How to earn Hilton Honors points: The ultimate guide

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I absolutely love the Hilton hotel chain for its incredible global coverage and ease of accessibility. I also like that I can redeem points for high-end luxury resorts, or simple, clean properties in nearly any city or town worldwide.

And the best news is that you can accumulate Hilton points through a number of avenues — most of which are relatively easy. Whether you’re starting from scratch, or want to top-up your account for a dream vacation, you have lots of options, including welcome bonuses on the Amex Hilton cards like the Hilton Honors American Express Card and Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card.

In this post, we’ll discuss how to earn Hilton points through credit cards, hotel stays, and more to get you on your way to your next Hilton award redemption.

It’s easy to earn Hilton points for stays all over the world, like New York City. (Photo courtesy of Hilton)

Earn Hilton points with Hilton cards 

Perhaps the best and fastest way to earn Hilton points is through Hilton credit cards. Credit cards offer large welcome bonuses that can sometimes be up to 150,000 Hilton points. In addition, you can earn Hilton points with your everyday spending by using your Hilton co-branded credit cards. 

CardWelcome OfferEarning RateAnnual Fee
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card150,000 Hilton points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Terms Apply.14x on eligible Hilton purchases
7x at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines or on AmexTravel.com, 3x on all other eligible purchases
$450 (see rates & fees)

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card130,000 Hilton points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Terms Apply.12x on eligible Hilton purchases; 6x at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; 3x on all other eligible purchases

$95 (see rates & fees)
The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card130,000 Hilton points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Terms Apply.12x on eligible Hilton purchases; 6x at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, and on U.S. shipping purchases and wireless telephone services directly from U.S. providers, flights booked directly with airlines or on AmexTravel.com, and car rentals from select car rental companies; 3x on all other eligible purchases

$95 (see rates & fees)
Hilton Honors American Express Card80,000 Hilton points after spending $1,000 on purchases with the first three months of account opening. Terms Apply.7x on eligible Hilton purchases; 5x at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; 3x on all other eligible purchases$0 (see rates & fees)

Earning points with Hilton stays 

Earning points for actually staying at Hilton hotels is likely the fastest way to earn a large sum of points quickly (outside of credit card welcome bonuses). That’s because you will earn 10 points per dollar spent on hotel room rates (excluding taxes and fees) for any hotel within the Hilton portfolio of properties (Home2Suites and Tru by Hilton are 2 exemptions where you earn only 5 points per dollar spent).

These rates are in addition to the amount you would spend to book the hotel rate–hopefully on your Hilton credit card (as mentioned above). So a $100 nightly room rate would earn 1,000 Hilton points (10x points on a $100 stay) in addition to up to 14x more points if booked with the Hilton Aspire card. The earning gets even more rewarding if you have elite status!

Elite Status Bonuses 

Elite status multiplies your hotel stay earning by a specific percentage based on what tier of status you have. Elite members can receive:

  • 20% more points for Silver elites
  • 80% more points for Gold elites
  • 100% more points for Diamond elites

So the above example gets even better for a Hilton Aspire cardholder who has automatic Diamond status as a result of their credit card. They would receive an additional 1,000 Hilton points (100% bonus) on their $100 nightly rate. So the final haul for a one night, $100 stay (excluding taxes and fees) might include:

  • 14x points for booking with Hilton Aspire (14 x $100 = 1,400 points)
  • 10x points for standard rewards points (10 x $100 = 1,000 points)
  • 10x points as 100% Diamond elite bonus (10 x $100 = 1,000 points.

You can start to see how a single night’s stay for just $100 can earn a top-tier elite ~3,400 Hilton points to be used towards their next award stay!

Earning points through promotions 

Finally, you can even further maximize your Hilton stays by keeping an eye out for limited-time promotions. These are typically a few months long and launched by the Hilton brand to entice travelers to stay with their hotels. To stay up to date, you can view our current Hilton promotions article or bookmark the official Hilton offers and deals page.

For example, there is currently a lucrative promotion that offers double points and double elite night credits for stays between September 8, 2020 and December 31, 2020. This means that the example above would yield an additional 1,000 Hilton points, giving the traveler a result of ~4,400 Hilton points earned on a single night stay. 

We value Hilton points around .5 cents per point, meaning Diamond travelers with stays through the end of the year can earn ~22 percent back on paid Hilton stays. That’s an incredible return!

Earning points with Hilton partners

You can also earn Hilton points with other travel partners who have agreements to reward you with Hilton points (typically instead of their own loyalty currency). For example, you can earn Hilton points with partners such as Lyft, Alamo, and Virgin Atlantic. Although these are nice backup options, it will be harder to accrue Hilton points and the value will be slightly worse with the below-mentioned partnerships:

Lyft

You can earn and redeem Hilton points with rideshare giant Lyft through their new partnership launched last year. Linking your accounts is free and will earn you 2-3 Hilton points per dollar spent on Lyft rides depending on fare type.

Rental Cars

Certain rental car companies such as Alamo, Enterprise, and National will offer promotional Hilton awards for booking rental cars. These typically come in place of rental car rewards which may be strategic for folks who only rent cars on occasion or prefer to have hotel points instead.

Airline Partners

Hilton also partners with airlines such as Hawaiian Airlines and Virgin Atlantic. You can transfer miles from both Hawaiian and Virgin Atlantic to Hilton at a ratio of 1:1.5–but we would recommend against this option as HIlton points have such relatively low value.

Earning points through dining

Hilton dining is another, surprisingly lucrative option for earning Hilton points without much effort. Simply link your most commonly used credit card (for dining) with the Hilton dining program to automatically earn between 2 and 8 Hilton points per dollar spent at qualifying restaurants.

Hilton dining also offers periodic promotions for new members, so we encourage you to take advantage of one of these easy bonuses to get started. The best thing is that you can use a different credit card (such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred) with the Hilton dining program to “double-dip” rewards (both Hilton dining points and Chase Ultimate Rewards, in this example) without much effort. Take advantage of the latest Hilton dining offer here.

Buying Hilton points

Hilton will also happily you sell you additional points if you prefer to pay cash for them. This can be a good option if you need just a few thousand points to “top up” your account for an award night. But in general, buying points isn’t a great idea. We recommend you only buy points if you have a very specific, near-term use for them.

Use Hilton points to stay at the romantic Conrad Koh Samui in Thailand. (Photo courtesy of Hilton)

FAQs

How do I join the Hilton Honors program?

Joining Hilton Honors is free and easy, and you can sign up on the Hilton website. Just enter your personal information and you’ll have your very own Hilton Honors number within just a few minutes.

How much are Hilton Points worth?

It’s hard to peg Hilton points with a specific value, but we generally consider them to be worth about half a cent per point. For more of our analysis, check out this post on the value of Hilton points.

Can I earn Hilton points with shopping?

Hilton previously offered an online portal that could be used to earn Hilton points for many online purchases. Unfortunately, that program has been discontinued for members in the United States. Consider using one of these shopping portals instead! 

Do Hilton Points expire?

Hilton points typically expire after 12 months of account inactivity. Fortunately, you can redeem just a few points (such as for a magazine subscription) to extend the life of your points. Hilton has also frozen points expiration through December 31, 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Can I transfer Hilton Points to other programs?

If you absolutely cannot use your Hilton points for hotel stays, you can redeem them at Amazon.com or transfer them to other travel partners (such as airlines and rental car agencies). But these typically offer poor value, so we recommend you avoid these uses. For more information, visit the “Exchange” section on the Hilton Honors website.

Bottom line

There are lots of ways to earn Hilton points from top travel credit card welcome bonuses and ongoing spending.

Or, you can earn Hilton points indirectly by transferring points from American Express Membership Rewards, Hawaiian Airlines or Virgin Atlantic.

Beyond that, Hilton has partners to earn even more points, including for dining, taking Lyft or renting a car. You can also purchase points if you want them even sooner. Between all of these ways to earn Hilton points, you’ll have your next award stay that much faster.

For the latest tips and tricks on traveling big without spending a fortune, please subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets daily email newsletter.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Surpass Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Amex Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire Card, please click here

For rates and fees of the Hilton Business Amex Card, please click here.

Million Mile Secrets is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, he covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

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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