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How to Use Hilton Honors Points: Your Full Guide (Good, Bad, and Worst)

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How to Use Hilton Honors Points:  Your Full Guide (Good, Bad, and Worst)

Jasmin BaronHow to Use Hilton Honors Points:  Your Full Guide (Good, Bad, and Worst)Million Mile Secrets Team

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Hilton Honors points are among the easiest to earn in our hobby, due in part to big bonuses on cards like the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card,  The Hilton Honors American Express Business CardHilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express, and the Hilton Honors American Express Card.  I’ve had a Hilton card in my wallet for many years and enjoyed incredible stays at properties like the Conrad Tokyo and Hilton Hawaiian Village – for free.

While Hilton points aren’t worth as much as other hotel points, like Hyatt’s, you can still get tremendous value by redeeming them for hotel stays at 5,000+ properties in over 100 countries and territories.  So it’s likely you’ll be able to find a Hilton brand hotel just about anywhere you go.

You don’t have to be a miles and points wizard to use your Hilton points, either.  I’ll share how to use Hilton Honors points for award stays and more, and show you when it’s NOT a good deal.

It’s Easy to Redeem Hilton Points in Big Cities Like New York, or Way off the Beaten Path in the Far Corners of the World

How to Use Hilton Honors Points

Before you get started with Hilton points, you’ll have to set up a Hilton Honors account.  It’s free to join, and only takes a couple of minutes to sign-up online.

Even if you’re new to Hilton points, it’s fairly easy to build up a substantial account balance quickly.  You can earn Hilton Honors points directly with these cards:

You’ve also got the option to transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Hilton at a 1:2 ratio.  I don’t personally recommend this unless you’re a few points shy of an award and need to top off your account, because there are far better uses for your Membership Rewards points.  Here are cards that earn AMEX Membership Rewards:

Card Welcome Bonus & Minimum Spending Requirements
The Business Platinum® Card from American Express


Up to 75,000 Amex Membership Rewards points

50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $10,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account, plus earn an extra 25,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after spending an additional $10,000 on qualifying purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account. Terms Apply.
The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American ExpressNo welcome bonus
The Platinum Card® from American Express


60,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account. Terms Apply.
American Express® Gold Card35,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account. Terms Apply.
American Express® Business Gold Card
35,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account. Terms Apply.
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express5,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after your first purchase on the card within the first year of card membership. Terms Apply.
Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express
Card Image Not Available
15,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account. Terms Apply.
Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American ExpressCard Image Not Available
10,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account. Terms Apply.
The information for the Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card and Amex EveryDay Credit Card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Once you’ve built up a stash of Hilton points, get out and use them!  Here’s how to redeem your Hilton points.

1.   Use Hilton Points for Hotel Stays

Whether you prefer 5-star accommodations or are happy with a family-friendly, small town hotel, Hilton has 14 brands to suit your travel style (with more coming soon):

  • Conrad
  • Canopy
  • Curio
  • DoubleTree
  • Embassy Suites
  • Hampton Inn
  • Hilton
  • Hilton Garden Inn
  • Hilton Grand Vacations
  • Home2 Suites
  • Homewood Suites
  • Tapestry Collection
  • Tru
  • Waldorf Astoria

Hilton no longer has an award chart, so to find the price of a Hilton hotel you’ll have to either search individually for location and dates, or use the Hilton Points Explorer, which shows you the most or least you could pay for an award night at a specific hotel.  Prices may vary depending on season as well.  I prefer just searching directly – I find it more efficient.

Standard room prices at Hilton properties start at 5,000 Hilton points per night, and top out at 95,000 Hilton points per night.  However, it’s possible to spend much more if you want to (or have to) book a premium room award.  So look for standard awards first.

To search for an award stay, navigate to Hilton.com and enter your search criteria (city, travel dates).  You can also select “Advanced Search” to include details like number of guests and rooms.  Click “Go” to see your results.

You don’t need to be signed into your Hilton account to search, but if you want to book, you’ll be prompted to log-in later.

Enter Your Desired Location and Travel Dates to Get Started

You’ll be brought to a results screen which defaults to cash rates.  Click “Points” in the upper right hand corner to see the award rates for your stay.

On the left sidebar, you’ll have the option to filter your results by distance, amenities, brand, and availability.  If you find a hotel you like, click “Select” to proceed.

Filter and Scroll Through Your Options (Be Sure to Select “Points” Instead of “USD” to See Award Prices)

Note:   If you see an asterisk next to the points price, it means the rate changes during your stay (for multi-night stays).

You’ll be brought to a screen showing the various paid and points rates for the hotel.  Click “Select” next to the standard room award.  At this point you’ll be prompted to enter your Hilton Honors account number and password (if you haven’t logged in already).

Choose the Standard Room Award to Proceed With Your Booking (or Premium Room, If You Prefer That)

Then, you’ll see a screen verifying your stay dates and personal details, plus have the opportunity to add additional guest names or special requests.  If everything is in order, select “Continue“.

Verify Your Stay and Personal Details Before You Select “Continue”

Before you complete your reservation, you’ll be given the choice to pay for your stay with Points and Money.  Just move the slider to reflect the number of points (and amount of cash) you’re willing to pay.  This is a good option if you prefer to stretch your Hilton points for longer stays by adding a cash co-pay.

On this screen, you’ll also be asked for your credit card number to guarantee the room (or pay for the cash co-pay, if applicable).  Once you’re happy with the booking, select “Book Reservation” to confirm.

If You Want to Stretch Your Hilton Points, You Have the Option to Pay With Points and Money – and You Pick How Much of Each

Here’s something really cool about booking award stays with Hilton.  If you have any sort of Hilton elite status (Silver, Gold, or Diamond), you’ll get the 5th night free on award stays of 5+ nights.

What’s even better is that all of the AMEX Hilton cards come with automatic elite status.  So that’s another reason to get (and keep) a Hilton card if you like redeeming points for longer stays.

2.   Use Hilton Points for Experiences

If you’re sitting on a chunk of Hilton points and don’t have travel plans, here’s a unique way to use them.  You can redeem Hilton points for things like exclusive concert and sporting event tickets, culinary tours, and more through Hilton Experiences.

Some of these are auctions that require you to bid, and others are a fixed price in points.  Recent auctions included tickets to see Ariana Grande, Pink, and the Indy 500 (not all at once obviously).  And foodie / cultural events included a chef’s table experience at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant and truffle hunting in Tuscany.

Redeem Hilton Points for Unique Experiences Like Exclusive Concert Tickets or Foodie Adventures

You’re able to filter experiences by number of points you want to spend, type of experience, dates, location, and the like.  It’s really hard to say whether or not these are a good value because some experiences don’t have a cash equivalent.  Or they might be so popular that the bidding gets out of hand.  Personally, I’d prefer to use 85,000 Hilton points for a luxury resort stay worth hundreds instead of burning them on 2 tickets to see New Kids on the Block in Cincinnati (that’s a real Hilton Experience right now) … but your opinion may differ! 😉

3.   Use Hilton Points at Amazon

This is a relatively new redemption option that allows you to shop with Hilton points at Amazon.  Similar to using flexible points like Chase Ultimate Rewards, AMEX Membership Rewards, or Citi ThankYou to pay for Amazon purchases, you’ll first have to link your Hilton account to your Amazon account.

But please don’t do this, because the value you’ll get is spectacularly bad.  Your Hilton points are only worth 0.2 cents each when you redeem them this way – and on average, it’s possible to get at least 0.5 cents per Hilton point (or more) when you use them for hotel stays instead.

Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should – Redeeming Hilton Points at Amazon Is a Poor Value

If you do happen to link your Hilton and Amazon accounts, be careful not to let Amazon set Hilton points as your default payment method (I just tried this and the default was yes, make Hilton points the default).  You wouldn’t want to accidentally use them all to pay for a purchase – that’d be the worst redemption ever.

Note:   Hilton members who reside outside the US can also redeem their points for merchandise and gift cards through the Hilton Honors Shopping Mall.  The value you’ll get for your points is also poor.

4.   Transfer Hilton Points to Airlines

This is another redemption which, while nice to have as an option, is a generally crummy value.  You can transfer Hilton points to dozens of airline partners, plus Amtrak, but the ratios are not good.

Transfer partners include:

  • Alaska Airlines:  10,000 Hilton points for 1,000 Alaska Airlines miles
  • American Airlines:  10,000 Hilton points for 1,500 American Airlines miles
  • British Airways:   10,000 Hilton points for 1,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Delta:   10,000 Hilton points for 1,000 Delta miles
  • Singapore Airlines:   4,000 Hilton points for 500 Singapore Airlines miles
  • United Airlines:   10,000 Hilton points for 1,000 United Airlines miles
It’s Possible to Transfer Hilton Points to Dozens of Airlines, Including United. But the Ratios Are Horrible

Transferring Hilton points to airline miles rarely makes sense, unless you absolutely won’t use your Hilton points for stays or just need a few airline miles to top off your account for an award flight.

5.   Use Hilton Points for Events

Another way to redeem your Hilton points is for event credits towards meetings or events at any of their hotels.  Again, this is horrible value:

  • 25,000 Hilton points = $50
  • 50,000 Hilton points = $100
  • 75,000 Hilton points = $150
  • 125,000 Hilton points = $250
  • 250,000 Hilton points = $500

Similar to Amazon, your points are worth 0.2 cents each when you redeem them for event credits.  You can do much better using them for hotel stays!

6.   Pool Hilton Points

You can transfer up to 500,000 Hilton points to up to 10 friends and family members each year, and it won’t cost you a thing.  By pooling your Hilton points with others, you might be able to boost a pal’s points balance so they can afford a better or longer award stay.  You’re a good sport if you do this!

7.   Donate Hilton Points to Charity

It’s also possible to use Hilton points by donating them to charity.  In conjunction with PointWorthy, you can donate as few as 4,000 Hilton points to hundreds of causes – from large organizations like the American Red Cross to local churches, social service groups, or memorial funds.

You Can Turn Hilton Points Into a Cash Donation Towards Your Favorite Charity

Donating Hilton points will also reset your points expiration, so it’s a great way to keep your points alive and do some good.

Bottom Line

Redeeming Hilton points for hotel stays is very straightforward and can get you amazing stays at luxury hotels for nothing – or help you visit family and friends in smaller cities without having to worry about accommodations.  Typically, you’ll get the most value from your Hilton points redeeming them this way.

You can also combine points with cash for award nights, and if you have Hilton elite status of any kind (which you’ll get complimentary with any of the AMEX Hilton cards, including the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend CardHilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express, The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, and the Hilton Honors American Express Card), you’ll get the 5th night free on award stays of 5+ consecutive nights.

You’ve got other options for redeeming Hilton points outside of hotel stays, but the value you’ll get is almost always lousy in comparison:

  • Hilton Experiences – Use your points for concert tickets, exclusive events, and tours
  • Shop With Points at Amazon – Redeem Hilton points at a rate of 0.2 cents apiece for Amazon purchases
  • Transfer Hilton points to airlines – Dozens of airlines participate, but the transfer ratios are abysmal
  • Redeem Hilton points for events – Another bad deal, with the same value per point as Amazon redemptions
  • Pool Hilton points with others – You can move your Hilton points to a friend or family member’s account
  • Donate Hilton points to charity – This is a nice way to keep your Hilton points balance from expiring by having account activity

Do you have a favorite memory or tip with redeeming Hilton points?  Let us know in the comments!

Here’s more information about Hilton:

 

For rates and fees of the Hilton Ascend Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Business Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Amex Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express, click here.

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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So if I use points and money, do I earn points for the money spent? Will those nights/stays count toward my elite qualifying totals? If so, is there a qualifying percentage required for them to count? (I assume that I can’t spend $1 for a night and have that count toward elite status…)