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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card
This is the third post of our series on using Hawaiian Airlines for those folks who might have just signed up for the new Barclaycard Hawaiian Airlines MasterCard. In the first post we looked at award availability on Hawaiian’s Mainland routes, and in the second, we examined the new card’s share miles benefit. In this post we take a look at whether it’s worth converting Hawaiian Miles to Hilton HHonors points for hotel stays.
Last month, Barclaycard launched the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard, which is loaded with a ton of new perks and benefits, including a sign-up bonus of 35,000 HawaiianMiles for a spend of $1,000 within 90 days. One of the questions readers have had is whether it’s worth converting that bonus to Hilton HHonors points.
On March 7, Hawaiian Airlines devalued conversions with its hotel partner, Hilton (hot on the heels of Virgin Atlantic’s Hilton devaluation in February), taking its ratio down from 1:2 to 1:1.5. So will it still be worthwhile for HA World Elite Mastercard holders to use that 35,000-mile bonus for Hilton hotel stays? The short answer is, probably not, though if you have an imminent hotel stay to stock up for, then you could consider it – in most cases, I’d recommend against it, though. Here’s why.
HawaiianMiles for Hilton Stays
You used to be able to convert 1 Hawaiian mile to 2 HHonors points, but as of March 7, 2014, the conversion ratio was cut by 25% so that 1 Hawaiian Mile = 1.5 HHonors points. You can convert in increments of 10,000 miles (so 10,000 Hawaiian miles = 15,000 Hilton points, 20,000 miles = 30,000 HHonors points, etc.). That 35,000-mile bonus, then, converts at the level of 30,000 HawaiianMiles for 45,000 HHonors. We looked for Hilton rewards around the world in the next few months at the 45,000 HHonors level.
For example, from mid-May through early June, the Hilton Waikiki Beach on the Hawaiian island of Oahu offers city view rooms with one king bed or two double beds for $199 per night or the standard room award rate of 40,000 HHonors points. That gives you a value of just under half a cent per HHonors point, and if you had converted those from Hawaiian miles, you’d be getting a per-mile value of 0.75 cents.
Note that the standard room rate for the Hilton Waikiki Beach varies throughout the year: from April-June, September-November and January-February it’s 40,000 HHonors, and in July, August and December it’s 50,000 HHonors points.
At The Condado Plaza Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico from mid-May through early June, one night in an Ocean View Room with a sitting area and king bed goes for $169 or the award rate of 40,000 HHonors points, so your values are .42 cents per HHonors point or .63 cents per Hawaiian mile if you had converted those for this stay.
Note that on the Hilton HHonors Search Tool, the Condado Plaza Hilton is mis-labeled as the Conrad San Juan Plaza Hilton, links to an incorrect page, but displays two seasonal rates: a low-season rate of 40,000 points from May to November (shown partially in the screenshot below), and a high-season rate of 50,000 points from December through April.
However, by going directly to the Condado Plaza’s site and running different searches for schedules throughout the year, we were able to confirm that the standard room award rates for The Condado Plaza Hilton are the same as those listed for the Conrad San Juan Plaza Hilton. The screenshot below shows a May-June schedule on the left with 40,000 HHonors as the standard rate, and a December schedule on the right with 50,000 HHonors as the standard rate.
Throughout May and June, the new Hilton Lake Las Vegas (which was inspired by the Ponte Vecchio in Florence) has lake-view rooms with either a king bed or 2 double beds for $144 a night or 40,319 points – a value of .36 cents per point or .54 cents per HawaiianMile.
In this case, 40,319 HHonors is a Premium Room Rewards rate, discounted from the Hilton Lake Las Vegas’ standard room award rate of 50,000 HHonors. As shown in the screenshot below, this property’s 50,000 HHonors standard rate holds steady throughout the summer, from May through September.
If you’re planning a European trip, the Hilton Florence Metropole has a king room with a partial view of the Duomo that in late May and early June will cost $173 per night or the standard room award rate of 40,000 HHonors points, a rate of .43 cents per point or .65 cents per HawaiianMile.
Standard room award rates for The Hilton Florence Metropole vary throughout the year: they’re 30,000 HHonors points in March, April, July, August and November-February, and 40,000 HHonors in may, June, September and October.
In both May and June, the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country has King rooms for $149 a night or the standard room award rate of 40,000 points, a rate of .37 cents per point or .55 cents per HawaiianMiles.
The Hilton Sonoma Wine Country’s standard room award rates generally hold steady at 40,000 HHonors throughout the year, rising to 50,000 HHonors only in the peak month of July.
Note that even at Hilton’s more budget-oriented properties (e.g., Hampton and the Hilton Garden Inn), availability for reward nights requiring less than 40,000 HHonors points is scarce at especially desirable destinations in May and June. Also be aware that the conversion of HawaiianMiles to HHonors can take 10-15 days to process (see screenshot below), so booking this way isn’t an ideal option for last-minute travelers.
HawaiianMiles for Hawaiian Airlines Flights
Converting to HHonors, you’re getting well under one cent per HawaiianMile even in pretty good markets and mid-tier properties, which begs the question: Should you do that, or just use HawaiianMiles for Hawaiian Airlines award flights?
One factor you should take into consideration if you did just get one of the new credit cards (or are planning to apply for one) is that in addition to the 35,000-mile sign-up bonus, the card gives you access to a discount of 5,000 miles off roundtrip economy awards from North America to Hawaii. As we explored in Hawaiian Airlines Series: Award Availability on Hawaiian Airlines, this sign-up bonus means that a roundtrip economy award flight that normally costs 40,000 miles will only cost cardholders 35,000 miles.
To take a quick example, cardholders could use their bonus 35,000 miles to book a roundtrip LAX-HNL (Los Angeles – Honolulu, Oahu) itinerary on Hawaiian Airlines, where there is plenty of Coach Saver award availability between May and June. The itinerary shown here has a schedule of May 2-7.
It displays here as 40,000 miles + $5, but Hawaiian Airlines Mastercardholders who are logged into their HawaiianMiles account would see this as 35,000 miles plus $5. The fare price of this LAX-HNL roundtrip itinerary priced out below is $618.89 (inclusive of taxes and fees).
So you’d be getting a value of 1.53 cents per mile if you redeemed for this ticket – just about three times the value of most of those Hilton awards.
Booking a Flight is a Better Bet
It takes only a quick calculation to see that converting HawaiianMiles for Hawaiian Airlines flights is a more valuable choice than converting them for Hilton hotel stays. Using those 35,000 HawaiianMiles for a roundtrip flight itinerary that would cost just over $600 makes more sense than converting 30,000 HawaiianMiles to book single nights in hotel/resort rooms that average between $139-$279 a night.
The bonus for the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard provides some decent deals on North America/Hawaii routes that are rarely cheap. However, if Hilton points are your end goal, take a look at this post on topping up your Hilton HHonors account. And keep in mind that Hilton is a partner of American Express Membership Rewards, with a conversion rate of 1:1.5, so if you have a card like the Premier Rewards Gold or Platinum Card, that’s always an option.
You might also want to consider banking points or free nights by applying for one of the four Hilton co-branded credit cards out there. The Citi Hilton HHonors Visa is currently offering a limited-time sign-up bonus of 50,000 points (offer has expired.) when you spend $1,000 in 4 months plus a $50 statement credit when you spend $50 or more at Hilton in the first 6 months. The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card earns you 2 weekend night certificates after you spend $2,500 in the first 4 months and every year you spend $10,000, you get another free night certificate. The Hilton HHonors Surpass card from Amex offers 60,000 points when you spend $3,000 in 3 months, and the Hilton Amex offers a sign-up bonus of 40,000 points when you spend $750 in 3 months, so there are plenty of other options to stock up your HHonors account. Better to save your HawaiianMiles for flights. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus is one of the best travel credit cards on the market right now because you can use the miles to cover many expenses that traditional miles won’t cover. Plus, for a limited time the sign-up bonus is 50,000 bonus miles if you make $3,000 or more in purchases in the first 90 days after account opening – which equates to $525 when you use them for travel expenses.
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus is one of the best travel credit cards on the market right now because you can use the miles to cover many expenses that traditional miles won’t cover. Plus, for a limited time the sign-up bonus is 50,000 bonus miles if you make $3,000 or more in purchases in the first 90 days after account opening – which equates to $525 when you use them for travel expenses.