American Express – Best ways to earn and redeem Hilton Honors points for maximum value
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- Hilton Honors includes 6,300+ hotels worldwide — ranging from budget to fancy — across 18 brands.
- You can earn Hilton points from stays, rewards credit cards, and travel and dining partnerships.
- You’ll get the best Hilton points value by redeeming for free hotel stays or mixing points and cash.
- Read Insider’s guide to the best Hilton Honors credit cards.
With one of the world’s largest footprints, most travelers have stayed in — or at least seen — a Hilton hotel. Since this vast hotel chain has a variety of properties to fit every budget and over 6,300 hotels located across 118 countries, it makes a lot of sense to consider joining the Hilton Honors loyalty program.
It’s free to enroll and Hilton offers excellent rewards just for signing up. This includes the ability to earn points for free stays, late checkout, waived resort fees on award stays, free Wi-Fi, and discounted rates. As your status increases, you’ll also see perks such as free breakfast, room upgrades, and a fifth night free on eligible award stays.
Earning and redeeming Hilton Honors points is also very simple — there are a ton of ways to jump-start your points balance, including large welcome bonuses from travel rewards credit cards, hotel promotions, and even transferring points from different partners. Once you’ve got a good amount, you can then use points toward free hotel stays, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, Amazon purchases, and even airline miles.
We’ll break down everything you need to know to earn, redeem, and maximize your Hilton Honors points.
Hilton has two main categories of points: bonus points, which help you earn rewards via special promotions, and elite-qualifying base points. The main difference is that base points count toward your elite status for the year, while bonus points do not — but you can redeem both kinds of points toward stays and other rewards.
Unlike bonus points, base points can only be earned via stays at a Hilton hotel. Charges for room rates, dining, and spas all count towards base points for elite status. Otherwise, there are plenty of ways to build up your Hilton Honors bonus points balance.
Earn points from stays at Hilton hotels and resorts
Depending on your elite status, you can earn anywhere from 10 (with a few exceptions) to 20 points per dollar for paid stays. Hilton brands include:
- Conrad Hotels & Resorts
- Canopy by Hilton
- Curio Collection by Hilton
- DoubleTree by Hilton
- Embassy Suites by Hilton
- Hampton Inn by Hilton
- Hilton Hotels
- Hilton Garden Inn
- Hilton Grand Vacations
- Home2 Suites by Hilton (earn 5x points)
- Homewood Suites by Hilton
- Motto by Hilton
- Signia by Hilton
- Tapestry Collection by Hilton
- Tempo by Hilton
- Tru by Hilton (earn 5x points)
- Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts
There are also ways to earn bonus points during your stay. Hilton’s frequent promotions have included offers like double points on your entire stay, 2,000 bonus points per stay, or even additional bonus points for every 10 nights you stay. Depending on your hotel and elite status level, you might also be able to earn points as a welcome amenity.
It’s important to remember that in order to earn points on your stays, you’ll need to book directly with Hilton. Using a third-party site (such as an online travel agency) invalidates both your elite status benefits and any potential points earnings. However, you can earn bonus rewards by navigating to Hilton’s website via an online shopping portal.
Use American Express Hilton co-branded credit cards
Hilton and American Express have teamed up to offer four different credit cards with a variety of benefits and bonuses, ranging from a no-annual-fee version to a premium credit card with lucrative travel perks.
80,000 points after you spend at least $1,000 on eligible purchases in your first 3 months of account opening
Hilton Honors American Express Card
The cheapest is the no-annual-fee (See Rates) Hilton Honors American Express Card, which offers 80,000 points after you spend at least $1,000 on eligible purchases in your first 3 months of account opening. It earns 7 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at Hilton hotels, 5 points per dollar at eligible U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations, and 3 points per eligible dollar everywhere else. This makes it very easy to earn lots of Hilton points without worrying about a yearly fee.
The Hilton Honors American Express Card also comes with automatic Hilton Silver elite status, and an upgrade to Gold status if you spend $20,000 or more in a calendar year.
Good to Excellent
130,000 points after you spend at least $2,000 on eligible purchases in your first 3 months of account opening
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
If you stay at Hilton hotels even a couple of times a year, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is worth considering. Along with a welcome bonus of 130,000 points after you spend at least $2,000 on eligible purchases in your first 3 months of account opening, cardholders receive automatic Hilton Gold elite status, which comes with benefits like free breakfast, upgrades to better rooms, and bonus points.
The free breakfast perk alone can make paying the $95 annual fee (See Rates) on the Hilton Honors Surpass® Card well worth it, especially if you stay at expensive hotels. It’s also a fantastic card for everyday spending — you’ll earn 12x points at eligible Hilton hotels, 6x points at eligible U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations, and 3x points on everything else.
Cardholders can get a bump up to top-tier Diamond status when they spend $40,000 or more in a calendar year, and receive a free weekend night certificate (valid at almost any Hilton hotel worldwide) after spending $15,000 in a calendar year. The card also gives you a complimentary Priority Pass airport lounge membership when you enroll, with up to 10 free visits per year.
15.74% – 24.74% Variable
130,000 points after you spend at least $3,000 in your first 3 months of account opening
The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
Small-business owners who stay with Hilton hotels should consider The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card. It currently offers a bonus of 130,000 points after you spend at least $3,000 in your first 3 months of account opening and earns bonus Hilton points on a wide variety of business-related expenses.
Cardholders earn 12x points at Hilton hotels and 6x points in these eligible categories:
- US gas stations
- US purchases for shipping
- US restaurants
- Wireless telephone services purchased directly from US service providers on
- Flights booked directly with airlines or with Amex Travel
- Car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies
All other purchases earn 3x points. Like the Hilton Honors Surpass® Card, The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card has a $95 annual fee and comes with automatic Gold elite status with the ability to upgrade to Diamond after spending $40,000 in a calendar year. You’ll get a similar opportunity to enroll in Priority Pass airport lounge membership with 10 visits a year included.
Cardholders can also earn a free weekend night certificate after spending $15,000 in a calendar year, and a second free weekend night after spending a total of $60,000 in the same time frame.
15.74% to 24.74% variable APR on purchases
Good to Excellent
150,000 points after you spend at least $4,000 in your first 3 months of account opening
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
On the other end of the spectrum is the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, a luxury card with a $450 annual fee that is offset by hundreds of dollars in annual credits and top-tier Hilton Diamond elite status. The card also comes with a welcome bonus of 150,000 points after you spend at least $4,000 in your first 3 months of account opening, and earns 14x points at Hilton hotels, 7x points at eligible U.S. restaurants, flights booked directly with airlines, and rental cars booked directly with eligible companies, and 3x points everywhere else.
If you’re staying often at a Hilton, you’ll rack up points quickly with the Hilton Honors Aspire Card. Cardholders also receive a free weekend night after they open the card, and again on each card anniversary. Along with Diamond status, you’ll get up to $250 per year in airline incidental fee credits, up to $250 per year in Hilton resort credits, and a full Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership.
Transfer Membership Rewards points from American Express to Hilton
If you’ve already got an American Express card that earns Membership Rewards points, you can opt to transfer your rewards to your Hilton Honors account. Points transfer at a 1:2 ratio, which means that 1 Amex Membership Rewards point is worth 2 Hilton Honors points.
You can earn transferable American Express Membership Rewards with the following personal cards:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express — $550 annual fee (See Rates), premium benefits including airport lounge access, Uber credits, and Saks Fifth avenue credits
- American Express® Gold Card — $250 annual fee (See Rates), monthly dining credits, bonus rewards at restaurants worldwide, and more
- American Express® Green Card — $150 annual fee, bonus points on a wide variety of travel purchases
- Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express — No annual fee, earn 2x points at US supermarkets (on up to $6,000 spent each calendar year, then 1x), get a 20% points bonus when you use your card 20 times or more in a billing period
- Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express — $95 annual fee, earn 3x points at US supermarkets (on up to $6,000 spent each calendar year, then 1x), get a 50% points bonus when you use your card 30 times or more in a billing period
These small-business credit cards earn Amex Membership Rewards points:
Transfer points from other partners to Hilton Honors
Hilton also partners with Hawaiian Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and Amtrak to transfer rewards. You can do so at the following ratios:
- HawaiianMiles: 1 HawaiianMile = 1.5 Hilton Honors points
- Amtrak Guest Rewards: 1 Amtrak point = 2 Hilton Honors points (note that only elite members or Bank of America Amtrak cardholders who spend $20,000 or more per calendar year are able to transfer their Amtrak points)
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: 1 Virgin Atlantic point = 1.5 Hilton Honors points
Earn Hilton points through your elite status
Joining Hilton Honors can be especially lucrative if you’re on the road often. As your elite status increases, so will the benefits you’re offered during your stay.
Just for enrolling, you’ll get late checkout when available, complimentary Wi-Fi, members-only rates, no resort fees on award stays, award nights that count for elite status, and the ability to earn Hilton Honors points.
Silver Elite status adds a 20% points earning bonus on stays, the fifth night free on award stays, free bottled water, and elite rollover nights.
Gold Elite members can earn their status from stays or by holding an Amex Platinum or Hilton Surpass card. In addition to all the Silver benefits, Gold members receive an 80% points-earning bonus on stays, room upgrades, free breakfast, and milestone bonuses.
Diamond — Hilton’s top-tier status — elite members experience even more benefits. You can earn Diamond status via Hilton or, even better, get the Hilton Honors Aspire Card and maintain Diamond status as long as you hold the card. Diamond members can expect 100% points-earning bonuses on stays, up to suite room upgrades, executive lounge access, premium Wi-Fi, elite status gifting, and a 48-hour room guarantee.
Buy Hilton Honors points
You can also purchase points in order to boost your balance, in increments of 1,000 and starting at $10 per 1,000 points. However, Hilton frequently has promotions to either discount or offer bonus points, which means that quite often you can acquire points at half their regular cost. Note that you’re only allowed to buy 160,000 points per calendar year, but with 100% bonus points promotions you can receive up to 320,000 points per year.
Use Hilton’s dining and travel partnerships
If you like to eat out, it’s worth checking out the Hilton Honors Dining program, which offers up to 8 Hilton Honors points per dollar spent at participating restaurants.
Alternately, if you’ve got a large event or meeting planned, booking it at a Hilton hotel could earn you some serious points. Once booked, add your number to your reservation and you’ll earn 1 Hilton Honors point per dollar, up to $100,000.
Hilton has also partnered with Alamo, Enterprise, and National to offer bonus points on rental cars when booked via their travel portal. You’ll earn 500 points per day, with a maximum of 5,000 points per rental.
Finally, Lyft and Hilton have teamed up to offer 3x Hilton Honors points on Lyft rides, or 2x Hilton points for shared Lyft rides. If you’re a frequent user of rideshare services, these points will add up quickly.
Refer friends to American Express Hilton credit cards
When you refer a friend to apply for any of the American Express Hilton credit cards, you can earn 20,000 points for each referral, or up to 80,000 points per year.
You can use Hilton points in a variety of ways, including for hotel stays, Hilton Honors experiences, and even Amazon purchases.
Redeeming Hilton Honors points for hotel stays is typically the most lucrative option, allowing you to take vacations to expensive, far-flung destinations — or a road trip closer to home — using only points.
Redeem Hilton points for dream vacations
Hilton doesn’t have an official award chart, but a good rule of thumb is that their least-expensive hotels start at 5,000 points per night and cap out at 95,000 points per night (with a few exceptions). Keep in mind that these prices are for standard room rates — when these aren’t available, redemption prices can often skyrocket astronomically, so be sure to check which rate you’re trying to book.
Here are a few examples of great redemptions:
Stretch your savings with Points & Money
If you’d rather make your Hilton points last, you can make the most of your redemption by using Points & Money to pay for your award nights. Hilton introduced this option a few years ago, which allows you to customize the number of points you’d like to use per night. You’ll then pay the difference in cash.
Use the Hilton 5th night free benefit
Silver and higher elite members get their fifth night free on all award stays of five nights or more, which amounts to an effective 20% discount in points on your redemptions. Planning your stays wisely can help stretch your points considerably.
Redeem your Amex Hilton free weekend night certificates
If you have the Hilton Honors Aspire Card, you’ll receive a free weekend night after you open your account and again each year on your card anniversary. Valid at nearly all Hilton hotels, its uncapped value means you can potentially redeem it for a night worth $1,000 or more at hotels such as the Waldorf Astoria Maldives or the Conrad Bora Bora.
Hilton Honors Surpass® Card and The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card members can earn a similar free weekend night when they meet spending thresholds on their card.
Use your Hilton points for experiences
The Hilton experiences program offers a variety of unique opportunities for redeeming points. These have included afternoon tea in Shanghai, a Czech beer experience, a night of “Amore” in Venice, and even strawberry picking in Indonesia.
Redeem Hilton Honors points for event credits
It’s also possible to redeem your points for events at a Hilton, though this isn’t generally considered a good way to maximize your Hilton points value. Here’s how much the credits cost:
- 25,000 points = $50
- 50,000 points = $100
- 75,000 points = $150
- 125,000 points = $250
- 250,000 points = $500
Exchange Hilton points for airline miles or Amtrak points
If you’d rather have airline or rail points, you have the option to transfer Hilton points to partner airlines or Amtrak, though redemption rates vary. You’ll first earn your Hilton Honors points and then exchange them into miles via your account. Hilton has over 30 airline and rail partners, including all the big US domestic airlines as well as tons of overseas options.
Spend Hilton Points at Amazon
To redeem your Hilton points at Amazon, you need to connect your accounts. Paying with Hilton points will then be an option during your Amazon checkout. This isn’t a great option generally speaking, as your points are only worth 0.2 cents each with Amazon.
Donate Hilton points to charity
You can also choose to donate your points via Hilton’s website. For every 10,000 points you donate, Hilton will send $25 to a charity of your choice.
Transfer Hilton points to a friend
If you’re not planning on traveling anywhere, you can take advantage of Hilton’s fee-free points transfer option to send up to 2 million points per year to friends or family. Hilton also has the unique option to pool your points with up to 11 people in order to afford a redemption.
Use Hilton points for Lyft rides
As part of Hilton’s partnership with Lyft, Honors members can redeem points for Lyft credits — but the value you’ll get per Hilton point isn’t great (around 0.2 cents each).
Tag: American Express