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Guide to the Hilton Honors program

Last Updated, October 17, 2019

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As the company's loyalty program, Hilton Honors allows members to earn points for hotel stays, credit card purchases, car rentals and more. Those points can then be redeemed for free stays at more than 4,800 Hilton properties or for other travel services or entertainment options. Points can even be used to shop on Amazon.

In this Hilton Honors program guide, we'll review everything you need to know about earning and redeeming points, but first, let's take a quick look at a few of the program's pros and cons:

Pros of the Hilton Honors program:

  • Multiple point earning opportunities
  • Redemptions at thousands of properties worldwide with no blackout dates and no resort fees on reward stays
  • Guaranteed member discounts and late check-out

Cons of the Hilton Honors program:

  • Reduced points offered for stays at Home2 Suites and Tru properties
  • High redemption rate necessary for premium rooms
  • No standard award chart is available

HOW IS THE HILTON HONORS PROGRAM STRUCTURED?

There is no cost to join Hilton Honors, and anyone can become a member. Once you join, your points and stays help you earn elite status. Earning a higher status level comes with a number of valuable perks. Here's exactly how to gain status and what you get at each tier:

Member (awarded to everyone who joins Hilton Honors)

  • Guaranteed member discounts on non-reward stays
  • No resort fees on reward stays
  • Digital check-in
  • Ability to select rooms
  • Standard in-room and lobby Wi-Fi
  • Second guest stays free
  • Free points transfers and pooling
  • Late check-out

Silver Status (awarded after 4 stays or 10 nights)

Includes member benefits, plus:

  • 20% bonus on base points earned
  • 5th standard night free when booking a reward stay of five or more consecutive nights
  • Two complimentary bottles of water
  • Opportunity to rollover nights toward elite status for the following year

Gold Status (awarded after 20 stays, 40 nights or 75,000 Hilton Honors base points)

Includes member and silver status benefits, plus:

  • 80% bonus on base points earned
  • Space-available room upgrades up to executive room types
  • Complimentary breakfast at all hotels
  • Unlimited milestone bonuses which provide extra points every 10th night, starting at 40 nights

Diamond Status (awarded after 30 stays, 60 nights or 120,000 Hilton Honors base points)

Includes member, silver, and gold status benefits, plus:

  • 100% bonus on base points earned
  • Additional bonus points at some properties
  • Premium in-room and lobby Wi-Fi
  • Space-available room upgrades up to one-bedroom suites
  • Executive lounge access
  • Opportunity to extend diamond status one time for a year past its expiration date
  • Opportunity to gift elite status to someone else
  • 48-hour room guarantee

Beyond hotel stays and base points, there is another way to earn elite status. That's through a co-branded credit card. We'll talk more about those later in this Hilton Honors review.

HOW DO YOU EARN HILTON HONORS POINTS?

There are two types of Hilton Honors points:

  1. Base points
  2. Bonus points

Base points are earned through hotel stays, and these count toward gold and diamond elite status. Most properties award 10 base points per dollar spent on stays. However, you'll only receive 5 base points per dollar at Home2 Suites and Tru properties.

Bonus points don't count toward elite status, but they can be redeemed for reward nights and other benefits. You can earn bonus points in a number of different ways, including:

  • Bonus point promotions for hotel stays
  • Vehicle rentals through partners such as Alamo, Enterprise and National Car Rentals
  • Membership with Priority Pass which provides airport lounge access
  • Cruises booked through CruisesOnly
  • Mobile roaming service through OneSimCard
  • Meals purchased at restaurants participating in the Hilton Honors Dining program
  • Room reservations for meetings and events
  • Purchases made with Hilton Honors credit cards

You also receive bonus points based on your elite status. The following bonus points are in addition to the 10 base points awarded per dollar spent.

  • Silver: 2 bonus points per dollar spent on stays
  • Gold: 8 bonus points per dollar spent on stays
  • Diamond: 10 bonus points per dollar spent on stays

That means if you have silver status you'll earn 12 points per dollar each stay, 18 points per dollar with gold status, and 20 points per dollar with diamond status. If you stay at a Home2 Suites or Tru property, your bonus points will be half the amounts listed above.

HOW MUCH ARE HILTON HONORS POINTS WORTH?

Without a standard redemption chart available, the value of Hilton Honors points can be hard to determine. However, most travel sites agree one Hilton Honors point is worth about 0.5 cents, or half a penny a piece.

The amount of points required to redeem standard room rewards varies by hotel, room, booking and travel dates, with the number of points required for a stay starting as low as 5,000 points per night. Reward stays at many luxury resorts on the other hand can average much higher, at 95,000 points per night for a standard hotel room.

For added flexibility, Hilton allows members to redeem with points and money. For example, if a free night costs 80,000 points but you only have 40,000 points, you can use points and money to redeem for 40,000 points and then only pay 50% of the Honors Discount Rate. With this perk you can pay with any combination of points and money in increments of 1,000 points.

Hilton Honors points can also be redeemed for perks other than free hotel stays. These include the following options:

  • Purchases on Amazon.com
  • Car rentals and rental upgrades
  • Special experiences such as private concerts, luxury weekends and VIP access to special events

Hilton Honors has more than 40 airline and rail partners, and points can be exchanged for miles or points in their partners' loyalty programs as well. What's more, Hilton Honors points can be donated to charity, gifted to someone else or pooled with family members.

While these other redemption options can be appealing, the value of Hilton Honor points used in this way can be significantly lower than what you would get by redeeming for reward nights. For instance, it takes 500 Hilton Honors points to buy a dollar's worth of merchandise on Amazon. That gives you a per point value of 0.2 cents, less than half what you might get through a free night.

CREDIT CARDS THAT EARN HILTON HONORS POINTS

Getting a Hilton Honors credit card is the easiest way to boost your points balance. A card might also provide complimentary elite status. Here's a look at three options and the perks they provide:

Hilton Honors American Express Card

  • Automatic silver status. 
  • Welcome offer of 75,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first three months of card membership (American Express is a CardRatings advertiser).
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Honors portfolio of brands.
  • Earn 5X bonus points on eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X bonus points for all other purchases.
  • No annual fees.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • Terms apply

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

  • Automatic gold status
  • Welcome offer of 125,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months of account membership.
  • Earn 12X bonus points on eligible purchases made directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 6X bonus points on select business and travel purchases and at U.S. gas stations and U.S. restaurants.
  • Earn 3X bonus points for all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Earn a fee weekend night reward after spending $15,000 in a calendar year and a second reward after spending an additional $45,000 in the same calendar year.
  • 10 free airport lounge visits each calendar year after a one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select.
  • Diamond status for the following year after spending $40,000 in a calendar year.
  • Terms apply

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

  • Automatic gold status
  • Welcome offer of 125,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after spending $2,000 in the first three months of card membership.
  • Earn 12X bonus points on eligible purchases made directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 6X bonus points on eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X bonus points on all other eligible purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Earn a free weekend night reward after spending $15,000 in a calendar year.
  • 10 free airport lounge visits each calendar year after a one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select.
  • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • Terms apply

Hilton maintains a large portfolio of properties across the globe. Whether you're traveling for business or pleasure, the Hilton Honors program can help you stay in quality accommodations for less and using a co-branded credit card will help you rack up points up to 12 times faster. However, if you want a bit more flexibility with how you travel, while still having the opportunity to earn points, you might want to consider a credit card with a transferable rewards program instead.

ADDITIONAL TRAVEL REWARDS CREDIT CARD OPTIONS

If Hilton is ALWAYS your home-away-from-home, a branded credit card would certainly bring you Hilton perks and features you're sure to appreciate. If, however, you like to shop for the best price rather than going directly to the nearest Hilton property, you might be more intrigued by a general travel rewards credit card that allows you to redeem your points for stays at any hotel, including Hilton properties.

Furthermore, if you use general travel card rewards to "pay" for your stay at a Hilton property, you can effectively "double dip" when it comes to rewards. When you redeem general rewards for a stay, you can still earn rewards within the Hilton Honors loyalty program, but if you redeem Hilton Honors points for your stay, you won't earn rewards for that stay.

Here are some of your options if you're looking for a general travel rewards card:

American Express® Gold Card

  • Earn four Membership Rewards® points per $1 spent at restaurants worldwide as well as at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 spent annually, then one point).
  • Earn three points per $1 on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com.
  • Welcome offer: Earn 35,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of card membership.
  • Enjoy a $100 statement credit annually to cover incidental airline charges, such as baggage fees, with a qualifying pre-selected airline.
  • Transfer your Membership Rewards® points to a number of hotel and airline loyalty programs, including Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy.
  • Redeem your points for stays at any hotel brand, including with Hilton hotels.
  • $250 annual fee.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Terms apply

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn two points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide and one point per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Option for 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel (including hotel stays) through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points (worth $750 when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®) after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening an account
  • $95 annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

  • With two miles earned on every purchase made you'll earn miles whether you're spending money at Hilton properties or not
  • Redeem rewards for flights or hotel stays with any brand, including Hilton, or transfer miles to a number of loyalty programs
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles (equal to $500 in travel) once you spend $3,000 on purchases within three months of opening an account
  • Earn 10x miles on thousands of hotels when booking at hotels.com/venture
  • $0 intro for first year; $95 after that annual fee.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®

See our top picks for best travel rewards credit cards for additional travel card options. 

To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card (See Rates and Fees); Hilton Honors American Express Card (See Rates and Fees); Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (See Rates and Fees); American Express® Gold Card (See Rates and Fees)

Disclaimer: The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.

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