Update: All the Ways to Earn Hilton Points!

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I wrote several years ago about the best ways to get Hilton points.

Thanks to Million Mile Secrets reader Peter for commenting that it’s time for an update!  A lot has changed since 2012.

Since then, Hilton has made significant changes to its award chart, so their points aren’t worth as much as before.  But they’re still among the easiest points to get through credit card sign-up bonuses and spending.

Update All The Ways To Earn Hilton Points

Hilton Points Are Still Very Easy to Earn, and I’ll Show You How!

Hilton hotels include Conrad, Canopy, Curio, DoubleTreeEmbassy SuitesHampton InnHiltonHilton Garden Inn, Hilton Grand Vacations, Home2Suites, Homewood Suites, Tru, and Waldorf Astoria brand hotels.

Let’s take a fresh look at how you can earn lots of Hilton points.

How to Earn Hilton Points Directly

Link:   Which Credit Card Earns the Most Points for Hilton Stays?

Link:   Which Hilton Card Is Better? 

I’ll try to keep this post better updated, but credit card offers do change occasionally.  For the most up-to-date information, check the Hot Deals page.

And remember, Emily and I will always tell you about the best offers, even if they don’t earn us a commission!

Note:   You can only get the sign-up bonus on American Express personal and business cards ONCE per person, per lifetime.  But you CAN get the bonus on Citi cards again, even if you’ve had them in the past. 

1.   American Express Hilton HHonors

Link:   American Express Hilton HHonors

Normally, the sign-up bonus on the American Express Hilton HHonors card is 40,000 points.  But it’s been as high as 75,000 Hilton points after meeting minimum spending requirements.

You’ll also get:

  • 7 points per $1 you spend at Hilton hotels
  • 5 points per $1 you spend at US restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets
  • 3 points per $1 you spend on everything else
  • Free Silver elite status (15% points bonus on Hilton points earned, 2 free bottles of water, late check-out)
  • NO annual fee

This isn’t a good card to use overseas, because you’ll pay a 2.7% foreign transaction fee.

2.   American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass

Link:   American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass

The regular sign-up bonus on this card is usually 60,000 Hilton points.  But there have been offers for as many as 100,000 Hilton points after meeting minimum spending requirements!

The $75 annual fee is NOT waived for the first year.  You’ll also get:

  • 12 points per $1 you spend at Hilton hotels
  • 6 points per $1 you spend at US restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets
  • 3 points per $1 you spend on everything else
  • Free Hilton Gold Elite status (free breakfast at certain hotels, upgrades when available)
  • Free Hilton Diamond Elite status when you spend more than $40,000 in a calendar year (better upgrades)

Again, this card charges a 2.7% foreign transaction fee, so it’s not good to use outside of the US!

3.   Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve

Link:   Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve

You’ll earn 2 weekend nights at (almost) any Hilton after you spend $2,500 in the first 4 months with the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card. The $95 annual fee is NOT waived for the first year.

This is my favorite Hilton card, because the 2 weekend nights can be used at even the highest-tier Hilton hotels, which often cost over $1,000 per night!

Update All The Ways To Earn Hilton Points

You Could Treat Yourself to a Vacation at the Conrad Koh Samui in Thailand

You’ll also get:

  • 10 points per $1 you spend at Hilton hotels
  • 5 points per $1 you spend on airlines and car rentals
  • 3 points per $1 you spend on everything else
  • Free Hilton Gold Elite status (free breakfast at certain hotels, upgrades when available)
  • Free Hilton Diamond Elite status when you spend more than $40,000 in a calendar year (better upgrades)
  • A weekend night on your card anniversary after you spend more than $10,000 a year
  • NO foreign transaction fees

4.   Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature

Link:   Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature

The Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature card normally earns you 40,000 Hilton points after you meet the minimum spending requirements.  Sometimes, there are better offers, including the highest offer we’ve seen for 75,000 Hilton points!

You’ll also get:

  • 6 points for every $1 you spend at Hilton hotels
  • 3 points for every $1 you spend at supermarkets, drug stores, and gas stations
  • 2 points for every $1 you spend on everything else
  • Free Hilton Silver Elite status (15% points bonus on Hilton points earned, 2 free bottles of water, late check-out)
  • Free Hilton Gold Elite status (free breakfast at certain hotels, upgrades when available) after staying at a Hilton 4 times in the first 90 days of opening your account, or spending $20,000 in a calendar year
  • 10,000 bonus points at the end of each calendar year in which you spend $1,000 or more on Hilton stays
  • NO annual fee

How to Earn Hilton Points Indirectly

Some cards earn miles or points that can be transferred to Hilton.  These include:

Update All The Ways To Earn Hilton Points

You Can Transfer Miles and Points From Other Programs to Hilton Hotels

1.   American Express Membership Rewards

Link:   American Express Membership Rewards

You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Hilton at a ratio of 1 AMEX Membership Rewards point to 1.5 Hilton points.

And sometimes there are transfer bonuses.

Here are all the cards that earn American Express Membership Rewards points:

Personal CardsBusiness Cards
Premier Rewards Gold Card From American ExpressThe Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
American Express® Mercedes-Benz PlatinumThe Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressThe Enhanced Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN
AMEX EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
AMEX EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express
American Express® Gold Card
American Express® Green Card
Blue from American Express® Note: These are the ONLY AMEX cards that earn Membership Rewards points that can NOT be transferred to airline & hotel programs. But you can use these points on the Membership Rewards website for other redemptions. Includes personal AND small business versions of the card.

Remember, you can only get the bonus on personal and business American Express cards once per person per lifetime.  So consider carefully if transferring points to Hilton makes the most sense for you.  There are plenty of other ways to earn Hilton points!

2.   Citi ThankYou Points

Link:   Citi ThankYou

Citi ThankYou points can also be transferred to Hilton at a 1 : 1.5 ratio.  And they’ve had transfer bonuses in the past.

Only points earned from the Citi ThankYou Premier, Citi Prestige, and Citi Chairman (no longer available) cards can be transferred to airline and hotel partners.

But if you have one of these cards, you can transfer points earned from other Citi ThankYou cards, like the Citi ThankYou Preferred, to your account.  And then to airline and hotel partners.

Cards With Points That Directly Transfer to Travel PartnersCards With Points That Transfer ONLY If You Have a Card From First Column
Citi ThankYou PremierCiti ThankYou Preferred
Citi PrestigeCiti ThankYou Preferred for College Students
Citi ChairmanCitiBusiness ThankYou (No Longer Available)
Citi AT&T Access More

Remember, it can take up to 14 days for Citi ThankYou points to transfer!

3.   Hawaiian Airlines

Link:   Barclaycard Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard

Link:   Barclaycard Hawaiian Airlines Business Card

Link:   My Review of the Barclaycard Hawaiian Airlines Cards

You can transfer Hawaiian Airlines miles to Hilton at a 1 : 1.5 ratio.  This used to be a better deal (1 : 2 ratio), but that’s changed.

Update All The Ways To Earn Hilton Points

Instead of Using Hawaiian Airlines Miles to Fly to Hawaii, You Could Use Them for a Stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu

The Barclaycard Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard has a sign-up bonus of 35,000 miles after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days of opening your account.  And you’ll also get:

  • 2 miles per $1 you spend on Hawaiian Airlines
  • 1 mile per $1 you spend on everything else
  • First checked bag free for primary cardholder on Hawaiian Airlines
  • Discounted awards on Hawaiian Airlines
  • 50% off companion ticket between Hawaii and North America
  • $100 discount off a companion ticket each card anniversary
  • 5,000 bonus miles after spending more than $10,000 in a calendar year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee of $89, NOT waived for the first year

The Barclaycard Hawaiian Airlines Business Card also has a sign-up bonus of 35,000 miles, after you make your first purchase.  It also offers:

  • 2 miles per $1 you spend on Hawaiian Airlines
  • 1 mile per $1 you spend on everything else
  • 50% off companion ticket between Hawaii and North America
  • Up to 40,000 bonus miles for Big Spending ($100,000 in a calendar year)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee of $89, NOT waived for the first year

You could transfer the 35,000 mile sign-up bonus to Hilton and get 52,500 Hilton points (35,000 x 1.5).  That’s enough for an award night in a mid-category Hilton hotel.

Or you could use the points for a one-way coach award ticket on Hawaiian Airlines between Hawaii and the US mainland.  That could be a better value!

Many folks can qualify for business cards even if they think they don’t have a business, or are just starting a business.

Remember, Barclaycard doesn’t let folks get more than 1 or 2 cards a year, so it’s important to choose your cards wisely.

4.   Virgin Atlantic

Link:   Bank of America Virgin Atlantic

Link:   My Review of the Bank of America Virgin Atlantic Card

The Bank of America Virgin Atlantic currently has an increased sign-up bonus of (up to) 90,000 miles.  But you have to do a lot of spending to get the full bonus!

That said, you could transfer 90,000 Virgin Atlantic miles at a 1 : 1.5 ratio to Hilton and get 135,000 Hilton points.  That’s more than enough for a night at a top-tier Hilton (with points left over!), like the Conrad Rangali Island in the Maldives.

We Spent 5 Nights at the Conrad Maldives Using Hilton Points

With this card, you’ll get:

  • 20,000 miles after your first purchase
  • 50,000 miles after you spend $12,000 in qualifying purchases in the first 6 months of opening your account
  • 5,000 miles when you add 2 authorized users
  • Up to 15,000 miles on your card anniversary (7,500 miles if you spend more than $15,000 in a year, and another 7,500 miles if you spend over $25,000)
  • A Companion coach award ticket for half the miles of a standard award ticket, when you spend $25,000 in a year
  • 3 miles per $1 you spend on Virgin Atlantic
  • 1.5 miles per $1 you spend on everything else

The annual fee of $90 is NOT waived for the first year.

Bottom Line

There are lots of ways to earn Hilton points from credit card sign-up bonuses and spending!

You can get them directly from Citi and American Express Hilton cards.  Or indirectly by transferring points from American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou, Virgin Atlantic, or Hawaiian Airlines.

Emily and I will always tell you about the best offers, even when they don’t earn us a commission.  Remember, for the most up-to-date offers, check the Hot Deals page!

What’s your favorite way to earn (and spend!) Hilton points?

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Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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17 responses to “Update: All the Ways to Earn Hilton Points!

  1. American Express Hilton HHonors … isn’t a good card to use overseas, because you’ll pay a 2.7% foreign transaction fee.

    Wish I had known that before I spent the $3,000. That’s another $81 on top of the $75 annual fee. If I can get a week’s worth of rooms at that rate I’ll about break even with what I usually spend for my budget hotels.

  2. Just wondering, has anyone had luck applying the weekend certificates to a family stay? They’re pretty specific about double occupancy; since my wife and I have 2 kids who travel with us, I don’t know that I would ever be able to use them if Hilton enforces the letter of the law.

  3. Joe, I used one of my certificates to book a night at an Embassy Suites in downtown Denver, where my two nephews had one of the suite’s rooms and I had the other.

  4. Anyone using to x10 or x12 points benifit to buy gift cards. ? Thinking about purchasing Carnival gift card to Pay off cruise booking and get hotel points in transaction.

  5. Hi Daraius,
    (I have met you and Emily a number of times at the Chicago sminars and the FTUniversity’s)
    I am a Canadian.The ONLY major hotel chain that doesn’t have an affiliated C.C. in
    Canada is Hilton.
    Is there any way I can earn Hhonors points ( without buying them directly from Hhonors or
    without a stay) ?
    Thanks
    Michael

  6. If you get the Citi Reserve card with 2 free weekend nights, when does the 2 night certificates expire? One year from card approval or one year from meeting the spend requirement? In other words, if you are approved in Jan 2015 but meet the spend requirement in Mar 2015, do the certificates expire Jan 2016 or Mar 2016?

  7. I just transferred the last of our hawaiian miles to hilton and found out that you must now transfer in increments of 10,000. it used to be in increments of 5,000. you may want to add that to hawaiian airlines credit cards. if you end up with 35,000 from one of the cards, you will only be able to transfer 30,000.

  8. @John, 10x Citi and 12x Hilton points you are referring to is for spend at Hilton hotels. you don’t get that for buying Carnival Gift cards (unless Hilton hotels sold them at their hotels, which I doubt). if you can get Carnival gift card at a grocery store or Gas stations, then you can get 6 points per $1 with AmEx surpass Hilton but otherwise you are only going to get 3x points with either cards for Carnival cruiseline gift cards.

  9. @Joe I used my certificates at the Hilton in Auckland NZ and had to only put wife and i on the original booking (system doesn’t allow more than 2 people) but the hotel allows 4 person per room occupancy. So I looked at trying to add my 2 kids later online but wasn’t able to change the booking. I was able to add the kids at check in. It was not a big deal. I told them the call center had made a ‘mistake’. The hotel also gave the kids the free breakfast benefit that comes with gold status from the card. very nice. the breakfast buffet at the auckland hilton was amazing. The only region you may have trouble including your kids on a certificate reservation is Europe where they have very strict room occupancy rules.

  10. @Joe forgot to add. i also used the certificates in boston. same deal. booked it with just wife and I. added kids at check-in. both auckland and boston hotels gave us a roll-away bed too, but boston hotels didn’t include kids on the free breakfast. as long as the hotel allows 4 people in a room you shouldn’t have a problem. you could also email the hotel ahead of time and have them amend the reservation (i did this for one of the two boston stays (told them an error had occurred and needed kids put on the reservation)2. the hotels seem only to care about their own room occupancy rules. I didn’t get the impression that they care what the Citi card rules may or may not say

  11. Thanks for the updates @HoustonRobert and @mulbry. If I do consider Europe, I will check ahead of time 🙂

  12. Under “3. Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve” it says you could treat yourself to a vacation at the “Conrad Koh Samui Residences” however that hotel is on the Weekend Night Certificate Exclusion list.

  13. That bonus point to the CC are the only thing i envy you. I’m not a US citizen so i cant have US CC 🙁 . The only card that gives that kind bonuses in my country is Citi but cash/points ratio is absurdly low and ridiculous .

  14. @Evan – The Conrad Koh Samui standard rooms (villas) are NOT excluded:

    http://conradhotels3.hilton.com/en/hotels/thailand/conrad-koh-samui-USMKSCI/index.html

    But you are correct, the Conrad Koh Samui Residences are on the excluded list:

    http://conradhotels3.hilton.com/en/hotels/thailand/conrad-koh-samui-residences-USMKRCI/index.html

  15. Do Hilton Hotels sell GCs? If so, will I get 12pts per dollar for using Surpass at those gift stores?

  16. Even though the AMEX Hilton Surpass and AMEX Hilton are 2 separate cards, when I clicked on your link, I was directed to the upgrade page and was told that I was detected to be an AMEX card holder, so the offer is spend $3000 in 3 months, but only 50,000 points for Surpass card because I am currently an AMEX Hilton Honor card holder. Is it worth it to call to dispute that they are 2 different cards?

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