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Guide to the Hilton Honors program

Last Updated, October 8, 2021

WHAT IS THE HILTON HONORS PROGRAM?

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:

Hilton Honors Elite Status

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.

HOW TO REDEEM HILTON HONORS POINTS

As you might expect, you'll want to start at the Hilton Honors' website. Once logged in, you'll see your account overview page where you can redeem your points for a night at a hotel or perhaps something else, such as a car rental or other travel expense. Assuming you're looking for a hotel, you'll click on "Find a Hotel" and use the portal to search through your options. When you're ready to finalize your booking, make sure you've selected "use points," and if you have enough rewards you're cost will be covered with rewards at checkout. If you don't have enough points, or simply don't want to redeem them all at once, you can pay with a combination of points and money.

If you're looking to redeem the points for something else, you'll do it elsewhere in the account. For example, you can navigate to the "Exchange" section and divert your Hilton points to brands that Hilton has teamed up with, such as airline partners. This gives you the flexiblity to use your rewards for more than just hotel stays.

HILTON CREDIT CARDS

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 four options and the perks they provide:

Hilton Honors American Express Card

(American Express is a CardRatings advertiser)

  • Automatic silver status. 
  • Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first three months of card membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors bonus points once spending a total of $5,000 in purchases on the card in the first six months.
  • 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; enrollment may be required for select benefits

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)

  • Automatic gold status
  • Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after spending $2,000 in the first three months of card membership.
  • Earn a Weekend Night Reward after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your card in a calendar year.
  • 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.
  • Annual fee: $95
  • Terms apply; enrollment may be required for select benefits

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)

  • Complimentary Diamond status.
  • Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you make $4,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of membership. Also enjoy a free Weekend Night Reward within your first year and each year after you renew.
  • Earn 14X Hilton Bonus Points at participating Hilton Portfolio hotels or resorts.
  • Earn 7X Bonus Points on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies and at U.S. restaurants.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other purchases.
  • Earn up to $250 in Hilton Resort Credits each anniversary year, when you stay at participating Hilton resorts.
  • $450 annual fee.
  • Terms apply; enrollment may be required for select benefits

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

  • Automatic gold status
  • Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after spending $2,000 in the first three months of account membership and earn another 50,000 points when you spend $10,000 in the first six months.
  • 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.
  • Annual fee: $95
  • Terms apply; enrollment may be required for select benefits

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 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 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership.
  • 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; enrollment may be required for select benefits

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 5X total points on all travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal; 3X points on dining, including eligible delivery services and takeout; 3X points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs); 3X points on select streaming services; 2X points on travel purchases; and 1X point on all other purchases. Plus earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022.
  • 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 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within three months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel.
  • $95 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. 

PROS AND CONS OF THE HILTON HONORS REWARDS PROGRAM

As with any rewards program, there are pluses and minuses, and so let's take a look at some noteworthy pros and cons of the Hilton Honors program.

In the pro department:

There are a lot of hotel choices available. It isn't like Hilton only has the Hilton brand. There's Hampton by Hilton and DoubleTree by Hilton, Canopy by Hilton, the Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Embassy Suites by Hilton… and on and on. Hilton has 18 brands at over 6,500 properties around the world. It's likely you'll probably be able find a hotel somewhere that you'd like to stay. You can also redeem points for other things like…

  • Airlines that partner with Hilton. There are 26 of them, and many of them are big airlines (i.e., Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic).
  • Rental cars that partner with Hilton (Alamo, National and Enterprise).
  • "Redemption experiences" such as concerts that you can find on HiltonHonors.com's website.
  • Amazon purchases and HiltonHonors' online shopping mall, though your often points won't get you as far if you stay in a hotel.

You have a lot of ways to earn points. For instance, you aren't limited to just earning rewards on hotel stays. You'll earn the most bonus rewards for Hilton hotel stays, but you can also earn bonus rewards on things like U.S. gas station, U.S. supermarket, and U.S. restaurant purchases.

Your resort fees will disappear. If you stay in a room booked with all points, your resort fee will be waived.

There are extra perks for Hilton Honors members. You'll get things that other non-member hotel guests won't receive, like guaranteed member discounts (2% at the time of this writing) and late check-outs (though you'll have to request it, and whether you get it depends on how booked the hotel is). Still, the point is - there are perks, and if you're a member, you will be treated well.

Meanwhile, in the con department…

Pricing isn't always easy to figure out. Hilton Honors does dynamic pricing, and so if demand is high (think: weekends and summer), your hotel room is going to be more expensive than normal, and so the points won't get you as far as if you stay in a room on a Tuesday night in the dead of winter.

Getting free nights at the best hotels can take awhile. If you want to stay at an expensive and really amazing hotel, you're going to need a larger number of points than like the less pricey and more modest hotel near the airport, which makes sense, but it still might be kind of a bummer.

The points eventually expire. After 15 months of account inactivity, your points expire, so you don't want to hang onto those points forever. And if you do keep hanging onto the points, as hotel rooms get more expensive, those points became less valuable, and so you really want to redeem them when you have the chance - rather than hanging onto them for too long.

IS HILTON HONORS WORTH IT?

As with most loyalty brands that have rewards programs, Hilton Honors is well worth it - if you love or merely like Hilton hotels.

You also need to do a fair amount of traveling, too. Because points expire after 15 months of account inactivity, if you go traveling once a decade, then, yeah, maybe signing up for Hilton Honors isn't worth your time. But it's free to sign up and become a member, so it isn't as if this is much of a risk.

If you have a Hilton Honors credit card, then you absolutely should become a member. The easiest way to get points for your membership is when you spend money on your Hilton Honors credit card, and so if you somehow have the credit card and are staying at Hilton hotels but aren't using the membership, you're almost certainly missing out on the chance to get discounts and savings on your hotel rooms.

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; terms apply); Hilton Honors American Express Card (See Rates and Fees; terms apply); Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (See Rates and Fees; terms apply); Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (); American Express® Gold Card (See Rates and Fees; terms apply)

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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