Earning Rates of Hilton Honors Points Increased — and New Benefits Announced

You will earn more Hilton Honors bonus points per stay if you have earned elite level status — as well as enjoy unlocking unlimited milestones for bonus points; rollover of nights towards elite level status for the next year; and gifting elite level status to someone else — starting in April of 2018 due to new updates to the frequent guest loyalty program.

Earning Rates of Hilton Honors Points Increased — and New Benefits Announced

Review: Hilton Garden Inn Krakow Airport

Breakfast buffet at the Hilton Garden Inn Krakow Airport hotel property. Please click on the image for an article containing a trip report and review. Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

The updates — which were announced moments ago — are designed to simplify the Hilton Honors frequent guest loyalty program while simultaneously delivering additional benefits and higher “industry-leading” rates for earning points for greater than 70 million members, as Hilton Honors is striving to become “the most customer-centric loyalty program to its members.”

I had the opportunity to speak to Mark Weinstein — who is the senior vice president and global head of loyalty and partnerships for Hilton — about the aforementioned updates.

Earn More Hilton Honors Points Per Stay

Hilton Helsinki Strand

The executive lounge at the Hilton Helsinki Strand hotel property. Please click on the image for an article containing a trip report and review. Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

You will continue to earn ten Hilton Honors base points for every eligible United States dollar you spend — which is the current earning rate — but whenever you earn elite level status, you will see increased bonus rates as follows:

Hilton Honors Elite Status Level Current Bonus Rate Bonus Rate as of April 2018
Silver 15 Percent 20 Percent
Gold 25 Percent 80 Percent
Diamond 50 Percent 100 Percent

The introduction of the improved bonus earning rates are not without a casualty: as of April of 2018, the ability to choose either Points & Miles or Points & Points through your MyWay Earning Style Preferences will be eliminated.

MyWay earning style preferences

Source: Hilton Honors.

“Only one percent chose the Points & Miles option,” Weinstein explained to me as a reason for changing the way Hilton Honors points are earned — as well as to simplify and streamline the earning process. “86 percent of blue members found the MyWay Earning Style Preferences confusing. People have enough complications in their lives.”

Blue members are members of the Hilton Honors program who have not earned elite level status. Because these members will continue to earn ten base Hilton Honors points per dollar spent, they lose the ability to earn additional points or miles with the elimination of the MyWay Earning Style Preferences.

point earnings rates 2018

Source: Hilton Honors.

Members who earn Silver elite level status also lose a little: under the current earnings rate — assuming the MyWay Earning Style Preferences is set to Points & Points — those members earn a total of 15 Hilton Honors points per dollar. When the new earning rates become effective as of April of 2018, they will only earn 12 Hilton Honors points per dollar.

Note that for all status tiers, point earning rates for stays at Tru by Hilton and Home2 Suites hotel properties will only be half per dollar spent of comparable stays at all other brands which comprise the worldwide portfolio of Hilton. An article pertaining to my experience at a Tru by Hilton hotel property is forthcoming, as I have stayed at one recently.

Also, the Points & Miles option — which was once known as the Points & Variable Miles option — was an excellent way to keep frequent flier loyalty program miles from expiring, as you could earn one mile per eligible dollar spent in addition to the ten base Hilton Honors points per dollar spent. This means that the opportunity to “Double Dip” — which for years had been a unique benefit of Hilton Honors — will officially disappear as of April of 2018. “You can still transfer Hilton Honors points to the programs of partner airlines to keep miles alive,” Weinstein said.

Airplane taking off at sunset

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

He is correct: you can choose from 40 airline partners to which you can transfer a minimum of 10,000 Hilton Honors points — with the exception of Aeromexico, which requires a minimum of 25,000 Hilton Honors points — but unfortunately, those exchange rates have traditionally been mediocre to poor.

The MyWay Earning Style Preferences had lost a third option as of Monday, January 6, 2014: through the Points & Fixed Miles option, you were able to earn 500 frequent flier loyalty program miles per stay at most brands — except at hotels under the Hampton Inn and Home2 Suites brands, with which you earned 100 frequent flier loyalty program miles — regardless of how many dollars you spent on your stay.

“Miles prevented Hilton from offering bonuses” which were bigger or better, said Weinstein.

Unlimited Milestone Bonus Points — and Even More For Diamond Members

Hilton Nairobi

The lobby of Hilton Nairobi. Please click on the image for an article containing a trip report and review. Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Once you have stayed a minimum of 40 nights within a calendar year, you will automatically earn 10,000 bonus Hilton Honors points on every tenth night you stay.

You do not have to sign up or register for this benefit, as it will become a permanent part of the Hilton Honors program; so the more times you stay at hotel or resort properties worldwide which are within the brand portfolio of Hilton, the more points you can earn — and you are not limited with a maximum cap…

…other than the number of days in a calendar year, of course; so theoretically, you can earn up to an additional 320,000 bonus Hilton Honors points within a calendar year — but you may as well not have a primary residence if that occurs.

If you have earned Diamond elite status and stay a minimum of 60 nights in one year, you will automatically earn a reward of 30,000 bonus Hilton Honors points.

Elite Rollover Nights

Grand Hilton Seoul

The sitting area of a room at Grand Hilton Seoul. Please click on the image for an article containing a trip report and review. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

You will be able to rollover qualifying nights earned beyond your current elite tier status requirements to count towards your elite tier status the following year — starting this year — so that every night counts towards earning elite level status.

“I promise you that we were planning to offer rollover nights before Marriott Rewards eliminated that benefit,” Weinstein insisted as he gave a short laugh, referring to the elimination of the Elite Rollover Nights from Marriott Rewards starting this year.

To achieve or retain Hilton Honors elite level status, you need to do either of the following during a calendar year:

Hilton Honors Elite Status Level Stays; or Nights; or Hilton Honors Base Points
Silver 4 10 Not Applicable
Gold 20 40 Earn 75,000
Diamond 30 60 Earn 120,000

Gifting Elite Status

This benefit is straightforward:

  • Stay a minimum of 60 nights within a calendar year and you will automatically have the ability to gift Gold elite level status to your favorite travel partner.
  • Stay a minimum of 100 nights within a calendar year and you will automatically have the ability to gift Diamond elite level status to your favorite travel partner.

Hilton Honors American Express Cards

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Source: Hilton Honors.

Effective as of Thursday, January 18, 2018, you will have access to the four new Hilton Honors American Express cards, of which you can find out more details in this article and in this article.

The cards include:

  • Hilton Honors American Express Card
  • Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card
  • Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
  • Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Breakfast Perks at Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts

In addition to enjoying breakfast perks at hotel and resort properties under a host of Hilton brands, members of Hilton Honors who have earned Gold and Diamond elite level status can now enjoy either complimentary continental breakfast or a food and beverage credit at all luxury hotel and resort properties — including Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, which is already in effect since Monday, January 1, 2018.

“Not offering breakfast at Waldorf Astoria hotels for our elite guests didn’t make sense,” Weinstein said during our telephone call, acknowledging a “hole” in benefits which needed to be filled.

Additional information pertaining to the new breakfast benefit for members of Hilton Honors who have earned Gold and Diamond elite level status are detailed in this article.

Summary

Hilton Capital Grand Abu Dhabi

Suite at the Hilton Capital Grand Abu Dhabi. Please click on the image for an article containing a trip report and review. Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

People have complained that since reward charts were eliminated last year, point redemption prices have increased — leading to trepidation of trusting that announced changes are indeed actually going to be beneficial to members of Hilton Honors.

“We are not changing value as you choose Hilton Honors as your hotel program,” Weinstein assured me when I asked if any “surprises” which could be perceived as negative are in the works for the future. “I hope we earned enough credibility for members to believe that these changes are not a back door to bad news in the future. We have no plans to devalue the program. We want to be transparent.”

I believe that the team at Hilton Honors did a good job at further differentiating the Gold and Diamond elite status levels without devaluing either one. In fact, both levels seem to have improved. I have always considered Hilton Honors Gold to be by far the best mid-level elite status in the industry. If I were downgraded to Gold elite status, I would not mind — but yet, I would still strive to achieve and earn Diamond elite status once again.

Although I lament the loss of the “Double Dip” benefit — I personally did not find it confusing, as I still use Points & Miles as my MyWay Earning Style Preference to this day — and that point earning rates will be reduced for members who have earned either Silver or no elite level status, I find the changes to generally be positive overall and beneficial to members of Hilton Honors who have earned either Gold or Diamond elite level status.

Source: Hilton Honors. All photographs ©2014, ©2015 and ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

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