One Rewards Diamond. The highest status an IHG co-branded credit card will grant is Platinum. There are no elite night bonuses either, so you’ll really have to work much harder for it. Alternatively, you can spend $40,000 on an IHG card like the IHG Rewards Premier/Premier Business in a single calendar year to get Diamond status. It’s still a lot of work compared to Hilton Diamond.
Verdict: Hilton Honors Diamond is way easier to get compared to IHG One Rewards Diamond.
Hilton Honors Diamond vs. IHG One Rewards Diamond Benefits
When it comes to hotel status benefits, the most valuable benefits include higher points earning rate, free breakfast, potential suite upgrades, and late checkout. Hilton Honors Diamond and IHG One Rewards Diamond can get you them!
Both Diamond status provides double or 100% extra Hilton/IHG points after the base of 10 points earned per dollar spent before taxes and fees. I value Hilton Honors points at ~0.4 cents per point and IHG One Rewards points at ~0.6 cents per point. Thus, IHG wins in most cases. They’re also tend to be similar in redeeming points for their aspirational property redemption with a cap of ~120k points/night, with the exception of very few at 150k points/night for Hilton Honors. From there, it’d heavily depend on your preferences, where and when you travel, and which program you have the most amount of points with.
Verdict: IHG wins in points earning category as each point tends to be more valuable than Hilton’s.
Both Hilton Honors and IHG One Rewards Diamond will give you free breakfast as a welcome gift option.
However, free breakfast is not included for US domestic hotels with Hilton Honors Diamond, and it’s replaced by a daily food & beverage credit for up to 2 guests. But, international Hilton outside of US still get you free breakfast. The F&B credit is more flexible as you can use them outside of breakfast time, but food items in luxury brands, like Waldorf Astoria and Conrad, may cost more than what the credits allow per day, so you’ll have to pay the difference. The credit forces you to use it or lose it inside the property, which may or may not work best for you depending on your preference.
For IHG Diamond, you’ll receive free breakfast as a welcome choice regardless of where you are.
Verdict: IHG wins the free breakfast category as Hilton F&B credit may not even cover the whole cost of breakfast.
For Hilton, executive lounge access is granted for its Diamond members regardless of which room type they book. Hilton brands that typically have lounge access are:
For IHG, executive lounge access isn’t included on the status itself, but as a reward option on IHG Milestones. To get lounge access with IHG, you’d need to stay at least 40 nights in a single calendar year and choose Annual Lounge Membership as one of your Milestone Bonuses.
The problem with IHG’s lounge access overall is the limited amount of it. The sole brand that consistently have lounge access is the InterContinental. There are select Crowne Plaza and even Holiday Inn with executive lounges, but they’re still very limited and not to be expected. The rest of IHG brands like Hotel Indigo, Voco, and Kimpton are upscale boutique brands that typically don’t have executive lounges.
Verdict: Hilton Honors Diamond wins in the executive lounge access as there are more brands that include it without the upkeep of having to stay certain amount of nights in a single calendar year.
Both Diamond status would entitle you to upgrades up to 1-bedroom suite level, subject to availability. As suites are limited compared to base-type rooms, they’re more challenging to get even with high status.
Hilton recently implemented their “Global Automated Upgrades” to automatically upgrade Hilton members 72-hours in advance prior to check-in. Individual hotels can opt out of this program however. The upgrade priorities are in the following order:
- Points stays (100,000+)
- Lifetime Diamond
IHG has an InterContinental Ambassador Program, where you’d get a guaranteed 1-category room upgrade at InterContinental properties, and Six Senses (subject to availability). The program may help with getting further upgrades, as you’d be a Diamond Ambassador instead of just Diamond. Also, IHG does have confirmable suite upgrade certificates that can also be used as an alternative way to get suite upgrades whereas Hilton does not provide those. Nonetheless, I recommend contacting the hotel ahead of time, and inquire about an upgrade nicely!
Verdict: IHG has the more comprehensive room upgrade policy with more tools to confirm suite upgrades.
Hilton Honors does not provide an established late checkout benefit, even to its top-tier Diamond status. However, you can try asking for late checkout, and the decision will be up to the individual hotel.
IHG Diamond will get you a 2pm checkout that’s subject to availability. However, even an IHG member with no status can receive this benefit. Although, I’d assume that someone with Diamond status will be prioritized than those with lower status.
2pm checkout isn’t as disruptive as 4pm checkout as many hotels do start check-in at 3pm, so an IHG Diamond member should be able to receive late checkout most of the time.
IHG late checkout benefit can be enhanced with the Ambassador/Royal Ambassador/Kimpton Inner Circle, which guarantees 4pm late checkout at InterContinental and Kimpton properties respectively. Six Senses is also included for Ambassador, but subject to availability instead of guaranteed.
Verdict: IHG has a clearer late checkout policy compared to Hilton.
Hilton Honors does not provide an established early check-in benefit, even to its top-tier Diamond status. However, you can try asking for early check-in, and the decision will be up to the individual hotel.
IHG Diamond can provide early check-in that’s subject to availability. The time the hotel will let you in will be at their discretion. So theoretically, you could be let in at 3am for example. That could be handy to prevent booking an extra night in case you have to arrive at a hotel during very late hours. But in practice, it remains to be seen. It’s nice though that IHG has stated early check-in benefit, which many other hotel loyalty programs don’t have.
IHG early check-in benefit can be enhanced only as an invite-only Royal Ambassador/Kimpton Inner Circle, which guarantees 10am early check-in at InterContinental and Kimpton properties respectively. Six Senses is also included, but subject to availability instead of guaranteed.
Verdict: IHG has a clearer early check-in policy compared to Hilton.
Even though IHG Diamond has the upper hand compared to Hilton Diamond on paper, I still prefer Hilton Diamond between the two. Hilton Diamond is way easier to get, and the benefits aren’t very far off for the much greater effort you need to put in to reach and maintain IHG Diamond.
Also, many of IHG benefits are gatekept by the Milestone Bonuses and Ambassador/invite-only programs. The InterContinental Ambassador/Royal Ambassador/Kimpton Inner Circle only work on csaid brands within the IHG portfolio, which means that you have to really like staying at those brands. Hilton on the other hand, has the status benefits spread more evenly across all brands.
With all that said, Hilton Diamond would fit most people, and IHG Diamond would fit those who particularly really love IHG brands.