Reminder: American Express 33% Hilton Transfer Bonus Through January
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
While American Express Membership Rewards points - the points you earn on cards like the Premier Rewards Gold, Business Gold Rewards and Platinum cards - usually transfer to Hilton HHonors points at a ratio of 1 Amex point to 1.5 Hilton points, but now through January 31, 2014, there is a 33% transfer bonus, which means the ratio is 1 Amex : 2 Hilton.
However, even if you were thinking about transferring Amex points to Hilton, you might still want to hold off on this unless there is a specific, imminent redemption you need them for and need the points instantly. That's partly because Hilton's massive devaluation means using Amex points for Hilton transfers generally doesn't get you great value from your Amex points.
For example, let's say you wanted to spend a weekend at the new Waldorf Astoria in Berlin. Nights there in March are going for 197 EUR ($271) or 60,000 HHonors points, so you'd have to convert 30,000 Amex points with this promo.
So you're getting about 0.9 cents per point - not bad, but not great. On the other hand, let's say you wanted to stay at the Conrad Maldives like I just did. Award nights there start at a whopping 95,000 points, which usually is not a great value even considering room rates start at about $1,200. However, with this transfer bonus (if you can find award nights), you'd only need to transfer 48,000 Amex points for an award night.
That same King Beach Villa would cost you $1,240 per night, so you'd be getting a value of 2.58 cents per point - much better, but we're still talking a lot of points here. As with all transfer bonuses, I would do the math for yourself and the redemptions you're interested in and see if it makes sense.
No Rush Thanks To Virgin Atlantic
But also remember you can get 2 Hilton points from 1 Amex point any time by first transferring your Amex points to Virgin Atlantic at a 1:1 ratio, then converting those Virgin miles to Hilton HHonors at a 1:2 ratio. And that's not even taking into consideration the fact that Amex runs transfer bonuses to Virgin Atlantic as well, including a recent 30% one in October/November where you could convert 1 Amex point to 1.3 Virgin miles and then to 2.6 Hilton points, so if you're not in any hurry, you could wait to see if Amex offers another transfer bonus to Virgin in the next few months and convert your points then.
So if Hilton points are your end goal and you have a specific, good-value redemption to make, it's worth taking the transfer bonus into consideration, but I wouldn't transfer points speculatively - especially because you can always get the same 1:2 transfer ratio with Amex points by using the Virgin Atlantic transfer option - though keep in mind those conversions can take a couple of weeks to go through.