#Hilton #Honors #elite #status #worth
Editor’s note: This is The Points Guy’s permanent page about Hilton Honors elite status, so you can bookmark it and check back regularly for the latest information.
If you’ve ever been a road warrior, chances are you’ve experienced firsthand how valuable hotel elite status is, thanks to the variety of on-property perks it conveys to frequent guests.
However, it can be challenging to peg a specific dollar amount to these benefits. Is a suite upgrade really worth the (often) massive premium hotels charge? And how much is a complimentary breakfast really worth?
In this guide, we’ll dive deep into one of the major hotel loyalty programs to address these items (and more). The goal is to help you determine one thing: Is it worth pursuing elite status with the Hilton Honors program?
Before getting into the numbers, it’s critical to stress that these calculations are just one way of deciding which program is best for you.
You may disagree with our valuations for specific perks, or you may have a preferred hotel for work that makes Hilton a less-than-viable option. Feel free to adjust our numbers to reflect your typical travel patterns or preferences.
Like the airline portion of this series, this post also provides valuations for each status level after meeting the requirements and continuing to qualify each subsequent year.
We understand that some readers may be shopping for a new hotel chain to earn status with. If that’s the case, you might start from scratch with no status. If that’s you, check out the “What if I’m starting from scratch?” section below to estimate the value you’d get as you climb the ranks of the Hilton elite.
Finally, for all hotel programs we’re evaluating, there are a handful of assumptions we’re making to ensure consistency across the various programs:
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- You qualify by completing 20% more nights than the minimum required for the given level.
- You spend an average of $150 per night on eligible items.
- Your average stay is two nights.
We’re also making the following assumptions specifically related to the Hilton Honors program:
- Your stays are split evenly between full-service properties (like Hilton and DoubleTree) and limited-service properties (like Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites).
- None of your stays are at Home2 Suites or Tru by Hilton properties.
As always, be sure to modify these assumptions if your travel patterns differ during a typical year.
Two final reminders: Like our airline guides, we’re using TPG’s most recent valuations for any bonus points you’d earn, with Hilton points pegged at 0.6 cents apiece. In addition, we’ve rounded all of the numbers to the nearest $5 to simplify the final calculations.
Hilton Honors elite status tiers
Hilton Honors offers tour tiers. Here’s a quick overview:
|Qualifications||0-9 nights.||10 nights, or 4 stays, or 25,000 base points.||40 nights, or 20 stays, or 75,000 base points.||60 nights, or 30 stays, or 120,000 base points.|
|Free Wi-Fi||✓||✓||✓||Premium Wi-Fi.|
|Elite points-earning bonus||0%.||20%.||80%.||100%.|
|Fifth night free on points||✓||✓||✓|
|Free bottled water||✓||✓||✓|
|Elite rollover nights||✓||✓||✓|
|Space-available room upgrades||Up to a preferred room.||Up to a standard suite.|
|Daily food and beverage credit (U.S. hotels only) or continental breakfast (non-U.S. hotels)||✓||✓|
|Executive lounge access||✓|
|48-hour room guarantee||✓|
Hilton Honors Silver: $60
The lowest tier in the Hilton Honors program is Silver status, earned after four stays or 10 nights. It’s also included as an automatic benefit on the no-annual-fee Hilton Honors American Express Card (see rates and fees).
For this analysis, we’ll assume that you complete 12 nights, split evenly between full-service and limited-service properties.
|Bonus points||You’ll earn 20% more points than a regular member, which works out to an additional 2 points per dollar spent at most properties (1 extra point at Home2 Suites and Tru). With 12 nights at $150 per night, you’re spending $1,800 each year, taking home 3,600 bonus points.||$20.|
|Fifth night free on award stays||Whenever you redeem your Hilton Honors points as an elite member for stays of up to 20 nights, you’ll receive every fifth night for free (up to four free nights). This could save you anywhere from 5,000 points for a five-night stay at a low-cost hotel to 150,000 points at Hilton’s top-tier resorts.
This savings is worth anywhere from $30 up to $900 based on TPG’s most recent valuations and gets even higher if you book a 10-, 15- or 20-night stay. However, you probably won’t earn enough points as a Silver member to utilize this very frequently, so we’ll assume a conservative value at the low end of that spectrum.
|Two complimentary bottles of water per stay||The final perk granted to Silver members is free bottled water at most properties (Hampton, Homewood, Home2 Suites and Tru are notably excluded).||$10.|
Hilton Honors Gold: $1,220
The second tier in the Hilton Honors program is Gold status, typically earned after 20 stays or 40 nights or by earning 75,000 base points in a calendar year (which equates to $7,500 in spending).
It’s also included as a benefit on the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express.
For this analysis, we’ll assume that you complete 24 stays covering 48 nights, split evenly between full-service and limited-service properties.
|80% points bonus||Earn an 80% points bonus on paid stays, resulting in an additional 8 points per dollar spent (4 extra points at Home2 Suites and Tru). With 48 nights at $150 per night, you’d spend a total of $7,200, giving you an additional 57,600 Hilton points.||$345.|
|Milestone bonus||One of the newest updates to the Hilton Honors program was the addition of milestone bonuses in 2018. Once you reach 40 eligible nights, you’ll take home 10,000 bonus points for every 10th night you stay. So with 48 nights, you’ll take home one such bonus.||$60.|
|Two complimentary bottles of water per stay||Same benefit, more frequent utilization.||$20.|
|Fifth night free on award stays||Like Silver members, you’ll also be able to get the fifth night free on all award redemptions during the year as a Gold member. However, since you’re earning many more points, you’d probably be able to use it more frequently (or at least at higher-category properties).||$75.|
|Room upgrades||You’re eligible for space-available upgrades to preferred rooms (up to Executive Floor room types) at most brands. You are not entitled to suite upgrades, though it can certainly still happen. Brands which do not offer complimentary upgrades are: Embassy Suites™, Hilton Garden Inn®, Hampton by Hilton™, Tru by Hilton™, Homewood Suites by Hilton®, Home2 Suites by Hilton®, Hilton Grand Vacations®, and Motto by Hilton®.
Unfortunately, this perk is the only way to gain access to the Executive Lounge as a Gold member at applicable properties, as you’d need to be upgraded to a room with lounge access to enter. It’s also limited to just one room (even if you’ve booked two or more on the same reservation), and each brand or property can determine which rooms to classify as “preferred” accommodations. We’ll assume a conservative valuation of $20 per night at the full-service properties.
|Food and beverage credit/breakfast||Even if you don’t gain access to the Executive Lounge via an upgrade (or if you’re staying at a property without a lounge), you and one additional registered guest will enjoy a complimentary $10-$25 food and beverage credit at most brands in the United States or a continental breakfast abroad.
Just note that for many of these brands, you must select the food and beverage credit or breakfast instead of bonus points. We’ll value this perk at $10 per night across the full-service stays. At international resort properties or upscale hotels, this perk could be exponentially more valuable.
Hilton Honors Diamond: $2,880
The Hilton Honors program’s top tier is Diamond status, typically earned after 30 stays or 60 nights or by earning 120,000 base points in a calendar year (which equates to $12,000 in spending).
You’ll also be upgraded to Diamond status by spending $40,000 in a calendar year on the Hilton Amex Surpass or Hilton Amex Business cards, or you could get it automatically by opening the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.
The information for the Hilton Aspire Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
For this analysis, we’ll assume that you complete 36 stays covering 72 nights, split evenly between full-service and limited-service properties.
|100% points bonus||You’ll earn a 100% bonus on all stays, taking home 10 extra points per dollar spent (or 5 additional points at Home2 Suites). With 72 nights at $150 per night, that works out to $10,800 in spending, giving you 108,000 bonus points, worth $648.||$650.|
|Milestone bonuses||As noted above, milestone bonuses of 10,000 points kick in starting at 40 eligible nights and then continue for every subsequent 10 nights stayed. Diamond members will earn another 30,000 points after reaching 60 nights in a year. If you maxed these out, you’d take home four 10,000-point bonuses plus the 30,000 point bonus, a total haul of 70,000 points (worth $420).||$420.|
|Two complimentary bottles of water per stay||Same benefit, more frequent utilization.||$50.|
|Fifth night free on award stays||Same benefit, more frequent utilization.||$125.|
|Room upgrades||Diamond members enjoy similar upgrade perks as Gold members, but the terms and conditions specifically include suites (“junior,” “standard” or “one-bedroom”). However, this same section also includes the qualifier “may include,” so there’s no guarantee. This is a definite improvement over Gold, so we’ll bump the value to $30 per night at the full-service locations.||$1,080.|
|Food and beverage credit/breakfast||Same benefit, more frequent utilization.||$360.|
|Executive Lounge access||Another key difference between Diamond and Gold status is that Diamond members are guaranteed Executive Lounge access at applicable properties, even when you aren’t upgraded to an Executive Level room. In addition to providing a food and beverage credit or breakfast, most lounges put out an evening spread of hors d’oeuvres, and many international ones include complimentary alcohol as well. Since this only applies to select properties, and since we’ve already captured the food and beverage credit and breakfast in its own category, we’ll peg this at an extra $100.||$100.|
|48-hour room guarantee||Hilton Honors also provides guaranteed availability for top-tier Diamond members with 48 hours’ notice. This sounds like a great perk, but the policy is filled with exceptions and loopholes (not to mention exorbitant prices). As a result, this perk’s actual usefulness is minimal, so we’ll peg it at a conservative $25.||$25.|
|Complimentary premium internet||Hilton Honors provides complimentary internet to all members of its loyalty program, but Diamond members can access premium networks during stays. I haven’t noticed much of a difference in speeds whenever I’ve connected to these services, so we’ll peg the value of this at just $1 per night.||$70.|
What if I’m starting from scratch?
As mentioned above, all of these numbers represent values for those of you who reached these levels in 2021 and are currently enjoying the benefits across a similar stay pattern this year.
However, you may be starting from square one without any Hilton status at all. If this is the case, you won’t enjoy any benefits until you have completed four stays (or 10 nights) and earned Silver status. After that, you won’t enjoy additional perks until you reach Gold and then Diamond status.
We’ve attempted to answer this by converting the above calculations into a value per night, as follows:
- Hilton Honors Silver: $60 / 12 nights = $5 per night, $60 / 6 stays = $10 per stay.
Hilton Honors Gold: $1,220 / 48 nights = $25.41 per night, $1,220 / 24 stays = $50.83 per stay.
Hilton Honors Diamond: $2,880 / 72 nights = $40 per night, $2,880 / 36 stays = $80 per stay.
(Note: Both the Gold and Diamond numbers above remove the milestone bonuses since those are earned in their entirety at specific night levels. However, those are included separately in the below calculations.)
You can then use these numbers to calculate the value you’d get from the program as you move up the Hilton elite status ladder.
For example, let’s say you expect to have 75 nights and 25 stays in 2023. You’d get no benefits for the first 10 nights, enjoy Silver benefits for the next 30 nights (at a rate of $5 per night), then enjoy Gold benefits for the next 20 nights (at a rate of $25.41 per night) and finally enjoy Diamond benefits for the final 10 nights (at a rate of $40 per night).
You’d also take home several milestone bonuses: 30,000 points for reaching 60 nights and four 10,000-point bonuses for reaching 40, 50, 60 and 70 nights.
In other words, if you currently hold no status with Hilton and plan on spending 75 nights in 2023, you’d get approximately $1,058 of value out of the program.
Is it worth pursuing Hilton Honors elite status?
Given these values, is it worth pursuing elite status (or the next tier of elite status) with Hilton Honors? As with any analysis we undertake at TPG, there isn’t an easy answer to this, as it depends entirely on your individual situation. However, here are a few overarching questions that can help you arrive at a decision:
Does Hilton have properties where you travel the most?
Thankfully, Hilton has a ton of properties both here in the U.S. and abroad. You’ll find these properties everywhere from large cities to alongside expressways, so in most cases, there’s a Hilton wherever you are in the world.
Regardless, it’s in your best interest to double-check the properties you travel to most and where you’d like to travel post-pandemic.
Verify that there are Hilton properties in or around your destinations that match your type of travel. For example, if you travel to Detroit frequently and stay in luxury hotels, make sure one of Hilton’s luxury brands has a presence there.
If you find Hilton doesn’t have your desired type of hotel near the places you travel most, consider pursuing elite status with a program that does.
Can I earn status through a credit card?
Hilton Honors status is the easiest hotel status to earn with a Hilton credit card.
This means a couple of things for travelers. One is that you may not find it worthwhile to chase elite status organically with Hilton.
Instead, you can open a Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card that awards Diamond status and other benefits upon approval. Sure, you have to pay the $450 annual fee (see rates and fees), but that’s a solid deal compared to paying for hotel stays outright — and the card’s annual statement credits, airport lounge access and other benefits can easily offset this fee.
Likewise, The Platinum Card from American Express includes Hilton Gold and Marriott Gold status for as long as you hold the card (enrollment required). Access to mid-tier status at two of the world’s largest hotel chains is a huge benefit that gives you a ton of flexibility when on the road.
So many cards offering Hilton elite status also mean there are a lot of elite members out there. This can make upgrades more competitive and other benefits harder to achieve.
How much are Hilton points worth to you?
You’ll walk away with a solid stash of Hilton Honors points whether you’re earning status organically or through a credit card. So, you should ensure you value Hilton Honors points before chasing Hilton elite status — otherwise, you could be left with a stash of points you can’t use.
Remember, Hilton prices award nights dynamically. This means the price of a hotel stay can vary based on demand, cash pricing or any other number of factors. Because of this, we’ve seen Hilton awards range from very reasonable prices to astronomically high, like a one-night stay at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi that costs well over 1 million points per night.
Again, we value Hilton Honors points at 0.6 cents per point, but you may value them differently. I recommend that you create your own valuation by averaging together the value of redemptions you’re likely to make with your Hilton Honors points.
How sensitive are you to price and convenience?
There are many trade-offs in this hobby, and one of the most common is deciding whether to use your preferred airline or hotel chain when it’s not the most convenient or cheapest. Would you stay at a DoubleTree if there was another brand that was cheaper and/or more convenient to where you need to be? If the answer is no, it may not be worth going out of your way to earn elite status with Hilton (or elite status with any hotel chain, for that matter).
Earning elite status with a hotel program is a great way to maximize your stays, and the Hilton Honors program offers some nice perks for its loyal customers. And it makes it easy to earn since it hands out top-tier status with the Hilton Honors Aspire Card.
If you’re considering shifting some (or all) of your business to Hilton Honors in 2023 and beyond, I hope this post has given you a framework to help make that decision. Make sure to run your own valuation to see if Hilton Honors elite status is right for you.
Additional reporting by Sarah Hostetler, Kyle Olsen and Andrew Kunesh.