Hilton Hotels and Rewards Explained

This post is designed for those wanting to get started earning points but you aren’t sure which program to choose. If you are interested in Hilton, read below and let me know if you have questions. Look for other hotel chains to be included in the future.***Hilton and American Express are currently running an increased promotion on their credit cards, so go to this article if you are interested!***

Hilton has more than 5,000 properties around the world, ranging in category from the common Hampton Inn all the way to Waldorf Astoria and Conrad brands. Hilton hotels are likely to be found wherever you travel, and a popular destination will likely have several Hiltons to choose from, even multiples of the same brand.

Hilton now has 14 total brands, and while most of them are unique and distinguishable, a couple of them seem to overlap niches and are hard to tell apart. However, this is very minimal compared to the overlap that Marriott has with its 30 brands.


This status is for those who have just signed up to be a member of Hilton Honors on the hilton website. Having this status means you can collect points to use for free nights! If you are staying at a Hilton and paying for your stay, PLEASE sign up in order to earn points. You will also get access to digital check-in, which means you can check in with your phone instead of having to receive a key card.


You will receive Hilton Honors Silver status if you stay 4 times in a year or accumulate 10 nights.

Silver elites receive the 5th night free benefit. That means if you use points to stay for 4 nights, you get a 5th night absolutely free! This is obviously an amazing way to maximize your points at great hotels! You also get a 15% point bonus when you pay for a stay at a Hilton.


After 20 stays or 40 nights in a calendar year, you receive Hilton Honors Gold status. Although this is considered a mid-tier status, you seriously get a lot of bang for your buck in this category.

Some of the best perks are:

-25% bonus on points when paying at Hiltons

-MyWay benefits (you can choose free breakfast, points, etc.)

-Space-available upgrades to better rooms

The more I stay in hotels the more I value free breakfast that would actually qualify as a meal. Most continental breakfasts only hold me over a couple of hours, but the breakfast served at most Hilton properties through Gold status keeps me full for hours. For example, in our recent stay in Park City, UT, we stayed at a DoubleTree and received free breakfast for two every morning at their restaurant. (You can read more about this trip here) Every day we ate breakfast around 8 AM, then hiked for a few hours, and weren’t hungry enough to eat again until between 2-3 PM. Not only does this save a ton of money, but you can also save the hassle of finding good food in the morning by simply walking downstairs to the hotel restaurant!

The MyWay benefits is an absolutely awesome idea for frequent travelers because it lets you choose from multiple options that fit your itinerary. Most hotel programs do not give options for your perks, so this is a huge plus for Hilton!


Diamond status is received after logging 30 stays or 60 nights in a calendar year. This status is going to be very difficult to achieve if you are just getting started with earning points, but it is still nice to know what is out there!

On top of the Gold benefits, Diamonds are more likely to receive room upgrades, receive entrance into the executive lounges, and a 50% bonus on points.

Go to the Hilton Honors Member Benefit site to find out more details about each tier.

This is why we all get in the business of collecting points! Unlike most of the other hotel programs, Hilton does not have hotels with a fixed point value. Hilton uses a revenue-based points system. This means you can’t say “this Hilton hotel is 20,000 points per night” all year round. What it does mean is that hotels will lower their points when rooms are selling for cheaper, and they will raise point values when rooms are selling for higher prices.

Ways to maximize the revenue-based system would be to look for when the points are the lowest through the Hilton website or through the Hilton Honors app. For example, I can stay during the middle of the week at a Hilton beachfront hotel over fall break for extremely cheap when using points. However, if I am trying to stay at the same hotel over July 4th or spring break, the hotel would be really expensive on points! On holidays, I am most likely not staying at a Hilton, because I can always find a better use for my Hilton points.

Below are some Hilton properties where we have stayed and the point redemptions for different times of the year.

Homewood Suites Jackson, WY

March 25-35,000 points/July 4-70,000 points/Oct. 7-64,000 points

Hampton Inn Daytona Beach Shores

March 25-37,000 points/July 4-60,000 points/Oct. 7-sold out

Hilton St. Augustine Historic Bayfront Hotel

March 25-46,000 points/July 4-sold out/Oct. 7-34,000 points

As you can see, the number of points needed for a redemption fluctuates drastically for different times of the year, and several of the hotels are already sold out during busy times (Daytona has a yearly Bikefest during October, and the Hilton in St. Augustine is prime viewing for the St. Augustine fireworks).

Hilton has 3 credit cards that you can apply for right now, and they are running an increased offer on points until June 27th, 2018. If you are interested, apply ASAP.

Here are the three personal cards you can get right now:

No annual fee: Hilton Honors Card From American Express-75,000 point sign-up bonus

This is an awesome card to get when starting to gather points for free hotel stays! After spending $1,000 on the card in the first 3 months, you will receive 75,000 points.

Earning on the card looks like this:

7x points on Hilton stays

5x points at restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets

3x points everywhere else

We are able to rack up a bunch of points with the Hilton cards by using them at grocery stores. You also receive Silver Elite Status with Hilton as long as you have the card.

If you are interested in signing up for this card, we would appreciate you going through this link below to sign up!

Hilton American Express Ascend Card: $95 Annual Fee with 100,000 point sign-up bonus and free night

Although this card has an annual fee, it has tons of perks that make up for the fee. For example, when using this card when paying the full amount for a car rental, you receive car rental loss and damage protection! This can save a bunch of money when renting a car.

The sign up bonus for this card is an awesome 100,000 points when spending $3,000 in the first three months!!! You also will get a free night at any Hilton after your first year of being a cardmember, and you can get a 2nd free night by spending $15,000 per year on the card.

Also, you can earn more points when using this card:

12x points on Hilton stays

6x points at restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets

3x points everywhere else

As stated above, we accrue lots of points by using these Hilton AMEX cards at grocery stores.

Probably the best reason this card is a worthy upgrade is because you get Hilton Gold status as long as you have the card! After reading the information about Gold status earlier in this post, you can see that things like the breakfast benefit and room upgrades can be very valuable!

If you are interested in getting this card, then signing up using this link before June 27th makes the most sense.

Hilton Aspire Card-$450 Annual Fee

I know, I know, the annual fee scares most people away right off. An annual fee this high scared us as well until we got a card with this high of a fee but had so many ways to earn the fee back.

Here’s what you get with the Aspire card:

-annual airline incidental fee credit up to $250 per year

-annual Hilton resort credit up to $250 per year

-unlimited priority pass visits

-$100 on property credit when booking Waldorf Astoria or Conrad properties

-Free weekend night at any Hilton every year

-Hilton Honors Diamond Elite status as long as you hold the card

Yes, it costs $450 per year, but look at the amount of money you get back. If you are flying and staying at any Hilton resort hotel, you are immediately getting $500 back. That is not even factoring in the free weekend night per year, which could easily be worth another $500 (like at the Conrad Maldives pictured above).

Once you get to the diamond status and priority pass visits, the card is now earning you so much money and so many perks that it is difficult to peg the true value. Because we all travel different amounts, you have to value the priority pass and diamond status as it relates to you specifically. If you are staying at Hilton hotels 50-75 nights per year, this card is probably a no brainer. That’s likely not true if you’re only staying 5-10 nights per year.

Here’s how the card earns points:

Sign up bonus: Earn 100,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months

14x points per dollar spent at Hilton

7x points per dollar spent on flights, car rentals, and restaurants

3x points per dollar spent everywhere else

If you want to get this card, go through this link.

Hilton Hotels is a great hotel program when trying to redeem free nights. You can earn points more quickly through Hilton compared to other programs (especially with the AMEX credit cards). You can get great deals on cheap hotel stays on points when traveling to Hiltons in a non-peak season. Compared to other programs, earning mid-tier Gold Elite status is relatively easy.

If you liked this post, please share it on facebook and twitter! Please let me know if you have questions in the comments or by emailing me at teacherstravelingonpoints@gmail.com.