April 6th, 2011

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One of my favorite aspects of the Starwood Preferred Guest and Priority Club programs is the ability to use a mixture of cash and points for award stays. Combining cash and points allows me to stretch the shelf-life of my points and I find that it’s almost always worth it to select this option over using only points for an award.

I was happy to hear Hilton is launching a pilot “Points and Money” award program, but I was skeptical that the redemption value would be competitive to Starwood and Priority Club. Well I was wrong. Hilton unveiled the redemption structure and I think there is some major value to be had:

Hotel Category/ Points and Money Redemption/ Free Night Cost/ Point Purchase Value
Category 1 : Not eligible for Points & Money, regular redemption is 7,500 points/night.
Category 2: 6,250 points + $30, regular redemption is 12,500 points/night: Point purchase of .48 cents/point.
Category 3: 12,250 points + $40, regular redemption is 25,000 points/night. Point purchase of .33 cents/point.
Category 4: 15,000 points + $50, regular redemption is 30,000 points/night. Point purchase of .33 cents/point.
Category 5: 17,500 points + $60, regular redemption is 35,000 points/night. Point purchase of .34 cents/point.
Category 6: 20,000 points + $70, regular redemption is 40,000 points/night. Point purchase of .35 cents/point.
Category 7: 25,000 points + $85, regular redemption is 50,000 points/night. Point purchase of .34 cents/point.
Waldorf Astoria: 30,000 points + $100, regular redemption is between 50,000 and 80,000 points/night. Point purchase of between .2 and .5 cents/point.

So basically you are buying half of the points needed for an award for anywhere between .33 and .5 cents per point ($3.30-$5 per 1,000 points). This is much more cost effective than purchasing points directly from Hilton for 1- 1.25 cents per point.

For me, a non-elite Hilton member who likes to collect them as a hobby (thanks to text messaging faux pas and online glitches Hilton has been making that easy lately!), this option allows me to get more value out of my relatively small HHonors balance. However, those with elite status and mountains of points, may still get more value out of regular redemptions, VIP options for elite members or AXON awards for Hilton Amex cardholders.

Still, I always like another option when choosing how to redeem my points, so I think this is a positive enhancement to the Hilton Honors program. They also introduced a new upgrade program, which I’ll cover in another post.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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