Hilton is one of the largest hotel chains in the world, with more than 6,000 properties in 119 countries. Its portfolio includes 18 brands including Waldorf-Astoria, Conrad and of course its namesake Hilton.
The company’s free loyalty program, Hilton Honors, offers great value to travelers. The Centers for Disease Control still advises against non-essential travel, but as the percentage of fully vaccinated Americans increases, travel is starting to rebound cautiously – at least in the United States. While you can truly enjoy the Hilton Honors program when the trip returns in full, there’s no reason not to join now, even if you rarely stay at Hilton properties.
What is Hilton Honors?
Hilton Honors is the loyalty program of Hilton hotels. Registration is free and once registered you can earn Hilton Honors Points which you can redeem at any hotel in the Hilton portfolio.
Members enjoy perks like a guaranteed Hilton Honors discount rate, no resort fees on stays booked with points, free Wi-Fi and more. Depending on the number of nights you stay at Hilton hotels in a year, you may also qualify for Hilton Elite status. The three levels of Hilton Elite status – Silver, Gold, and Diamond – offer increasingly attractive perks such as free breakfast, lounge access, room upgrades, and more.
How to earn Hilton Honors Points
There are several ways to earn Hilton Honors Points that you can redeem for discounted hotel stays.
Stay at Hilton hotels
When you stay at a Hilton portfolio hotel as a Hilton Honors member, you will earn 10x points per dollar at most Hilton brands (Home2 Suites and Tru by Hilton earn 5x points). Elite members earn additional points on their stay; there is a 20% bonus for Silver members, 80% for Gold and 100% for Diamond.
The chain also runs periodic promotions offering bonus points on stays at Hilton hotels. For example, there is an ongoing promotion where you can earn 2,000 points per stay as well as 5,000 additional bonus points every five nights. All you need to do is register and complete your stay before May 2, 2021.
Spending on a co-branded credit card
Another viable strategy for earning Hilton Honors Points is to apply for a co-branded credit card, such as the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire * Card, the Hilton Honors American Express Card, or the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card.
Although they vary in terms of earning rate, these cards all earn Hilton Honors Points for every dollar spent. The Aspire card, for example, earns 3x points per dollar spent on general purchases and 14x Hilton Honors points per dollar spent at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio. Using this card for your daily expenses and stays at Hilton can quickly increase your points balance.
Ride with Lyft
Hilton recently partnered with the Lyft ridesharing service. Hilton Honors members can now earn Hilton Points every time they use Lyft. After you link your Hilton account to your Lyft account, which is free, you will earn 3x Hilton Honors Points on Economy, Luxury, and Extra Seating Class rides, or 2x Points on Shared rides, up to $ 10,000 worth of rides Lyft per year.
This is in addition to the Delta Air Lines SkyMiles you can earn with Lyft.
You can also purchase Hilton Points for a penny a piece through the Hilton website. However, this is usually not a great value, unless you are purchasing points during a promotion, when the points are on sale for as little as 0.5 cents each.
How to redeem Hilton Honors Points
To redeem your Hilton Honors Points for hotel stays, sign in to your Hilton Honors account. Enter the desired destination or property, dates and number of guests in the search bar at the top of the page. Click the “Use Points” box on the right side.
You can then browse hotels, see their rates per night in Hilton Honors Points and make reservations.
You can also use the flexible dates option to get a broader view of the rates over the course of a month. If your dates have some flexibility, this can be a great strategy to help you get a lower rate.
Keep in mind that Hilton Honors Points expire 12 months after the last activity on your account. Due to the pandemic, however, Hilton has extended the validity of all points until at least December 31, 2021.
How much are Hilton Honors Points worth?
Hilton Honors Points are generally worth less than credit card points, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards, or airline miles, such as Delta Air Lines SkyMiles.
However, you can transfer Hilton Honors Points to airline partners and use them for free flights. The disparity in valuation is evident in the transfer ratios; when transferring to American Airlines, for example, 10,000 Hilton Points become 1,500 AAdvantage miles. The ratios are slightly better for Delta Air Lines (10,000 Hilton points = 1,000 SkyMiles) and United Airlines (10,000 Hilton points = 1,000 MileagePlus miles). Note that this is a relatively low point usage, as airline miles are typically not 10 times more valuable than hotel points. In most cases, your best bet is to keep your Hilton Honors Points in your account and use them to book hotel stays.
Hilton Honors Elite Status
Hilton Honors has an elite status system with three tiers. The principle is that the more stays you have, the more benefits you get.
Silver, Gold, and Diamond members all receive a fifth night free when they book with points. The other benefits depend on your status.
Elite Silver Status
You’ll earn Hilton Honors Silver elite status after four stays, 10 nights, or 25,000 basis points in a calendar year – though those thresholds have been halved for 2021 due to the pandemic.
The benefits of Silver Elite status include:
- Fifth night free on award stays
- 20% bonus on points earned during your stay
- Elite overthrow nights
- Two complimentary bottles of water (at eligible properties)
The Hilton Honors American Express No Annual Fee Card can help you earn bonus points in addition to Silver Elite status. (See Prices & Fees)
Elite Gold Status
Likewise, you will achieve Gold Elite status after 20 stays, 40 nights, or accumulate 75,000 basis points in a calendar year. Again, this calculation has been halved for 2021.
The benefits of Gold Elite status include:
- Free continental breakfast for you and one guest
- Room upgrade, subject to availability
- 80% bonus on points earned during your stay
- Milestone bonus, where you can earn 10,000 points for 10 nights spent after 40 nights in a calendar year (in 2021, this threshold is 20 nights per year)
Elite Diamond Status
To achieve the highest level of Hilton Elite Status, you’ll typically need 30 stays, 60 nights, or 120,000 bps accumulated in a calendar year – although by 2021 those requirements have all been reduced by half.
The benefits of Diamond Elite status include the same benefits as the Gold benefits, plus:
- Executive lounge access for you and a guest
- High-end Wi-Fi
- Guaranteed room (even if the property is sold) if you contact 48 hours before the desired stay
- 100% bonus on points earned during your stay
- Offer Elite status
Best Hilton Honors credit cards for 2021
Hilton has a handful of credit cards co-branded with American Express. These cards are a great way to earn Hilton Honors Points that you can then redeem for travel. If you frequently stay at Hilton hotels or plan to do so in the near future, one of these could be a good addition to your wallet. The cards wouldn’t make sense to someone who isn’t a Hilton loyalist, however, as their benefits are specific to the hotel chain.
Hilton Honors American Express Card
With the $ 0 per year Hilton Honors Amex Card (see Rates and Fees), you’ll earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Points after spending $ 1,000 in the first three months. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending a total of $ 5,000 on purchases with the Card in the first six months. The card earns 7 times more points on qualifying purchases at a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio; 5x in American supermarkets, American restaurants and American gas stations; and 3x on all other qualifying purchases. You will also receive complimentary Hilton Silver status.
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
With this $ 95 annual fee card (see Rates and Fees), you will earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Points after spending $ 2,000 in the first three months of card membership. In addition, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending a total of $ 10,000 on purchases with the Card in the first six months. He earns 12x points on qualifying purchases at a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio, 6x at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. restaurants, and U.S. gas stations, and 3x on all other qualifying purchases. It comes with free Gold status and a weekend night reward after spending $ 15,000 in a calendar year.
Aspire Hilton Honors American Express Card
With Hilton’s most premium card, you’ll earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Points after spending $ 4,000 in the first three months. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has an annual fee of $ 450, but gives you Elite Hilton Diamond status for free. You will earn 14x points on qualifying purchases at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio, 7x points on flights booked with airlines or the travel portal American Express and certain car rental companies, 7x points at American restaurants and 3x points on all other qualifying points purchases. You can also earn a Weekend Award Night each year after renewal, plus another night after spending $ 60,000 in a calendar year. The card also comes with an annual credit of $ 250 on the Hilton resort statement, which can help offset the cost of the annual fee.
All information on the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card has been independently collected by NextAdvisor and has not been reviewed by the issuer.
For rates and fees for the Hilton Honors American Express card, click here
For rates and fees for the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass card, click here