Hilton HHonors Points: What They’re Worth and How to Use Them

by

How much is a Hilton HHonors Point worth? Given that HHonors Points are notoriously hard to redeem, we value them at 0.5 cents apiece on average, though depending on how you redeem your Hilton HHonors rewards, their value can vary from 0.1 cents to as much as 1 cent (if you’re lucky). The industry standard, as a reference point, is 1 cent, so HHonors Points aren’t quite as good as the competition. Since there are 10 different hotel chains under the Hilton umbrella, you can redeem in a number of ways, even before you factor in redeeming points for airline miles, cruises and more.

This is our in-depth calculation of just how far your points and elite status will get you. Check out our blog for an explanation of how best to use your credit card to earn Hilton HHonors Points. Read on for the best credit cards to earn you those Hilton HHonors points, and the best ways to redeem them.

Redemption options:

Two notes to keep in mind: one, we did our calculations based on only one redemption option per category. You might get a different rate if you book at, say, the Rome Cavalieri during off-peak times. Also, our calculations overestimate the value of Hilton HHonors points. Points don’t cover the cost of taxes or other fees, which can cost over $50.

Hotel stays:

The most common way to redeem HHonors points is, of course, for a hotel room. Here are the standard room rates, current as of March 2013:

Category HHonors Points Required
Category 1 5,000
Category 2 10,000
Category 3 20,000
Category 4 20,000 to 30,000
Category 5 30,000 to 40,000
Category 6 30,000 to 50,000
Category 7 30,000 to 60,000
Category 8 40,000 to 70,000
Category 9 50,000 to 80,000
Category 10 70,000 to 90,000

Does that seem confusing? It should. Hilton hides its low rewards rates with an obfuscating set of redemption options. Based on our analysis, redeeming for a hotel gets you a point value of 0.5 cents on average. We crunched the numbers to see exactly how many points would be required for a one-night stay on September 21st, 2013:

City Hotel Points Rate Cents per Point
San Francisco Hilton Garden Inn San Francisco Airport North 40,000 $329 0.82
San Francisco Homewood Suites by Hilton – SFO Airport North 40,000 $219 0.55
San Francisco Hampton Inn San Francisco – Daly City 75,239 $177 0.24
New York DoubleTree Suites by Hilton – Times Square 80,000 $540 0.68
New York Hilton Garden Inn New York/Chelsea 60,000 $349 0.58
New York Homewood Suites by Hilton – Edgewater 40,000 $179 0.45
Atlanta Hampton Inn Atlanta – North Druid Hills 20,000 $92 0.46
Atlanta Embassy Suites Atlanta – Buckhead 40,000 $139 0.35
Atlanta Hilton Garden Inn Atlanta Airport 20,000 $159 0.80
Chicago Embassy Suites Chicago – Downtown/Lakefront 50,000 $219 0.44
Chicago Hilton Chicago 50,000 $249 0.50
Chicago Hampton Inn Chicago – Midway Airport 40,000 $126 0.32
Average Cents per Point 0.51

As you can see, redemption values vary greatly, but you end up getting rates around 0.5 cents per point.

Other travel options:

  • Car rentals: A week’s rental from Alamo requires 70k points and costs ~$250. Points are worth $250/70,000 = 0.35 cents.
  • Cruises: A $250 voucher for CruisesOnly, an American cruise only, costs 120k points. Points are worth $250/120,000 = 0.21 cents.
  • Entertainment parks: A three-day adult Park Hopper ticket to Disneyland costs 115k points and is worth $199. Points are worth $199/115,000 = 0.17 cents.

Points for miles

 You can trade points for airline miles on one of Hilton’s many partner airlines, at different rates. (Well, you can, but you shouldn’t.) You can swap 10,000 HHonors points for 1,200 Southwest Rapid Rewards points, with a cash value of just $10 in Business Select or $20 if you fly economy. Points are worth 0.1 to 0.2 cents.

How should you use your Hilton HHonors Points?

HHonors points are good at any of the 10 hotel chains owned by the Hilton Hotel empire. These include the Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Hilton, DoubleTree, Hilton Garden, Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites, Home2 Suites, and Hilton Grand Vacations. Over 3,700 hotels accept points, as of this writing. If you want to redeem for hotel stays, Hilton breaks its hotels up into 7 tiers and charges a different number of points for each tier. The Waldorf hotels are on a different point schedule entirely.

We’ll save you the math (that’s what we’re here for) and we’ll simply tell you if you’ll get a better or worse value than the industry standard 1 cent per point. If you want to check out the nitty-gritty of the calculations, and get some more information, check out our review of the Hilton HHonors points program. Also keep in mind that your points do expire after a year of inactivity, so make sure to stay active on your account..

Redemption Option Value of a point (cents) Good idea?
Hotel stay, Category 1 1.7 Great
Hotel stay, Category 3 0.4 Terrible
Hotel stay, Category 7 0.7 Mediocre
Car rental 0.3 Terrible
Hotel stay, Waldorf 0.6 Mediocre
Cruises 0.2 Bad
Entertainment parks 0.2 Bad
Points for airline miles* 0.1-0.2 Terrible

*Values derived from Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points.

If you want to cash in on your Hilton HHonors points, the best way is to use them for free nights at lower-grade hotels, or trade points for miles if and only if they have a deal going on. (For example, until July 15th of 2011, Hilton will let you trade 5,000 HHonors points for 500 JetBlue TrueBlue points, making the HHonors points worth ~1.04 cents each).

Elite status tiers:

Elite status is earned through stays, nights, or base points. You have through the calendar year to accumulate enough to earn a membership level, and once you’ve got it, you need to re-qualify every year. Here’s our breakdown of the elite levels, requirements, and a summary of benefits. Benefits are additive, meaning that you automatically get the benefits of a lower level.

Level Qualifications Benefits
Blue Sign up online Late check-out
Express check-out
Spouse stays free
Silver 4 stays
OR
10 nights
Free access to fitness centers and health clubs
Two bottles of water per stay
15% points bonus
5th night free
Gold 20 stays
OR
40 nights
OR
75,000 base points
25% points boost
Online check-in
Free high-speed internet
Executive Floor Lounge access (if you’re granted an upgrade to an EF room)
Hotel chain-specific benefits
Diamond 30 stays
OR
60 nights
OR
120,000 base points
50% points boost
48-hour room guarantee
Executive Floor Lounge access, regardless of room
Hotel chain-specific benefits

*The room upgrade benefit is limited to Hilton, Conrad, and DoubleTree hotels.

Read our take on what you need to know to best choose and use your Hilton credit card.

Hilton credit cards

Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Reserve Card

Citibank Hilton HHonors Reserve Credit Card
Apply Now

on Citibank's
secure website

The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card is arguably the best in the HHonors portfolio, and indisputably the best for frequent travelers. You earn a signup bonus of 2 weekend nights after spending $2,500 in the first four months, worth $650 if you redeem for a Category 7 hotel. Beyond that, you get automatic Gold status, 10 points per $1 (5%) spent at the Hilton, 5 per $1 (2.5%) on airfare and car rentals, and 3 per $1 (1.5%) elsewhere. There are also big-spender perks:

  • Diamond status ever year you spend $40,000 or more
  • An anniversary bonus of one weekend night free (worth $325 at a Category 7 hotel) every year you spend $10,000 or more

Finally, it has no foreign transaction fees, and is an EMV chip-and-signature card, which is useful when traveling abroad. If you’re a big spender or a big traveler, the Reserve is easily the best of the lot.

Amex Hilton HHonors Surpass

The Hilton HHonors Surpass is the other card in contention for the top spot, giving you 4.5% rewards at the Hilton, 3% on groceries, drugstores, gas and some utilities purchases, and 1.5% elsewhere (percentages based on a valuation of 2 HHonors Points to the penny). It offers a signup bonus of Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton HHonors portfolio after $2,500 in eligible purchases within 4 months of account opening* to sweeten the deal. But aside from the rewards rate, where it stands out is the perks: 2,500 points for each stay in your first 18 months, up to 8 stays; 500 points for booking online; airport lounge access and Gold Elite status for your first year. This makes it one of the most rewarding cards out there, and well worth the $75 annual fee. It’s better than the Reserve if you spend on groceries and gas, or if you don’t plan to put more than $10,000 on the card a year.

No-fee Hilton credit card from Amex

The other Hilton credit card from American Express is less impressive. Though it has no annual fee, you only get a 40,000 Hilton HHonors Points Bonus after spending $750 - when you spend $750 in the first 3 months-point signup bonus, 2,500 points up to just 4 stays, Silver status rather than Gold, and only 3% rewards when you spend on the Hilton.

The choice between the two Amex versions comes down to how you will use the card. If it’s not going to be your primary card, go with one of the no annual fee versions. If you’re going to spend a ton of money on the card, the rewards will more than make up for the annual fee if you go with the Surpass version.

No-fee Hilton Visa Signature

Citibank Hilton HHonors Credit Card
Apply Now

on Citibank's
secure website

The Citi Hilton HHonors card, earns less rewards than the Surpass, with 3% at the Hilton, 1.5% on groceries, drugstores and gas, and 1% elsewhere. You get 40,000 HHonors Bonus Points after $1,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening. bonus points, but where the AmEx cards give you the bonus after your first purchase, the Citi wants you to spend $1,000 in the first four months. Relative to the Surpass, you get Silver status rather than Gold, and it doesn’t have the nice 2,500 points per stay promotion.

In terms of the practicality of having a no annual fee Visa credit card, this is your best bet. Visa is easier to use outside of the United States, and you’ll never have to worry about paying an annual fee, so you can leave the card open forever without a recurring fee, which positively influences your credit score.

We want to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our users. Please help us keep our site clean and safe by following our posting guidelines, and avoid disclosing personal or sensitive information such as bank account or phone numbers. Any comments posted under NerdWallet's official account are not reviewed or endorsed by representatives of financial institutions affiliated with the reviewed products, unless explicitly stated otherwise.
  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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/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.

  • Hulabird22

    That happened to me, I emailed them and complained and they reinstated mine. You should give that a try.

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

    They are NOT crooks. Read your terms and conditions..Your points only expire if you do not have activity on the acct for a year or more. The card member is sent an e-mail at 6 months and 9 months warning them they haven’t had activity and there are suggestions on how to keep your acct active if you are not traveling,

  • Quarex

    You must understand, they used to be a lot more like the other companies–for five years, every time I was travelling cross-country, I would spend a few hours playing with routes in Google Maps and checking the Hilton Honors page until I found a route with mostly 12,500 (or lower)-points-per-night reservations. They changed the system in the last year to raise the price across the board, but also give you (some) more points per stay–but it looks like it has become virtually impossible to find anything under 25,000. Unless you fall for their new “half-price points plus $50!” scheme where you pay half in rewards points and half in cash–but do not get any rewards points for the stay. A nice tricky way to keep people from noticing they are functionally losing money.

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

    The card member needs to accept responsibility. Most times you will not get points back. If the guest ignores the warning e-mails, that on them. Where is the accountibility?

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

    You are incorrect. The member earns 10 points for every $ spent and depending on the tier they earn bonus points. Silver earns 15%bonus, gold earns 24% and diamond earns 50%.

  • Nancy

    I think you can purchase 1000 points minimum for $12.95 to save your points and keep your account active even if you don’t stay in a Hotel for that year.