Next up, we have Hilton. And fortunately, their global properties are a level above Paris Hilton’s 2003-era reality show, The Simple Life. However ironic, the late Conrad Hilton’s great-granddaughter was living everything but a simple life.
Don’t remember it? Well then, you’re in a better place than me 😅
ANYWAY… Hilton is another grand contender as far as hotel rewards programs go. To date, they’ve stamped their mark in 123 countries and territories with over 7,000 properties to choose from.
Considering the breadth of properties, a decent portfolio of Hilton Honors credit cards, and how easy it is to rack up Hilton points (more on that later), this rewards program has landed in our top picks.
Hilton offers three levels of elite status: Silver, Gold, and Diamond. An additional tier of “status” includes their Member tier that you’ll get just for signing up with the program.
And per usual, the higher elite status you hold, the more perks and benefits you’ll get 👇
Courtesy of Hilton Honors
Let’s sit down and chat a little bit about Hilton’s chart. Grab a coffee, or perhaps a beer, depending on what time it is wherever you are in the world 😎
You’ll get a few handy perks that include things like free WiFi, no resort fees on reward stays, and digital check-in/out (among others).
On top of these benefits, you’ll also earn between 5-10 Base Points per dollar depending on the type of Hilton property you stay at.
So just by signing up, without any financial commitment or credit card requirements, you’ll be earning points and will gain access to a few simple perks.
Now the elite statuses build from here. You’ll earn Hilton Honors Silver status after ten nights, four stays, or by earning 25,000 Base Points in a calendar year.
With Silver’s 20% points bonus, you’ll get 6x points per dollar (5 Base Points plus one bonus point) spent at Tru and Home2 brands, plus 12x points (10 base plus two bonus points) on all other Hilton properties.
You’ll also get perks like a 15% spa discount, elite rollover nights, and one (but sometimes TWO?!) free bottles of water 😆 Hey, if it’s free…
However, you do have the ability to earn Gold status with this card through the end of the year IF you spend $20K on it (within that calendar year).
You’ll reach gold after 40 nights, 20 stays, or by earning 75,000 Base Points in a calendar year.
Additional benefits include some good stuff… things like a daily food and beverage credit (U.S. only) or a continental breakfast (non-U.S. only), space-available room upgrades, and milestone bonuses (e.g. 10,000 bonus points every ten nights after you’ve stayed 30 nights in a calendar year)!
On top of all that, Gold status elites will get an 80% bonus bringing their point-earning potential to 9x points per dollar at True and Home2 brands, and 18x points per dollar on all other properties.
If you want this Gold status through a credit card, here are the ones that offer it (some require enrollment):
Here we go… you’ll be shining bright like a diamond (am I thinking of a Rihanna song? 😆) after 30 stays, 60 nights, or by earning 120,000 Base Points in a calendar year.
Other perks include room upgrades, executive lounge access, premium 👌 WiFi, and even elite status gifting.
You’ll also receive a whopping 100% bonus bringing your total to 10x per dollar at Tru and Home2 brands, and 20x per dollar at all other properties. That’s pretty freaking good. Actually, it’s REALLY freaking good.
Is achieving Diamond status possible through a credit card? The answer is YES. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card gifts you this as long as you keep your card open.
Plus, both the Hilton Honors Amex Surpass card and the Hilton Honors Amex Business card allow you to spend your way to be upgraded to Diamond status.
Elite status match:
There’s one other thing that you all should know about. Hilton will regularly offer a status match to Hilton Honors Gold or the ability to upgrade to Hilton Honors Diamond status!
Right now, you can request to match to Gold or upgrade to Diamond through March 31st, 2025, if you stay the required nights within the 90-day trial period.
Courtesy of Hilton Honors
You’ll need to put in some additional information and upload proof of your status, but DANG, talk about a fast-track way to climb to the top of the Hilton status totem pole.
There are always terms and conditions to these things (e.g. usually members who haven’t previously done a status match are eligible), so just read through the deets before you pull the trigger.
And remember, in order to book qualifying nights and have your elite status honored, you should book directly through Hilton (or an approved travel agent) and avoid going through a third-party site.
But hey, if you’re someone who only travels 2-3 times a year, then having instant access to elite status could definitely be a big push to get cozy with Hilton.
How to Earn Hilton Points
There are many ways to earn Hilton points, but I’d say the most popular are staying at Hilton properties and swiping certain credit cards. We’ll also list a few other options to keep you in “the know.”
Courtesy of Hilton Honors
As I mentioned above in our Elite section, you’ll earn at least 10x Hilton Honors Base Points for every dollar you spend at the majority of Hilton’s brands. However, you’ll earn just 5x on its Home2 Suites and Tru brands.
BUT, depending on the level of elite status that you hold, you’ll also earn bonuses on top of these Base Points:
Silver: 20% bonus (either 12x or 6x points total)
Gold: 80% bonus (either 18x or 9x points total)
Diamond: 100% bonus (either 20x or 10x points total)
PLUS, stay tuned because you can actually earn WAY more points if you hold elite status and have certain Hilton credit cards…
From time to time, Hilton will also run promotions that give you opportunities to earn bonus points on your stays, and sometimes these can be fairly large sums of points!
And if you’re ordering drinks at the bar, room service, or other services, be sure to charge those to your card or room as you’ll also get points for any miscellaneous purchases during your stay 👍
2. Credit Cards
Using one of Hilton’s co-branded Amex credit cards will be the fastest way to accumulate points. Here’s a chart that lays out some good-to-know categories around Hiton’s cards:
But here’s the fun points-earning part. You can combine the points per dollar you get with Hilton credit cards with the points you’d get because of your elite status.
I can see the gears turning in your little travel-hacking brain… 🧠💡
“So you’re telling me that if I, for example, have the Hilton Aspire card, I’ll not only get instant Diamond status which earns me 20x points per dollar spent at most properties, but then I’ll also get an additional 14x points per dollar at Hilton properties ON TOP OF THAT?? So… 20 + 14 = 34 points… for every tiny dollar? Is that… bonkers?”
IT IS BONKERS. And amazing.
But yes, you’re correct. To all the things you just said.
Other cards (that don’t cost you $450 a year) will also help you maximize your ability to earn points in this way (as you can see in the chart), but woah, if you want to go big (and earn big), then you can aspire to get the… Aspire card 😅
3. Transfer Partners
With all of Hilton’s co-branded credit cards being from American Express, you probably guessed that Hilton is also an Amex rewards transfer partner.
One Amex point will equal two Hilton points—though at the time of writing, you can see they’re offering a 30% transfer bonus 👇
But because Amex points are typically worth more than Hilton points, I don’t advise making all (or really many) of your transfers this way.
Hilton deals definitely come along, but in general, you’re Amex points will be best spent on a coveted business-class seat by transferring to a partner airline!
4. Ride with Lyft
You can link your Hilton Honors and Lyft accounts in order to start earning 3x points per dollar on Lyft rides (this includes economy, luxury, and extra seats). Plus, you’ll earn 2x points per dollar on shared Lyft rides.
And, if you feel so inclined, you can also redeem Hilton Honors points for Lyft credits… but that won’t be the best use of them. However, if you’re in a pinch, you’ve got that option.
As an additional side note to this, if you’ve got the Bilt Mastercard®, you could also earn up to 5x points if you’re paying for your Lyft with this card. And if you take three Lyft rides per month, Bilt will reward you with a $5 monthly Lyft credit to use in the future.
5. Hilton Honors Dining
If you want to score a few extra points just from eating… you’ve come to the right place.
You first need to sign up for the program and link one of your cards to your Hilton Honors Dining account. Search for participating restaurants in your area (quite a few came up in Seattle for me) and earn between 2-8x Bonus Points per dollar spent.
These bonus points will be in addition to the rewards points you would already be earning on whatever card you linked.
So you can see how your points would multiply if you’re using a card that gets you 3x or 4x points per dollar on dining, but then would also receive maybe an extra 6x Bonus Points from Hilton’s Dining program.
It’s also important to know that if you link a card that is already enrolled in a dining program elsewhere (say Marriott’s, for example), that card will automatically be removed from Marriott’s program if you choose to enroll it with Hilton’s.
You can’t double-dip on this one 🤷🏻♀️
Free Night Rewards/Certificates
Hilton offers these free night rewards, or “certificates” in a variety of ways—whether you’re gifted one on your cardmember anniversary, or you reach certain spending requirements each year.
And over the last couple of years, Hilton has made some significant changes to their free night rewards policies… mostly in our favor 😎
Just keep in mind that these certificates can only be used for standard award rooms (and not for upgraded accommodations/premium room rewards).
If you reference our Hilton credit cards chart above, you’ll be able to see which of those cards come with a free night reward and under what circumstances or what spending requirements are needed.
These certificates can be redeemed at most Hilton properties worldwide, but there are some excluded properties you can see here.
This actually makes Hilton’s free night certs pretty dang valuable when you compare them to other big-hitter hotel rewards programs.
And that’s because Hilton’s free night rewards are essentially uncapped—meaning they aren’t point-dependent ‼️
Let me say this again. You could book a 50,000-points-per-night stay at a decent hotel, or you could book a 150,000-points-per-night stay at the nicest place you’ve ever seen in your life… and it’s all the same.
How to Redeem Hilton Points
1. General Award Nights
Hilton doesn’t have a standard award chart, but they do offer this cool Points Explorer tool. It allows you to search for properties based on location and number of points you’d like to spend per night.
I personally love the sliding bar feature which makes it super customizable 👇
Courtesy of Hilton
Once you’ve put in all the different filters you’d like, you can hit search and see what comes up in that destination.
A search for properties in Edinburgh (based on the criteria I put in) came up with a few different options to choose from.
Courtesy of Hilton
Obviously, results will vary widely depending on location, availability, points you’re willing to spend, etc.
And while this is a really helpful tool during the planning process, the points may not match exactly to what is currently on a property’s website (since this search function uses historical data). It never seems to be too far off, but just keep that in mind—you’ll still need to go directly to that particular property when booking.
I also love the idea of letting your points stretch farther by using a combo of cash and points. And Hilton lets you do that with their Points & Money feature!
This function also operates on a sliding scale, so whether you want to split up your award stay by using fewer points and paying a little cash, OR you don’t quite have enough points for a stay, you’re able to split the difference and still make it happen!
2. Fifth-Night Free Awards
As I mentioned before, Silver, Gold, and Diamond elite members get access to fifth-night free award stays. And just as it sounds, you’ll get every fifth night free for consecutive stays of five nights or more.
There’s no limit to how many times you can take advantage of this per year (which is cool), but Hilton will cap you at four free nights per stay… so you’d only be able to stay at a property for 20 nights (getting four of those free).
For example, you couldn’t aim for 25 consecutive nights hoping you’d get a fifth night free (in total). But… come back another time (on a separate stay), and it would be honored.
3. Free Night Certificates
Additionally, you may recall that some of Hilton’s credit cards also offer the opportunity to be gifted or earn additional free night awards.
The one inconvenience and annoying aspect about redeeming free night certificates (coming from a millennial who will do anything to avoid talking on the phone), is that you cannot redeem a free night through an online booking…
You must call Hilton at 800-446-6677. But before you even call them (cringe 😅), do a search to see if they have available award stays for your dates.
From there, it’s pretty straightforward. Let them know you’d like to book using one of your certificates, and it should be sitting in your account waiting for you.
4. Transfer or Pool Your Points
Like with Marriott, you can transfer points to around 40 different travel partners (with many of them being airlines).
This usually isn’t favorable, though, and I would only do this in very specific situations where you might occasionally get some sort of benefit.
However, you can transfer or “pool” your Hilton points with up to ten people—free of charge! If you don’t have enough points individually to book a stay, chances are that if you combined your points with friends or family, you probably would 🎉
5. Hilton Honors Experiences
Hilton Honors Experiences are unique in that they’re a non-hotel type of award! But… some of these experiences are pretty cool. I would totally drop 25K points on a couple’s massage in India.
You can see there’s other options from attending a soccer (football 🇬🇧) game in Manchester to crafting up cocktails in a Mixology class in the Maldives.
There are all types of experiences… and I mean ALL types 👇
Some of these experiences are listed at fixed prices, while others are in an auction format where you can bid a certain amount of points.
It’s worth scrolling through in case you find something you’d really like to do, and if it would make sense for you to spend some of your Hilton points that way.
These Hilton Honor’s Milestone Bonuses allow Gold and Diamond members to earn a fixed amount of bonus points once they stay a certain number of qualifying nights in a calendar year.
For example, you could get 10,000 bonus points after staying 40 qualifying nights, plus an additional 30,000 points once 60 qualifying nights are completed.
It’s a fun bonus that’ll help you boost your points and add to your prized point stash 😎
Bottom Line: Hilton is Best for Travelers Who
Are a fan/user of Amex Membership Rewards points and co-branded credit cards
Aren’t sure where in the world you’d like to travel
Can often book five-night stays at a time
Want instant, easy elite status (but are okay if some of those perks aren’t always available)