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When it comes to using Hilton Honors points, there's bad news and there's good news.
For the bad news: Hilton Honors points aren’t the most valuable in the travel rewards world. In fact, NerdWallet currently values them at just 0.5 cent each.
But now for the good news: Hilton doles them out like candy, leaving frequent guests and credit card holders with plenty of points to use.
If you've got a pile of points but those points aren't particularly valuable on their own, you'll want to spend them wisely. You can redeem Hilton points for hotel rooms, which is generally your best bet. You can also use Hilton points in other ways, such as transferring to airline partners, booking unique “experiences,” paying for Amazon purchases and even renting cars. Just know that those other Hilton Honors points redemptions are generally not worth the time (and points).
» Learn more: Hilton Honors: What you need to know
Here's NerdWallet's guide to using Hilton Honors points, and how to get the maximum value from them.
How to book hotel stays using Hilton Honors points
Hilton Honors points can be redeemed at any of Hilton’s 7,200+ hotels and resorts. This is the most common — and usually most valuable — way to use the points.
To search for award availability, select the “Use Points” box on the Hilton search tool (you must be logged in):
Confusingly, these prices often switch to dollar amounts when clicking through to the room selection screen, though the point amounts are also displayed (much smaller) above the cash rate, as show in the screenshot below:
Hilton allows award bookings for a variety room types, including suites. That's relatively unusual for a hotel rewards program — albeit delightfully so — as it provides far greater flexibility for special getaways or larger groups. Of course, more expensive rooms cost more points.
How to maximize Hilton Honors redemptions at hotels
Hilton does not use an award chart for its properties, meaning the number of points needed to book a given room dynamically changes based on supply and demand. That makes it difficult to pin down “Hilton sweet spots” as is possible in other hotel loyalty programs — but it doesn't mean you can't find a stellar redemption. The challenge, though, is that finding them generally requires you manually search for them.
To ease this burden (somewhat), Hilton has a dedicated Points Explorer tool that lets you filter results by the number of points you actually have.
Once you’ve found a booking and want to know if it’s a good use of points, use NerdWallet's Hilton points calculator below to compare if you're getting a better deal when paying with cash versus points:
How does NerdWallet calculate whether it's better to book with cash versus Hilton Honors points? Since we've determined the baseline Hilton point value is 0.5 cent, simply divide the total cash price (including extra fees like resort fees). If the value is higher than our baseline, it's a maximized redemption. If it's lower, you might save your points for a better redemption in the future and pay with cash.
Hilton Honors elite members get a fifth consecutive night free on all standard room award bookings. In other words, if you are a Hilton Silver member or higher and book five consecutive nights with points, you’ll only pay for four nights. This can make the difference between an average redemption and a great one.
Elite status holders should book five nights to improve their odds of getting a high Hilton Honors points value.
» Learn more: The guide to booking award nights with Hilton Honors
Consider using Hilton’s Points + Money option if you don't have enough points
If you don’t have enough Hilton points in your account to complete a booking, you can use the “Points + Money” feature to, well, pay with a combination of cash and points.
Many hotel rewards programs offer something similar, but what makes Hilton’s feature unique is the “slider” that lets you select any 1,000-point increment to offset the cash price of the room.
To determine whether using more points is “worth it,” pay attention to the amount of cash offset by each 1,000-point increment. If it’s more than 0.5 cents per point, then using points is a good value.
You have to have at least 5,000 points in your Hilton account to use this option, so it won’t work for clearing the few remaining points rattling around in your account.
Redeem Hilton points for Amazon purchases (maybe)
If you’re truly not going to use your Hilton points for hotel stays, using them for Amazon purchases offers an okay alternative. The redemption value is pretty paltry, but at least the redemption process itself is easy.
With Amazon’s Shop with Points feature, customers can use rewards points from many different programs (including Hilton Honors) to pay for purchases. To get started, log into your Amazon account through Amazon's website, and then link your Hilton Honors account to your Amazon account.
Amazon's redemption rate is just 500 Hilton points per $1, which means a value of just 0.2 cent for each Hilton point. Since NerdWallet values Hilton points at 0.5 cent each, your points lose over half their value — but that's not the worst thing in the world. Sure, you’ll get more bang for your buck when booking hotel stays using Hilton points. But if you don’t have any travel plans involving Hilton (and those points would otherwise collect virtual dust), then redeeming then for something on Amazon is better than redeeming them for nothing.
Donate Hilton points
If you have spare points, no Hilton hotel redemption in mind and you don't want to bother with their low Amazon value, consider donating your Hilton points.
Hilton partners with PointWorthy to manage these transactions. Much like Amazon, the value of these transfers often isn’t the highest compared with other redemption options, but they at least put your points to work — and you'll likely feel good doing it.
Hilton point redemptions to skip
Those aren't the only ways to redeem Hilton points. Hilton Honors delightfully offers many more ways to redeem points. The problem? Most of the other options offer either a terrible redemption value, are a logistical hassle to actually execute the transaction, or both.
NerdWallet generally does not recommend the following redemptions (though they are an option):
Host events and meetings
Hilton lets you convert points into “event vouchers,” which can be used for planning meetings and events like weddings or conferences. However, points transfer at a measly 25,000-points-to-$50 ratio, or 0.2 cent per point, well below our valuation.
Most people would be better off using their points to book their honeymoon, not their wedding venue.
Book a rental car with Hilton points
You can use Hilton points to book cars from Alamo, Enterprise and National using a search function on the Hilton Honors site.
Hilton does not publish a set value for using points this way (that we could find), though NerdWallet's researched found a 0.21 cent per point value. Again, this is poor value for Hilton points. Plus, booking a car on the clunky tool is kind of a pain compared with using a normal car rental search engine. We’d recommend steering clear.
» Learn more: What is the cheapest rental car company?
Use Hilton points to pay for Lyft
Hilton partners with Lyft to both earn and redeem Hilton points when pairing your accounts. To use your Hilton points for ride sharing, you can redeem your points for Lyft credits at a rate of 0.22 cent per Hilton point, which is not a great value.
That said, we don't hate the partnership completely as taking Lyft rides can make for an excellent way to earn Hilton points. You earn 3 Hilton points per $1 spent on Lyft rides (economy, luxury and extra seats). To take advantage, you’ll first need to link your accounts by logging into both Lyft and Hilton.
» Learn more: All the ways riding Lyft can earn you travel rewards
Redeem Hilton points for flights
Hilton points transfer to the frequent flyer programs of numerous airlines upon which they convert to miles. However, the process is a little cumbersome. First, you’ll need to log into your account, then navigate over to “Preferences.” In the “preferred travel partners” section, you will need to select an airline from the list and add your member number.
Airlines available for exchanging your Hilton points include: Aeromexico, Aeroplan, AirAsia BIG, ANA All Nippon, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, China Eastern, Delta Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad Airways, EVA Air, Flying Blue (Air France/KLM), Hainan Airlines, JAL Japan Airlines, Jet Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas Airways, Qatar Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Skywards (Emirates), Turkish Airlines, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia.
» Learn more: The guide to Hilton transfer partners
Once you’ve added your airline head over to the “Exchange your Points” page, select your travel partner and from the drop down, choose the quantity of points you’re looking to exchange.
Once again, though this tends to be a pretty bad redemption. Take the United Airlines example above, which shows how you can exchange a minimum of 10,000 Hilton points and you’ll get 1,000 United miles. Since Hilton points are worth 0.5 cent each, 10,000 Hilton points is equivalent to about $50. Meanwhile, United miles are worth 1.2 cents each, meaning that 1,000 United miles are worth $12.
Similarly, 10,000 Hilton points convert to 1,500 AAdvantage miles, which is one of the better exchange ratios — that that's still not even close to worth it. American miles are worth about 1.7 cents each, while Hilton’s are worth 0.5 cent each, so the ratio would have to be more like 2-to-1 or 3-to-1 to make this a decent option.
From a purely mathematical standpoint, these make for a bad use of your Hilton points. However, if you really don’t have any other use for them (and you desperately need a few more airline miles), then this option may be worth considering.
» Learn more: Which is the best Hilton credit card offer?
Use Hilton points for Ticketmaster purchases
You can also redeem your Hilton points to purchase tickets to concerts, sports games and other events on Ticketmaster and LiveNation. To do so, log into your Ticketmaster account and attach your Hilton account to your profile.
Your 500 Hilton points are worth $1 on Ticketmaster, yielding a terrible value of 0.2 cent per point.
Final thoughts on redeeming Hilton points
Hilton offers members many ways to redeem points, but only a few offer reasonable value. When in doubt, use your points to book hotel rooms. Use the calculator above or run the numbers yourself to find that higher-than-average value redemption.
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
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