a card with a man riding a camel

Free Hilton Gold continues, but a quick musing on why I think it’s OK to do it.

a card with a man on a camel


Back in January I wrote about how to use the Luhn Algorithm to instantly get free Hilton Gold status. In my experience attention to this promotion waxes and wanes every few months. Well, it seems that Milequest, Hack My Trip and Million Mile Secrets have caught onto the latest wave. But rather than putting the effort in to work out the Luhn Algorithm, they suggest that you use an online generator to do it for you. I think you should at least put some effort into earning your points and status!

Given the amount of people who have minted themselves as a new Gold member, I would try to draw attention away from yourself. Reader JP helped me find the terms and condition, and I would suggest changing your address to one of these  countries mentioned instead of using Australia.

This offer is open to selected Visa Infinite cardholders residing within Asia Pacific, Central Europe, Middle East and Africa and who are enrolled in Hilton HHonors and register for the promotion.

*Asia Pacific denotes Australia, Hong Kong, China, Korea Singapore, Taiwan, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Philippines”

Now, a quick brainstorm on why I think it's acceptable. Firstly trying to fake a credit card number blindly and attempting to use it to buy stuff is illegal. I think we all knew that. However what is my stance in this case where no payment is being represented?

Well for a start the Luhn algorithm is wide open in the public space and so it cannot be illegal to generate a valid 16 digit card number by itself.  (The patent for it, granted in 1960, has now expired.)

So then what is being (mis-)represented if you try to use the Hilton Gold signup link? Given it can't be illegal to create a 16 digit card number, it can only be that you hold a valid Visa Infinite card. I see it as a little cheeky, but not to the extent of fraud. I see this as a civil and not criminal case. In which case the argument becomes “how much does each party lose from it?”

Without Hilton Gold I wouldn't ever bother staying at Hilton. Instead I'd stay at Intercontinental Hotel Group where it's incredibly easy stack promotions and get free nights. So here Hilton have earned my business. Heck if they're willing to throw Gold status in the USA at anyone who applies for a $95/year credit card (this one … and no I don't get a commission!) only for them to stick it in their drawer and not spend a penny on it, then I don't feel so bad. Don't forget that loyalty programme status is worthless if you're not using the benefits.

Sure there's $95 annual cost to the consumer, but Hilton only see a small fraction of that. (I have no idea how much though!) so there's a small, but essentially negligible income on the annual fee alone. I won't guess accurately how much commission they would have received on purchases, but it'd be in the order of far less than 1 percent.

There's also a UK equivalent (no commission once again), which has no annual fee and even gives a free night certificate. The Gold status kicks in for the remainder of the calendar year plus the following year when you spend ?10,000 per year. You can just buy gift cards for your local supermarket and that's you done. As it happens I have Hilton Gold through this route too.

Ultimately if Hilton decide they want to pull the plug on this promotion, then they can, and it's within their terms and conditions to remove all your points if they really want and without notice. If you're not comfortable taking advantage of this loophole, then don't. However it's been going on for over a year now and they have had every chance to do so, but haven't so clearly it's not really harming them much if at all.

Money speaks volumes, they might get your business for a couple of extra nights (potentially a lot more), so that's enough for me to say just sign up for the Gold status!

Do you agree or disagree with me? Do you have any constructive comments that haven't been made before? Please leave a message below!


  1. You just told people how to commit fraud. There might not be penalty on anyone but is that really good business practice on your part?

  2. I tend to think about it as what you are ‘taking’….
    Obtaining gold status in itself means nothing. The status itself doesn’t cost Hilton anything and you aren’t misrepresenting your intentions (you aren’t agreeing to stay, etc).

    Going further, does it really cost Hilton anything for you to stay? In the end, they spend money to market and get you to stay. If it is the gold status that gets you to stay with them, so be it. Room upgrades, etc are free to them.

    I see no issue with telling them you have a card when you don’t, to acquire a benefit that is free for them to offer, and gets you to stay with them(their ultimate desire)

  3. It’s clearly not illegal to generate a number and mess with a web site, but if you use Hilton HHonors Gold when you didn’t earn or buy it and get any kind of benefits, I think it’s wrong. You are stealing from Hilton. You’re stealing from other HHonors members because Hilton presumably can’t offer quite as much value if there are more illegitimate HHonors members.

    It’s one thing to take advantage of what’s within the rules, quite a different thing to outright misrepresent yourself and take advantage of it. It’s like going to Costco and eating a ton of free samples versus just opening up a package of food and eating it.

  4. I hope that as you mature and develop your values, you will see the fraudulent and unethical side of your spelled-out conduct. Just submit a fake address and generate a fraudulent number, and all will be OK – no harm, no foul. I hope you carefully review your instructions and consider removing this post as you did with your last fraud “how-to” for fake-booking a trip not intended to fly and then cancelling it in hope of MR points. Just as an observation, yours is the clearly the most ethically-challenged blog on Boarding Area.

    1. Collen, why do you think this is the most ethically-challenged blog on BA?

      Miles Quest (also on BA) is instructing people to go and apply in a handy step-by-step format. PTBM is giving you his opinion and leaving the decision up to you…

  5. Everyone has their own threshold of ethics. And many who decry the technique of getting GOLD would never get a credit card for the sign up bonus, right? And then, they never buy a gift card or use Bluebird/vanilla et al to generate spending? Yeah, right.

    Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. You aren’t really reading this and other similar blogs because of a need to be judgmental. You’re reading to fit the info into your own standards. And they are rightly yours. But there are different ones for others who have no obligation to live by your rules. No guilt trip here, but nice try.

  6. Sorry but you are flat out wrong in your assessment.

    Hilton Hhonors Terms and conditions
    General section
    Article 9: Hilton HHonors Worldwide, L.L.C. reserves the right to discontinue membership for any Member who acts in a manner inconsistent with local or federal laws, statutes or ordinances or if there are reasonable grounds for suspecting fraud, theft, or dishonesty … Hilton HHonors Worldwide, L.L.C. shall have the right to take appropriate administrative and/or legal action, including, without limitation, criminal prosecution, as it deems necessary in its sole discretion.

    Key words here include “fraud” and “dishonesty”. Note too that they may instigate civil or criminal prosecution against a member they feel has acted in violation of this contract.

    The general definition of fraud is: In criminal law, fraud is intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; Fraud is a crime and a civil law violation, though the specific criminal law definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Defrauding people or entities of money or valuables is a common purpose of fraud.

    By representing yourself as living in a location you do not live in and owning a credit card you do not actually have you are committing fraud.

    You are deceiving the company in order to attain a status benefit you are not legally entitled to.

    As a person who published a blog encouraging others to follow your example, in some jurisdictions this is considered to be “conspiracy” or “incitement” which is: persuading, encouraging, instigating, pressuring, or threatening so as to cause another to commit a crime.

  7. I feel like the hotels must be aware of this and choose to do nothing. To me it’s almost like an extra level of price discrimination as you might be inducing people who wouldn’t pay for a stay without elite privileges to otherwise stay. I’ve certainly stayed more at Hilton and at Accor after receiving status where otherwise I’m just looking for a deal

  8. @Colleen. Agreed. It is unethical, first and foremost. Additionally this blog post is most definitively promoting and condoning illegal behavior by misrepresentation of factual data, i.e. addresses and credit card numbers. In common terms we call it thievery, lying and cheating.

  9. Wow! I think those who are criticizing this blog need to calm down a little. We’re only talking about a potential upgrade, free wi-fi and maybe a free breakfast here and you still have to pay Hilton for your stay. I personally think it’s wrong that wi-fi is chargeable and so good luck to those who manage to become Gold and don’t have to pay for it.
    Can those who quoted rules, regulations and legal principles honestly say they have never broken the speed limit, walked on the grass where the sign says don’t or attended a timeshare presentation without any intention of making a purchase, just to get the free gift?
    For those who are Gold due to frequent stays, I’m sure it probably irks some to think that others are getting the same benefits without participation, but they still get their benefits so why care?

  10. I can only imagine that all the people getting so worked up about this must have earned Gold the hard way… A huge number of boardingarea blogs are essentially about how to ‘game’ the system and I don’t see this any differently.

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