Why I think Hilton Honors points may be getting more valuable

As we covered extensively on Head for Points in February, Hilton Honors underwent a substantial restructuring which totally changed the value basis of the scheme.

You can now use Hilton Honors points to get a free room OR to get a cash discount on a room.  The minimum number of points you need is just 5,000.

The big question we all had was what value Hilton would put on a point.  I made three mid-range UK Hilton bookings this week which show that the value you get can be OK.

This has an impact on how you judge the value of Amex Membership Rewards points (from an Amex Gold or Amex Platinum) and the UK Hilton Honors Platinum Visa card.

Of the three UK Hilton rooms I booked this week, for stays over the next fornight, this is what I got:

Room 1 – £63.70 or 17,000 Hilton Honors points – value per point 0.37p

Room 2 – £83.30 or 31,000 Hilton Honors points – value per point 0.27p

Room 3 – £78.40 or 21,000 Hilton Honors points – value per point 0.37p

This is the thesis I am using for the rest of this article:

Because you can redeem as few as 5,000 Hilton points for a cash discount, because there are no availability constraints and because the room is treated as a revenue room (you earn stay credit, bonus points etc), Hilton Honors points are now closer to being treated as cash than they used to be.

Gran Hotel Montesol Curio Hilton Ibiza exterior

Before February, when you needed at least 30,000 Hilton points to get a free room in any major tourist destination (unless you wanting a romantic weekend in Sheffield, where the Hampton was always 10,000) – and only then if there was reward availability – you certainly couldn’t treat them as anything like cash.  You can now use as few as 5,000 points and you don’t need ‘all points’ reward availability to use them, so as long as you are paying for hotels on a regular basis then they are certainly more ‘cash-like’ than they were.

This means that American Express Membership Rewards points and the Hilton Honors Platinum Visa card now become more valuable.

The Hilton Honors Platinum Visa credit card is free and gives you 2 Hilton Honors points per £1 spent.  If it turns out that 0.37p per point of value is going to be generally available (and that isn’t yet certain, it is still early days) then the Hilton card gets you 0.74% of your spending back.  That is a very good result given the poor return on most free or low-fee Visa and MasterCard products these days.

American Express Membership Rewards points transfer to Hilton Honors at a rate of 1:2.  This means, again, that you’re getting 0.74p per Amex point based on the value I got from Room 1 and Room 3 I booked this week.  This is not as good as transferring your Amex points into Avios or other frequent flyer miles, but it is far better than using them for gift cards etc where you get 0.4p to 0.5p of value.  For someone with only a small Amex points balance, Hilton Honors becomes one of the best low balance redemptions – just 2,500 Amex points gets you the minimum 5,000 Hilton points required to get a cash discount on a room.

There is no guarantee that Hilton will continue to let you get 0.37p per point when you redeem for a cash discount on a room – you won’t get it all of the time now.  You certainly shouldn’t dismiss any small pot of Hilton Honors you may have, and you shouldn’t turn up your nose at the chance to earn a small number.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. BrianAA says:

    New system working our not bad so far for me.

    Originally booked by hotel in Jaipur India at 20k points per night. Cancelled and booked again for only 15k per night under the new system.

    Originally booked by hotel in Goa India at 16k points per night (inc the 5th night). Cancelled and booked again for 15k per night under the new system (inc 5th night free).

    Thanks Rob for all the tips. Diamond upgrade in Agra India to a suite was a nice touch. Amazing value at 10k points. Also recently a great suite upgrade at the Waldorf Edinburgh on cash booking.

  2. I’m looking for a New York Hilton stay in oct and have 16.5k point to use towards any ideas from the community?

    • Best hotel is Conrad New York because it is ‘all suite’ and you get huge amounts of space. If you’re talking value for money, however, the best option particularly at weekends is usually somewhere in New Jersey (in the business district that directly faces Manhattan) where you are walkable to the PATH train which is one stop to World Trade Centre.

      16,500 points should get you about £50 off your booking.

    • I had a nice stays in the Hilton Midtown and the Millennium (got a Jnr Suite upgrade), nice swimming pool too. Both were on same trip to do different parts of NYC on foot.

      But will take Rob’s recommendation and try the Conrad on my next visit.

    • Also you may want to consider taking out and spending £750 on the Hilton Visa to qualify for a free wknd night at the Conrad, could save you a fair amount?

  3. John Gallagher says:

    I recall that HfP mentioned recently that paying with (some) points removed service charge/taxes entirely (where applicable) from the charge – is this the case at every hotel?

    Is it allowable to nest between 2 x 5 night points booking, 2 free weekend nights earned from 2 x sign-up bonus from the HH Credit Card?

    Thanks in advance

    • You can nest anything you want. If the room category is the same all through it is a doddle, if they are mixed (as I had in Tokyo) then you are reliant on them fixing it. We had a mix of king and twin and view and no view rooms due to different reward availability each night but we got what we wanted (king) and we got a view room for the duration.

      • thank you Rob
        re: the free night certificate from sign-up of the HH credit card.
        What is the policy re: availability? If there is a points room available then you can use the certificate?

        Thanks again

  4. so would booking a refundable basic room now with points and then cancelling when my voucher is triggered, then booking with the voucher – would that be frowned upon do you think?

    • The issue is whether the room would go back into the general pool when cancelled to then allow you to rebook with voucher.

      Of course If you get a very good agent then they can amend the booking to attach the credit card reward certificate and reimburse the points, but that is quite operator-dependent!

      • John Gallagher says:

        When you say ‘general pool’ what do you mean?
        I thought (I could be wrong) that if a basic room was available then it is available to book using points?

        • No, you’re correct that if a standard reward room is available you can book it with your voucher. However from your question I was assuming you meant that you booked it now, then at a later date when the voucher is triggered you wanted to cancel that booking and re-book with voucher. I’m saying that (a bit like with the BA 241 chat that has been in the comments on other article) that if there are no longer any standard redemption rooms left then you will be relying on a standard redemption opening up when you cancel the one that you are holding – I’m just warning that there’s no guarantee this will happen. By ‘general pool’ I’m just meaning the reward availability that is open to everyone.

        • John Gallagher says:

          I spoke with HH online chat today and they recommend I do is this way:

          ‘You can contact the hotel directly and check to change the mode of payment. You can even use it during the check-in.’

          Does this sound correct?

        • Hmm I’d be a bit dubious re that TBH – I can’t really see them being able to switch from Hilton Honors points to credit card voucher – some hotels even have issues trying to change airline FF preferences! I’d try calling the Glasgow Honors team (if they still exist) or the US call-centre to get it done in advance if possible.

  5. John Gallagher says:

    Is it still possible to transfer Tesco vouchers to Hilton points via Virgin Atlantic Flying Club?
    Any quirks I need to be aware of? (obviously it would be better to wait foir a transfer bonus of course).

    Thanks in advance

    • Yes – but remember you can book Hilton hotels in the UK directly with Clubcard vouchers at 3x face value which is a better deal.

      If you value a Hilton point at 0.33p then you are going 500 Clubcard = 1250 Virgin = 1875 Hilton = £6.18 of value which is pretty terrible compared to most other Clubcard offers. You’re getting just over 1.2 x face value.

      • thank you Rob

        I intend to move £200 of Tesco vouchers to give me 50,000 flying club miles, which will give me 75,000 Hilton points – which is enough for a $1,200 hotel night 🙂 – so well worth I think .

        Also – I’ve just had to open a new Flying Club account (as my old one was closed back in 2013) which is now live. Will this slow down / hinder the transfer process in any way?