Best Ways to Earn Points With the Hilton Honors Program
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Over the past year, it’s become much easier to earn Hilton Honors points. The hotel chain introduced a slew of new cobranded credit cards with American Express, offered a number of other opportunities to earn free hotel stays with everyday purchases and even launched a few lucrative hotel promotions. Even though Hilton Honors points aren’t the most valuable hotel currency out there, you can still get some solid use out of them.
But with so many ways to earn these points, it can be hard to keep them all straight. Today I want to highlight some of the best ways to earn Hilton Honors points as you work toward planning your next award trip.
Earning Through Hilton Hotel Stays
Hilton Honors is a hotel loyalty program at its core, so as you’d expect, you can earn Hilton Honors points when you stay at Hilton properties worldwide. Your earning rate is based on four factors:
- The type of hotel you’re visiting
- How much you paid for the stay
- Your Hilton Honors elite status
- Any promotions for which you’ve registered
By default, most Hilton properties earn 10 points per dollar spent on your room rate and other eligible charges (excluding taxes and fees). The only exceptions to this rule apply for stays at Home2 Suites by Hilton™ and Tru by Hilton™ hotels; you’ll only earn 5 points per dollar spent at these brands.
Additionally, those with Hilton Honors elite status earn an additional points bonus on each stay. Naturally, the higher the status tier, the more points you’ll earn. Here’s how many bonus points each tier earns:
- Silver (earned after 4 stays or 10 nights): 20% bonus, 2 extra points per dollar spent
- Gold (earned after 20 stays or 40 nights): 80% bonus, 8 extra points per dollar spent
- Diamond (earned after 30 stays or 60 nights): 100% bonus, 10 extra points per dollar spent
Additionally, it’s worth noting that Gold and Diamond members can earn additional bonuses at certain brands with the program’s MyWay Hotel Benefits. This varies by brand, but mid- and upper-level elite members can frequently choose between earning extra points or other welcome amenities at check-in. Here’s the full list as it pertains to bonus points:
- Gold members: 1,000 points per stay or a daily complimentary continental breakfast for you and a guest
- Diamond members: 1,000 points per stay and a daily complimentary continental breakfast for you and a guest
LXR Hotels & Resorts, Conrad, Curio, Hilton, DoubleTree and Tapestry Collection
- Gold members: 1,000 points per stay or a complimentary continental breakfast for you and a guest
- Diamond members: 1,000 points per stay and a complimentary continental breakfast for you and a guest
- Gold members: 500 points per stay
- Diamond members: 1,000 points per stay
- Gold members: 500 points per stay or two snack/refreshment choices per stay
- Diamond members: 1,000 points per stay or three snack/refreshment choices per stay
Hilton Garden Inn
- 750 points per stay or a complimentary breakfast for you and a guest
- 250 points per stay or choice of snack and non-alcoholic beverage
- 250 points per stay or choice of snack and two bottles of water per stay
- 250 points per stay or two bottles of water and a snack per stay
- 100 points per stay or choice of snack and bottled water per stay
Hilton Grand Vacations
- Gold members: 1,000 points per stay
- Diamond members: 2,000 points per stay
This means that you can rack up some serious Hilton Honors points for every Hilton stay. For example, if you’re staying at an Embassy Suites for one night on a $200 rate as a Diamond member, you’d earn the following:
- Base earnings ($200 x 10 points/$): 2,000 points
- Elite bonus (2,000 points x 100%): 2,000 points
- MyWay bonus (if you choose points instead of snacks): 1,000 points
Based on TPG’s most recent valuations, those earnings are worth $30, giving you a solid 15% rate of return on the stay.
But it can get even more rewarding …
Bonus Points Through Promotions
Like most hotel programs, Hilton frequently runs promotions that award bonus points for its Hilton Honors members. These offers make it even easier to earn Honors points on paid stays. For example, the current Points Unlimited promotion gives all Hilton Honors members 2,000 bonus points per stay and an additional 10,000 points for every 5 stays through May 4, 2019. This means that you can rack up some serious Hilton Honors points depending on how often you stay at Hilton properties.
If you add these 2,000 points to the above example stay, your total earnings jump to 7,000 points, boosting your rate of return to 21%.
Keep an eye on Hilton’s promotions page for an up-to-date list of promotions. You can also visit your own promotion page to see any targeted offers, verify your registration and track your progress. We recommend enrolling in all of them — after all, you never know when you may have a last-minute stay at a Hilton property.
Earn With Hilton Events
Planning a wedding, corporate function or other type of event at a Hilton hotel? Add your Hilton Honors number to your event after it’s booked and you’ll earn 1 Hilton Honors point per $1 spent on events up to $100,000. This may not sound like much, but can give you some huge returns if you’re planning an expensive multi-day corporate event. And remember too that Hilton just announced a new brand (Hilton Signia) targeted specifically towards business meetings, though we don’t yet know if it will offer even more lucrative offers for event planners.
Earning With Credit Cards
Hilton revamped its line of credit cards when it selected American Express as its exclusive cobranded card issuer. There are now four cards in the portfolio — three personal and one business — and each offers a different welcome bonus and set of benefits like complimentary status and resort credits. Here’s a look at all four of Hilton’s cobranded credit cards:
Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card ($95 annual fee) (See Rates & Fees): 125,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of card membership. Earn 12X points at Hilton hotels; 6X points at US restaurants, US supermarkets, and US gas stations; and 3X points for all other eligible purchases. Enjoy complimentary Gold status along with an upgrade to Diamond after spending $40,000 in a calendar year. You’ll also enjoy a free weekend night certificate when you spend $15,000 in a calendar year and 10 complimentary Priority Pass lounge visits per year. Check out our Hilton Amex Ascend review for full details.
Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express ($450 annual fee) (See Rates & Fees): 150,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in purchases on the card within the first 3 months of card membership. Earn 14X points at Hilton hotels; 7X points on flights booked directly with the airline, car rentals and at US restaurants; and 3X points for all other eligible purchases. Enjoy complimentary Diamond status, Priority Pass Select membership, an annual up to $250 Hilton resort credit and a free weekend night when you renew your card. Check out our Hilton Amex Aspire review for full details.
Hilton Honors American Express Card (No annual fee) (See Rates & Fees): 75,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card cembership. Earn 7X points at Hilton properties; 5X points at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations; and 3X points for all other eligible purchases. Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status and an upgrade to Gold after you spend $20,000 on the card in a calendar year.
The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card ($95 annual fee) (See Rates & Fees): 125,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of card membership. Earn 12X points at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio, 6X points on select business & travel purchases and 3X points everywhere else. Enjoy complimentary Gold status along with an upgrade to Diamond after spending $40,000 in a calendar year. You’ll also enjoy a free weekend night certificate when you spend $15,000 in a calendar year and 10 complimentary Priority Pass lounge visits per year.
Buy Hilton Points
Another way to boost your Hilton Honors balance is by purchasing points. Generally speaking, buying points or miles is a very poor value proposition, as you normally need to pay an exorbitant amount. However, with certain programs and under specific circumstances, it could make sense, especially if you’re within striking distance and just need to top up your account=.
Hilton is one such exception, as the program is currently offering a 100% bonus on purchased points. This brings the effective price down to 0.5 cents apiece, which is actually slightly less than TPG’s valuations. At this rate, it may make sense to purchase the points outright for a specific redemption if the cash rate is exorbitant.
Earn Through Partners
Like most loyalty programs, Hilton Honors has a suite of partners that you can use to earn even more Hilton Honors points. You can use these partners to boost your Hilton account balance on everyday activities like eating out, renting a car or shopping online. Here’s a look at some of the additional ways you can earn Hilton Honors points.
Transfer Points from American Express
You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Hilton Honors. The standard transfer ratio is now permanently 1:2, meaning that you can turn 1,000 Membership Rewards points into 2,000 Hilton Honors points. However, even with that improved ratio, we don’t necessarily recommend transferring your hard-earned Membership Rewards points to Hilton Honors unless you have a very specific redemption in mind. Our reasoning is simple: TPG currently values Membership Rewards points at 2 cents apiece, while Hilton points are valued at just 0.6 cents apiece. This means that you’re effectively losing 0.8 cents per point in value, not to mention missing out on some terrific sweet spots with the Membership Rewards program.
Note that the program is currently offering a targeted transfer bonus of up to 50% from Membership Rewards, allowing you to transfer 1,000 Amex points to up to 3,000 Hilton points. However, even if you’re given the 50% bonus, this still doesn’t make up the entire difference in valuations between the two programs.
Hilton Honors Dining
Hilton Honors Dining is Hilton’s own dining rewards program, and you can use it to earn extra points when you dine out at participating restaurants (viewable on the Hilton Honors Dining website). To earn points, just sign up for a Hilton Honors Dining account and link your favorite credit card(s) that you use for restaurant purchases. Then, when you swipe one of those cards at a participating restaurant, you’ll automatically earn extra Hilton Honors points. These points are in addition to regular points or miles you’d earn with your credit card, so make sure you link a card that earns bonuses on dining purchases for the highest points earning on eating out.
After signing up for Hilton Honors Dining, make sure to sign-up for email notifications. This will give you “online member” status so you’ll earn 5 Hilton Honors points per $1 spent at participating restaurants. If you opt out of receiving emails, your earning rate is cut down to just 2 points per $1 spent. While your privacy is important, giving your email address is a small price to pay for earning an extra 3 points per dollar spent — especially if you dine out a lot.
Finally, if you dine with Hilton Honors Dining 11 times in a one-year period, you’ll be upgraded to the service’s elite status tier. This boosts your earning rate to a whopping 8 points per $1 spent at participating restaurants, giving you an additional 4.8% return on your dining spend. You can keep your status indefinitely so long as you continue dining 11 or more times per year with the program.
Book a Rental Car
You can also earn Hilton Honors points when renting a car through Alamo, Enterprise or National. When you book your rental through the Hilton portal, you’ll earn 500 Hilton Honors per day of your rental up to 5,000 points — not bad if you’re already renting a car. Just note that you may not earn car rental rewards when booking through the Hilton Honors portal, and other programs may offer a better rate of return, so shop around with your preferred airline or hotel chain to make sure you’re getting the best earning rate.
Book a Cruise With CruisesOnly.com
Finally, if you’re booking a cruise and want to earn bonus Hilton points, consider using CruisesOnly. When booking through the Hilton Honors portal, you’ll earn a set amount of points based on how long your cruise is. Here are the details:
|Length of cruise||Hilton Honors bonus points|
Just like the car rental example above, many other airline and hotel loyalty programs offer bonus points or miles on cruises, so you’ll want to compare those rates to make sure Hilton is the best option.
Hilton Honors points are some of the easiest hotel points to earn. Not only can you rack up a nice amount of points from hotel stays and promotions, but its wide suite of cobranded credit cards makes earning easier than ever. Use a combination of the methods above to rack up hotel points towards your next hotel stay at any of Hilton’s nearly 6,000 worldwide properties.
Featured photo courtesy of Hilton Los Cabos.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Ascend Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Amex Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Business Card, please click here.
Welcome to The Points Guy!