How do I earn base points for Hilton Honors elite status?  

Aug 19, 2020

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Hilton allows you to earn status through three different metrics: stays, nights or “base points.” For most people, earning Hilton Honors elite status is as easy as opening a Hilton card. But not everyone wants another hotel credit card in their wallet, so they’ll earn it the old fashioned way. Recently, targeted Hilton Honors American Express Aspire cardholders received a promotion allowing them to earn 1,000 base points per $1,000 worth of credit card spending. 

With the Aspire card already offering top-tier Diamond status, this offer might be a bit of a head-scratcher – unless you’re aiming for Hilton lifetime status. To determine whether this promotion is worth pursuing, let’s dive into Hilton base points and how they differ from other elite-qualifying mechanisms.

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How to earn Hilton base points

Hilton Honors members earn 10 base points per dollar spent at most Hilton hotels and 5 base points at At Tru and Home2 properties. Base points count toward both elite and lifetime status. The only way to earn Hilton Honors base points is by spending on hotel stays. You’ll earn base points on the room rate plus any property charges like bars, dining or spa. Hilton points transferred from Amex Membership Rewards do not count toward elite status requirements.

Hilton bonus points are different from base points in that they can be redeemed for free nights. How many bonus points you earn depend on your elite status level:

  • Silver: 6-12 points per dollar spent
  • Gold: 9-18 points per dollar spent
  • Diamond: 10-20 points per dollar spent

Related: Maximizing redemptions with Hilton Honors

Earn up to 30,000 Hilton base points with the Amex Aspire Card

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

If you’re a Hilton Honors American Express Aspire cardholder, you may have been targeted for a promotion offering you 1,000 base points for every $1,000 spent, up to 30 times. The promotion left some cardholders confused because the card already comes with top-tier Diamond status. That largely eliminates the need to keep earning base points, unless you’re close to earning lifetime status.

So should you whip out your Aspire Card to wrack up those Hilton base points? Not so fast. To earning Hilton lifetime status, you need to have Diamond status for 10 years, plus one of the following:

  • 1,000 paid or award nights
  • Earn 2 million base points

To hit two million base miles, you would need to spend $200,000-$400,000 on Hilton stays. That’s a lot of spending and this base point promotion will barely make a dent in that goal. But it doesn’t really matter because the Hilton Aspire card comes with automatic Hilton Diamond status for as long as you have the card. So all you need to maintain Diamond status for life is to keep renewing your Aspire Card at $450 (see rates and fees).

If you’re already close to your base point goal for lifetime status, then this promotion can help you get to the finish line. Max it out and you’ll earn 30,000 base points, along with at least 90,000 redeemable Hilton points. TPG values Hilton points at 0.6 cents each, so you’ll get about $540 worth of value out of 90,000 points.

Related: Hilton Dining Rewards Guide

Easy ways to qualify for Hilton Diamond status

Under most circumstances, if you aren’t earning top-tier elite status through actual hotel nights, you’ll probably have a hard time getting the full value out of said status. But Hilton is an exception.

If you want Diamond status but don’t travel all that frequently, you should absolutely consider the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, which comes with automatic Diamond status plus a slew of additional perks:

  • up to $250 annual airline incidental fee credit
  • up to $250 annual Hilton resort  credit
  • up to $100 property credit on eligible stays of two or more nights at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad hotels
  • Weekend night certificates: one when your account is approved, one after you spend $60,000 on the card in a calendar year, and one each year after you renew your card

New cardholders can take home a welcome bonus of 150,000 Hilton points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of Card Membership. Even though the card carries a $450 annual fee (see rates and fees), it’s easy to maximize these benefits during the year.

If you aren’t willing to commit to the Aspire card and its high annual fee, you could consider the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, at a more reasonable $95 a year (see rates and fees). This card comes with automatic Hilton Gold status and the ability to upgrade to Diamond by spending $40,000 in a calendar year. I’d personally recommend the Aspire if you’re even somewhat loyal to Hilton. But if you’re torn between the two cards, you can check out this comparison to help you make a decision.

Related: Best Hilton card strategies now for travel later

Bottom line

Pretty much the only way to earn Hilton base points is by spending money at a Hilton property. If you’re after Hilton elite status, credit cards will get you there faster. And unlike the standard qualification requirements of stays, nights or base points, the credit card avenue is much easier to repeat year after year. It also eliminates the need for lifetime Hilton status, since all you need to do is keep renewing your Aspire Card every year.

Assuming Amex has no plans to discontinue its Hilton card line-up or change the Diamond status benefit, there is no real benefit to taking advantage of the Aspire Card promotion to earn lifetime status. You can continue to enjoy Diamond benefits indefinitely just by having the card in your wallet. With a slew of valuable travel benefits, the card earns its keep beyond top-tier elite status.

Additional reporting by Ethan Steinberg

Featured photo of the Waldorf Maldives by Summer Hull/The Points Guy

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

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