We love staying in Hilton hotels – when the price is right. There are some tips to know, especially as a Hilton Honors member, that will help assure you get the best deals possible though. Let’s explore how to get the best deals with Hilton hotels…
Why do we like Hilton?
In our personal experience, we’ve found that the Hilton brand hotels have some of the most consistent experiences of all the hotels out there. In the few instances where we’ve had problems, their customer service has always stepped up, in the end, to make things right.
We’ve also found that their prices – especially their Hampton Inn and often the Hilton Garden Inn – have very competitive pricing. If you’ve been a part of our community for a while, you know we love to save money. We aren’t going to stay in some dirty hotel just to save a few dollars, but we definitely shop around for the best value.
Besides good nightly rates, they don’t nickel and dime their visitors. Almost all of the Hilton brands offer some sort of free Wifi; the Hampton Inn offers free breakfasts; the Embassy Suites has free weeknight receptions with complimentary food and beverages, and that’s just to name a few included benefits!
Hilton is more than just Hilton
I’m not sure if you are aware, but Hilton actually operates a number of different brands. Sure, there is the Hilton Hotels and Suites brand, but here are a few others they also own:
- Waldorf Astoria
- Conrad Hotels and Resorts
- Canopy by Hilton
- Curio collect by Hilton
- Embassy Suites
- Hilton Garden Inn
- Hampton Inn
- Tru by Hilton
- Homewood Suites
- Home2 Suites
- Hilton Grand vacations
If you stay in one or more of those hotels regularly – you’re a Hilton customer too.
Hilton’s member rewards program is called Hilton Honors. When you are a Hilton Honors member you accumulate points every time you stay in a Hilton brand hotel. That’s right, any of those hotels above will all provide points into your Hilton Honors account.
Additionally, as a Hilton Honors member, you usually get free premium Internet access. Many of the Hilton brands provide free Internet, but the Honors logon is supposed to give better quality and faster speed.
Signing up as a Hilton Honors member is free. So even if you don’t travel much, there is no reason not to go ahead and sign up.
Getting the best rate online
We have found that booking directly online through the Hilton website tends to give us the best rates. We’ve compared to Expedia, Hotels.com, and other sources – generally the Hilton site wins. BUT, we don’t pay the default rate that shows up in the searches! We are AAA members and while many people don’t realize it, you almost always get better pricing as an AAA member at Hilton.
In the online search, there is an option to select additional discounts – like for seniors, military personnel, etc. One of those options is AAA membership. If you check that box and refresh your search you’ll generally see lower prices than the standard default pricing.
Using Hilton Honors points
Whenever the rate for a Hilton is either the lowest or within 10% of the lowest, we’ll stay with them. This allows us to accumulate points that we can later redeem for free stays. The number of points required for a free night varies based on things like the day of the week, whether it is a holiday, and how long you are staying. We have seen redemption levels as low as 5,000 for a night up to 100,000. Somewhere around 30,000 seems to be common – unless you are in New York City where we more commonly see 60,000 or more.
My recent experience working on the best deal with Hilton
Just recently I had an interaction with Hilton that opened my eyes to a few things that can help everyone get the best rates possible.
I booked a room online using the AAA membership pricing. This was a fairly long stay so the rate wound up being about $2,300 total. Karla and I discussed it and decided to look into using some points to save some money. We had 95,000 points so we looked into using points for three of the nights, figuring this would save us about $500.
We booked a second reservation* using points for three nights and then paying for the rest. Once that reservation was completed though, we realized that it would cost us $2,100 and 93,000 points (31,000 points per night). Something wasn’t adding up right for us.
[*Tip: We always book an additional reservation before canceling an existing one. There have been situations where the hotel was full or almost full and getting a replacement reservation has been hard. So we don’t want to lose what we have until we know for sure that we can get a better reservation.]
I picked up the phone and called Hilton. After just a couple of minutes trying to explain my concern (without progress) to the outsourced support guy, I decided to ask for a supervisor in America. I was quickly connected to a wonderful lady here in the States and we started working through the situation.
Here’s what I learned:
You can’t “double stack” benefits
If you book a reservation using a combination of points and dollars, you pay the standard rate in dollars. So by making a reservation with three nights under points, the rest of the room rates jumped by almost $20/night because we “lost” our AAA discounted rate for those nights. This is good to know for sure!
You can split reservations
To get around the “double stacking” issue, you can book two separate reservations. The Hilton customer service repwas very helpful and fine with this. There isn’t anything shady about it.
Length of stay matters
We booked one reservation for the nights we’d pay as cash under the AAA rate. Then we went to book the other three nights with the points. Well, that was a problem. Since the stay was now a total of three nights on this second reservation, instead of almost two weeks, the points per night jumped. Instead of 31,000 points, we were looking at 41,000 per night! We didn’t even have enough for three nights.
Consider all the angles
The nice Hilton rep canceled what she had done and we started looking at different options. What we did was add another paid night and then use points for just two of the nights. While this increased the cash we would have to pay just above what we had hoped, it also used fewer points.
In the end, we wound up saving money by using points but also used fewer points than we had expected. If someone would have just booked the points + cash reservation without considering the different situations, they would have paid about $2,100 and used 93,000 points.
By splitting the reservation, and shortening the point nights by one, we were able to save an additional $300 in cash and 11,000 points!
Join, use these tips, and save
If you aren’t already a member of the Hilton Honors program, go sign up. Also when you are traveling next, check on the Hilton brand rates. You’re likely to be quite satisfied with both the competitive pricing and the quality of the hotels. I know we love them.
Do you have any additional tips to share? If so, feel free to make note of them in the comments section below so we can all benefit. Happy travels!
Splitting reservations is genius! I love when CS reps go above and beyond and help me maximize my points/rewards. Good post!
Thanks Willow! Yes, that CS rep from Hilton was a BIG help in understanding the options. She worked through several different scenarios for me and was very patient – even recommending some combinations to try out… like using points for the front end versus the back end of the trip. Things like that, which can impact the total cost also.
Make Friday and Saturday night separate reservation. Prices are much higher on Saturday and if you book separately, you get a better rate for Friday. I found this out by accident when I went back to add Saturday to my stay.
Interesting Kathy. I’ll definitely run that option next time to check it out. Since the rates are often lower for longer stays, I’d be curious if breaking it up to save one day would out-weigh the multi-day discounting.
I totally agree with that if you can be flexible on your dates or where in the world you are traveling, you are going to find much, much better deals.