Hilton Honors Loyalty Program Review

Hilton honors loyalty program

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Hilton Summary Table

  • Hotel Brands Hilton Hotels & Resorts

Hotel Overview

Hilton Hotels, officially owned by Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Inc., is a chain of hotel brands that began with a man named Conrad Hilton in 1919. Currently, they operate over 4,300 hotels in 94 countries.

Hilton Beginnings

The company expanded and bought up other hotel chains until it became the first coast-to-coast brand in 1943, after purchasing the Roosevelt and Plaza Hotel in New York City.

In 1949, Hilton became an international brand when it opened the Caribe Hilton in Puerto Rico. This is where the Pina Colada was invented by barman Ramon “Monchito” Marrero.

Going International

As operations and properties grew, Hilton split its international chains into Hilton International, which was a separate company that Conrad headed.

By this point, Hilton was a well-known brand with a multitude of luxury hotels (Waldorf Astoria being its most luxurious).

It had even branched out into the gaming industry and began operating casinos in Las Vegas (The Flamingo and Las Vegas International). This venture would later be spun off to form Caesars Entertainment, Inc.

Merging Back Together and Modern Day Operation

After years of operating 2 distinct brands (domestic and international), the companies created a joint marketing agreement to unify the brand.

By this point, they had already created the Hilton Honors Loyalty Program. It was the first hotel program to offer both points and air miles.

The old Hilton brand was a publicly-owned company that reverted back to private ownership after all the mergers and acquisitions took place. It finally became public again in 2013 under Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Inc.

Business Deal Coming Together
After years of being a split company, the Hilton brand consolidated itself in 2013 into the Hilton you know today.

Hilton Honors Rewards Program

Hilton Honors, the loyalty program for Hilton brand hotels, was created in 1987. Hilton became the first hotel chain to offer both points and miles to its members in 1994.

To sign up to the program, simply head to their website and make an account: it’s free! Upon sign-up, you will be a Blue member who can accumulate points through stays, partnerships, and other offers.

Hilton Program Membership Information

The program has over 48 million members worldwide, and the Hilton rewards program offers a variety of incentives and benefits to keep you coming back to the hotels.

If you had previously stayed in Hilton hotels in the last 6 months and just signed up to be a member, you can request credit for those stays to earn some points right away!

Hilton Elite Status Information

Honors elite status is earned by accumulating points during the calendar year (January 1-December 31). As with all loyalty programs, only base points (not bonus points) go toward your status.

Once you have earned elite status, it is valid for the remainder of the current calendar year and through the end of the next one. Benefits of the different membership tiers are outlined below!

How To Earn Honors Points

You will earn 10 points per dollar for most rooms (some will only apply this to the room rate and not taxes), and you will earn 5 points per dollar for the room rate only at Home2 Suites.

These points are considered base points, and they are what help you earn status upgrades (although it is usually quicker to jump tiers using number of stays or nights).

There are still many ways to earn Hilton points besides this.

Earning Bonus: Choose Your Way

When starting out in the Honors program, you get to Choose Your Way to earn either additional bonus points or miles. You will earn 5 bonus points per dollar (2.5 at Home2 Suites) or 1 mile per dollar.

You can only earn up to 100 miles per stay, so keep this in mind. It will likely serve you better to earn points and transfer them to loyalty partners.

Earning Bonus: Elite Status

Next, you will earn additional bonus points based on the rate for your appropriate membership tier: a 15%, 25%, or 50% bonus for Silver, Gold, or Diamond members. This calculation is based on the bonus points you earn (10 or 5, per the above).

For instance, if you have a $100 room, you would earn 1,000 base points at a rate of 10 pts/$1. From this 1,000, you would earn 150, 250, or 500 additional bonus points.

Overall, for a $100 room, a Silver member would earn the 1,000 base points, 150 bonus points from the bonus rate, and 500 bonus points OR 100 airline miles for the Choose Your Way earning bonus.

This is a total of 1,650 Honors points or 1,150 points and 100 airline miles.

Earning Bonus: Honors Credit Cards

If you also have a Hilton Honors™ Card from American ExpressHonors™ Surpass® Card from American Express, Citi Hilton Honors Visa Signature Card, or Citi Hilton Honors Reserve Card, you will earn additional bonus points through the credit card as well (these do not count as base points).

This rate is typically 6-12 points per dollar depending on the card you chose. For the $100 room, this can be an additional 600-1,200 points!

At the Gold and Diamond membership levels, you’ll earn the bonus points per stay if you so choose. You can also look out for bonus deals where you can earn 2x-3x bonus points for your stay, based on the rate from Choose Your Way.

It is important to note that points do expire. To keep an updated membership, you must stay at a hotel once every 12 months or simply earn or redeem points in some way.

Earning Bonus: American Express Membership Rewards Credit Cards

You can transfer points earned in Membership Rewards to Hilton Honors at a 1:1.5 ratio. The following cards can earn Membership Rewards points:

Loyalty Program Credit Card Review
American Express Membership Rewards Loyalty Program The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN
Gold Card from American Express
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
American Express® Green Card
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
Blue from American Express®
Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express
Mercedes-Benz Credit Card from American Express (review coming soon)

Earning Bonus: Citi ThankYou Rewards Credit Cards

Citi ThankYou Rewards cards also partner with Hilton at a 1:1.5 transfer ratio.

Loyalty Program Credit Card Review
Citi ThankYou Rewards Loyalty Program Citi Prestige Card
Citi ThankYou Premier Card
Citi ThankYou Preferred Card

Bonus Partners: Dining, Shopping, and More

There are always lesser-known ways to earn, but you may have to look to find them. An easy one to start with is the dining program for the hotel (these are available for select hotels or airlines).

You can also earn points or miles for shopping through the membership portal.

Hilton has also now partnered with 4 service providers to give you additional ways to earn points or free nights. These are DirecTV, LifeLock, e-miles, and Energy Plus.

Additional partners include all car rental agencies, although the preferred partners are Alamo and National.

If you want to continue earning bonus points, you can join Priority Pass and receive a sign-up bonus. Priority Pass gives you access to over 850 airport lounges, regardless of your ticket or status!

There are 3 different options, and they cost anywhere from $99-$399 per year plus $27 per visit after you have used up your free passes. In comparison, a typical lounge visit costs $50, and you have to be traveling on the specific airline.

Finally, there are cruise partners as well as a phone sim card partner you can use to earn miles when roaming.

Earning Points the Upgraded Way

We provide guides on earning points here as well as in our credit card reviews. The cards that will earn Honors points directly are as follows:

Loyalty Program Credit Card Review
Hilton Honors Loyalty Program Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express
  Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express
  Citi Hilton Honors Visa Signature Card
Citi Hilton Honors Reserve Card

Here are articles discussing how to earn points with programs/cards that partner with Honors. You can earn points in these programs and transfer them to Honors to redeem!

Time to Earn Points
There are many different ways to earn Honors points directly or through partners and then transfer them to Hilton. Take some time to research your options!

How To Redeem Honors Points

Redeeming points is very important! You want to make sure you get the best value for your points, and this can be confusing to figure out.

Your Honors points can be redeemed in a number of ways. These include standard redemptions (based on hotel category), bonus offers, points & money, or premium room rewards.

Room Redemption Options for Honors

A standard reward will start off at 5,000 points for a category 1 hotel. However, as the category increases, so do the points…at the top tier, a room can cost up to 95,000 points per night!

Remember that you will have access to the 5th night free option if you are a Silver member or above. When booking rewards for 5 nights, you will receive a discount based on the average room rate over the 5 nights.

This makes saving your points for when you reach a higher status much more appealing!

A bonus offer may lower the amount needed for a stay at a particular hotel and category combination, although often the bonus offers simply earn you additional points.

Using the points & money option, you can use a smaller number of points along with a lesser dollar amount to book a room. For instance, instead of paying 20,000 points for a room, you could pay 8,000 points and $30.

Premium room rewards are also available. However, we value these lower than other redemptions. Due to its complexity, you’ll simply have to calculate the value of your points for each reward.

Transferring Honors Points to Partners

Another way to redeem points is by transferring them to other partners, which you can find listed here or below. Using these partners, you can earn a variety of miles depending on the individual airlines’ exchange rate.

A couple examples are:

Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 05/31/2017.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card. Terms and limitations apply.
  • Enjoy complimentary Silver status with your Hilton Honors™ Card.
  • Spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
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FAQ

What is the name of the Hilton rewards program?
The Hilton loyalty program is called Hilton Honors (just pronounced “honors”). Hilton Worldwide owns hotel chains such as Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites, Waldorf Astoria, DoubleTree, and of course Hilton Hotels.

Should I join Hilton Honors? Is it worth it?
Joining Hilton Honors is free, so you could argue that joining has no downside. By joining, you are given access to a range of benefits that get better and better as you stay at more hotels.

You will accumulate points when you stay (or use their partners) in your Hilton Honors account, which can then be redeemed for free nights, shopping in their portal, or rewards with their travel partners.

What are the Hilton Honors benefits and status tiers?
The benefits of Honors are many. You get the ability to check in digitally, enter room preferences, get free WiFi, and have a free 2nd guest just for signing up. As you go up the tiers, you get more and more benefits.

The Hilton Honors levels for elite status are Blue, Silver, Gold, and Diamond. Going up the tiers requires a certain amount of nights, stays, or base points. Once you have reached these levels, you instantly go up in status.

Being an Honors member allows you to choose the “style” you want to use for earning your bonus points: as points or as miles. You can always switch between the 2 options.

Benefits as you go up the levels include additional bonus points earned, 5th night free, complimentary fitness club access, bottles of water and other gifts, complimentary upgrades, and lounge access.

What is the Hilton Honors double dip?
The “double dip” is what they call it when you earn both points and a bonus for your stay. You will always earn base points when you stay at the hotel, but you can also earn either bonus points or miles. Both options are considered the “double dip.”

When do Hilton Honors points expire?
Your Hilton Honors points will expire after 1 year of inactivity. As long as you have some sort of points earned or redeemed, you will keep all your points.

What are Hilton Honors base points and bonus points?
While both points are the same when redeeming them for free nights and other awards, they differ in that base points go toward your elite status.

You earn base points when you stay in hotels, and your bonus points are calculated based on them. Bonus points simply accumulate in your account and offer no boost to your elite status.

Base points are calculated off the number of dollars you spend on the room (typically 10 base points per $1).

What are Hilton Honors points worth?
The value of an Honors point differs depending on your redemption, but is typically lower than other points and starts at around $0.005 each.

If redeeming for a room, a Category 1 hotel costs 5,000 points per night. A Category 10 hotel can cost up to 95,000 points for a night, so that gives you an idea of the range of points needed.

How do I convert Honors points to miles/travel partners?
Sign in to your Honors account first, then go to this link and find your desired transfer travel partner.

Sometimes, the Honors transfer ratio is less than 1:1, so check here for details. For example, you can transfer 10,000 Honors points and receive 5,000 Amtrak points.

What are all the Hilton Honors hotels?
Hotels in the Hilton Portfolio include: Hilton, Curio, DoubleTree, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Canopy, Hampton, Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Homewood Suites, Home 2 Suites, and Hilton Grand Vacations.

Who is Conrad Hilton?
Contrad Hilton was the original founder of Hilton hotels. He bought his first hotel in 1919 and soon built it into an empire. He died in 1979.

Is there a Hilton Honors credit card?
Yes. We have reviewed the Citi Hilton Honors Visa Signature Card and Citi Hilton Honors Reserve Card.

There are also American Express Hilton cards, including the regular Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express and Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express.

You can also transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards by earning points from the following cards:

What are Hilton Grand Vacations?
These are Hilton’s timeshare properties. Similar to other timeshares, you buy in and earn a certain amount of points each year to be spent on timeshare properties.

What is the Hilton Honors login?
The Hilton Honors sign in is here.

What is the number and email for Hilton Honors customer service?
The Hilton Honors phone number is 1 (800) 445-8667. You can email a service representative here.