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A negative Hilton Honors quirk you may not know about and which could prove costly

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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.

hilton hotel tallinn park exterior press picture

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.

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 and status from UK credit cards

How to earn Hilton Honors points and status from UK credit cards (October 2023)

There are various ways of earning Hilton Honors points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Hilton Honors Gold status for as long as they hold the card?  It also comes with Marriott Bonvoy Gold, Radisson Rewards Premium and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Did you know that the Virgin Atlantic credit cards are a great way of earning Hilton Honors points? Two Virgin Points can be converted into three Hilton Honors points. The Virgin Atlantic cards are the only Visa or Mastercard products in the UK which can indirectly earn Hilton Honors points. You can apply here.

You can also earn Hilton Honors points indirectly with:

and for small business owners:

The conversion rate from American Express to Hilton points is 1:2.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Hilton Honors points

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (39)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Darren says:

    This is interesting. I must say, however, that I’ve done this lots of times with Hilton and can’t say I recall ever not being awarded my ‘due’ points and I do watch carefully that I receive them! 🙂

  • Lee says:

    Similar caveat with Riu Chain (perhaps bit humble for most HFP readers?)
    we used a few points to reduce a booking by approx £80 and subsequently earned no points at all for a >£1300 stay

  • Axel says:

    Robs articles don’t usually confuse me but this one certainly does.

    Maybe as my strategy with booking Hilton is different.

    I always book consecutive nights as separate bookings, so all bookings are for single nights, as some room prices may drop on last day or two on particular nights of the week.

    All my points bookings are made as P&M at HH 1000 points short as a rule This ensures if there is any bonus or offers such as the double points for using Visa in Asia Pacific they are automatically gained.

    Just checked my last 8 bookings with Points and 1k money. In the account summary you will see the redemption as say -29000 points but if you drill in you will also see you get my way bonus, double points, visa bonus etc. To gain say 8000 points.

    Got bot email last week that my diamond status match challenge had been redeemed till March 2020. 5 of the 8 stays were P&1kMoney
    Doubletree JB best bargain. 9000 points and money for 3 hours in the exec lounge. Shame it’s now jumped up to 20k.

  • Mr(s) Entitled says:

    Along the same lines, how are points and money considered for promotion bonuses and alike?

    I’ve done my first ever points and miles for a night at the Hilton Liverpool 4th Jan to see if it would qualify for the promotion that starts the same day of 2k points per stay and an additional 10k points per 5 stays or 10 nights (from memory).

    I think I paid about 20k points and £7 out of curiosity to see what would happen but perhaps someone can enlighten me in advance.

  • a9504477 says:

    Just for reference: we booked a club room at the IC Wellington for 2 nights (Amb cert) and a point booking for the 3rd – they did not extend club access for the 3rd night (so i cancelled that and we stayed elsewhere the 3rd night)

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Club access isn’t an amb benefit so I can see why they excluded it. They can even exclude it when upgraded to a club room.

      Tbh if it’s included or a small £ per night I’ll add it on otherwise I’m not interested. I spend most my time out if the hotel.

      • a9504477 says:

        I know they have every right to refuse. This was in response to Rob’s introduction that on many occasions this (booking a club room and retaining that for the point booking including lounge access) would work – not at the IC Wellington.

  • Delbert says:

    My wife and I enjoyed our first Hilton stay last month and was quite impressed with the points we amassed. Didn’t appreciate how much they were worth until I applied the 64k points + £260 cash to a one night stay at the Hilton T4 in a King Executive Suite.

    I do remember signing up for a double or triple points offer but didn’t think much more about it. Just wish Accor were so generous towards their loyalty customers.

  • Delbert says:

    Would have been even more expensive without the points!! £500/600 otherwise.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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