For years, Hilton Gold status has been worth its weight in … well, you know how that goes … thanks largely to just one perk: Free breakfast for two at almost any Hilton property. Hilton Diamond members get that perk, too. And Hilton status is fairly easy to get, as you can automatically earn it from many Hilton credit cards and even the Platinum Card® from American Express.
But that benefit seems to be fading away. Earlier this year, Hilton cut free breakfast for elites at U.S. properties and replaced it with a broader food and beverage credit. While that was initially slated just through the end of 2021, that change has now been extended into 2022.
That means another year without guaranteed free breakfast for travelers with Hilton status. And while food and beverage credits for you (and a guest) may be more versatile, it's much less valuable.
Here's what's on tap at Hilton for 2022.
How the New Food & Beverage Credit Works
Hilton initially emailed its members earlier in 2021 recently to let them know about the brewing change. And of course, the hotel chain spun it as a plus.
“You asked for flexibility, and we’ve got it. Whether you look forward to breakfast or would rather skip it in favor of a refreshing beverage and afternoon snack, the choice is yours,” the email said.
As we head into 2022, Hilton is adjusting exactly how much you get in these daily food and beverage credits at U.S. properties. It depends on which hotel brand you're staying with – and which city you're staying in. Gold and Diamond status holders and up to one guest will each get:
- $10 per day at Hilton Garden Inns
- $15 per day at full-service Hiltons (and $18 per day in high-cost areas like San Francisco, New York City, and Washington, D.C.)
- $15 per day at lifestyle brand Hiltons like Curio Collection or Canopy (and $18 per day in high-cost areas)
- $25 per day at luxury brand Hiltons like Conrad and Waldorf Astoria
One catch: Until Feb. 1, 2022, the breakfast credits at full-service and lifestyle Hilton brands will still clock in at just $12 per guest per day – or $15 in high-cost areas. Hilton isn't bumping up that credit until February.
Here's how Hilton describes the change:
You can use the credit towards eligible food and beverage purchases that are charged to your room—any time of day—at designated outlets throughout the property. Refreshing beverages? Check. Appetizer or desert with dinner? Check, check. Breakfast at the restaurant? Sure. Breakfast to go? No problem.
Traveling abroad? Don't worry: This change only applies to U.S. properties. You'll still be able to get free breakfast when staying at Hiltons in Paris or Amsterdam – at least for now…
Even so, this stings. Aside from the $25 credit at top-of-the-line Hilton properties, it's hard to see these credits covering a full breakfast – and even then, it's a stretch. Of course, not all Hilton properties offer much more than pastries and coffee for breakfast. And if you're not one to eat breakfast at a hotel, this change is an easy win.
Hilton Gold members can choose between the food and beverage credits or free points, while Diamond members will get both. You can use these credits at almost any on-property outlet, from bars and restaurants to room service to even onsite marketplaces. Just charge it to your room and the credit will kick in. Unused daily credits will not rollover.
For now, this change only applies to U.S. properties through 2022. But it's not hard to see this eventually extended – and perhaps more troublingly, rolled out globally. It's one thing to get a free breakfast domestically. It's quite another to get free breakfast for two abroad, where the savings can be substantial.
What This Means
Anytime a hotel chain or airline tells you it's giving you more flexibility, it's generally a bad deal. This is cost-cutting spun as a perk, plain and simple.
Do the math, and it's not hard to see where Hilton's motivation is coming from. Free breakfast for two at some hotels can easily add up to $50, $60, or more. At most Hilton properties 2022, these “flexible” food and beverage credits will cover $36 at the absolute most. That's a slight improvement from 2021, but still not enough to make up for what's being cut.
As we predicted, Hilton's initial change for 2021 was merely a test run of a broader change for 2022 and beyond. While some travelers will no doubt come out ahead, it's hard not to see this as a negative.
Hilton is replacing its lucrative free breakfast-for-two status benefit with a broader food and beverage credit through 2022. Hilton will tell you it's giving you more options. If you ask us, it's a downgrade.