Hilton Honors: a review of Hilton’s rewards program

What is the Hilton Honors rewards program?

Hilton Honors sign on the counter of a Hilton hotel reception desk

Hilton Honors rewards program provides the opportunity to earn Hilton Honors rewards points that can be redeemed for free hotel stays, airfare, and much more!

Hilton Honors is the rewards program offered by Hilton Hotels and all of its sub-brands. In recent years, Hilton has stepped up their pursuits of having the hottest industry hotel rewards program by introducing a revamped reward points earning structure, credit card perks, and various promotional deals. Hilton Honors provides multiple ways to maximize benefits of the program and can offer tremendous value when you implement a rewards strategy correctly. However, going all in with a hotel rewards program, such as Hilton Honors, will always require a good mix of strategy and focus. Read on for more details and a full review on why you should join this rewards program.

Screenshot showing the Hilton Honors rewards program sign up web form

It’super easy to join the Hilton Honors rewards program using their online web form.

Joining Hilton Honors

Joining the Hilton Honors program is pretty simple and quick. All you need to do is to go to the official website and follow the steps below:

  1. Visit www.hiltonhonors.com.
  2. Click the ‘Join’ link located at the top right corner.
  3. Fill out all of your details on the form, including your full name and contact details. You’ll also need to create an account password.
  4. Read the terms and conditions and click the ‘Join For Free’ button. A confirmation e-mail will be sent to your email address. Click on the link in the e-mail to verify your account and complete the process.
  5. Your account is now created, and you’re ready to start earning!

Brands and Locations

Hotel room door open. Clean and elegant accommodation service. Close up of handle.

Hilton gives you more choices in terms of hotel brands and location, which provides more opportunities to quickly earn elite status and maximize earning and redeeming rewards points.

Hilton is a globally recognized brand, with over 5000 properties, spanning 100 countries on six continents. This is a huge perk, as the availability of hotel locations will give you a better chance of consistently meeting the annual stay and spend targets that are required to reach elite status in Hilton Honors.

Most individual hotel brands are a part of a broader portfolio owned and operated by a single parent company. Hilton is the parent company for 14 sub-brands (see list below). This is important because it provides you with more choices in terms of price, the class of stay, and most importantly rewards redemption opportunities. All Hilton hotels and sub-brands share the same point values for redemption. So regardless if you choose to stay at Waldorf Astoria property or a Hampton Inn, your rewards points will be valued the same on a per-point basis.

List of Hilton Brands

  • Hilton Hotels and Resorts
  • Conrad Hotels and Resorts
  • Canopy by Hilton
  • Curio – a collection by Hilton
  • Doubletree by Hilton
  • Embassy Suites by Hilton
  • Hilton Garden Inn
  • Hilton Grand Vacations
  • Hampton by Hilton
  • Homewood Suites by Hilton
  • Home2 Suites by Hilton
  • Tapestry Collection by Hilton
  • Tru by Hilton
  • Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts

Earning Hilton Honors elite status

Picture of an elegant and modern hotel reception area

Earning elite status with Hilton Honors Rewards can be achieved by completing a certain number of nights or stays at Hilton properties within a calendar year. Photo by Greenhouse Cowork on Unsplash.

Hilton Honors offers four tiers within its rewards program. The base tier, Member, is automatically granted to anyone who enrolls for the program and offers fundamental benefits. The next three levels, Silver, Gold, and Diamond, can be achieved through staying a minimum number of nights, or a minimum number of stays, or even through accumulating Hilton Honors base points (for Gold and Diamond only). Reaching each level has a different set of requirements (see table below) and provides various types of benefits to members (see section below). Here’s the breakdown of how to qualify for each tier:

Member Silver Gold Diamond
How to qualify Automatically given upon sign-up 4 stays in a calendar year, or 10 nights in a calendar year 20 stays in a calendar year, or 40 nights in a calendar year, or 75,000 Hilton Honors Base Points in a calendar year 30 stays in a calendar year, or 60 nights in a calendar year, or 120,000 Hilton Honors Base Points in a calendar year

It is important to note that the Hilton Honors program requires annual qualification for status tiers. This means that you will have to meet the requirements each year to maintain status for the program for the following year. Below is an example of the account overview dashboard, which shows your current status for 2018, and the requirements for maintaining status in 2019.

Screenshot from the Hilton Honor's user dashboard showing important information regarding your account

The Hilton Honor’s user dashboard provides information such as your member number, number of total accrued points, current status tier, and progress made towards retaining status in the next year

Earning Lifetime Diamond Status in Hilton Honors

If you stay enough nights at Hilton properties over time, you’ll eventually qualify for Lifetime Diamond Status, which means you do not need to re-qualify for Diamond status every year. You’ll get the benefits of being a Diamond member for the rest of your life when you earn Lifetime Diamond Status. This is a pretty awesome perk to have.

To qualify, you have two options:

  1. Maintain Diamond status for at least ten years (don’t have to be consecutive) AND have stayed at least 1,000 nights (paid or reward nights).
  2. Maintain Diamond status for at least ten years (don’t have to be consecutive) AND have accumulated 2 million Base points since joining the Hilton Honors program.

Benefits of Hilton Honors

CompareBare breaks down the benefits of Hilton Honors into pre-stay perks and in-stay perks. Read below to see what each level of elite status provides in terms of benefits. 

Pre-stay perks

Picture of a happy woman sitting in a coffee shop using a computer

Hilton Honors’ pre-stay perks provide you with benefits prior to arriving at the Hilton property including 48-hour room reservation guarantees, discounted rates for members, and Digital Check-In. Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Hilton Honors’ pre-stay perks provide you with benefits before arriving at the Hilton property you booked. These perks are provided during the reservation process and before you arrive at the hotel. These benefits can include:

  • Discounted rates for members: you’ll typically get discounted, changeable & refundable room rates at Hilton properties because you’re a member.
  • Digital Check-In: you can choose your room, and customize your stay from your mobile device up to 24 hours in advance of check-in.
  • 48-hour room reservation guarantees: you’re guaranteed a room at a Hilton property, as long as you book 48 hours before your stay (Diamond only).
  • And more (see table below)

In-stay perks

A person sitting down at a table eating crepes topped with creme, bananas, nuts and strawberries

Hilton Honors provides in-stay perks, such as free breakfast, which can be a valuable benefit for cost-savings. Photo by Tim Bennett on Unsplash

In-stay perks provide you with benefits during your hotel stay at a Hilton property and are intended to improve your experience. These benefits can include:

  • Free standard or premium wifi: all members get standard wifi included in their stay. Diamond members get a free upgrade to premium wifi.
  • Late checkout: if desired, you can request late check-out at any Hilton property (subject to availability).
  • Free room upgrades: if the hotel has extra rooms available, Gold and Diamond members can get complimentary room upgrades.
  • Complimentary breakfast: free continental breakfast is included in your stay for Gold and Diamond members. 
  • And more (see table below)

Hilton Honors member benefits

Here’s a full breakdown of the Hilton Honors benefits for members by tier: 

Member Silver Gold Diamond
Free wifi
No resort fees on Rewards Stays
Late check-out
Guaranteed best price at Hilton properties
Choose your room
Digital check-in (available at 3000+ properties)
Two complimentary water bottles per stay  
5th night free on Reward Nights  
Elite rollover nights  
Unlimited milestone bonuses    
Space-available room upgrades    
Complimentary breakfast    
Executive lounge access      
Elite status gifting      
48-hour room guarantee      

Earning Hilton Honors Points

Woman in red swimsuit sunbathing by an elegant and modern swimming pool

Hilton Honors provides you a way to earn points that you can redeem for future stays at Hilton properties. Photo by Jesse Schoff on Unsplash

Hilton Honors splits its points into two categories: base points and bonus points. Let’s break down the differences between the two. 

Hilton Honors base points

Members earn base points for each night of their stay at a Hilton property. Each status tier in the program has a different base point value. This means that you get a point match for every dollar you spend on your stay. Except in this case, because you are a Hilton Honors member, you’ll get 10x, 12x, 18x, or even 20x(!) the number of points for your stay. The number of base points you receive will depend on your tier within the program. This makes it extremely important that you always are working towards the higher tiers in Hilton Honors. Here’s the breakdown of base points you can earn by each tier:

Member Silver Gold Diamond
Base points earned per $1 of spend 10x points 12x points 18x points 20x points

Hilton Honors bonus points

Bonus points work very in a similar fashion to base points. You are awarded a different amount of bonus points for each status tier. The main difference is that bonus points are calculated using the percentage of total base points earned for a given stay at a Hilton property. For example, if you received 10,000 base points for a stay and you have Diamond Status, you would receive an additional 10,000 bonus points. That’s an incredible value! Here’s the breakdown of bonus points awarded for each tier of the program:

Member Silver Gold Diamond
Bonus points earned on top of Hilton base points None 20% 80% 100%

Earning additional Hilton Honors bonus points

Hilton Honors provides other opportunities to make even more bonus points. Check out the following ways you can earn extra Hilton Honors points:

  • Double rewards purchases: during check-out, you might have the option to purchase a double points package. This will give you 2x the amount of base points that you earn for a stay.
  • Special point promotions: Hilton often runs special point promotions, in which you can earn a set amount of bonus points if you complete a stay within a given period. Please note you may have to register for these online to receive the promotional point value.
  • Brand specific stay bonuses: many Hilton properties offer a point bonus for merely staying at the property. Usually, this is only available for Gold or Diamond members.

Below is an example of the Hilton Honors recent stay activity page. The screenshot shows you the point type and quantity of points earned during a recent hotel stay.

Screenshot from a user's Hilton Honor's dashboard showing points accrued from a recent Hilton stay

Following each completed stay you have the opportunity to review your Hilton Honor’s point accrual and breakdown.

As you can see, it took just a few days of staying at a Hilton property to earn close to 18,000 points. And 12,000 of those were bonus points! This is a classic example of entirely taking advantage of the various point opportunities within Hilton’s rewards program.

Purchasing Hilton Honors points

Another great way to increase your Hilton Honors points balance is to buy rewards points. This is especially a good idea during promotional periods, as you are awarded bonus points on top of your purchase like in the example below. People often purchase points to help meet a minimum point redemption threshold that they otherwise may not be able to meet in the immediate future.

For example, if you are only 1,000 points away from being able to redeem for an upcoming hotel stay, it may make sense to purchase the points to close the gap and meet the point redemption threshold. Furthermore, it’s important always to understand the cash value of the points you are purchasing. You should take into consideration the cost that you are paying to buy the points. This is key to ensure you are receiving the proper expected value in the transaction.

Screenshot of a drop down menu showing various Hilton Honors points purchase options

Hilton Honors rewards program can provide promotional opportunities for members to purchase points and receive bonuses

Other ways to earn Hilton Honors Points

Hilton Honors American Express credit cards

Picture of man's legs next to a lantern facing a large body of water at dusk

The Hilton Honors American Express cards provide additional perks to cardholders, including up to 14x additional bonus points, free weekend night stays, Priority Pass airport lounge access, and much more. Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash.

Hilton Honors has partnered with American Express to offer its own family of credit cards that provide some fantastic benefits. Having a Hilton American Express credit card can supercharge earning Hilton Honors points. This is on top of the points you already earn through staying at Hilton properties. The credit cards can help you earn an additional 14x bonus points on top of your base and bonus points. And some of the credit card options provide elite perks. These elite perks include complimentary Diamond status, free weekend night stays, free Priority Pass airport lounge membership, and much more. Check out our full review on the Hilton Honors American Express credit cards to see how the right credit card can supercharge your rewards program experience.

Hilton Honors Dining rewards program

Picture of a busy alleyway with people walking and dining at various cafes

The Hilton Honors Dining program provides frequent diners the ability to gain Elite Member status. Plus you can receive up to 8x bonus points for dining within the Hilton Honors restaurant network. Photo by Paul Rysz on Unsplash

Hilton has gone all in with their Hilton Honors Dining program, which allows frequent diners to gain Elite Member status and receive 8x bonus points for dining within the Hilton Honors restaurant network. Check out our article on the Hilton Honors Dining Program to see how eating out can reward you additional bonus points.

Redeeming Hilton Honors Points

Screenshot from Hilton Honor's website showing Hilton properties points redemption cost

Hilton Honors provides multiple ways to redeem rewards, including redeeming points for stays at Hilton properties.

The primary way to redeem Hilton Honors points is to apply them to a future stay at a Hilton property. You can do this directly on Hilton’s website (www.Hilton.com). When you search for a property for a specific set of dates and a location, you’ll see the option at the top of the search results that says ‘Points.’ Choose that to see the point value that you’d need in order to book that stay on points. 

You can also transfer your points to various transfer partners for non-Hilton services. Some of these travel partners include Delta Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Emirates, Amtrak, and others. Of course, the conversion value of your Hilton Honors points varies for each travel partner. You can view the full list of transfer partners and the conversion values here.

To convert your Hilton Honors points, you can contact the Hilton Reservations and Customer Care center or go to the exchange section of your account. Exchanges are in increments of 10,000 points unless otherwise noted. You should allow up to 30 days for your transaction to process, so make sure to give yourself enough time before booking a trip.

Converting other points into Hilton Honors points

Finally, you also have the ability to transfer rewards points from other programs and turn them into Hilton Honors points. These three are currently the only partner programs you’re able to do this with:

  • Amtrak: Exchange 5,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards points for 10,000 Hilton Honors points. Call +1-800-307-5000 to covert your points.
  • Hawaiian Airlines: Exchange 10,000 HawaiianMiles for 15,000 Hilton Honors points or 20,000 HawaiianMiles for 30,000 Hilton Honors points. Call +1-877-HA-MILES (+1-877-426-4537) to convert your points.
  • Virgin Atlantic Airways: Exchange 10,000 Flying Club miles for 15,000 Hilton Honors points (with a minimum: 10,000 miles. Call 1-800-365-9500 to convert your points.

Calculating the earning potential of Hilton Honors points

It’s important to note that in general, base points from most travel-related rewards programs have an actual cash redemption value. Reward point cash values typically range between 0.05 cents to 2.5 cents per point. The cash value of rewards points depends on the method in which points are redeemed (i.e., redeemed for travel, gift cards, experiences). It is easy to see why status tiers can make a huge difference in terms of the actual cash value you receive from your stays in the form of points. The more points you earn, the higher the cash value of your points, meaning that you will be able to redeem points for higher gift card amounts, longer trips, nicer vacations, and more. The examples below demonstrate how to calculate the earning potential of Hilton Honors points, and also highlights the base point difference between tiers.

Example 1

You book a five-night stay at a Hilton property and spend $1,000 total. You are also currently at the Member tier level.

  • $1,000 x 10 = 10,000 base points
  • For this example, we will value 1 Hilton Honors point at 0.006 cents
  • We will use the following formula:
    • Base points received from stay x 0.006 = total cash value of base points
  • 10,000 x 0.006 = $60
  • So 10,000 Hilton Honors base points is worth $60 in cash when redeeming for things such as travel

Example 2

You book a five-night stay at a Hilton property and spend $1,000 total. You are also currently at the Diamond tier level.

  • $1,000 x 20 = 20,000 base points
  • For this example, we will value 1 Hilton Honors point at 0.006 cents
  • We will use the following formula:
    • Base points received from stay x 0.006 = total cash value of base points
  • 20,000 x 0.006 = $120
  • So 20,000 Hilton Honors base points is worth $120 in cash when redeeming for things such as travel

That is a $60 cash value difference between the two tiers and demonstrates the power of having higher status (like Gold or Diamond). Over the course of a year, the value from having elite status tiers can pay off significantly if you are a frequent or even a casual traveler. Many savvy rewards program veterans are able to fund a full or partial family vacation just due to the monetary value they receive from being at an elite tier, so it is important not to underestimate the knowledge power that comes from calculating the earning potential of Hilton Honors rewards points.

Overall summary of Hilton Honors

Overall, Hilton Honors offers excellent value as it gives members many options in terms of brands and locations to choose from providing a variety of experiences. The program provides basic entry level benefits to those just getting started in the program and also some fantastic elite rewards benefits and point bonuses for members who reach higher status tiers such as Gold and Diamond. In addition, Hilton Honors perks extend to both pre-stay and in-stay, including options such as room upgrades and free continental breakfast for Gold and Diamond members. Hilton offers a ton of ways to earn bonus points, such as using your Hilton Honors American Express credit card and through frequent special point promotions. Finally, you can redeem your Hilton Honors points on either a future stay at a Hilton property or you can convert your points to other travel partners.

In conclusion, this rewards program is robust and offers many valuable benefits to those who take advantage of all the opportunities. CompareBare recommends joining the Hilton Honors program so you can start earning today. If you are interested in reading more about great hotel rewards programs check out our articles on Marriott Rewards, the IHG Rewards Club, and Wyndham Rewards.

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