Here’s How Hilton Should Fix Their Elite Breakfast Benefit

Hilton has replaced breakfast as an elite benefit at U.S. hotels with a daily food and beverage credit. I love the idea of using the credit for a meal other than breakfast – room service even! – but the amount Hilton offers is too low. In many cases it doesn’t cover the least expensive breakfast options if that’s still how you want to use it. In fact, at some hotels it won’t even cover a cup of coffee with tax and the expected tip.

They’re nudging the credit up slightly from $12 to $15 at full service brands starting February 1, 2022, so credit amounts are going to be:

  • Waldorf, Conrad, LXR: $25/day ($50 for 2 guests)
  • Hilton, Signia,,DoubleTree, Curio, Tapestry, Canopy, Motto: $15/day ($30 for 2 guests) but $18 / $36 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
  • Hilton Garden Inn: $10/day ($20 for 2 guests)

Some people like this because (1) they aren’t big on hotel breakfast, or (2) they travel for work and can bill breakfast to their employer anyway. But those who valued the breakfast benefit come out behind and are vocal. It’s hard because it’s not like Hilton was reimbursing hotels the full breakfast cost to begin with. How do they provide greater guest flexibility without breaking the bank?

There has to be a way to solve this. After all, my freshman year dorm at UCLA managed to figure this out.

When I was on a meal plan in college I didn’t always want breakfast. I worked my schedule to avoid Monday and Friday classes, and I might not be awake for breakfast. Fortunately you could exchange a meal (like breakfast) for a small dollar credit to use at other food outlets on campus – as long as you made the request the day of the meal, before the hours for that meal were over.

I’d run downstairs to the front desk of my building a couple of minutes before the end of breakfast, wearing the previous day’s clothes and not yet having showered. But I scored that $4 credit (or so, my memory is fuzzy)!

Hilton Honors should treat elites as well as my college dorm! They should provide a choice between free breakfast or the smaller dollar credit. Hilton would still manage their costs while providing guest flexibility. That would turn a controversial move into a win that customers would love instead of complaining about.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Well yeah. The could have you choose at check-in or get it automatically if you don’t have breakfast. That would make sense if this change was about enhancing the benefit and adding flexibility but it’s not. It’s about cost savings. I’m sure someone ran the numbers and decided that they could save more by cutting breakfast, even if they lost some customers. This is also going to be permanent unless there is strong competition in the future. Once (sometimes if feels like “if”) this pandemic is past us and hotels have to compete for people they’ll bring back breakfast. Unless there is a strong demand for hotels they’ll announce how much a success this was and how much everyone loved it and make it a permanent benefit/improvement/enhancement. Eventually they’ll say they’re improving their Diamond level by adding breakfast.

    Also I’m sure that because we’ve normalized reduction in service that gave them the opportunity to do something they’ve probably wanted to do for a while.

  2. The goal of hilton is to cut costs, not to provide flexibility. Given a choice people will overwhelmingly choose breakfast.

  3. Gary, Covid has brought about many changes in travel and this is one glaring response, who benefits, the hotel operators of course. Its cheaper to give a credit rather than the cost of preparing buffets etc. Operators have used the Covid to reduce/delete or charge for items that were “free” in the past. Housekeeping is another service that has changed, we have gone from daily, “tip” envelopes for the housekeeping crew, back story the operators use this to augment the poor pay I have made a point even before these envelopes showed up to leave a tip.

    Then there is the “CEO” of Marriott telling us we should have pity on the hotel operators really? Someone should tell Mr. Capuano who really pays his check us the customers, Willard and Bill knew that what happened Mr. Capuano. What a schmuck.

    Our travel has forever been altered how much is left to be seen. I submit that loyalty as we once knew is has also changed, after I burn through my miles/hotel points I too will look to my value first.

    Happy Holidays to ALL and travel safe

  4. At the hotel I’m staying at. The continental got me a coffee, orange juice, fruit cup, muffin, Danish, one slice of toast…. Yay? Only used it just to use it and didn’t want anything from the sundries

  5. Austin must be writing from Gary’s old college dorm. But even for a frat boy that’s a pretty sorry attempt at humor. Grow up.

  6. 100% agree! When I’m on business and staying at a Hampton Inn I’d prefer to go to a Starbucks over the “free breakfast.” When I’m on vacation using up my hard earned points and staying some place aspirational (Conrad etc) the free breakfast is real benefit and worth it and not covered by $15 or even $25.

  7. This stupid change isn’t about cutting costs; or about flexibility. It’s about getting guests to spend more money on on-site Food and Beverage.

    That’s it. And that’s why it’s not changing back or to something more logical.

  8. I’m going to assume that “LA County” implies the Universal Hilton in Universal City which is located within unincorporated Los Angeles County. The other brands are either not represented and/or do not have any locations within unincorporated Los Angeles County. Los Angeles city – yes.


  9. Going to burn all my Hilton points in Hawaii and dump it. I’m sorry but cost cutting has to have a limit.

  10. Obviously, offering a free breakfast or a smaller dollar credit for another meal/drink makes the benefit more expensive, not less expensive, which defeats the entire point of the change (which is cost savings to the owner’s P&L, not flexibility). The question is – how can you change the benefit in a way that saves hotel owners money and is also “fair” to the guest.

  11. My last post was incomplete – the best way to solve for the issue is to reduce how many people are eligible for the benefit, which means getting rid of it for Golds IMO (I am a Gold, so this would impact me the most). If Hilton is unwilling to do that, then this is the next best way.

  12. I have not stayed at a Hilton hotel since they cut the elite benefit for breakfast. As a Hyatt globalist I stay at Hyatt whenever possible and I enjoy my complimentary breakfast!

  13. If Hilton need to cut costs give Gold the credit but it’s a disgrace to treat Diamond members this way especially those of us who earn it the hard way. Hilton have brought a lot of these problems buy devaluing Diamond buy selling it in the American market through credit cards for $4-500.
    Taking perks away from Lifetime Diamonds is shameful.

  14. Yes they could have offered a choice but I think Hilton made the change to save money. The last couple Hilton status I had the credit barely covered a coffee and bagel. My impression of Hilton is less with the changes they have made.

  15. Ed says. Good idea but Hyatt will probably be next in line to make cuts. It seems to be an industry trend among the major players.

    Austin this is a travel blog not Porn hub. Grow up.

  16. Are all of you such glutens you live and die over a “free” breakfast? How about pushing back and just having a cup of coffee w maybe a piece of fruit. Willing to bet the majority of you are obese and could skip a few meals. Also the old line “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” is all marketing and not supported by nutritionists.

    I’m Diamond Hilton and Titanium Marriott. Having or not having breakfast doesn’t matter to me and I’m shocked so many of your lives revolve around it! SMH

  17. @ Gary — Yeah, but the person working at your dorm was more likely to actually keep track of your credit than a hotel. Don’t worry, the hotel will bill you for your missing credit after checkout and make you have to email them three times to get your credit back. Not worth the trouble.

  18. I stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Little Rock North, and they gave me two cards which could be traded in for either a freshly cooked breakfast, or $10 in the market and I just surrendered the card at point of use. And this was back in March, so there are properties that are doing it right in philosophy even before this program. Over the pandemic we’ve been given the opportunity to learn which hotels care about guests, and which are trying to cut corners. And we have to remember that Hilton hears from owners about how much better (for the hotels) the Marriott program is for not being generous.

  19. Could lower the room cost. I’m a Hilton and Marriott member but as I travel around Europe, I can find just as nice or better hotels for half the cost.

    They can keep their breakfast credits and stay points.

  20. Sadly, not going to happen. I am nearing lifetime diamond and make this suggestion to Hilton everytime I’m asked. They tell me it’s not a devaluation but how is it not? I used to get breakfast and u no longer can with out coming out of pocket.

  21. The “benefit” change — for those who book Hilton hotels more directly than with the online travel agencies — was done to cut the hotels’ costs for providing the “benefit”. It was not done to enhance the overall value that Hilton Golds and Diamonds get out of Hilton Honors participation for booking Hilton hotels via Hilton’s most profitable distribution channels.

  22. We have been staying at Hiltons overseas and in the US since this change. How is it that the Hiltons overseas can still offer a wonderful breakfast buffet to elites, but the US Hiltons can’t? We’ve had fantastic breakfasts at Hiltons in Cologne, Dusseldorf, Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt, and now in Bangkok. Our $10 coupon at the Boston Faneuil Hall Hilton only covered 1/3 of our breakfast, and we will never stay there again. How is it that the Hiltons overseas can continue to offer this benefit, but Hiltons in the US can’t do it? Greed? Incompetence? If the reason Hilton made this change stateside is because customers wanted it, then let Hilton adopt Gary’s suggestion for each customer to choose what they want. Otherwise they were lying when they made the change.

  23. What I’d really like to know is why this is only for US-based Hilton hotels. I’ve stated in several European Hilton hotels the past few months, from Hampton to Curio, and every single one of them offered a hot breakfast. How is it they’re still able to do this but US properties can’t/won’t?

  24. “Don in ATL” the ownership groups international are totally different than here in the US, the US has a lot of “equity capital” groups that their main form of hospitality is the race to the bottom line in many cases in years gone by they paid way too much for their properties without regard to traditional acquisition guidelines now with Covid and it’s horrible affects on income it’s hiring home hard. Some one commented that they wanted people to spend more money “in house” for F&B I disagree for most of us that travel extensively we always have a “go to” place.

    Back to overseas they take owning and managing a hotel seriously Hyatt in Dubai has a top floor extensively for their FT’ers Once when I checked in after a long flight an assistant manager came over to assure me they had all my likes loaded in the WSJ and NYT would be delivered to my room etc. Same goes for Asia, try the Pale Hyatt Tokyo.

  25. Hilton has made a couple stupid decisions this year. This being one of them.

    I’m a business traveler and now at the end of every day at a garden inn I need to go up to the desk and separate out my personal (food) and room costs. Not to mention the complimentary breakfast that sold me on becoming a Hilton honors member is no longer that. $16 for an omelet.

    As a business traveler I would much rather have the room rate increased And receive the full complimentary breakfast.

    I’m not sure where my limit is but if this is the new standard Marriott might be my new standard.

  26. @ AC well I’m thin and fading away
    Getting breakfast is make or break
    How dare you assume I’m obese?!
    After paying for 60 nights I can no longer afford breakfast 🙁
    Its a must that I have flapjacks and omelettes sausage,bacon etc
    Hilton is starving me atm!

  27. I will be dumping my Hilton Amex upon renewal, the free breakfast was a perk I enjoyed when on vacation. No need for status when staying at Hampton Inn.

  28. That isn’t “fixing it” at all. They should fix it by giving you the damn breakfast for free.

  29. I’m no longer loyal to Hilton. If I’m not getting my room cleaned or breakfast then why should I stay there? Every other hotel has a bed…. I enjoyed my status but it no longer has value. Bye!

  30. I usually travel alone. When I book I book for two, just in case someone does end up going with me. So far I’ve been getting double credits for my meals. It was nice on my last stay to go to dinner after a long drive and have the majority of it paid for. Since I was upgraded to a suite I truly enjoyed ordering breakfast via room service. Even with double credits I still paid a portion, but I chose higher priced options than I normally would. I was on vacation and actually preferred this benefit. Most of the times my rooms are free or I’ve paid very little with a major upgrade and late checkout.. I’m nowhere near rich, but definetely not cheap either. We can’t expect to get everything free right now. Yes, it would be nice to have a choice but at least they’re giving us a credit as opposed to not offering us anything at all.
    Also, rooms are cleaned and tidied up if you ask. At my stays I’ve had knocks on my door by the staff asking if I wanted my room cleaned or needed anything.
    Regardless of this change I’m so happy with Hilton Honors benefits and look forward to my free Waldorf Astoria stay in Amsterdam, with or without breakfast. I think I can afford that on my own by all the money I’ll save by not paying for a room!

  31. It would also help if they would apply the credit ( if you coose it) at the time it’s used, not at check out. Everytime I’ve used the credit, it wasn’t on my bill at check out and had to ask AND WAIT to get the bill corrected. I’ve had friends that the bill was never corrected even after calling the hotel several times.

  32. Business travel is gone, by a wide margin. You whiners are in the minority these days, the hotels felt with your petulant crying over absurdities for years and that’s over now. Get in line or go to Marriott, where they also don’t clean your room. And you, article writer guy…this is journalism now? “Here’s how we did it back in the ol’ dorm” is the best you’ve got? Geez get off your lazy bum and go find a source with facts and data to support something.

  33. I do not want to sound over-entitled but as a Hilton Diamond member, it pisses me off that there is no differential between Diamond and Gold for the credit. And I would prefer complmentary breakfast.

  34. This suggestion completey ignores WHY Hilton did it. Silly article. They did it to save money. By offering a flat credit which ends up being no credit if not used daily they save a LOT of money. Think how many people who were getting a breakfast in a large city that now costs 35 to 45 usd plus various taxes will now either pay the difference to have that breakfast or perhaps not use the credit at all (since the options for the credit amount are basically coffee or junk food).

  35. Eliminating breakfast is a poor move by Hilton. I thought the hospitality industry was about the guests experience.
    Stop turning into a cheap quality chain.
    Pathetic policy

  36. I said this before and will say it again. The acceptance of low levels of service and lower expectations will ensure things will never improve. I was at conrad bangkok recently and though thier service levels have definetly regressed recently they do a great bfast. Why cant hotels in us do so? Chespness, incompetence or worse

  37. After years of being strictly Silver (which basically means two bottles of water) I’ve finally hit Diamond status for the first time as of today. This new formula is nothing but a cost cutting measure, hidden in the disguise of it being “Covid related” Nothing costs less than $15, which forces you to pay the balance out of pocket. Another person made the suggestion to always book your room with two people in the reservation no matter what, that way you get $30.
    I’ve also discovered there is no difference between Gold and Diamond. Only a handful of Hilton’s have Executive Floors and if I want a one bedroom suite, I can book at Embassy Suites.
    Outside the Hilton or Double Tree name, status means nothing with Hampton, Embassy, HGI or Homewood.
    Homewood is a waste to book because they got rid of the weekday light dinners because of Covid, but yet still serve breakfast.
    Most Embassy Suites won’t hand out the small bag of elite goodies because of Covid, but yet, if I walk 10 feet over to the gift shop and buy the exact same items that I should get as a Gold/Diamond, Covid doesn’t exist and they’ll be glad to take my money

  38. This article needs some updates as this issue is still ongoing

    Comparing to similar properties on Europe which have great complimentary breakfast this should really be an issue to make more noise about…

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