Extended and improved for 2022: Hilton replaces ‘breakfast’ benefit with food and beverage credit
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.
Hilton Honors dropped a pretty big change for Gold and Diamond elite members back in July. Specifically, it temporarily eliminated the complimentary continental breakfast benefit at U.S. hotels in lieu of a $10-$25 per person food and beverage credit. This credit is valid at all luxury, full-service, lifestyle and Hilton Garden Inn properties in the U.S.
When it was first announced, the change was only supposed to last through the end of 2021. However, not surprisingly, Hilton announced today that it will be extended through at least 2022, despite most hotels offering true breakfasts once again. Hilton says that this decision was done “taking to heart member feedback since rolling out the benefit.”
But there will be one change — and it’s a good one. In February 2022, Hilton will be increasing the credit amounts for its full-service and lifestyle brands.
Let’s take a detailed look at the new policy and how it will impact guests depending on the type of hotel they stay at.
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Hilton’s new ‘breakfast’ benefit extended
Since July 2021, elite guests in the U.S. have received a daily food and beverage credit of $10-$25 per person, depending on the hotel brand. You get one credit per registered guest, for a maximum of two per day. Also, Hilton Gold and Diamond members must select the food and beverage credit as their MyWay benefit in their online profiles to qualify.
Starting on Feb. 1, 2022, Hilton will increase the credit amounts across its full-service and lifestyle brands from $12 to $15 per person, and $15 to $18 per person in select markets. Hilton has also added Key Largo and Key West to the select markets that receive a higher credit.
Here’s how the credit amounts will break down:
*Select markets include Boston, Chicago, the District of Columbia, Key Largo, Key West, New York City and San Francisco, the County of Los Angeles and the state of Hawaii.
As was true in 2021, this still only applies to U.S. hotels. So if you’re headed to an upscale property like the Waldorf Astoria Maldives, where dining isn’t cheap, you will still get complimentary breakfast as an elite member.
Hilton’s previous elite breakfast benefit
The Hilton Honors program has always offered one of the most generous complimentary breakfast benefits, even extending it to mid-tier Gold members who get their status by way of a co-branded credit card. A complimentary breakfast has been a consistent benefit that Hilton elites have found valuable over the years.
Under the previous policy, Hilton Diamond members received free continental breakfast for up to two guests at eligible brands. This was in addition to club lounge access, where a more pared-down breakfast is usually served (though some lounges remain closed at this time).
This sometimes incentivized hotels to upgrade Gold members to club-level rooms so they could get their free breakfast at the club lounge. Hilton Gold members also had the option to choose continental breakfast over bonus points at most properties.
With the benefit being reduced to a daily food and beverage credit in the U.S., it’s possible that Gold elite members will get fewer lounge invitations even as they reopen.
That being said, the daily credit might still be an improvement to some while serving as a downgrade for others.
Why the new benefit isn’t great
At high-end Hilton hotels, such as the Conrad New York Midtown, breakfast can easily cost $30 or more per person. To go from having that expense covered completely to receiving just a $25 daily credit per person may be a downgrade for those who utilized the full breakfast.
If you’re traveling with two or more people, the new benefit can also be a negative. Although Hilton’s official policy has always been to extend breakfast to two guests per room, some hotels have been known to extend it to three or more guests per stay. This is definitely not the case anymore with the credit.
Why the new benefit may actually be good
The good news is that the new benefit is only applicable in the U.S. through the end of 2022. However, if you’re an elite member traveling abroad, you’ll continue to receive complimentary breakfast as a benefit. A Hilton spokesperson has confirmed to TPG, “we do not intend to expand the benefit globally at this time.”
The real benefit to the credit is that it provides more flexibility. So if you prefer to have breakfast off-site, you can use the credit for drinks at the bar, appetizers or room service snacks. The food and beverage credit can be used at any on-site venue chargeable to the room and at any time of the day, not just at breakfast.
It’s also worth noting that if you’re a Hilton elite member who mostly stays at low- or mid-tier hotels, the lack of a free breakfast may not be that terrible. In my experience, mid-tier properties in the U.S. tend to offer pretty basic continental breakfast options consisting of coffee and muffins.
That’s hardly worth more than $10, especially on a solo trip. Getting a daily food and beverage credit, in this case, works out better because you can either pay for breakfast or use your credit to pay for snacks and meals on-site, which tend to be more reasonably priced at these hotels anyway.
To get some additional context for the change, TPG spoke with Jennifer Chick, the vice president and global head of Hilton Honors and customer engagement. She shared that, “People don’t always want to wait in a long breakfast line — and it’s going to get longer when business travel returns.”
Given that there are still staffing shortages at touchpoints in the travel process, this could also be a tool Hilton is using to avoid potential breakfast bottlenecks while staffing ramps back up.
When we announced Hilton’s changing breakfast benefit earlier this year, it was met with skepticism.
Now that we’ve had a few months to try it out, it’s actually not that bad. While $12 to $15 per person at full-service and lifestyle brands was a bit low, I’ll give Hilton credit for increasing it to $15 to $18. Still, families of three or more might find this benefit limiting.
On the whole, the new benefit wasn’t entirely surprising or strange when it was first announced, considering most U.S. hotels have cut back on breakfast services. But, at the same time, this change makes financial sense as travel picks up and hotels begin operating at full capacity again. Hotels are hurting after over a year of record-low occupancy and this is one way Hilton can help keep its costs lower and reduce pinch points while some staffing levels remain lower.
Factor in the number of people who have earned elite status due to lower requirements, status extensions and simply by having a co-branded Hilton card and you have a potential recipe for a lot of incurred breakfast costs.
Over the past year and a half, we’ve seen airlines and hotels act especially generous with credit card welcome bonuses, point sales and promotions. All of that has consequences in the form of potential devaluations. Elite status is no exception.
It may prove unsustainable to many top-tier elites cashing in perks as travel demand rebounds. And since hotels can’t reduce the number of elite members overnight, they may look to cut benefits to control costs. When everyone is elite, no one is elite — and that may be part of the problem here.
The good news is that the free breakfast benefit still applies abroad. With so many of us aiming to travel internationally in the coming year, that perk is as valuable as ever.
Are there any restrictions about where the credit can be used?
Hilton Honors members can utilize the daily food and beverage credit towards any food or beverage purchases at any time of day. Participating properties include the following:
- Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts
- LXR Hotels & Resorts
- Conrad Hotels & Resorts
- Signia by Hilton
- Hilton Hotels & Resorts
- Curio Collection by Hilton
- DoubleTree by Hilton
- Tapestry Collection by Hilton
- Canopy by Hilton
- Motto by Hilton
- Hilton Garden Inn
Does this eliminate the other choices that Gold members have through MyWay benefits?
Hilton Honors Gold members continue to choose between the Daily Food & Beverage Credit and points as their MyWay benefit options.
Will the Hilton F&B credit roll over?
The Hilton food and beverage credit is valid per night. It doesn’t roll over to subsequent nights.
Additional reporting by Ariana Arghandewal.
Featured photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy
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