What is Hilton Honors? A Complete Guide

The program offers high rewards rate, but possibly limited value.
Last updated Jul 18, 2019 | By Ben Luthi
Parents with two young kids in a hotel room

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The Hilton Honors rewards program offers loyal Hilton guests the chance to earn rewards at a high rate, plus elite status that can improve your trip every time you stay in a Hilton hotel.

Whether you’re wondering how to maximize Hilton Honors points, if Hilton credit cards are right for you, or simply want to know what Hilton Honors is, this guide can help you find the answers to all your questions.

Overview: What is Hilton Honors?

Hilton Worldwide comprises 14 brands, including DoubleTree, Embassy Suites, Hampton, Homewood Suites, and Waldorf Astoria. In total, there are more than 5,000 Hilton brand properties in 100 countries and territories, giving you plenty of options wherever you go.

How to earn Hilton Honors points

As a Hilton Honors member, you’ll have a lot of chances to rack up rewards with the loyalty program. One of the fastest ways to do so is by applying for and using a Hilton co-branded credit card, including the:

Each card comes with a different level of rewards, perks, and annual fees, so compare each carefully to decide which is best for you. It’s also possible to transfer points from the American Express Membership Rewards program to Hilton at a 1:1 ratio, but you can usually get more value by using your Amex points another way.

Other ways to earn Hilton Honors points include:

  • Stay at Hilton properties: You’ll earn 10 base points per dollar spent on your room. Note, however, that stays at Home2 Suites and Tru properties earn only five points per dollar.
  • Sign up for promotions: The Hilton Honors program offers bonus promotions throughout the year, giving you the chance to earn more on your stays.
  • Travel with partners: You can earn bonus rewards when you travel with one of Hilton’s partners, including Lyft, Alamo, Enterprise, National, and Priority Pass.
  • Dine out: When you sign up for the Hilton Honors Dining program, link your credit or debit card — it doesn’t have to be a Hilton co-branded credit card — and dine at participating restaurants, bars, and clubs; you’ll earn up to eight bonus points per dollar.
  • Buy points: If your rewards balance is short a few thousand points, buying some may be worth it to help you qualify for a specific redemption. Keep in mind, though, that the purchase rate is one cent per point, and the redemption rate for Hilton Honors points is 0.5 cents apiece, on average.

How to redeem Hilton Honors points

Hilton Honors points aren’t the most valuable hotel points around, but they’re easy to accumulate. As with every hotel loyalty program, your best bet to get the most value is to use your points to book hotel stays.

Unfortunately, Hilton doesn’t have an award chart, so it’s not always easy to know what you can expect to pay. However, free nights range from 5,000 points to 95,000 points, and you can use Hilton’s Point Explorer tool to search for hotels at your destination to get an idea of what to expect.

From there, you can see the rates for your actual stay. If you don’t have enough points for your whole stay, you can mix points and cash to get it. Before you go this route, run the numbers to make sure you’re getting a good value out of your rewards.

Other redemption options include:

  • Concerts, travel excursions, and more
  • Vacation packages, all-inclusive resorts, golf rewards, and more
  • Airline and rail miles, plus car rentals
  • Online shopping and dining
  • Donations to charities
  • Transfer to travel partners

Hilton Honors tiers, explained

As a member of Hilton Honors, which is free to join, you’ll get member discounts, in-room and lobby Wi-Fi, no resort fees, late check-out, and more standard benefits. If you want more, though, you’ll need to qualify for one of the program’s three elite tiers: Silver, Gold, or Diamond.

Once you meet the requirements for elite status, you’ll keep it for the remainder of the current calendar year plus the following year. Here’s what you need to know about each tier, including how to achieve it and what you’ll get.

Silver

The first elite status level, Silver, requires at least four stays, 10 nights, or 25,000 base points in a calendar year. Once you reach Silver status, you’ll get all the basic benefits of the member level, plus:

  • 20% more points on hotel stays
  • Fifth night free when you book a stay of five or more nights using points
  • Two bottles of water
  • Elite tier rollover nights

Gold

You can gain Gold status by booking 20 stays, staying 40 nights, or earning 75,000 base points in a calendar year. Once you qualify, you’ll get all the benefits of Silver status along with:

  • 80% more points on hotel stays
  • Space-available room upgrades, up to an Executive room type
  • Complimentary breakfast at all hotels
  • Unlimited milestone bonuses

Diamond

Diamond status, Hilton’s top elite status level, is achievable through 30 stays, 60 nights, or 120,000 base points earned in a calendar year. As a Diamond member, you’ll get all the benefits of Gold status, plus:

  • 100% more points on hotel stays
  • Space-available room upgrades, up to a one-bedroom Suite room type
  • Executive lounge access
  • 48-hour room guarantee

You can also extend your Diamond status once for an additional year beyond the expiration date for any reason. You may also be able to gift your status to another Hilton member.

How to qualify for premium membership tiers faster

Achieving Silver status only requires four stays, 10 nights, or 25,000 base points, so qualifying won’t be difficult for some. But it will be tough to reach the higher status levels without spending a lot of time in Hilton hotels.

Fortunately, however, you can get a fast track to elite status through the hotel’s co-branded credit cards:

At times, Hilton may offer the chance to get a status match. So, if you have elite status with another hotel brand, you may be able to get Hilton to match it for a time, with the possibility of extending your status by meeting certain requirements.

Hilton Honors FAQ

As we’ve researched the Hilton Honors loyalty program, we came across several questions from members and interested travelers. Here are some of the more common ones, along with their answers.

Do Hilton points expire?

Hilton points expire 12 months after the last activity on your account, so it’s important to earn or use points regularly to prevent losing them. Eligible actions include staying at a Hilton property, earning points through a third party, purchasing points, or donating points.

Can I transfer points?

The Hilton Honors program allows you to transfer your points to a friend or family member or to pool them with up to 10 other members at a time. There’s no charge to transfer or pool points.

You can also transfer your points to one of Hilton’s many travel partners, including more than 30 airline, rail, and mileage rewards programs.

How do I pool points?

You can pool your points with up to 10 other Hilton Honors members. Once you’re ready, log into your account and visit the “Pool Points” page, where you’ll add each of the other members’ names and email addresses. Hilton will then send them invitations to pool points and will walk everyone through the remainder of the process.

How much are Hilton points worth?

The value of your Hilton Honors points can vary based on how you book your hotel stays, so there’s no single redemption rate every time. That said, based on multiple sources, Hilton points are worth about 0.5 cents apiece, on average.

That’s not a lot, considering you typically want to get more than one cent per point or mile with most travel rewards programs. However, the earning rates for Hilton credit cards and hotel stays are higher than what you might find with some other hotel brands.

To maximize the value of your Hilton Honors points, check both the points and cash rate for a stay. For example, if it costs $100 or 20,000 points per night, you’re getting 0.5 cents per point. But if the cost is $150 or 20,000 points, your point value increases to 0.75 cents apiece.

If there are multiple Hilton hotels at your destination, do this exercise with each one to give you a better chance of maximizing your rewards.

How many points do I need for a free night at Hilton?

Free hotel stays using Hilton points start at 5,000 points per night and go up to 95,000 points.

Bottom line

Hilton Honors points aren’t the most valuable hotel rewards points you can get, but the hotel makes it easy to rack up rewards through credit cards and other means. With more than 5,000 properties worldwide, it’s also simple to find ways to use your rewards, regardless of where you travel.

Hilton Honors offers great perks with its elite status levels — but diversifying your rewards across multiple hotel brands may give you more flexibility.

Robust Welcome Offer

Benefits

  • 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Point welcome offer
  • 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
  • Terms apply