[Extended] Hilton replaces breakfast benefit for elite members in the United States

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Update 12/14/21: Ugh. Hilton has extended the moratorium on elite members getting free breakfast at their properties in the US and will continue to offer daily food & beverage credits (that will probably continue to not fully cover breakfast in many markets) “into 2022” (I assume this means through the end of 2022.

In positive(ish?) news, beginning on February 1, 2022 at “lifestyle and full-service brands” in select cities, the credit will increase from $12 per person to $15 per person per night (for up to two registered guests in the room), and from $15 to $18 per person per night depending on the market (destinations include properties in Boston, Chicago, District of Columbia, Key Largo, Key West, New York City and San Francisco, the County of Los Angeles and the state of Hawaii). That may get you half a buffet at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on The Big Island….if only they sold half-buffets.

Overall, this is bad news for members who used to value Hilton Gold status as the best mid-tier hotel status based on the free breakfast benefit, but on the other hand it is good news for those who would rather eat breakfast elsewhere and use the food & beverage credit toward other meals at the hotel. And in reality, some properties didn’t provide a proper breakfast before, so the credit at least gives members the ability to choose something better than what they would have otherwise been given. I’m still not a fan of what I assume will become a permanent change here. Original post follows.

Hilton has destroyed the value of elite status for me with yesterday’s announcement that they will no longer offer free breakfast to Gold and Diamond members but will rather offer a food and beverage credit starting in July and running through the end of 2021. While some people may prefer this, I think that overall this is a huge devaluation of the Hilton program and I can’t help but think that this will become a permanent change.

Don’t expect a breakfast that looks like this at a Hilton property with the new “food & beverage credits” in lieu of free breakfast.

Starting in July, Hilton properties in the US will no longer offer free breakfast to Hilton Gold and Diamond members but rather will offer a credit per person for up to two people per room. Hilton hasn’t officially said what the credits will be, but it has been widely reported that the credits will be as follows:

  • $25 for luxury brands, including Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, and LXR
  • $12 for full service brands ($15 for full service brands in high-cost markets)
  • $12 for lifestyle brands ($15 for lifestyle brands in high-cost markets)
  • $10 for Hilton Garden Inn properties
  • Gold members will be given an option for taking points or credits, Diamond members will get both points and credits.
  • Credits must be used daily (they can’t be saved / stacked) and apply to up to 2 registered guests per room. You’ll need to charge breakfast to your room and the credits will be applied manually at check-out.

That’s awful. While $10 might cover breakfast at the Hilton Garden Inn across the street from Buffalo airport, I have stayed at many Conrad and full service Hilton brands I don’t think these credits will cover both an entrée and a cup of coffee at any of them never mind the full breakfast buffets that I have enjoyed at many properties. Hilton bills these changes as adding flexibility:

Food & Beverage Credit for Gold & Diamond Members. 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. In early July, we’ll begin offering a daily Food & Beverage Credit that will continue through the end of 2021. You can use this credit at the hotel brands where you currently receive a complimentary continental breakfast as your elite benefit of your membership. You’ll now be able to dine when and how you want. We will share more details in the coming weeks.

If you aren’t a breakfast person or you like to go out to a local spot for breakfast / brunch and would enjoy a glass of wine at the bar or appetizer back at the hotel later in the evening, I am sure you’ll probably appreciate the flexibility as they suggest. If you’d rather have room service, I suppose these credits will work out to be a discount of sorts on getting breakfast-in-bed. In fairness, some hotels have long given credits in place of a full breakfast and the truth is that many hotels haven’t been offering full breakfast in light of the pandemic anyway and many club lounges have been closed, so the breakfast benefit as-is has been highly inconsistent for the past year.

On the other hand, pre-pandemic, I had come to really enjoy Hilton precisely for consistency of things like being able to expect free full hotel breakfast at almost every property I’ve visited (even though the benefit is technically “continental” breakfast, most hotels at which I’ve stayed provided an actual full breakfast pre-pandemic). It’s not that I don’t enjoy checking out local breakfast places, but I have even more so come to enjoy the convenience of not having to travel farther than a few floors on the elevator to get breakfast without having to gather everything I’m going to want to bring with me for the day out. That’s especially true now that I’m traveling with kids; I highly value being able to return to the room straight from breakfast to finish getting ready for the day. Getting what amounts to a discount on breakfast via these credits feels cheesy. I just wouldn’t consider a Hilton property that offers a breakfast credit over free breakfast these days, which will make it highly unlikely that I’ll stay at a Hilton property in the US for at least the rest of this year. Given that the CEO of Hilton has gone on the record recently saying that they expect hotels to become higher-margin now that they have essentially figured out how to cut costs during the pandemic, I just can’t help but think this will be a long-term change once they do some sort of survey to determine that members “appreciate the flexibility”.

These changes only affect US hotels at the moment and only from July to December 2021, but writing that sentence almost makes me feel like I’m telling Hilton’s tall tales for them. I hope that this only lasts from July to December 2021 and then hotels return to giving a full breakfast. However, given that many hotels have significantly trimmed back breakfast during the pandemic, I find it hard to imagine a return to a more-generous-than-necessary breakfast benefit any time soon. Again, this is probably a positive change for some members who will be happier with a drink and appetizer mid-day, but overall I take this as a major devaluation to the program and to the Hilton Surpass credit card . That card has long come with the best mid-tier hotel elite status in Hilton Gold and the key benefit of that status is now going to be highly inconsistent moving forward.

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ed k

As long as I can still get free breakfasts outside the U.S. it keeps me tempted to continue using their branded cards and staying at Hilton or Conrad properties outside of the U.S., but when that goes I won’t care about staying as Gold or Diamond. Although, right now it’s a pain to go through hoops to come back into the U.S. thanks to fed changes, so haven’t ventured out nor bothered with Hilton in the U.S. Hopefully, all these boosters will change minds or the U.S. fed will destroy what’s left of the travel industry. I’ll focus on home. I’ve got natural immunity, shots and so forth. And, I still wear masks and even gloves where needed. Poor airlines, hotels, agencies and anyone in that business. Things have got to get better; we all certainly have gotten better at disinfecting and I was already used to that due to family members with immunity issues, but they’re vaccinated beyond what normal people can get.

chris

Disappointing to say the least, my experiences with Hilton this past year really have my wondering why I am staying at this chain, devaluing of everything.

matthewsf

$3 increase yet Hilton Garden Inns still remain at $10 no matter the location. As a Diamond member that just achieved Globalist with Hyatt, I’ll take my business elsewhere….and reduce my Hilton and overall spend on my AMEX Aspire card. Maybe if enough Honors members complain with the voice AND wallets, Hilton will get the picture.

Grant

At the Conrad in NYC, there is a $10 room service fee + 17% tip, so that eats up a lot of the breakfast credit :/

Jerry

If the Hilton oligarchs are reading this, at least give your elites a choice of free breakfast, or FB credits. If a devaluation is the goal, then tell us, we’re intelligent enough to know true intent.

Last edited 6 months ago by Jerry
Kelly

Staying at Hilton Waikoloa Village right now. Diamond members are offered $20 per day ($10 per person) F&B credit rather that free breakfast. The cost of a breakfast omelet here is $27. As a comparison, the Mauna Kea Beach Autograph Collection 10 miles away offer Platinum members two buffet breakfast ($45 per person value). Will stay away Hilton hotels (at least in US) for the rest of this year.

Ryan del Mundo

Anyone have the thought that maybe this is Hilton’s way of twisting the arms of the hotels to provide breakfast? Breakfast is awfully cheap if you already have a buffet setup, and my guess is the dining credit might come right out of the pocket of the hotel rather than Hilton. Lets see how this plays out. Also I would expect the credit to be optional with breakfast still available if you want it.

[…] another story about hotel loyalty programs making changes that most of us weren’t asking for, Hilton Hotels have removed the free breakfast benefit for Gold members and above for the rest of 2021 and replaced it with a $10-$25 food/beverage credit […]

Bill

It’s a killer for parents that racked up points on business in order to take the family on vacations where the free breakfast was a huge benefit.

Agree – a MyWay option would be a great improvement—not a forced conversion.

FullMoonMadness

Frustrating and a Near Miss — I had finally settled on a strategy of Hilton for the family because 1) we value the free breakfast so highly, and 2) the simplicity of Gold = breakfast in most cases. Now it’s back to evaluating loyalty programs for the best fit.

The near miss is that we were both about to apply for the Surpass CC separately, and would have earlier this week if life didn’t get a little busy. Hilton and Amex just lost some money on us, and no doubt will lose money on others.

Who knows, maybe the monetary savings on breakfast will blow away the loss of revenue from the CC spend and loyalty stays for Hilton. Amex, on the other hand, appears to have gotten the shaft.

Ronnie

I am a person that travelled for many years and earned the points. Now being retired it is my wife that is hurt most by this. She is the one that stayed home with the kids while I travelled and she looked forward to using those points. She enjoys the breakfast. Often as a business person I would check in late in the evening, and check out the next morning after breakfast. A coupon to be used that day at that hotel would be no good to me. Amex needs to put the pressure on Hilton because many of us will just cancel those Hilton cards as worthless.

chris

I am planning on cancelling my wife’s card next month why have 2 gold status’s and well earn our points for something else now.

Frank

Breakfast buffet at the Waldorf = $35. For a family of four, that’s $140 – $50 credit = $90 per day on breakfast.

Louis

No question this devalues elite status. Hilton CEO has been proudly saying for months to expect service cuts so they can increase their bottom line. It’s the reason I have lost nearly all interest in continuing to stay at Hilton.

jeremy

I’m done with Hilton… I stay at Hiltons for work travel exclusively to keep diamond status for the free breakfast benefits. So I rack up points and then take my kids to stay at hiltons on vacations because the free breakfast with a family of 6 is a fantastic deal for me. This is a deal breaker. Dear Hilton, were are breaking up.. It is you, not me…

Chris

Horrible devaluation

Steve k

Meanwhile the ceo makes 60 million a year…

escot

Concur 100% with your take Nick. (and your “delicious” sardonic take at spots:  “almost makes me feel like I’m telling Hilton’s tall tales for them.” So glad you’re not!)

I do hope your FM Hilton/Amex contacts read this post carefully — and that it gets forwarded where it matters. Happens wife & I were seriously looking at getting the Surpass card, with the gee-whiz new offers…. SCRATCH that idea.

Broader point: I share your suspicion that Hilton is figuring that the brand as a whole will be cutting back seriously on food options post-pandemic, as wages elsewhere in the service sector are already surging. (and Hilton et. al. likely will be doing all they can to keep wages low or non-existent….. )

Have a similar beef with a LOT of Marriott properties we’ve been to lately….. Jeers to all those once super Spring Hill Suites & Towne Place locations here in Virginia that are still offering nothing but lazily dull, dry, high carb, no protein, no fruit “grab ‘n go” make-you-sick “breakfasts”…. so tired of those “chef pierre” muffins, made who knows where or when…. They keep hiding behind “covid” this or that b.s., when next door Holiday Inn expresses months ago figured out how to serve hot meals safely and efficiently (with a little creative furniture and temp. wall placements) Sure, they had to hire back some staff….. but wowed us all in the process.

Let’s have more and more bloggers getting off the “loyalty-to-management” schtick, and instead note just what chains are pulling what stunts (like Hilton here) to use covid to maximize profits while shafting the loyal stiffs in the lobby.

ssss

Free breakfast was a huge reason I stayed at Hilton and maintained Diamond status. I hope this is solely to address non-buffet pandemic issues.

Paul

I hope those credit guesses are wrong! $10 will NOT get you breakfast at a Garden Inn. Though $25 for Waldorf is better than Waldorf Chicago did pre pandemic (a measily $10)

If you’re going to call a benefit “free breakfast” it at least needs to reasonably cover an entree from your breakfast menu (and really ought also cover juice or coffee).

A B

More reason to only book Hilton point stays abroad. Domestic is trash.

Marc

But if you have access to the lounge (diamond), you will still have free breakfast + the food credit?

Tom

you are naive if you think the lounges will be coming back any time soon. Best case it will be 2022 before lounges reopen

Bob

Yeah but lounge is pretty much non existent now in the US and this change is only for the US.

Angela

Drink and appetizer? No way! I paid $15 for a glass of wine (that runs $11 a bottle) so forget drink and appetizers. So not even a free glass of wine at most Hilton’s. I enjoy the free breakfast. I don’t eat a large amount but I enjoy having a selection of food instead of a set menu and I like to eat at the hotel. I hope this is not permanent.

DaninMCI

First-world problems it seems but yet they want to be a first-world hotel chain. To me, it’s all silly. What they should do at Hilton Garden Inn is just treat it like Hampton Inn Buffett. It’s about the same type of hotel to me.

On the higher-end properties, they should just give elites access to the lounge, again with a Hampton inn level breakfast offering. It’s not that hard. Heck if you pay $89 at a Hampton and get free breakfast surely you could allow elites access to the special room with the identical Hampton foods in a $300 a night hotel.

Andy

Im a Lifetime Diamond and really am wishing that when I first pledged loyalty that I had gone Marriott. Rarely, if ever get upgrades, and the brand quality has gone down so much in a short period of time. Im a simple travel bear, clean rooms, hot water, breakfast. If my family joins me, breakfast vouchers for them. Lifetime is over 1000k nights. That is over 3 years on the road away from family. Don’t think it is too much that they throw in breakfast. That and the points get reward nights has gone through the roof. Used to be able to get Hamptons for 15k-20k night in average towns. Now 50k-60k per night.

Josh

No point keeping my gold status or a hilton credit card. I value the free breakfast very high. I always travel with people at least my girlfriend is always with me.

It makes participating in the hobby more accessible if that makes any sense.

Down to just Hyatt and Marriott now.

Corbett Kroehler

I’m with you. This is HORRIBLE. I’m not a big drinker and breakfast was very important to me. I prefer to grab dinner to go as I return to the hotel from client sites and eat in my room as I catch on sports headlines. My meal options on the street generally are cheaper and tastier than dinner in the hotel.

I am one year of Diamond status away from lifetime Diamond. Such timing! I’m furious!

Carl WV

I am not a big breakfast/morning person and can’t count the number of free breakfasts I’ve skipped for extra sleep. So for me this may have promise.

Why a credit per person rather than per room? Singles pays the same rate as doubles in almost all cases,

Mary

Yes, it seems as if this would be an incentive to claim you have two in the room even when traveling alone, to get the doubled credit.

Bob

That’s a shame for take-outs I assume? I have used credits for 2 many times since Covid, probably because take-out is the norm now even if the restaurant is open for dine-in? Before covid, I have experiences some restaurants not allowing free breakfast for take-outs.

Myles

Hilton gave away status to everyone and only now figured out the consequences of that decision. I certainly would not be pleased if I earned status via paid stays. Fortunately it’s easy enough for most of us to cancel our cards and just take our business elsewhere. We can burn our remaining points abroad. Wonder what Amex will think of this decision and the subsequent card cancellations.

Linda

I’m not happy about this either. Getting a free breakfast to start my day is a big thing for me and my family. We enjoy just going down to breakfast, then heading out for the day (or getting ready to check out). Knowing it’s just for 2 people when I often travel with 3 or 4 is not good either. It’s another way they are giving less for the money we spend and I don’t feel like my Surpass card is worth as much now. I think this is a big devaluation and I agree with another responder who said they are glad they are checking out Hyatt because I am, too this year. Not happy that they are treating this as a “Welcome Back”. It doesn’t make me want to come back!

Stvr

In my experience most Hiltons only gave continental before covid

LarryInNYC

You say “a drink and an appetizer” but those rates will only cover a drink (assuming you mean something alcoholic).

Kate

I’ve had mostly good-ish experiences with the full breakfasts at Hilton in the US, but some truly excellent ones abroad. In the US they have occasionally been really paltry, like at the Conrad in New York quite a few years ago. (They did take pity on me and bring me some toast to go with my small bowl of oatmeal.) I have the Aspire, and I like knowing I’m guaranteed full lounge access abroad. A few years ago, as a gold, I really had to talk my way into lounge access at the Conrad Tokyo and boy that was that a nice lounge. Not sure how this will affect keeping the Aspire card, but I do consider it a significant downgrade if full breakfast not included. Will definitely make me less likely to stay at a Hilton, unless there’s a lounge I think I’ll really like.

Elsabeth

I also see this as a huge devaluation. I have kids who still like to travel with us, and a free breakfast for all of us has been a critical part of our travel plans. C’mon, Hilton. Why not at least let Diamond get the free breakfast! My Aspire will probably get downgraded to the Surpass.

Lee

Have to agree here, The breakfast was key for family travel.

Rodney Harris

Hilton is now just an over rated Motel 6 my team has moved all our future reservations away from all Hilton brands

Ed C

No reason to keep my Surpass card now. Free breakfast was really the only “perk” I utilized.

Malik B

Is their any other reason to become an elite member with Hilton other than the free breakfast?

Aloha808

Room upgrades

Carl

horrible, why would I stay at a Hilton when I can stay at a Holiday Inn express and have free breakfast? We have made plans for the next 12 months with reservations planning on free breakfast. We have a stay booked at the Kauai Hilton garden inn because a free breakfast. Now where should I stay? We have driven or loyalty to Hilton because the free breakfast with diamond status and over 3 million points. Time to start moving our business elsewhere. We have stays at the Conrad Maldives. Are they going to roll this out to international locations and give us a credit that will cover coffee?

BML

This is awful!! I really value the reliable free breakfasts although I haven’t stayed at too many Hilton’s in US. Hilton gold status via Amex Platinum is a major reason for me to keep that card, now even that goes away!

MRL

Complete BS – how can they market this as an improvement? $25 for breakfast at the Waldorf…so they cover the tip for you? This is a big downgrade compared to Marriott and Hyatt. In fact, this is enough for me to put Hilton at the bottom of my list.

Drew

Tip is not included on the credit. Tip will come out of the cc you have on file, regardless if you hit your allowed amount or not.

DavidS

Horrible. Was a (mostly) Hilton first because of the reliable free breakfast. Now, I’ll have to pick and choose more. Kimpton/IC’s have this kind of spotty credit/food thing and it’s a nightmare to track. I can’t recall a stay where I didn’t need to check my bill & 75% of those have some kind of error. Glad I’m trying out Hyatt this year.

NK3

I am a little surprised you have had that much success with decent breakfasts at full service Hilton properties in the US. I have stayed at the Conrad Chicago multiple times in the past. Originally it was a $30 per person per day credit, but then it was cut back to $15. So this would be an improvement. The Hilton Hawaiian Village had a $10 per person credit, so again, if these numbers are true, its an improvement.

Even when there is a buffet, for US properties the “continental breakfast” section is a small portion of it, and they want to charge you more for the full buffet. Even when I have confined myself to the continental section, half the time they still try to upcharge me. In summary, in the US, I have not been impressed with the Hilton breakfast situation. Outside of the US, it is an entirely different story. I have had some awesome buffets at Hilton properties, so if that goes away….

Brutus

I love that this nugget is in an email titled “Welcoming you back to our Hotels.”

I’m on Team Free Breakfast. This is not good.

Ben

If they truly wanted to be flexible, they would add this credit as a MyWay choice for all members to select the breakfast benefit OR the credit.

It’s definitely a nice to have in some places when I could have a better breakfast elsewhere (and on business when a client’s travel policy refuses to allow any alcohol expensed, even a single beverage, but breakfast is reimbursed), but overall this is pretty bad.

The fact that Hilton is requiring it be used daily rather than stacking makes this even worse. The Hilton SF Financial District’s breakfast pricing will ensure that the $15 (can’t imagine they would be allowed $12) is a half-off coupon for breakfast now.

Bob

I have had excellent experience at the Hilton SF Financial District as diamond with full breakfast that has dim sums and decent hot lounge food (when lounge wasn’t open on weekeneds, was given vouchers for appeticers and drinks which are very substantial for a light meal. Has it gone down hill?

Last edited 1 year ago by Bob