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- Taking Another Look at Hilton, Hyatt, and Diamond Elite Status
- My Hilton Diamond Experience in Barcelona (With Suite Upgrade Worth Over $1,600!)
You know, I think I’ll come right out and say it: I’m turning into a Hilton fanboy.
Words I thought I’d never utter (or type) have come true, almost by default.
The other major chains, Marriott and IHG, aren’t palatable for me. Some peeps love Marriott, and I can kinda see why through my Hilton-colored glasses: free breakfast, they’re everywhere, and their points are easy to redeem (once you have enough of them, same as Hilton).
Embedded in there is my raison d’etre: FREE BREAKFAST. That’s the reason why IHG can never win my heart through my stomach.
The smaller chains, Hyatt and Starwood, are great. But when Hyatt snubbed me Diamond status, Hilton gave it to me. Looking back, it was an incredibly smart marketing trick. Because look at me now, a fanboy.
As for Starwood, there’s no use gunning for status with them at this point. Unless you like Marriott. I picked up both SPG cards recently, and I might give them a few paid stays, but the SPG program will be torn end to end starting next year.
Which leaves Hilton by default. The first to devalue, Hilton became the pariah of hotel points.
But I’ve been finding them useful anyway: they’re incredibly easy to earn. I get suite upgrades with some frequency. And I love their Executive Lounges and free breakfast.
In This Post
- 1 Yeah, yeah… the point is?
- 2 The reasoning
- 3 7 Hilton hotels where Hilton points are worth $700+
- 3.1 1. Hampton Inn & Suites Chicago-Downtown
- 3.2 2. Hampton Inn & Suites Mexico City – Centro Historico
- 3.3 3. Homewood Suites by Hilton Seattle Downtown
- 3.4 4. DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Burlington
- 3.5 5. Hilton Miami Downtown
- 3.6 6. Hilton Prague Old Town
- 3.7 7. Hilton Tokyo
- 3.8 Honorable mention. Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort (all-inclusive)
- 4 Bottom line
Yeah, yeah… the point is?
There are two highest-ever sign-up bonuses on the Amex Hilton and Amex Hilton Surpass cards through May 4th, 2016 (next Wednesday). If I hadn’t already gotten 2 SPG cards, I’d get a Hilton card to load up on some more Hilton points.
You can earn 75,000 Hilton points on the Amex Hilton card after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months. The card has no annual fee, so it’s free to keep for the long-haul.
Or, you can earn 100,000 Hilton points on the Amex Hilton Surpass card after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months. There is a $75 annual fee, but it comes with Hilton Gold status, which gets you free breakfast.
And, it earns 12 Hilton points per $1 spent at Hilton hotels – the most of any card. (Plus 6 Hilton points per $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores in the US, and 3 Hilton points everywhere else).
You can find them both here:
With the Amex Hilton card, you’ll have at least 78,000 Hilton points after meeting the minimum spending.
And with the Amex Hilton Surpass card, you’ll have at least 109,000 Hilton points.
From there, it’s a short trek to 120,000 Hilton points, which lots of peeps say is not worth a lot. But I easily found 7 Hilton hotels where that many points gets you a $700+ stay.
I chose $700 because I’m becoming more selective in my card sign-ups. I want every card bonus to be worth at least $500 or I generally won’t consider it.
With both Amex Hilton cards, you get at least that much, depending on how you use the points.
7 Hilton hotels where Hilton points are worth $700+
Here are 7 Hilton hotels on my personal list where Hilton points are worth redeeming.
Note: I’m using the HHonors discount paid rate in these examples.
Two nights in Chi-Town in June during the annual Gay Pride Parade cost $759.
The nights are available to book with 100,000 Hilton points, too.
In this case, the sign-up bonus on the Amex Hilton Surpass card is worth well over $700. Free breakfast is always included at Hampton Inn hotels, but your Gold status might score you an upgrade. If anything, you save a good amount.
A quick Kayak search shows me this price isn’t an anomaly. Meaning whichever chain hotel you pick, you’d pay around the same price for these dates. I’d feel good about using my Hilton points in this case.
Not to get too stuck on the Hampton Inn thing, but this example is just too good. I’ve used it before, and still can’t wait to visit Mexico City, especially since the New York Times rated it the #1 destination to visit in 2016.
The value is perhaps too good to last. I should go sooner rather than later. Maybe when I move to Dallas.
You can get 5 nights here for 40,000 Hilton points. Because you get the 5th night free on award stays with any Hilton status – which comes with both of the Amex cards.
Which also means, yup, you can get 10 nights for 80,000 Hilton points.
Of course, you don’t have to redeem all 10 nights here. You can pick a different hotel altogether.
But this goes to show the sign-up bonus on the no-annual-fee Amex Hilton card can be worth over $1,500 – that’s more than worth it if you like to stay at lower-level properties.
I’d like to visit Mexico City this year. And I will most likely use my Hilton points to stay here. The value is just incredible.
I had a blast in Seattle! It’s no doubt getting expensive, so hotel points can go a long way there (and in Portland, or anywhere else in PNW, really).
You can use 120,000 Hilton points to cover a 2-night stay that would otherwise cost ~$730 in downtown Seattle.
I’m actually dying to visit Seattle again. I was there for 3 or 4 days and I didn’t get near to my fill of craft beers.
It’s no secret I have a huge man-crush on the entire state of Vermont, including the gorgeous city of Burlington. It’s the chillest place you’ll ever find, with views of the Adirondacks across Lake Champlain.
In the summer, you can hike and road trip. In the fall, the leaves are out-of-this-world stunning. Spring and winter have their strong suits, too (beautiful flowers and world-class skiing).
Vermont can also be expensive. I found 3 nights in October for 40,000 Hilton points each – that’s right in the middle of peak leaf-peeping season – which would otherwise cost ~$883.
You could easily add this stop to a Vermont road trip. It’s so so worth it. The landscapes, the people, the food – all fantastic. Please visit Vermont if you’ve never been!
I’ve been meaning to squeeze in a Florida road trip for a loooong time.
I’d love to hit up Miami, the Everglades, then drive down to Key West on the Overseas Highway.
I found rooms at the Hilton Miami Downtown for 30,000 Hilton points a night. Thanks to the 5th night free perk, you get 5 nights for 120,000 Hilton points – which gets you a stay worth $900.
With some luck, you’ll get an upgrade to the Executive Floor, or at least get access to the Executive Lounge. If you get the Amex Hilton Surpass, you’ll get free breakfast because of your Gold status – and earn enough points for 5 nights here. Not a bad deal!
Prague’s been on my list for a long time, too.
I would definitely be down to spend 5 nights in Prague.
Points rates here fluctuate between 30K and 40K depending on the season, but 5 nights in November cost 120,000 Hilton points, again, thanks to the 5th night free.
It’s an incredible deal too, because you’d pay over $1,000 out-of-pocket. This could also be a good way to use Hilton points in the high season, depending on room rates. You can do well in Prague with SPG points too, but keep this one in your back pocket.
7. Hilton Tokyo
Last, but nowhere near least, the Hilton Tokyo, where I recently stayed during my time in Japan.
I freaking loved this hotel. I can’t wait to post my review of it!
Two nights here cost 100,000 Hilton points – or $845.
I adore the Shinkjuku neighborhood, and the overall location of this hotel. It was an easy walk from Shinjuku station – and easy to get to everywhere in Tokyo.
It also has a stellar Executive Lounge. And the service and staff were just incredible. I would stay here again in a heartbeat.
It’s a great value with Hilton points. In this case, the 100,000 Hilton points sign-up bonus on the Amex Hilton Surpass would get you 2 nights worth well over $800. Not too shabby.
Visit Japan! I was blown away by my time there and can’t wait to go back.
Honorable mention. Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort (all-inclusive)
I wanted to toss this in because it’s on my radar lately. I think I want to stay here.
Rates fluctuate a lot, but you can get 2 nights here worth ~$610 for 100,000 Hilton points. It’s obvi not the best value on this list – but it is all-inclusive. So when you add in your meals and drinks, the points are maybe worth more. Although, you’d get that included in the cash rate, too.
I include it also because it’s almost always available on points and is sometimes really expensive. If you’re at the mercy of award flight availability, or just want to burn some Hilton points, this certainly wouldn’t be the worst way to use ’em.
So those are my picks! Though $700 was my benchmark, many on the list are well over that.
I dare say, in some cases, the value approaches Hyatt and SPG levels (don’t flame me for saying so!).
Hilton hotels are often in places where Hyatt doesn’t have a presence… Barcelona, for example. And I’ve found the HHonors program to be pretty straightforward once you get used to the quirks.
If you want a nice stash of Hilton points, you have until May 4th, 2016 to get two highest-ever sign-up bonuses on the Amex Hilton and Amex Hilton Surpass cards.
You can find them both here:
So, what do you think of my picks and analysis? Anything you’d add?
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.