Marriott vs. Hilton: Who Deserves Your Loyalty?

Marriott vs. Hilton is a showdown of epic hotel brand proportions. Let’s see which one comes out on top.
Last updated Aug 16, 2021 | By Ben Walker | Edited By Becca Borawski Jenkins
Marriott vs. Hilton: Who Deserves Your Loyalty?

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It’s important to consider your options when deciding which hotel loyalty program you should focus on. Not because you can’t join multiple (hint: you can), but because this could help determine what kind of hotel experience you have on your travels.

For example, focusing on one loyalty program instead of multiple could help you more quickly achieve elite status, which might unlock valuable benefits at that company’s hotels.

But if you decide to pick just one, which loyalty program should you go with — Marriott Bonvoy or Hilton Honors?

In this Marriott vs. Hilton matchup, we cover how these two mega hotel chains stack up against each other so you can see which loyalty program might make more sense for you. Let’s get started.

In this article

Number and type of properties: Marriott

Every traveler has different preferences, which means the type of properties a hotel chain offers can make a big difference in your travels. If you’re a luxury traveler, but a company focuses on more budget-friendly options, you may not want to focus on that hotel’s loyalty program.

In addition, the overall number of properties a hotel has can play a part in whether you favor one loyalty program over another. If you travel the world, you want hotel options everywhere you go. Generally, the more available properties, the better your potential selection.

Marriott has more than 7,000 properties across 131 countries. This includes 30 different hotel brands to choose from. Here are the Marriott brands, separated into Marriott’s different categories:

Luxury Marriott hotels:

  • Bulgari
  • EDITION
  • JW Marriott
  • St. Regis
  • The Luxury Collection
  • The Ritz-Carlton
  • W Hotels

Premium Marriott hotels:

  • Autograph Collection Hotels
  • Delta Hotels
  • Design Hotels
  • Gaylord Hotels
  • Le Meridien
  • Marriott
  • Marriott Vacation Club
  • Renaissance Hotels
  • Sheraton Hotels and Resorts
  • Tribute Portfolio
  • Westin

Select Marriott hotels:

  • AC Hotels
  • Aloft Hotels
  • Courtyard by Marriott
  • Fairfield by Marriott
  • Four Points by Sheraton
  • Moxy Hotels
  • Protea Hotels by Marriott
  • SpringHill Suites by Marriott

Longer stay Marriott hotels:

  • Element by Westin
  • Marriott Executive Apartments
  • Residence Inn by Marriott
  • TownePlace Suites

Hilton has over 6,500 properties spread across 119 countries and 18 different hotel brands.

Hilton brands include:

  • Conrad Hotels & Resorts
  • Canopy by Hilton
  • Curio Collection by Hilton
  • DoubleTree by Hilton
  • Embassy Suites by Hilton
  • Hampton Inn by Hilton
  • Hilton Hotels
  • Hilton Garden Inn
  • Hilton Grand Vacations
  • Home2 Suites by Hilton
  • Homewood Suites by Hilton
  • LXR Hotels & Resorts
  • Motto by Hilton
  • Signia by Hilton
  • Tapestry Collection by Hilton
  • Tempo by Hilton
  • Tru by Hilton
  • Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts

If you look over the lists of hotel brands from each company, you’re sure to recognize quite a few names, especially among the luxury brands. Well-known brands for Hilton include Conrad and Waldorf Astoria, and Marriott has The Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, and St. Regis.

Here are a few examples of popular properties among these luxury brands:

Both companies have more budget-friendly options as well. You’re likely to find a Courtyard by Marriott or Hampton Inn by Hilton when you need one. If you’re a budget traveler, you can’t go wrong with either Hilton or Marriott. But for luxury travel, Marriott has a bigger selection of properties.

Overall, Marriott edges out Hilton on both number and variety of properties. You have a lot to choose from with both hotel chains, but Marriott shines with its 30 hotel brands compared with Hilton’s 18. This gives you a wider selection to choose from if you like a mix of budget, mid-scale, and luxury properties.

Winner: Marriott

Earning points: Tie

Loyalty programs and rewards are often connected because you likely want to join a program so you can earn points or miles. With Marriott and Hilton, this would typically mean earning points for your hotel stays. But that’s not the only way to earn points with either the Marriott Bonvoy or Hilton Honors loyalty programs.

Marriott Bonvoy offers these ways to earn points:

  • Hotel stays
  • Credit card bonuses and spending
  • Car rentals with Hertz
  • Flights
  • Cruises
  • Dining
  • Events
  • Transfer partners, including Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Purchasing points
  • Partnerships and promotions

Hilton Honors offers these ways to earn points:

  • Hotel stays
  • Credit card bonuses and spending
  • Car rentals with Alamo, Enterprise, and National
  • Cruises
  • Dining
  • Events
  • Transfer partners, including Amex Membership Rewards, Hawaiian Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and Amtrak
  • Purchasing points
  • Partnerships and promotions

Even though both programs offer a variety of ways to earn points, your top points-earners are likely to be hotel stays and credit cards, especially when you combine the two. Both Hilton and Marriott offer co-branded cards with companies like Chase and American Express. Using these cards on hotel stays could help you earn loads of points with either loyalty program.

Marriott partners with both Chase and Amex for transfer partners, whereas Hilton partners only with Amex. This means your Chase Ultimate Rewards can be transferred to the Marriott Bonvoy program, and Amex Membership Rewards can be transferred to either Marriott Bonvoy or Hilton Honors.

But for overall earning options, there isn’t much difference between the two programs. They each have their own unique partnerships, such as Marriott partnering with Uber so you can earn Marriott Bonvoy points on Uber rides and UberEats orders. With Hilton, it’s a similar partnership, but with Lyft instead of Uber.

The better program for earning points likely comes down to your preferences. If you prefer Uber over Lyft, Marriott might be the better choice. But if you don’t use rideshare services, it’s a moot point. The same goes for the rental car services associated with each program. You can earn Hilton points with Alamo, Enterprise, and National. Marriott offers earning opportunities with Hertz.

Winner: Tie

Redeeming points: Marriott

Earning points is nice, but how you can actually redeem those points is where you typically find the value in a loyalty program.

Marriott Bonvoy offers these ways to redeem points:

  • Book a hotel stay
  • Book a car rental through the Air and Car portal
  • Book a flight through the Air and Car portal
  • Book an experience
  • Shop with points online
  • Purchase gift cards
  • Donate points
  • Gift points
  • Transfer points to partners

Hilton Honors offers these ways to redeem points:

  • Book a hotel stay
  • Book a car rental with Alamo, National, or Enterprise
  • Book an experience
  • Pay for Lyft rides
  • Shop with points on Amazon or the Hilton online shopping portal
  • Donate points
  • Gift points
  • Transfer points to partners

The points redemption options are similar between Marriott and Hilton, which isn’t surprising. If you’re earning hotel rewards, you’re likely going to end up using them for hotel stays because that’s often where you’ll find the most value for your points. In addition, it’s always nice to get free award nights, especially if you’ve saved up enough for a stay at a luxury property.

Both Marriott and Hilton award nights typically start at 5,000 points per night. Though, certain Marriott nights could start at 4,000 points per night through PointSaver deals.

However, Marriott Bonvoy points and Hilton Honors points don’t have the same value. Marriott points are typically valued around 0.8 cents per point, whereas Hilton points are often valued around 0.6 cents per point. This means you’re likely to get more out of your points with Marriott compared with Hilton.

In addition, Marriott’s redemption options are slightly more robust than Hilton’s. Marriott’s Air and Car portal makes it easy to use your points on car rentals and flights. Hilton has a car rental booking system, but you don’t also have the option to book flights using points.

Winner: Marriott

Credit cards: Hilton

Getting a specific hotel credit card doesn’t mean you’re tied to that loyalty program for life. You can still have multiple credit cards associated with different programs. But if you want to focus on one hotel program, you might also want the best hotel credit card to help you earn and redeem points, as well as get helpful benefits.

Marriott provides four co-branded credit cards in association with both Chase and American Express. There are three personal cards and one business card.

Card name Welcome bonus Rewards rate Perks Annual fee
Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months 14X Bonvoy points at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy (when coupled with your complimentary Marriott Bonvoy membership and Silver Elite status); 2X Bonvoy points on eligible travel purchases; and 1X points per $1 on everything else
  • 15 annual Elite Night Credits
$0
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card Earn 3 free nights (valued at up to 50,000 points per night) after qualifying purchases (plus, earn 10X points on eligible purchases in select categories in the first 6 months or until you reach $2,500 in purchases) 17X points at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy (when coupled with your complimentary Marriott Bonvoy membership and Silver Elite status) and 2X points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases
  • 15 annual Elite Night Credits
  • Silver Elite status
  • Free annual night
$95
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card Earn 75,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months (plus, earn up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months) 6X points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, 3X points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2X points on all other eligible purchases
  • $300 annual credit
  • Free annual night
  • 15 annual Elite Night Credits
  • Gold Elite status
  • Priority Pass Select
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit (Select benefits require enrollment)
$450 (See rates and fees) Terms apply.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, and earn up to $150 in statement credits on eligible purchases made within the first 3 months 6X points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels; 4X points on U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, U.S. purchases on shipping, and wireless telephone services purchased from U.S. providers; and 2X points on all other eligible purchases
  • 15 annual Elite Night credits
  • Free annual night
  • Second free night after $60,000 in spend
  • Silver Elite status
$125 (See rates and fees) Terms apply.

Hilton also provides four co-branded credit cards with American Express. You get options for three personal cards and one business card.

Card name Welcome bonus Rewards rate Perks Annual fee
Hilton Honors American Express Card Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months (plus, earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $5,000 in the first 6 months) 7X points at participating hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio; 5X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 3X points on all other eligible purchases
  • Silver status
$0 (See rates and fees) Terms apply.
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months 12X points when spending directly with an eligible Hilton hotel or resort; 6X points on purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 3X points on all other eligible purchases
  • Gold status
  • Free annual weekend night after $15,000 in spend
  • 10 annual visits with Priority Pass Select (Select benefits require enrollment)
$95 (waived first year) (See rates and fees) Terms apply.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months 14X points on eligible purchases within the Hilton portfolio, 7X points on qualifying travel purchases made directly with airlines/select car rental companies or Amextravel.com, 7X points at U.S. restaurants, and 3X points on all other purchases
  • Diamond status
  • Free annual weekend night
  • Second free annual weekend night after $60,000 in spend
  • $250 Hilton Resort credit
  • $250 airline fee credit
  • Priority Pass Select (Select benefits require enrollment)
$450 (See rates and fees) Terms apply.
Hilton Honors American Express Business Card Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months (plus, earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $10,000 in the first 6 months) 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on eligible purchases made directly with Hilton, 6X on select business and travel purchases, and 3X on all other eligible purchases
  • Gold status
  • Spend $40,000 to earn Diamond status
  • Free annual weekend night after $15,000 in spend
  • Second free annual weekend night after $60,000 in spend
  • 10 annual visits with Priority Pass Select (Select benefits require enrollment)
$95 (See rates and fees) Terms apply.

Marriott and Hilton credit cards offer something for just about everyone, whether you run a business, want premium perks, or want to avoid an annual fee. But there are a few differences.

If you solely want free night awards, the Marriott cards might be more flexible. Many of the Hilton cards require a certain amount of spending before you get your free night. Marriott cards don’t typically have this requirement.

But for overall value, Hilton might come out on top for potential cardholders simply because of the Amex Aspire. The automatic Hilton Diamond status on this card plus annual credits and a free weekend night award make this one of the most popular hotel credit cards available. Diamond is the highest tier in Hilton Honors. Gold Elite status, which is what you get with the comparable Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, is mid-tier for Marriott Bonvoy.

To compare, a Hilton Honors Diamond member gets executive lounge access, room upgrades, free breakfast or a breakfast credit, and 100% bonus points on stays. A Gold Elite Marriott Bonvoy member gets enhanced room upgrades and 25% bonus points on stays, but no lounge access or free breakfast.

Winner: Hilton

Fabulous Rewards for Hilton Fans

Intro Offer

150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points

Annual Fee

$450

Rewards Rate

up to 14X points

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn 150,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • 14X points on eligible Hilton purchases
  • $250 in annual Hilton Resort credits
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $450 annual fee. Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • High annual fee
  • Best for frequent Hilton travelers
Card Details
  • Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • 14X points on eligible purchases within the Hilton portfolio, 7X points on qualifying travel purchases made directly with airlines/select car rental companies or Amextravel.com, 7X points at U.S. restaurants, and 3X points on all other purchases
  • Terms apply

Transfer partners: Marriott

If you want to pad your Marriott or Hilton hotel points, consider transferring rewards to your account from a transfer partner. Both Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors partner with other loyalty programs to allow an exchange of rewards points.

These partners allow transfers to Marriott Bonvoy:

  • Amex Membership Rewards at a 1:1 ratio
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards at a 1:1 ratio
  • Diners Club International Club Rewards at 1.25:1.5 ratio

These partners allow transfers to Hilton Honors:

  • Amex Membership Rewards at a 1:2 ratio
  • Diners Club International Club Rewards at a 2:1.375 ratio

If you’re interested in earning points through other loyalty programs for the purpose of transferring them to Marriott Bonvoy or Hilton Honors, consider using one of the best travel credit cards that earns Membership Rewards or Ultimate Rewards.

Overall, Marriott has more flexibility because it partners with both American Express and Chase. Hilton Honors doesn’t partner with Chase. This increases your options for credit cards that could potentially pad your Marriott Bonvoy points account.

However, be aware that transferring valuable rewards from Amex or Chase to Marriott or Hilton isn’t typically recommended so you may not want to rank this category highly in your personal comparison. Chase and Amex points are often valued around 2 cents per point, which is much higher than the 0.6 for Hilton points and 0.8 for Marriott points. So you potentially lose a lot of value by transferring to either hotel brand.

But if you just need a few thousand more points for an award redemption with Marriott or Hilton, it could make sense to do a small transfer to top off your account.

Winner: Marriott

New, Higher Sign Up Bonus - Worth $1250 Toward Travel

Intro Offer

100,000 points

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

up to 5X points

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Best offer ever! 100,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 5X points on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 10% anniversary point bonus each year
  • $50 annual credit on hotel stays booked through Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee
  • Typically need to spend thousands to reap rewards
Card Details
  • Earn 100,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 5X points on Lyft rides (through March 2022) and travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on eligible dining, select streaming services, and online grocery purchases; 2X points on travel; and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases

Elite status: Hilton

Elite status benefits are a big reason why you might focus on one hotel loyalty program over another. Being able to move up the status tiers and unlock new perks can add loads of value to your hotel stays.

Marriott Bonvoy has many valuable benefits separated across six different status levels, from Member to Ambassador Elite. Here are how many hotel stay nights you need to achieve elite status tiers:

Nights required
Member 0-9 nights per year
Silver Elite 10-24 nights per year
Gold Elite 25-49 nights per year
Platinum Elite 50-74 nights per year
Titanium Elite 75-99 nights per year
Ambassador Elite 100+ nights per year and $14K in spend

Here are many of the main benefits you can receive depending on your status level with Marriott.

Benefits Member Silver Elite Gold Elite Platinum Elite Titanium Elite Ambassador Elite
Free internet X X X X X X
Member rates X X X X X X
Reservation guarantee X X X X X
Points bonus 10% 25% 50% 75% 75%
Late checkout, if available Later than normal 2 p.m. 4 p.m. 4 p.m. 4 p.m. or Your24 hours
Welcome gift Points Points, breakfast, or amenity Points, breakfast, or amenity Points, breakfast, or amenity
Room upgrade Enhanced rooms, not including suites Including select suites Including select suites Including select suites
Premium internet X X X X
Elite support X X X
Lounge access X X X
Guaranteed room type X X X
Annual choice benefit At 50 elite qualifying nights At 50 and 75 elite qualifying nights At 50 and 75 elite qualifying nights
48-hour guarantee X X
Ambassador service X

Hilton Honors also offers elite status, but across four different tiers instead of six, ranging from Member to Diamond. Here are the hotel stay nights required for Hilton elite status tiers.

Nights required
Member 0-4 nights
Silver 5+ nights
Gold 20+ nights
Diamond 30+ nights

Here are many of the benefits associated with Hilton Honors elite status tiers.

Benefits Member Silver Gold Diamond
Member rates X X X X
No resort fees on award stays X X X X
Choose your room X X X X
Free internet X X X X
Access to Hilton Honors Experiences X X X X
Points bonus 20% 80% 100%
Free bottled water X X X
Fifth night free X X X
Elite rollover nights X X X
Room upgrades Up to Executive Floor room types Up to a one-bedroom suite
Free breakfast or food credit X X
Milestone bonuses X X
Lounge access X
Premium internet X
Diamond status extension X
48-hour room guarantee X
Elite status gifting X

The two programs offer plenty of benefits if you travel enough or have a credit card that grants elite status. But overall, it’s likely easier to get to top-tier status with Hilton Honors because it requires fewer nights and you could automatically receive Diamond status with the Amex Aspire credit card.

The fact that it’s so easy to get Diamond status means you don’t have to be a frequent traveler to reap the benefits of the Hilton Honors program. In addition, Marriott Bonvoy benefits aren’t necessarily better than Hilton Honors benefits. You can generally get similar benefits with both, including free breakfast, room upgrades, and lounge access. But it’s easier to get these premium benefits with Hilton.

Winner: Hilton

Customer experience: Hilton

According to a report on hotel loyalty trends from Skift, a travel research firm, millions of loyalty program memberships are inactive. Of a reported 14.8 million memberships, only 6.7 million of them were active. The reasons behind the inactivity are likely varied, and potentially include a lack of travel and other factors. But it could also make sense that some travelers simply aren’t happy with the customer experience of certain programs.

Both Marriott and Hilton get their share of complaints. This is obvious if you look up either company on popular review sites, such as TrustPilot. For example, Marriott International has more than 200 TrustPilot reviews and only a 1.6 rating out of 5.0. Hilton Hotels & Resorts isn’t much better with over 300 TrustPilot reviews and only a 1.7 rating out of 5.0.

But hotel experiences are largely individual, which means everyone has their own preferences and an experience for one person could be different from that of another, even at the same hotel. Many Marriott and Hilton properties also have amazing reviews if you check Google, Yelp, or other review sites. But overall, the general sentiment with Marriott Bonvoy has been poor since the program was first launched in 2019.

Having bad experiences with the Marriott Bonvoy program has become so commonplace that the term “Bonvoyed” was invented to explain the occurrence, and it’s stuck. To avoid any risk of being Bonvoyed — the dangers of which could include bad customer service, varying standards between properties, inconsistent elite benefits, miscommunication, and more — it’s likely better to stick with Hilton or another major hotel chain.

This isn’t to say that Hilton will always provide the best experience, but so far being Hiltoned hasn’t become a thing.

Winner: Hilton

FAQs

Is Hilton or Marriott better?

The better hotel chain between Hilton and Marriott depends on your preferences as a traveler. Both companies offer thousands of options for hotel stays worldwide, including budget-friendly and luxury hotels. If you’re a luxury traveler, either company could suit your needs, though Marriott has more luxury properties within its portfolio.

But if you want an easy way to earn top-tier elite status with a popular hotel loyalty program, Hilton is likely the better choice. This is because elite status is easier to earn with Hilton and the benefits between the two programs aren’t very different. Plus, if you qualify for Hilton Honors Amex Aspire Card, you automatically get Diamond status, the top status in Hilton Honors, without even needing to spend one night in a hotel.

How much are Hilton Honors points worth?

Hilton Honors points are typically worth about 0.6 cents per point according to general sentiment from travel and points experts. However, it’s possible to get more value from your points depending on how you redeem them. For example, using Hilton points with a fifth-night-free elite status benefit at a luxury property could make for a great redemption valued higher than the average.

How much are Marriott Bonvoy points worth?

Marriott Bonvoy points are typically worth about 0.8 cents per point according to travel experts. You could potentially get more (or less) value from your points depending on how you use them. Using points for award stays at luxury Marriott properties can often result in an above-average value for your points. This type of strategy can work well for getting the most out of your points when paired with the Marriott benefit of booking five consecutive award nights and getting one of the nights for free.

How many points do I need for a free hotel stay?

You would typically need at least 5,000 Marriott points for an award stay through the Marriott Bonvoy program. This would be for a Category 1 hotel on an off-peak night. For Hilton award stays, you would also likely need at least 5,000 points for a standard room.


Bottom line

It can be difficult to decide between multiple hotel loyalty programs because there’s a lot to consider. You need to know how to earn and redeem points, whether the available properties align with your travel preferences, and how good the elite status benefits are. Fortunately, you’re able to join multiple loyalty programs if you want. This could be beneficial if you travel frequently and want even more options for places to stay worldwide.

But if you only travel occasionally, it might make more sense to stick with one loyalty program so you can get the most out of it. Both Hilton and Marriott have their pros and cons, but this guide can be a helpful reference if you need it. Keep in mind that the right program for you ultimately depends on your lifestyle and preferences.

Robust Welcome Offer

Intro Offer

130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

up to 12X points

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 12X points at participating Hilton hotels and resorts
  • Free weekend night reward stay after spending $15,000 in a calendar year
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • $95 annual fee. Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee
  • No intro APR
  • No free anniversary night
Card Details
  • Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 12X points when spending directly with an eligible Hilton hotel or resort; 6X points on purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 3X points on all other eligible purchases
  • Terms apply

Author Details

Ben Walker Ben Walker is a credit cards and travel writer at FinanceBuzz who loves helping others achieve their travel goals through financially-sound decisions. For nearly a decade, he has been using credit card points and miles for the sole purpose of traveling the world. Ben has been featured in The Washington Post, MSN, Debt.com, and Finder.com.