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With the announcement a few weeks ago that Hilton would be devaluing its HHonors loyalty program with changes like adding new top-tier categories, implementing seasonal (more expensive) award redemptions and discontinuing the elite GLON special awards, came speculation that reduced-level AXON awards that cardholders of Hilton American Express credit cards including the Hilton Amex and the Hilton Surpass cards, would also be discontinued.
Amex and Hilton didn’t release any official statements, so I called up the Hilton Diamond line on two occasions and both reps said that AXON awards were bookable up until March 27. This also coincided with what others TPG readers and people on on Flyertalk were hearing, however, according to my sources inside both Hilton HHonors and American Express, that is not the case. According to American Express, the AXON benefit is not going away, and according to Hilton’s reps, who have also confirmed 100% that AXON awards will exist beyond the program changes on March 28: “We will continue to offer the AXON Rewards benefit, enabling our Hilton HHonors American Express cardholders to receive discounted reward stays.”
Now the question remains: what exactly will those discounted reward stays be? As it stands now, the AXON program allows for the following reduced-price redemptions:
AXON special rates for American Express cardholders are only available on stays in multiples of four nights (so 4 nights, 8 nights, 12 nights, etc.), and are applicable only to Categories 5, 6, and 7 hotels, as follows:
AXON5 (four nights in a Category 5 hotel) = 125,000 points
AXON6 (four nights in a Category 6 hotel) = 125,000 points
AXON7 (four nights in a Category 7 hotel) = 145,000 points
These rewards cannot be booked online. Instead, you’ll need to call 1-800-920-5649 to book them over the phone.
However, with the new Hilton changes, instead of categories 5-7 being the top-tier Hiltons and Waldorf Astoria being a separate brand with varying redemption levels altogether which were not eligible for AXON awards, the new Hilton HHonors program categories will range from 1-10 and will include Waldorf Astorias in the top categories.
So, tons of questions remain as Hilton and American Express determine which of the new categories will be available for AXON redemptions and what those redemption levels will look like.
If I had to guess, I’d say that AXON awards will still be available only for stays in multiples of four nights and I would bet that they will be available on Category 6-9 hotels with the Category 10 top tier being excluded. I also predict that those redemption levels will jump, and if I had to guess, I’d say that Category 6 and 7 will be at 150,000 points for four nights; Category 8 will be at 175,000 points for four nights, and Category 9 will be at 200,000 points for four nights.
While I’m glad that Hilton Amex cardholders will still get some sort of reduced-level award, I believe that AXON awards, much like the rest of the HHonors program, will suffer a major devaluation and that once these changes take place.