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Your Hotel Points Strategy Is Off – Here’s Why Collecting Hilton Points Is Better Than Collecting Hyatt Points

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Your Hotel Points Strategy Is Off – Here’s Why Collecting Hilton Points Is Better Than Collecting Hyatt Points

Joseph HostetlerYour Hotel Points Strategy Is Off – Here’s Why Collecting Hilton Points Is Better Than Collecting Hyatt PointsMillion Mile Secrets Team

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INSIDER SECRET: When you book five or more consecutive Hilton award nights, you’ll get the 5th night free! So if you book 10 award nights, you’ll only need enough points for eight nights.

I’m adjusting my view of hotel award nights in a dramatic way.

Here’s what you and I tend to get caught up in when we’re deciding which hotel points we earn:

  • Value per point
  • Required number of points per night

Neither of these things matter.  AT ALL.

There’s only one question you should ask when deciding which hotel currency to collect:   How much effort will it take to earn a free night?

I used to be a big Hyatt fanboy (I still love them).  But I’ve learned that Hilton points blow Hyatt points to smithereens, despite the perception that Hilton points aren’t nearly as valuable as Hyatt points.

I’ll explain!  And you can subscribe to our newsletter for more miles & points strategies like this.

Hilton has LOTS more hotels than Hyatt, so you can find them in more remote areas, like small towns – or in faraway islands like Fiji!

Fastest Route to Award Nights – Hyatt or Hilton?

Hyatt is just about every miles & points enthusiast’s favorite hotel loyalty program.  They used to be mine, too.

They’ve got fantastic hotels in some of the most popular destinations in the world.  I’ve never been disappointed in the quality of a Hyatt hotel.  That’s something I can’t say about any other hotel chain.

They also have a relatively inexpensive award chart.  Their standard award rooms top out at 40,000 points per night (with the vast majority of their hotels pricing at 30,000 points and below).  That’s tens of thousands of points fewer than any of the other popular hotel award charts.  So does that mean Hyatt points are the fastest way to a free night?

Not even close!

Let’s compare Hyatt with another popular hotel chain:   Hilton.

Focus on the Amount of Spending Required to Earn a Free Night (NOT the Amount of Points)

Hilton’s award prices go MUCH higher than Hyatt (more than double).  But it’s still far easier to earn a free night with Hilton.

Here is a look at the Hyatt award chart:

Hilton doesn’t have an award chart, but the standard room prices for their hotels fluctuate between 5,000 and 95,000 points per night.  In other words, if you want to stay in a top-notch 5-star Hilton resort, you can expect to pay 55,000 more points than Hyatt will charge for its absolute best jaw-dropping resorts.

It seems OBVIOUS that free nights with Hyatt are far easier to earn.  They’re 55,000 points cheaper for crying out sakes!  But in fact it’s the opposite, because Hilton points are WAY easier to earn than Hyatt.  They’re so easy you won’t even believe it.  Hilton gives away points like they’re hot potatoes.

Hilton Gives You More Points for Hotel Stays

1.   Base Points

When you stay at a hotel, you’ll earn a certain amount of “base” points per $1 you spend at the hotel (for room rate, dining, spa services, room service, etc.)

  • With Hyatt, you’ll earn 5 points per $1
  • With Hilton, you’ll earn 10 points per $1

Immediately, you can see Hilton gives you twice as many points as Hyatt for hotel stays.

2.   Promotions

In addition to the base points you’ll earn, Hilton offers perpetual bonus points promotions.  Here are the current promotions for both Hyatt and Hilton:

  • Hyatt – Earn 1,000 bonus Hyatt points per qualifying night, and another 500 bonus points per qualifying night spent at Hyatt House or Hyatt Place hotels, through May 15, 2019 (promo capped at 50 nights)
  • Hilton – Earn 2,000 points per stay plus an extra 10,000 points every 5 stays or 10 nights, through May 5, 2019 (at least double the potential bonus points that Hyatt offers)

3.   Elite Status

If you’ve got elite status with either of these hotel chains, you’ll receive bonus points on the amount of base hotel points you earn.

With Hyatt, you’ll get:

  • Discoverist Elite Status – 10% bonus (5.5 total points per $1 at Hyatt)
  • Explorist Elite Status – 20% bonus (6 total points per $1 at Hyatt)
  • Globalist Elite Status – 30% bonus (6.5 total points per $1 at Hyatt)

With Hilton, you’ll get:

  • Silver Elite Status – 20% bonus (12 total points per $1 at Hilton hotels)
  • Gold Elite Status – 80% bonus (18 total points per $1 at Hilton hotels)
  • Diamond Elite Status – 100% bonus (20 total points per $1 at Hilton hotels)

WOW.  Hilton’s top two elite statuses earns triple the points of the equivalent Hyatt elite statuses.  You can even earn Hilton Gold elite status simply by holding the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card!  And Hilton Diamond status by holding the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express.

Hilton Gives You More Points Via Credit Card Perks

Now let’s quickly look at the earning rate of both Hyatt and Hilton cards.

Here are the cards that earn the most Hyatt points:

The World Of Hyatt Credit Card:

  • 4 Hyatt points per $1 at Hyatt hotels
  • 2 Hyatt points per $1 restaurants, airline tickets purchased directly from airlines, local transit, fitness clubs, and gym memberships
  • 1 Hyatt point for everything else

The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which you can transfer to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio:

  •  3 points on travel (excluding the card’s $300 travel credit) & dining at restaurants
  • 1 point per $1 on all other purchases

Here are the cards that earn the most Hilton points:

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card:

  • 12 Hilton points per $1 spent at Hilton
  • 6 Hilton points per $1 on purchases at US restaurants, US supermarkets, and US gas stations
  • 3 Hilton points per $1 on all other eligible purchases
  • Terms Apply

Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express:

  • 14 Hilton points per $1 spent at Hilton
  • 7 Hilton points per $1 on purchases at US restaurants, for flights booked directly with airlines or AMEX Travel, and car rentals booked directly with select car rental companies
  • 3 Hilton points per $1 on all other eligible purchases
  • Terms Apply

Which Hotel Chain Wins in Real-Life Scenarios?

As you can see, every time you swipe your Hilton card you’re almost guaranteed to earn between 2 and 3 times the amount of points you could earn if you’d used a Hyatt points earning card.  Here are some examples.

Non-Bonus Spending

Cards that earn Hyatt points earn 1 point per $1 for non-bonus spending.  That means you’d need to make at least $5,000 to earn a free night at the lowest-category hotel (which costs 5,000 points).  And $40,000 in non-bonus spending for a night at Hyatt’s best hotels (which cost 40,000 points).

Hilton cards earn 3 points per $1 for non-bonus spending.  That means you’d need to make at least $1,667 in non-bonus spending to earn a free night at the lowest category hotel (which costs 5,000 points).  And $31,667 in non-bonus spending for a night at Hilton’s best hotels (which cost 95,000 points).

Winner:   Hilton

Hotel Spending

If you’ve got The World of Hyatt Card, you can earn 9.5 Hyatt points per $1 at Hyatt hotels (5 base Hyatt points per $1 + 4 bonus points per $1 for spending with The World of Hyatt Card + 0.5 bonus points per $1 for Discoverist elite status which comes with the card).  That means you’ll need to spend $527 with Hyatt to earn a free night at the lowest-category Hyatt hotel (costing 5,000 points), and $4,211 for a free night at Hyatt’s best hotels.

If you’ve got the AMEX Hilton Surpass, you can earn 30 Hilton points per $1 at Hilton hotels (10 base Hilton points per $1 + 12 bonus points per $1 for spending with the AMEX Hilton Surpass + 8 bonus points per $1 for Gold elite status which comes with the card).  That means you’ll need to spend $166 with Hilton to earn a free night at the lowest-category Hilton hotel (costing 5,000 points), and $3,167  for a free night at Hilton’s best hotels.

Hilton’s got some stunning properties all over Europe, including Paris

On top of this, Hilton will give anyone with elite status the 5th night free on a stay of 5+ consecutive award nights.  That makes your Hilton points even more valuable.

Winner:   Hilton

Travel and Dining

If you’re spending with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll earn 3 points per $1 for travel and dining.  That means you’ll need to spend $1,667 to earn a free night at the lowest-category Hyatt hotel (costing 5,000 points), and $13,334 for a free night at Hyatt’s best hotels.

If you’re spending with the AMEX Hilton Aspire, you’ll earn 7 Hilton points per $1 for US restaurants, flights booked directly with airlines or AMEX Travel, and select car rental agencies.  That means you’ll need to spend $715 to earn a free night at the lowest-category Hilton hotel (costing 5,000 points), and $13,572 for a free night at Hilton’s best hotels.

Winner:   Hilton

Welcome Bonuses

Here are the welcome bonuses you can earn to increase your Hyatt points balance:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card – 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® – 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

And here are the welcome bonuses you can earn to increase our Hilton points balance:

Bottom Line

It’s true, Hyatt points are more valuable than Hilton points.  On top of that, you can reserve 5-star Hyatt hotels for HALF the price of 5-star Hilton hotels.

But here’s the secret:   You can earn Hilton points 2 to 3 times faster than Hyatt points.  As a matter of fact, you’ll earn Hilton points at LEAST twice as fast in just about every fathomable scenario.  Plus, your points will last longer because Hilton gives anyone with elite status their 5th night free on stays of five or more consecutive award nights.

For these reasons, it takes less effort to collect points for a Hilton hotel stay.

Let me know if you disagree in the comments!  And subscribe to our newsletter for more common-sense strategies like this.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Have y’all looked at the Hilton award costs lately? I can’t find a decent hotel overseas for anything close to 95,000 per night. Cheapest is about 250,000 points. It seems Hilton is fighting Venezuela for the biggest currency devaluations of the year.

Practically speaking, Hyatt points on average are worth six times what Honors points are worth. You earn Hilton points 2-3 times faster but you still earn meaningful free stays faster with Hyatt. I mean if your goal is to earn a night at a Hampton Inn in Kansas City maybe Hilton wins but if you want to go to more exotic places Honkrs points are virtually worthless.

These are good points, but I still think Hyatt comes out on top, for a few reasons.

It’s trivial to get 2 or far more cents/point in value with Hyatt points everywhere from the very low end to the high end of their offerings. With Hilton, you’re typically going to get .5 cents/point or slightly above. Sure, you CAN get more, but at those same locations you’ll also be getting a lot more from Hyatt. So, yes, you can earn points at a faster rate, but I think Hyatt points are easily worth 3x Hilton points, or more.

It’s easy to earn 1.5 points/$ for non-category spend — just get a Chase Freedom Unlimited card. There’s no equivalent for Hilton. If you value Hyatt at least 3x that of Hilton points, that gives you a non-category value of the equivalent of 4.5 Hilton points/$, versus 3 Hilton points/$ for non-category spend on its cards.

Similarly, even in your examples of elite bonuses, etc., if you divide the value of Hilton points by 3 (or multiply the value of Hyatt points by 3) which is again I think a conservative estimate, you’re still getting equal or greater value in Hyatt points in most of the examples — credit card earning, elite status earning, and so on.

There is ONE way in which Hilton points are superior — Hilton has a lot of very low-end properties where you can get a free night for a mere 5,000 Hilton points, which is equivalent to around 1,650 or so Hyatt points by my reckoning. There simply are no Hyatt hotels that far down at the low end. So if you want to earn a hotel currency that can give you a bed at a cheap hotel for less, then Hilton is a winner. And, of course, Hilton has a lot more properties, which is sort of a corresponding win. Hyatt is more consistent but they don’t have a super low end, inexpensive redemption option. For me, that’s not particularly interesting — I use my points to get nice accommodations for less, when I want to travel on the super cheap I just pay cash.

Finally, and this is particularly important from my point of view — there is no effective way to earn Hilton points with transferrable currency. Earning Hyatt points on the Chase Sapphire Reserve is almost as good as using the World of Hyatt cobranded card, so if I want to maximize my flexibility while at the same time getting great value from my Hyatt redemptions I can have my cake and eat it too. With Hilton, however, you’d be a fool to transfer from a flexible currency; you’re losing a ton of value there.

There’s one other way in which Hilton has an edge — the Aspire card gives you top-tier status out of the gate, Hyatt has no similar path to automatic status. It is difficult to get Globalist without a lot of actual night stays, and it’s more than I am ever going to get. I have, however, managed to get Explorist, for now, using a combination of credit card status and matching, though who knows how long that will last.

Overall, however, to me, Hyatt still comes out clearly on top, for all the above reasons.

Hi Joseph,

Hilton points may be easier to earn, but the spending rate does not equate to quality of hotels. Hyatt posh hotels does not charge a resort/amenity fee when booking with award nights or booking with points, unlike some of the Hilton top tier brands. With Hyatt’s new collection of hotels, they have some great category 4 to 6 spots, similar categories in Hilton are subpar, since Hilton have like 14 hotel brands. Earning hotel points faster is not ideal, if the hotel is more restrictive and elusive.

Nice assessment.

I love Hilton’s. I have been a Hilton point “hoarder” for a while now. Waiting for retirement in 2-3 years. Plan is to use for 5th night free as we travel to check off our bucket list locations. Most of my points were earned from CC use, rewards dining programs and capitalizing on the stay bonuses. We are at 1,026,526 point now. I know deval has taken a hit on our stockpile but our strategy is in place. My wife will soon be applying for the Ascend card also.
Ca ching! Not to say other chains are not in my plan, Marriott @ 500k and growing, but I prefer Hiltons. All depends on the current situation at booking time.

All excellent points and in addition two points on the Hilton Amex Ascend card:
1. You get 10 priority pass passes, and those can also be used in several US airport restaurants to dine nearly for free
2. If you sign up via Hilton you get 5K more points

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