Advice & Strategy

Marriott Bonvoy VS Hilton Honors

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Two of the most popular hotel chains in the world are Hilton and Marriott. Both of their loyalty programs, Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy, offer a variety of perks for frequent travelers, but how do they stack up against each other? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at both Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy, comparing the benefits offered at each tier level and their overall value.

Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott Bonvoy is offered by Marriott International, one of the largest hotel chains in the world. This rewards program allows members to earn 10 points per dollar spent at over 7,000 participating hotels around the globe. Members of Marriott Bonvoy can redeem their points for a variety of rewards, including free nights at participating hotels and resorts, room upgrades, airline miles, and car rentals. The more you stay with Marriott or engage in other activities to earn points, your membership tier will increase, which in turn will increase your points earned on purchases and benefits.

Hilton Honors

Hilton Honors is the loyalty program of Hilton, which also rivals Marriott as one of the biggest hotel chains in the world. By joining the Hilton Honors program, members can also earn 10 points per dollar spent on eligible room rates, including additional room charges at participating properties. These points can then be redeemed in a variety of ways, such as free nights, upgrades, and experiences. A current welcome offer is listed as 1,500 bonus points on your first stay and an additional 3,000 points after two stays. The more base points you accumulate, the higher the tier ladder you will climb additional points earned on purchases and benefits will follow.

Redeeming points for free nights

Marriott

On average, you will need anywhere from 35,000 to 75,000 points to redeem a free night. However, this number can vary greatly depending on factors such as the location of the hotel, its popularity, room type and how far in advance you are booking as well as your tier status level within the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program. If you are planning to stay at a high-end hotel in a popular tourist destination during peak season, you can expect the points needed for a free night to be on the higher end of the spectrum. On the other hand, if you are booking a stay at a less popular hotel during off-peak season, you may find reward nights available for as low as 11,000 points. Marriott Bonvoy points are worth .9 cents per point, which may seem low compared to what other travel credit cards earn such as American Express or Citi Premier, but its actually on the higher end for most hotel rewards programs.

Hilton

Just like Marriott, the number of points required to redeem a free night at a participating Hilton locations can vary depending on the location, room type and peak travel periods Currently, a minimum of 5,000 Hilton Honors points is needed to book a free night, but it can go well north of 95,000 points. Hilton also offers a cash + points redemption option for its members. You can combine a fixed amount of cash with Honors points to cover the remaining balance of your reservation. However, it’s important to compare the cash price of the reservation with a cash + points redemption option to make sure you are getting the best value for your points. Hilton Honors points are worth .4 to .6 cents per points, which is on the lower end of the majority hotel rewards currencies.

Comparing Tiers

Basic Membership

The first tier offered in the rewards programs, members will be automatically enrolled here when signing up unless they receive an upgraded status due to a credit card benefit.

MarriottHilton
Free in room Wi-Fi.Free WiFi.
Discounted member only rates.Hilton Honors members only discounts rates.
Access to Hilton Honors Experiences.
Mobile check-in/check-out option. Digital check-in/check-out option.
Points will not expire as long you have activity on your account in a 24 month period. Points will not expire as long as you have activity on your account in a 24 month period.
Ability to transfer points with no fee to family and friends.
Marriott Bonvoy vs Hilton Honors — basic membership

Silver Level

MarriottHilton
Silver Elite: To reach the Silver tier you will need to have accumulated 10 nights per year. Silver: In order to achieve the Silver tier level with Hilton, members will need 10+ qualifying nights, 4 stays or 25,000 base points earned in a calendar year.
10% more points on hotel purchases including room-rates and qualifying charges to your room, such as dining and spa purchases. 20% bonus points on qualifying stays.
Priority late check-out. Elite rollover nights
Ultimate Reservation Guarantee – see linked page for details.Earn a 5th free rewards night.
All inclusive spa discount
2 free bottled waters at check-in (select hotels)
Marriott Silver vs Hilton Silver

Gold Level

MarriottHilton
Gold Elite: To be eligible for the Gold Elite tier members will 25 nights per year. Additional benefits include: Gold: Members will need 40 qualifying nights, 20 stays or have earned 75,000 base points in a calendar year. Benefits include:
25% more points on every eligible hotel purchase. 80% bonus points
Enhanced (but somewhat rare) room upgrades. Daily food and beverage credit. (differs depending on location and brand).
2 PM late check out option. 10,000 Milestone bonus offer after staying 40 nights. Additionally, you will earn 10,000 bonus points every 10th qualifying nights.
Enhanced room upgrade.
Marriott Gold vs Hilton Gold

Third Level

MarriottHilton
Platinum Elite:In order to achieve this tier level, members will need to have banked 50 nights a calendar year.Diamond: You will need to have earned 60 qualifying nights, 30 stays or have banked 120,000 base points in a calendar year to be eligible for the Diamond tier. Benefits include:
50% more points on eligible purchases. 100% bonus points on qualifying stays.
Lounge access. Executive lounge access.
Enhanced room upgrade priority.Room upgrades if available.
Annual choice benefit: With this benefit, you can choose from five Suite Night Awards, 40% off a mattress and box spring from your favorite hotel brand, give the gift of Silver Elite status to a family member or friend, $100 charity donation, or five Elite Night Credits.Elite status gift: This perks allows you to ‘gift’ gold status level to any member. (If you hit 100 nights in a calendar year, you will be able to gift any member Diamond status level.)
4 PM late check out option. One-time, one year Diamond status extension if you fail to re-qualify. In order to be eligible for this perk, you will need to have been at the Diamond level for 3 consecutive years and have banked a minimum of 250 lifetime nights or earned 500,000 base points.
Welcome gift upon arrival — usually bonus points or a drink/dining credit.
Marriott Platinum Elite vs. Hilton Diamond

Additional Marriott Elite Tiers

Marriott Titanium EliteMarriott Ambassador Elite
In order to reach this tier, members need to have stayed 75 nights per calendar year. In order to qualify, members need to have achieved 100 nights per year plus have >$23,000 in qualifying spending.
75% more points on eligible hotel purchases. 75% more points on eligible purchases.
Access to 24/7 support service number.Personal Ambassadors will be available for all your travel needs.
48 hour room guarantee. Your24 benefit — an option that allows you to choose your check-in and check-out times.
Additional Annual Choice benefit with the added option to gift Gold Elite status to a friend or family member instead of Silver.No additional “Annual Choice” benefit at this level.
Complimentary United MileagePlus Premier Silver StatusComplimentary United MileagePlus Premier Silver Status
Marriott Titanium and Ambassador Elite Levels

Airline Partners

Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott has forged alliances with several major airlines, allowing members to redeem points for flights. With over 38 airline partners, Marriott has a large network. Average transfer ratio is 3 Bonvoy points per 1 airline mile. At times, Marriott will throw in bonus points to lure members into transfers, but they are generally terrible value. Currently, Marriott is offering 5,000 bonus points for every 60,000 points transferred with the exception of United Airlines which currently offers 10,000 bonus points per 60,000 transferred. Even with this in mind, it’s clear that redeeming points for free nights is usually a much better option when looking to maximize your rewards, but there are times a transfer could help with topping off your airline milage account when your short a few miles for a valuable reward. Major airline partners include American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Qantas, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Frontier and United.

Hilton Honors

Hilton Honors has 27 airline partners around the world, including major carriers such as American Airlines-10:1, Qantas-10:1.5, British Airways-10:1, Delta-10:1, United-10:1, Singapore Airlines-4:5 and Virgin Atlantic-10:1.5. The transfer rates here are also less than appealing and the best use of base points, once again, is for free nights. All transactions need to be completed through Hilton’s online portal and your preferred airlines reward program needs to be linked to your Hilton Honors account.

Car Rental Partners

Both Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors have partnerships with car rental companies, allowing members to earn points while on the road. Below is a list of the car rentals partners associated with each hotel reward program and transfer rates that apply.

Additionally, some Marriott Elite members will be eligible for elite status in the Hertz Gold Rewards program. Marriott Platinum members get a “Fast track to Five Star” offer, Titanium level members receive automatic Five Star status, and Ambassador members receive automatic President’s Circle level membership.

MarriottHilton
Hertz: Members will be eligible for a discount and earn 500 points per rental day. However if you book through Marriott Bonvoy, members can earn 2,000 points for 2 or more days. Alamo – 500 points per qualifying rental, plus 500 bonus points per additional day rental up to 4,500.
Dollar and Thrifty are partnered with Marriott Bonvoy, however you can only redeem base points for free rentals, not earn points. Transfer rate is 40,000 points per day rental. National — 500 points per qualifying rental, plus 500 bonus points per additional day rental up to 4,500.
Enterprise — 500 points per qualifying rental, plus 500 bonus points per additional day rental up to 4,500.
Car Rental Partners

Final Thoughts

After reviewing both Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors, it is clear that both programs have their own unique benefits. However, when it comes to choosing between the two, it ultimately depends on individual preferences and travel habits. However in my opinion, Marriott Bonvoy edges out Hilton as the better program. One major advantages that Marriott Bonvoy has over Hilton Honors is the value points hold. While this can be compensated for through higher bonus points at elite tier levels, it doesn’t address the disparity when considering the points earned by basic members. Additionally, Marriott Bonvoy offers more flexibility when it comes to earning and redeeming points. In terms of elite status tiers, both loyalty programs have multiple levels that offer enhanced benefits. However, Marriott Bonvoy offers several more tiers, each with escalating exclusive benefits, and when those tiers are compared to Hilton Honors’ Diamond status — they are far more attractive to the serious road warrior.

Editorial Note: Information and opinions articulated in this article are solely those of the author’s, not those of a credit card company, bank, airline or hotel chain. This article has not been reviewed or approved by or otherwise endorsed by any of these companies or organizations.

Tal-ee is a co-founder and Editor in Chief of Miles Junkie. A skier, backpacker and veteran marathoner, you'll usually find him on a trail, a mountain or cranking away at the keyboard. Tal-ee holds a degree from Colgate University in English, with emphasis in creative writing.

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