Marriott Rewards beats Hilton HHonors for the number of category 1 and category 2 hotels available in the USA. Marriott Rewards has 816 hotels in Category 1 and 2 awards. Hilton HHonors has only 101 hotels in the USA at the Category 1 and Category 2 award levels.
A common miles and points analysis seen in blogs is comparing the amount of spend correlated to the award night cost.
Category 1 Hotel Award Night Comparison for Hilton and Marriott
Hilton HHonors Category 1 hotel award night = 5,000 points.
Marriott Rewards Category 1 hotel award night = 7,500 points.
The analysis is HHonors members earning Points & Points earn 15 points per dollar. This means a basic HHonors member can earn 5,000 points with $334 in hotel spend. That is used as a measure to claim Hilton HHonors has the fastest earning hotel program for free nights.
Marriott Rewards members earn 10 points per dollar or even less at 25% of the hotels in the USA in Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites brands earning only 5 points per dollar. This means it can take $750 to $1,500 in spend to earn 7,500 points for a free category 1 hotel night.
Hilton HHonors wins the fastest earning award night since $334 is a lot less hotel spend to earn points for a category 1 hotel night.
Category 2 Hotel Award Comparison
Hilton HHonors Category 2 hotel award night = 10,000 points.
Marriott Rewards Category 1 hotel award night = 10,000 points.
HHonors base member needs only $667 to earn 10,000 points compared to $1,000 to $2,000 for a Marriott Rewards members.
Hilton HHonors members obviously need less hotel spend to earn 10,000 points for a category 2 award night.
Is Hilton HHonors a better loyalty program than Marriott Rewards for low category award nights in the USA?
The main factor missing from this simple analysis is the availability of Category 1 and Category 2 hotels in Hilton HHonors and Marriott Rewards. The table below shows that Marriott Rewards has far more hotels available for low category hotel award nights than Hilton.
- Hilton HHonors Category 1 Hotels in the USA = 5.
- Marriott Rewards Category 1 Hotels in the USA = 162.
- Hilton HHonors Category 2 Hotels in the USA = 96.
- Marriott Rewards Category 1 Hotels in the USA = 654.
The amount of spend needed to earn points for any specific hotel award category paints only part of the picture. In theory, Hilton HHonors is a faster earning program than Marriott Rewards based on hotel spend needed to earn and redeem points for category 1 and category 2 hotels.
In reality, the Hilton HHonors member will be looking at category 3 awards at 20,000 points to buy hotel award nights at many properties comparable to Marriott brand hotels available for 10,000 points as category 2 award nights with Marriott Rewards.
Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.
Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. Check out current hotel loyalty program offers across all the major chains in Loyalty Traveler’s monthly hotel promotions guide.