Hilton Honors (Gold) Review: A Perspective from Asia

Many have tried to quantify the perceived value of a Hilton Honors Point and discuss whether the Hilton Honors Reward Program is a worthwhile one to stay loyal to. However, most of these analysis were done from a standpoint of a traveller from US. This article will evaluate the popular hotel loyalty program from the standpoint of a traveller in the Asia-Pacific. 

The clear difference would be that travellers in this region do not have that many properties to choose. In Singapore, there's only the Hilton and Conrad brands which are a lot more expensive as compared to most Hilton Garden Inns or Hampton Inns. As such, it is much more difficult to obtain (and retain) statuses in this region. With that being said, I understand that there are various other methods in getting a Hilton Gold status without even staying a single night. The most straightforward one would be simply holding a Visa Infinite type credit card. However, such credit cards generally have a high minimum income requirement of S$120,000 and it's not an easy one to meet especially if you've only just started working. 

The usual way to earn the Hilton Honors Gold status is to complete one of the following:

  1. 20 stays in a calendar year, or
  2. 40 nights in a calendar year, or
  3. 75,000 HHonors Base Points in a calendar year.

With that, you will receive the following benefits (some I care about - the good benefits - and the rest I do not really care about): 

The Good Benefits

  • 25% Elite Status Bonus - this is particularly useful in Asia-Pacific where earning points is a lot harder than it is with a co-branded credit card. 
  • Room Upgrade (subjected to availability) - I have gotten many executive room upgrades with this benefit alone. 
  • Complimentary Internet (wireless and in-room) - some properties charge as much as S$29 per day of internet so having that for free definitely helps. 
  • Spouse stays free (pay only single occupancy rates) - booking a single occupancy room will save you a little money. 
  • Late Checkout (subjected to availability) - gotten up to 3pm usually. 
  • 5th Night Free (for standard room reward stays of five nights or more) - haven't actually utilised this yet but this may be useful in a Category 1 or 2 property. 

The Rest

  • Express Checkout - might be good if you're working but I've never spent more than 5 minutes at checkout before.
  • Complimentary Access to Fitness Centers and Health Clubs - all the hotels I have stayed in come with pool and gym access. 
  • Two Complimentary Bottles of Water - these can be easily refilled by asking housekeeping and is definitely not a Gold benefit.
  • eCheck-In - you're probably better off in scoring an upgrade at the actual check-in time but this may be great to see what is available or if you are simply having one of those days where you do not wish to speak to people. 

That being said, you can almost definitely expect more from participating properties in Asia for being a Hilton Gold member. Personally I've stayed in the Hilton Singapore multiple times (due to its proximity to Orchard Road) and I've (almost) always gotten an upgrade to an Executive Room (with lounge access). At the Conrad Centennial Singapore, I've gotten a one-tier upgrade into the Executive Room (with lounge access) for booking the Business Room. I will be staying at the Conrad Bangkok pretty soon and I've heard from seasoned travellers that they usually accord a two-tier upgrade to Gold members - much like the Hilton Singapore! Full breakfast has also been given to me at all the Hilton properties that I have stayed in in Asia. I have an upcoming stay in Melbourne (Australia) soon and we'll see how that goes. 

Credit Cards for HHonors Points in Singapore

Conversely, I have also heard that the Gold status does not work as well in many countries which include the United States of America. This can be possibly attributed to the ease in obtaining a Gold status through the application of a credit card. As mentioned in a much earlier post, earning Hilton Honors Points can be comparatively difficult in Singapore where we do not have a co-branded credit card. For earning 4 HH Points per S$1 at eligible departmental stores and merchants, we have the Citibank Rewards Card. There isn't really one card that we can utilise for all other purchases that earns HH Points at a decent rate. The Citibank Premiermiles Visa gives you 1.8 HH Points per S$1 (effectively) while the American Express version of this card gives you 2.1 HH Points per S$1 of local spend. If you spend a lot in foreign currency, the Citibank Premiermiles American Express gives you 3.75 HH Points per S$1 but you do have to put up with less than ideal currency conversion rates. Otherwise, the American Express Rewards Card gives you 1.875 HH Points per dollar if you hit the minimum S$5,000 annual spend. 

For those of us in Singapore who are keen on mattress runs can consider the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Johor Bahru next door which is scheduled to open in July 2014. Being a Category 1 property, room rates start at MYR 334 (incl. taxes) for an Advance Purchase. Free nights can be redeemed at 5,000 points per night. However, this option is currently not showing any availability - I have previously been able to access Points & Money Rewards rate but I am unable to find them as of this moment. 

On the other hand however, Hilton always offers a range of offers for properties in Asia-Pacific - you can even enjoy up to 40% off hotel stays by taking advantage of Hilton's current promotion.