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Hilton HHonors Double-Dipping: The Basics

by on May 22, 2012 · 19 comments

in Hilton

The Hilton HHonors program is known for its Double Dipping system of earning hotel points and airline miles, which can be a lucrative way to diversify your points and miles. I’ve never been a Hilton loyalist, so we’ve asked our new TPG Contributor Nick, who has been a Hilton Diamond for 5 years now, to explain how exactly this member benefit works, and which option is best for whom.

Hilton HHonors is unique in the world of hotel loyalty programs in that you can earn both points and miles for each qualifying stay at their hotels. Those familiar with the program know that this is referred to as “double-dipping,” and it offers a tremendous amount of flexibility, especially for those rich in hotel points but short on airline miles. However, it can also be quite confusing for someone new to the points game and unfamiliar with the different earning options at Hilton properties. It also can lead to some missed opportunities. In future posts, I will share some of my thoughts on maximizing these earning styles and various bonuses with Hilton HHonors, but this post will introduce the program and the key decisions you will need to make when deciding how to double dip.

For starters, the Hilton portfolio of hotels is one of the largest in the world, with over 3,750 properties across 84 countries. Hilton HHonors breaks down its hotels into three categories for earning purposes: full-service, discount, and extended-stay:

Full Service
Waldorf-Astoria
Hilton
Conrad
Doubletree
Embassy Suites
Hilton Garden Inn
Hilton Grand Vacations

Discount
Hampton Inn
Homewood Suites

Extended Stay
Home2 Suites (Note that I have never stayed in a Home2 Suites, as this is the newest member of Hilton’s portfolio, with only 11 properties currently open.)

Double Dipping Options
Regardless of where you choose to stay, you have three options for earning points (and miles, if you so desire):

1. HHonors Points + Variable Miles: The number you earn depends on how much you spend

2. HHonors Points + Fixed Miles: You earn a set number of miles per stay

3. HHonors Points + HHonors Points: Basically you earn a points bonus on top of base points

Here’s how those three styles work at the different property types:

Full-service

(WA, Hilton, Conrad, Doubletree, ES, HGI, & HGV)

Discount

(Hampton & Homewood)

Extended-stay

(Home2 Suites)

HHonors Points + Variable Miles**

10 HHonors Points + 1 mile per $ spent

10 HHonors Points + 1 mile per $ spent

5 HHonors Points + 1 mile per $ spent

(up to 100 miles)

HHonors Points + Fixed Miles

10 HHonors Points + 500 miles per stay

10 HHonors Points + 100 miles per stay

5 HHonors Points + up to 100 miles per stay

HHonors Points + HHonors Points

10 HHonors Points + 5 HHonors Bonus Points per $ spent

10 HHonors Points + 5 HHonors Bonus Points per $ spent

5 HHonors Points + 2.5 HHonors Bonus Points per $ spent

** Not every airline participates in the “Variable Miles” earning options (e.g. Korean and ANA do not), so be sure to select one that does if you choose this earning option. A list of the participating partners can be found here, and you can update your Hilton HHonors earning style and preferred “double-dip” partner by logging into your account and going to “My Profile” and then “Earning Points and Miles” on the left-hand side.

Keep in mind that these mileage-earning amounts are broad generalizations that apply mainly to the “traditional” programs like Delta, United, and American. You will see several partners that have different earning structures based on their frequent flyer program. For example, JetBlue and Virgin America offer 1 point for every $2 spent, while El Al offers 1 point for every $40 spent! For a complete breakdown of mileage earnings, click here.

What Makes Sense For You?
So when does it make sense to double-dip? As always, your mileage may vary, but here are some general scenarios I’d recommend for each earning style:

Points + Points
Select this earning style if you are:

-Rich in airline miles but short on hotel points: This is the quickest way to pad your HHonors account, so if you’ve racked up miles a bunch of miles through credit cards, flying, or promos like the US Airways Grand Slam and you’re looking to do the same with hotel points, this will be the best earning style for you.

-Not looking to fly anytime soon: If, for example, you have small children or are looking to travel with grandparents who cannot (or won’t) fly, this option will help earn points faster for free nights at hotels within driving distance.

If neither of these fit your earning situation and you do want to double-dip for miles, here’s a breakdown of where it makes sense to choose each option.

Points + Fixed Miles
Select this earning style if you are:

-Spending less than $500 at a full-service hotel or less than $100 at a discount hotel: Those figures are the set amount you earn no matter how much you spend, so if you’re just popping in for a night or two and won’t make it to the full $500 or $100 mark, might as well get the extra mileage!

-Double-dipping with an airline partner that doesn’t participate in the “Variable Miles” style: Be sure to check the link above to make sure you don’t lose out by choosing an airline partner who doesn’t participate in the Variable Miles option, since Hilton will NOT retroactively credit points or miles if you have the wrong earning style selected.

Points & Variable Miles
-Spending more than $500 at a full-service hotel or more than $100 at a discount hotel: However, remember that variable mileage earnings are calculated based upon your base rate (not including taxes and fees) and other eligible spending at restaurants, spas, etc., whereas fixed miles are a set amount no matter how much you spend. Also, additional points for eligible room charges are only offered at full-service hotels, so be sure your charges will be eligible and that your airline partner of choice participates in the Variable Miles option.

Confused yet? In order to make your life a bit easier, I have created an Excel spreadsheet that will show you the various point & mileage earning possibilities for an upcoming stay. Follow the simple directions at the top to set up the spreadsheet and see how the different earning options can significantly affect your points & miles. This will also help if your preferred partner doesn’t play by the rules of the legacy carriers (e.g. JetBlue, Air NZ, etc.). If you’d also like to see how much “value” you earn with each stay, you can input your valuation of each Hilton HHonors point and each partner point/mile at the bottom.

Here is the link where you can download the worksheet and calculate the points you’ll earn: Hilton HHonors Double Dip

One final thing to mention: your earning style can be changed as many times as you like during the year. However, the style in your profile at 11:59:59pm Central Time on the night you check out will dictate your earnings for that stay. This definitely adds yet another layer of difficulty (especially for stays in Asia!) but also allows a lot of flexibility if you change your mind at the last minute, or end up changing your stay so that choosing a different option makes more sense at the end than what you selected at the beginning. I’ll discuss this more in a future post, especially as it pertains to the US Airways Grand Slam.

Hilton HHonors can offer a lot of value and some great earning opportunities if you really know how to leverage the different options, and I hope this post has shed some light on how to do just that! Feel free to share your thoughts or ask any Hilton specific questions you might have.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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