Hilton Honors: Everything you need to know in 2024



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In 1925, Hilton launched its very first hotel in Dallas, with no guest rooms facing west. That way, none of its patrons had to bake while facing a Texas sunset. In 1948, it became the first hotel chain to devise a central reservation system, and later hired the now legendary barman Ramon “Monchito” Marrero—who would invent the Pina Colada in 1954 at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan. 

Our point is, Hilton doesn’t seem to do anything by accident. Its strategic moves are shrewd and calculated, and based on our analysis of Hilton Honors, that appears to be the case here too. 

At first glance, Hilton Honors seems weirdly stingy and withholding for a hotel chain that can clearly afford to be more benevolent. The points have low value, Gold status is harder to reach than some programs’ Platinum, and there’s virtually nothing to look forward to until you commit 40 nights to the brand. But then you realize there’s an angle—a shortcut Hilton wants you to take to reach status quicker—and the brand’s clever approach to “loyalty” starts to make sense. 

So, what’s the shortcut, and is it worth taking? Let’s dive in.

What is Hilton Honors? 

Hilton Honors is Hilton’s rather prestigious-sounding loyalty rewards program. Like competing hotel loyalty programs (e.g. World of Hyatt, Marriott Bonvoy) the idea is to stay at Hilton properties to earn points toward future stays and also inch towards your next status tier. Higher statuses unlock perks like extra bonus points per stay, free breakfast and even free upgrades to a one-bedroom suite. 

Hilton Honors is free to join, and even as a basic member you’ll earn between five and 10 Base Points per dollar spent at over 7,000 Hilton properties worldwide. For context, here’s a list of all 20 brands under the Hilton canopy in 2024: 

  • Canopy
  • Conrad
  • Curio Collection
  • DoubleTree
  • Embassy Suites
  • Hampton
  • Hilton
  • Hilton Garden Inn
  • Hilton Grand Vacations
  • Home2 Suites
  • Homewood Suites
  • LXR
  • Motto
  • Project H3
  • Signia
  • Spark
  • Tapestry Collection
  • Tempo
  • Tru
  • Waldorf Astoria

While it’s hard to rag on anything that’s free, Hilton Honors still has two vexing drawbacks compared to rival hotel rewards programs from Marriott, Hyatt and IHG. For one, its points are only worth about a half penny each. In addition, the status perks aren’t too exciting until you reach Gold, which is very hard to reach relative to those other programs. 

But here’s the kicker: the Hilton line of co-branded American Express cards offer huge welcome bonuses and instant status, essentially addressing both major issues by letting you skip the line entirely (I mean, one of them is literally called the Surpass card). So at first glance, it seems Hilton wants to see you show true loyalty by committing to a credit card application. 

Before we draw any conclusions, let’s into the details and see if Hilton Honors status is worth pursuing—with and without a Hilton-branded credit card.

Hilton Honors: Pros and cons in 2024

Pros

  • You can earn status by accumulating enough nights, points or individual stays.
  • Silver status (10 nights) unlocks a handy “redeem four nights, get the fifth free” bonus.
  • Gold (40 nights) unlocks 18X on stays plus upgrades and an F&B credit.
  • Co-branded credit cards (e.g. the Hilton Honors Surpass) have steep welcome bonuses and grant instant status.
  • Hilton has a massive footprint with over 7,000 properties worldwide.

Cons

  • Hilton Honors points have some of the lowest value in the business, hovering around 0.5 cents each.
  • There’s a wide gap with nothing to look forward to between Silver (10 nights) and Gold (40 nights).
  • Your first Milestone Bonus doesn’t arrive until Night 40.
  • In general, the program is highly biased towards Hilton Honors credit cardholders—and makes things harder for folks without one.

How do I earn Hilton Honors points and status? 

Before we discuss status, let’s talk about points. 

There are two types of points you can earn within the Hilton Honors program: 

  • Base Points can be redeemed for rewards and count towards your next status tier.
  • Bonus Points can only be redeemed for rewards.

The only way to earn Base Points, as spelled out by Hilton—and earn higher status by earning enough points alone—is to stay at Hilton properties. You’ll get 10X Base Points per dollar spent at most properties but just 5X at the Tru and Home2 brands. 

There are a lot more ways to earn Bonus Points, including but not limited to: 

  • Hotel stays and room charges (anything that’s earned on top of the 10X you receive for being a base member).
  • Points promotions (e.g. stay at a newly-opened Hilton property and earn 5,000 bonus points).
  • Hilton Honors credit cards (for example, using the no-annual-fee Hilton Honors Card to earn a welcome bonus, as well as elevated rewards at U.S. restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets).
  • Lyft rides (3X as of March 2024).
  • Dining and takeout with thousands of U.S. restaurants in the Hilton Honors Dining network (up to 8X).
  • Booking rental cars with one of Hilton’s agency partners (up to 5,000 points per rental with Alamo, Enterprise and National).

These Bonus Points are redeemable towards future Hilton stays and more, but again, only Base Points actually count toward your next status tier. 

Thankfully, earning enough Base Points is just one of four total ways you can reach higher status with Hilton Honors. Here’s the complete list: 

  • Earn enough Base Points.
  • Stay enough Nights.
  • Book enough Stays (Hilton defines “stay” as the total number of consecutive nights spent at the same hotel, whether or not a guest checks out and checks back in again).
  • Hold a Hilton Honors credit card that awards instant status (e.g. the Hilton Honors Surpass Card offering instant Gold status for a $150 annual fee)

Earning status by booking enough “stays” is an intriguing option that Marriott, Hyatt and IHG don’t offer. Technically speaking, staying overnight and leaving gives you a full night credit and a full stay credit. 

Knowing this, we’ve read reports of Hilton fans “mattress running” by booking four consecutive nights at four different Hilton properties within the same destination city. Sure, it requires a lot of packing and repacking, but allegedly it’s one of the easiest ways to reach Silver over a single long weekend. 

But believe it or not, there are simpler, faster and far cheaper ways to earn status than by property hopping.

Is Hilton Honors status worth it? 

In short, yes. 

Hilton Honors status is a tasty combination of a) highly rewarding and b) easy to get. For instance, if you don’t feel like booking four separate properties to hit Silver through the “stays” route, you can instantly earn Silver status by applying for the Hilton Honors American Express Card—which has no annual fee. The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card cards net you Gold and Diamond status, respectively, but they also cost $150/$450 a year. 

That might still be worth it to you depending on how much you value having those statuses in your back pocket. So let’s see what you unlock at each tier: 

To view rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Card, see this page 
To view rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, see this page 

All information about the ‘Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by Fortune Recommends™.

Member (free to join)

  • 10X Base Points on most stays (5X at Tru and Home2 properties).
  • Guaranteed Hilton Honors discount rate.
  • No resort fees on reward stays.
  • Digital check-in/check-out/key.
  • Access to exclusive Hilton Honors Experiences.
  • Choose your room up to 24 hours in advance.
  • Free Wi-Fi.

Hilton Honors American Express Card

See Rates and Fees

Intro Bonus


Earn 100,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the card in the first 6 months of Card Membership (Offer ends 4/17/24)





Annual fee $0
Regular APR 20.99%–29.99% variable


Silver (10 nights, 4 stays or 25,000 Base Points)

  • Awarded with Hilton Honors Card
  • 20% Bonus Points on stays (10X Base, 2X Bonus).
  • Redeem four nights with points, earn a fifth for free.
  • 15% off all-inclusive spa treatments within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Free bottled water.
  • Elite Rollover Nights to get a head start on next year’s status.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

See Rates and Fees

Intro Bonus


Earn 155,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership





Annual fee $150
Regular APR 20.99%–29.99% variable


Gold (40 nights, 20 stays or 75,000 Base Points)

  • Awarded with Hilton Surpass Card
  • 80% Bonus Points on stays (10X Base, 8X Bonus).
  • Space-available room upgrades (up to Executive Floor room type).
  • Daily food and beverage credit or continental breakfast.
  • First Milestone Bonus (earn 10,000 Bonus Points at 40, 50 and 60 nights).

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Intro Bonus


Earn 175,000 points if you spend $6,000 in the first 6 months from account opening (offer ends 4/17/2024).





Annual fee $450
Regular APR 20.99%–29.99% variable


Diamond (60 nights, 30 stays or 120,000 Base Points)

  • Awarded with Hilton Aspire Card
  • 100% Bonus Points on stays (10X base, 10X Bonus).
  • Space-available room upgrades (up to a one-bedroom suite).
  • Executive lounge access.
  • Premium Wi-Fi.
  • Gift of instant Gold status to someone else.
  • 48-hour room guarantee.

As you can see, each Hilton Honors status is pretty rich with new goodies. The Silver tier’s “redeem four/get one” deal is pretty handy and could easily be worth $100+ on its own. Looking at Gold, free upgrades, a food and beverage credit, a 10,000-point bonus and 18X on stays is a heckuva rewarding package. 

The only criticism we have for Hilton’s 2024 status tiers is the massive gap they left between Silver and Gold. It almost seems like there’s a status missing at 25 nights—a “Ruby” tier, if you will—that could’ve at least offered 50% Bonus Points on stays. 

But, no. Once you hit Silver, you have quite a long journey ahead to reach Gold unless you want to apply for the Hilton Honors Surpass card (which instantly teleports you, but also costs $150). 

For context, rival programs World of Hyatt and IHG One Rewards both offer Milestone Rewards every 10 nights starting at 20 nights, so folks have a little more to look forward to between statuses. Perhaps Hilton should take note. 

As it stands, however, the fastest and easiest way to earn Hilton status may just be to apply for a Hilton Honors credit card. The Hilton Honors Surpass card may cost $150, but it also offers a generous welcome bonus easily worth several free nights at a regular property like Hilton Garden Inn or a couple nights at a luxury property like Waldorf Astoria. So it’s easy to justify the annual fee (for the first year, at least). 

That said, if your wallet is already full or you’re a little short of the 700+ FICO Score required to have strong chances of approval for those cards, you can always truck it to Gold the old-fashioned way. With either method, you’re bound to earn a ton of points. 

Next up: How should you spend those points once you have them? 

How can I redeem Hilton Honors points? 

Hilton gives you six main ways to redeem your Hilton Honors points: 

  • Free nights and upgrades (points or points + cash).
  • VIP experiences.
  • Lyft rides.
  • Shopping via Amazon or Hilton’s online mall.
  • Rental cars with Alamo, National or Enterprise.
  • Airline transfers.

You can also gift them, transfer them to another account and pool them with up to 10 other Hilton Honors members (helpful for planning group trips). 

But as expected, the best way to spend them is on Hilton stays and upgrades. They’re only worth about 0.5 cents apiece this way, but if you redeem them for anything else, their values plummet even further. 

When it comes to booking award stays, Hilton claims that free nights start at just 5,000 points. 

But to get a more practical idea of how many points you need for a stay, we checked redemption rates in the U.S., China, India, Malaysia and El Salvador—with zero date filters—and the lowest rate we could find at the time of writing was 10,000 points at the Hampton by Hilton Vadodara-Alkapuri (India). In the U.S., rates started at 14,000 points and hovered around 25,000 for generally affordable properties like Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton Inn. 

At a base rate of 10X per dollar spent, that means you’d have to spend $2,500 to earn a single free night at a Hampton Inn—which isn’t great. 

The low value of Hilton Honors points is perhaps the biggest drawback of the program overall. The statuses themselves are highly rewarding, but the points you earn along the way don’t take you very far. 

How does Hilton Honors compare to other loyalty rewards programs? 

When compared to the likes of World of Hyatt, IHG One Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy, Hilton Honors definitely feels the most biased toward folks who get hotel-branded credit cards—and the most biased against folks who don’t. 

On the one hand, it’s the only one of the four programs to count “stays” towards status (Marriott Bonvoy doesn’t even count points, only nights). This would imply that it wants to make things a little easier for folks who aren’t willing to apply for Hilton Honors rewards cards and achieve instant status the “easy” way. 

But at the same time, at 40 nights/20 stays/75,000 Base Points, Gold status is still really far away without a credit card benefit to teleport you there. By traditional methods, the cheapest way to get there might be to stay at 20 different Hampton Inns—and even that would cost $3,000+ and tons of time (and packing). Plus, you’d have to keep doing it every year to retain Gold status.

Or you could just get the Hilton Honors Surpass card right now, pay $150 per year, and have Gold forever. 

To be clear, we’re not faulting Hilton Honors for designing a system that gives branded cardholders a huge leg up. In a way, it’s a clever strategy that falls right in line with their past successes; it’s as if they’re thinking, if we encourage folks to get our credit card, they’ll remain much more loyal than they would with a free membership. 

Plus, we certainly can’t fault them for offering the Hilton Honors Card, which grants instant Silver status, an earning rate of 7X on Hilton purchases (and that’s on top of the base earning rate plus the bonus for having Silver) and very solid welcome bonus (worth potentially hundreds of dollars toward Hilton stays), all for no annual fee at all. 

So all things considered, Hilton Honors can be somewhat rewarding to pretty much everyone who joins the program—but is very rewarding if you’re willing to commit to a Hilton Honors credit card. 


Please note that card details are accurate as of the publish date, but are subject to change at any time at the discretion of the issuer. Please contact the card issuer to verify rates, fees, and benefits before applying. 

Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefits guide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company. 



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