What Is Hilton Honors Elite Status Worth? January 2017 | Real World Machine

What Is Hilton Honors Elite Status Worth? January 2017

Started in 1987, the HHilton Honors program has evolved to its current incarnation with four elite status tiers and a number of benefits for frequent travelers. Hilton brands include: Waldorf-Astoria, Conrad, Hilton, Curio Collection, DoubleTree, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites, Home2 Suites, Hilton Grand Vacations, Canopy (which currently only has one location), Tru (coming soon), and the Tapestry Collection (launching Fall 2017).

Real World Machine values Hilton Honors points at 0.6 cents each, after factoring in the large number of properties they offer, the possibility of upper upscale and luxury redemption options, and reasonable award availability.




Elite Status Value

Hilton Honors Elite Status Value
Silver $126
Gold $1,519
Diamond $2,926

King bedroom at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport, Los Angeles, CA. November 2016. Copyright © 2016 Real World Machine LLC.

King bedroom at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport, Los Angeles, CA. November 2016. Copyright © 2016 Real World Machine LLC.

Update: The Hilton Honors program changed on February 1, 2017 (including being renamed from Honors to Honors). Benefits remain the same with the exception that long-time Diamond members can now have their status extended one year without meeting the minimum stay/night/base points requirement. Hilton is rejiggering redemption options by eliminating hotel categories and expanding Points and Money reservations to all of its hotels. It remains to be seen how this will affect the value of an Honors point…but I suspect the long-term effect is that it’ll be an improvement for occasional travelers and a devaluation for frequent travelers.

Hilton Honors offers three published elite tiers: Silver, Gold, and Diamond. You earn elite status based on nights stayed (including award nights), number of stays, or base points (i.e., spending) in a given year.

Non-elite members earn 15 points per dollar spent on qualifying stays (10 base points + 5 bonus points), assuming that they’re foregoing airline/car rental credit (which is otherwise credited as the +5 Honors bonus points) and are not staying at Home2 Suites (which only award 5 base points + 2.5 bonus points). You can only earn points based on the room rate, and not incidental spending, at Hampton, Home2 Suites, and Homewood Suites locations. During 2016, Hilton also ran a double/triple points promotion (on base points) throughout much of the year.

Related: How much are my Hilton Honors points worth?

You can achieve Gold status through having a Citi Hilton Reserve or Hilton Honors Surpass (from American Express) credit card (both with an annual fee); you also get upgraded to Diamond staus if you spend $40,000+ on the card in a single year. You can get Silver status with the no-annual-fee flavor of the credit cards…namely, the Citi Hilton Honors Visa Signature or Hilton Honors (from American Express) credit card.

Lifetime Elite Status

You can also achieve lifetime Diamond status by meeting the following criteria: 10 years as a Diamond member (can be non-consecutive) + 1,000 nights (paid or award) or earning 2,000,000 base points.

Assumptions

There were also some rumors in 2016 that Hilton would launch a new “Diamond+” elite status, but the only concrete evidence for this rumor is that Diamond+ status was suggested as a possible benefit for an unreleased hypothetical credit card from AMEX. Until and unless further information becomes available, there’s not much point in worrying about Diamond+.

Valuations are provided for each elite status level below and assume that (1) you already have the respective elite status for point bonus purposes and (2) that you hit the minimum threshold needed to achieve the status. If necessary, values are rounded up to the nearest dollar. Valuations do not include the regular non-elite-bonus points you earn for Honors spending, since you would get these points regardless of your elite status.

As always, elite status valuation can often be more of an art than a science…and certain benefits may be more or less valuable to you than the average passenger. If most of your Hilton stays are in limited service brands, your elite status will be a lot less valuable to you than to someone who mostly stays in the full-service brands.


Silver = $126

This valuation is based on having Silver status, staying 10 nights (and five stays) at Hilton family hotels during the year, and spending an average of $140 per night. You need to stay 10 nights, paid or award, in a year to achieve Silver status. You can also achieve Silver status by reaching four stays, paid or award. Both the Citi Hilton Visa Signature credit card and the Hilton Honors (from American Express) credit card also give you automatic Silver status.

15% Point Bonus = $13
The 15% point bonus works out to receiving 1.5 extra points on top of the ten base points per dollar spent. Valuing Hilton points at 0.6 cents a piece, you will earn a bonus of 2,100 points, worth $13 (rounded up), during your travels.

Fifth Night Free = $75
Silver members can get their fifth night “free” if staying on points. For example, if a hotel regularly costs 30,000 Honors points a night to book, if you book an award stay of five nights, you’ll only have to pay 120,000 points instead of the regular 150,000 points. This benefit also scales up in multiple of five for longer stays (tenth night free, fifteenth night free, etc.) and only applies to “standard rooms.”

Assuming an award booking that would regularly go for 25,000 points a night (i.e., an okay to nice hotel in a midsize city), this benefit would be worth approximately $150 for a five-night award stay. Since you’re a Silver member and not accumulating tons of points, I assume you’ll take advantage of this perk once every two years (you would accumulate about 35,000 points/year if you stayed during double points promotions) for an annual value of $75.

Fitness Center Access = $30
You get complimentary access to the on-site gym/fitness center, something that could run you $10 to $25 without elite status at some of the full-service Hilton hotels (but is generally free for everyone at, say, Hilton Garden Inns). The value of this benefit correlates with how much exercise and how often you stay in full-service properties with meaningful fitness centers. I assume you’ll end up making use of this benefit during 20% of your nights with an average value of $15 per each night used.

Bottled Water (2) = $8
You get two complimentary bottles of water upon check-in at most Hilton family hotel brands (excludes Homewood Suites, Home2Suites, and Hampton…also technically excludes Canopy and Tru, the former only has one open location and the latter hasn’t even opened anywhere yet).

I assume that you will stay in brands that will give you the bottled water for 80% of your stays, meaning you’ll get free water four times. I’ll generously value the water at $1/bottle. Sometimes, they are chilled; often, they are at room temperature.

Return to table.


King bedroom at the Inn at Penn, a Hilton Hotel, Philadelphia, PA. October 2016. Copyright © 2016 Real World Machine LLC.

King bedroom at the Inn at Penn, a Hilton Hotel, Philadelphia, PA. October 2016. Copyright © 2016 Real World Machine LLC.

Gold = $1,519

This valuation is based on having Gold status, staying 40 nights (and 20 stays) at Hilton family hotels during the year, and spending an average of $140 per night. You need to achieve one of the following to get Gold status: (a) stay 40 nights, (b) complete 20 stays, or (c) achieve 75,000 base points ($7,500 in spending, except that Home2Suites spending only counts at 50%). Both the Citi Hilton Reserve credit card and Hilton Honors Surpass (from American Express) credit card also give you automatic Gold status.

25% Point Bonus = $84
The 25% point bonus works out to receiving 5 extra points on top of the ten base points per dollar spent. Valuing Hilton points at 0.6 cents a piece, you will earn a bonus of 14,000 points, worth $84, during your travels.

Fifth Night Free = $210
This is the same as the Silver benefit, except that you will be accumulating more points and hence should be able to utilize this benefit more frequently.

Assuming an award booking that would regularly go for 35,000 points a night (i.e., an very nice hotel in a midsize city to a nice hotel in a large city), this benefit would be worth approximately $210 for a five-night award stay. I assume you’ll take advantage of this perk once a year for an annual value of $150.

Space-Available Upgrades = $621
You can receive space-available upgrades at the following Hilton brands: Waldorf Astoria, Hilton, Conrad, Curio Collection, DoubleTree, and Canopy. Upgrades can include rooms on higher floor with better views or an upgrade to an Executive Level room (which gets you access to the Executive Lounge, if available).

Specialty rooms and suites are specifically excluded, although some hotels are more generous than others in handing out upgrades to suites. Similarly, even brands that do not have a published space-available upgrade policy may also choose to upgrade Gold members.

This is a rather subjective benefit to valuate, but I assume you’ll stay at upgrade-able brands for 75% of your nights, and that you get upgraded 90% of the time when eligible for an upgrade. Of your upgrades, 80% will be lesser upgrades (e.g., better view) valued at $10 a night, while 20% of your upgrades will be more significant (e.g., suites) valued at $75 a night.

Peter Thomas Roth bath and beauty amenities at Hilton Hotels. Copyright © 2016 Real World Machine LLC.

Peter Thomas Roth bath and beauty amenities at Hilton Hotels. Copyright © 2016 Real World Machine LLC.

Complimentary Breakfast or Points = $390
You, and up to one additional registered guest, can elect to receive a complimentary continental (non-hot) breakfast every morning at all of the following brands: Hilton, Conrad, Curio Collection, and DoubleTree. If you were paying, breakfast at these locations would generally cost somewhere between $10 and $25 per person. Often, this breakfast benefit means you get access to the non-hot items at the hotel restaurant’s breakfast buffet. At most locations, you can also upgrade to a full hot breakfast (buffet or otherwise) for a varying surcharge, usually in the range of $4 to $12 per person.

If you elect not to get breakfast at the above hotels, you can get 1,000 bonus points per stay (note: not per night/morning). Since 1,000 points is worth $6 (which I guarantee is less than what the hotel will charge you for breakfast), it’s more cost-effective to get the breakfast unless your traveling on business and your employer is fine with you spending the money on breakfast.

You, and up to one additional registered guest, can also get a free hot cooked-to-order breakfast each morning at any Hilton Garden Inn, something that would cost you $10 to $16 without Gold status. You get 750 bonus points at these locations if you elect to forego breakfast. Given that HGI breakfasts are some of the best in the business (as far as limited-service hotel breakfasts go) and that 750 points is worth less than $5, you should get the breakfast unless you’ve got somebody else paying for a nice breakfast elsewhere.

You also continue to get free breakfasts anywhere they are offered in other brands (e.g., Hampton); there is no added value since these brands offer free breakfast to all guests.

For valuation purposes, I assume you will stay 75% of your nights at hotels for which you get a complimentary breakfast (that Silver and non-elite members would need to pay for) and that you always elect to get a complimentary breakfast (and not points). To make things easy, I’m leaving out the complimentary breakfast for the additional registered guest, although this would increase the value even more.

I’m going to value each breakfast at an average $13 in value for a total benefit of $390.

Snacks or Points = $30
For Hilton brands that already offer a free breakfast to all guests, you can choose between snack(s)/beverage(s)/water(s) at check-in or receive 100 to 500 bonus points per stay.

For Hilton Grand Vacations, which does not offer free breakfast to anyone (elite or non-elite), you get 1,000 bonus points per stay. In addition, the Waldorf Astoria check-in benefit for Gold members of 1,000 bonus points or a free in-room movie.

I assume these property brands account for 25% of your nights and that the benefit averages out to $3 per night, for a total value of $30.

Fitness Center Access = $120
This is the same as the Silver benefit, except you can get more use out of it since you’re staying more nights. I assume you’ll end up making use of this benefit during 20% of your nights with an average value of $15 per each night used.

Bottled Water (2) = $64
This is the same as the Silver benefit, except you can get more use out of it since you’re staying more nights. I assume that you will stay in brands that will give you the bottled water for 80% of your stays, meaning you’ll get free water 32 times.

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Selection of desserts from the Cafe Sierra weekend dinner buffet at the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City, Universal City, CA. November 2016. Copyright © 2016 Real World Machine LLC.

Selection of desserts from the Cafe Sierra weekend dinner buffet at the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City, Universal City, CA. November 2016. Copyright © 2016 Real World Machine LLC.

Diamond = $2,926

This valuation is based on having Diamond status, staying 60 nights (and 30 stays) at Hilton family hotels during the year, and spending an average of $140 per night. You need to achieve one of the following to get Diamond status: (a) stay 60 nights, (b) complete 30 stays, or (c) achieve 120,000 base points ($12,000 in spending, except that Home2Suites spending only counts at 50%). Both the Citi Hilton Reserve credit card and Hilton Honors Surpass (from American Express) credit card also give you automatic Diamond status if you spend $40,000 on the card in a given year.

50% Point Bonus = $300
The 50% point bonus works out to receiving 5 extra points on top of the ten base points per dollar spent. Valuing Hilton points at 0.6 cents a piece, you will earn a bonus of 42,000 points, worth $252, during your travels.

Fifth Night Free = $210
This is the same as the Silver benefit, except that you will be accumulating more points and hence should be able to utilize this benefit more frequently.

Assuming an award booking that would regularly go for 35,000 points a night (i.e., an very nice hotel in a midsize city to a nice hotel in a large city), this benefit would be worth approximately $210 for a five-night award stay. I assume you’ll take advantage of this perk once a year for an annual value of $210.

48-Hour Room Guarantee = $30
Hilton can force availability at sold-out hotels provided you reserve your room at least 48 hours in advance of your arrival. You should be aware that you will likely be charged the full rack rate for the room, which can often be hundreds of dollars more than the regular rate that most guests pay. Also, the guarantee does not apply if the hotel is very over-booked or during “extraordinary demand dates” that the hotel designates; e.g., college graduation in a small college town.

If you often make last-minute bookings in popular locales, and money isn’t really a concern for you, this benefit has some limited value. Otherwise, this is a benefit that’s nice in theory, but not that useful in practice.

Space-Available Upgrades = $1,195
This is the same as the Gold benefit, except that you will be accumulating more points and hence should be able to utilize this benefit more frequently. Theoretically, you’re also prioritized for upgrades over Gold members, although this isn’t explicitly stated in the Honors terms and conditions.

This is a rather subjective benefit to valuate, but I assume you’ll stay at upgrade-able brands for 75% of your nights, and that you get upgraded 90% of the time when eligible for an upgrade. Of your upgrades, 70% will be lesser upgrades (e.g., better view) valued at $10 a night, while 30% of your upgrades will be more significant (e.g., suites) valued at $75 a night.

Guaranteed Lounge Access = $30
For Hilton, Conrad, Curio Collection, and DoubleTree properties with a lounge, you get guaranteed access to the lounge, if you are not upgraded to the Executive Level. While most of this benefit coincides with the complimentary breakfast benefit, there are often complimentary light snacks and non-alcoholic beverages throughout the day along with appetizers and desserts in the evening. You could make a light meal out of the appetizers and desserts if you’re not feeling too peckish.

I assume this benefit will be useful for 5% of your nights (i.e., nights at properties where there is a lounge, but at which you have not been upgraded to an Executive Level room/suite) with a value of $10 per night.

Complimentary Breakfast and Points = $765
You, and up to one additional registered guest, can elect to receive a complimentary continental (non-hot) breakfast every morning at all of the following brands: Hilton, Conrad, Curio Collection, and DoubleTree. If you were paying, breakfast at these locations would generally cost somewhere between $10 and $25 per person. Often, this breakfast benefit means you get access to the non-hot items at the hotel restaurant’s breakfast buffet. At most locations, you can also upgrade to a full hot breakfast (buffet or otherwise) for a varying surcharge, usually in the range of $4 to $12 per person.

You also get 1,000 bonus points per stay at the above brands (Gold members can select points or breakfast).

You, and up to one additional registered guest, can also get a free hot cooked-to-order breakfast each morning at any Hilton Garden Inn, something that would cost you $10 to $16 without Gold status. You get 750 bonus points at these locations if you elect to forego breakfast. Given that HGI breakfasts are some of the best in the business (as far as limited-service hotel breakfasts go) and that 750 points is worth less than $5, you should get the breakfast unless you’ve got somebody else paying for a nice breakfast elsewhere.

You also continue to get free breakfasts anywhere they are offered in other brands (e.g., Hampton); there is no added value since these brands offer free breakfast to all guests.

For valuation purposes, I assume you will stay 75% of your nights at hotels for which you get a complimentary breakfast (that Silver and non-elite members would need to pay for) and that you always elect to get a complimentary breakfast (and not points). To make things easy, I’m assuming 25% of all of your stays are at Hilton Garden Inns (with no 1,000 or 750 point bonus) and leaving out the complimentary breakfast for the additional registered guest, although this would increase the value even more.

I’m going to value each breakfast at an average $13 in value for a total breakfast benefit of $585 plus a total point bonus of 30,000 points, worth $180.

Hilton Nagoya

“Hilton Nagoya” by bizmac is licensed under CC BY

Snacks or Points = $60
For Hilton brands that already offer a free breakfast to all guests, you can choose between snack(s)/beverage(s)/water(s) at check-in or receive 100 to 1,000 bonus points per stay.

For Hilton Grand Vacations, which does not offer free breakfast to anyone (elite or non-elite), you get 1,000 bonus points per stay. In addition, the Waldorf Astoria check-in benefit for Gold members of 1,000 bonus points or a free in-room movie.

I assume these property brands account for 25% of your nights and that the benefit averages out to $4 per night, for a total value of $30.

Complimentary Premium Internet = $60
In theory, you get faster Internet than the free Internet that everyone else (who book directly with Hilton) gets. Premium Internet costs money for non-Diamond members.

In practice, there is usually no meaningful difference at Hilton properties with regards to the Internet speeds for premium Internet versus the regular free Internet. And sometimes Diamond members end up being charged for premium Internet and will have to get the front desk to remove the charge. Thus the overall value of this benefit is a lot lower than it could be under more ideal circumstances.

I’ll value the supposed increase in Internet speed at $1 per night.

Fitness Center Access = $180
This is the same as the Silver benefit, except you can get more use out of it since you’re staying more nights. I assume you’ll end up making use of this benefit during 20% of your nights with an average value of $15 per each night used.

Bottled Water (2) = $96
This is the same as the Silver benefit, except you can get more use out of it since you’re staying more nights. I assume that you will stay in brands that will give you the bottled water for 80% of your stays, meaning you’ll get free water 48 times.

Return to table.



Summary
What Is Hilton Honors Elite Status Worth? January 2017
Article
What Is Hilton Honors Elite Status Worth? January 2017
Description
Learn more about Hilton Honors elite status with a breakdown and description of elite status benefits and their values.
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Real World Machine LLC
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