Booking direct: How much value does Hilton status provide?

Mar 6, 2020

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When you’re determining how to book a hotel, it’s easy to only compare the final cost. But you may be forgetting to consider the value your elite status can provide — both in terms of benefits and earning — when you book directly with the hotel brand or through an eligible method.

In a four-part mini-series, I’m looking at the benefits and elevated earnings that you can obtain through different status levels at popular brands. Last week I kicked off the series with Marriott, so this week let’s turn our attention to Hilton.

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In This Post

Hilton status levels

Requirements for status per calendar year Earning rate on stays based on status (return BASED ON TPG VALUATIONS) Standout benefits that start at this status level
Member None 5x at Home2 Suites by Hilton and Tru by Hilton (3% return based on TPG’s valuations)

10x at all other Hilton properties (6% return)

No resort fees on reward stays

Standard in-room and lobby Wi-Fi

Second guest stays free

Silver 4 stays, 10 nights or 25,000 base points 6x at Home2 Suites by Hilton and Tru by Hilton (3.6% return)

12x at all other Hilton properties (7.2% return)

5th standard reward night free

Elite tier rollover nights

Gold 20 stays, 40 nights or 75,000 base points 9x at Home2 Suites by Hilton and Tru by Hilton (5.4% return)

18x at all other Hilton properties (10.8% return)

Space available room upgrade up to executive room type

Complimentary breakfast at all hotels

Unlimited milestone bonuses

Diamond 30 stays, 60 nights or 120,000 base points 10x at Home2 Suites by Hilton and Tru by Hilton (6% return)

20x at all other Hilton properties (12% return)

Space available room upgrade up to 1-bedroom suite room type

Executive lounge access

Related reading: What is Hilton Honors elite status worth?

How to get Hilton status

As shown in the table above, you can earn Hilton status organically through meeting the required number of stays, nights or base points each calendar year. But, the following credit cards also provide automatic Hilton elite status as a benefit, as long as you’re a cardmember:

Card Automatic Hilton status Earning rate at Hilton properties (return BASED ON TPG VALUATIONS) Annual fee
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card Diamond 14x (8.4% return) $450 (see rates and fees)
The Platinum Card® from American Express Gold 1x (2% return) $550 (see rates and fees)
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card Gold 12x (7.2% return) $95 (see rates and fees)
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express Gold 1x (2% return) $595 (see rates and fees)
The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card Gold 12x (7.2% return) $95 (see rates and fees)
Hilton Honors American Express Card Silver 7x (4.2% return) None (see rates and fees)

Most of the cobranded Hilton cards also offer the ability to earn higher tiers of Hilton status through spending. But since the Hilton Aspire provides top-tier Diamond status and multiple cards offer Gold status, it usually won’t make sense to spend on these cards solely to reach status.

The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related reading: Choosing the best Hilton credit card for you

What value does Hilton status provide?

Like most hotel chains, Hilton may not provide elite benefits or earning on bookings that aren’t made directly with Hilton or through other approved channels. This means that if you book through an online travel agent, credit card portal or even American Express’ Fine Hotels and Resorts program, you may not get elite benefits or earnings based on your elite status tier. It may be worth booking directly to ensure access to your elite benefits and earnings.

As with most hotel elite status tiers, Hilton status provides benefits in two primary areas: earnings and on-site perks. It’s difficult to estimate how much value you’ll get from on-site perks, but TPG Senior Editor Nick Ewen estimated the following values based on earning status organically while spending an average of $150 per night on eligible charges:

  • Silver: $5 per night
  • Gold: $27 per night
  • Diamond: $42 per night

At first glance, you may think these valuations are inflated. But let’s consider the valuation of Diamond elite status at about $42 per night: space-available upgrades up to 1-bedroom suites, complimentary breakfast and executive lounge access (at properties with executive lounges) can certainly provide $42 per night in value to some guests. For example, the breakfast and upgrades I received last year during stays at the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Fiji and DoubleTree Resort by Hilton in Penang, Malaysia were definitely worth $42 per night.

Hilton DoubleTree in Fiji (Photo by Katie Genter / The Points Guy)
Hilton DoubleTree in Fiji. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

You may value your particular status level differently, and even value the perks of your status differently for different trips. For example, complimentary breakfast may be extremely useful in expensive locations like the Maldives and French Polynesia. But this benefit won’t provide any value if you plan to eat breakfast away from the hotel each morning. Likewise, there’s no point in considering the value of executive lounge access if the property you’re going to stay at doesn’t have a lounge.

You can check out Nick Ewen’s helpful guide to What is Hilton Honors elite status worth to see his methodology. You can then use his methodology to calculate your own value per night for a particular stay based on your level of elite status. However, the value of elite status to you may be even greater than Nick’s valuations show, since his valuations only consider the point bonus provided on top of what is provided for base-level members.

So, let’s consider the points each level of elite status would earn on bookings with Hilton, as well as the value of these points based on TPG’s valuation of Hilton points at 0.6 cents each. For ease, let’s assume these bookings are not at Home2 Suites by Hilton or Tru by Hilton properties and hence earn at the full rate.

Status level Points earning rate (return based on TPG’S VALUATIONS) Points on $100 of qualifying charges Points on $150 of qualifying charges Points on $200 of qualifying charges Points on $500 of qualifying charges Points on $1,000 of qualifying charges
Member 10x (6%) 1,000 ($6) 1,500 ($9) 2,000 ($12) 5,000 ($30) 10,000 ($60)
Silver 12x (7.2%) 1,200 ($7) 1,800 ($11) 2,400 ($14) 6,000 ($36) 12,000 ($72)
Gold 18x (10.8%) 1,800 ($11) 2,700 ($16) 3,600 ($22) 9,000 ($54) 18,000 ($108)
Diamond 20x (12%) 2,000 ($12) 3,000 ($18) 4,000 ($24) 10,000 ($60) 20,000 ($120)

Ignoring the value of other benefits, such as upgrades, breakfast, lounge access and more, the above table shows the tangible value of the points you’ll receive for a range of qualifying charges when booking through eligible methods at each elite level. This allows you to estimate — based on your qualifying charges and elite level — how much value you’d be giving up in points alone (based on TPG’s valuation of Hilton points) when booking through a non-qualifying method.

Related reading: Amex vs. Citi vs. Chase: Which booking portal is best for hotels?

Related guides

For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Surpass Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Business Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Card, please click here.

Featured photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy.

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