A negative Hilton HHonors quirk I never knew about and which could prove costly ….

Every so often I come across something in the miles and points field which I think that I should have known, but for some reason had never come across.  This is one such quirk.

Regular readers will know that I recommend mixing cash and reward nights if you want to book a hotel redemption and want a room which is better than a standard room.

Back in July, for example, I stayed at InterContinental Le Grand in Paris for four nights.  As I wrote in this article, I mixed together a cash booking for a club room followed by a redemption booking for a standard room.  What happened is what I was 90% sure would happen – the hotel let me keep my club room for my entire stay, which meant I got a generous upgrade for my reward night.

In turns out, however, that you should never try this trick at a Hilton HHonors property.

hilton hotel tallinn park exterior press picture

Tucked away in the Hilton HHonors terms and conditions (see here) under ‘Accrual of Points’ Clause 3 is the following wording:

If at least one night of the Member’s stay is consumed with the use of HHonors Rewards Points, the entire stay is considered a “Reward Stay” and no HHonors Points may be earned, except that if Member is using Room Upgrade Rewards, any money spent on the original reservation will earn points and/or miles consistent with these Terms.

In plain English:

If you book a Hilton stay which is a mix of cash nights and reward nights, you will NOT earn Hilton HHonors points for the money you spend on your room for the cash nights.

It turns out that this clause is enforced – perhaps not all the time, but it does definitely happen and you obviously have no recourse.

The obvious way around this, if travelling with someone else, is to book the reward nights from one account and put the cash nights through the other persons account.  This may cause issues if one person has status and the other does not, since you may lose status benefits on the ‘cash’ nights.

If you are travelling solo, you could still try the same thing – book the cash nights from the Hilton HHonors account of another person for 2 guests and add a note saying that you will be the second guest.

You would need to check out and check in again, but this would purely be a token gesture at the front desk. You wouldn’t need to actually pack up and leave the first room.

What this rule means is that trying to get an enhanced room on a reward night by starting your stay with a paid cash night in a better room is going to come at a cost – the loss of points for your room rate on that first night.

Thanks to David.

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  1. Not sure I’d say “never”. I successfully did this at the Beverly Hilton in September, first 2 nights on points, third night cash (yes it was backwards but the third night was my birthday so wanted to “guarantee” the upgraded room for that night at least).

    Reception upgraded me for the whole 3 nights despite being “fully committed” during their initial spiel, on account of it being my birthday and Hhonors Diamond, and I had all the relevant points awarded for my cash night.

    Seems it’s a case of ymmv – don’t bank on it but you may well get awarded the points.

    Happy new year!

  2. Waribai says:

    Happy New Year. Yes, we stayed at Hilton
    Schipol last week. One night was cash and the other rewards. Got all our points plus the fine bonus. Now at Conrad Samui doing a mix again. I’m hoping for the same.
    I am though kicking myself for not remember to get Hilton Premium membership. Met someone last night who had the 12000 baht New Year gala buffet included as their free buffet and I could have also enjoyed 50% off all F&B spend.
    Incidentally, anyone coming here be forewarned Diamond members no longer get a bottle of wine or free minibar. This was a surprise to me so I told the manager this was promised as a benefit at the time of booking. He kindly reinstated it as a goodwill gesture. It’s a shame really as this was a very visible Diamond benefit.

    • Sergeant Major says:

      Thanks for that waribai. How do you sign up for Hilton Premium membership?

    • the_real_a says:

      Did you use Schipol as a base for exploring the city since you stayed 2 nights? How did you find this?

      • Waribai says:

        Hilton Premium Club I believe is a 3rd party deal with Hilton. Completely separate to Hhonors. I think the price is currently 8000 baht in Thailand but you get one lunch buffet and one dinner buffet free. You also get 50% off all F&B spend. Someone has posted the application form link over on FT. Google should help you find it. With the average meal for two here around the 5000 baht mark, we would have been bahts in very quickly particularly at their signature restaurant.
        Having said that having 12 drinks vouchers which pretty much cover every drink on offer has been a good benefit so far.

        On the topic of Hilton Schipol, I found it nothing short of excellent. With a little bit of polite pushing we were upgraded to a full suite facing the exterior which was much more preferable to the interior facing rooms which quite frankly seemed weird. Yes, I booked two nights ahead of our ex-EU 1000 euro BA CW flights to BKK via HKG. I thought two nights would definitely ensure we caught the all important first leg flight. It is very easy to get to the city centre from the hotel and with a young family in tow, it meant we could just take a luggage cart out of arrivals up the travelator and straight to the hotel and vice versa upon checking out. So much more preferable than lugging it into a taxi and heading into the city centre.
        CW also came into its own as due to the fog we missed out connecting flight in HKG. As CW passengers, CX quickly found us availability on their next flight into BKK which was a godsend as our flight to Samui left early the next morning.
        Those in WT though were put on standby as all flights were full in CX economy on Christmas Eve. When they finally arrived in BKK, god only knows. Definitely something to bear in mind if you are debating between J and Y during peak periods.

  3. James67 says:

    Happy New Year to all HFPers from Edinburgh.

    I fell foul of this rule just a few weeks ago and was going to comment on it here on HFP except that the matter has just been resolved with CS in the last week. In my case the reward night came first and the cash night followed as this was necessary to take advantage of a free night certificate and a rate promotion. Therefore, there was no attempt to gain any room upgrade advantage. I was surprised not to receive any points for my paid night so contacted HHonors CS with a missing points claim. What followed was a whole series of messages from CS explaining the rules as Rob has outlined above, except that plain English was never evident in any of them. After finally grasping what they were on about, in the end I got the points for my paid stay by arguing that it was unfair to treat the two nights as a single reward stay because I had two separate reservations made at different timed, and the hotel insisted that I check out from the first and check in for the second. Now, having read this post, I suspect I got lucky and they eventually caved in credited me the points just to close the matter. I do think the rule is unfair though, it seems only fair to me that we should be rewarded for each paid night regardless of the composition of a stay.

  4. Can anyone tell me about a booking I’ve made at the Hilton Tallin Park for 3 nights using part pay of 45 Euros a night and 10,000 HH points. How do I stand about getting HH points for my stay as I’ve not technically got free nights? Thank you

    • the real harry says:

      part pay = pay

      • The Real Harry says:

        Am I sure? Part pay using points will count as qualifying nights and a stay, but only 1000 points will be received if diamond or using the gold breakfast fiddle, surely?!

        • Gin and Tonic Please says:

          What’s the gold breakfast fiddle? Not something I’ve heard of before (and I’m going to drop from Diamond to Gold this year…)

      • I had 2 points and cash bookings, last month, and only got the 1k diamond my way bonus, is that correct?

    • Dunno what Harry is on about. You never get points for a points and money night, as it counts as a redemption, except for the diamond 1000 points per stay and currently the 5000 points for payment with visa.

      If the night doesn’t credit at all due to a Hilton IT error, then a missing points claim may well get the points on the money element but it shouldn’t. Also if combined with cash stay, no points are due on the entire stay as per today’s article. though as the comments show, arguing about it may result in an exception to the published terms

      • Genghis says:


        On mix of reward and cash night though, I’ve always received points on the cash nights. Guess I’ve been lucky

        • This is my experience too, but was too groggy earlier to pass comment!

          That said I have in the past received points for a points booking , yes really, assumed it must of been a glitch, I of course did the obvs thing and quietly and gratefully accepted, treated it as an extra loyalty bonus. 😀

    • You’ll only get points if you have any incidentals.. Parking,food,etc..charge everythi bc to your room and you’ll earn points on the incidentals only

      • On a points and money…$45+12000 points…You’ll only get points if you have any incidentals.. Parking,food,etc..charge everything to your room and you’ll earn points on the incidentals only

  5. Yep, sadly has been ever thus with HHonors! Very occasionally the hotel IT doesn’t need pick it up, but the vast majority of times it does.

  6. Happy New Year everyone.

    This sounds a silly clause designed to upset a few points savvy customers (because who else would be doing this mix) which then leads to admin costs for Hilton and a customer (the type who would also be collecting status with other chains) who never completely trusts the brand again.

    I understood the cost savings of withdrawing the free drink vouchers but again an own goal – we no longer take our family into the hotel restaurant on trips because the wine is so expensive.

  7. Ah this explains the issue I had in August for a 3 night Waldorf Astoria stay. First night was cash and I was expecting to receive over 20,000 hhonors points. 2nd night was Hilton Visa free night certificate. 3rd night was points redemption.

    Strangely, most of the expected points were showing in my online account, but the balance hadn’t increased! So I never actually received any points. On the plus side, the hotel did upgrade us to a room which was showing as not available, so I cant complain too much.

    This rule is a shame as it further devalues hhonors points and the Visa free night certificate. This may have to alter my strategy for getting a decent length stay at Rangali!

  8. Corrine says:

    I stayed at a Doubletree Orlando on Points+Cash for 5 nights and received points fine. I guess it depends who processes it ??
    Slightly OT, Im looking to book several Point+Cash rooms for July/August just outside of Boston and very few have been released. Anyone know how often these are released or is it just random ? I keep checking every few days 😉

    • Hey Corrine, you wouldn’t frequent V-Flyer by any chance ? Was wondering if you were the same that guested me and my other half into LGW Virgin Clubhouse & Upper Class enroute to Orlando a few years back, still great memories!

    • Just to be clear in terminology: This is not about ‘points+cash’ (i.e. every night being paid for with points+cash combined) but rather some nights being redemption and some nights being revenue at the same hotel.

  9. Jimmyjimmy says:

    Does this apply to 2 paid nights regents the 3rd on the Barclays voucher?
    (All 3 nights on seperare bookings)

    I was planning to email to ask the 3 bookings are merged to avoid changing rooms, think I’ll just leave it too check in now.
    Happy new year to one and all

    • In my example above I had contacted the hotel beforehand to ask to keep the same room for the 3 nights. They merged the bookings. As I think Rob has said, if I was doing it again I would book the separate nights with separate Hilton Accounts in different names to be sure.

      The Barclaycard free night is effectively a redemption night, when it is used the certificate states how many HHonors points the booking would have been without the certificate.

    • James67 says:

      Yes, I combined Barclays voucher with one paid night. Only got the 1000 my way until I persistently pushed CS on issue.

  10. littlefish says:

    Good catch Rob. Thanks.
    I have a 5 night reward stay followed by a 1 night cash booking next week at an HGI. Will need to tweak it. Oh well.
    HH define stay as: ” A “stay” is defined as the total number of consecutive nights spent at the same hotel, whether or not a guest checks out and checks back in again. “, so checking out then back in does me no good. Will either do the 6th night as a reward or move the last night to another hotel. In fact, may well enquire as to my options at check-in 😉

  11. I noticed this a while back; my workaround was to have SWMBO book paid for nights and I book the redemptions or vice-versa

  12. Happened to me last year at a Hilton. Had booked two rooms, one with points and one with cash and did not receive the points due to this rule (which I knew). Called nevertheless and explained that the wording suggested only if the same room is booked with a combination of cash and points or cash + points you will earn nothing on the cash part, not if there are booking for two rooms (one cash, one points). Was lucky and good a one time exception.

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