Hilton Honors Complete Guide [2020]

Getting introduced to a hotel loyalty program can be overwhelming because there are a lot of different factors to learn and consider.

You’ve got elite levels and requirements, point values, ways to earn points, ways to use points, the list just goes on.

So to make things easy, I broke down all of the most important things you need to know about Hilton Honors.

You’ll find out how to earn elite status and what the benefits are for each elite level, how much points are worth, and how to get the best use out of your points.

And finally, I cover other features of the program like points pooling, transfer partners, etc.

What is Hilton Honors?

Hilton Honors is the official loyalty program for Hilton. It allows members to receive special perks and benefits for staying at Hilton properties and also provides members with ways to get free nights.

What are the Hilton Honors elite levels?

Here are the different Hilton Honors elite levels and the requirements for each level.

  • Member
  • Silver
    • 4 stays in a calendar year or
    • 10 nights in a calendar year
  • Gold
    • 20 stays in a calendar year, or
    • 40 nights in a calendar year, or
    • 75,000 Hilton Honors Base Points in a calendar year
  • Diamond
    • 30 stays in a calendar year, or
    • 60 nights in a calendar year, or
    • 120,000 Hilton Honors Base Points in a calendar year
  • Lifetime Diamond Status

Tip: Take a shortcut on the path to Hilton Honors Gold status with the Amex Platinum or the Hilton Surpass.

What are the Hilton Honors benefits?

The benefits you receive will depend on your specific elite level but in general you can receive benefits like the 5th night free, free breakfast, upgrades, lounge access, late check-out, and others.

Below is a breakdown of all of the main benefits for each elite status level.

Hilton Honors Member

Anybody can become a Hilton Honors Member instantly just by signing up online. In fact, you can do this right now — just click here to join Hilton Honors.

Just by signing up you’ll be granted a few perks like:

  • Hilton Honors discount rates
  • Complimentary in-room and lobby standard internet access
  • Late check-out (must be requested and is subject to availability)

The biggest reason to become a member is so you can start earning points on your Hilton stays.

If you’ve recently stayed at a Hilton with the past 30 days but weren’t a member you can still get points but you”ll need to submit a written request to the nearest Hilton Reservations and Customer Care office.

But beyond earning points, it’s also nice to receive complimentary wifi and even late check-out when available. While these perks are nice, you’ll want to be at one of the higher Hilton Honors levels to start reaping real value.

Related Reading: Ultimate Late Check-Out Guide for Hotel Stays

The Hilton Auckland, New Zealand.

Hilton Honors Silver

  • Requirement:
    • 4 stays in a calendar year or
    • 10 nights in a calendar year

Hilton Silver is very easy to obtain since you only need four stays. Hilton Silver status can also easily be achieved with the Amex Hilton Honors card.

That card earns 7X on Hilton purchases, 5X at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations and comes with no annual fee. So you’re basically getting these perks like the 5th night free for no cost, which is not a bad deal.

Since this is the bottom tier status level, you won’t get a lot of super valuable benefits but you do get come solid perks such as:

  • 5th night free when booking a reward stay of five nights or more using all Points
  • 20% bonus on all the Hilton Honors Base Points you earn
  • Complimentary in-room and lobby Standard Internet access
  • Two complimentary bottles of water per stay

The fifth night free benefit can end up being an extremely valuable perk, especially if you use your points to cover a night at an expensive Hilton property.

I broke down the costs in points and cash at some of the top Hilton brands like the ConradWaldorf, and Curio Collection, so you can see how much value you can get out of this perk alone (it’s a lot).

The 20% bonus on base points is okay but there’s not any notable benefits of Hilton Silver that standard Members don’t get besides the above. Thus, Silver really only adds a lot of potential value with it’s 5th night free perk.

Related Reading: What’s The Best Top Hotel Elite Status?

The 5th night free at a property like the Conrad Maldives could be very valuable.

Hilton Honors Gold

  • Requirement:
    • 20 stays in a calendar year, or
    • 40 nights in a calendar year, or
    • 75,000 Hilton Honors Base Points in a calendar year

Hilton Gold status is where things really start to heat up in the benefits department. With Hilton Gold you’ll be given the following benefits:

  • Upgrades (when available)
  • Free breakfast
  • Lounge access (but only at certain properties or when upgraded)
  • 80% bonus on all the Hilton Honors Base Points you earn

Hilton Gold status can land you upgrades at Hilton hotels. While you likely won’t receive as many suite upgrades as a Diamond member, it’s still possible to get bumped up to better rooms. The real benefit to me is the free breakfast, though.

That’s where a lot of the value of Gold status is since many travelers mostly look forward to saving some cash on breakfast each morning with their elite status.

Related: What Hotels Have Free Breakfast?

Hilton Honors Gold can be obtained in a number of ways. In terms of credit cards, one popular method is going with the Amex Platinum Card, which comes with a host of benefits but a $550 annual fee.

A cheaper option is to go with the Amex Hilton Surpass which is a credit card offering 12X on Hilton purchases, 6X at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, and comes with a free weekend night after you spend $15,000 in a calendar year. The annual fee is only $95 and the card usually comes with a great welcome offer.

Hilton Honors Diamond

  • Requirement:
    • 30 stays in a calendar year, or
    • 60 nights in a calendar year, or
    • 120,000 Hilton Honors Base Points in a calendar year

Hilton Diamond is the top tier elite Hilton Honors level and will offer you the following benefits.

  • 100% bonus on all the Hilton Honors Base Points you earn
  • Executive lounge access
  • Free breakfasts
  • Eligible Diamond members can choose to extend their status for an additional year beyond the expiration date, one-time, for any reason
  • You are guaranteed a room when you make a reservation at least 48 hours prior to your arrival
  • Complimentary in-room and lobby Premium Internet access

The biggest perks are the upgrades, executive lounge access, and the 100% bonus on points earned.

A lot of Diamond members aren’t happy about their upgrade experiences. I know they can’t happen all of the time, but honestly I’ve had an overall positive experience with getting upgrades.

Milestone Bonuses

One thing to note about Hilton is that as you climb these elite levels, you can earn milestone bonuses.

  • 40 nights in a calendar year = 10,000 bonus points, and then an additional 10,000 bonus points for every additional 10 nights after that.
  • 60 nights in a calendar year = 30,000 bonus points.

How much are Hilton points worth?

Any points valuation is going to be inherently variable and/or subjective to a degree.

With that said, you will find that Hilton honors points are usually worth around 0.52 cent per point if you use your points efficiently and aim for higher tier properties.

However, that valuation can change quite a bit depending on the property or rewards that you are redeeming your points for.

I’ll show you a number of examples below that illustrate how to get maximum value for your Hilton Honors points as well as how to avoid getting poor value.

Getting free nights with Hilton Honors

How many Hilton points are needed for a free night?

Reward stays start as low as 5,000 points per night and go up to 95,000 per night, so there’s a huge difference between the cheapest Hilton properties and the most expensive ones.

I would say to expect to pay 30,000 to 60,000 per night for a mid-tier property in a major city on average but there can be pretty wild fluctuations in certain parts of the world where top properties can go for pretty cheap.

If you search long and hard enough, you’ll be surprised what you might find. You can use Awardomatic to try to find hotel properties within your price range.

5th night free

To get the most from your Hilton points you should highly consider trying to take advantage of the 5th night free which is available to Hilton Silver, Gold, and Diamond members.

This is one of the easiest ways to maximize the value of your points.

Free night certificates

Also, note that it is possible to get free night certificates from Hilton credit cards which can be used at even the top tier properties. So these certificates are essentially worth 95,000 Hilton points.

For that reason, you don’t want to use these certificates for cheap properties unless they would otherwise go to waste.

Related: Which Hotel Credit Card Has the Best Free Night Certificate?

The best ways to earn Hilton points

Hilton credit cards

There used to be both Citibank and American Express Hilton credit cards.

However, now only American Express issues Hilton credit cards. The good news is that there are a number of very solid Hilton credit cards issued by Amex.

Hilton Surpass

Aspire vs Ascend

The Hilton Surpass offers the following features:

  • An additional 25,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you make an additional $1,000 in purchases within your first 6 months
  • 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio worldwide
  • 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. restaurants, and U.S. gas stations
  • 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on all other eligible purchases
  • 10 free priority pass lounge passes
  • One Weekend Night Reward at a hotel or resort in the Hilton portfolio after spending $15,000 in purchases in a calendar year
  • Automatic Hilton Honors Gold status

This is a great way to quickly earn up to 100,000 Hilton Honors points with the welcome offer alone. But note that you also get Hilton Honors Gold status, which will allow you to earn more points when you stay at Hilton properties.

The Surpass also allows you to earn 12X Hilton Honors points at Hilton hotels, which is very good.

Hilton Aspire

Hilton Aspire Bonus
The Hilton Aspire comes with automatic Diamond status.
  • 14X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio worldwide
  • 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies and at U.S. restaurants
  • 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on other purchases
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status
  • One weekend night at any hotel or resort in the Hilton portfolio (upon opening account and on account anniversary)
  • Weekend night after spending $60,000 on the card within a calendar year
  • Unlimited Priority Pass membership
  • $250 airline incidental fee statement credit
  • $250 Hilton resort statement credit
  • $100 on property credit at Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotels & Resorts when booking the exclusive Aspire Card package

If you don’t mind paying a hefty annual fee for a credit card, the Hilton Aspire credit card is probably the best Hilton card you can get.

While the annual fee is $450, it comes with several different travel credits that easily offset the annual fee and provide you with great perks. One of the best perks of the Hilton Aspire card is that it offers you Hilton Diamond status.

Hilton Small Business Card

new Hilton business credit car
The new Hilton business credit card.
  • 12X on Hilton purchases
  • 6X on select business and air travel purchases
  • 3X everywhere else
  • Automatic Hilton Honors Gold Status
  • Upgrade to Diamond Status by spending $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year
  • Free weekend night after spending $15,000 in a year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $95 annual fee (not waived)

If you’re in the market for a small business credit card, the Hilton business credit card is not a bad option.

Earn from hotel stays

The most common type of way to earn Hilton points is to earn them when you stay at Hilton properties.

You will always earn 10 base points for most of your Hilton stays but you will also earn bonus points on top of those depending on the level of elite status that you have (or don’t have) with Hilton.

  • 20% bonus once you reach Silver status
  • 80% bonus once you reach Gold status
  • 100% bonus once you achieve Diamond status

Hilton Honors promotions

When it comes to hotel promotions, Hilton is usually at the top of the game. They offer many different promotions throughout the year that allow you to ramp up your earnings.

In the past, we’ve seen promotions that allow you to earn up to  54 Hilton Honors points per dollar spent! 

That’s highly impressive.

You just need to remember to register for these promotions when they come around.

Registration is usually very easy and only takes a couple of seconds so there really is no reason to not do it even if you have no Hilton stays planned in the future.

Transfer points from American Express

You can also transfer your points from American Express.

I do not recommend doing this because the value that you lose is pretty significant and it is usually not a very good deal.

I’ll show you why.

If you value American Express points at 1.8 cents per point then 1,000 Membership Rewards is worth $18. But if you transfer those 1,000 Membership Rewards to Hilton, you end up with 2,000 Hilton points.

At a valuation of .5 cent per point, then that’s an exchange of $18 of value for $10, so you can see why it’s not always a good idea.

However, there are times when you just need to top off your points and transferring your points into Hilton can make a lot of sense. This is especially true if you’re booking a stay at a top property.

So it is good to at least be aware of this option even though you probably will not be using it very often.

Earn from shopping

You can earn Hilton points when doing your everyday shopping at the Hilton Honors shopping portal.

You simply log-in to the portal and then find an online store and then click through to that store and you can earn Hilton points for your purchases. The products and prices would be the same so there’s really no drawback.

However, I’d encourage you to read my article on shopping portals and to check out CashBackMonitor to make sure that you’re getting the best return.

That’s because other portals like the Chase Shopping Portal could be more worth your while.

Hilton Honors Dining

You can also earn Hilton Honors points when you dine out.

Here are the earning rates:

  • Earn 8 Bonus Points per $1 when you dine 11 or more times in a year, and opt in for email notifications from Hilton Honors Dining.
  • Earn 5 Bonus Points per $1 when you dine 10 or less times in a year, and opt in for email notifications from Hilton Honors Dining.
  • Earn only 2 Bonus Points per $1 when you don’t opt in for email notifications.

Car rentals

You can also earn Hilton honors points whenever you have a rental car purchase.

Alamo

Earn 500 Hilton Honors Bonus Points on every qualifying rental. Plus save on everyday low prices and earn an additional 500 bonus points for every day during your qualified rental, up to 5,000 bonus points.

Enterprise

Earn 500 Hilton Honors Bonus Points on every qualifying rental. Plus save on everyday low rates and earn an additional 500 bonus points for every day during your qualified rental, up to 5,000 bonus points

National Car Rental

Earn 500 Hilton Honors Bonus Points on every qualifying rental. Plus save up to 25% and earn an additional 500 bonus points for every day during your qualified rental, up to 5,000 bonus points

Cruises

Book through Cruises for Hilton Honors, and earn Bonus Points based on the length of your cruise.

Length of cruiseHilton Honors Bonus Points earned
1–5 nights6,000
6–8 nights12,000
9–12 nights24,000
13+ nights50,000

Purchasing Hilton Honors points

In most cases it is usually not worth it to purchase points.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule.

In this article, I talk about a lot of different scenarios where it is worth it to purchase points.

In a nut shell, purchasing points can make sense when you need to top-off your points or in other situations where it can be cheaper to purchase points to cover your hotel stay. (This usually happens where there’s a great promotion ongoing.)

All you have to do is run some simple math and usually it is pretty obvious that it would be better to purchase points and use them toward a stay versus just paying cash out right for that day.

Just make sure you’re getting the lowest rate. For example, a lot of people don’t know about special discount codes like the Hilton MVP program.

Hilton Auckland Bowhead Suite.

The best ways to spend Hilton points

Best value for your points

Finding the best Hilton redemptions is going to depend on a lot of subjective factors.

Preferences for things like location, price, dining, nearby attractions, service, suites, etc. are all too variable to list a definite top 10 list of Hilton properties in my opinion.

However, I’ve put together three charts below which show you a snapshot of the high value you can get at some of the most premier Hilton properties.

The first table looks at Waldorf properties.

The average Waldorf hotel property costs $425 per night and Waldorf Hotels require on average 72,696 points. This results in getting an average value of .57 cents per point when redeeming Hilton Honors points at a Waldorf property.

Average cash price:  $425.83
Average points price:72,696
Average value per point: 0.57

You can read more about the findings here.

The next table looks at Conrad properties.

The average Conrad hotel property costs $352 per night and Conrad Hotels require on average 57,857 points per night. This results in getting an average value of .59 cents per point when redeeming Hilton Honors points at a Conrad property.

So while Conrad properties are on average cheaper than Waldorf properties, they actually offer more cents per point on redemptions since Waldorfs offered .57 cents per point in my prior analysis.

Average cash price:  $352.03
Average points price:57,857
Average value in cents per point: 0.59

You can read more about the findings here.

The next table looks at Curio properties.

The average Hilton Curio hotel costs $300 per night and Hilton Curios require on average 55,568 points per night. This results in getting an average value of .54 cents per point when redeeming Hilton Honors points at a Curio property.

Average cash price:  $300.82
Average points price:55,568
Average value in cents per point: 0.54

You can read more about the findings here.

Hilton Points & Money Rewards

When Hilton recently overhauled its loyalty program, it introduced the new Points & Money Rewards.

This allows you to use a slider to determine a combination of points and cash that you’d like to use (1,000 Point increments). In the past, this was available for select properties, but now they’ve opened it up for all properties and for any combination of points and cash (in increment of 1,000).

You should always check to see if it is cheaper to utilize the Points & Money Rewards or if it is a better deal to just purchase points.

Something else to consider is that if you use points and cash, you will most likely have to pay resort fees. If you book entirely with points you can often avoid the resort fees but if you only book partially with points and cash you’ll probably have to pay the fee.

Amazon

Using your Hilton points for Amazon is generally not where you’re going to get the best value.

500 Hilton Honors Points equal one dollar on Amazon.com.

So that’s a value of 0.2 cent per Hilton Honors point. 

That’s way less than the standard value of .5 cent per point and so I don’t think it’s worth using Hilton points for Amazon.

Hilton points transfer partners

You can exchange points and miles with over 30 participating airline, rail, and mileage rewards programs worldwide.

But the downside is that the transfer ratios are not favorable. For example, for American Airlines, you can exchange 10,000 Hilton Honors points for 1,500 AAdvantage miles, which just isn’t an attractive option.

And for Delta, the conversion is even worse at 10,000 Hilton Honors points for 1,000 Delta miles.

So some of the transfer ratios are a little different but they are all generally not very good, so this usually is not a good idea from a value perspective.

Turn Hilton points into miles

You can click here to convert your Hilton Honors points into miles for the following program:

  • Aeroflot Russian Airlines
  • Aeromexico
  • Aeroplan
  • Air Asia BIG
  • Air New Zealand
  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Amtrak
  • ANA (All Nippon Airways)
  • Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific)
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Avianca Taca Airlines
  • British Airways(AVIOS Points)
  • China Eastern Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Emirates/Skywards
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • Etihad Airways
  • Eurowings
  • EVA Air
  • Finnair
  • Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)
  • Frontier Airlines
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Icelandair
  • JAL (Japan Airlines)
  • Jet Airways
  • LAN PASS
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Miles & More (Lufthansa/Swiss/Austrian Air)
  • Philippine Airlines
  • Qantas Airways
  • Qatar Airways
  • SAS Scandinavian Airlines
  • Saudi Arabian Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic Airways
  • Virgin Australia

Note: Southwest Airlines is NOT a Hilton partner 

To exchange more than 100,000 points, call customer care at 1-800-4Honors or send an email to: hiltonhonors@Hilton.com

Turn miles into Hilton points

You can also make exchanges the other way — from a partner account to your Hilton Honors account.

You can make exchanges with any of the following travel partners:

• Amtrak
• Hawaiian Airlines
• Virgin Atlantic
• American Express Membership Rewards
• Diners Club International Club Rewards

Pooling Hilton points

One of the best changes that Hilton made to its loyalty program is that it allowed its customers to pool their points with other people.

This is fantastic since it makes it much easier to rack up the points needed for large redemptions. There are some specific guidelines for pooling points but they are not very strict at all.

Rule for pooling points

  • Hilton Honors members can combine their points with up to 10 family and friends for no cost. (That means that a total of 11 individuals can pool their points together.)
  • There is no limit to the number of pools you can be a member to.
  • You can use pooled points for any type of award (even for things other than hotel stays).
  • You can transfer a minimum of 1,000 points and a maximum of 500,000 Points into a pool in a calendar year.
  • A member can receive up to 2 million points in a calendar year.
  • To use points pooling, you must be an active member, be in the program for 30 days, and have a minimum Points balance of 1,000 Points.

Read more about pooling Hilton points here

Expiration

Hilton Honors points will expire in an account with no eligible activity in a 12-month period.

However, there are a lot of ways for you to prevent your Hilton points from expiring.

If you earn any Hilton points that will reset the clock. That means you can stay at a Hilton property, put spend on a Hilton credit card, earn points through the shopping portal, or transfer points in or out of your Hilton account.

So keep tabs on your points and make sure you keep some activity going on so you don’t lose your points.

Hilton Honors FAQ

How much is a Hilton point worth?

The value of Hilton points depends on the type of redemption you use but generally you can expect to receive around .52 cents per point if you use your points efficiently and aim for higher-tier properties.

Lower to mid-tier properties will get closer to .4 cents per point.

How many Hilton points do you need for free night?

The number of Hilton points needed for a free night can range drastically from 5,000 points to 95,000 points.

Generally if you’re looking for a decent hotel in a major city, you can expect to pay between 30,000 and 60,000 points.

What credit cards does Hilton offer?

Hilton offers four different Amex credit cards:

  • Hilton Honors
  • Hilton Surpass
  • Hilton Aspire
  • Hilton Honors Business

Does Hilton have an award chart?

Hilton does not publish an official award chart with categories any longer.

Instead, they offer a form of dynamic pricing where the award prices will fluctuate throughout the year.

The old award chart can still give you an idea of how the prices are structured.

The prices still stay within a window but those price windows are even wider now for the most part.

This is good on the one hand because some prices are much lower but it’s a bit frustrating because you never really know exactly how much the cost of the award night is going to be.

Do Hilton points expire?

Yes, Hilton Honors points will expire in an account with no eligible activity in a 12-month period.

Final word

The Hilton Honors loyalty program can be very rewarding. What I like most about it is that you can get elite status so easily with credit cards and enjoy perks like free breakfast and upgrades.

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