The Hilton HHonors loyalty scheme covers over 4,000 hotels and 10 brands globally, namely Hilton, Waldorf-Astoria, Conrad, Hilton Grand Vacation, Embassy Suites, Doubletree, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites, Hampton Inn and Home2Suites.
Hilton HHonors is free to join, and given the basic benefits of the Blue tier (see below), is well worth signing up to if you are making a Hilton stay. However, more aspirational travellers are well advised to aim for the Gold tier, which is both eminently achievable and extremely rewarding.
You can sign up for Hilton HHonors here.
Blue: Just sign up. Principal benefits are free internet, and “second guest stays free”.
Silver: requires 4 stays or 10 nights in a calendar year. Benefits are free internet, a 15% points bonus, “second guest stays free”, 5th night free on reward stays (i.e. stays booked through points) and free bottled water at most hotel brands.
Gold: requires 20 stays or 40 nights or 75,000 base points in a calendar year. Benefits are a 25% bonus on base points, a likely room upgrade, free breakfast at most Hilton brands), free internet.
Diamond: requires 30 stays or 60 nights or 120,000 base points in a calendar year. Benefits are 50% bonus on base points, a guaranteed upgrade, free breakfast at most Hilton brands, free internet, guaranteed lounge access.
Lifetime Diamond: Lifetime Diamond Status is awarded to “select” HHonors members who have earned Diamond Status for at least 10 years (non-consecutive) and who have completed stays totalling at least 1,000 paid nights.
The basic position is that you will earn 10 Hilton HHonors points + 5 bonus Hilton HHonors points per $1 spent (Hilton calls this earning style “points and points”).
However, as an alternative to earning points (and bonus points), you can earn points and miles. This will give you 10 Hilton HHonors points plus 1 airline mile per $1 spent.
Redemption rates vary enormously depending on the hotel in question. Rates start as just 5,000 points per night for hotels in Category 1 right up to 95,000 points for hotels in Category 10.
Where there is a point range within a category, hotels may have seasonal pricing. The number of HHonors Points may vary depending if the stay is during a peak or off-peak period.
Silver, Gold and Diamond elite members will receive every 5th night free on reward stays of five or more nights (up to four free nights on a stay of 20 consecutive nights). This is reflected in the point price through the application of a per night discount that corresponds to one free night for every five nights.
Points expire after 12 months with no activity on the HHonors account.
Upgrades using points
Hilton offers ‘room upgrade rewards’ at selected properties at selected times. These are not available with Advanced Purchase Rates. Upgrades may be offered at the time of the booking and, technically, can also be offered at check-in.
Cash and points redemptions
Cash and points redemptions are available at certain Hilton properties at certain times, and can periodically represent substantially better value for money than outright reward stays (based on the fact that the amount of cash you chip in is substantially less than the value of the remaining points you would have to use.
Airline redemption options
Hilton HHonors points can be transferred to a large number of airlines including British Airways (at a slightly alarming ratio of 10:1).
In short, this is very unlikely to be a good use of your Hilton HHonors points: almost without exception, we have found the best use of your points to be on Hilton stays.
UK Credit card partnerships
The Hilton HHonors Visa credit card [LINK TO CREDIT CARD REVIEW WITH AFFILIATE LINK] gives you Silver status for as long as you hold the card. If you spend £10,000 on the card within a year, you will be upgraded to Gold.
Hilton HHonors is also an Amex Membership Rewards partner, at a 1:2 transfer rate.
Buying and transferring points
You can buy Hilton HHonors points for $12.50 per 1,000 (less for larger quantities) via this link.
Points can be transferred to other members for a payment of $25 per 10,000 points.
Hilton HHonors is a solid hotel loyalty scheme that offers good overall availability of redemption nights worldwide. Its redemption rates are sometimes eye-watering but there are some good deals, to be had particularly at the lower end, where some of the 5,000 and 10,000 point (Category 1 and 2) redemptions can be a real bargain. The points and money option is also worth keeping an eye out for. The 5th night free redemption option can also add substantial additional value.
The status perks are also worth signing up to the scheme for, and if you can work your way to Gold (fast track option here), you will find it surprisingly generous for a mid-tier status, particularly when it comes to room upgrades and complimentary lounge access. Plus, and this is a huge plus, you will get free breakfast in almost all Hilton brands.