Elite Status Hotels

My Favorite Hotel Award Program for “Average” Hotel Stays

mid-tier elite
Written by Charlie

Hotel award programs can give you a lot of options. This hotel award program is my favorite for the average/casual hotel stays.

Those of us who enjoy earning and redeeming points for hotel stays know we have a lot of choices before us! Sometimes, our choices can be so much more plentiful – and difficult – than airline redemptions. With hotels that have no blackout dates on awards and easy elite status, it often comes down to the value you want to get from your particular points.

My Favorite Hotel Award Program for Average Hotel Stays

For me, I have 3 hotel programs that I regularly acrrue points in and have elite status with. They are:

  • Hyatt | Currently Globalist member
  • SPG | Currently Gold member
  • Hilton | Currently Gold member

That little list is not in some random order – it is in my order of preference for chain and loyalty. But, that does not mean that Hyatt is the hotel chain that gets my business for what I call “average” stays.

“Average” Hotel Stay?

For me, an “average” stay is something that is not of some special significance (like an anniversary or vacation) but something more like an airport hotel for an overnight layover or just needing a hotel on some short trip.

Not Hyatt!

For my particular travel habits, that does not always mean I choose Hyatt. I value their points for stays with my family or some nice stay at a higher category property. Also, I normally transfer my Chase points to Hyatt which means I am not transferring them to United – and I value my United points quite highly as I do my Chase points for air travel so it makes the Hyatt points quite valuable to me.

Hilton Is My Favorite Hotel Award Program – for Average Stays

Yes, that’s right, my favorite hotel award program for those kinds of stays is Hilton. They have taken a hit in their value since they pretty much headed towards a revenue model this year but there are a few reasons they remain my favorite for those simple/casual/average stays.

Points Are Incredibly Easy to Get

Not only do their hotel cards have nice big sign-up bonuses, but you can also earn some nice bonuses from referrals! This past year, Amex was offering 25,000 points per successful Surpass referral (80,000 point cap)! That was huge and even the regular 20,000 point offer is not bad!

In addition to that, Hilton started point pooling that allows you to merge points from other people’s account into your own account. Another great way to rack up Hilton points in a hurry!

Finally, the bonus points on credit card spending is quite generous when compared to other hotel programs. To see more about this point of the post, check out this post here.

Point Values Can Still Be Had at Good Amounts

The average point redemption value is currently around .5 cents per point. But, since Hilton still has hotels on a category cap (except for rooms other than standard rooms), it is possible to get an even better deal than that!

One recent example was a NYC-area stay. The cost was about $260 for the night (which included quite a bit of taxes) or 30,000 points. I went with the points (of course!) and that gave me about a .89 cent per point value. Not bad at all for Hilton!

Another case was a booking I just made today for a potential race I may do next year (it is an awesome race – hope it works out!). The rates had already started climbing because of its location, time of year, and the race. That meant the cash rates were high. The cost for the room for the night I need it (pre-race) was $187. The point cost was only 20,000 points, giving me a point value of .93 cents per point! Another strong value!

These are just the two most recent examples but the values hold pretty close to that (or at least over .5 cents per point) on most of my similar stays.

This is because these are lower category hotels. They do not often have a lot of suites and the ratio of standard rooms to suites is pretty high. This means there is less of a chance for those standard rooms to sell out. The prices may go up but if it is a lower category room, the point cost will not go above that category cap.

Hilton Gold Status

Hilton Gold status is one of the easiest status levels to earn with hotels – with having any type of significance. Hilton Gold members get complimentary breakfast at many of the brands in the Hilton chain and that is huge!

For me, breakfast is not normally a big deal on a regular basis. But, when I am on one of my “average” stays, I am normally heading out earlier in the morning than I would when having a more relaxing stay. This means I can at least pop into the breakfast area and have a decent breakfast – for free – before checking out.

Yes, I get free breakfast with my Hyatt Globalist status, but that is top tier status. Hilton gives it to mid-tier Gold members so it is a nice extra perk – especially when you are not earning Hilton Gold status!

Hilton’s Global Footprint

Finally, Hilton has a massive global footprint. Not as big as Wyndham or Marriott/SPG but still really big. That means I have a good chance of finding at least one or two Hilton properties in every place I am visiting. That allows me to redeem for points and not have to pay for the hotel (unless it is a really good, cash value) and still stay somewhere convenient. Hilton has a lot of airport hotels which is awesome and I have taken advantage of them quite a few times!


Though Hilton is not my favorite award program for hotels overall, they do present enough value to be my go-to for those average hotel stays – which I seem to have pop up quite a bit! As long as Hilton points continue to be easy to earn, I will continue getting great value from them.

What is your favorite hotel award program for mid-range/average hotel stays?

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

1 Comment

  • I really appreciate this. I am going into my seventh year of Hilton Diamond, and I am almost exclusively loyal to Southwest.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think the travel blogger community in general does a good job considering my demographic:
    -I only have enough stays to be exclusively loyal to one hotel and (typically) one airline.
    -Given that we have one income, we essentially only travel on points for personal trips. My only spend on travel is for business travel.
    -Mattress and mileage runs are out of the question.
    -My business travels are frequently in more rural places.

    Basically, I’m an average guy who travels for work, and that allows me to travel a lot personally for free. I don’t have tons of credit card spend, and I don’t have the luxury of achieving status with multiple programs (outside of the occasional match).

    Hilton works for me. It may be recently devalued. They may not have the finest properties. There may be better options in the larger travel community, but for me, that is not the case. Hilton has taken such good care of me, and I can always depend on at least a Hampton anywhere I travel, and I can always depend on them to take outstanding care of me.

    Like you, I LOVE how quickly points accumulate, and I actually usually like the new redemption rates (that changed in the last year). When I book something, I keep an eye on it and frequently end up being able to rebook for cheaper. Or we get our favorite hotels for less points today than one year ago.

    AAAAAALLLLLL this to say….I get your post. Hilton is the chain for me for my “average” stays, so it is the chain for me for our outstanding stays – most recently the Trafalgar St. James London and Hilton Paris Opera. I know there is no way for travel bloggers to cater to every type of traveler all the time, but this post was the most relevant to me of anything I have recently read.