Hilton Honors points are a useful major points currency to consider if you have an affinity for the Hilton Hotels chain.
This guide gets into the guts of the programme, including hotel locations, how to get free status, stay benefits, and key redemption opportunities.
Hilton has a massive global reach of 4,900 hotels across a range of brands, including 23 in Australasia.
Six of these are in New Zealand, and we’ve provided direct links to each of these below:
Honors offers four status tiers in the following order (from lowest to highest): Member, Silver, Gold and Diamond.
You can find more information about the status tiers and benefits on the Honors website.
It’s worth it to join the programme just to get free internet and late-check out (where available).
Then, if you hold Silver or above, you’ll get the fifth night free on award redemptions of five or more nights, which comes in handy for longer stays.
If you have Gold, you’ll start getting free upgrades and breakfasts, with Diamond members enjoying Executive Lounge access.
Note that all Hampton hotels in China are currently excluded from the Hilton Honors programme.
Requirement: just enrolment in the programme
- Member rates
- Complimentary Internet
- Late check-out (where available, must request)
- Express check-out
- A second guest stays free in Member’s room on qualifying stays at hotels when there are additional charges for double occupancy
Requirement: 4 stays or 10 nights
In addition to Member benefits:
- Fifth night free for Standard Room Reward stays of five nights or more
- Complimentary access to fitness centres
- Two complimentary bottles of water per stay at Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Curio, Hilton, DoubleTree, Tapestry, Embassy, Garden Inn and Hilton Grand Vacations properties
- 20% points bonus
- Elite rollover nights
This is the one to aim for – it’s where the tangible benefits start to be seen.
Requirement: 20 stays, 40 nights or 75,000 Honors Base Points (or see automatic status with credit card and frequent flyer programmes below)
In addition to Silver benefits:
- Space-available upgrade at Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Tapestry, Curio and DoubleTree properties, including Executive Floor Lounge Access if upgraded to a room that usually has access to the Lounge (excluding Waldorf)
- Complimentary continental breakfast for two at Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Tapestry, Curio and DoubleTree properties, OR 1,000 bonus Hilton points
- 500 bonus Hilton points and space-available upgrade at Canopy properties
- 500 bonus Hilton points OR two snack/refreshment choices per stay at Embassy properties
- 750 bonus Hilton points OR daily cooked breakfast for two at Garden Inn properties
- 250 bonus Hilton points OR choice of snack and non-alcoholic beverage per stay at Hampton properties
- 250 bonus Hilton points OR choice of snack and 2 bottles of water per stay at Tru properties
- 250 bonus Hilton points OR two bottles of water and sweet snack per stay at Homewood properties
- 100 bonus Hilton points OR choice of snack and bottled water per stay per stay at Home2 properties
- 1,000 bonus Hilton points at Hilton Grand Vacations properties
- Special benefits for Maldives properties in place of complimentary room upgrade
- 80% points bonus
- 10,000 point milestone bonus once you stay 40 nights
Requirement: 30 stays, 60 nights or 120,000 Honors Base Points
In addition to Gold benefits:
- Guaranteed room availability when bookings are made at least 48 hours prior to arrival
- Premium high-speed internet access at some hotels
- Executive Floor Lounge Access at Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Conrad, Tapestry, Curio and DoubleTree properties, regardless of room type
- Upgrade benefit includes standard suites
- Complimentary continental breakfast for two at Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Tapestry, Curio and DoubleTree properties, AND 1,000 bonus Hilton points
- 1,000 bonus Hilton points and space-available upgrade at Canopy properties
- 1,000 bonus Hilton points OR three snack/refreshment choices per stay at Embassy properties
- 2,000 bonus Hilton points at Hilton Grand Vacations properties
- Ability to gift Gold or Platinum elite status to anyone, providing you have earned your status through stays (minimum 60 for Gold, 100 for Diamond)
- If you have had Diamond status for at least three years and have either earned 500,000 points or stayed a total of 250 nights, you can extend your status for one year for any reason
- 100% points bonus
- 40,000 point milestone bonus once you stay 60 nights
We’ve explained some of the above benefits in more detail later in this guide.
Get status with these credit cards and frequent flyer programmes
American Express Platinum Charge
You’ll automatically get Honors Gold status if you are an American Express Platinum Charge cardholder.
If you are a Velocity Gold member, you can choose between Gold status with either Honors or IHG Rewards. We recommend the former as IHG Gold doesn’t really offer many benefits.
Note that whichever you choose, you will only get for one year, and then you have to qualify within the hotel loyalty programme to retain that status level (even though you may continue to hold Velocity status).
If you are a Velocity Platinum member, you can choose between Diamond status with Honors, or Platinum with IHG Rewards. Again, we recommend the former as IHG Platinum doesn’t really offer many benefits, in particular breakfast or Executive Lounge access.
Again, you will only get Diamond for one year, and then you have to qualify within the hotel loyalty programme to retain that status level.
Elite Rollover Nights
Silver, Gold and Diamond members are able to rollover nights earned beyond their current elite tier requirements to count towards their elite tier status the following year. You must stay 10 nights to earn Silver, 40 nights for Gold, and 60 nights for Diamond. Thus, if you stay 20 nights in one year, you’ll be able to keep Silver status for two years.
Hilton Honors members will earn 10,000 bonus points on every 10th night, once you reach at least 40 nights in a calendar year. Once you hit your 60th night per year, you’ll receive an additional 30,000 bonus points.
For example, this is how many Hilton Honors points you’ll earn if you’re spending 70 nights at their hotels per year:
- 40 nights: 10,000 bonus, qualify for Gold status
- 50 nights: 10,000 bonus
- 60 nights: 40,000 bonus, qualify for Diamond status
- 70 nights (and so on): 10,000 bonus
Total: 70,000 points
This is a reward for those who earn Hilton Honors status the hard way, through stays.
Choosing your ‘MyWay’ benefits
You’ll have noticed that Gold and Diamond members often have a choice between earning either bonus points, or receiving snacks or drinks on their stay.
You can select your MyWay benefits by logging in at the Hilton Honors website, and then scrolling down to ‘My Profile’ which should be on the left-hand side of the page.
Click on ‘MyWay Hotel Benefits’.
Then scroll down to the property type that you want to select a benefit for.
You can change these preferences at any time before check-in, and can do so on the run with the Hilton app.
Honors Status Matching
Hilton usually offer status matching from other hotel loyalty programmes to try to attract your business. Here is the current status match promotion, which will run for all of 2018.
With a few easy steps, you can pool your points with up to 10 other members to use towards your next reward stay.
This is a smart way of bringing together small balances, to collect enough to make a redemption.
For example, X may be a Gold member with 15,000 points, and Y may have 5,000 points. Both wish to book one room for five nights at a 5,000 point property somewhere in Asia. For X as a Gold member, this would cost 20,000 points (with the fifth night free benefit). Y can transfer their points to X, who can then redeem for the five night stay.
Note that each Hilton Honors Member is limited to sending no more than 500,000 points, and receiving 2,000,000 points via Points Pooling or Transfers combined per calendar year.
There is a limit of 6 transfers to other member accounts, and 6 Hilton Points Pooling transactions per calendar year.
Points promotions from Honors can represent good value for topping up points balances for specific redemptions, but these offers aren’t usually great for speculative purchases.
You can purchase a maximum of 80,000 Honors points before bonuses each calendar year.
If you’re a new member, there is a waiting period for buying points of either:
- 30 days after enrolment if your account reflects activity (a hotel stay or earning of points through a Honors partner); or
- 90 days with no account activity
If you have an American Express Membership Rewards card, you can transfer points to the Hilton Honors programme at a 1:1 ratio.
Apart from being able to earn points from hotel stays, Kiwis can also earn Honors points with the following:
- Car rental with Alamo, Enterprise and National
- Hilton event planning
- Priority Pass membership
- Travelling Connect
There are a few ways in which you can use your hard-earned points:
- Stays at hotels
- Transfer to frequent flyer partners
- Car rental
- Hilton Shopping Mall
- Exclusive experiences
- On-property rewards
We explore a two of these options below.
The best value for redeeming points would be on stays – think low category hotels that are otherwise a little pricey, or high category hotels that are super expensive if paid for in cash (e.g. The Maldives).
Hilton do a pretty good job of explaining the different redemption options – fixed, or points + cash – over at their website.
The Hilton ‘Points Explorer‘ is a helpful tool to search for points rates for stays. You can filter by number of points, brand, and location.
Remember, if you’re a Silver member or above, you’ll get your fifth award night free on stays of five nights or more. This is particularly good benefit on those properties that only require 5,000 points per night.
Bear in mind that points bookings come with booking flexibility and free refunds, so make sure you factor that in your price comparison.
Frequent flyer points
Honors points can be exchanged for miles with numerous different frequent flyer programmes, including the following:
- Air New Zealand (5,000 points for 10 Airpoints Dollars)
- Velocity (10,000 points for 1,500 points)
- Qantas Frequent Flyer (10,000 points for 1,500 points)
- American Airlines AAdvantage (10,000 points for 1,500 miles)
- KrisFlyer (4,000 points for 500 miles)
- Asia Miles (10,000 points for 1,000 miles)
- British Airways Executive Club (10,000 points for 1,000 Avios)
- Avianca (10,000 points for 1,000 miles)
- Alaska Mileage Plan (10,000 points for 1,000 miles)
- United MileagePlus (10,000 points for 1,000 miles)
If you’re not a Hilton loyalist but happen to have ended up with a stash of points, being able to redeem these for points or miles is a good option.
You can find the full list of Honors offers here.
I personally find the Honors programme to be one of the most rewarding, and they have great engagement with members with frequent bonus point offers.
If you haven’t already, start by joining the programme for free, even if its just to lock in a discounted rate and free internet access.
Joining via this link will see you earn 2,500 points for your first stay (and I’ll pick up the same).
The best value to be had from the Honors programme is saving up your points for stays. Though if it looks as if you won’t be earning enough to redeem for nights, make sure you exchange what you have for frequent flyer points before they expire.
To get Gold status, have a look at getting the American Express Platinum Charge.
And, as always, keep an eye on your inbox and the Point Hacks website for current offers and bonus points promotions from Honors and other loyalty programmes.
All images courtesy of Hilton and associated brands.