Posted in Credit Cards and Loyalty Programs

Scoring Big with Hilton in Sonoma

There are a lot of different ways to get value from your Hilton Loyalty program. Especially when paired with a Hilton Co-branded credit card.

Room Rate

As an example, let’s use our 5-night stay at the DoubleTree Sonoma which would have cost us over $1,300. The average points required for this stay was 50,000 points per night for a 5-night total of 250,000 points. But with Hilton, if you book 4 nights with points, you get the 5th night free. We saved 50,000 points by taking advantage of the 5th night free and only used 200,000 points. 50,000 points are worth approximately $250.

When booking with points, you also save the cost of taxes and some fees (not including parking fees). As you can see from this example, taxes on a 5-night paid stay could add an extra $171.19 to the room rate.

Although this hotel doesn’t have a Resort fee, if they charged an average fee of $35/night, like many properties do, it would have meant another $175 saved by booking as a reward stay.

We have the American Express Hilton Surpass card which comes with complimentary Hilton Gold Tier status. This status makes you eligible for available room upgrades and a myriad of additional perks. For this Sonoma trip, we were able to upgrade our Standard 2 Queen room to a 2 Queen Suite with a Pool View and Balcony. The difference in these room rates is about $30/night or $150 for our five nights. We got the better room by utilizing our Tier Status and saved $150.

Hotel Perks

During Covid, Hilton began offering a Daily Food and Beverage Credit for up to 2 guests per room at most of their properties.* Each day you can combine purchases for dining, drinks at the bar, or snacks from their grab-and-go counter for up to your total daily room credit amount. That amount varies by property type (Hampton, DoubleTree, Embassy Suites, Hilton, etc). Our dining credit for this stay was $15 per person per day. This allowed us to spend a total of $30 daily.

*The daily food and beverage credit was valid at the time of posting but may be changed in the future at the discretion of Hilton.

Stacking up the Points

Hilton regularly runs special offers that provide Loyalty members with extra bonus points on their stay. You just need to register for the bonuses before booking. If you meet the requirements, your points can really stack up.

If you pay for your Hilton hotel stay with one of their co-branded credit cards, you receive bonus points based on your Tier Status as well as the regular credit card spend points.

Our total bill for this stay was $49.98 for dining overages and gratuity that I charged to the room. I paid using my Hilton Surpass credit card which meant I earned 500 base points plus an 80% bonus of 400 more points on that spend. 900 points at a value of .06 per point are worth $54. That’s more than I spent! I also earned a stay bonus of 2500 points which I had registered for before booking the room. Winning!

Positioning Stay

We also had a one-night stay (that included a complimentary airport shuttle) in San Francisco before we flew home. Our Tier Status secured us a Food and Beverage Credit that we were able to use toward our breakfast.

Since this was a single hotel night, I did not book a reward stay but instead started earning some points toward our next big adventure. I paid with my Hilton Surpass card and received 2,030 base points plus a 1,624 point bonus for my Gold Tier Status and 2,500 points each for 2 bonus offers that I had registered for. That means I earned a total of 8,654 points for this one-night stay! Points really add up fast when you combine the Hilton Loyalty Program with points earned from one of their co-branded cards.

Hilton Dining Program

Another easy way to earn points is to sign up for the Hilton Dining program. This program offers you a chance to earn separate points for dining at restaurants that are members of the program.

One of my original issues with this program is that there are not many restaurants in areas where I normally dine. Initially, a few local places were on the list, but they dropped off a few months later. This brings me to my second issue that the restaurants on the program change often and with no warning. It is always best to check before you go and not presume that because it was eligible last week, it still is today. In addition, some restaurants only offer savings on certain days. I like to review the restaurant list before traveling to another town, just to see if there are any great options.

During our Sonoma trip, I saw a few choices on the list that matched places we already planned to dine. One option did not work out since it was for Take-Out Only and we planned to Dine-In.

Dinner at Downtown Joe’s in Napa worked out just right for us. We spent $92.83 on dinner and drinks. Because I hadn’t used the program in a while, I earned a 500-point reactivation bonus, a Limited Time offer bonus of 371 points, and 464 program points earned for the total spent. Additionally, I earned 558 points on my Hilton card for that same restaurant spend. This netted me 1,893 points total valued at .06 and worth $113.58. Once again the value of the points I earned was higher than what I spent.

Savings Recap

Let’s recap how the points stacked up for us by combining the Hilton Loyalty program with a Hilton co-branded credit card.

  • We enjoyed 5 free hotel nights worth $1,300
  • I saved 50,000 points by booking 4 nights and getting the 5th night free
  • We had a lovely suite with a balcony that we received using a Hilton Tier Status upgrade
  • Hilton Status also secured us ($30/day x 5 days) $150 in food/beverage credits during our stay

14,753 Total Points Earned

  • 8,654 points for a one-night hotel stay (with shuttle and free breakfast)
  • 1,893 points for using the Hilton Dining program and my co-branded Hilton card to pay for one eligible dinner
  • 3,400 bonus points + hotel spending for a 5-night Reward Stay
  • 807 points earned for credit card spending at other restaurants

If you are going to be fairly loyal to any hotel brand, it makes sense to consider getting their co-branded card. This can really help you compound your points earnings and hotel stay benefits when you travel.

Dream, Plan, Save, Adventure!