Hilton HHonors Updates Its Rules for Shutting Down Your Account

Hilton HHonors has has updated the section of the Hilton terms and conditions where they describe their right to shut down your account.

  • They can shut down your account for violating Hilton terms and conditions or the intent of the program which isn’t spelled out in the rules.
  • The standard of proof is very low, “if there are reasonable grounds for suspecting, in its sole discretion” — Hilton decides if their own actions are reasonable, and only their perspective matters.

While the changes mostly look like one lawyer not liking the way another lawyer wrote some clauses, the major change is to clarify that when Hilton decides to shut down your account that you don’t just lose your points, you lose your elite benefits as well.

Which strikes me as funny — someone thought it was necessary to make it super explicit that if you are no longer an HHonors member, you’re not going to get free breakfast and internet provided to elite HHonors members anymore.

Usually those sorts of things get added for a reason, like someone actually making that argument, that ‘sure I sold awards or otherwise broke the rules of hte program, you shut down my account, but by my read of the terms you only have the right to take my points and not my status so I still want my upgrades, which the program doesn’t guarantee anyway, darnit!

Here’s the relevant section of Hilton terms and conditions with changes tracked.

hilton terms and conditions changes
(Click to enlarge.)

And here’s how the Hilton terms and conditions section now reads:

Hilton HHonors Worldwide, L.L.C. reserves the right to suspend or discontinue HHonors membership, including any Elite Tier status (including Silver Elite Member, Gold Elite Member, and Diamond Elite Member status), for any Member who appears to be using the Program in a manner inconsistent with the Terms and Conditions or intent of the Program or any portion of the Program, including, but not limited to, Reward redemption or Certificate use. Hilton HHonors Worldwide, L.L.C. also reserves the right to discontinue membership for any Member who Hilton HHonors Worldwide, L.L.C. believes, or if there are reasonable grounds for suspecting, in its sole discretion, has:
a. acted in a manner inconsistent with applicable local or federal laws, regulations or ordinances,
b. breached or violated any of these Program Terms and Conditions,
c. engaged in any fraudulent or dishonest behavior, theft, misconduct or wrongdoing in connection with the account, including without limitation, involving Reward redemption or Certificate use, or other Member benefits,
d. engaged in any abusive, fraudulent, disruptive, inappropriate, offensive or hostile conduct, whether it be physical, verbal or written in nature, towards any hotel within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio or their guests or employees, or towards Hilton Worldwide or any of its employees or contractors, or
e. failed to pay any bills or accounts due to Hilton Worldwide or any hotel within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio.

Such discontinued membership may result in the loss of all accumulated points and the cancellation of HHonors Certificates, benefits and privileges, including the loss of any associated Elite Tier status. In addition to discontinuance of HHonors membership, Hilton HHonors Worldwide, L.L.C. shall have the right to take appropriate administrative and/or legal action, including, without limitation, criminal prosecution, as it deems necessary in its sole discretion.

Fortunately, the limitations on your ability to pursue a claim against an airline program do not apply to hotel programs.

It always strikes me as odd that a program

  • Changes its rules unilaterally, without any advance warning
  • Doesn’t even tell you about those changes
  • But expects you to conform to them.

These particular changes shouldn’t matter in practice. But the practice of making these sorts of changes and not telling members who are bound by them is inherently unreasonable.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. I guess that “disruptive conduct” could include writing a bad tripadvisor or Flyertalk review?

  2. And these rules will be implemented by the same idiots who staff Hilton’s ‘customer care’ & BRG department. Time to stay elsewhere.

  3. Well, I read the Hilton section that is listed above; however, these “changes” (if any) apply as an act against the Terms and Conditions, and not something taken away from anyone. Therefore, there doesn’t seem to be any real change except that which was required by the governance of law for Hilton’s place of operations (reason for the quick fix).

    Maybe the intent to abuse Certificates on eBay, bartered on a website, or given as a public display promotional gift without Hilton’s consent. Hilton should include an example, like Congress does with Legislative material when a new Law is signed.

    To give credit,
    The Priority Club section did have a problem with that “Trademark anywhere in the world” clause which was a good catch and not enforceable. In that instance, Intercontinental cannot stop anyone from owning a trademark of a name that can’t be overruled by the Landham Act (examples: Holiday Place (as a retail store), as opposed to Holiday Inn (as a place for lodging), or Holiday In The Mouth for chicken stew with bone canned food in China, as opposed to Holiday Inn hotels)).


  4. And things like this are why you shouldn’t be worried about “ethics” when you violate t&c’s…

  5. “And things like this are why you shouldn’t be worried about “ethics” when you violate t&c’s…”

    Hey, they’re evil, I should be evil too. Even though I am in no way compelled to be part of a loyalty program (airlines will sell you plane tickets and transport you happily without you participating in one, hotels will rent you rooms without being part of one, and so on), someone else’s bad behavior TOTALLY justifies mine!

    Eye for an eye, something something HEY I’M BLIND. EVERYONE IS BLIND.

  6. It is not uncommon for legal staff to revisit t&c’s and update them periodically. This is true for any company not just hotels.

  7. @Gary
    Hilton just advised me they are closing your account as per the new terms for not being positive on their last big devaluation and not making Diamond status this year.
    Hopefully that will teach ya 🙂

  8. @eponymous coward, that’s exactly right, you should deal with corporations in the same exact way they deal with you. It’s hilarious to me that people still feel the need to be “ethical” with corporations when they show no need to be ethical to you. Keep bowing down to them, it’ll really do great things for you…

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