Is this the most consumer-unfriendly Hilton HHonors program rule?

Hotel loyalty programs do not count reward nights on points as eligible hotel stays for promotion credit. That is a general rule. This also applies to Cash & Points stays for most hotel programs, except Club Carlson.

One of the best strategies I use to maximize promotions while saving cash is to combine a paid hotel night with reward nights when the cost in points is a better value than the cost to pay for the night. This is particularly useful at a hotel where there is a huge rate difference between weekend nights and weekday nights.

For example: if a Saturday night stay is $99 and Sunday night is $249, then I can pay for Saturday night and use points for Sunday night.

Most hotel chains will count the paid night of this two night stay as an eligible stay for earning loyalty points and promotion credit. They are made with two different reservations.

But Hilton HHonors added a very consumer-unfriendly rule to its HHonors program terms and conditions last year in the April 1, 2011 program rules update.

A “stay” is defined as the total number of consecutive nights spent at the same hotel, whether or not a guest checks out and checks back in again.

If at least one night of the Member’s stay is consumed with the use of HHonors Rewards points, the entire stay is considered a “Reward Stay” and no HHonors points may be earned, except that if Member is using Room Upgrade Rewards, any money spent on the original reservation will earn points and/or miles consistent with these Terms.

Participating hotel will determine whether incidental charges incurred during either or those stays are eligible for points, except that Points will not be earned for incidental charges at Hampton Inn®, Hampton Inn & Suites®, Homewood Suites by Hilton®, and Home2 Suites by Hilton®.

HHonors Terms & Conditions,

Accrual of Points Term #3, updated April 1, 2011.

This rule means that a hotel stay like I used in my example with a paid Saturday night followed by an HHonors reward using points for Sunday night would make the Saturday night stay ineligible for earning HHonors points and promotion credit.

I think this is the most member-unfriendly rule I have seen in hotel loyalty programs.

Why should a member be denied HHonors points for a stay that would otherwise earn points and promotion credit solely due to the fact that the member also used HHonors points for additional nights to extend the hotel stay?

I do not know of any other hotel loyalty program that works this way when combining paid nights with reward nights.

Have any readers encountered this issue when combining paid nights with reward nights?

This FlyerTalk thread from 2011 indicates the rule was not being enforced a year ago. Is it being applied in 2012?

Obviously a HHonors member has no recourse if denied points and promotion credit on paid nights combined with reward nights since the rule is posted in the HHonors program terms.


Ric Garrido, writer and content owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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  1. Agreed this is not consumer friendly. A quick solution when traveling with a companion is to book the reward stay in one name and the paid part of the stay in the companion’s name, so as to seem as separate reservations. Of course, this works better when you don’t mind sharing the earned points!

  2. My reward stay to the Hilton Papagayo shows up as counting toward my status. It shows as a stay and I earned Diamond with the stay completely on points. I was under the impression all my points stays counted as a stay toward my status, but perhaps I’m mistaken and this is a glitch in my favor.

  3. @jeremy – all your nights and stays count for HHonors elite credit regardless if paid or award nights.

    The change in HHonors rules means that if you combine paid nights with any nights on points for the same hotel stay, then you will not earn 10 points (points & miles) or 15 base points per dollar (points & points) for the paid nights.

    And it is up to the hotel whether to give points for the incidental spend while on a reward stay. This can amount to a lot of points not being earned in a place where you stay for a week and spend $500 on dining.

    I have frequently connected a paid night at the beginning or end of a reward stay on points to also earn promotion credit in other hotel loyalty programs (and HHonors in past stays when that was my primary program a decade ago).

    For example, the Marriott two stays earns one free night offer this summer means I can go to a resort on points for 5 nights (getting the 5th night free reward) and if I pay for a night at the beginning or end of the reward stay, I also get Marriott Rewards points for the paid night and one stay credit for the free night certificate Summer Bonus promotion while also getting a 6-night stay at one resort hotel.

    Tie in an airport hotel night at Marriott brand hotel at the beginning or end of the 6-night vacation and I earn a free night certificate from two stays while taking a 6-night vacation (5 of those nights using points).

    This will not work with HHonors for a similar style promotion if the rule is applied making my paid night part of the reward stay. And I would not even earn HHonors points for the paid night in the six nights stayed at the resort.

  4. @New Girl in the Air – you have a perfect solution for a traveling couple who share points. Book the paid night in one account and the reward nights from another account to get credit for the paid night.

    I wonder how this would work though if I booked the paid night and I used points and booked the reward nights in my wife’s name?

    Of course for most married couples loyal to HHonors there is likely one spouse with higher elite status. That complicates the stay strategy even more.

  5. Starwood consider all nights, including reward nights and cash+point nights towards elite status, so blanket statement “Hotel loyalty programs do not count reward nights on points as eligible hotel stays for promotion credit” is obsolete.

  6. @AX9465 – readers are confusing two different concepts here – elite credit and promotion credit.

    SPG, Choice and HHonors count reward nights for elite credit.

    None of these programs count reward nights for promotion bonuses.

  7. As I’ve discovered Hilton is also close to the bottom of the pile in recognizing elite benefits and allowing points earning for incidentals on opaque bookings (Priceline, Hotwire etc). Good thing opaque bookings aren’t always so opaque.

  8. I guess most people realize that in the first place an Hhonors point is just worth about one third of value of a point of most other hotel loyalty programs and one sixth of an spg point. Even with all the fuss about double dipping, hhonors promotions are often so weak (like the current double points) that I haven’t been able to convince myself to even call them promotion. In hhonors, if you register for all promos at best you earn between 1500-2500 points and 500 to 1000 miles from a medium price one night stay, never interesting enough for smart travellers

  9. Stayed at a HI for 45 nights during a diamond challenge. 16 nights in, I checked out/checked back in to get the diamond status reflected in my honors account. Unfortunately, when the subsequent 29 days posted, they reflected the gold bonus only. When I called CS ask for reconsideration, the agent said there was nothing she could do. I tried to reason with her that I’d have included a non-points-earning night in the middle, had I known the rules wouldve not worked in my favor, but she w ouldnt have any of it. Ugh. One more reason why I’m a Marriott/spg guy.

  10. The best reason I see for HHonors having this policy is their elite program actually counts either nights or “stays”. To achieve Diamond, one would need to have 28 stays or 60 nights. Obviously, if someone stayed 28 consecutive nights and broke it up into separate reservations, that would be a good cheat to keep from having to stay 60 nights. I know Marriott does not differentiate “stays” and nights – only 75 nights for Platinum. I always maintained HHonors Diamond based on stays, since most of my travel are short trips.

  11. @Josh – I see what you are saying, but I do not think that is relevant. A stay is consecutive nights at the hotel regardless if these are sepearate reservations.

    HHonors says any reward night in a stay makes the entire stay a reward stay and therefore points are not earned.

    Using your example, assume I pay for 7 hotel nights at $300 per night and my 8th night is a reward night.

    According to HHonors rules I have one hotel stay of 8 nights and my 8-night stay is counted entirely as a reward stay since I had one night using points.

    HHonors says that this stay where I spent $2,100 does not earn any points for my paid nights because it was an award stay.

    As a Points & Points earner I am cheated out of 31,500 HHonors points for my $2,100 in hotel spend solely for the reason that I stayed an 8th night using points on this one hotel stay.

    My account should still be credited with 8 elite nights and 1 elite stay.

    There is no rational reason to deny HHonors members base points for paid nights when there are reward nights using points attached to the paid stay.

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