Review of the Hilton HHonors Program
The Hilton HHonors Program was last reviewed on 12th April 2006
Summary - The Hilton HHonors program is the only frequent guest program that allows members to earn both hotel points and frequent flyer miles together on the same hotel stays. The program is called double dip and is a great feature not found in other programs. Find out more..
Earning Points - Earn 10 HHonors Base points for each eligible U.S. dollar charged to your room, including telephone and room service charges for eligible rate stays at all participating Hilton, Conrad, Doubletree, Embassy Suites Hotels, and Hilton Garden Inn and Hilton Grand Vacations Club hotels. Earn 10 Base HHonors points per dollar spent on room rate only for eligible rate stays at Hampton Inn, Hampton Inn & Suites, and Homewood Suites by Hilton hotels. From 1st of March 2006 onwards, members can also earn 10 HHonors Base points for every eligible U.S. dollar spent at Scandic hotels and charged to the hotel folio.
Double Dip - The Hilton HHonors program is the only frequent guest program that allows members to earn both points and miles at the same time. Members have three choices.
HHonors Points and Variable Miles - If you choose this method, you will earn 10 Hilton points and 1 mile for every dollar you spend at Hilton Hotels. There are thirty six airlines that participate in this scheme.
HHonors Points and Fixed Miles - This option allows members to earn 10 HHonors Base points per eligible U.S. dollar spent + 500 miles per stay (100 miles per stay at Hampton Inn, Hampton Inn & Suites, Homewood Suites by Hilton**, and Scandic hotels) . Fifty airlines participate in this scheme.
HHonors Points and Fixed Miles - This option allows members to earn 10 HHonors Base points + 5 bonus points per eligible U.S. dollar spent ie 15 points for every dollar spent at Hilton Hotels.
HHonors Points and HHonors Points - This option allows members to earn 10 HHonors Base points + 5 bonus points per eligible U.S. dollar spent , ie 15 points for every dollar spent at Hilton.
Other Partners - Hilton HHonors members can also points when they make purchases at partner merchants. They include : Alamo Car Rental, Amtrak Guest Rewards, Avis Car Rental, Awards for mortgage and real estate (CitiMortgage, Wachovia, Chase, Washington Mutual Home Loan), Boston Coach, Earthlink, Europcar, FTD.com, Hilton HHonors Roaming Bonus, Hilton HHonors Wifi Bonus, MyPoints, National Car Rental, Netbank, RewardPlanner, The Sharper Image, Sixt Car Rental, The Wall Street Journal, Thrifty Car Rental and USA Today.
The best partner is probably the banks (CitiMortgage, Wachovia, Chase, Washington Mutual Home Loan). Hilton HHonors website gives an example showing how a member can earn over 500,000 points when they take out a $250,000 mortgage with any one of these partner banks!.
Credit Cards - In the US, Hilton HHonors has tied up with both Citibank and American Express. Members can choose between either the Citi® Hilton HHonors Visa Signature or the Hilton HHonors® Platinum Credit Card from American Express. The Citibank Hilton HHonors Visa allows cardholders to earn 3 points for every dollar spent at Hilton Hotels and 2 points for every dollar spent on ohter purchases. The 3 points earned are on top of the 10 base points members earn. The American Express card is slightly better as it allows cardholers to earn 5 points for every dollar spent on Hilton Hotels and 3 points for every dollar spent on other purchases.
Note : we have written an articles tiltled Which Hilton HHonors Credit Card to Get? which highlights the two cards differences.
Rewards - Like most hotel frequent guest programs, Hilton HHonors has 7 categories of hotels which require different amount of points to redeem for a night's stay. The lowest category is the "opportunity category" which requires 7,500 points. Next is is category 2 and goes all the way to category 6. Category 6 requires 40,000 for one night's stay.
Point Stretcher Hotel Rewards - Hilton also offers members a point stretcher hotel rewards. Under this rewards, participating "point stretcher" hotels require up to 40% less points than the requirements. For example a category 6 hotel requires 24,000 points rather than 40,000 points.
ValuePoints Rewards - Under this option, members are allowed to buy either a 2 or 3 night stay and get the following day's stay for free.
HGVClub Rewards - Hilton HHonors members can redeem points for stays at Hilton Grand Vacation Clubs. Points can be redeemed for stays at a studio, one or two bedroom suites.
Airline Rewards - Hilton members can also redeem points for airline tickets from various airline partners. Partners include Air Canada, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, MidWest airlines, SouthWest Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways.
Rewards Exchange - Hilton HHonors members can exchange their points for airmiles. You could also exchange air miles for points. Looking at the exchange ratio, it makes sense to exchange points for miles but probably not miles for points. Participating airlines in the miles for points program include American Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, LAN, Mexicana Airlines, South African Airline and Virgin Atlantic.
Other Rewards - Other types of rewards include Rail Travel Rewards (AMTRAK), Car Rental Rewards, Cruise Rewards, Entertainment Rewards and and Merchandises and Special Services.
Membership Levels - The Hilton HHonors has four levels of membership, the Blue, Silver VIP, Gold VIP and Diamond VIP level.
Blue Membership - Blue level simply requires an enrollment in the Hilton HHonors program. The benefits you get include low prices at Scandic Hotel shops, complimentary suanas at hotel where available, 20% weekend discount at restaurants at Scandic Hotels.
Silver VIP Membership - To qualify for the Silver VIP Membership, you will need four qualifying stays or ten qualifying nights during a twelve month period. Benefits you get include earning 15% extra base points, complimentary helath club privileges at hotels, VIP Only Rewards.
Gold VIP Membership - To qualify for the Gold VIP Membership, you'll need 16 qualifying* stays or 36 qualifying* nights at participating HHonors hotels. HHonors Base points will help qualify you for VIP status. You'll earn Gold VIP status after earning 60,000 Base points in any consecutive 12-month period. In addition to the silver benefits, you wil also get as additional 25% bonus on all base points earned, no blackout dates (with exceptions of very high traffic dates), upgraded accomodations and ammenities.
Diamond Elite Membership - To qualify, you'll need to complete 28 qualifying* stays or 60 qualifying* nights at participating HHonors hotels during any 12-month period. You'll also earn Diamond VIP status after earning 100,000 Base points in any consecutive 12-month period. In addition to all the other benefits that silver and gold memberships gets, Diamond VIP members get an additional 50% bonus on base points earned and also guaranteed reservations.
Verdict - The key highlight of the Hilton HHonors program is that it is the only program that allows members to earn both points and miles. Secondly, the ratio of converting points to miles is very fair and favourable, offering members flexibility in managing reward points. Thirdly, their partnership with various banks in providing mortgage allows members a very quick way to chalk up Hilton Honors points very fast when they use any of these partner banks for their mortgage. To sum up, this is a good reward program. Perhaps the area where it falls short is that unlike the Starwood program, only Gold VIP and Diamond VIP members are not subject to blackout dates. In terms of rewards, there are other programs (notable Marriott) that has a greater variety on rewards in the shopping merchandise category. US Members have a choice of 2 credit cards : the Hilton HHonors® Platinum Credit Card from American Express and the Citi® Hilton HHonors Visa Signature.
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