With more than 4,600 properties worldwide, Hilton is one of the top hotel companies in the world. This means when you participate in their rewards program, Hilton HHonors, you’re almost guaranteed to find one of their hotels wherever you vacation. This is certainly true around Disney World and Disneyland where we recommend more than a dozen of their hotels.
In this post, we’re going to explore 1) the primary ways to earn points, 2) the value of those points, 3) and how to spend them for stays at Hilton properties.
The most obvious way to earn HHonors points is through paid hotel stays. We’ll give an explanation of the standard program here, but watch for Hilton promotions because they commonly offer “Double Your HHonors” and others which can augment your earnings.
For paid hotel stays, you get 10 base points for every dollar you spend. On top of it, you automatically get another 5 bonus points per dollar or you can alternatively choose 1 airline mile per dollar in a large number of airline programs. If you stay often enough or have one of their credit cards, you can reach Silver, Gold, or Diamond statuses, which come with additional bonus points and perks.
|Points per Dollar|
|Bonus Points or Miles||5 Points or 1 Airline Mile*|
|Silver Status Bonus (on Base Points)||15%|
|Gold Status Bonus (on Base Points)||25%|
|Diamond Status Bonus (on Base Points)||50%|
|Additional Welcome Points (w/ Status)||Varies by Hotel|
*Home2 Suites offer only 5 base points per dollar and 2.5 bonus points or 1 airline mile
Hilton has four different credit card options, two are offered by Citi and two by American Express. Sign up bonuses change so often, one of them will have probably changed before I finish writing this post, so do a bit of Googling to find out what each card might be offering.
Here is a breakdown of the important components of all four cards:
|Citi Reserve||Amex Surpass||Citi||Amex|
|Sign Up Bonus||2 Weekend Night Certificates||100,000||40,000||75,000|
|Sign Up Bonus Requirement||$2,500 spent in first four months||$3,000 spent in first three months||$1,000 spent in first three months||$1,000 spent in first three months|
|Points per Dollar at Hilton||10x||12x||6x||7x|
|Bonus Point Categories (Points per Dollar)||5x
(Airlines and Car Rentals)
(Restaurants, Supermarkets, and Gas Stations)
(Supermarkets, Drugstores, and Gas Stations)
(Restaurants, Supermarkets, and Gas Stations)
|Points per Dollar on Other Spending||3x||3x||2x||3x|
|Automatic Hilton Status||Gold||Gold||Silver||Silver|
|Anniversary Card Bonus||Weekend Night Certificate
(For spending at least $10,000 a year)
(For spending at least $40,000 a year)
(For spending at $1,000 a year at Hilton)
(For spending at least $20,000 a year)
The best card for you really depends on how you would use it and what benefits are most helpful for you. I give a slight edge personally to the Amex Surpass over the others because of the increased points per dollar on paid Hilton stays and the category bonus being in areas that most people spend a lot of money (restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations).
It’s important to know how you can earn points, but it’s also important to know what kind of value you can expect to receive when you go to redeem those points for hotel stays. For travel at Hilton hotels near Disney World or Disneyland, we’ve calculated an average value of 0.6 cents per Hilton HHonors point.
Like most hotel chains, Hilton offers a tiered rewards program, where, by and large, more expensive properties require more points per night. Category 1 hotels cost 5,000 points per night (if you’re ever in Cleburne, Texas) and a Category 10 hotel can go for as many as 95,000 points (think Waldorf Astoria).
Where Hilton complicates things is that most of the categories have a range of points, not a single amount. The amount for a standard award is fixed for each month, but varies from one month to the next within the category range. A category 4 hotel, subject to room availability, might be 20,000 points a night for all of April and then be 30,000 points a night for all of May.
|Hotel Category||Hilton HHonors Points per Night|
Hilton also allows you to use additional points to upgrade to suites and other types of premier rooms on a case by case basis when you’re making your reservation, but the value you typically get on these upgrades is not very good.
5th Night Free
Perhaps the most important perk of the Hilton HHonors system that you should know about is that when you redeem points for hotel stays you get the fifth night free as long as you have Silver or better status. Silver status or better comes with all four credit cards, so it’s not challenging to get. This perk can knock 20% off the number of points you would need for your vacation, a pretty nice discount.
For a person looking to discount a Disney vacation using credit card rewards, we have the Hilton in our Top 3 among hotel programs. The sheer volume of Hilton hotel choices around Disney World and Disneyland, the ability to earn solid value through normal credit card spending, and the 5th Night Free make Hilton a choice any Disney vacation traveler should take a close look at.