Best ways to earn points with the Hilton Honors program

Apr 7, 2020

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Editor’s note: The team at The Points Guy loves to travel, but now is not the time for unnecessary trips. Health officials note that the fastest way to return to normalcy is to stop coming in contact with others. That includes ceasing travel. We are publishing travel deals because we should all use this time to think about and plan our next adventures. TPG doesn’t advise booking trips for travel until the late spring or early summer — and even then be mindful of cancellation policies.

This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.

Over the years, it’s become much easier to earn Hilton Honors points. The hotel chain partners with American Express in offering four cobranded Hilton credit cards and periodically runs lucrative hotel promotions. Even though Hilton Honors points aren’t usually as valuable as other hotel points, you can still get solid value if you know how to maximize your Hilton redemptions.

But with so many ways to earn these points, it can be hard to remember all your options. We’ll highlight some of the best ways to earn Hilton Honors points as you work toward planning your next award trip.

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In This Post

Earn Hilton points through hotel stays

Hilton Honors is a hotel loyalty program at its core, so as you’d expect, you can earn Hilton Honors points when you stay at Hilton properties worldwide. Your earning rate is based on four factors:

  • The type of hotel you’re visiting
  • How much you paid for the stay
  • Your Hilton Honors elite status
  • Any promotions for which you’ve registered

By default, most Hilton properties earn 10 points per dollar spent on your room rate and other eligible charges (excluding taxes and fees). The only exceptions to this rule apply for stays at Home2 Suites by Hilton and Tru by Hilton hotels; you’ll only earn 5 points per dollar spent at these brands.

Additionally, those with Hilton Honors elite status earn an additional points bonus on each stay. The higher the status tier, the more points you’ll earn. Here’s how many bonus points each tier earns:

  • Silver (earned after 4 stays or 10 nights): 20% bonus, 2 extra points per dollar spent
  • Gold (earned after 20 stays or 40 nights): 80% bonus, 8 extra points per dollar spent
  • Diamond (earned after 30 stays or 60 nights): 100% bonus, 10 extra points per dollar spent

Related: What is Hilton Honors elite status worth?

Additionally, it’s worth noting that Gold and Diamond members can earn additional bonuses at certain brands with the program’s MyWay Hotel Benefits. This varies by brand, but mid- and upper-level elite members can frequently choose between earning extra points or other welcome amenities at check-in. Here’s the full list as it pertains to bonus points:

Waldorf Astoria

  • Gold members: 1,000 points per stay or a daily complimentary continental breakfast for you and a guest
  • Diamond members: 1,000 points per stay and a daily complimentary continental breakfast for you and a guest

LXR Hotels & Resorts, Conrad, Curio, Hilton, DoubleTree and Tapestry Collection

  • Gold members: 1,000 points per stay or a complimentary continental breakfast for you and a guest
  • Diamond members: 1,000 points per stay and a complimentary continental breakfast for you and a guest

Canopy

  • Gold members: 500 points per stay
  • Diamond members: 1,000 points per stay

Embassy Suites

  • Gold members: 500 points per stay or two snack/refreshment choices per stay
  • Diamond members: 1,000 points per stay or three snack/refreshment choices per stay

Hilton Garden Inn

  • 750 points per stay or complimentary breakfast for you and a guest

Hampton Inn

  • 250 points per stay or choice of snack and non-alcoholic beverage

Tru

  • 250 points per stay or choice of snack and two bottles of water per stay

Homewood Suites

  • 250 points per stay or two bottles of water and a snack per stay

Home2 Suites

  • 100 points per stay or choice of snack and bottled water per stay

Hilton Grand Vacations

  • Gold members: 1,000 points per stay
  • Diamond members: 2,000 points per stay

Related: How to get free hotel breakfast

Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa overwater bungalows (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)
Your elite status bonuses can add up quickly at properties like the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa. (Photo by Darren Murph/The Points Guy.)

This means that you can rack up some serious Hilton Honors points for every Hilton stay. For example, if you’re staying at an Embassy Suites for one night on a $200 rate as a Diamond member, you’d earn the following:

  • Base earnings ($200 x 10 points per dollar): 2,000 points
  • Elite bonus (2,000 points x 100%): 2,000 points
  • MyWay bonus (if you choose points instead of snacks): 1,000 points

Based on TPG’s most recent valuations, those earnings are worth $30, giving you a solid 15% rate of return on the stay.

But it can get even more rewarding …

Bonus points through promotions

Like most hotel programs, Hilton frequently runs promotions that award bonus points for its Hilton Honors members. These offers make it even easier to earn Honors points on paid stays. For example, the current Unlimited Points promotion gives all Hilton Honors members 2,000 bonus points on all stays, and an additional 10,000 points for every 10 nights.

So if you were to stay at Hilton properties for 20 nights during the promotion period across five individual stays, you could earn a whopping 30,000 bonus points with this stay. Remember, these points are earned in addition to the points you earn for staying at a Hilton property, so the total points earned in this example would depend on the cost of each stay, the member’s status and what type of properties the member stayed at.

Keep an eye on Hilton’s promotions page for an up-to-date list of promotions. You can also visit your own promotion page to see any targeted offers, verify your registration and track your progress. We recommend enrolling in all of them — after all, you never know when you may have a last-minute stay at a Hilton property.

Earn Hilton points with credit cards

Hilton revamped its line of credit cards when it selected American Express as its exclusive cobranded card issuer. There are now four cards in the portfolio — three personal and one business — and each offers a different welcome bonus and set of benefits like complimentary status, resort credits and an annual weekend night certificate.

(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy.)

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

Earn 125,000 bonus points after you use your new card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership. Earn 12x points at participating Hilton hotels; 6x points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 3x points for all other eligible purchases. Enjoy complimentary Gold status along with an upgrade to Diamond after spending $40,000 in a calendar year. You’ll also enjoy a free weekend night certificate when you spend $15,000 in a calendar year and 10 complimentary Priority Pass lounge visits per year, all for a $95 annual fee (see rates & fees).

Check out our Hilton Amex Surpass review for full details.

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Earn 150,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in purchases on the card within the first three months of card membership. Earn 14x points at participating Hilton hotels; 7x points on flights booked directly with the airline, car rentals and at U.S. restaurants; and 3x points for all other eligible purchases. Enjoy complimentary Diamond status, Priority Pass Select membership, an annual Hilton resort credit of up $250 and a free weekend night when you renew your card, all for a $450 annual fee (see rates & fees).

Check out our Hilton Amex Aspire review for full details.

Hilton Honors Card from American Express

Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card within your first three months of card membership. Earn 7x points at participating Hilton properties; 5x points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations; and 3x points for all other eligible purchases. Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status and an upgrade to Gold after you spend $20,000 on the card in a calendar year, all with no annual fee (see rates & fees).

Check out our Hilton Amex review for full details.

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months. Earn 12x points at participating hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio, 6x points on select business and travel purchases and 3x points everywhere else. Enjoy complimentary Gold status along with an upgrade to Diamond after spending $40,000 in a calendar year. You’ll also enjoy a free weekend night certificate when you spend $15,000 in a calendar year and 10 complimentary Priority Pass lounge visits per year, all for a $95 annual fee (see rates & fees).

Check out our Hilton Amex Business review for full details.

Note that you may also be targeted for an upgrade bonus if you’re a current cardholder, so be sure to check your online accounts for any offers available to you.

Related: Choosing the best Hilton Honors credit card for you

Buy Hilton points

Another way to boost your Hilton Honors balance is by purchasing points. Generally speaking, buying points or miles is a very poor value proposition, as you normally need to pay an exorbitant amount. However, with certain programs and under specific circumstances, it could make sense, especially if you’re within striking distance and just need to top up your account.

For example, Hilton is running a 100% points purchase promotion through May 27, 2020. This promotion brings the effective price down to 0.5 cents apiece, which is actually slightly below TPG’s valuations. At this rate, it may make sense to purchase the points outright for a specific redemption, especially if the cash rate is exorbitant.

A good example of this is booking a one-night stay at the Hilton Times Square on New Year’s Eve. A paid stay costs $2,051 after tax, or you can use 80,000 Hilton Honors points to book the same room. It costs just $400 to buy the points during this promotion, meaning that you’d save $1,651 buying points instead of booking a cash stay.

Related: Maximizing redemptions with Hilton Honors

Earn Hilton points with Hilton Events

Planning a wedding, corporate function or other type of event at a Hilton hotel? Add your Hilton Honors number to your event after it’s booked and you’ll earn 1 Hilton Honors point per dollar spent on events up to $100,000. This may not sound like much, but can give you some huge returns if you’re planning an expensive multi-day corporate event. And remember too that Hilton has announced a new brand (Hilton Signia) targeted specifically towards business meetings, though we don’t yet know if it will offer even more lucrative offers for event planners.

Hilton is running a triple points promotion on meetings booked by July 31, 2020, and completed by March 31, 2021. You’ll earn 3 points per dollar spent on meetings booked during this promotion, meaning that you could earn a ton of extra points depending on how expensive your meeting or event is.

Earn Hilton points through partners

Like most loyalty programs, Hilton Honors has a suite of partners that you can use to earn even more Hilton Honors points. You can use these partners to boost your Hilton account balance on everyday activities like eating out or renting a car. Here’s a look at some of the additional ways you can earn Hilton Honors points.

Earn bonus points with Lyft

One of Hilton Honors’ newest partners is Lyft. As of May 2019, you can now earn bonus Hilton points whenever you hail a Lyft at the following rates:

  • 3 points per dollar on Lyft rides
  • 2 points per dollar on shared Lyft rides

These earnings are capped at $10,000 in total Lyft spending every year, and they’re in addition to the earnings you’d take home with a credit card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which offer 10x and 5x points on Lyft purchases respectively through March 2022. Better yet, you can stack this with Lyft’s Delta partnership that lets you earn SkyMiles on all Lyft rides.

For additional details, check out our guide to maximizing points and miles with Lyft.

Transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards

You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Hilton Honors. The standard transfer ratio is now permanently 1:2, meaning that you can turn 1,000 Membership Rewards points into 2,000 Hilton Honors points. However, even with that improved ratio, we don’t necessarily recommend transferring your hard-earned Membership Rewards points to Hilton Honors unless you have a very specific redemption in mind. Our reasoning is simple: TPG currently values Membership Rewards points at 2 cents apiece, while Hilton points are valued at just 0.6 cents apiece. This means that you’re effectively losing 0.8 cents per point in value, not to mention missing out on some terrific sweet spots with the Membership Rewards program.

Note that the program is currently offering a targeted transfer bonus of up to 50%, which may allow you to boost the transfer ratio. However, even if you’re targeted for the 50% bonus, this still doesn’t make up the entire difference in valuations between the two programs, so you’ll want to think carefully before pulling the trigger. This promotion ends on April 14, 2020, for those that are targeted.

Similar to buying miles, one time you would want to take advantage of a Membership Rewards transfer bonus is if you plan on booking an expensive hotel with Hilton Honors points. Using the Hilton Times Square example from above, you’d get 7.6 cents per point in value if you transferred 27,000 Membership Rewards points to 81,000 Hilton points to book the $2,051 nightly rate on New Year’s Eve. You’d be left with a stray 1,000 Hilton points as you can only transfer points in increments of 1,000.

Related: Redeeming American Express Membership Rewards for maximum value

Hilton Honors Dining

Hilton Honors Dining is Hilton’s own dining rewards program, and you can use it to earn extra points at participating restaurants (viewable on the Hilton Honors Dining website). To earn points, just sign up for a Hilton Honors Dining account and link your favorite credit card(s) that you use for restaurant purchases. Then, when you swipe one of those cards at a participating restaurant, you’ll automatically earn extra Hilton Honors points. These points are in addition to regular points or miles you’d earn with your credit card, so make sure you link a card that earns bonuses on dining purchases for the highest points earning on eating out.

After signing up for Hilton Honors Dining, make sure to sign-up for email notifications. This will give you “online member” status so you’ll earn 5 Hilton Honors points per dollar spent at participating restaurants. If you opt-out of receiving emails, your earning rate is cut down to just 2 points per dollar spent. While your privacy is important, giving your email address is a small price to pay for earning an extra 3 points per dollar spent — especially if you dine out a lot.

Finally, if you dine with Hilton Honors Dining 11 times in a one-year period, you’ll be upgraded to the service’s elite status tier. This boosts your earning rate to a whopping 8 points per dollar spent at participating restaurants, giving you an additional 4.8% return on your dining spend. You can keep your status indefinitely so long as you continue dining 11 or more times per year with the program. Just make sure to actually open and read the emails to prevent your earning rate from dropping.

Related: Earn bonus points on takeout with these dining rewards programs

Book a rental car

(Photo by Becker Bredel/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
National is just one car rental company that allows you to earn bonus Hilton points on car rentals. (Photo by Becker Bredel/ullstein bild via Getty Images.)

You can also earn Hilton Honors points when renting a car through Alamo, Enterprise or National. When you book your rental through the Hilton portal, you’ll earn 500 Hilton Honors per day of your rental up to 5,000 points — not bad if you’re already renting a car. Just note that you may not earn car rental rewards when booking through the Hilton Honors portal, and other programs may offer a better rate of return, so shop around with your preferred airline or hotel chain to make sure you’re getting the best earning rate. Further, you can’t use corporate codes when renting cars through Hilton.

And of course, you’ll pay with a card that’ll give you primary car rental coverage like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Transfer Amtrak, Hawaiian Airlines or Virgin Atlantic points to Hilton

Amtrak Guest Rewards points, HawaiianMiles and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles all transfer to Hilton Honors at varying rates. All of these transfers must be done over the phone and transfers will process at the following rates:

  • Amtrak Guest Rewards: 1:2 (note that only elite members or Amtrak Guest Rewards® World Mastercard® cardholders who spend $20,000 or more per calendar year are eligible to transfer Amtrak points to other loyalty programs)
  • HawaiianMiles: 1:1.5
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: 1:1.5

This means that 10,000 Amtrak points equal 20,000 Hilton points and 10,000 Hawaiian or Virgin Atlantic miles equals 15,000 Hilton points. While these may seem like attractive ratios on paper, we recommend that you stay away from these transfers as you’ll usually lose value in the process. For example, TPG values Amtrak Guest Rewards points at 2.5 cents per point, meaning that you’d lose 1.3 cents per point in value when transferring your points to Hilton.

The only transfer that may make sense in certain situations is HawaiianMiles. TPG values HawaiianMiles at 0.9 cents per point, so you’re technically making an even trade due to the 1:1.5 transfer ratio. Just make sure you have a good Hilton redemption in mind before you transfer the miles.

Bottom line

Hilton Honors points are some of the easiest hotel points to earn. Not only can you rack up a nice amount of points from hotel stays and promotions, but its wide suite of cobranded credit cards makes earning easier than ever — especially with the current offers of up to 150,000 points available to new cardholders. Use a combination of the methods above to rack up hotel points towards your next hotel stay at any of Hilton’s nearly 6,000 worldwide properties.

Featured photo by Samantha Rosen/The Points Guy.

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

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

This card offers 125,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months. Terms apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
  • Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Good, Excellent
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.