Hilton Honors vs. Marriott Bonvoy: Which Loyalty Program Is Best?
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Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy are two very strong and popular programs. They span the globe in their portfolios of hotels with brands that serve various travel needs from family-friendly to high-end business travel. But comparing Hilton Honors versus Marriott Bonvoy is not always apples to apples.
Both programs have pros and cons that deserve exploring. Take a look at what sets them apart to help you decide which one is right for you.
How the programs differ
When it comes to Marriott Bonvoy versus Hilton Honors, both programs have announced moves to a dynamic pricing award model. Marriott Bonvoy is switching in March of this year, bidding one final adieu to the brand’s familiar award charts. This means determining how many points you’ll need for Hilton versus Marriott rewards just got a bit more complex. Here's how you earn and redeem points with Hilton Honors versus Marriott Bonvoy.
Members in either program earn points on the base room rate plus eligible room charges. The higher your elite status level within each program, the more points you can earn. Both programs do require that you reserve your room directly through a hotel reservations channel rather than a third-party booking website (like Orbitz or Expedia) to ensure you earn points for your stay.
Hilton Honors: For every eligible dollar spent, members earn 10x points. This earning rate is available at all Hilton brands with the exception of Home2 Suites by Hilton and Tru by Hilton, where members earn 5x points per eligible dollar. At Hampton Inn or Homewood Suites by Hilton, only the room rate qualifies for points earning.
Marriott Bonvoy: For every eligible dollar spent, members earn 10x points. This earning rate is available at all Marriott brands with the exception of Element, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites and Homes & Villas by Marriott International, where members earn 5x points per eligible dollar.
Now for the fun stuff. You’ve worked hard to accrue lots of points, and it’s time to redeem them on a hotel stay. Without award charts, it's harder to plan in advance for how many points you need. Both programs participate in dynamic pricing, which sets the points redemption rate based on a variety of factors including the local demand and time of year.
Hilton Honors: This program uses dynamic pricing to determine how many points you need per night. Instead of grouping its hotels into categories with set redemption rates like other programs, the number of points you need will change by date and room type. At some hotels with less demand, you might spend 10,000 points, whereas at a popular island resort during spring break, you can spend upwards of 100,000.
Marriott Bonvoy: Through March 2022, this program will continue to group its hotels into categories with off-peak, standard and peak pricing. That means you can redeem points for a hotel night spending anywhere from 4,000 (off-peak, Category 1 hotel) to 100,000 points per night (peak, Category 8 hotel). By spring, however, the move to dynamic pricing could have the redemption rate all over the map.
» Learn more: The best hotel credit cards right now
A closer look
Each program delivers substantial value to frequent guests. The key is finding the hotels that fit your budget and lifestyle while staying loyal to them so you can take advantage of the program benefits. Here are more details on what each program offers.
With more than 6,500 hotels, there are lots of Hilton Honors-participating properties around the world (119 countries, to be exact). It has 18 brands covering everything from the budget to luxury sectors. Hilton Honors points can multiply quickly with frequent stays, especially with Hilton’s elite status that can come with benefits like space-available upgrades and food and beverage credits. NerdWallet values Hilton Honors points at 0.6 cent apiece.
» Learn more: Hilton Honors: The complete guide
In 131 countries and territories, Marriott’s 30 brands count more than 7,000 hotels within its global portfolio. These include design-focused boutique hotels and meeting and convention behemoths. Its elite status program can deliver special benefits like space-available upgrades and club lounge access. NerdWallet values Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.7 cent apiece.
» Learn more: Marriott Bonvoy: The complete guide
Elite status perks
Best elite status offerings: Marriott Bonvoy
Hotel elite status can come with some money-saving and experience-boosting benefits including room upgrades, late checkout and breakfast. Not all programs are created equally. Marriott’s larger portfolio makes it easy to earn and benefit from its elite status program, which comes with slightly more valuable points, according to NerdWallet’s calculations.
Marriott Bonvoy's elite status offerings
The sheer number of hotels within the Marriott portfolio makes this a clear winner. Elite status with Marriott Bonvoy can pile on the perks with things like room upgrades, access to club lounges and breakfast benefits. Marriott’s top elite status levels are not available via a credit card, so the program tends to be more generous with its perks since you have to remain especially loyal to its hotels to achieve it.
Hilton Honors elite status offerings
Within the program are some notable brand names like Conrad and Waldorf Astoria, among others. Scoring an upgrade at one of these properties can be especially luxurious. Plus, the path to Hilton Honors Diamond status is simple because of instant status with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. Terms apply. If it’s a fast-track to breakfast credits, room upgrades and premium Wi-Fi via Diamond status, Hilton Honors makes it easy.
» Learn more: Travel loyalty program reviews
Family travel considerations
Best rewards program for family travel: Hilton Honors
Let’s face it, redeeming your points for a family vacation can please everyone in the house. Whether you earn points from credit card spending or an on-the-go, road-warrior life, the ability to save money and reach bucket-list experiences more affordably is a perk of loyalty programs.
Hilton Honors makes it easier for families since it offers points pooling as well as value-focused brands for kids, earning it the top spot for families in our metrics.
Hilton Honors perks for families
With this program, you won’t have to rely on just one person to accrue enough points for a hotel redemption. Thanks to free family pooling, you can combine points from as many as 10 other member accounts to achieve enough points for a redemption. There is no charge to pool points. Hilton Honors also has some popular brands for families like Embassy Suites, which includes free cooked-to-order breakfast for everyone.
All of its rooms are suites with sofa beds in the living room and small kitchenettes. An evening reception with free drinks and snacks can be especially pleasing to parents.
Marriott Bonvoy perks for families
Marriott allows members to transfer points without charge, too, but only from one account to another, which makes it a bit more restrictive. Families will find some of Marriott’s brands have especially convenient perks like a partnership with Weber Grills at TownePlace Suites for impromptu barbecues, and the spacious accommodations at Residence Inn, which have kitchen and living room facilities.
Business travel considerations
Best rewards program for business travel: Marriott Bonvoy
Both loyalty programs place a bull's-eye on attractive corporate business with brands that cater to everything from solo travelers to conferences and events. Marriott Bonvoy wins out only for the number of global hotels and brands that can serve more budgets and interests.
Marriott Bonvoy for business travelers
With so many hotels and brands within its portfolio, Marriott Bonvoy wins higher marks. Among its many Marriott Bonvoy brands are Gaylord, which caters to large-scale group events, and Homes & Villas by Marriott International, which is a home-sharing and rental platform similar to Airbnb. There are also Residence Inn by Marriott (offering free breakfast and suite accommodations with kitchens) and TownePlace Suites by Marriott (also with free breakfast).
Hilton Honors for business travelers
This program is highly respected in the meetings and conventions industry, and Hilton is making a concerted effort to double down on the business with its new brand focused on the events trade, Signia by Hilton. Other popular brands include Hilton, DoubleTree and Hampton Inn, all serving different business traveler price points.
Hotel credit card availability
Winner for best hotel credit card: Hilton Honors
It’s a nice feeling to check your points balance and see it growing regularly. Thanks to a variety of credit cards between these two loyalty brands, there are plenty of points on the horizon rewarding you for everyday spending. Hilton Honors wins the prize thanks to its ability to award the highest elite status after credit card approval.
Hilton Honors credit cards
Hilton Honors co-branded credit cards are popular with travelers, but hold a special honor when it comes to elite status. This is one of the few hotel credit cards to offer such a speedy path to top-notch elite status: Diamond, just for getting approved for its Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. With a $450 annual fee, this can make more sense than staying enough times in Hilton Honors hotels to earn it the hard way. Diamond benefits include potential room upgrades, breakfast credits and executive lounge access. Other Hilton Honors-earning credit cards include:
The Hilton Honors American Express Card ($0 annual fee).
The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (formerly the Ascend card and now with an annual fee of $95).
The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card (annual fee of $95).
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (annual fee of $450).
Marriott Bonvoy credit cards
While you won’t climb to the top of the elite status ranks via a Marriott Bonvoy credit card, there are still some benefits worth exploring, including a free anniversary redemption night. These are some of Marriott’s co-branded credit cards:
The Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card ($0 annual fee).
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card ($95 annual fee).
The Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card ($250 annual fee).
The Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful™ Card ($250 annual fee).
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card ($650 annual fee). Terms apply.
If you’re choosing between Hilton Honors vs. Marriott Bonvoy
In the competition between Hilton Honors versus Marriott Bonvoy, there is no clear winner. Both are sizable programs with brands for every budget and lifestyle. In the case of Marriott Bonvoy, you can even earn and redeem at vacation rental properties, which for many people tips the scale in its favor thanks to its plethora of brands.
Since both programs are free to join, it’s a no-brainer to participate. If you travel frequently enough to earn elite status (or benefit from a credit card that gives it to you for free), these loyalty programs can save you money and reward you with fruitful perks.
To view rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Card, see this page. To view rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, see this page. All information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is no longer available through NerdWallet. To view rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, see this page. To view rates and fees of The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, see this page.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card