Hilton Honors Rewards Program Guide

Hilton Honors Guide: How to Earn and Use Points

A smiling woman sits on a couch in a spacious and luxurious hotel lobby and speaks on the phone.
•••

wera Rodsawang / Getty Images

With lots of properties and easy-to-use rewards, the Hilton Honors Rewards Program packs on the perks for travelers, especially if they can reach elite status. Here’s what you need to know about earning and using Hilton Honors points, the loyalty rewards that you earn with each hotel stay. 

Key Takeaways

  • Hilton Honors is free to join and worth doing for anyone who travels a few times per year and prefers staying at Hilton properties.
  • There are Hilton-branded hotels to choose from all around the world, but award stay prices fluctuate by location, date, and room type.
  • Hilton Honors members earn points by booking stays with Hilton; opening up a Hilton credit card boosts points earning and awards automatic elite status in the program, which unlocks extra benefits.
  • Although Hilton Honors points have a lower value compared to other hotel loyalty programs, you can maximize them by booking stays directly (and strategically) with Hilton properties.

What Is the Hilton Honors Rewards Program? 

Hilton Honors is the 34-year-old loyalty rewards program for Hilton, one of the world’s largest hotel operators. Hilton Honors members earn points for money they spend on hotel stays within the hotel’s portfolio of brands. Members can use those points to book nights at a Hilton hotel or resort, book airline flights and car rentals, shop online, and more.

How Can You Enroll in Hilton Honors?

You can sign up for a free Hilton Honors membership online. Hilton will assign you a loyalty number, which needs to be attached to all your hotel stays to earn points. 

After signing up for Hilton Honors, immediate member benefits include online check-in, free standard Wi-Fi at many properties, and discounted per-night rates at eligible hotels.

What Hotels Are Part of the Hilton Hotels & Resorts Brand Network?

Currently there are 18 different brands in Hilton's network.

The modern Hilton hotel brand got its start back in 1919 when founder Conrad Hilton bought a hotel in Cisco, Texas. The very first Hilton hotel, Hilton Dallas, opened in 1925. In 1927 the Hilton Waco debuted, featuring cold running water and air-conditioning. 

Fun fact: In 1947 the New York City Roosevelt Hilton became the world's first hotel to put TVs in guest rooms. Today, Hilton brands include more than 5,600 properties in 113 countries and territories. 

Pros and Cons of Hilton Honors

Pros
  • Lots of hotels in the Hilton brand network

  • No blackout dates or room restrictions when booking a room with points

  • Resort fees are waived for all stays booked using points

  • Automatic elite status for Hilton-branded credit cardholders


Cons
  • Award nights at premium hotels offer less value than similar offerings from competitors

  • Average point value is second-lowest among major hotel rewards programs, based on The Balance’s research


How To Earn Hilton Honors Points

Hilton Honors members can earn points in many ways, and not all earning involves staying at a hotel or resort (although that’s a good place to start). 

Stay at a Hilton Portfolio Hotel, Resort, or Property

You’ll earn 10 points per $1 spent on most reservations, which includes your room rate and other eligible charges, such as phone calls and room service. 

At Home2 Suites by Hilton and Tru by Hilton hotels, you’ll earn 5 points per $1 spent on the per-night room rate only. 

Guests who stay more frequently at Hilton hotels may earn more points per $1 spent, too. Once you earn elite membership, you can earn as many as 20 points per $1 spent at your hotel (or 10 points at Home2 and Tru properties). We’ll dig into all the perks associated with Hilton Honor’s elite status benefits below. Regardless of where you stay or your elite status, you won’t earn rewards on taxes and fees, which is pretty standard. 

Always book your hotel stays directly with Hilton either online, through the mobile app, or by calling Hilton Reservations. That ensures you’ll earn points on your reservation. You can’t earn points on hotel stays booked through a travel agency, as part of a tour package, or a third-party website like Expedia or Kayak.

Use Hilton Credit Cards

Increase your earnings by opening and using a Hilton-branded credit card from American Express:

  • Hilton Honors American Express Card: Earn 7 Hilton Honors Bonus points per $1 spent at Hilton hotels or resorts, 5 points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, and then 3 points per $1 on everything else. 
  • Hilton Honors Surpass American Express Card: Earn 12 Hilton Honors Bonus points per $1 spent at Hilton hotels or resorts, 6 points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, and then 3 points per $1 on everything else.
  • Hilton Honors Aspire American Express Card: Earn 14 Hilton Honors Bonus points per $1 spent at a Hilton hotel or resort, 7 points per $1 spent on flights booked directly with an airline or through Amex Travel, on car rentals booked with select rental companies, and at U.S. restaurants, and then 3 points per $1 on everything else.
  • Hilton Honors Business American Express Card: Earn 12 Hilton Honors Bonus points per $1 spent at Hilton hotels or resorts, 6 points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants and gas stations, on flights booked directly with an airline or through Amex Travel, on car rentals booked with select rental companies, and on cellphone service purchased from U.S. providers. You’ll also earn 3 points per $1 spent on everything else.

These earning rates are on top of what you earn as a Hilton Honors member, which is why Hilton calls them “Bonus points.” So, if you pay for a hotel stay with a Hilton Honors American Express Surpass card, you’ll earn 10 points per $1 spent on the room rate and related purchases for being a Hilton Honors Gold member, which you automatically get by opening this card (more about that below), and then 12 points per $1 spent on the total purchase by paying with that card—for a total of 22 points.

Base Points vs. Bonus Points

Base points are the other type of points. Hilton Honors offers you Base points and Bonus points in any combination for stays and other rewards. 

  • You earn Base points on dollars spent on stays at Hilton properties. Base points are used to determine elite-tier status (Silver, Gold, Diamond).
  • You earn Bonus points in a variety of ways—through spending on a Hilton-branded credit card, car rentals, or online shopping. Bonus points are not used to determine elite-tier status.

All four of the Hilton credit cards offer a sum of bonus points to new cardholders who can meet a spending requirement soon after opening a card account. There’s no limit to how many points you can earn with a Hilton credit card, either. 

If hotel and travel perks are important to you, the fastest way to access such benefits is by opening a Hilton credit card. Not only will you automatically earn elite status (which means you’ll earn points faster), you may also get extra perks like additional reward nights and statement credits, depending on the card. 

Transfer Credit Card Points or Miles to Hilton Honors

If you’re looking to fatten your Honors points stash, you may be able to convert points or miles from other loyalty programs into Honors points. Here are the programs that allow such conversions:

  • 5,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards points = 10,000 Hilton Honors points
  • 10,000 Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles = 15,000 Hilton Honors points
  • 10,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles = 15,000 Hilton Honors points

If you have American Express Membership Rewards points or Diners Club International Club Rewards, you can also turn those rewards into Hilton Honors points. Exchange rates vary depending on your country of residence, but if you live in the U.S., these are your transfer ratios: 

  • 1,000 Amex Membership Rewards points = 2,000 Hilton Honors points (transfers must be made in 1,000-point increments) 
  • 1,250 Diners Club Rewards points = 2,000 Hilton Honors points (transfers must be made in 1,250-point increments)

In general, Hilton Honors has a less-than-impressive average points value, according to our calculations, so transferring other loyalty points in will likely mean a loss of value. For example, The Balance values Amex Membership Rewards points at 1.1 cents each, while Hilton points are worth 0.48 cents. Therefore, 10,000 Amex points are worth $110 but converted to 20,000 Hilton Honors points, they would only be worth $96, on average. For HawaiianMiles, 10,000 miles (worth $126) would be worth just $72 as 15,000 Hilton Honors points, on average. The conversion may still be worth it for you, depending on your travel goals and prevailing rates when you’re thinking of traveling, but it’s worth noting the average difference in values.

Other Ways To Earn Hilton Honors Points

In addition to hotel bookings, you can pump up your points with other travel-related spending.

  • Ride with Lyft: Connect your Hilton Honors account to your Lyft account to earn 3 points per $1 spent on economy and luxury rides, and extra seats. You’ll also earn 2 points per $1 spent on shared Lyft rides. 
  • Rent a car with Alamo, Enterprise, or National: Earn 2,000 Hilton Honors Bonus points per day when you book and complete a qualifying rental using your Hilton Honors number.
  • Dine at participating restaurants: Sign up for Hilton Honors Dining and earn 1,000 Bonus points after you spend $25 at participating restaurants and complete an online review in the first 30 days. Afterward, continue to earn points for every $1 spent at participating restaurants, bars, and clubs. 
  • Host a meeting or event at a Hilton hotel: Earn 1 point per $1 spent hosting a meeting, conference, wedding, or other special event at a participating hotel through the Hilton Honors Event Planner Program. There’s no minimum spend requirement and you’ll earn points on up to $100,000 of your final bill.  
  • Buy or Pool Hilton Honors points: There’s an option to buy points online or through the Hilton Honors mobile app, but you’ll want to tread carefully to see if you can make it worthwhile—most times, you can’t. But if there’s a promotion that offers bonus points when you buy, or if you can buy enough points to cover a stay for less cash than it would cost to pay the room outright, then go for it. You can also combine points with up to 10 other Hilton Honors members to quickly accumulate points (a minimum of 1,000 points per transfer, and up to 500,000 points per year). 

Do Hilton Honors Points Expire?

Yes, but only if you don’t do any of the following for 15 consecutive months: 

  • Stay at a Hilton hotel or resort
  • Book an award stay
  • Earn or spend points with a dining, travel, or shopping partner
  • Use a Hilton-branded credit card
  • Buy Hilton Honors points
  • Donate Hilton Honors points

How To Use Hilton Honors Points

The average value of Hilton Honors points is on the low end of hotel-branded rewards based on the programs evaluated by The Balance, but some redemption options get you more value for your points than others. To squeeze the most value out of each point, stick to hotel stay bookings rather than other redemption choices. 

Book Hilton Hotel Stays

The Balance found Hilton Honors points are only worth about 0.48 cents each, on average, when used to book award stays at Hilton hotels and resorts. That’s less than a third of the value offered by the highest value hotel loyalty program points (Hyatt’s “World of Hyatt”).

You can eke a bit more value from your points by using them to book nights at premium hotels, which is often the case with hotel loyalty program rewards. 

What Do Hilton Award Stays Cost?

Because Hilton does not publish an award chart, you’ll have to do some sleuthing and number-crunching to get the most value for your points. Points prices vary and change in real time, depending on the property and the date. The minimum points you’ll need for an award night in the U.S. is 10,000, but specialty properties can go as high as 120,000 per night. Off-peak stays typically require fewer points.

How To Book Stays

  • Book with Points: Redeem rewards to book a stay in increments of 1,000 points, starting at 5,000 points.
  • Book with Points & Money: Members can choose to use a combination of money and points for their bookings (starting at 5,000 points and in 1,000 point increments), giving more flexibility to choose the type of room you want, and control how much you pay out of pocket. 

Upgrade Hotel Reservations

Hilton does not allow members to use points to upgrade an existing reservation, but for new bookings, you could choose the ‘'Points and Money” payment option to find an upgraded accommodation that’s beyond your points balance. 

Transfer to Airline Partners

Hilton allows you to exchange points and miles with more than 30 participating airline and rail mileage rewards programs, including Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines. 

Other Ways To Use Hilton Honors Points

Like many loyalty rewards programs, you can use Hilton Honors points for other purchases besides award stays. However, we don’t recommend using your points this way unless the per-point value is better than what you’d get by booking an award stay. 

  • Book or bid on a food, culture, sports, or music experience package
  • Use Amazon.com Shop With Points 
  • Gift points to another Hilton Honors member
  • Donate points to a charitable cause via PointWorthy

We consider a points redemption value of 1 cent per point to be the floor for determining value. Anything less than that is a poor use of points and anything more is good value. The Hilton Honors point value of 0.48 cents for hotel stays is disappointing, although you can earn more points per dollar spent than with Hyatt’s loyalty program (which boasts the most valuable points).

Hilton Honors Elite Status: Silver, Gold, and Diamond

Loyal Hilton fans can earn elite status within the Hilton Honors program to access additional hotel perks such as complimentary breakfast and room upgrades, along with even higher point earning rates. There are three Hilton Honors elite status tiers: Silver, Gold, and Diamond. 

How To Earn Hilton Honors Elite Status

You can earn an elite member status with Hilton Honors by reaching one of three thresholds between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 each year based on the following: 

  1. Number of stays at a hotel or resort within the Hilton network
  2. Number of nights spent at a Hilton hotel or resort
  3. Number of Hilton Honors Base points earned (Bonus points don’t count toward this requirement)

The requirements for each option depend on which status level you’d like to achieve, but in a nutshell, the more you spend and stay at Hilton hotels and resorts, the higher the status you may qualify for: 

  Silver Gold Diamond
For 2021 2 Stays
5 Nights
12,500 Base points
10 Stays
20 Nights
37,500 Base points
15 Stays
30 Nights
60,000 Base points
For 2022  4 Stays
10 Nights
25,000 Base points
20 Stays
40 Nights
75,000 Base points
30 Stays
60 Nights
120,000 Base points

To instantly earn elite status, open a Hilton-branded credit card. You’ll automatically be awarded a status tier (which varies by card) and have access to its benefits just by opening an account.

Once you earn elite status, you’ll have that status level for the remainder of the year, and the next calendar year. You’ll have to requalify for elite status each year, but any nights in excess of your current tier requirements will roll over to the next year. That means if you spend 45 nights at a Hilton hotel in 2022, you would qualify for Gold status by reaching the 40-night minimum requirement, and those five additional nights will apply to your status qualification count the following year. 

Diamond Hilton Honors members have a one-time option to extend their status tier for another year if they have three total years as Diamond members (nonconsecutive years are OK), or 250 or more nights or 500,000+ earned Base points since joining Hilton Honors.

Benefits of Hilton Honors Elite Status

All Hilton Honors members enjoy: 

  • Guaranteed Hilton Honors discount rate when you book on Hilton.com or the app
  • No resort fees on reward stays
  • Digital check-in
  • Choose your room
  • Digital key to unlock doors with the Hilton Honors app
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Access to Hilton Honors Experiences

Gold and Diamond status members can also customize their stays at participating properties by selecting their preferred benefits (such as room upgrades, Bonus points, or complimentary continental breakfast) using MyWay Hotel Benefits.