Update: Super reader Dave made a map of the locations of the Category 9 and 10 properties for visual learners.
Super reader Jeremy has created the most valuable spreadsheet imaginable for the Hilton HHonors program that you can download for free here.
The spreadsheet lists:
- all 34 Category 1 hotels
- all 131 Category 2 hotels
- all 46 Category 9 hotels
- all 10 Category 10 hotels
For each hotel, the name, location, and a link to its Trip Advisor reviews are listed.
Jeremy took the information from Hilton’s PDF of all its hotels’ categories and made it much more useful and streamlined.
The three main improvements he made:
- His spreadsheet is sortable by city, state, country, or hotel name (which often starts with the hotel brand.) This can be very useful if you want to know if there is a Category 1, 2, 9, or 10 Hilton on the route of your next trip.
- He added links to the Trip Advisor page of each hotel for more information quickly.
- He cut out Categories 3-8.
- Why is cutting out Categories 3-8 an improvement?
- What are the only two viable Hilton redemption strategies?
- What card offers up to 10 free nights at Hilton properties after spending $1,000 in three months?
Last year Hilton gutted its award chart for its top tier properties by adding several Categories and moving the most expensive properties from 50,000 points per night to 95,000.
But the bottom tiers actually got less expensive! Categories 1 and 2 both got 2,500 points per night cheaper. Category 1 dropped to 5,000 points per night and Category 2 dropped to 10,000 points per night. For me, that has bifurcated the Hilton program and created two viable strategies to maximize the program.
Strategy 1: Top Tier
The first strategy is to get the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card with Two Free Weekend Nights worldwide at top tier Hiltons after spending $2,500 in four months. This card also comes with automatic Hilton Gold Status.
The free nights are good for Friday, Saturday, or Sunday nights, and the Gold status ensures free wifi and breakfast on your stays.
These free nights should be used at one of the 56 Category 9 and 10 properties on Jeremy’s spreadsheet. MileValue has already covered a few of these top properties before.
This is the strategy for folks who want to stay at $1,000 per night properties they couldn’t otherwise dream of.
Strategy 2: Most Free Nights
The second strategy is to get a card with a sign up bonus in Hilton points not free nights like the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card with 40,000 Hilton Points after spending $1k in the first three months and automatic Hilton Silver status.
The 40,000 bonus points are enough for up to 10 free nights at the 34 Category 1 properties or up to 5 free nights at 131 Category 2 properties after including the 5th-night-free bonus available to all Hilton elites on award bookings.
I’ve talked about my awesome stay at the Category 2 Hilton Doubletree in Kuala Lumpur. Some of these Category 1 and 2 properties are quite nice!
You Can Simultaneously Pursue Both Strategies
I think these are the only good Hilton strategies. We can throw out Categories 3-8 for redemptions because 20,000 to 70,000 points per night is too many points, and these properties aren’t nice enough to burn the free night certificates from the Hilton Reserve Card.
You can pursue either or both of the strategies outlined above simultaneously. Just make sure that if you get both the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card and the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card, at least 9 days pass between the applications.
Big mahalo to Jeremy for creating and sharing his spreadsheet with us. You can download it here and thank him in the comments.