Starting this month, the free breakfast benefit bestowed upon Hilton Honors members with Gold or Diamond elite status is going away (for now) at certain brands. But, depending on your travel style, the replacement benefit might actually be even better.

From July 2021 through the end of the year, Gold and Diamond members will receive a daily food and beverage credit in lieu of the usual, complimentary continental breakfast.

The credit can be used toward eligible food and beverage purchases charged to your room — at any time of day. You could use it toward the hotel breakfast buffet (if it’s still offered), or you might opt to put it toward dinner, a fancy coffee from the lobby cafe or snacks at the grab-and-go market.

How the Hilton Honors daily food and beverage credit works

If you’re a Hilton Honors member with Gold or Diamond elite status, you’ll automatically receive a credit for each night you stay at hotel brands in the U.S. where you previously would have received complimentary continental breakfast.

If you’re traveling with a buddy in the same room, you’ll get twice the credit. Up to one additional guest registered to the same room receives the credit. To use it, charge eligible food and beverage purchases to your room.

The amount of the credit varies by hotel brand. Generally speaking, more upscale hotel brands offer a higher credit. Here’s what you can expect, broken down by Hilton brand:

Daily credit for one guest

Maximum daily credit for two or more guests

Canopy by Hilton

$12 ($15 in select markets).

$24 ($30 in select markets).

Conrad Hotels & Resorts

Curio by Hilton

$12 ($15 in select markets).

$24 ($30 in select markets).

DoubleTree by Hilton

$12 ($15 in select markets).

$24 ($30 in select markets).

Embassy Suites

N/A (all guests still receive complimentary breakfast).

Hampton by Hilton

N/A (all guests still receive complimentary breakfast).

Hilton Garden Inn

Hilton Grand Vacations

N/A (free breakfast wasn’t previously an elite status benefit).

Hilton Hotels & Resorts

$12 ($15 in select markets).

$24 ($30 in select markets).

Home2 Suites by Hilton

N/A (all guests still receive complimentary breakfast).

Homewood Suites by Hilton

N/A (all guests still receive complimentary breakfast).

LXR Hotels & Resorts

Motto by Hilton

$12 ($15 in select markets).

$24 ($30 in select markets).

Signia by Hilton

$12 ($15 in select markets).

$24 ($30 in select markets).

Tapestry Collection by Hilton

$12 ($15 in select markets).

$24 ($30 in select markets).

Tru by Hilton

N/A (all guests still receive complimentary breakfast).

Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts

Each credit is “use it or lose it” per night. So, you can’t stack a week’s worth of credits to blow on one fancy dinner.

And since it’s a room charge, you’ll owe whatever you spend beyond the credit’s value. If you have a $25 credit and charge only $20, you won’t get $5 back. But if you spend $30, you’ll owe $5 upon checkout.

Hotel breakfasts continue to evolve, and this iteration is solid

Hotel breakfast offerings have significantly evolved since COVID-19 rocked the travel industry. Early in the pandemic, many hotels that offered breakfast buffets swapped them out for prepackaged, brown bag breakfasts. These days, some Hilton properties have reopened their buffets, but typically with modifications. For instance, sometimes an employee now scoops up food from behind a plastic barrier for you.

But here’s why this latest iteration might be the best:

  • There’s more timing flexibility: Not a morning person? Or at least, not a stuff-yourself-with-as-many-muffins-as-possible person? You don’t have to be. These credits can be used any time of day. If you skip breakfast (or just want a light granola bar packed from home), save your credit for a meal later on, or perhaps ice cream for the family from the pool bar.

  • You might actually get a hot breakfast: The Kelton Global 2019 State of Breakfast Survey found that 85% of Americans prefer a “hot and savory breakfast.” Unfortunately, the complimentary breakfast previously offered at Hilton properties was a continental breakfast. Offerings vary by hotel, but that typically meant a bread-heavy meal of pastries, fruit, cereal and toast. That’s great if you’re carb-loading for a marathon, but not as great if you don’t eat gluten or just want some bacon with that bread. With the credit, you might be able to order a fresh omelet instead of the continental breakfast.

  • You have more options: You can even use the credit to purchase alcohol, subject to state and local laws. Or you might use it to load up on snacks for the flight home.

Problems with the food and beverage credit

While the new Hilton food and beverage credit is generally better than the former continental breakfast option, it still has issues.

  • You might owe more money: If you use your credit to pay for the continental breakfast buffet, you might owe extra money. For example, after tax and a 20% tip, the cost for a continental breakfast for two at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista in Florida comes out to $34.86. While a two-person stay covers $30, you’ll still owe $4.86.

  • Billing could be awkward: Speaking of owing more, you’re still on the hook for tax and tip. While the credit can be applied to taxes and gratuity, you might previously never have had to pay them in the first place. In the past, you might have gotten a breakfast coupon that you passed off to your server, never seeing a bill. Now you get a bill — so you’re also confronted with additional costs.

  • Not all hotel establishments accept it: Some third-party restaurants operating within the hotel may not accept the credit. At the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista, you might be tempted by the smell of hibachi steak wafting into the lobby from the on-site Benihana. But your flaming onion volcano isn’t free. This is just one example of a third-party restaurant that’s not covered.

Hilton’s new food and beverage credit prioritizes flexibility

Hilton’s new daily food and beverage credit for Gold and Diamond members is significantly more flexible than the complimentary continental breakfast benefit. But it might end up costing more than you intended if you don’t pay attention to what you’re ordering.

How to Maximize Your Rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:

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