Every so often you come across something in the miles and points field which you think that you should have known, but for some reason had never come across. This is one such quirk.
Regular readers will know that I suggest mixing cash and reward nights on the same stay if you want to book a hotel redemption and want a room which is better than a standard room. You book a ‘better’ room for the first night, for cash, and hope that you’re not asked to move for the ‘free’ nights.
In 2016, 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 Honors property.
Tucked away in the Hilton Honors 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 Hilton Honors Rewards Points, the entire stay is considered a “Reward Stay” and Hilton Honors Points may be earned. Participating hotel will determine whether incidental charges incurred during either of those stays are eligible for Points, except that Points will not be earned for incidental charges at Hampton by Hilton, Tru by Hilton, Homewood Suites by Hilton, and Home2 Suites by Hilton.
In plain English (although the wording above is poor):
If you book a Hilton stay which is a mix of cash nights and reward nights, you may (but also may not) earn Hilton Honors 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. (EDIT: take a look in the comments to this article for examples of people who had this happen to them, even though other feedback suggests that Hilton is trying to stop this happening.)
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 Honors 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.
How to earn Hilton Honors points via UK credit cards
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Hilton Honors points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Hilton Honors points. That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)