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Hilton HHonors cheat sheet for using your points

by on Mon July 25, 2016 • 29 Comments
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Hilton HHonors

Hilton HHonors might not be the most rewarding hotel program in every case, but the program has a handful of top quality properties around the world as well as a bunch of really good redemptions in lower categories. With points that are so easy to earn, HHonors is hard to ignore. This guide will tell you what you need to know to make the most of your Hilton HHonors points.

What hotels can you book with Hilton points?

Hilton has quite a few different hotel brands, and the easiest way to keep the 12 of them straight is to categorize them by the following:

  • Luxury: Waldorf Astoria, Conrad
  • Premium: Hilton
  • Mid-range: DoubleTree, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton
  • Lifestyle: Canopy, Curio, Tru
  • Limited Service: Homewood Suites, Home2 Suites

How many points does a free night cost?

Hilton used to have ten hotel categories for points redemptions, but now just assigns a highest maximum price for a given hotel. The highest possible price for a hotel night starts at 5,000 points per night for a Category 1 hotel and can go as high as 95,000 points per night for a Category 10 hotel. But any hotel could cost less than the maximum, because Hilton bases the price in points on a bunch of factors like the season and the prevailing room rate.

You can look up the maximum prices Hilton charges for hotels using this tool, and below are the general ranges for each category based on the old Hilton award price chart.

Hotel CategoryPrice Per Night
Category 15,000
Category 210,000
Category 320,000
Category 420,000 - 30,000
Category 530,000 - 40,000
Category 630,000 - 50,000
Category 730,000 - 60,000
Category 840,000 - 70,000
Category 950,000 - 80,000
Category 1070,000 - 95,000

Hilton does not have any blackout days for using points. If there is a standard room available at a cash rate, you can book that with points.

If you find yourself short on points, you can also book Points & Money awards, which let you pay part in cash and part in points based on a sliding scale.

How much does an upgrade cost?

It is possible to upgrade a Hilton reservation with points. The number of points required varies by room, hotel, and date. It may be possible to upgrade a points redemption with cash as well, but this varies by hotel.

You can also use points to book straight into a premium room, but this is rarely a good redemption. Make sure to check how much value you are getting out of your points before you book.

Good Deal Redemptions

A few of our favorite Hilton properties are the Conrad Maldives (Category 10 – as low as 70,000 points), Waldorf Astoria Park City, Utah (Category 9 – as low as 50,000 points), and the amazingly priced DoubleTree Kuala Lumpur (Category 2 – 10,000 points).

In addition to our favorite hotels, there are a few types of redemptions available that can stretch your points even further. When possible, you should take advantage of these in order to increase the value of your points.

If you are based in the US and have a Hilton co-branded credit card issued by American Express you have access to booking AXON awards. AXON awards are available for 4-night stays at Category 5-10 properties. The prices for AXON awards are as following:

Hotel CategoryAXON Award PricePrice Per Night
Category 5130,00032,500
Category 6160,00040,000
Category 7190,00047,500
Category 8220,00055,000
Category 9260,00065,000
Category 10300,00075,000

You will need to call Hilton on 1-800-446-6677 (1-800-HHONORS) to book your AXON award.

Tip: Another specialty award Hilton offers is the 5th Night Free. In order to have access to these, you must have elite status with Hilton. If you do, have status, any stay of five nights or longer (up to 20 nights) is eligible for every fifth night free (up to four free nights). Note that 5th Night Free only applies to standard rooms.

Because there are multiple redemption options, it is important to consider which one will give you the best deal. This will depend on whether or not you have status or a Hilton co-branded credit card, as well as what category hotel you are staying at.

conradvilla

What is the cancellation policy?

The cancellation policy of award nights is dependent on the hotel. Some hotels will only require 24 hour advance notice, while others may be more strict. You will usually see the point deposited back into your account within minutes of canceling a stay.

Can you turn Hilton points into airline miles?

Hilton has over 40 airline partners and Hilton points can be converted into airline miles, though it will rarely make sense to do so. Conversion rates vary dependent on the airline partner.

For partners Aeroflot, American Airlines, Frontier, Gulf Air, Hawaiian Airlines, Mexicana Airlines, Qantas, South African, and Virgin Atlantic, the transfer rate is 10,000 Hilton points to 1,500 airline miles. For all other airline partners the rate is 10,000 Hilton points to 1,000 airline miles.

Tip: These transfer rates aren’t very good. The only time we recommend transferring Hilton points to miles is if they are otherwise going to expire or you think you will never use them for a hotel stay.

What are Hilton points worth?

We think Hilton HHonors points are worth about 0.5 cents each. Users of HotelHustle.com find results that imply about 0.5 cents per point on average. For example a stay at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square can run 60,000 points a night, versus a room rate of $299, or about 0.5 cents per point in value.

Can you share points?

Hilton does allow you to share points with another member, for a fee. For every 1,000 points you share, the fee is $10. A better way to share points with friends and family is to book a hotel room for them from your account!

How do you earn points?

It’s easy to rack up a lot of Hilton points pretty quickly.

You’ll earn 10 Hilton HHonors base points for every dollar spent on your room rate and other eligible charges charged to your room at most hotels. At Hampton and Homewood Suites, you’ll only earn 10 points per dollar on your room rate. At Home2 Suites you’ll earn 5 points per dollar spent only on your room rate.

In addition, you will earn bonus points for every stay. You can choose whether to earn points or miles for your bonus points. If you choose additional points, you’ll earn 5 bonus HHonors points for every dollar spent on your room at most Hilton hotels. At Home2 Suites you’ll earn 2.5 bonus HHonors points per dollar spent on your room. If you choose to earn bonus miles, you will earn 1 mile per dollar spent on your room, at Home2 Suites this is capped at 100 miles per stay.

If you have status with Hilton, you will earn a bonus on the base points. Silver members earn a 15% bonus on stays, Gold members receive a 25% bonus on stays, and Diamond members receive a 50% bonus on stays.

Hilton runs various promotions throughout the year that offer additional points for staying a certain number of nights.

In addition to earning points from hotel stays, members can earn points through credit card spend on the Hilton co-branded credit cards or with other Hilton partners.

What stays qualify to earn points?

Almost all rates that are booked through Hilton.com will receive stay and points credit. If you book through a third party site such as hotels.com, Orbitz, or Expedia, then you will not receive points or stay credit for that stay. There have been reports that you may still receive points on eligible charges that are posted to your room, but your mileage may vary.

Hilton does offer a Best Rate Guarantee program that will match a better rate found on a third party website. If you find a better rate, Hilton will match it and give you an additional $50 credit. If you find a better rate elsewhere, you should book with Hilton and submit a Best Rate Guarantee. If there are no better rates, you should book directly with Hilton in order to get the most benefits out of your stay.

Hilton HHonors Credit Card offers

Hilton has four different credit card options that earn Hilton points. Hilton co-branded credit cards are issued through either Citi or American Express. Let’s take a look at your four options.

  • Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card
    • Enjoy Hilton Gold status as long as you are a cardmember
    • Earn an anniversary bonus of one free weekend night certificate after spending $10,000 within the year
    • Earn 10 points per dollar spent at Hilton hotels
    • Earn 5 points per dollar spent on airline and car rental purchases and 3 points per dollar spent on all other purchases
    • $95 annual fee
    • No foreign transaction fees
  • Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express
    • Complimentary Hilton Gold status
    • Earn 12 bonus points per dollar spent at Hilton hotels
    • Earn 6 points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations and 3 points per dollar spent on all other purchases
    • $75 annual fee
  • Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card
    • Enjoy Hilton Silver status
    • Earn an Annual Loyalty Bonus of 10,000 points at the end of the year when you spend $1,000 or more on Hilton stays
    • Earn 6 bonus points per dollar spent at Hilton hotels
    • Earn 3 points per dollar spent at grocery stores, drug stores, and gas stations and 2 points per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Hilton Honors Card from American Express
    • Enjoy complimentary Silver status
    • Earn 7 bonus points per dollar spent at Hilton hotels
    • Earn 5 points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations and 3 points per dollar spent on all other purchases

What points transfer into HHonors?

The three biggest programs that let you transfer points into Hilton HHonors are Citi ThankYou, Amex Membership Rewards, and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. All 3 let you transfer at a rate of 1 point = 1.5 HHonors points.

How can you earn Silver status?

The easiest way to earn Silver status is by holding the Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature card or the Hilton Honors Card from American Express. If you want to earn it the old fashioned way, you’ll need to stay four times or 10 nights in a calendar year. Silver members receive some extra perks:

  • 15% Elite Status Bonus
  • 5th Night Free access
  • Digital Checkin
  • Complimentary Internet Access
  • Late Checkout
  • Complimentary access to fitness centers and health clubs
  • Two complimentary bottles of water per stay (at some properties)

The most notable benefits of Silver status are late checkout, 5th night free access, and 15% bonus points.

How can you earn Gold status?

Gold status is most easily earned by holding the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card or the Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express. Gold status can be earned by staying 20 times, 40 nights, or by earning 75,000 HHonors Base Points in a calendar year. In addition to the Silver benefits listed above, Gold members receive:

  • 25% points bonus (instead of 15%)
  • Upgrades, as available (at some properties)
  • Bonus points
  • Breakfast (at some properties)

The best benefits of Gold status are free breakfast, the possibility of a room upgrade, and higher points earning.

How can you earn Diamond status?

Diamond status can be earned by staying 30 times, 60 nights, or by earning 120,000 HHonors Base Points within a calendar year. In addition to the benefits for having Silver and Gold status, Diamond members receive:

  • 50% points bonus (instead of 15% or 25%)
  • 48-hour room guarantee
  • Executive lounge access (at some properties)
  • Breakfast (at a larger number of properties)

The most valuable aspects of Diamond status are the 50% point bonus and an increased number of properties that include complimentary breakfast.

Do Hilton points expire?

In order to keep your Hilton account active, you must have activity at least every 12 months. Earning points through a stay, credit card spend, or a transaction with a partner or redeeming points for a free night will reset the expiration date of your points.

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Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

Intro Offer

$0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $95

Annual Fee

Yes

Foreign Transaction Fee Waived

Yes - transfer to United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Marriott Rewards, and more

Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

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29 thoughts on Hilton HHonors cheat sheet for using your points

    1. MileCards.com

      @Angie – Not quite – 2 rooms will count.

      “A Member may earn Base Points for up to two rooms per stay, if all eligible charges for both rooms are paid on one folio. Base Points will be earned for all eligible folio charges incurred on both rooms. The term “eligible folio charges” is defined below. Bonus Points issued on Base Points, including tier bonuses (15%, 25% or 50%, depending on Member tier), Bonus Points earned through the Hilton Honors Points and Hilton Honors Points Earning Style Option and double or triple Base Point promotions, will apply to the total Base Point credit earned for both rooms. For any other bonuses, including Hilton Honors Marketing Partner Bonus Points and other promotional bonuses, Bonus Points will be awarded on one room only. For purposes of obtaining tier status, a Member will receive stay and night credit for one room only. For purposes of earning miles for stays, miles may only be earned on one room only.”

      Reply
  1. Jermaine

    How does everyday purchases (Walmart, gas statons, grocery stores and mall shopping) impact my Hilton Honors points with my hilton honors card? How do i know which stores are Partners or qualify for points?

    Reply
  2. Brittany

    I booked a rewards reservation through the website. I understand I do receive credit for these nights. Is it just considered a stay or do I earn points as usual?

    Reply
  3. Gary

    Hi,
    I have a question about the free weekend night certificate.
    Do you know if you need to book & stay before the expiration date (or if you book before it expires but the stay can be after expiry)?
    Thanks,

    Gary.

    Reply
  4. Karen Lewis

    Booked at a Hampton inn using a AAA card I just got a Hilton honors credit card can I use this credit card upon arrival and are there any benefits if I charge my stay like the 5th nite for free?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Karen – Yes you can use it when you arrive if your rate wasn’t prepaid. No specific benefits other than you earn extra points for the amount you charge with the Hampton, or the Hilton elite status some of the cards offer, which might get you late check out or another perk.

      Reply
  5. Dee

    Am I able to use my AMEX Hilton Honor points for my Southwest flight? I know you can with Amex Business Platinum, but I’m wondering if it works with the AMEX Hilton Honors…Thanks

    Reply
  6. Mrs Trendz

    Hi, I booked a stay using points and cash Since that time I have earned more points. Is there a way to apply the additional points to bring down the cost of the stay?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Mrs Trendz – You can refund the stay and book again, which can be a good idea if the price hasn’t gone up. Sometimes the price has gone down and you can get a better deal.

      Reply
  7. Anjellica

    Booked a vacation thru Apple vacation. Staying 5 nights at the Hilton Hawaiian Hotel. My question is, I have a Hilton credit card with Gold Status, when I check in at the hotel can I use it to upgrade my room and also get the free breakfast that is offered by Hilton Honors for having Gold Status?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Anjellica – It’s up to the hotel, but some do let you take advantage of the Gold benefits while on property. Call the hotel directly to see if they can add your number to the reservation before you arrive, or if you need to wait for check in.

      Reply

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