Hilton Honors review: The best hotel rewards program for casual and prolific travelers

Hilton is one of the largest hotel chains in the world, with one of its 15 Hilton hotel brand locations nearly everywhere you’d want to visit. Hotels range from upscale brands like Conrad and Waldorf Astoria to the more budget-friendly Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites.

The Hilton Honors hotel rewards program is your key to redeeming free award nights, and where you’ll earn credit toward Hilton elite status each time you stay at one of the company’s 5,600+ hotels in over 100 countries. Making Hilton your go-to hotel chain can earn you a lot of Hilton Honors points and get you award stays faster than you might imagine. In fact, Hilton is my hotel chain of choice.

Hilton doesn’t have an award chart, which makes it hard to know how many points you need for an award night. While many folks criticize Hilton for overcharging across the board, Hilton doesn’t do anything the other big hotel chains don’t already do — and though the award rates are inflated, so are the earnings.

I believe Hilton status is the best and easiest-to-access elite status of any hotel chain. Earning Hilton Honors points is worth it for any casual traveler or road warrior. I’ll share everything you need to know in this Hilton Honors review.

Hilton Honors review

The biggest thing to know about using Hilton Honors points is there’s no official Hilton award chart, and award prices vary based on location, time of year and demand. So if you’re the kind of traveler who likes to visit the most popular destinations at peak times, you’ll likely pay more for an award room. That said, there are no hard and fast rules and variations abound.

To get an idea of what you might pay for a specific hotel, you can check the Hilton Points Explorer Tool, which shows you the most and least you can expect to pay for a standard award room at a specific property.

While at first glance rates might seem like a lot, when you break down how many points you earn from your Hilton elite status, regular stays, credit card spending and Hilton’s near-constant promotions, the deals get a lot better.

Plus, Hilton Gold elite status gets you free breakfast at every Hilton hotel. In my opinion, this is the best elite status of any hotel loyalty program (and team member Joseph agrees with me). You can get it for free just by having the right Amex Hilton credit card.

Loading...

Load Error

Seriously, Hilton showers you with points every time you turn around. Here’s more about the program.

How to earn Hilton Honors points

There are a number of different ways to earn Hilton points, including staying at Hilton hotels, using one of the Hilton credit cards, transferring Amex Membership Rewards points to Hilton, dining out and more.

Here’s our guide on how to earn Hilton Honors points.

What are Hilton Honors points worth?

When it comes to Hilton points value, there’s no set worth. It varies every time you redeem the points and with how you choose to spend them.

That said, it’s typical to achieve about 0.5 cents in value from each point. I’ve seen it go close to 2 cents per point, especially when you factor in the fifth night free on all award stays for elite members (more on that soon).

In the example shown here, you can see how the points rates fluctuate and are directly tied to the cash cost of the room. With taxes and fees considered, this is a typical example of what to expect when you redeem your Hilton points — each point is worth around 0.5 cents no matter which night you choose.

Here’s a in-depth look at the value of Hilton points.

How to use Hilton Honors points

Much like there are a number of ways to earn Hilton points, there are a variety of ways to use them.

The most obvious is for award nights at Hilton hotels. Hilton does not have an official award chart, and how many points you’ll need changes daily, based on the cash price of the stay. That said, every hotel will cost between 5,000 points per night at the low end up to 95,000 points per night for a standard room.

You can also use Hilton points for things like rental cars and shopping on Amazon, donate them to charity or transfer them to a friend or loved one.

Be sure to read our guide on how to use Hilton Honors points.

Hilton status

To earn Hilton status you’ll need to meet the following requirements in a calendar year:

  • Hilton Silver Elite – Four stays, 10 nights, or 25,000 Hilton Honors base points. This is with the exception of the calendar year 2021, during which Silver membership will be awarded to members with two stays, 5 nights, or 12,500 base points earned in a calendar year.
  • Hilton Gold Elite – 20 stays, 40 nights or 75,000 Hilton Honors base points. This is with the exception of calendar year 2021, when Gold status will be given to members with 10 stays, 20 nights or 37,500 base points earned in any calendar year. 
  • Hilton Diamond Elite – 30 stays, 60 nights or 120,000 Hilton Honors base points. The exception is calendar year 2021, when Diamond status will be assigned to members with 15 stays, 30 nights or 60,000 base points earned during any calendar year.

Once you earn an elite status level, it will be valid for the rest of the calendar year you’ve earned it and all of the following calendar year. One exception is if your elite status was set to downgrade in 2021, it will be extended until March 31, 2022.

Again, you don’t need to earn status the hard way. All of the Amex Hilton cards come with some level of elite status. For example, you can earn automatic Gold status with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card or automatic Diamond (top-tier) status with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

The information for the Hilton Aspire card and Hilton Surpass card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Here’s our guide to Hilton elite status.

Hilton Honors program FAQs

Now I’ll answer the most common questions about Hilton points and Hilton elite status.

Are Hilton Honors points worth it?

Definitely. It’s my favorite hotel program.

It’s worth it if you can find a Hilton hotel where you usually travel, which is easy, or if you want to save up for an award stay. The award prices are high, but then again so are the earning rates. Don’t let anyone tell you different!

How many points do you need for a free night at the Hilton?

On average, you’ll need between 50,000 and 60,000 points for a free night at a decent hotel, and more at upscale locations.

For some hotels, especially outside the U.S., you can find bargains between 5,000 and 10,000 points per night.

How much is 50,000 Hilton Honors points worth?

In the U.S., typically one or two award nights. At a top-tier hotel, this would not be enough for a free night.

At lower-end brands in other countries, it could get you between one and five award nights.

How long are Hilton Honors points good for?

Hilton points expire after 15 months of no activity in your account. An exception to this rule is all points that had been set to expire anytime in 2021 will not expire until December 31, 2021.

How much are Hilton Honors points worth?

You can expect a Hilton points value of about 0.5 cents each, give or take, depending how you use them.

Can Hilton points be transferred?

Yes, to anyone, for free. You can transfer up to 500,000 Hilton points per calendar year. Anyone can receive up to 2 million Hilton points per year.

What do Hilton Honors points get you?

Mostly free nights at Hilton hotels. There are other uses, but that’s by far the best way to redeem them.

How many Hilton Honors points is a lot?

I’d say once you have 200,000 Hilton points, you can start planning a week-long award trip in an upscale tourist area or popular destination.

What is 5,000 Hilton Honors points worth?

One award night at the lowest-tier hotels. Otherwise, not much, to be honest.

Bottom line

Hilton’s biggest downside is its lack of a proper award chart and high points prices for award rooms at basic hotels. For this reason, lots of folks overlook Hilton and their fantastic elite status program.

The fact is, you can earn more points with Hilton elite status than with any other comparable program. You’ll be given Diamond, Gold, and Silver status, respectively, when you have the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card and the Hilton Honors American Express Card.

Gold and Diamond elite members get free breakfast at every Hilton hotel (along with lots of other perks). With over 5,600 hotels around the world, you can easily redeem your Hilton points for award nights across 15 unique brands and more. You can transfer your points to any other member for free, and Hilton also has elite rollover nights if you find yourself between status tiers.

Is Hilton a perfect loyalty program? Far from it. But for the serious traveler looking to earn and burn a lot of points on free hotel stays, the Hilton Honors program and Hilton points are among the best — if not the best — in the industry right now.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Annual fee

$550

Welcome offer

Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

Why we like it

The Amex Platinum is a staple in the travel cards landscape with its unmatched travel benefits, for frequent flyers these benefits alone can far exceed the cost of the annual fee. Beyond that, this card has great on-going rewards and the card also comes with a generous welcome bonus of 75,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first six months of opening your account. You’ll also earn 10x points on eligible purchases made at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets on up to $15,000 in combined spending during the first six months of card membership. This welcome offer could potentially earn you up to 225,000 points.

Who is it best for?

The Platinum Card is best for frequent travelers that value luxury travel perks: think incredible airport lounge access and Gold elite status with Marriott and Hilton. Cardholders can also cash in on hundreds of dollars of credit for travel expenses all the while earning 5X Membership Rewards Points on flights (booked directly with the airline or through American Express Travel, on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

Credit Score Recommended

Credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Good to Excellent

660

850

Details

  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member and Additional Centurion Cards only.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Enjoy complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits through American Express Travel with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,100 properties. Learn More.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

Pros

  • Access to Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass lounges, Delta Sky Clubs and more (enrollment required)
  • Up to $500 in annual credits, plus another up to $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck
  • Complimentary Hilton Gold elite status and Marriott Gold elite status (enrollment required)
  • Long list of travel protections
  • Excellent customer experience

Cons

  • $550 annual fee
  • Earning on travel categories exclusive to airfare and prepaid hotel stays

Reward Rate

  • Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

APR

See Pay Over Time APR

Credit Needed

Goodto Excellent

Foreign Transaction Fee

None

Show more

Source: Read Full Article