Earn easy Hilton points by eating at your favorite restaurants
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Many of the major hotel and airline loyalty programs participate in a Rewards Network-operated dining program. If you’re looking to earn a few extra Hilton Honors points on dining purchases, you’ve come to the right place. Hopefully, you’re already earning credit card rewards on restaurant spending by using one of the best dining credit cards. And perhaps you’re earning restaurant rewards through individual restaurant loyalty programs. But, there’s a third way you can earn rewards while dining out: dining rewards programs. Today, we’ll dive into the Hilton Honors Dining program.
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Hilton Honors Dining overview
The Hilton Honors Dining program allows you to earn Hilton Honors points when you dine at select restaurants. These points are on top of the rewards you’d normally earn through your credit card or the restaurant’s rewards program.
To get started with the Hilton Honors Dining program, you need to join the program, enroll at least one card and then search for eligible restaurants. The remainder of this guide will walk you through everything you need to know.
Related reading: The award traveler’s guide to Hilton Honors
How to join
To join the Hilton Honors Dining program, go to the Hilton Honors Dining website. You’ll fill out a short form with your first name, last name, zip code and email address. You’ll need to agree to the program’s terms and conditions. You’ll likely want to opt-in for emails to maximize your earning potential.
On the next page, you’ll need to create a username and password. You’ll also need to provide your Hilton Honors number as well as your address.
Finally, the last step required to join Hilton Honors Dining is to link a card to your account. You are only required to link one card, although you can add up to five cards to your account.
When adding a card to Hilton Honors Dining, that card will be automatically removed from any other dining programs you’ve registered it with. For example, within a few minutes of adding a card to my Hilton Honors Dining account, I received an email noting that the card had been removed from my Alaska Mileage Plan Dining account.
Related reading: Maximizing redemptions with Hilton Honors
How to use Hilton Honors Dining
Once you’ve joined Hilton Honors Dining, you’ll want to search for a restaurant, bar or club near you that participates in the program. You can do so by using the search function.
Type your city into the search bar to see a wide range of results. Or, click on advanced search to look at eligible restaurants around a particular address. You can also use filters to limit your options.
For example, when I searched for various cuisine types within 15 miles of Austin, TX, here are the results I was served. Note that one of the restaurants doesn’t participate in the rewards programs on Mondays.
When you dine at an eligible restaurant, bar or club, pay with a credit card (or debit card used without entering a PIN) that you’ve registered with Hilton Honors Dining. You’ll automatically earn bonus Hilton points on this purchase, including taxes, fees and tip.
Note that each credit card can only be enrolled in one Rewards Network operated dining program at a time. So, if you add a card to another Rewards Network-operated dining program, it will be automatically removed from Hilton Honors Dining.
Your earning rate with the Hilton Honors Dining program varies based on a few factors. Specifically, you’ll earn:
- 8 bonus points per dollar when you dine 11 or more times in a year and opt-in for email notifications from Hilton Honors Dining. This earning level is referred to as VIP level, and you maintain it for the year you earn it, as well as the year after.
- 5 bonus points per dollar when you dine 10 or fewer times in a year and opt-in for email notifications from Hilton Honors Dining
- 2 bonus points per dollar when you don’t opt-in for email notifications
TPG values Hilton points at 0.6 cents each. So, earning 8x points would get you a 4.8% return on your spending. Meanwhile, 5x points would equate to a 3% return and 2x points would provide a 1.2% return.
As such, it’s worth opting in to receive email notifications if you plan to use the Hilton Honors Dining program. You’ll get emails about once a week, including restaurant recommendations, alerts when new restaurants in your area join the program and various administrative emails.
If you initially didn’t opt-in to receive email notifications, you can do so now by logging in to your Hilton Honors Dining account. Click on “account information” and select “change your email address and email preferences.” Then uncheck the box labeled “I no longer wish to receive emails from Hilton Honors Dining” and then click “update.”
Related reading: Don’t miss out on dining bonuses by deleting emails
Which cards to use with Hilton Honors Dining
You’ll want to enroll one or more of the best cards for dining at restaurants when you set up your Hilton Honors Dining profile. Here are some of the best cards to use:
- Citi Prestige® Card: 5x Citi ThankYou points for an 8.5% return based on TPG’s valuations
- American Express® Gold Card: 4x Amex Membership Rewards points for an 8% return
- American Express® Green Card: 3x Amex Membership Rewards points for a 6% return
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: 3x Ultimate Rewards points for a 6% return
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: 7x Hilton Honors points at U.S. restaurants for a 4.2% return
The information for the Citi Prestige, Amex Green Card, and 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.
If you’re looking to accrue Hilton Honors points quickly for an upcoming redemption, you may want to enroll your Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. When dining at eligible restaurants, you would earn 7x Hilton Honors points due to the credit card’s restaurant bonus category, plus 2x to 8x Hilton Honors points from Hilton Honors Dining. This means you could earn up to 15x Hilton Honors points on eligible dining purchases made with your Hilton Aspire, which equates to a 9% total return based on TPG’s valuations.
If Hilton Honors Dining is the only Rewards Network operated dining rewards program you’ll use, then you’ll want to enroll all of the credit cards you generally use for dining. Keep in mind that each card can only be enrolled in one Rewards Network program at a time. So if you plan on enrolling in multiple dining rewards programs, be sure to link a different card to each one.
I’d recommend marking each card with its associated dining program so you know which one to use when dining at an eligible restaurant.
Related reading: Choosing the best Hilton credit card for you
Can you use Hilton points at restaurants?
When I searched, I found 19 food experiences worldwide, including chef tasting at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles for 50,000 Hilton points. I also found the ultimate mezcal tasting experience in Cancun, Mexico for 25,000 and a Balinese cooking class on the beach for 10,000 Hilton points.
As with all dining rewards programs, the best way to maximize Hilton Honors Dining is to know which restaurants around your house, office and frequently traveled areas participate in the program. But, you’ll only earn at elevated rates when you obtain and maintain VIP level status in the Hilton Honors Dining program.
While dining rewards programs are free to join, you should definitely go with one that offers you the most rewards possible. So you’ll want to consider whether the Hilton Honors program is the best dining rewards program for you before diving in. After all, each credit card can only be enrolled in one Rewards Network dining program at once.
Based solely on TPG’s valuations, some of the airline dining programs may provide better value than the Hilton Honors Dining program. But, in the end, it comes down to which points and miles you want to focus on earning.
Featured image by Kirill Guzhvinsky/Shutterstock
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