Your hotel points strategy is off – Here’s why collecting Hilton points is better than collecting Hyatt points
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I’ve adjusted my view of hotel award nights in a dramatic way.
You and I tend to get caught up in two factors when we’re deciding which hotel points to 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 fact that Hilton points aren’t nearly as valuable as Hyatt points. Hilton wins in just about every way — from its hotel credit cards to Hilton elite status its fifth night free program.
I’ll explain. And you can subscribe to our newsletter for more miles & points strategies like this.
Fastest route to award nights – Hyatt or Hilton?
Hyatt is just about every miles and points enthusiast’s favorite hotel loyalty program. They used to be mine, too.
Hyatt’s 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 points hotel chain.
The Hyatt award chart is also relatively inexpensive. 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 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)
MMS estimates Hyatt points value to be around 2 cents each. In other words, we don’t generally like to redeem Hyatt points unless we’re getting at least that much value from them. Depending on where and when you use them, you can see dramatic fluctuation in either direction.
On the other hand, Hilton points are worth at least 0.5 cents on average according to our estimation. As with Hyatt, you can get far more or less depending on how you use them. Be sure to read our post about the best use of Hilton points to see how you can dramatically increase the value of your points.
But Hilton has distinct advantages over Hyatt:
- Amount of hotels (nearly four times that of Hyatt)
- Earning rate
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’s a look at the Hyatt award chart:
There is no Hilton award chart, but the standard room prices for their hotels fluctuate between 5,000 and 95,000 points per night (even 120,000 points per night in a few hotels). In other words, if you want to stay in a top-notch five-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 dollar you spend at the hotel (for room rate, dining, spa services, room service, etc.):
- With Hyatt, you’ll earn 5 points per dollar
- With Hilton, you’ll earn 10 points per dollar
Immediately, you can see Hilton gives you twice as many points as Hyatt for hotel stays.
2. 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 dollar at Hyatt)
- Explorist Elite Status – 20% bonus (6 total points per dollar at Hyatt)
- Globalist Elite Status – 30% bonus (6.5 total points per dollar at Hyatt)
With Hilton, you’ll get:
- Silver Elite Status – 20% bonus (12 total points per dollar at Hilton hotels)
- Gold Elite Status – 80% bonus (18 total points per dollar at Hilton hotels)
- Diamond Elite Status – 100% bonus (20 total points per dollar 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 elite status simply by holding certain cards. Gold status comes with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card — and Hilton Diamond status comes with the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express.
The information for the Hilton Aspire card and Hilton Surpass has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
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 triple base points (at least 15 points per dollar) between June 15 and September 15, 2020. Hyatt elite status members will receive 2,500 bonus points for the first qualifying stay (terms apply)
- Hilton – Earn 2,000 bonus points per stay. Also earn an extra 10,000 points for completing 10 nights, through September 7, 2020 (up to 30,000 bonus points for every 10 nights)
I have to admit, Hyatt’s running an unusually lucrative promotion to try and woo travelers back in the wake of COVID-19. At this moment, I’d call a tie between these promotions.
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:
- 4 Hyatt points per dollar at Hyatt hotels
- 2 Hyatt points per dollar restaurants, airline tickets purchased directly from airlines, local transit, fitness clubs, and gym memberships
- 1 Hyatt point per dollar 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 dollar on all other purchases
Here are the cards that earn the most Hilton points:
- 12 Hilton points per dollar spent on eligible purchases charged on your card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.
- 6 Hilton points per dollar on purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations
- 3 Hilton points per dollar on all other eligible purchases
- $95 annual fee (see rates and fees)
- Terms Apply
- 14 Hilton points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at participating Hilton locations
- 7 Hilton points per dollar on purchases at U.S. restaurants, for flights booked directly with airlines or Amex Travel, and car rentals booked directly with select car rental companies
- 3 Hilton points per dollar on all other eligible purchases
- $450 annual fee (see rates and fees)
- 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 two and three times the amount of points you could earn if you’d used a Hyatt points earning card. Here are some examples.
Cards that earn Hyatt points earn 1 point per dollar for non-bonus spending. That means you’d need to spend 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 dollar 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 cheapest 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).
If you’ve got the World of Hyatt Card, you can earn 9.5 Hyatt points per dollar at Hyatt hotels (5 base Hyatt points per dollar + 4 bonus points per dollar for spending with the World of Hyatt Card + 0.5 bonus points per dollar 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 dollar at Hilton hotels (10 base Hilton points per dollar + 12 bonus points per dollar for spending with the Amex Hilton Surpass + 8 bonus points per dollar 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.
On top of this, Hilton will give anyone with elite status the 5th night free on a stay of five or more consecutive award nights. That makes your Hilton points even more valuable.
Travel and dining
If you’re spending with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll earn 3 points per dollar for travel and dining (remember, Chase points transfer to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio). 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 dollar for U.S. 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: It’s a close one, but Hilton
Here are some of the welcome bonuses you can earn to increase your Hyatt points balance:
- World of Hyatt Credit Card – Up to 60,000 bonus Hyatt points:
- 30,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
- Up to 30,000 more bonus points by earning 2 bonus points total per $1 spend on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 in the first six months of account opening.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card – 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening. Plus earn a $50 statement credit on grocery purchases in the first year of account opening.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® – 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening.
And here are the welcome bonuses you can earn to increase our Hilton points balance:
- Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express – 150,000 Hilton points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card – 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of account opening.
- The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card – 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of account opening.
- Hilton Honors American Express Card – 80,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of account opening.
COVID-19 card improvements
This is a bit tangential, but I think it’s worth mentioning. Card issuers have been doing really well in making positive changes to their cards in light of the coronavirus lockdown. Here’s what Hilton has done:
- Both the Amex Hilton Surpass and the Amex Hilton Aspire earn 12 Hilton points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (May through July 2020).
- Bonus points earned with any Hilton card will count towards elite tier qualification and lifetime Diamond Hilton status
- The Amex Hilton Aspire annual $250 annual Hilton resort credit can now be redeemed for purchases at U.S. restaurants (takeout and delivery included) from June to August 2020
- Weekend night certificates earned with Hilton cards can now be used for any day of the week (not just between Friday and Sunday). Certificates issued before May 1, 2020, are valid through August 31, 2021. Certificates issued between May 1 and December 31, 2020, are valid for 24 months
It’s true, Hyatt points are more valuable than Hilton points. After all, you can reserve five-star Hyatt hotels for HALF the price of five-star Hilton hotels.
But here’s the secret: You can earn Hilton points two to three 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, you can achieve free nights at Hilton more easily than Hyatt (far more easily, in most cases).
For rates and fees of the Hilton Surpass card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire card, click here.
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! :)