Hilton Honors 101: How to Make the Most of This Massive Loyalty Program

With more than 5,500 hotels in its portfolio (and growing), Hilton’s loyalty program offers countless opportunities to earn and use points.

Hilton Honors 101: How to Make the Most of This Massive Loyalty Program

Score a stay at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island with your Hilton Honors points.

Courtesy of Conrad Hotels & Resorts

Hilton Honors, the hotel company’s expansive and free loyalty program, has 82 million members and offers tremendous scope, encompassing more than 5,500 hotels in 109 countries, across numerous brands. And that’s not including its soon-to-launch Motto by Hilton brand, which is being designed to give hostel accommodations a Hilton-style upgrade.

Loyalty program members enjoy special perks, like free wireless internet at hotels and room discounts, by booking directly through Hilton channels such as their website or mobile app. It’s relatively easy to rack up Hilton Honors points—the standard is 10 points awarded per dollar spent at most hotels (with the exception of Tru by Hilton and Home2 Suites by Hilton properties, which award five points per dollar; note, too, that Hampton by Hilton hotels in China don’t participate in the Hilton Honors program at all). And if you achieve status as an elite member, you’ll even earn bonus points on top of that.

The latest Hilton Honors promotion is especially rewarding with triple points per dollar spent on luxury hotel and resort reservations, and double points on all other property bookings, for stays between now and January 3, 2019. This means you could earn 30 points per dollar spent at brands like Waldorf Astoria, in addition to a bonus if you have elite status.


Hilton launched its “Music Happens Here” program last year, giving Hilton Honors members access to concert experiences such as this performance by OneRepublic.

Courtesy of Hilton

As you start to stockpile those points, they can be redeemed for a number of things beyond just hotel stays and room upgrades. For instance, points can be cashed in for unique experiences like backstage access at concerts or special sporting events through the Hilton Honors experiences and auction program. If you shop at Amazon.com, you can also redeem Hilton Honors points like cash through the Amazon Shop with Points program. Additionally, the Hilton Honors Dining program awards free points for dining at participating restaurants.

How does Hilton Honors compare with the competition? It definitely scores high marks for allowing members to earn both hotel points and airline miles simultaneously with each stay. The loyalty program also offers free nights for as few as 5,000 points, with the option to combine points and cash for a hotel booking—all of which makes it a top contender in the hotel loyalty space.

So that you can make the most of your Hilton Honors points and experiences, we’ve set out here to describe how the loyalty program translates across some of the company’s 15 iconic brands. The following list should help you identify which Hilton brand suits your travel needs best—and where you’ll most likely want to earn and use those coveted points.


When the Hampton by Hilton Alcobendas Madrid opens in June 2019, it will be the first Hampton by Hilton in Spain.

Courtesy of Hilton

Hampton by Hilton

This midscale brand, known for offering affordability without compromising on quality, is the largest in the Hilton family, with more than 2,400 worldwide hotels representing nearly 250,000 rooms. Plus, there are more than 600 new Hampton properties in the pipeline. The largest Hampton by Hilton to date recently opened at Dubai International Airport, which was also the brand’s first entry into the Middle East. Business travelers especially appreciate the 100 percent Hampton Guarantee (if the hotel cannot satisfy your ideal stay, you get your money back) and free hot breakfast. In fact, according to Certify, a travel and expense report management software program, Hampton is the most expensed hotel brand by business travelers.


Chicago’s iconic The Drake is part of the Hilton Hotels & Resorts portfolio.

Courtesy of Hilton

Hilton Hotels & Resorts

The company’s flagship brand, which has operated for nearly a century, Hilton Hotels & Resorts has 579 hotels in 89 countries and territories. While Hilton properties are located in a wide variety of locations, the brand is known for pioneering the airport hotel concept, having opened its first one at San Francisco International Airport in 1959. It is a recognized name across the globe and attracts both business and leisure travelers to its full-service properties with restaurants, amenities like pools and spas, and substantial event/meeting space for social and corporate gatherings.


Book a $50,000-per-night, underwater, glass-enclosed villa at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island and receive Hilton Honors Diamond status for a year.

Courtesy of Hilton

Conrad Hotels & Resorts

The 33 hotels that make up the Conrad brand, in spots like Bali, Bora Bora, and Miami, are known for superior luxury and service. Named for Hilton founder Conrad Hilton, these are some of the most popular spots to redeem Hilton Honors points. One of the most over-the-top Conrad accommodations is The Muraka, a new, underwater, glass-enclosed villa at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. Located 16.5 feet beneath sea level, guests who book a $50,000/night stay here receive Hilton Honors Diamond status for the year. Another way to score Diamond status is by applying for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card, which automatically bestows cardholders top status upon approval.


Snag a room with sweeping Los Angeles views at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills.

Courtesy of Hilton

Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts

Synonymous with luxury, these 30 hotels have come to represent the utmost in service and style. One of the most famous is the New York location (which is currently undergoing renovations and expected to reopen in 2021). Equally glitzy is the Pierre-Yves Rochon–designed Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills in Los Angeles. Some of these properties require a substantial number of points in order to redeem a stay, but don’t forget that you can pool points with as many as 11 members and friends for a free night. Or opt for a combination of cash and points, which can be adjusted based on the number of points in your account.


The Canopy by Hilton Reykjavík City Centre in Iceland launched the Canopy brand in 2016.

Courtesy of Hilton

Canopy by Hilton

Perhaps less well-known is one of the company’s newest brands, Canopy by Hilton, with five properties currently open. Its first, Canopy by Hilton Reykjavík City Centre, opened in 2016, and places an emphasis on local experiences and lifestyle-centric design. Some of the brand’s features include complimentary breakfast, which can be delivered to the room, and free bikes on loan to explore the area. Tip: The Hilton Suggests blog is a great resource for suggestions on local places to visit.


The DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Hotel Fiji–Sonaisali Island is located on a private island.

Courtesy of Hilton

DoubleTree by Hilton

Beloved for its signature, warm “DoubleTree Cookie” welcome, this full-service brand claims more than 540 locations around the world. Business-minded travelers may know the brand for its hotels in big cities, but it also has resorts in its portfolio, including the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Hotel Fiji–Sonaisali Island. The private island resort offers horseback riding, scenic beaches, and pampering spa treatments. Another popular hot spot, especially during the Sundance Film Festival, is the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Park City–The Yarrow.


Dine at upscale Asian eatery Monkitail in the groovy Diplomat Beach Resort Hollywood in Florida, which is part of the Curio Collection.

Courtesy of Hilton

Curio Collection by Hilton

This is known as a “soft brand,” or a collection of hotels that maintain their own names and branding, while being part of a larger hotel group (which affords them additional resources and ties them in to the loyalty program). Accordingly, this curated collection of one-of-a-kind hotels and resorts is able to retain plenty of independent character. For travelers looking for a local vibe without giving up loyalty points, Curio Collection properties offer access to unique locations in major cities like Buenos Aires and London. Don’t miss having cocktails on the panoramic rooftop of The Trafalgar St. James London, Curio Collection by Hilton, which overlooks Trafalgar Square.


Embassy Suites are known for their complimentary breakfasts and evening receptions with snacks. (Pictured is the dining area at the Embassy Suites in downtown Pittsburgh.)

Courtesy of Hilton

Embassy Suites by Hilton

Each Embassy Suites hotel welcomes guests with two-room suites featuring a kitchenette, sofa bed, and two TVs. Even better is the range of free food and beverages bundled in, including a cooked-to-order breakfast and evening reception with drinks and snacks. City- or bay-view rooms at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Seattle Downtown Pioneer Square, for example, are one of the best bargains on points-based stays in downtown Seattle. Embassy Suites by Hilton is one of the many Hilton brands that partners with the Clean the World organization, which hygienically recycles used soap and toiletry products and sends them to families in countries citing high mortality rates due to poor hygiene.

All the Rest . . .

Don’t miss out on a single point, with these other brands under the Hilton umbrella, which also participate in the Hilton Honors program. These include Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Grand Vacations (the company’s timeshare business), Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, and Tru by Hilton.

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Ramsey Qubein is a freelance travel journalist covering hotels, cruises, airlines, and loyalty programs from around the globe.
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