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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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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 Ascend 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 Ascend 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

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

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 Ascend, 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 Ascend + 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 5+ 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 sign-up for 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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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

I’m actually coming to the same conclusion right now. Hilton seems to be the program to use now. Combination of relative ease to earn points, ease of attaining a meaningful status, the elite benefits and massive footprint of Hotels that I would redeem for.

For me the Hyatt sweet spot is the Ziva resorts and for this I do earn the Hyatt bonus to amass bonus points but getting status is just too difficult.

I’ve long been an IHG guy but transitioning away to Hilton – there are just too few “aspirational” properties with too few elite benefits. Eg. Intercontinental Cannes looks great but no breakfast, no room upgrade, no lounge access…….. Makes it an expensive stay.

Author
Joseph Hostetler

Agree on all fronts. Focusing on one type of hotel points doesn’t mean you have to abandon the other. I’ll be heading to either Ziva or Zilara Cancun for the first time in a couple months, let me know if you’ve got some tips!

Joseph we just went to the Cancun Zilara in February. We loved it so much we repeated our trip from last year. If you are a Hyatt member they have a special check in around the corner from the front desk. I recommend the Zilara because its adults only. We toured the Ziva and its very nice but you can’t go wrong with the Zilara. Make sure you do the Tequila tasting that the sommelier puts on (Its free). All the restaurants are very good but be sure to try the Tapas restaurant. If you want to do Hibachi that is the only time you need a reservation.

Joseph..stayed @ Zilara and Globalist get upgraded to the Sapphire tower which is very nice and you get a Butler. Due to the location on the point, the wind is brutal coming through the lobby out to the pool. It’s like a wind tunnel and if it’s not tied down, it’s blown away. If you like to be around hoards of Children, this is the place for you. The rooftop infinity pool is spectacular. Sapphire residents (only) have access to the rooftop pool area in the evening for entertainment. Lots of drinking & dancing. Haven’t gotten around to the Ziva yet. Was going in Nov. 2019 but decided instead on the Hyatt Grand Playa del Carmen. Booked @ 20K pts. prior to the devaluation where it is now 25K. Wouldn’t do Playa del Carmen @ 25K if you can do Zilara or Ziva for 25K.

Totally disagree w/ your assumption. I will use the Hilton Aruba vs Hyatt Aruba comparison again. Presidents Day week, 2020, Hilton charges 80K pts. per night. It doesn’t matter if the cash rate is $300 or $600 a night during high season, your paying 80K pts. per night. Hyatt charges 25K. It doesn’t matter if the cash rate is $300 or $1K, you pay 25K pts.. A Hilton Diamond will get an upgrade to a poor location and $12.50 credit for breakfast. A Hyatt Globalist will get breakfast in the lounge and also food & drink in the evening @ the lounge. Love the self-serve Heineken! You can also use a suite upgrade award which you get (4) per year as Globalist. Add the lounge & suite values and Hyatt comes out tops. Plus, Hilton is over 3X the pts.. If you have the Chase FU, your earning 1.5 pts. per $ which can transfer to Hyatt which essentially gives you $0.0255 per $ spend. The Hyatt is a much nicer hotel like most Hyatts, compared to Hilton. Hilton did have it’s advantages in the past but not anymore. There are exceptions, but aren’t there always.

Author
Joseph Hostetler

Thanks for taking the time, David!

I find Hyatt to be the anecdotal chain, not Hilton. There’s a clear winner in your example, though (self-serve Heineken??). I will concede that the CFU changes the outcome of the non-bonus spend section, especially with the card’s current offer! I’ll tweak the post to reflect that.

Looking for a further breakdown myself. Is it still worth collecting points on Hilton Aspire when you assume you can use the Chase QUADfecta instead to earn Hyatt Points? (CFU for 1.5x non-bonus, CF for 5x rotating, INK for 5x cable/phone, etc. and CSR for Travel/restaurant spend). I’m curious to see how the math shakes out in using this group of Chase cards for Hyatt points vs. using the single Aspire card for HH points. Further complicating this is if you use the Aspire card and hit the 60k spend, you’ll also get another top tier night that you can’t get for Hyatt by using the Chase cards.

This is what I am trying to decide between right now!

Author
Joseph Hostetler

This is good stuff, Joe! The answer is still dependent on your spending habits.

If you’re juggling the CF bonus categories, Ink categories, and CSR categories, it’s certainly possible to do better than with the Aspire.

BUT, if hotel spending assumes any meaningful percentage of your credit card transactions, I submit that there’s NO possible way to beat the Aspire.

I’m speaking to the general ease of collecting/stretching Hilton points, via credit cards or otherwise. For example, constant Hilton bonus point promos, 5th award night free, and ubiquity of Hilton hotels worldwide tilts the scales for me. Let me know if that totally doesn’t answer your question!

I just booked Waldorf astoria maldives for 480k points for 5 nights. My dates were over 3000/night which made the value almost .04 a point. Hyatt maldives would have been .026/night. But here’s the clincher. I transferred amex points at 3 to 1 rate and I earn amex at 4x rate so really I earned 12 hilton points per dollar spent. At 4 cents each this is almost a 48% return on spending. So for higher end properties I favor hilton. However, I am writing this comment from my Hyatt room in San Francisco booked on rewards at .03 a point per night. The point is for me this is a fruitless argument. I love them both and they both have a place in my life. Happy travels!

Isn’t amex to hhonors a 1:2 ratio? Was there a promo or something?

And are you working amex gold 4x grocery and dining?

Yea that hotel is 120k points a night Hilton said they go up to 95k on redemptions but it’s really 120k points

Author
Joseph Hostetler

I didn’t even know there was a Waldorf in MLE, looks like it opens in a couple months. Let us know how it is!!
Another good point on the ease of earning Hilton points with AMEX, thanks for sharing, Richard.