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Hilton is one of the largest hotel chains in the world. With more than 6,800 properties worldwide, across 122 countries and territories, there is likely to be one of Hilton’s 18 brands in many of the destinations you are looking to travel to. Hilton’s loyalty program, Hilton Honors, offers its members the opportunity to collect and redeem points for stays across Hilton’s worldwide hotel portfolio.
Free night redemptions with Hilton start at just 5,000 points per night, but award prices can quickly escalate well north of 100,000 points per night at high-end and luxury properties. If you are planning on staying at upscale Hilton properties, you will need to amass a huge number of points. Thankfully, Hilton and its partners offer many ways to accumulate the points you need. Here are 11 ways to earn Hilton points.
How to earn Hilton points
1. Earn credit card welcome offers
Credit card welcome bonuses can be one of the easiest ways to quickly accumulate a large pile of miles and points. Hilton offers four co-branded credit cards in partnership with American Express. Here is the current rundown of welcome offers on Hilton Honors credit cards.
Hilton Honors personal cards
Hilton Honors American Express Card (annual fee: $0): Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (annual fee: $95): Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (annual fee: $450): Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card after you use your new Card to make $4,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
Hilton Honors business cards
The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card (annual fee: $95): Welcome Offer: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors Business Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
» Learn more: The best Hilton credit card strategy
If you do apply for a Hilton Honors credit card, be sure that you apply when the card offers a generous welcome bonus. American Express generally allows you to earn a welcome bonus on a card only if you have never held that card before. In some cases, American Express will restrict your ability to earn a welcome bonus if you have had a previous version of a card. If you apply for a card when it is offering a relatively low welcome bonus, you won’t have the opportunity to earn a welcome bonus on the card a second time.
You may be eligible to apply for a business card if you have a side business. Your side business generally does not need to be incorporated or very large to make you eligible for a business card.
» Learn more: The best hotel credit cards right now
2. Leverage category bonuses on credit cards
Many credit cards offer increased earnings for spending in bonus categories. If you already have a Hilton Honors credit card or plan to get one, it makes sense to use your card for purchases that earn bonus points on spend.
Each Hilton Honors credit card offers bonus categories targeted toward the type of spending that a typical user of that card might have.
The Hilton Honors American Express Card offers 5x on spending at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets while the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card earns 6x on the same categories.
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card grants 7x on U.S. restaurants and 7x on flights booked with airlines or AmEx Travel and car rentals from select companies.
The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card offers the widest selection of category bonuses. Small business owners who travel can take advantage of increased earnings:
6x on U.S. gas stations.
6x on U.S. restaurants.
6x on flights booked with airlines or AmEx Travel.
6x on car rentals purchased from select companies.
6x on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
All of the cards earn additional bonus points for spending at Hilton hotels and 3 points per dollar on all other eligible charges.
If you are weighing whether to put bonus category spending on your Hilton Honors credit card or another credit card that earns cash back or points, use NerdWallet’s miles and points valuations to help you figure out which card is most rewarding.
3. Transfer points from credit card partners
Many collectors of miles and points like to focus on programs that earn transferable points like American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards® and Citi ThankYou Points. These programs offer a myriad of ways to earn points and can be transferred to travel partners. If you collect American Express Membership rewards points, you have yet another avenue to accumulate more Hilton Honors points.
If you have a co-branded Hilton credit card, you're eligible to transfer your AmEx points to various travel partners — one of those being Hilton Honors. American Express Membership Rewards points can be transferred to Hilton points at a 1:2 ratio. Transfers can be done in 200-point increments and may take up to five working days to complete.
Often, point transfers from Membership Rewards to Hilton represent good value only if you are transferring a small amount of points to top off an award booking.
4. Pool Hilton points with friends and family
If you have a group of friends or family who have already accumulated Hilton Honors points, you can use Hilton Honors Points Pooling to combine your points and use them for a single redemption. Hilton Honors Points Pooling allows you to invite up to 10 other Hilton Honors members into a group to share, transfer and pool points.
Although you can transfer a large number of points using Hilton’s Pool Your Points feature and there are no transfer fees, the program does have some restrictions.
You must transfer points in 1,000-point increments.
You can send at most 500,000 points per calendar year.
You can receive no more than 2,000,000 points through Points Pooling or points transfers per calendar year.
You may only make six transfers to other members and only receive six transfers from other members in a calendar year.
Finally, if you plan to pool points, be aware that point booking only becomes available 30 days after enrollment if you have existing activity on your account. If you are a new Hilton Honors member with no activity on your account, you must wait 90 days before pooling points.
» Learn more: How to pool Hilton points to earn stays faster
5. Transfer points from another Hilton Honors member
If you have a friend with an excess of Hilton Honors points, you can ask them to transfer points to you without setting up Points Pooling. Simply have your friend head to the Hilton Honors point transfer site. Anyone can transfer their Hilton Honors points to you with just your name, Hilton Honors number and email address.
The same limits apply to transfers as pools. Points transfers must be in 1,000-point increments and you can send points up to six times, totaling 500,000 points, and you can receive up to six times, totaling 2,000,000 points per calendar year. These limits are combined limits across points pooling and points transfers.
6. Transfer points from Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic allows you to transfer points from Virgin Atlantic Flying Club to Hilton Honors points at a 2:3 ratio. For each 10,000 Virgin Points you transfer, you will receive 15,000 Hilton Honors points. If you have a small number of Virgin Atlantic points and find Hilton points more useful or need to top off your Hilton Honors account balance to redeem points for a specific award, this option might make sense.
Be forewarned, point transfers from Virgin Atlantic can take up to 30 days, per Virgin Atlantic’s terms and conditions.
7. Link your Hilton Honors and Lyft accounts
You can get free Hilton Honors bonus points through the trips you might already be taking with Lyft.
Simply link your Hilton Honors and Lyft accounts to earn 3 points per $1 spent on Lyft rides. Shared Lyft rides earn 2 points per $1 spent. Only Lyft rides within the United States and Canada are eligible to earn Hilton Honors bonus points.
» Learn more: All the ways riding Lyft can earn you travel rewards
8. Get Hilton points with Hilton Honors Dining
Hilton Honors Dining offers members bonus points when dining at selected restaurants. To find restaurants participating in the Hilton Honors Dining program, head to the Hilton Dining website to register and search for restaurants in your area.
Prior to dining with Hilton Dining, you must register at hiltonhonorsdining.com and link your credit or debit card to your account. When you pay with your linked card, bonus points for your dining experience will be automatically added to your Hilton Honors account.
The number of points you will receive for dining with Hilton Dining depends on your membership level with the Hilton Honors Dining program.
Basic members earn 2 Hilton Honors bonus points per $1 spent.
Select members earn 5 bonus points per $1 spent (if you opted to receive email communications from Hilton Honors Dining).
VIP members who have opted in to email communications and have already completed 11 qualified transactions in the calendar year receive 8 bonus points per $1 spent.
» Learn more: The best hotel promotions right now
9. Earn points for renting a car
Hilton offers up to 5,000 bonus points on qualifying car rentals when you rent with Alamo, Enterprise and National car rentals through the Hilton car rental portal. Qualifying car rentals of one day earn 1,000 total points, while rentals of nine or more days earn a maximum of 5,000 points.
To be eligible to earn points, the primary driver’s Hilton Honors number must be provided at the time of the rental and the name of the primary driver and the Hilton Honors member must match.
10. Buy Hilton points
Similar to many other hotel and airline programs, you can buy Hilton points. Better yet, Hilton frequently offers Hilton Honors members the opportunity to buy points at a discount. At the time of writing, I was able to receive a 100% point bonus on purchases of 5,000 or more points. To buy Hilton points, simply visit Hilton’s website and login to your account. You can purchase up to 80,000 Hilton Honors points per calendar year.
In most loyalty programs, purchasing points outright is one of the most expensive ways to earn points, but it can be a good option if you are looking for a small number of points to top off your account for a specific award redemption.
11. Stay at hotels
Finally, when you book and complete an eligible paid stay at a hotel or resort within the Hilton family of brands, you will earn points based on the amount of your room rate and other eligible room charges, including telephone calls and room service. How many points you earn depends both on the amount you spend and your elite status within the Hilton Honors program.
When you stay at Hilton hotels, you earn both base points and bonus points. While both types of points can be redeemed for hotel stays and other rewards, only base points count toward earning elite status with the hotel.
Points earned per dollar spent
10 (5 at Tru and Home2 hotels).
12 (6 at Tru and Home2 hotels).
18 (9 at Tru and Home2 hotels).
20 (10 at Tru and Home2 hotels).
Even if you don’t stay at Hilton hotels often, you can increase the amount of points you earn on your stays by holding one of the Hilton Honors credit cards.
In addition to earning rewards by paying for your stay with the card, all of the Hilton co-branded credit cards offer an automatic elite status benefit, which can help you boost your earnings across the Hilton portfolio of brands when you book a paid stay. Here are the status benefits granted by each of the Hilton Honors credit cards:
Hilton Honors American Express Card: Automatic Silver status.
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Automatic Gold status.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Automatic Diamond status.
The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card: Automatic Gold status.
» Learn more: Hilton elite status: What you need to know
Earning Hilton Honors points recapped
There are many ways to earn Hilton Honors points, including credit cards, staying with the hotel, point transfers and renting cars. Most people will earn the most Hilton Honors points through co-branded credit cards and staying at Hilton hotels. If you team up with a partner, friend or family member, Hilton offers you a way to amass a mountain of points together through Hilton’s pooling and point transfer options.
Finally, if you need just a few more points to book a specific award stay, a transfer from another program or a point purchase can make sense.
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 2022, 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