A LoyaltyLobby reader sent us a question if I would prefer IHG or Hilton at their respective top tier level?
Here’s the question from the reader:
Between Hilton and IHG which one do u find more beneficial in top tier Level?
This is a tricky question because Hilton has its Diamond tier (lifetime Diamond is prioritized for upgrades), and IHG Rewards is going through a program refresh where their top tier, Spire Elite, is renamed Diamond (read more here). It is unclear what benefit changes there might be.
IHG also has a separate Ambassador program (you can sign up using cash or points – read more here) that has an invitation-only Royal Ambassador tier that requires an excess of $10,000 of yearly spending at InterContinental, Regent, Kimpton, and Six Senses brands.
If the reader mainly stays at the select-service brands, there is not much difference in benefits or points earnings.
You can quickly get the Hilton Diamond tier in the US by signing up for a co-branded Amex card and paying a yearly fee. IHG has teamed up with Chase and offers Platinum for select cardholders.
Overall, my personal preference, which is what the reader asked, is Hilton Diamond.
InterContinental Royal Ambassador program is excellent, but the benefits only apply for four brands, and the qualification criteria are not clearly communicated (on purpose). However, I know what it requires to reach Hilton Diamond, and the benefits apply to all brands.
I know that Hilton’s elite treatment is not very strong in the United States due to F&B credit instead of breakfast for two, limited executive lounges, and too much competition for meaningful upgrades.
It is outside of the US where the Diamond benefits shine, like my stay earlier this week at the Conrad Tulum (fantastic) and my upcoming one at the Conrad Punta de Mita was already upgraded to a suite on Friday (those Hilton’s’s global automated upgrades are significant).
I do get limited value out of IHG’s Ambassador program and pay the yearly fee when they offer an incentive for renewing, like the current 20,000 bonus points in addition to the usual 15,000 (essentially pays for itself). Let’s hope that IHG’s program refresh would bring meaningful benefits for top-tier members, such as complimentary breakfast and lounge access.