How Do I Earn Base Points for Hilton Honors Elite Status?

Mar 5, 2019

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“Reader Questions” are answered twice a week by TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Ethan Steinberg.

Hilton Honors has a huge edge for those looking to qualify for elite status, as it offers the most avenues for doing so. Not only are there a variety of Hilton cards that provide automatic status (including top-tier Diamond), but Hilton also gives you the option to earn status through three different metrics: stays, nights or “base points.” TPG reader Shangyu wants to know what exactly counts as a “base point” towards these thresholds …

You need 120,000 Hilton base points a year to earn Diamond status. If I transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to Hilton, would that count?


Before we dive into the Hilton Honors terms and conditions, it’s important to note that transferring Membership Rewards points to Hilton represents a really poor redemption value. Even though points transfer at a 1:2 ratio (though you can currently do so with up to a 50% bonus), you will typically get much more value by transferring your Membership Rewards points to airlines instead.

Now back to the question at hand. There is only one way to earn Hilton Honors base points: spending on hotel stays. You’ll earn base points on the total dollar amount charged to your room, or the number that appears on your bill at check out. This would typically be the room rate plus any property charges like bars, dining or spa. Any other redeemable Hilton points you earn would not count. Elite bonus multipliers earned on top of that do not count as base points, nor do elite milestone bonuses that Hilton members have the chance to earn.

This is very similar to qualifying for airline elite status. Outside of a few specific credit cards, the only way to earn points or miles that count towards a carrier’s elite status qualification thresholds is by actually flying on a plane.

It’s probably good that transfers from Membership Rewards won’t help Shangyu qualify for Hilton Diamond status, because there are much easier ways to do so. Under most circumstances, if you aren’t earning top-tier elite status the “hard way” (through actual nights in a hotel), you’ll probably have a tough time getting the full value out of said status, but Hilton is an exception. If you want Diamond status but don’t travel all that frequently, you should absolutely consider the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card which comes with automatic Diamond status plus a slew of additional perks:

  • $250 annual airline incidental fee credit
  • $250 annual Hilton resort  credit
  • $100 property credit on eligible stays of two or more nights at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad hotels
  • Free weekend night certificates: one when your account is approved, one after you spend $60,000 on the card in a calendar year, and one each year after you renew your card

New cardholders can also take home a welcome bonus of 150,000 Hilton points after you spend $4,000 in purchases on the card within your first three months of cardmembership. Even though the card carries a $450 annual fee (See Rates & Fees), it’s easy to maximize these benefits during the year.

If you aren’t willing to commit to the Aspire and its high annual fee, you could consider the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card. This card comes with automatic Hilton Gold status and the ability to upgrade to Diamond by spending $40,000 a year. I’d personally recommend the Aspire if you’re even somewhat loyal to Hilton, but if you’re torn between the two cards, you can check out this comparison to help you make a decision.

Bottom Line

The only way to earn Hilton base points is by spending money at a Hilton property, either on the room rate itself or other charges like dining and spa treatment. If you’re after Hilton elite status, there are plenty of credit card shortcuts to help you get there faster, and unlike the standard qualification requirements of stays, nights or base points, the credit card avenue is much easier to repeat year after year.

Thanks for the question, Shangyu, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at

Featured photo of the Waldorf Maldives Ithaafushi courtesy of Hilton

For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire Card, please click here.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.