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With more than 6,000 properties worldwide, it’s easy to find a Hilton hotel in almost any destination you’re eyeing for a visit. But travel can get expensive, and instead of paying cash for your next hotel stay, there’s a great way to keep your costs down: by using travel rewards. There are many ways to accrue Hilton Honors points, but one of the easiest ways is through credit cards. And fortunately, Hilton has several credit cards that will allow you to redeem points for a free stay even easier.
The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card are offering new card members the chance to earn 130,000 points after meeting the minimum spend requirement. The Hilton Amex Surpass requires you to spend $2,000 within the first three months of card membership to earn the welcome bonus offer, while the Hilton Amex Business has a slightly higher minimum of $3,000 in spend within the first three months.
There’s also a no-annual-fee card, the Hilton Honors American Express Card, where you’ll earn a slightly inferior number of points as part of the card’s welcome bonus offer (see rates and fees). With this card, you can earn 80,000 points after spending $1,000 in purchases within the first three months.
So with 130,000 points in your back pocket, you’re probably wondering where the points can take you. And fortunately, the options are virtually endless. Whether it’s a weekend trip visiting the grandparents, experiencing Disney World for the first time or staying in an overwater bungalow in the Maldives, there’s bound to be a Hilton property for your next getaway — and one that you can get for free by using points.
Or, if a hotel stay isn’t in your future, there are other ways to use your Hilton points. While they might not bring the same value as a free night where the cash rates can venture into the hundreds or thousands of dollars per night, there are redemption options to fit your needs.
Here are some of the best ways to use your points earned from the welcome bonus offer on the Hilton Amex Surpass Card and Hilton Honors Amex Business Card — and part of the welcome bonus offer on the no-annual-fee Hilton Amex Card (see rates and fees).
You’ll typically get the best value from your Hilton Honors points for hotel stays within the Hilton portfolio. There are well over a dozen different brands within the Hilton program, including Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, Embassy Suites by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton by Hilton and Homewood Suites, among others.
Unlike some other hotel loyalty programs, Hilton doesn’t have a set award chart, but all standard rooms range between 5,000 and 150,000 points per night. All hotels have their own range, so you can see the low and high end of a particular property by using Hilton’s Point Explorer tool. When you go to make a reservation, if you use the “flexible dates” option, it’ll give you a calendar view of the number of points needed per night, which comes in handy if you’re flexible with when you can travel.
Additionally, if you have any level of Hilton Honors elite status — Silver, Gold or Diamond — you’ll receive your fifth night for free when redeeming points. Fortunately, all Hilton credit cards offer some level of status, so simply by being a card holder, you’ll automatically receive your fifth night free when redeeming your points for a free stay.
The ideal redemption is to use your points during a time when the cash rate is otherwise high. This will give you the best value for your points while also saving you a good amount of cash. Here are some examples for redeeming your points for maximum value.
Hilton Waikoloa Village — The Big Island, Hawaii
The Hilton Waikoloa Village, located on The Big Island of Hawaii, is pure paradise. But at close to $1,000 per night during peak dates, staying at this hotel is unobtainable for most. Fortunately, though, the property typically costs just 75,000 points a night, and there’s usually plenty of award availability at that rate.
While you probably aren’t going to go to Hawaii for just a weekend getaway, Hilton allows you to pool your points for free with up to 10 additional people. This means if both you and your travel partner apply for the Hilton Amex Surpass Card, you’ll end up with 260,000 Hilton Honors points from the welcome bonus offer, plus at least another 12,000 points from meeting the minimum spend requirement (since all non-category purchases earn 3 points per dollar spent). That’ll give you at least 272,000 points, which is 28,000 points shy of the 300,000 points required for a five-night stay at the Hilton Waikoloa Village — remember, your fifth night is free if you’re a card holder. But with everyday spend on your card, you’ll earn the remaining points needed in no time.
When you aren’t out exploring the island, you can experience one of the many pools, splash down a 175-foot water slide or snorkel in the saltwater lagoon filled with fish and sea turtles. The hotel also offers an on-site luau, many activities and a plethora of dining options. Being such a large property, it even features its own tram system to get you around the resort.
This new-ish property in Cancun, Mexico, is an ideal place to redeem your points. As an all-inclusive resort, your points will truly cover your entire stay — no need to pull out your wallet for food and drinks.
Best of all, this hotel costs around just 95,000 points per night in a standard room. Hilton also has a Points + Money feature that allows you to use a combination of points and cash if you don’t have enough points to cover an entire stay.
The all-inclusive benefits at the Hilton Cancun include daily breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, along with a stocked minibar. You’ll also have access to premium drinks and cocktails. There are 12 dining options — including five specialty restaurants — and three bars.
Adults and kids alike will love the two infinity pools, a kids pool area and waterpark as well as a kids club, which is available for no additional fee. Like many other beach resorts, there are activities throughout the day and shows at night. This is one of those properties where there’s no shortage of fun.
There’s nothing better than being close to the lifts during a ski vacation, and fortunately, the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Breckenridge is just a five-minute walk from getting on the slopes. At around 60,000 points per night during ski season, this is a great rate where cash rates are astronomically high.
With the welcome bonus offer from the Hilton Amex Surpass, this will allow you a weekend away on the slopes — all on points. However, availability can be sparse during peak dates, so you’ll want to make sure to book ahead of time to score a standard room. During other parts of the year, you might actually find yourself able to book a standard or premium room for even fewer points.
On-site, you’ll be able to rent your ski gear or store your own equipment with the hotel’s ski valet. And after a long ski day, you can relax in the hotel’s hot tub or indoor swimming pool, or take the shuttle to Main Street.
Want to get the feel of the Caribbean without actually having to travel internationally? If so, Puerto Rico is a great option — no passport is needed from the mainland US, and there are plenty of hotels to choose from. The Caribe Hilton is on a relatively secluded peninsula but still close enough to Old San Juan.
And best of all, the property is typically just 70,000 points per night. If you apply for both the Amex Surpass and Hilton Amex Business — yes, you are able to get the welcome bonus offer on both if eligible — that’ll give you almost enough points for a five-night stay right on the beach for free.
The property features a multi-tier oceanfront pool complex with one infinity pool, two additional pools, a kids fountain pool and two whirlpools. And of course, there’s nothing better than a swim-up pool bar. You’ll also have access to a full-service spa, daily fitness programs, tennis courts and an outdoor playground.
With your Hilton Honors points, you can stay in the Big Apple for as few as 28,000 points per night at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel New York Times Square West. While peak dates can go up to 70,000 points per night, if you’re flexible with your dates, you’re bound to find a time frame that works with the number of points in your account.
With the 130,000 points available to earn from the Hilton Amex Surpass Card, you can easily stay anywhere between two and six nights without having to worry about the hefty New York City price tag.
The hotel will give you sweeping views of the Hudson River, and you’ll be just a 10-minute walk from Times Square. You’re also very close to the Empire State Building and the Javits Center, and you’ll have easy access to many subway lines.
Not every vacation needs to include a beach, a major city or a world-class ski mountain. Instead, you might just be looking for a hotel that’s close to friends, family or a particular destination. With Hilton Honors redemptions starting at just 5,000 points per night, there are still a decent number of properties that won’t break your points bank.
The DoubleTree by Hilton Decatur Riverfront is an example of a property that just might fit the bill. Around just 20,000 points per night, this is a great opportunity to use your Hilton points and save a decent amount of cash. You can even stay at this property for a full week from the welcome bonus offer on the Hilton Amex Surpass Card alone.
At this property, you’re able to book a room with a view of the Tennessee River for the same 20,000 points per night. You’re in close proximity to the US Space & Rocket Center and Cook Museum of Natural Science. And, at the end of the day, you can take a dip in the heated pool.
If you prefer to use your travel rewards for flights instead of free hotel stays, you can still do that with your Hilton Honors points. Hilton has partnerships with more than 30 different airline programs. The transfer rate varies per partner, but here are some popular options:
- British Airways: 10,000 Hilton points = 1,000 Avios
- Delta Air Lines: 10,000 Hilton points = 1,000 SkyMiles
- United Airlines: 10,000 Hilton points = 1,000 MileagePlus miles
- Virgin Atlantic Airways: 10,000 Hilton points = 1,500 Virgin Points
With these transfer ratios, you’re not getting great value from your Hilton Honors points. For example, frequent flyer website The Points Guy values Hilton points at 0.6 cents each, which means the 130,000 points earned from the welcome bonus offer on the Surpass Card and Business Card is worth $780. If you were to transfer all 130,000 Honors points to Virgin Atlantic, for example, you’ll receive just 19,500 Virgin Points. With Virgin Points worth 1.5 cents each, that puts less than a $300 valuation on the miles.
For this reason, you most likely won’t want to apply for any of these three Hilton cards solely to transfer the points to airline miles. Instead, consider an airline credit card.
Hilton also allows you to redeem Honors points for experiences, many of which are not an option to pay for with cash. These experiences range from unique four-course meals to spa services and even various cultural activities.
As part of Hilton Honors Experiences, you can even redeem your points with Ticketmaster and Live Nation. This gives you the opportunity to see sporting events and attend concerts for free by using points. One of my favorite ways to redeem Hilton points was with its Lawn Days summer concerts. This allowed you to redeem just 10,000 Hilton Honors points for two lawn seats to see some great artists perform.
If you’re not ready to think about travel just yet, you can also use your points for everyday purchases. Through the Hilton and Amazon partnership, you can redeem your Hilton Honors points to pay for any purchase made at Amazon. Points can be redeemed at a rate of 500 points per dollar spent at Amazon.
While this redemption is typically not recommended — since your points are redeemed at an incredibly low 0.2 cents apiece — it’s still an option. If you ultimately just want to use your points right away for instant merchandise, it’s an easy way to use your Hilton points.
Learn more about the Hilton Honors American Express Card.
Learn more about the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card.
Learn more about the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card.
Check out CNN Underscored’s guide to the best travel credit cards currently available.