Your guide to the Hilton Honors rewards program

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In the past year, the Hilton Honors hotel rewards program has been revamped, changing its points structure and adding new perks for individuals who have a credit card with American Express® — the exclusive partner for Hilton Honors credit cards.

Favorite features of the old Hilton Honors rewards program remain, including a wide range of hotels to choose from. Budget locations like DoubleTree, Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites are eligible to earn points, along with high-end properties like the Waldorf Astoria.

For travelers who may be wondering how to set up their account, redeem points and maximize rewards when traveling, here’s Bankrate’s comprehensive guide to making the most of the Hilton Honors rewards program.

What are Hilton Points really worth?

Like many other frequent flyer and hotel rewards programs, Hilton Honors has shifted to a system where points earned correlate to the price of the room. At most hotels in the Hilton portfolio, travelers earn 10 base points for every U.S. dollar spent on a room and other eligible charges (including room service).When you are ready to redeem your points, Hilton advertises you can book hotel stays for as little as 5,000 points per night. So, if you book a stay at a Hilton hotel and spend $500 in a weekend, you could earn enough for a one-night stay.

That being said, Hilton doesn’t publish formal rewards charts and awards rates can vary depending on the day and hotel. While it is certainly true that you can book a free room for as little as 5,000 points, many “free nights” will actually cost you much more.

Keep an eye out for welcome bonus promotions advertised via email and social media to earn points faster. Currently, Hilton Honors is offering a bonus that allows American Express card members to turn Membership Rewards points into Hilton Honors points. Better yet, for every 1,000 Membership Rewards points transferred, Hilton will give you 3,000 Hilton Honors points.

Hilton Honors tiered rewards program

The Hilton Honors rewards program is broken up into four membership levels that range from the lowest “Member” status all the way to “Diamond.” Here is an overview of the rewards offered at each membership level.

Membership Level Rewards
Member “Blue” (achieved immediately when you enroll in the Hilton Honors rewards program) ●      10 points for every $1 spent
Silver (achieved at 4 stays* or with 25,000 base points) ●      12 points for every $1 spent
Gold (achieved at 20 stays* or with 75,000 base points) ●      18 points for every $1 spent
Diamond (achieved at 30 stays* or 120,000 points) ●      20 points for every $1 spent

*Stays must occur in one calendar year

For a full explanation of rewards tier requirements visit Hilton’s Tiers and Benefits page.

How to use Hilton Points

The Hilton Honors rewards program makes point redemption easy. Book your stay online or through the Hilton Honors app with  points (in 1,000 increments), money or a combination of the two. If you use your Hilton-branded American Express card, you’ll earn additional bonus points.

You can also book your stay by calling the following toll-free number: 1-800-4HONORS. Remember to tell the agent that you’ll be using Hilton Honors points.

Points don’t have to be used on a Hilton hotel stay, although it does offer the best value.

You can redeem points for once-in-a-lifetime experiences, purchases at the mall, Lyft rides, or exchange your points for rewards from Hilton travel partners. It may take up to 30 days for points exchanges to process.

Hilton points can also be used for Amazon purchases. To pay for something on Amazon with your Hilton Honors rewards points, simply link your Hilton Honors account to your Amazon account and select “Hilton Honors Points” as your payment method at checkout.

Best credit cards to earn Hilton Honors points

American Express offers four co-branded travel rewards cards that can help you accrue points even faster when you use your card to book a stay in the Hilton family of hotels, as well as on everyday purchases.

Hilton Honors American Express Card has no annual fee, and offers 7X Hilton Honors bonus points on direct Hilton hotel or resort purchases, as well as 5X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations and 3X points on all other eligible purchases. Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors bonus points when you spend $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card offers frequent travelers many opportunities to quickly earn points. Receive 125,000 Hilton Honors bonus points when you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership. Earn 12X  points on direct purchases in the Hilton portfolio and 6X points on purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations. The Surpass card also offers a flat rate 3X points on all other eligible purchases.

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card has a rewards structure similar to the Surpass card, but for business owners. The Hilton Honors Business Card comes with luxury travel perks like 10 Priority Pass™ visits and 6X points on business purchases (applicable on U.S. purchases for shipping, wireless telephone services purchased from U.S. providers and at U.S. gas stations).

The Hilton Honors American Express® Aspire Card comes with a hearty annual fee of $450, but it may still be worth it for frequent travelers. Card owners can offset the fee in part by using the card to book flights directly with airlines or through American Express Travel. You can also use points to pay for car rentals with select companies and dine at U.S. restaurants for 7X points per dollar spent.

The information for The Hilton Honors American Express® Aspire Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

How does Hilton Honors compare?

The Hilton Honors rewards program is easier to understand and use than ever before. Point values vary depending on the hotel reservation you’re booking (and may drop considerably if you’re using your points for flights or other travel or purchases), so it’s not easy to directly compare hotel loyalty programs strictly based on the value they offer.

U.S. News and World Report ranked Marriott Bonvoy™ as the number one hotel loyalty rewards program of 2019. In the same report, Hilton Honors was ranked 10th out of 15 programs evaluated. Benefits of Marriott Bonvoy over Hilton Honors include the fact that Marriott only requires 25 nights to earn a free stay or room upgrade while Hilton Honors guests get similar perks after 30 nights.

Marriott also has more locations and brands worldwide, with 7,266 hotels compared to Hilton’s 4,600 locations.

However, Hilton offers more budget-friendly options for your stay. Hilton’s straightforward points structure, as well as its partnership with American Express, elevates the program’s status and desirability.

Ultimately, it comes down to choosing the hotel rewards program affiliated with the brand of hotels you prefer and quickly using your points before they lose value. It also helps to take advantage of every opportunity to earn points by booking travel and paying for expenses with your hotel rewards credit card.

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.