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Hilton Honors points get a bad rap thanks to their deflated value. We currently value them at 0.4 cent per point.
Yet the real value of rewards points isn’t about how much they’re worth but a combination of how much they’re worth and how many you have. Hilton hands out plenty of points through hotel stays, credit card welcome bonuses and other promotions. So even if the points aren’t worth much, it’s relatively easy to amass a horde of them.
In this article we detail all the (useful) ways to earn Hilton points, starting with hotel stays.
Nerd note: The “points” we’re talking about in this article refer to redeemable points, which are the kind that can be used to book award nights. These are not elite-qualifying points. Read our guide to Hilton elite status for more details.
Members receive 10 points per dollar spent on hotel bookings in the Hilton portfolio. This includes room charges such as food and drink but does not include any taxes. So if a room costs $100 + $40 in taxes, you’ll earn 1,000 Hilton points.
However, there are some important exceptions:
Rooms booked through a travel agent (including sites like Hotels.com and Booking.com) do not earn points.
Neither do group discounted rates or award bookings.
Nights at Home2 Suites and Tru properties earn only 5 points per dollar.
Elite status bonus points
Hilton elite members receive extra points on top of those described above. Here’s how it shakes out:
Silver members: 20% bonus (12 points per dollar spent, total).
Gold members: 80% bonus (18 points per dollar spent, total).
Diamond members: 100% bonus (20 points per dollar spent, total).
Hilton’s co-branded credit cards offer four ways to earn points:
Spending at Hilton properties.
Spending at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations.
In general, #1 is the fastest way to earn a bunch of points, as you can see in the table below. Some of Hilton’s welcome bonuses get pretty eye-popping, but keep in mind the relatively low 0.4 cent-per-point value.
All Hilton cards also offer complimentary elite status to cardholders, effectively increasing the point-per-dollar return. See the last row below for a total return on spend, which includes base points, elite status bonuses and credit card bonuses.
Buy points directly
Like most travel rewards programs, you can buy Hilton points with cash. Hilton doesn’t publish the cost of purchasing points publicly, so you can only see them by logging into your account.
When we checked, Hilton was running a promotion for double points, meaning we could purchase 20,000 points for $100, or 0.5 cent per point.
That’s a pretty good deal, given our 0.4 cent per point valuation. Generally we discourage purchasing points directly because the cost outweighs the benefit, but if you have a specific redemption in mind (and receive a promotion like this one), go for it.
Pool and transfer
Taking a trip with a friend or family member who also has Hilton points? Hilton lets you pool or transfer your points together for free, which is a great benefit that more reward programs should copy.
Pooling points lets you create a group of up to 10 people who can each transfer their own points to the pool. Frankly, this is more complicated than it should be.
Transferring points lets you simply move your points from one account to another. For most situations, including booking a group trip, this is likely the simpler solution.
The option above lets you transfer between friends and family, but you can also convert points and miles from other programs into Hilton points. Hilton calls this “exchanging” on their website to avoid confusion.
Here are the programs you can transfer to Hilton Honors, and their transfer ratios (a 1:2 ratio means 1,000 points becomes 2,000 Hilton points).
American Express Membership Rewards (1:2).
Diner’s Club (1.25:2).
Amtrak Guest (1:2).
Hawaiian Airlines (2:3).
Virgin Atlantic Airways (2:3).
In general, the juice ain’t worth the squeeze on these points transfers (you can get better value elsewhere). That said, if you need a few more Hilton points for a redemption, consider dipping into these other reward points.
Other bonus points
Dining. You can earn bonus points by signing up for and using Hilton’s dining program. You’ll get 1,000 points the first time you use it, and a variable number of points per dollar spent after attaching a credit card to your Hilton Dining account. In general, this is a good way to double-dip on credit card points, but it’s not necessarily worth going out of your way for.
Events. If you’re a professional planner or organizing your own wedding at a Hilton property, don’t miss the extra point per dollar spent on events. You’ll have to reach out to Hilton directly to get the points, and not all hotels are eligible, so this only makes sense for truly dedicated points collectors or full-time planners.
Car rentals. Hilton partners with Alamo, National and Enterprise for car rentals. The number of bonus points varies by partner and the cost of the rental, but it might be worth attaching your Hilton account to your next road trip.
Lyft. You can get 3x Hilton points per dollar spent on regular Lyft rides and 2x points on Lyft shared rides when you connect your Honors account.
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.
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 2020, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card