It’s no secret that i’m a points whore at least during my previous consulting life. Racking up points whether it be Aeroplan or Hilton was almost an addiction or a game. I was constantly on the prowl for the best deals or promotions and was kind enough as well to publish a few of these on our internal consultant e-mail group from time to time.
Well now’s my turn to spread everything I’ve learned and in today’s article I want to focus in on the Hilton Honors program. I’ll let you in on my secret on how to stay at some epic Hilton properties.
How to Maximize Your Hilton Honors Points
The Hilton Brand
- Hampton Inn
- Homewood Suites
- Hilton Garden Inn
- Embassy Suites
- Double Tree
- Home 2
- Hilton Grand Vacations
- Waldorf Astoria
This program is just like any other hotel rewards program. You stay at a Hilton branded hotel you spend $X and you get 10 points for each dollar. To make this a bit more complicated, if you choose their “Points & Points” method of earning points you also earn additional 5 points per dollar.
To make it more complicated there is a “Points & Variable Miles” option which gives you 10 points + 1 mile for each dollar that goes to your affiliated airline program.
There’s also the “Points & Fixed Miles” option which gives you 10 points + 500 miles per stay. These give you what are called “Base Points”.
You can earn more if you get special Hilton credit cards which can give you more bonus (unfortunately only for Americans). The beauty of the program is that there are no black out dates. Book anywhere at anytime. Of course if you do it really last minute you may still run into trouble but it’s way better than say the Aeroplan program which as most of you know is not the greatest.
In 2013, there was a massive devaluation of Hilton HHonors points so unfortunately a lot of these charts have been changed since then.
In 2017, HHonors was rebranded to Hilton Honors to simplify the branding and to unveil brand new features like the ability to spend points on ecommerce and provide other flexibility features in terms of how you can spend your points and cash.
Finally there’s status –>; Blue, Silver, Gold, Diamond
- Blue = When you enroll, no real bonuses here
- Silver = Stay 4 times (stays) or 10 nights ->; 15% point bonus, free 2 bottles of water [this just starts building your engine to get even more points]
- Gold = 16 stays, 36 nights or 60,000 base points ->; 25% bonus, complimentary upgrades, access to lounge, free internet, free bottles of water and for each property you get to choose an additional bonus which typically involves points called “My Way” (i.e. 500 points – 1000 points)
- Diamond = 28 stays, 60 nights or 100,000 base points ->; 50% bonus, complimentary upgrades, access to lounge, free internet, 48 hour last minute room guarantee, “My Way” bonuses that give you more than Gold.
I guess with status is that it’s only easy to rack it up when you’re travelling for work. Even if you travel a few times in a year you still have a chance to make Silver. There are other tricks which i’ll get to that can help accelerate this too.
My tips on setting it up
- Like with any rewards program the key really is to decide at the beginning what program you want to work with and stick with it. Put your eggs in one basket so to speak. No point in spreading out your accumulation points across the others (i.e. Hyatt, SPG, Holiday Inn etc.) if you can at all help it.
- Points & Points is the ONLY way to go. Why even waste your time trying to accumulate air miles.
Why I like the program
- As opposed to SPG which I find has less hotel selection across North America, the Hilton network is HUGE because of it’s inclusion of the budget hotels and high end hotels. Whether this be for work or pleasure this gives you the most options when it comes to where you can stay. So when i’m travelling on the cheap I’ll go with something like a Hampton Inn vs. when I’m travelling for work I’ll dish out the money for a Hilton, Embassy Suites or Double Tree.
- Quarterly Hilton Honors promos: Every quarter they launch a new program that’ll give you some additional bonus points for each night or stay. SIGN UP FOR THESE. These bonus points can go a long way to building your points. Check hhonors.hilton.com frequently.
- Gold Fast Track: These programs come up once in awhile (found this through slickdeals.org) Carlson Wagonlit in this instance is offering you instant Gold if you stay 4 nights. WOW right? Do this before an upcoming big trip and that could mean way more bonus points or getting all the special bonuses/upgrades that come with being Gold/Diamond. Link: https://hiltonhhonors.com/ProcessLanding/ProcessLanding/?var=vF+aJmgoavXQ9ltLjPERHQ==
- Gold Fast Track #2: Have a TD VISA Infinite card? This was designed for Americans but for the Canadians out there this has been known to work for TD Infinite cards. Codes you may need: 442394 (try 436500 if that doesn’t work). Check out https://www.hiltonhhonors.com/landingpages/VisaInfiniteGold.aspx
- TopGuest has a program where if you sign up , if you “check in” to a Hilton property whether through Facebook or Foursquare, you get 50 points every time. Not much but it could help you in your cause to build a points empire. (https://topguest.com)
- This really only applies for Americans but sign up for a HHonors credit card. The initial bonus points you get is usually enough for 1 or 2 nights already so it’s worth looking into.
- The rest is really if you’re lucky to find these promos. They come and go. I’ll typically see them on Slickdeals but sometimes if you do something like “Like” a page or whatever it is with social media these days you can get 500 bonus points.
Spending Your Points
Okay this is my favorite part and it should be! After all that hard work accumulating your points, it’s time to spend it. And of course there’s a strategy to doing it and how to maximize your points to land you a vacation of your dreams. Before we delve into this exciting topic we first have to explain to you how the redemption works with Hilton.
It’s pretty simple. Hilton hotels have categories (1-7) where 1 is the lowest. You’ll have to check the Hilton property websites to figure out what category your hotel is. So the columns indicate what category the hotel is while the rows indiciate how many nights you want to stay. For example, a Category 7 is 50,000 points a night. A Category 3 is 25,000 points a night. There is NO discount for more nights you stay there. Elite Redemption
Now what if you’re “Elite” and by that they mean Silver, Gold or Diamond Well up to nights 1-3 everything stays the same as the chart above but if you stay 4 or more nights you get point discounts. This only works for categories 3-7.
- 4-Nights = 15% discount
- 5-Nights = 20% discount
- 6-Nights or more = 25% discount
If we analyze this and check out a Category 7 hotel for 6 nights, it only costs 225,000 points. Break that down per night and that’s a CRAZY ridiculous amount of 37,500 a night!! WOW IS RIGHT! At this point you should start thinking…what Category 7 hotels are out there? Now if you want to know…head here: https://boardingarea.com/blogs/loyaltytraveler/2010/01/26/hilton-hhonors-category-7-hotel-list-and-50-vip-reward-increase-for-22-hotels/ Now let’s look at what this can bag you as I was able to do:
What about Waldorf Astorias?
If you browse through the below, Group A and Group B properties can actually be gotten for 37,500 points if you book during their low season. So not bad at all!
This chart applies to what’s called GROUP A:
- Arizona Biltmore | Phoenix, Arizona
- Boca Beach Club, The Waldorf Astoria Collection | Boca Raton, Florida
- Boca Raton Resort, The Waldorf Astoria Collection | Boca Raton, Florida
- Casa Marina Resort, The Waldorf Astoria Collection | Key West, Florida
- Edgewater Beach Hotel | Naples, Florida
- El Conquistador Resort, The Waldorf Astoria Collection | Fajardo, Puerto Rico
- El San Juan Hotel & Casino, The Waldorf Astoria Collection | San Juan, Puerto Rico
- La Quinta Resort & Club | La Quinta, California (Palm Springs area)
- Naples Grande Beach Resort, The Waldorf Astoria Collection | Naples, Florida
- Rome Cavalieri | Rome, Italy
- The Bentley, London | London, UK
- The Boulders Resort, The Waldorf Astoria Collection | Scottsdale, Arizona
- The Reach Resort, The Waldorf Astoria Collection | Key West, Florida
- The Roosevelt Hotel New Orleans, The Waldorf Astoria Collection | New Orleans, Louisiana
- The Waldorf=Astoria® | New York, New York
- Trianon Palace Versailles, Waldorf Astoria Collection | Versailles, France
- Waldorf Astoria Orlando | Orlando, Florida
- Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund | Shanghai, China
- Waldorf Astoria Park City | Park City, Utah
Beach House Maldives doesn’t exist anymore. Group C
- Grand Wailea, Waldorf Astoria Collection | Wailea, Maui, Hawaii
VIP Rewards for Waldorf
Finally the discount you get on using points if you’re a VIP member and want to book Waldorf. Hilton Grand Vacations also work differently but I won’t go into those unless you’re really interested.
So What Should You Be Doing?
You should do as the master has done (well me right?). Waldorf although extremely nice (The Park City one was mad baller), Conrads are really the hotels of choice if you want maximum AWESOMENESS for HHonors Points. 37,500 points a night is just too crazy to pass up. So why even waste your points on a one night stay at a Hampton Inn or a normal Hilton (unless you really absolutely need to). Save up enough points (225,000 specifically) and live it up! Just make sure you get some sort of elite status – preferably Gold or Diamond and on top of that you’ll get your free internet, lounge access and potentially an amazing upgrade as well. If you can’t get the status, see if you can find an accelerator to take you from no status to Gold like the Carlson Wagonlit one.
Keep working at accumulating those points! 225,000 isn’t that hard to accumulate if you try to follow my point accumulation tips and focus your hotels on Hilton for the next while. Before you know it you’ll have 225,000 and you’ll be chillaxing somewhere AWESOME like I did this summer :) Think of it this way, if you didn’t know about any of this and tried to book a Category hotel for 1 night you’d be paying 35,000 points a night. With this new found knowledge you have you can be paying 37,500 points a night AND stay at either a Conrad or Waldorf. Which would you rather do?