While not as valuable as Hyatt or Marriott, Hilton Honors points can still be a great way to subsidize your next vacation. Hilton has one of the largest hotel portfolios in the world, with brands ranging from budget to high-end luxury.
Unfortunately, if you want to use your Hilton points at a Conrad or Waldorf Astoria, rates generally start at 80,000 points per night. Hilton Honors Gold and Diamond members receive daily food and beverage credits for up to two guests on domestic U.S. stays, which is often barely enough to cover a cup of yogurt and coffee for breakfast.
Additionally, in October, the Virginia-based hotel megachain started selling upgrades on its app to room categories that it should provide complimentary to Gold and Diamond members. Hilton told its hotels that this would “drive incremental revenue,” while many customers fear it will put an end to complimentary upgrades.
With all of these unfavorable developments within the Hilton Honors program, here’s why I’ve shifted my Hilton Honors point redemption to overseas properties — and why you might consider doing the same.
Superior hotels in many locations
Within the U.S., Hilton has dug itself into the select-service hotel market. In other words, Hilton has an empire of budget-friendly properties (i.e., Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites) but fewer full-service outlets.
Select-service hotels can be ideal for shorter stays. Still, some travelers might opt for full-service properties, which tend to come with amenities like room service, a spa, turndown service and a restaurant and bar open throughout the day.
However, some of Hilton’s full-service properties in America’s prime cities desperately need some TLC.
Take my home city of San Francisco. The Nixon-era popcorn ceilings and concrete facade that mask the once-grand Hilton San Francisco Financial District beg for a refurbishment. Other Hiltons long overdue for a facelift include properties like the previously flagship Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. and the once-high-end Hilton Chicago.
In many cases, you could have a much better stay overseas.
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For instance, I stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Singapore Serangoon for 30,000 points earlier this year. As my previous experiences at this select-service brand had been in the U.S., I expected a clean room but not much more.
To my surprise, this hotel’s amenities exceeded my wildest dreams. The hotel offered a modern rooftop pool with city views of Little India, a palatial 24/7 fitness center, coin-operated laundry machines and a delicious complimentary daily elite breakfast buffet with Indian, Malay, Chinese, English and American fare that rivaled top-notch luxury hotels. Even entry-level rooms provide guests with slippers, coffee machines, daily housekeeping and the same Crabtree and Evelyn products found in some of Hilton’s luxury brands.
Luxury-minded overseas travelers can pick from Hilton’s impressive portfolio with hotels like the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, the Conrad Bora Bora Nui, the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam and The Biltmore Mayfair, LXR Hotels & Resorts in London.
Possibly better redemption rates
Some have reported having issues redeeming Hilton points at or above TPG’s valuation of 0.6 cents. That inspired TPG senior reporter Katie Genter to redeem her Hilton Honors for a non-hotel stay redemption. Specifically, Katie used 20,000 Hilton points for a 60-minute couple massage and a four-course meal in India.
I booked five nights for 480,000 points at the Conrad Bora Bora for a stay next year (the fifth night was free on standard room awards for elite members). The equivalent cash rate for my stay was a laughable $6,431.70 bringing a redemption rate of 1.3 cents per Hilton point. Naturally, this particular redemption is an outlier, as it’s rare to find five consecutive nights at the Conrad Bora Bora on points.
Let’s look at another redemption: peak summer travel in Paris. A five-night stay in June is around $4,500 at the Hilton Paris Opera. Elite members can book the same stay for 320,000 points. That’s a redemption of 1.4 cents per point.
While there are plenty of uses for Hilton points below our valuation abroad, you might have an easier time getting more bang for your points on overseas redemptions.
More elite status recognition
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KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY
Finally, it’s no secret that Hilton Honors members often get better elite-status treatment overseas.
Hilton’s terms state that Gold and Diamond members receive daily food and beverage credit for stays within the U.S. As mentioned, readers have reported that the food and beverage credit is often not enough to cover the cost of a meal.
On international stays, however, Gold and Diamond members are entitled to a daily complimentary continental breakfast for up to two guests. Hilton hotels often extend the full daily breakfast to elite members overseas.
In my experience, upgrades are more generous on international stays. On one memorable occasion, Diamond status at the Hilton Moorea landed an upgrade to an overwater bungalow. For reference, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card provides automatic Diamond status to cardholders.
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.
Diamond status also provides concierge lounge access. For instance, at the Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik, guests with Diamond status enjoy access to a handsomely decorated club lounge with complimentary afternoon snacks, evening hors d’oeuvres and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
In practice, it’s possible that your Hilton Honors status could provide you with benefits at hotels overseas that wouldn’t be offered in the U.S.
Hilton Honors members can enjoy superior hotels, advantageous redemption rates and potentially more benefits overseas. For some, redeeming Hilton points within the U.S. can be ideal. In my experience, however, sometimes it feels like an entirely different loyalty program when you bring your status overseas.
Check out this article for inspiration on some of the most popular Hilton hotel redemptions worldwide.