Bits: 100% bonus buying Hilton points, no more free Heathrow Express First upgrades for Star Gold

News in brief:

100% bonus when you buy Hilton HHonors points

Until 21st October, Hilton HHonors (the new Hilton Tallinn Park, recently reviewed here, is pictured below) is offering a 100% bonus when you purchase 20,000+ points.

The Hilton ‘buy points’ page is here.

Regular readers of Head for Points will know that I tend to value Hilton points at 0.3p each.  You are paying 0.40p ($800 / £643 for 160,000) here so the maths does not look good, especially given the current state of the £.

(Of course, the cost of booking hotels priced in $ or € for cash has also gone up due to the weakness of Sterling.  It may be time to start giving points a higher value if you plan to spend them outside the UK.)

Five star Hilton, Conrad and Waldorf-Astoria hotels typically run to 80,000 points per night.  In this sale you would be paying $400 for 80,000 points which is often more than you would be paying for a five star in a major city.  This is not a bargain.

However, Hilton HHonors IS a decent deal at cheaper point levels.   The Hampton by Hilton in Sheffield, for example, is 10,000 points per night.  At 0.40p per point you would be paying roughly £40 per night if you bought the points.  That is a 60% discount on the typical nightly rate of £100.  Hampton properties include free breakfast as well.

If you just buying a handful of points to top off your account, the price per point doesn’t matter anyway.  If you a few thousand short of a redemption then this is a decent opportunity to buy them.

hilton hotel tallinn park exterior press picture

No more free First Class upgrades on the Heathrow Express

Without telling anyone, Star Alliance has removed its perk of free First Class upgrades on Heathrow Express.

I have had a couple of emails this week from HFP readers who were unceremoniously booted out of First Class when they flashed their Star Gold card and a Standard Class ticket at the train guard!

The offer is still showing as available on the Star Alliance website here.  Trust me, it is dead.

There are still some codes for free First Class HEx upgrades, shared by fellow HFP readers after Heathrow Express emailed a lot out two weeks ago, in the comments section to this HFP article.

Bits: 1p per Nectar point with Virgin East Coast, tour the McLaren factory with Hilton
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  1. I was told by a guard on the HEX back in July that this would end in September.

  2. “If you [sic] just buying a handful of points to top off your account, the price per point doesn’t matter anyway.”

    So a minimum of 40k points is a handful? It’s all relative I guess

  3. The 20k and exchange rate makes the hilton deal very poor. For those with the amex £50 offer and diamond status (probably many HFP readers) it would be much better value to take a £200 stay at triple points via the app or double points plus avios via e-store. Points or miles earned from hhonors or other credit card could also be used as an alternative for those without amex offer or with different earning priorities.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      £250 stay at double points wouldn’t net you anywhere near 40k points my last stay of about that much was c9k and I’m Diamond triple would be c12k.

      MR to Hilton is 0.5p if you value an Avios or Flying Club mile at 1p

      So it’s not that poor even with the shocking FX rates at the moment

      • Yes, I know, I just figured somrplace between 12 and 15k with the various bonuses. However, what is best? 40k points for about £160 to redeem on a single 40k/night stay or a £200 stay for £150 that yields around 12k points that can be put towards a 16,k points plus money at the same 40k hotel? I think my point is that the buy points decision this time is more complicated than usual due to the minimum 20k purchase, the poor exchange rate and the availability of various ongoing hilton, cc and e-store offers. On top of all that there are individual otiorities ad goals to factor in too.

        • Sheffield doubletree 3 nights @ £90 = £270 – £50 Amex Discount = £220
          Return on points estimate: 15k @ 0.003p valuation each = £45

          Sheffield doubletree 5 nights @ £90 = £450 – £50 Amex Discount = £400
          Return on points estimate: 25k @ 0.003p valuation each = £75
          Effective Cost

          Same redemption by purchasing points:
          3 nights 30k @ 0.004p = £120
          5 nights (5 for 4) 40k @ 0.004p = £160

          This obviously will change based on the hotel your staying and the value that you will get.

          • Choosing one of the best value redemptions is not exactly a representative example.

            • Raffles likes Sheffield 😮

            • TGLoyalty says:

              Illustrates just exactly when you use points and not cash though

              Also Don’t forget 5 nights for the price of 4 on points

            • Agree, you sometimes need to be selective on your points use and at the moment in the sale (Until tomorrow) there are some good deals to use the £50 off Amex deal especially as I believe its charged straight away

            • Manchester Deansgate 1 night@ £260 – £50 Amex Discount = £210
              Return on points estimate: 10k @ 0.003p valuation each = £30

              Manchester Deansgate 5 nights @ £260 = £1300 – £50 Amex Discount = £1250
              Return on points estimate: 50k @ 0.003p valuation each = £150
              Effective Cost

              Same redemption by purchasing points:
              1 nights 50k @ 0.004p = £200
              5 nights (5 for 4) 200k @ 0.004p = £800

              Granted that there is a limit on the amount of points you can buy and prices do change but this was based on a random midweek night.

            • Since when does Joe Bloggs stay in Sheffield or Manchester for 5 nights?

          • No idea why he would!

            • One thing that has always puzzled me about the value of points is VAT. As VAT doesn’t seem to be charged on points purchases, presumably as the transaction is typically outside the EU, how do you value the redemption where, on business, you can reclaim the tax but for leisure you can’t.

  4. Lady London says:

    At least the Star Alliance hasn’t tried to say taking away the free First Class benefit is “due to customer feedback” or “an enhancement”. Unlike some wellknown British Airlines….

  5. I cannot speak for Sheffield, but the Hampton in Newcastle / Tyne is very good value for the points.

    It too is only 10 000 points a night and we had a very pleasant two nights there earlier this year.

    We needed to book a further two nights over Christmas this year – 8 000 points an £38.60 – and the breakfast is MUCH better than the Holiday Inn Express up the road, which had no points availability at all on 24 Dec. The location of the Hampton is MUCH better too

  6. Slightly OT but following an article earlier this week I thought I’d try the Hilton HHonors Visa. Before applying I tried the eligibility checker on the website – and was rejected. I tried both under my own and my husband’s name, neither of us usually has any problems when applying for credit cards, and we’ve never held a card with Barclays, so I’m wondering, is there anything else about this particular card that I should be aware of? Or is Barclays stricter than other providers? Eligibility on others still showing over 90%. Any thoughts much appreciated.

  7. A quick question; if I used my diamond membership with hhonors to book a room for my friend to use. Will they benefit from my diamond status despite me not being there?

    • They will if the booking is in your name and your friend impersonates you or you book for 2 adults and name them as the 2nd guest.

      • OK. So if I were to book 4 rooms for 8 people and 4 of the 8 were additional guests, this shouldn’t be an issue? All would benefit from diamond status?

        • No. Status benefits are usually restricted to 1 room per booking (check the Hilton rules for the exact position Hilton takes). This would apply to cash or reward nights.

          • What's the Point says:

            Correct, I booked 5 rooms for a family do this year and only myself and the Mrs got the Diamond benefits…although I may have sneaked one of two other family members into the lounge at different times…

        • TGLoyalty says:

          You sometimes get them for up to 2 rooms, depends on property.

          You will only earn points for a maximum of two rooms per stay, and Night/Stay for just 1 of them.

          SPG lets you have up to 3 rooms for points not sure about status recognition or nights/stay accumulation

    • Yes unless it’s in a country where passport is required to check-in (e.g Spain)

  8. Do day rates count toward requalification?

  9. OT Hertz points transferred to IHG points count towards elite qualifying points

    • Have you managed to transfer hertz gold points to ihg successfully? I keep trying but they never transfer, asked Hertz CS to assist but they take forever to reply.

      • Yep. Took ages for the points to leave Hertz acct tho but they left last week and posted yesterday evening

        • When you say ages, how long roughly as my first attempt at redeeming was probably 2 months ago?
          Also, did you accounts points go down when you redeemed as mine always stays the same amount when i check back.
          The clueless CS even told me on the phone you couldnt transfer points and only use against a hire car redemption.

  10. For some reason the Hilton computer has informed me I have just been upgraded to the Diamond I have now held for 5 months.

    This bit of wording was of interest though. Had not noticed the 10% off BAR for booking 15 days in advance on w/e stays.

    “Members booking 15 days or more prior to their stay will receive 3% off BAR for stays Sunday – Thursday and 10% off BAR for stays Friday – Saturday. “

  11. OT_ on my BAEC account under special offer.

    Collect at least 6,000 Avios when you book and stay with IHG® before 15 December 2016.

    • To be eligible for this promotion, members must enrol with IHG® Rewards Club and select British Airways Executive Club Avios as their earning preference.

      • Thanks Roger. It’s on my acct. Shame I hadn’t seen it earlier as would have used tonight in Paris.

        If I change earning preference to BAEC, are existing IHG points safe (i.e. They won’t be transferred)?

        • Hmmm… I am wondering that too.
          I am expecting a big pile landing to my IHG account anytime now due to creation premium card.

          • Ignore this. Doe not sound as generous as I first thought.
            I think the offer is to complete IHG accelerate challenge of 30000 IHG points which will then convert to 6000 Avios.

            DO NOT USE.

          • Should be safe as you need to phone up by the looks of it:
            Members will earn IHG Rewards Club with Accelerate promotion, which they will be able to convert into Avios by calling the IHG Rewards Club Service Centre at 020 33 49 90 33.

            • This is the ‘new member’ version of Accelerate which gives you a 30,000 points challenge, which converts to 6,000 Avios.

          • What's the Point says:

            Don’t hold your breath Roger, I am still waiting for 2 statements worth of IHG points to appear in my IHG account from Creation.
            Suffice to say that they must have one of the worst CS team going, and after 2 months still can’t give me a definitive date when I will see them…….

            • When I spoke to a far east based IHG Rewards Club helpline I was told it might take 6 to 8 weeks for the points to be posted to my IHG account.
              As far as Creation is concerned they seem to think they have done their due and points should appear. Every time you end up wasting 15 minutes or so on the phone only to be told that points are definitely transferred.

              Utterly shambolic….both IHG and Creation.
              They must get their act together.
              Was considering getting one for the Mrs, but not unless they improve.

            • Also after verifying my number twice (as is the case with Creation) I was told the other day that the “girl who posts the point is on holiday and will chase up and will get back to me” Needless to say nothing has happened.

              On the other hand equally poor IHG customer services told me that “Chase (JPM) are slow to post points” in spite of me just telling her that this is UK based IHG Rewards Premium CC.

              I fail to understand how can some companies do the business and exist with such poor CS in this day and age. They can’t beat AMEX after all!

            • I’m referring Creation to the Ombudsman as they haven’t given me bonus, gave me half earning rate, and took 2 months to answer email.

  12. Hi off topic but can someone tell me how many Amex gold/plat Referral points you can earn in one year ?

    thanks in advance

  13. The HEX Star Gold upgrade offer is back on. I was told by a HEX station manager today that there had been ‘issues’ with Star Alliance leading to the offer being suspended last week but that it resumed again on Sunday and would be running indefinitely. I found no problems using the offer on the train.

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