How to Redeem Points With the Hilton Honors Program
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Hilton Honors may not be the most rewarding hotel rewards program out there, but it still can provide some significant value. The chain has over 5,000 properties across six continents, and all of them — even the most luxurious Conrad and Waldorf Astoria properties — can be booked with points. But you’re not just restricted to hotel stays; there are other ways to use your Hilton Honors points that can provide value too, so it’s worth assessing all options before committing to a redemption option.
In light of the current welcome bonuses on select Hilton American Express cards, today I’ll go through how you can use your Hilton Honors points. I’ll start with using them for hotel stays and then move into a few alternatives, though most offer a relatively poor value proposition. Use this article as a guide for how to redeem all of your hard-earned Hilton points.
Redeeming Hilton Honors Points for Hotel Stays
Hilton Honors is a hotel loyalty program, so naturally, you can redeem your points for hotel stays in the Hilton portfolio. Unfortunately, the program doesn’t provide a published award chart any longer, so you’re only way to know the award price is to search for your dates. That being said, a good starting point could be the programs Points Explorer tool, which highlights the maximum award rate of a property as well as the lowest price recently booked by other members. These “discounted” prices tend to come up when cash prices are lower — though this may result in a lower value for your awards.
TPG pegs Hilton Honors points at 0.6 cents per point, but given the form of variable pricing the program uses, this valuation will vary from hotel to hotel. For example, I found an example night at the Conrad Chicago for $253 with the Hilton Honors discount rate; that same room was bookable for 57,000 points. This gives you a points valuation of just 0.44 cents per point.
On the other hand though, some hotels will actually give you more than 0.6 cents in value, mainly when you get to a property’s maximum award price (generally increments of 10,000 points). For example, the Hampton Inn Grand Central in New York City costs $601.98 per night using the Honors Discount rate on the example date below.
Alternatively, you can book the same king room for 70,000 points per night, giving you a valuation of 0.86 cents per point.
To book an award room, start at Hilton Honors’ website and click Sign In at the top right. Enter your credentials, then click sign in and you’ll be redirected to your account overview page. From here, click on Find a Hotel, enter your search criteria and be sure to check the box for Hilton Honors Points.
You could also start your search directly from the Hilton Honors homepage and login later. Again, though, be sure to check the Use Points box to see award rates in the search results.
From the results page, select the property you’d like to book and then follow the on-screen prompts to complete the reservation. Just be sure to pay close attention to the cancellation deadline of the individual hotel. The vast majority of award stays are free to cancel until a couple of days before arrival, but there are always exceptions out there with stricter policies.
However, you may not want to use all of your points on an individual award stay, so as you’re going through this booking process, keep your eyes out for the following …
Points & Money Redemptions
In addition to booking full award rooms, the Hilton Honors program also allows you to use a combination of points and money for an award a stay. Unlike many other programs that use a fixed number of points and cash for this award option, Hilton lets you customize the amount using a slider on the final page before confirming your reservation. You still select the full award price from the search results, but then you can drag the slider to whatever combination you want:
Note that there is a 5,000-point minimum for Points & Money redemptions, and this combination is final once you’ve booked. However, you will earn Hilton Honors points on the cash portion of these stays, so if you’re short on points or just don’t want to burn all of them on a stay, this can be a nice option
Premium Room Awards
One of the best things about Hilton Honors redemptions is that you’re not restricted to one room type. You can redeem points for premium rooms, including those with better views, club lounge access or even suites. The booking process is exactly the same; once you’ve selected your desired hotel, you can choose between a Standard Room Reward and Premium Room Rewards, like this example at the Hilton Times Square:
As you can see, premium rooms will cost more points than standard rooms, and in some cases (like the above) it’s likely not worth it. However, if you’re looking for extra space for your family, it’s great to have the option to burn additional points for a suite or otherwise upgraded room rather than hoping your Hilton elite status can score you an upgrade at check-in.
Speaking of Hilton elites …
Fifth night free for Hilton Honors elite members
Anyone with Hilton Honors Silver status or higher will be treated to a free fifth night when redeeming points for a stay of five or more nights. This even extends to stays of up to 20 nights in length — during which you’d enjoy four free nights. If you don’t have Hilton Honors status already, consider applying for one of Hilton’s American Express cobranded cards for automatic status.
RELATED: Choosing the best Hilton credit card
Redeem Your Hilton Honors Points for Event Credits
You can also use Hilton Honors points for a discount on your next Hilton event (but please don’t). This can be a wedding, corporate event or other type of meeting. When redeeming for these discounts, you can choose from different denominations of vouchers. Here’s how much they cost:
- 25,000 Points = $50 USD
- 50,000 Points = $100 USD
- 75,000 Points = $150 USD
- 125,000 Points = $250 USD
- 250,000 Points = $500 USD
Unfortunately, these vouchers don’t provide the best value for your Hilton Honors points. These give you a straight valuation of 0.2 cents per point, putting you well under our benchmark of 0.6 cents per point.
Redeem Hilton Honors Points for Experiences
Alternatively, you can redeem your Hilton Honors points for different types of travel experiences through Hilton Experiences. These redemption options include tickets to sporting events, dinner at top restaurants, concert tickets and more. Some of these can be purchased immediately with points, while others require you to bid against other Hilton Honors members.
There are some pretty neat experiences available as of writing this piece. Some include a camel ride through the Egyptian desert, indoor skydiving in Amsterdam and wine dinners in Australia. While you’re generally best off redeeming hotel points for hotel stays, snagging a unique experience using your points can make for a fantastic redemption, and the program’s head of loyalty has indicated that these will continue to expand in the months and years to come.
Take a look through the Hilton Honors Experiences page to see if anything strikes your fancy.
Transfer Hilton Honors Points to Airlines
Hilton Honors has 30 airline and rail loyalty partners to which you can transfer your Hilton Honors points. However, just note that Hilton Honors has less-than-ideal transfer ratios. For example, you can exchange 10,000 Hilton Honors points for a mere 1,500 American Airlines AAdvantage points. Transfer ratios vary airline-to-airline, so check Hilton’s transfer site for your airline of choice.
With that in mind, we only recommend transferring Hilton Honors points to airlines if you need to top-up miles on a hard-to-earn loyalty program like American Airlines AAdvantage or Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. Otherwise, you can almost always get more value using your points for stays or experiences.
Use Your Hilton Honors Points for Amazon Purchases
Finally, you can use your Hilton Honors points to cover Amazon purchases. To do this, just link your Hilton Honors account to your Amazon account and select Hilton Honors points as your payment method at checkout. Amazon will tell you how many points it takes to cover your order, and you can use your points to cover the whole or part of a purchase.
But should you use Hilton Honors points for Amazon purchases? In our research, we found that Hilton Honors points are worth 0.2 cents per point when redeemed towards Amazon purchases. This means you’re effectively cutting the currency’s valuation by two-thirds. I’m all for having additional options for using your points and miles, but in general, you should never use Hilton points (nor any other currency) at Amazon.
Earning Hilton Honors Points
Of course, all of the above redemptions require you to actually have Hilton points in your account. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to boost your Hilton Honors account balance. One of the quickest ways to do so is by adding one of the program’s cobranded credit cards to your wallet. Here are the current options:
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Earn 130,000 bonus points after you use your card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Earn 12X points at Hilton hotels; 6X points at US restaurants, US supermarkets, and US 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).
- Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express: 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 Hilton hotels; 7X points on flights booked directly with the airline, car rentals and at US 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).
- Hilton Honors American Express Card: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card within your first three months of card membership. Earn 7X points at Hilton properties; 5X points at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US 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).
- The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Earn 12X points at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio, 6X points on select business & travel purchases and 3X points on 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).
As you can see, there are a lot of interesting ways to redeem your Hilton Honors points. However, we recommend sticking with hotel stays — this generally provides the most value, getting you closer to (or even higher than) TPG’s valuation of 0.6 cents per point. The other option I’d recommend considering is Hilton Honors Experiences, especially if you’re looking for a unique event that may not be otherwise available to you.
Featured photo courtesy of the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa, A Waldorf Astoria Resort.
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.
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