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      Hilton Honors Loyalty Program Benefits & Review 2021

      Josh Patoka
      Hilton Honors Loyalty Program Review

      Hilton Honors is one of the world’s largest hotel loyalty programs with luxury and mid-tier hotels and resorts. This program can be one of your best leisure and business travel options because of its expansive portfolio and multiple co-branded rewards credit cards.

      This in-depth Hilton Honors review guide explores the elite benefits and the various ways to earn and redeem points.

      Hilton Honors At A Glance
      Loyalty ProgramHilton Honors
      Cost to JoinFree
      Membership TiersMember, Silver, Gold, Diamond
      Total Destinations6,500+
      Number of Brands18
      Popular BrandsHampton Inn, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Home2 Suites, DoubleTree, Embassy Suites, Tru, Waldorf Astoria, Conrad
      Average Point Value0.5 cents
      Point Expiration PolicyAfter 15 months of inactivity
      (Point expirations are on pause through December 31, 2022)
      Points Needed for Reward Nights5,000-120,000
      Point Redemption OptionsReward Nights, Experiences, Online Shopping, Airline Miles
      Number of Co-Brand Credit Cards (Accepting New Applications)4

      Here is everything you need to know about the Hilton loyalty program.

      You can join Hilton Honors online at Hilton.com or through their mobile app for free.

      Upon joining, you will have entry-level Member loyalty status. Some of the initial benefits include earning points on stays, exclusive members discounts, and free WiFi.

      You’re also likely to receive a new member offer to earn bonus points by completing a qualifying stay. For example, you may earn 5,000 bonus points after your first two stays.

      Hilton Honors Loyalty Program Levels

      There are four different tiers in the Hilton Honors loyalty program:

      • Member
      • Silver
      • Gold
      • Diamond

      Due to the global pandemic, Hilton is extending each member’s current elite status through March 31, 2023. The annual point, stay, and qualifying nights credits are reduced by 30% as well through 2022 (at this time).

      Elite TierQualifying NightsQualifying StaysQualifying Points
      Silver5 nights
      (normally 7)
      2 stays
      (normally 3)
      12,500 base points
      (normally 12,500)
      Gold20 nights
      (normally 28)
      10 stays
      (normally 14)
      37,500 base points
      (normally 52,500)
      Diamond30 nights
      (normally 42)
      15 stays
      (normally 21)
      60,000 base points
      (normally 84,000)

      To upgrade to a higher elite status, you only need to achieve one of the above requirements (nights, stays, or points) in a calendar year.

      As bonus points (i.e., elite earning bonus, travel partner purchases, and credit card rewards) don’t count toward achieving elite status, focusing on booking qualifying nights or stays can be better.

      It’s also possible to get automatic elite Hilton Honors status with participating travel credit cards.

      As you make plans to climb the loyalty ladder, here are the benefits you can enjoy.

      Member

      You’re a Member when you have 4 or fewer qualifying nights.

      Benefits include:

      • Discounted rates
      • Earn points on Hilton stays and travel/retail partner purchases
      • Waived resort fees on reward stays 
      • Digital check-in and digital key
      • Free on-property WiFi
      • Access to Hilton Honors Experiences

      Silver

      The first elite tier is Silver after you stay 5 nights. 

      Your additional benefits include:

      • 20% bonus points on stays
      • Free bottled water
      • 5th night free on 5+ night reward stays
      • Elite Rollover Nights

      The rollover nights benefit makes it easier to keep your elite status as your excess nights apply toward next year’s status requirements.

      Gold

      Gold is the mid-tier elite status level after notching 20 qualifying nights.

      Benefits include:

      • 80% bonus points on stays
      • Space-available room upgrades
      • Daily food and beverage credits (US hotels)
      • Continental breakfast (outside the US)
      • Milestone bonuses

      It’s possible to automatically get this status with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card.

      Diamond

      If you frequently stay at Hilton properties, you can enjoy these upper-crust benefits:

      • 100% bonus points on stays
      • Executive lounge access
      • Premium WiFi
      • 48-hour room guarantee
      • Diamond status extension
      • Elite status gifting

      The status extension benefit gives you a one-time chance to keep Diamond status in the next year if you’re at risk of losing it. 


      You will automatically get this status level with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

      Hilton Honors Status Match

      Hilton will match your equivalent status from a competing hotel program after you show proof of qualifying points, stays, or nights and complete a minimum number of stays in a 90-day trial period. 

      After Hilton approves the status match, you can get Gold or Diamond status by completing these challenges:

      • Stay at least 5 nights during the 90-day trial period to get Gold status
      • Stay at least 9 nights in the 90-day period for Diamond status

      This one-time offer is available to base members and Silver members.


      Learn more about the Hilton Honors status match here.

      Hilton Honors Hotel Brands

      Hilton Hotel Batumi

      Photo: pixabay

      The Hilton Honors portfolio currently has 18 brands with over 6,500 properties around the world:

      • Canopy
      • Conrad
      • Curio Collection
      • DoubleTree
      • Embassy Suites
      • Hampton
      • Hilton Garden Inn
      • Hilton Grand Vacations
      • Hilton Hotels & Resorts
      • Home2 Suites
      • Homewood Suites
      • LXR Hotels & Resorts
      • Motto
      • Signia
      • Tapestry Collection
      • Tempo
      • Tru
      • Waldorf Astoria 

      Several of these brands are the best mid-tier hotel brands.

      Earning Hilton Honors Points

      There are several ways to earn Hilton Honors points.

      Hotel Stays

      You will earn base points on paid stays in the Hilton Honors portfolio.

      Most properties award 10x base points:

      • 10x on all Hilton brands (except Home2 and Tru)
      • 5x at Home2 and Tru

      Once you have elite status, you will also earn 20% (Silver), 80% (Gold), or 100% (Diamond) bonus points. While bonus points help you afford award nights sooner, they do not count toward the annual elite status requirements.

      You will also earn points by hosting meetings and events at Hilton properties.

      Points Promotions

      Enrolling in point promotions on the Hilton Honors offers page can help you earn bonus points on qualifying stays.

      Dining Rewards

      The Hilton Honors Dining programs lets you earn 8x points at participating restaurants and bars. To earn points, pay with your linked credit card or debit card.

      Lyft Rides

      Linking your Lyft and Hilton Honors accounts also lets you earn up to 3x on Lyft purchases:

      • 3x on Lyft rides (economy, luxury, and extra seats)
      • 2x on shared rides

      You earn points on your first $10,000 in Lyft rides per calendar year.

      Retail and Travel Partners

      Hilton also partners with several retailers and merchants to earn bonus points on purchases.

      For example, you can earn bonus points on these purchases:

      • Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership
      • Rental cars
      • Cruises
      • Flowers
      • Wine clubs

      Buying Points

      You can also buy Hilton points with cash if you need just a few more to book a reward night. The annual buying limit is 80,000 points. 

      Two ways to maximize your point purchases are by:

      • Purchase point packages on point stays
      • Wait for matching offers from Hilton

      It usually costs $0.01 per point, but these promotions let you get them at a discount. They can be as cheap as $0.005 each which is closer to the average Hilton Honors point value.

      Rewards Credit Cards

      There are several co-brand Hilton Honors travel credit cards that earn Hilton points on every purchase. These cards can also give you fast-track elite status and other travel perks. 

      You can currently choose from 3 consumer cards and 1 small business card. Depending on which card you prefer, you can earn between 7x and 12x on Hilton purchases.

      Transferring Hilton Honors Points

      There are several ways to transfer Hilton points instead of purchasing points or waiting for your next stay to earn more.

      American Express Membership Rewards

      Hilton Honors is a 1:2 transfer partner (1,000 Membership Rewards=2,000 Hilton points) with any American Express credit card that earns Membership Rewards points. 

      You can transfer Amex points to Hilton in 1,000-point increments with no transfer fee.

      Some of our favorite cards include:

      • Platinum Card from American Express: $695 annual fee and plenty of premium travel benefits including a $200 airline fee credit, up to $200 in annual Uber Cash, and earning up to 5x on purchases. You also get automatic Hilton Honors Gold status.
      • American Express Gold Card :$250 annual, up to 4x on dining and U.S. supermarkets, and annual dining credits. 
      • Amex EveryDay Credit Card: $0 annual fee, up to 2x at U.S. supermarkets and a 20% earning bonus with 20+ monthly card purchases.
      • Business Platinum Card from American Express: $695 annual fee ($595 if you apply before 1/13/2022), up to 5x on purchases, airport lounge access, and up to $400 back on annual Dell Technologies purchases.
      • American Express Business Gold Card: $295 annual fee, up to 4x on select business categories, and a 25% airline redemption bonus.

      Pool Hilton Honors Points

      You can also pool your Hilton points with other Hilton Honors members for free. You, a friend, or a family member can transfer at least 1,000 points to another account (up to 500,000 points per year).

      Up to 11 people can transfer points into a single account.

      Most hotel programs still charge you to transfer points and this benefit can be an excellent advantage for group travel.

      Redeeming Hilton Honors Points

      image

      Photo: pixabay

      You have several ways to redeem your Hilton points for nights, award travel, and merchandise.

      Hilton Nights

      Your points are most valuable when you redeem them for rewards nights within the Hilton portfolio. 

      Unfortunately, Hilton no longer publishes an award chart so you will need to check the points pricing for each night. You can expect to pay between 5,000 and 120,000 points per night.

      Three guidelines to remember when planning a reward stay:

      • Most properties require between 30,000 and 60,000 points
      • Each point is worth approximately 0.5 cents for most stays
      • Elite members get the 5th night free on 5+ night reward stays

      Hilton points have a competitive value to most hotel programs. However, your point redemption rate depends on your travel dates, destination, and desired property. 

      For example, it’s not uncommon to see each point only worth 0.3 cents which can be less than many programs.

      Point and Cash Bookings:

      You can also pay for your hotel bookings with points and cash. The minimum points contribution is 5,000 and increases in 1,000-point increments.

      Experiences

      If you want to offload a small fortune of points of unique experiences, you can visit the Experiences page.

      Some of these events are on-property dining experiences starting at 25,000 points at Hilton resorts. Private on-property dinners or spa treatments may require 100,000 points.

      You can also enter auctions for experiences like concerts too. 

      Convert to Airline Miles

      You may decide to convert your Hilton points into airline miles for over 40 frequent flyer programs. The conversion ratio is 10:1.5, meaning 10,000 Hilton points are worth 1,500 airline miles.

      It’s also possible to exchange airline miles for Hilton points. In this case, 5,000 miles are usually worth 10,000 Hilton points.

      Convert to Amtrak Rewards

      You can also convert your points into Amtrak Rewards if you want to go on a train excursion. The exchange ratio is 10,000 Hilton Points for 1,500 Amtrak Rewards.

      Rental Cars and Lyft Rides

      You can rent a car with Alamo, Enterprise, and National. It’s also possible to pay for Lyft rides with points. 

      The redemption ratio isn’t the best and you may consider paying with cash to earn Hilton points instead.

      Online Shopping

      You can use your points to pay for Amazon purchases. Unfortunately, the redemption value is approximately 0.2 cents for shopping rewards.

      Hilton Honors Credit Cards

      There are four different co-brand Hilton Honors credit cards from American Express. Your best option depends on your travel frequency and preferred benefits.

      While no card charges a foreign transaction fee, your annual fee can be from $0 to $450.

      Hilton Honors American Express Card

      The Hilton Honors American Express Card earns up to 7x on purchases and has Hilton Honors Silver status. 

      It’s best for infrequent guests that won’t spend at least $15,000 per year to get the free Weekend Night Reward like the mid-level Surpass Card offers. You might also keep this card as it’s a free way to keep your points from expiring.

      The annual fee is $0 and there is no foreign transaction fee.

      Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card

      The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card earns up to 12x on purchases, has Gold loyalty status, and you get 1 free Weekend Night Reward after $15,000 in annual purchases. 

      You can also get 10 complimentary Priority Pass lounge visits per year.

      Consider this card if you stay at Hilton properties several times each year, can achieve the $15,000 Weekend Night Reward spending requirement, and are comfortable with the $95 annual fee.

      Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

      The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card awards up to 14x on purchases and gives you Diamond status. 

      Premium benefits include a $100 on-property credit, $250 in airline fee credits, and Priority Pass Select membership.

      This card is best for luxury travelers and the most frequent Hilton guests as the annual fee is $450.

      Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

      The Hilton Honors Business Card earns up to 12x points on purchases and instant Gold status. 

      You also get a free Weekend Night Reward after $15,000 in annual purchases and 10 Priority Pass visits per year. 

      The annual fee is $95.

      FAQ

      Is it free to join Hilton Honors?

      There is no cost to join Hilton Honors online or through their mobile app (iOS and Android).

      What are the Hilton Honors membership levels?

      The loyalty club tiers are Member, Silver, Gold, and Diamond. The Silver through Diamond tiers are the elite levels.

      Once you earn elite status, you maintain that level for the rest of this calendar year and all of the following calendar year.

      Hilton is also currently extending all Status levels through March 31, 2022.

      How do you earn Hilton Honors elite status?

      You get Hilton Honors elite status by completing a minimum number of nights, stays, or base points in a calendar year:
      Silver: 5 nights, 2 stays, or 12,500 base points
      Gold: 20 nights, 10 stays, or 37,500 base points
      Diamond: 30 nights, 15 stays, or 60,000 base points
      These are the relaxed requirements for calendar years 2021 and 2022.

      How to get Hilton Honors elite status quickly?

      These co-branded Hilton Honors credit cards offer automatic elite status:
      Silver: Hilton Honors American Express Credit Card
      Gold: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card and Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
      Diamond: Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
      The Platinum Card from American Express and Business Platinum Card from American Express offer complimentary Gold status but earn Membership Rewards that you can transfer to Hilton.

      What are some of the Hilton Honors elite status benefits?

      The best perks include earning bonus points on stays, getting the 5th night free, complimentary breakfast, and rollover night credits. The benefit amounts vary by status level.

      What are Hilton Honors base points?

      Hilton Honors base points are the standard number of points you earn on paid hotel stays.

      Purchases from travel, retail, and dining partners plus the elite-earning bonus are bonus points and don’t apply towards elite status.

      How much are Hilton Honors rewards nights?

      Award nights can be as little as 5,000 points or as many as 120,000 points. Most mid-tier properties require between 30,000 and 60,000 points.

      Luxury properties typically require between 60,000 and 100,000 points.

      How much are Hilton Honors points worth?

      Hilton points are worth 0.5 cents for many reward nights. However, the redemption value can range from 0.3 cents to 1 cent.

      Do Hilton Honors points expire?

      Hilton points expire after 15 months of account inactivity. As a bit of positive news, all point expirations are currently on pause through December 31, 2022.

      How does the Hilton 5th night free benefit work?

      You can get the 5th night free on 5+ night reward stays for standard rooms when you pay for the entire stay with points. It’s possible to get up to 4 free nights on a single 20-night stay.

      This benefit is available to all Hilton Honors members.

      How do Hilton Honors Milestone Bonuses work?

      Gold and Diamond members can earn 10,000 bonus points for every 10 stays, starting at 20 nights. This benefit usually doesn’t kick in until after 40 nights but is relaxed due to the pandemic.

      How do Hilton Elite Rollover Nights work?

      Any excess qualifying night credits that won’t help you reach the next elite tier count toward the annual requirements for the next calendar year. This benefit is available to Silver, Gold, and Diamond members.

      How does the Diamond status extension benefit work?

      Customers with Diamond status for at least 3 years and with 250+ lifetime nights or have earned 500,000 points, can get a one-year status extension.

      How does Hilton elite status gifting work?

      Diamond members with at least 30 nights for the current year can give Gold status to one person. You can gift Diamond status to one person after recording 60 nights.

      The Vacationer’s Final Thoughts

      Hilton Honors has many mid-tier and luxury properties to earn and redeem points for domestic or international travel. 

      The wide variety of co-brand credit cards and being an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner also make this program an exciting option if you want to easily earn hotel points and enjoy other Hilton benefits.

      However, Hilton points are not always the most valuable and reward nights can require more points than similar programs. As a result, you may need to have flexible travel dates to maximize the redemption value of your points.

      Josh Patoka The Vacationer Bio

      By Josh Patoka

      Josh Patoka writes about maximizing travel rewards for The Vacationer. As well, he contributes to several personal finance sites specializing in making money, paying off debt, and investing.