How to Navigate Hilton Honors Award Levels

Josh Garber
By Josh Garber 
Edited by Mary M. Flory

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Whether you’re sitting on a pile of Hilton Honors points or are just starting your journey to rack them up, you’re likely curious about what types of rooms and hotels you can book using your points. Since Hilton does not offer an award chart, we’re here to help you navigate Hilton’s different booking award levels.

How much are points worth?

Before you book a room on points, you should have a general idea of their cash value. NerdWallet values Hilton Honors points at 0.5 cent each, a metric we came to by comparing cash prices and reward redemptions for hotel stays across several destinations and dates.

Points needed for award stays

The minimum number of points needed for a Hilton stay varies depending on the hotel, the type of room and the time of year you're staying. Unlike some other large hotel chains, Hilton does not have published hotel categories (some hotels assign a blanket points value to a hotel and the price to book on points will be the same, agnostic of when you stay). With Hilton, if you want to find out the minimum number of points that are required to book a specific hotel, you will need to use Hilton’s Points Explorer tool.

The amount of points needed to book a “Standard Room” (we'll discuss this more below) ranges from 5,000 to 120,000 Hilton Honors points per night. Notably, all of the hotels that cost only 5,000 points per night are outside of the U.S. To book an award stay in the U.S., you’ll need at least 10,000 points for a Standard Room redemption. For Standard Room redemptions, Hilton also sets a maximum number of points you'd pay for each room. Currently, the most expensive standard room will set you back 150,000 per night: that's the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi. The other pricey hotel is the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal, which will set you back 120,000 points. All other Hilton Hotels start at 95,000 points or less (and don't worry, most are a lot less).

And as long as a room is available, you can book it — as Hilton reward stays are not subject to blackout dates or capacity controls. That said, reward stays do depend upon availability and may not be available on the date you want.

Standard vs. Premium room reward rates

Standard Rooms: The least expensive category of rooms to book using Hilton Honors points is Standard Room Rewards. Hilton sets a cap on the price of Standard room redemptions, which you can find for each hotel using the Points Explorer tool.

Premium Rooms: Hilton classifies everything that is not a Standard Room Reward as a Premium Room Reward. The hotel chain does not place a price cap on this room type.

Let’s look at the Hilton Times Square as an example:

As you can see, moving from a Standard to a Premium Reward will cost more than double the points at the Hilton Times Square.

The type of room that qualifies for a Standard Room Reward changes depending on the hotel. A favorite Standard room in the Hilton ecosystem is at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, which counts the overwater Water Villa as one of the hotel’s Standard rooms.

Variable award pricing

Regardless of whether the room is Standard or Premium or has a capped award rate, award bookings with Hilton work on variable pricing — which means the same room doesn’t always cost the same number of points.

For example, most standard rooms at the Hilton Tokyo in April 2022 will run you 70,000 Hilton Honors points per night. However, if we wanted to stay in the exact same room at the same hotel during the winter — say, January 2021 — it would set you back ust 57,000 Hilton Honors points per night.

While other hotel chains, including Marriott, publish a list of peak and off-peak seasons for reward bookings so you know when you’ll end up paying more, Hilton does not. As a result, Hilton Honors members with flexibility looking to book award stays should look at a number of dates before pulling the trigger in order to optimize point value.

Booking hotel stays with points and money

If you don't have enough points to cover a stay, you can typically pay with a combination of points and money. This is a good way to burn an unused points balance you don't want sitting around, but it typically won't be the best redemption of all time. When you book a room through points and cash combined, you'll still be on the hook for charges like resort fees (otherwise waived when you book exclusively on points), and your point value generally won't be as good. Hotel stays booked through a combo of points and cash also do not have blackout dates.

The bottom line

Although not having an award chart or hotel categories can make the pricing for Hilton Honors award bookings more unpredictable, with enough legwork, there are still some great Hilton redemptions to be found. Bookmark Hilton's Points Explorer tool, keep an eye on variable pricing and make sure you’re factoring in the difference between Standard and Premium award bookings.

Photo courtesy of Hilton Hotels (© 2020 Hilton).

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