Hilton HHonors Rewards: An Easy Way to Earn Free Stays - NerdWallet
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Hilton HHonors Rewards: An Easy Way to Earn Free Stays

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Hilton HHonors Rewards: An Easy Way to Earn Free Stays

If you’re looking for a hotel loyalty program that offers flexible rewards, consider joining the Hilton HHonors program. As a member, you’ll be able to redeem your points for free stays at more than 4,200 properties worldwide and earn more with every dollar spent at Hilton portfolio hotels. Here’s what you should know before joining.

Hilton HHonors: The basics

As a Hilton HHonors member, all of your Hilton portfolio stays will count toward earning a higher membership status, giving you access to more perks. Plus, you can easily qualify for ongoing automatic elite status (that is, a membership status of Silver or higher) by signing up for a co-branded credit card, which is rarely an option with other programs.

How to advance

The Hilton HHonors program includes four tiers, or membership levels, ranging from Blue to Diamond. The higher your status, the more benefits you’ll be eligible for. Here’s what you need to qualify for each tier and what you get in return:

Blue (just enroll): Free second guest, late check-out and express check-out. Earn 10 base points for every eligible dollar spent on your Hilton portfolio room and room charges. A few exceptions apply.

Silver (4 stays or 10 nights): In addition to all of the Blue perks, you’ll also get 15% elite status bonus on all point earnings, every fifth night free, complimentary access to fitness centers and two complimentary bottles of water per stay.

Gold (20 stays, 40 nights or 75,000 HHonors base points): Get a 25% elite status bonus on all points earned, eCheck-in, complimentary Wi-Fi at select hotels, bonus perks at select hotels and all the Silver perks.

Diamond (30 stays, 60 nights or 120,000 HHonors base points): Get a 50% elite status bonus, a 48-hour room guarantee for last-minute booking, extra perks at select hotels and all the perks listed above.

You can become an HHonors member by creating a free profile on Hilton’s website. If you’ve stayed at Hilton hotels or traveled with Hilton partners in the past six months, you can start off with credit from those by reporting them as “missing stays.” Just complete the information about your check-in and check-out date, along with the name and location of the hotel (or partner).

Calculating a point’s worth

Like most loyalty rewards, the value of an HHonors point varies based on how it’s redeemed. Using data from 10 international and domestic stays at Hilton portfolio hotels from different price categories, NerdWallet valued Hilton HHonors points at 0.5 cent each, below the industry standard of 1 cent each, when redeemed for hotel stays. There are also other lower-value redemption opportunities, as noted below.

Keep in mind that the Hilton credit cards listed below and membership in the HHonors program can help you earn points much more quickly than most general travel rewards cards. By redeeming selectively, you can also squeeze additional value out of each point. These factors can make up for the otherwise relatively low redemption value.

How base points and bonus points are earned

You can earn two types of points through Hilton HHonors: base points and bonus points. Generally, you’ll earn 10 base points per dollar spent at a Hilton portfolio hotel regardless of the HHonors status you have. These can help you qualify for Gold status or Diamond status if you earn enough of them, though there are other ways to qualify, too. Aside from that, they don’t offer much utility over bonus points earned with a credit card or elite status. Both bonus points and base points can be redeemed for free stays.

The number of bonus points you earn is determined by money spent at Hilton with your co-branded credit card as well as the number of base points earned. Say you purchased a $200 Hilton stay and had automatic Silver status with the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card. You’d earn 2,000 base points, plus 1,500 HHonors bonus points (15% bonus on the base points earned from the Silver status, plus 6 points per dollar spent on Hilton on your card).

Because the sign-up bonus is also bonus points, not base points, it would take $7,500 in Hilton hotel stays to get to Gold status with this card – that is, if you didn’t already fast-track your way there.

Cards that earn HHonors points

The easiest way to earn more HHonors bonus points is by getting a co-branded card. Here are some to consider:

Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card

  • The annual fee is $0.
  • Sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 Hilton HHonors™ Bonus Points after making $1,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening.
  • Automatic HHonors Silver status with a fast-track to Gold status
  • Earn 6 HHonors bonus points per dollar spent at Hilton portfolio hotels, 3 per dollar spent at supermarkets, drugstores and gas stations and 2 per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn an annual loyalty bonus of 10,000 Hilton HHonors bonus points at the end of each calendar year when you spend $1,000 or more on stays within the Hilton portfolio

Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card

  • The annual fee is $95
  • Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio after you make $2,500 in purchases within 4 months of account opening
  • Earn two weekend certificates after making $2,500 in purchases during the first four months
  • Automatic HHonors Gold status
  • Earn 10 HHonors bonus points per dollar spent on hotels in the Hilton portfolio, 5 per dollar spent on airline and car rental purchases, and 3 on all other purchases.
  • Earn an anniversary bonus of one weekend night (standard room, double occupancy) at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio after you spend $10,000 on purchases each year (starting from your Annual Fee Date) and remain a cardmember.

Hilton HHonorsTM Card from American Express

  • Earn 7 HHonors bonus points for purchases charged directly with a participating hotel or resort in the Hilton portfolio, 5 per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations and 3 per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

Hilton HHonorsTM Surpass® Card from American Express

  • Earn 12 HHonors bonus points for purchases charged directly with a participating hotel or resort in the Hilton portfolio, 6 per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations and 3 per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

How to get more HHonors bonus points

Aside from getting a co-branded card and staying at Hilton portfolio hotels more often, you can also get more bonus points by purchasing them for 1 cent each, in increments ranging from 1,000 to 80,000 points. This is still a splurge, since NerdWallet values the points at 0.5 cent each. But if you’re just 1,000 points short of a free stay, spending that $10 may be a sensible move.

Keep in mind that the purchased points won’t help you advance to Gold or Diamond status, like base points, but you can redeem points for free stays.

To purchase points, log on to your Hilton profile. On the left-hand side, under “My Points,” click on “More Ways to Use Points” and “Purchase.” From there, you’ll be able to select the number of points you want to buy.

How to redeem HHonors points

Hilton categorizes its hotels on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most expensive. A standard room in a Category 1 hotel costs 5,000 points per night, while one in a Category 10 hotels cost between 70,000 and 95,000 per night.

Good redemption options

During peak season, you may get a better value for your points if you spend them on a lower-tier Hilton hotel. Hotels in Categories 1 through 3 offer rewards pricing that doesn’t change seasonally, giving you more for your money as demand (and prices) rise.

Hilton doesn’t list hotels by category when you do a search, but generally, the ones with rooms at 20,000 points or less during popular traveling times tend to have these flat rewards rates. In some cities, these low-tier hotels may be in short supply.

Bad redemption options

Top-tier hotels usually don’t offer inexpensive rooms, but when they do, it’s better to pay cash, since the number of points required for a stay is determined by hotel category, not list price. In the unlikely event a Category 10 hotel offered a standard room for $95 or 95,000 points in peak season, for instance, you’d only get a value of 0.1 cent per point if you paid with rewards. You’d be better off saving your points for your next trip.

Hilton also gives you an option to pay with Points & Money on select stays, but you generally can’t maximize your rewards this way. For instance, you may have the option to pay 12,000 points and $50 instead of paying 30,000 HHonors points for a certain room, giving those points a value of about 0.28 cents each. Since NerdWallet values Hilton HHonors points at 0.5 cents each, you’d be missing out on a lot of value here.

Transfer partners

While Hilton has several transfer partners, you generally won’t be able to exchange points at a 1:1 ratio. Unless you have absolutely no use for your HHonors points or are trying to use them before they expire, transferring your points usually isn’t a cost-effective choice.

If you absolutely want to transfer points, though, you have plenty of choices. Participating airlines include domestic carriers, such as Delta and United, as well as international carriers like British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. You can also transfer points to Amtrak. You can view a full list of transfer partners here.

Fine print

  • HHonors points expire after 12 months of account inactivity. To keep an account active, you must be earning or redeeming points or staying at Hilton portfolio hotels.
  • Unless you have a credit card granting you automatic elite status, you have to re-qualify each calendar year by staying at Hilton portfolio hotels.
  • Bonus points earned on base points don’t count toward Gold or Diamond status, according to Hilton. They can be used for free stays, though.

Top Hilton credit cards from NerdWallet

Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card

Citibank Hilton HHonors Credit Card
Learn More

For a $0 annual fee card, the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card packs a punch. You’ll get automatic Silver status with a fast track to Gold, plus a tempting sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 Hilton HHonors™ Bonus Points after making $1,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening. It also rewards customer loyalty with an annual bonus of 10,000 HHonors bonus points at the end of each calendar year when you spend $1,000 or more of Hilton portfolio stays that year. For most frequent travelers, that’s an easy spending minimum to reach.

One of the best things about this card is that the Silver status automatically renews as long as you’re a cardholder. That means you can continue racking up free stays that don’t expire (as long as you keep your account active), giving this card an excellent long-term value at a minimal cost.

Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card

Citibank Hilton HHonors Reserve Credit Card
Learn More

The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card is an ideal card for someone who plans to spend $1,900 or more on Hilton portfolio stays per year. Although the annual fee is $95, it quickly pays for itself if you stay at Hilton frequently. You’ll earn a generous sign-up bonus: Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio after you make $2,500 in purchases within 4 months of account opening. The card comes with automatic Gold status, which will automatically renew each year.

Like the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card, the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card also rewards you for loyalty. You’ll get an anniversary bonus of one weekend night certificate at select hotels once you spend $10,000 each year and remain a cardmember. While this card may not be worth the annual fee if you rarely stay at Hilton, it could be a good bet if you’re planning to go on several trips and love staying at Hilton portfolio locations.

Methodology

The calculated value of these points is based on an estimated redemption rate, not a credit card rewards earn rate. Therefore, you may notice that these numbers don’t match the rewards rates on our credit card finder tool. Read on for how we estimated these points values.

We sampled Hilton portfolio hotels ranging from Category 2 to Category 9 in five domestic cities and five international cities, based on availability and data from Booking.com and Expedia. Choosing a high-tier and low-tier option for each city, we used a sample weekday date, Apr. 5, 2016, and a sample weekend date, Apr. 9, 2016, to measure prices. We looked at the following cities:

  • Los Angeles
  • Orlando, Florida
  • New York
  • Dallas
  • Las Vegas
  • Toronto
  • Mexico City
  • London
  • Paris
  • Tokyo

International stays netted an average of 0.5 cents a point when redeemed on weekdays, and 0.5 cents a point when redeemed on weekends. Domestic stays got and average of 0.5 cents a point when redeemed for weekdays and 0.5 cents a point when redeemed on weekends. Overall, NerdWallet values HHonors points at 0.5 cents each.

Last updated October 7, 2015

 

Claire Davidson is a staff writer covering personal finance for NerdWallet. Follow her on Twitter @ideclaire7 and on Google+.

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  • Jane Reston

    wish i had read thru the gift certificate options before i signed up! it’s deceptive to only get $50 for 25,000 points, despite the fact that you can earn 3 points per dollar spent.

  • occasional traveller

    thanks for simplifying the ‘secret’ process in determining what points will get you in practical terms…
    math calculations made sensible!

  • rob c.

    Unfortunately, it’s 14,000 a weekday for a rental and 70,000 for the week (7days).  This really drops the price per point.

    • Mrprywes

      Yes. I noticed that too Rob. Dear NerdWallet friends, you may want to update your chart above to reflect the fact that it costs 70,000 point for a week rental (not 14,000).

      • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ NerdWallet

        Great catch! We’ll update it ASAP.

  • Runner312

    I have searched many major cities inside / outside of US such as: Seattle, Portland, NYC, Tokyo, Anchorage, and so on. It seems like only that one Hampton Inn Houston/Baytown on your post give a rate of $130 or 7500 pts per night ($1=1.7 cents), the Hampton Inn in other cities all have similar rate but with 20k to 35k pts per night($1=<0.5 cent), if I am misunderstanding the tier level is classified by city or region instead of hotel brand (such as Hampton Inn) then please enlighten me, which Hilton hotels at which city require only 7500 pts per night other than Hampton Inn Houston/Baytown, because I have seen NONE after 1 hour search. Please convince me that there are actually more than 1 tier one hotels, otherwise the point will never worth more than 0.5 cent each.

    • Wangtough

      I’m with you these guys are fucking assholes with their points. Hilton and it’s HHonors program can fuck itself – You’re better off bullshitting with the manager for a better deal on a room than collect these points.

  • Nbstrick

    Bad experience redeeming points for car rental:

    We redeemed 70,000 points for a weekly car rental from Alamo from Burlington VT airport.  We were told that we had to irretrievably give up the points before finalizing the deal.  When we saw the actual deal, we were allegedly in for $170 or so in taxes.  We were told that was because the taxes were based on a midsize rental.  We thought “Wow, Vermont taxes are high.” 

    The midsize car turned out to be the compact Ford Focus — but apparently this is Alamo’s chizzling policy.

    The nominal price for our rental was about $420 a week.  However, it also turns out, that by going to Alamo’s site, and booking a week’s rental in any configuration of time periods:  last minute, week in advance, month in advance, the next day, next year in the equivalent week, the maximum fee we found for a mid-size car was $180 a week.    The taxes and fees should have been about another $48.

    The price we were being “taxed” on came out conveniently close to the actual rental price of the car (without taxes).

    I doubt very much that Alamo is turning over our money to the state of Vermont…

    We complained to Hilton Honors.  The first person answering the phone said “Take it up with Alamo” and hung up.  The second was more helpful, and has opened a  “case file.”  We’ll see.

    In the meantime, I’d advise avoiding redeeming Hilton Honors points on car rentals — at least not at Burlington…

    A pity — we have in general had a good experience with Hilton Honors.

    • Not your biz

      Since the purchase was made with Alamo, the dispute should have been with Alamo.

  • Amy_rc

    I Tweeted about an issue I had with Hilton – you might try that if you have an issue. I got a quick response to my Tweet.

  • Jkfk100

    I have 4500 points. Will it get me anything if going to Ft Lauderdale, Fl–a hotel on the ocean,
    May 29th, 2012 thru June 4, 2012?

  • Jacqui

    Didn’t know Alamo was included in HH, we had an Alamo hire car on our US trip last month, can I include our car rental invoice onto our HH accounts, if so how do I do it?

    • nerdwallettravel

      Hi Jacqui,

      To receive HHonors points for your Alamo rentals, you need to update your settings in Alamo Insiders account. You would essentially link your HHonors account to your Alamo Insiders account. This would enable you to automatically earn points. The catch is that you have to pay a surcharge of $0.75 per car rental day to help offset Alamo’s cost for participating in these loyalty programs.

      For past rentals, you would have to call Alamo’s Loyalty Department at (800) 882-5266 to sort out points for historical rentals.

      Hope this helps! Let us know if we can provide any additional information.

  • Kuretich

    I stayed over the Christmas week end in La Quainta Californa hotel. they did not honor of my any points toward toward at say. the reason was I used another site to book the hotel
    If you have or understand the term Catch 22 this is a company that uses catch 22
    NOT GOOD

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1331539020 Pamela Benjamin Wigandt

      It’s not a catch 22. It’s listed in the terms and conditions that if you book using a 3rd party you WILL NOT get points for your stay. Many times the rate for a 3rd party listing is the same as the hotel’s Advance Purchase (which is what you are doing when booking with a 3rd party)

  • Jeremyh

    I have been looking to redeem hilton points but can’t find any hilton reward nights available!! I searched for nights at any hilton in honolulu, but no reward nights available in the next year!!!!!! I then checked in orlando for a couple different dates I will be there this winter, nothing available.. I then check in a small city just to see (sioux falls, sd) but still nothing available!! I don’t know if I’m doing somthing wrong but it seems to me that it is impossible to redeem a rewards night w/ Hilton…. ANyone have any suggestions??? Thanks!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1331539020 Pamela Benjamin Wigandt

      Make sue you are putting a check in the box that says Use HHonors Points.

  • Arthur E. Spiegel

    I lost my Hilton Honors card. How can I get another. Arthur Spiegel

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1331539020 Pamela Benjamin Wigandt

      yes, just call customer service

  • Bencahn87

    is it possible to get the Citi card AND one of the Amex cards?? I already signed up for Citi, but now I want the $0 annual fee Amex card… I wonder if I’ll get all the points?

    • Angie@NW

      You can absolutely have both cards, but it may not be beneficial because you can’t transfer points from one card to another. Although you own both cards, you can’t pool the points together and redeem rewards.

      In terms of rewards, you are better off making all of your purchases and racking up points on a single card.

      • Bencahn87

        actually angie…i called the Hilton Rewards customer service line and you absolutely can combine them. the way it works is this:

        you have a HHonors Rewards account, where your points from the credit cards get “funneled” to. If you have two cards, they simply get funneled to the same HHonors Rewards account. I asked the representative if people sign up for the Citi and AMEX cards frequently, and she said people do it “all the time” to get the 80,000 points total. fascinating!

        • Angie@NW

          Oh, thank you so much for the update! That’s great information to have on hand. I appreciate it!

      • EP

        You CAN combine points. I have the Hilton Amex and just got the Citi. When I applied for the Citi it asked for my HHonors account number. Now my points throughAmex and Citi will all go into the same pot. If you did not do this when appying for another card, simply call the new card and give them your HHonors account number to link it to the card.

  • Bencahn87

    is it possible to get the Citi card AND one of the Amex cards?? I already signed up for Citi, but now I want the $0 annual fee Amex card… I wonder if I’ll get all the points?

  • Susan H.

    I have an Amex Hilton card, and use it a lot. Can I change my account to a Surpass card, or am I stuck with the one that I originally signed up for?

    • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ NerdWallet

      Thanks for your comment, Susan. After speaking with a Hilton Honors representative, it seems that the only way to get the Surpass card is to cancel your current card and then reapply for the Surpass. But note that if you haven’t had your AmEx Hilton for at least 12 months, you won’t get signup bonus for the Surpass card.

      • Washington Irving

        I’ve just upgraded to the Surpass card from the HHonors AmEx. Bonus of 50,000 points for spending $3,000 within the first 90 days. Kept the same card number and did not have to cancel and reapply. This was done online within the AmEx My Account page.

        • bencahn87

          I currently have the HHonors AmEx, and I still need to spend the ~800 within 4 months to get the 40,000 bonus points. If I were to spend the ~800 and get the 40k points, would I then be able to upgrade to the Surpass card, and collect the 50k bonus points on TOP of that, thus earning a total of 90,000 bonus points?

  • Susan H.

    I have an Amex Hilton card, and use it a lot. Can I change my account to a Surpass card, or am I stuck with the one that I originally signed up for?

  • Brandon B Davis

    I have a question: when you stay at a hotel for 5 days and have 2 rooms, what does this qualify as for your honors account? Will that qualify as 5 nights and 1 stay? Or 10 nights and 2 stays? Thanks!

  • Brandon B Davis

    I have a question: when you stay at a hotel for 5 days and have 2 rooms, what does this qualify as for your honors account? Will that qualify as 5 nights and 1 stay? Or 10 nights and 2 stays? Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/harald.tjorhom Harald Tjorhom

    Hilton Honor is now just a sham. The VIP reservations are no longer available.

    • Ben Cahn

      VIP reservations…? For me it’s just a nice way to squeeze a few free hotel stays out of em. I’m spending money anyway, might as well get something nice out of it. Once I use my 80,000 points, I’ll just cancel the cards. Anyone recommend any other hotel cards with good rewards systems?

  • http://www.facebook.com/harald.tjorhom Harald Tjorhom

    Lets all HHonor and shame the into bringing it back.

  • http://www.facebook.com/harald.tjorhom Harald Tjorhom

    Hilton Honor is now just a sham. The VIP reservations are no longer available.

  • http://www.facebook.com/harald.tjorhom Harald Tjorhom

    Lets all HHonor and shame the into bringing it back.

  • http://www.facebook.com/otis.day.35 Otis Day

    Hi
    Can you use points for meals at Hilton?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1331539020 Pamela Benjamin Wigandt

      no you can not

  • http://bluesmoon.info Philip Tellis

    Looks like you need to update the status tiers. Qualification requirements for Gold and Diamond have changed. Gold: 20 stays, 40 nights or 75,000 points, Diamond: 30 stays, 60 nights or 120,000 points.

    Also, they now have 10 Hotel Categories rather than 7 with points required ranging from 5000 to 95000.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1331539020 Pamela Benjamin Wigandt

    Points don’t cover the cost of taxes or other fees, which can cost over $50.

    this is an incorrect statement.

  • disneygirlj

    I’m new to this forum but I am seeking some advice. I just won 500,000 HH points in a promotion. They will be sending me a 1099 for my taxes saying I earned $5,000 from Hilton, but I cannot figure out how to use the points to get $5000 out of them. The hotel examples they use in the promo don’t add up to the 500 k points but go way over. So how do I use the points to justify the taxes?

    • Karl Karlson

      would you somehow think about trading these points?

      • disneygirlj

        Not really, I hope to use them.

    • Celia Amorette

      I’m in need of some points will you be willing to sell me some? I have chase direct pay or PayPal.

      • Yogesh Bansal

        Hello Celia, I am willing to tranfer points.

  • http://batman-news.com Jess R

    I had a horrible expierence with Embassy Suites and they offered to give me 2 nights free on a gift cerft. or 1 night free and 25,000 Hilton Honors bonus points. Which is a better deal??

    • http://unicornuproar.com/ Moscato-Moe

      Depends on the hotel. I’d take the 2 nights.

  • Redmond Piffle

    I think you are all forgetting that hilton points are earned in intervals of 10/$ at hotels (not including bonus) and at a minimum of 3/$ on the credit card. So if another company’s points nets me one mile/$ (assuming) valued at 1 cent, a Hilton HHonors Card nets me, at minimum, 3 hhonors points or 1.5 cents /$. So, on an earnings per $ spent basis, Hilton works out better.

  • pet

    Hi I got 81099 points. W h honor s. Can some tell me what that entails? ??

  • pet

    So 80999 isn’t worth anything

  • Celia Amorette

    Are you willing to sell any points? Paypal or chase transfer.

    • yonah B

      i would like to sell hhonors points

      • Ben w

        Looking to buy points, how can I get in touch with u yonah

  • Mooredoghouse

    I just signed up and now I’m getting a few sales calls per week to buy points or sign up for one their time shares, so annoying!

  • JD

    I’ve found that the American Express Surpass is superior to the Citi Reserve Card as it offers more points on everyday purchases. Same with the no-fee Amex vs. the no-fee Citi card. However, the two free night certificates offered by the Citi Reserve is an amazing benefit. I recommend getting that card, obtaining the certificates, using them, then cancelling the card and keep they Amex one. The Amex one had an 80K point sign up bonus earlier this year.

  • Daniel Genzink

    If my wife and I use an award night, can we both get credit towards diamond status? Or does Hilton only credit one person per room per night for status?