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While there is no limit to how many hotel loyalty programs you can join, there are definite frontrunners for the value provided through that loyalty program. When you want to travel smart and use points to gain that luxury experience, choosing the correct loyalty program is an essential step in the process.
Two global powerhouse resort brands, Marriott and Hilton, offer their customers loyalty programs. Let’s take a look at what those programs may provide, their benefits, and determine which is best for you.
Bottom Line Up Front
In a hurry? Here’s the short answer: If you simply cannot stand the idea of having both-choose Marriott Bonvoy. It consistently provides a better return on point value and perks than Hilton Honors.
Main Differences Between Hilton Honors vs Marriott Bonvoy
The main differences between Hilton Honors vs Marriott Bonvoy are:
- Marriott Bonvoy has six status tiers, whereas Hilton Honors only has four.
- Marriott Bonvoy will not status match with competitors, whereas Hilton Honors will.
- Hilton Honors charges a processing fee for points transfers, whereas Marriott Bonvoy does not.
- There is no limit on how many Hilton Honors points you may transfer in a year, whereas Marriott Bonvoy caps this amount at 100,000 per year.
- Marriott Bonvoy partners with Chase Ultimate Rewards, whereas Hilton Honors does not.
- Sign up now, so you don’t forget to do it while traveling.
- Sign up for all major hotel loyalty programs if you stay at one unexpectedly. It never hurts to hoard those points, just in case.
- Consider purchasing points for an upcoming trip. It seems odd to pay for points, but you can often get a better value out of points instead of cash when traveling.
- Be kind when checking in and staying at the property. You will be surprised how far kindness can go to a smooth trip for yourself and provide a better experience for the property’s employees.
Marriott Bonvoy vs Hilton Honors Loyalty Program
- Member: 0-6 nights
- Silver: 7+ nights
- Gold: 28+ nights
- Diamond: 42+ nights
With different credit cards, account holders may gain access to a higher membership tier without the specified number of nights. The benefits of membership for Hilton Honors gradually increase as your tier increases.
- Guaranteed Hilton honors discounted rate
- Points that go towards free nights
- No resort fees when you redeem points
- Digital check-in and out
- Choose your room options
- Digital Key
- Free WiFi
- Access to some exclusive Hilton Honors experiences
Silver members receive:
- All that members receive, plus:
- 20% bonus on points
- Free bottled water
- Fifth night free
- Elite rollover nights
- All-inclusive spa discounts
Gold members receive:
- All that Silver members receive, plus:
- 80% bonus on points
- Space available room upgrade options
- Daily food or beverage credit at U.S. hotels or continental breakfast at non-U.S. properties.
Diamond members receive:
- All that Gold members receive, plus:
- 100% bonus on points
- Executive lounge access
- Diamond status extension
- Premium WiFi
- 48-hour room guarantee
- Elite status gifting options
Marriott’s loyalty program is called Marriott Bonvoy. It consists of six tiers and is free to join. Let’s compare the night stay requirements to attain each tier of membership:
- Member: 0-9 nights per year
- Silver Elite: 10 nights per year
- Gold Elite: 25 nights per year
- Platinum Elite: 50 nights per year
- Titanium Elite: 75 nights per year
- Ambassador Elite: 100 nights per year and $20,000 spend
With different credit cards, account holders may gain access to a higher membership tier without the specified number of nights. The benefits of membership for Marriott Bonvoy gradually increase as your level increases.
- Free WiFi
- Mobile check-in and out
- Exclusive member rates
- Earn points
Silver Elite members receive:
- All that members receive, plus:
- Ultimate reservation guarantee
- 10% points bonus
- Priority late checkout
Gold Elite members receive:
- All that silver elite members receive, plus:
- 25% points bonus
- 2 pm late checkout
- Hotel welcome gift of points
- Room upgrade when available
Platinum Elite members receive:
- All that Gold Elite members receive, plus:
- 50% point bonus
- 4 pm late checkout
- Hotel welcome gift of points, breakfast, or amenity
- Room upgrade when available, including suite options
- Dedicated support line
- Lounge access
- Annual choice benefit
Titanium elite members receive:
- All that platinum elite members receive, plus:
- 75% points bonus
- 48-hour room guarantee
Ambassador Elite members receive:
- All that Titanium elite members receive, plus:
- Flexible 24-hour check-in and out time
- Ambassador service
Both Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy offer their loyalty club members some amazing perks and benefits. These benefits increase in value as you spend more nights, and therefore more money, at one of their properties. They work in very similar ways, with the largest difference being Marriott Bonvoy’s additional two status tiers.
Both of these loyalty programs offer similar perks for their members. Marriott Bonvoy provides the chance to achieve two additional tiers over the Hilton Honors program.
When you do the math and compare all of the benefits provided by both loyalty programs, Marriott Bonvoy pulls ahead as the better loyalty program. Since memberships are free, it is still advisable to sign up for both Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy to start accruing points and receive benefits at both properties.
Do Points Expire?
Hilton Honor’s points will only expire if the member’s account remains inactive for a consecutive 24-month period.
If your Marriott Bonvoy membership account remains inactive for a consecutive 24-month period, your points will expire and be removed from your account.
Sometimes the point cost of a night’s stay will be relatively low compared to the monetary cost of that same night at the same property. In this instance, it is recommended that you purchase points to use towards your reservation.
This can be done through both Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy. While it will not always be prudent to purchase points instead of paying in currency, occasionally, it will be worth the hassle. This is a great way to save on your reservation while also enjoying the perks your loyalty program membership provides.
Are Points Transferable to Other People?
Hilton Honors points are transferable to other Hilton Honors membership holders, but you will incur a processing fee. Points can be sent over in increments of 10,000 at a time, with no total limit. The processing fee is based on the total number of points you wish to transfer.
Marriott Bonvoy points are transferrable to other people with loyalty accounts should the need arise. This is particularly helpful for spouses to use each other’s points for free stays or other resort perks. This can be done by contacting Marriott directly by phone.
Unlike Hilton Honors, there is no processing fee to transfer Marriott Bonvoy points. You are able to transfer up to 100,000 points per year. If you choose to do this, please be aware that there may be a processing period of time that can extend into multiple days. It is essential to plan ahead!
Does Marriott or Hilton Accept Point Transfers From Credit Cards?
Both Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors accept points transferred into their program from specific credit card point systems. These are specific to partnership agreements made within the companies themselves. Hilton Honors accepts point transfers from American Express’s Membership Rewards program at a ratio of 1:2. This ratio is subject to change depending on promotions or alterations made by participating parties.
Marriott Bonvoy allows point transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express’s Membership Rewards at a rate of 1:1. Similarly to Hilton Honors, this ratio is subject to change at any time due to shifting promotions or agreements between participating parties.
Now that we know all the benefits of holding a higher status within hotel loyalty programs let’s discuss how to attain those upper tiers of membership. You can go the traditional route of staying the required number of nights per company to earn the status. This is undoubtedly effective but can be rather costly.
Instead of starting from the ground up, research credit cards you may wish to sign up for and see if they offer any membership benefits that allow you to sign up for Hilton Honors or Marriott Bonvoy at a higher tier level than the base level. The American Express Platinum card is a prime example of a card with travel benefits that includes hotel loyalty status in their benefits.
You can also achieve higher tier levels of a loyalty program through status match programs. Status match programs allow you to gain a matching tier status at other companies by proving your status tier for their competitor.
To status match with Hilton Honors, you will need to request a status match through their matching website. On this webpage, you can upload and submit proof of your status with their competitor’s loyalty programs.
Marriott Bonvoy does not offer its members a status match program. In this instance, Marriott Bonvoy falls short of Hilton Honors in benefits.
How Many Points For a Free Night’s Stay
The number of points required to completely cover the cost of a night’s stay at a Hilton or Marriott property will vary significantly based upon a few factors:
- Property type
- Peak or off-season traveling
- Room type
Marriott boasts luxury brands such as the Ritz Carlton, which will cost considerably more points than their more budget-friendly properties such as Springhill or Fairfield.
The time of year you decide to book a night’s stay will also impact the cost of points per stay. If you travel to a beachside location at the peak of the summer months, you will find higher point prices than if you traveled to that location during the cooler months. When there is less demand for room at a property, the price in points will decrease.
The type of room you choose will also have an impact on the cost of your stay. Suites, such as the ones offered at Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria Resort, will have a much higher price point than a stay in a standard room on the same property.
When booking stays at either Marriott or Hilton properties with loyalty points, be sure to maximize their redemption value by choosing rooms and times to book by point price. You should also always consider using your points for upgrades to suites or more luxurious properties within the network.
Ultimately, I would say sign up for both Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy. It costs nothing to sign up, and even if you typically choose one provider over another, it doesn’t hurt to rack up points when you must choose the other option during your travels.
If you do not wish to have more than one, I would choose Marriott Bonvoy over Hilton Honors as it typically provides a greater return per point. Keep in mind that you cannot status match with Marriot Bonvoy, but you can with Hilton Honors. So, if you reach elite status with Marriott Bonvoy, you can use that status to match with a higher tier of Hilton Honors. Doing so will allow you the best of both loyalty programs.
Question: How many properties do Hilton and Marriott have?
Answer: Marriott operates under 30 different brand names spanning over 8,000 properties worldwide. In contrast, Hilton owns 18 brands in 122 different countries and territories. Hilton operates under the following brand names:
• Waldorf Astoria
• Signia by Hilton
• Curio Collection
• Tapestry Collection
• Embassy Suites
• Hilton Garden Inn
• Homewood Suites
• Home 2 Suites
• Hilton Grand Vacations
Question: How many Hilton Honors members are there?
Answer: 139 Million members partake in Hilton’s loyalty program, Hilton Honors.
Question: How many countries does Marriott operate properties within?
Answer: Marriott operates hotels and resorts within 139 countries and territories across the world.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, the perfect loyalty program for you depends entirely on personal preference. If you have a love for Hilton, choose the Hilton Honors Program. In contrast, if you only have great experiences at Marriott properties, sign up for Marriott Bonvoy.
While, in my opinion, Marriott Bonvoy provides a slightly better value for membership, they are both excellent loyalty programs that offer little luxuries that make your stay even more comfortable. With loyalty programs that cost you nothing but a few minutes of your time, you cannot go wrong.