Beginners’ guide to Hilton Honors – updated 2019

 

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Updated: 8th January 2019.

 

Introduction

Hilton, one of the most iconic names in the hospitality industry, has around 5500 hotels worldwide and fifteen brands in its portfolio. Its brands are:

As a European traveller, you're probably more suited to starting off with Hilton Honors than the other big chains given their presence in the European market, though their points are a lot less valuable than other chains. You should sign up for their membership programme since there is no cost in doing so.

Membership Levels:

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Hilton Honors is divided into four tiers:

  • Blue — 0 nights or 0 stays per year
  • Silver — 4 stays or 10 nights per year
  • Gold — 20 stays, 40 nights or 75 000 base points
  • Diamond — 30 stays, 60 nights or 120 000 base points.

The full membership benefits for each tier are listed here. Gold does provide some value in the middle tier loyalty market, because it gives free breakfast, and free internet on nearly all stays, though you should not actively divert spend into Hilton to try and qualify for it.

You earn 10 base points per 1USD you spend, before tax, on hotel overnight rates and other amenities charged to your room e.g. dinner or minibar. So effectively Gold and Diamond cost $7500 or $12000 at the worst case. Most people will qualify based on nights or stays requirements, or by having an eligible credit card. See the section “shortcuts to higher levels”.

Any nights you accrue over and above the tier threshold you last surpassed will count towards the next year. E.g. If you qualified for Gold and stayed 55 nights, then 15 nights will count towards next year, making your re-qualification a lot easier.

Do reward nights count towards elite qualification?

Yes.

Most Hiltons are actually very nice. This one in Rotterdam does have a somewhat unique view!

Most Hiltons are actually very nice. Though the last time I stayed in Rotterdam there was a big construction project next door! This has since been completed.

Shortcuts to higher levels:

Hilton Gold used to be notoriously easy to get instantly by having a Visa Infinite credit card. So easy in fact that simply by understanding how credit card numbers are generated you could mint your own Gold status here (though that offer has since expired). Things have tightened up since and fewer shortcuts are available.

American Express Platinum card holders (of nearly every country) are generally given Gold status. You should check with your local American Express page.

If you are lucky enough to have a US, Austrian, German or Japanese address you may be eligible for one of Hilton's own-brand credit cards which offer elite status for as long as you are a card member. These are generally cheaper than the American Express Platinum card versions above. At the extreme end you can maintain Diamond status for $450 annual card fee but Gold is possible for just $95 per year. Check all the different card options available on this page.

Hilton do allow Status Challenges to Gold or Diamond tiers. See this page to submit your request. If you have an elite level with a competing hotel chain you will be granted the equivalent level up front for 90 days. If you wish to maintain your status beyond the trial period and until March 2020 you will need to stay 4 or 8 times to qualify as Gold or Diamond respectively.

For one guy though, he managed to thread the eyes of many needles and hit Diamond with just £68 of Tesco vouchers.

Earning Points:

Staying at hotels

You earn 10 base points per 1USD you spend on your hotel bill before taxes. Silver members will earn a 20% bonus, Gold 80%, and Diamond 100% on top. In the past there used to be a ‘double dip' where you could earn air miles on top of the hotel room, but this was discontinued in 2018.

Regular promotions

Hilton runs promotions every now and then (normally quarterly) which you should always sign up for. Most of the time you will not see tangible boost in your points balance, but once in a blue moon they do offer genuine value. The latest one which covers Q1 2019, “Points Unlimited”, is surprisingly generous, giving 2000 points per stay (even if it lasts just one night) and 10000 points for every 5 stays with no upper limit on its earning. Promotion ends 5th May 2019.

Spending points:

Standard Room Rewards

Hilton does not use a fixed band chart to determine how many points a night will cost. It is unfortunate, but you just need to manually check the hotel price where you plan to stay and hope for the best!

5th night free

Silver, Gold or Diamond members can receive every 5th night free when they book a reward stay between 5 nights to 20 nights. This benefit suits those who collect a lot of points through the year but only holiday with family a few times per year and commit to staying in one hotel – i.e. if you have children!

Points and Money

The cheaper hotels do offer genuine value for your Hilton points if you select the “Points and Money” option. I can't give you the exact value as this varies hotel to hotel, but expect to pay somewhere between 2 000 — 20 000  plus $30USD-$100USD. Compare the cash you will offset by using the points (not forgetting the currency exchange). If you can get over €0.005 per point then it's already a good deal.

Elite Status Gifting

Diamond members are able to gift Gold and Diamond status to a friend if you stay 60 or 100 nights respectively. Note that the number of stays or base points does not matter in this situation, only the nights. Consider this benefit hard-earned.

 

Conclusion:

In a nutshell, I don't really see Honors as a programme where you try to earn and burn loads of points. I simply see this programme as a way to leverage your spending power by providing some extra benefits to their higher level tier members.

The full Terms and Conditions are here, dated 2nd January 2019.

 

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Comments

  1. I am a Hilton honors member membership No. 194120191
    I have yet to receive my card and noted that I stayed at Double 3 in Thailand for 5 nights and nothing was added into my points?

    What is happening here? or is all just mere TALK
    Please can someone respond via email as it has been almost 5 months

    • Jacqueline, this blog is in no way connected to Hilton’s administration. I would suggest you contact Hilton with this query than post the details on here.

    • I wouldn’t sweat not receiving your card. Their points system has not been working correctly since October of 2018. I’m about 10,000 points in arrears and they are no longer responding to my messages, except to say that processing is delayed due to new software. I’ve switched to Radisson and Hyatt for now. If my points show up and I get an apology, I may give them another chance.

  2. Quick question – just spent a little over 10,000 Euro’s on our 4 night stay at the Waldorf in Amsterdam and points shot up from an existing 5,400 to 282,564 implying that my stay must have generated a little over 200,000 points – does that not mean I ought to be in the diamond category? I was blue prior to my Amsterdam stay. Much obliged for an insight into this.

    • The status might not be updated immediately, even though the points have arrived, but it sounds like you easily re-qualified with that sort of spend. How long ago did your stay happen?

      If it’s been more than 5 days or so just call up Hhonors customer service and they should confirm it to you.

  3. Hi!
    Im quite often paying for my employees accommodation. So we easily booke 5 rooms at once.
    HHonors tells me I can always earn points only on 1 room. Not on all.

    Is that true?

  4. I stayed at a Hampton Inn, they advertise 100% guaranteed stay.

    We walked in got a room were given keys and headed to our room, however when I opened the door, there was a large man in his underwear who jumped off the bed when we entered the room.
    Scared the heck out of me… and him…. the person who checked us in gave us keys to the wrong room, we had to return to the front desk. And wait till she checked in other people, then tell her what happened. Not much of an opology. We had been on the road for 10 hours we were tired, all we wanted to do was to crash! She didn’t offer a discount, or points, or anything to compensate for her huge mess up. So embarassing….

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