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How to redeem Hilton points for upgraded rooms

July 31, 2022
11 min read
Hilton Resorts World Suite
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.

The Hilton Honors program has made a large push in recent years to contend with its competition in Marriott Bonvoy and Airbnb. There are currently over 6,800 Hilton properties across the globe, giving us various ways to spend our Hilton Honors points. Along with its more traditional brands, Hilton has started new brands like Motto, Signia and Tempo to keep up with ever-changing demand from travelers. Hilton also partners with Lyft to help you earn even more points.

We love getting hotel rooms completely booked on points, but what about premium hotel rooms on points? Can you use your points to book larger rooms, rooms with better views or even suites? In this guide we’ll show you how to do exactly that the next time you redeem Hilton Honors points.

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Hilton Honors upgraded rooms on points

Hilton is probably the simplest hotel loyalty program for reserving premium rooms with points. After all, you go through the same process as booking a standard room, with one key difference: Instead of choosing that standard room, you select an upgraded room.

To start this process, log in to your Hilton Honors account and enter your search criteria, making sure to check the "Use Points" box. On the results page, you’ll see the lowest number of points required for a free night at the listed hotels during the date(s) of your stay. Most of them should list a “standard room reward” price, which indicates that a base-level room is available using your points.

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However, sometimes standard rooms may not be available. If that’s the case, you’ll see a higher price (you can use Hilton’s Points Explorer tool to see the range of expected award rates) along with the “premium room rewards” designation.

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The “premium room rewards” designation indicates that the property only has upgraded rooms available using points.

To view these room options, click "View Rates." Then you'll see all the available rooms for your desired dates and the required prices. After seeing the options, you can decide whether it’s worth redeeming extra points to snag the upgraded accommodations.

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For this example, I selected the Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas. As noted above, the standard award for my date is 80,000 points, which would book a 500-square-foot city-view room.

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The Honors Discount rate is listed as $390. However, once I factor in the pesky resort fee and other taxes, the final price turns into $493.21. Using 80,000 points instead gives me a redemption value of 0.62 cents per point, just slightly above TPG’s most recent valuations (which peg Hilton Honors points at 0.6 cents apiece).

However, many travelers come to Las Vegas looking for luxurious suites and villas, so let's say that I want to use my points for one of these instead. I scroll down the list and am intrigued by the one-bedroom villa suite. Unfortunately, this comes with a steep price tag (both in cash and in points).

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Selecting the Honors Flexible Rate comes to a total of $1,115.66. So given the 347,000 points per night award rate, I’d enjoy a redemption rate of just 0.32 cents per point.

Herein lies one of the main problems with Hilton’s premium room rewards option. These awards typically offer a redemption rate between 0.3 and 0.4 cents per point. As a result, you'll often sacrifice some redemption value when booking these accommodations instead of a standard room.

Another issue with these awards applies to anyone with Hilton Honors elite status: Premium room rewards are not eligible for the program’s fifth-night-free perk on award stays. As a result, a stay of five nights or longer in an upgraded room would affect your redemption value even more.

Let’s look at an example that illustrates this phenomenon: the Parc 55 in San Francisco, which is on TPG's list of hotels for family trips to the Bay Area. A standard award books a room with either one king bed or two double beds, and rates over the summer are typically 60,000 points per night. However, an elite member's five-night award stay in September would only require paying with points for four nights. Thus, you'd redeem 240,000 points (instead of 300,000 points) for your five-night stay.

The lowest flexible paid rate for this stay in cash would be $1,892.30, giving you a redemption rate of 0.79 cents per point. This rate is higher than TPG’s valuation of Hilton points at 0.6 cents each, as the fifth-night-free perk is a great way to maximize your Hilton Honors redemptions.

If you were looking to book an upgraded room at the Parc 55, it’s a much pricier proposition. I looked into the beautiful Skyline Suite, which you can book for just over $3,000 for the same five-night stay noted above.

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The nightly award rate for this room is 205,000 points. However, unlike standard room rewards, you don’t get the fifth night free by booking an upgraded room. Thus, you'd pay 1,025,000 points for the five-night stay. In comparison, the cash price for your stay would be $3,029.02. As such, your overall redemption rate would be just 0.29 cents per point.

However, don’t be discouraged and cross off this award option yet. There are two other ways to get that beautiful hotel suite you are eyeing.

Using Points & Money

A suite at the Las Vegas Hilton at Resorts World. (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

Hilton also has a very handy feature called Points & Money. This feature is available on all award stays, whether you book standard or premium accommodations. It allows you to select a combination of points and cash, so you can still use your points even if you’re short of the full amount needed for your stay.

In the context of premium room rewards, Points & Money can let you redeem the points required for a standard room and effectively pay cash for the upgrade. Let's look at this in the context of our example with the Skyline Suite at the Parc 55.

The minimum amount of points you can use for a Points & Money booking is 5,000 points. Redeeming 5,000 points would drop the cash price from $665.45 to $650.24. Thus, 5,000 points will save you $15.21 — a value of 0.3 cents per point.

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You can drag the slider bar to add more points to your stay, and you'll receive a consistent 0.3 to 0.33 cents per point in value as you use more points to defray your out-of-pocket cost for the stay.

Redeeming the number of points required for a standard room and then paying the cash difference for a nicer room can also be a nice way to confirm a room on an executive floor. Certain properties in Hilton’s more upscale brands (including Hilton and Conrad) have an executive lounge that offers complimentary breakfast, snacks and — in some international locations — alcohol.

If you want to minimize your expenses during your trip, using additional points to book a room that includes lounge access could make sense — especially if you aren't a fan of Hilton's food and beverage credit for elite members. However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind with this type of award:

  • Like premium room rewards, Points & Money awards are not eligible for the fifth-night-free benefit. When you move the slider off the full reward option, the cash rate will jump significantly to cover the formerly free night.
  • Any combination of points and cash at a property with a resort fee will require you to pay the resort fee. As a result, you should generally try to pay entirely in cash or entirely in points at properties that levy a resort fee.

If you are short a small number of points from either of the two scenarios above, your best bet would be to buy points, especially if there’s a current promotion on buying Hilton points.

Related: Know your benefits: Hiltons can’t opt out of the food and beverage credit for elite members

Hilton Honors elite status upgrades

A suite at the Conrad New York Midtown. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Complimentary, space-available upgrades are a perk of certain Hilton Honors elite status tiers. While you can earn Hilton Honors elite status the old-fashioned way (by physically staying at Hilton hotels), that can take quite awhile. Luckily, you can also snag Hilton Honors elite status as a perk of the following credit cards:

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.

The benefits at these tiers differ, but Gold and Diamond members are eligible for upgrades on all stays, including those booked with points.

Related: How to choose the best Hilton credit card for you

I currently hold Diamond status, and I’ve been able to get great upgrades in numerous locations. These include the DoubleTree by Hilton St. John's Harbourview, Hampton Inn & Suites Mexico City, Hilton Cabo Verde Sal Resort, Canopy by Hilton Sao Paulo Jardins, the presidential suite at the Hilton Garden Inn Long Island City New York and a suite at the Hilton Garden Inn Tuxtla Gutierrez when my wife and I went to Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festivities last year.

Of course, this can be a gamble, as you’re hoping these enhanced room types are still available when you arrive. If you’re not willing to take the chance — and want to ensure your stay is in more comfortable accommodations — you can use the above strategies to guarantee an upgraded room before arrival.

Related: How 1 TPG staffer is spending 4 million Hilton Honors points

Bottom line

Using points and miles can help you save money and enhance your vacations. With Hilton Honors points, you can easily take the sting out of paying cash for a hotel and — in certain circumstances — you may want to spend more to get a better room, even if you don’t get the absolute best value out of your points.

However, if you are looking for premium hotel rooms without burning a ton of points, I highly recommend a card like the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card to earn automatic Diamond status. Hilton Honors Diamond status will give you a great chance at getting a premium room upgrade on arrival during your next hotel stay.

Additional reporting by Brett Holzhauer.

Featured image by (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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