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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Citi HHonors Hilton Reserve Card, Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card, Hilton Honors Card from American Express, Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express
Though I typically encourage readers to use points and miles for award travel (e.g., lodging and flights) rather than gift cards and merchandise—which generally provide less value—redeeming points for once-in-a-lifetime experiences like those offered on the recently launched Hilton Honors Auction Platform could also provide a good rate of return.
The Hilton Honors Auction Platform lets you redeem Honors points to either bid on or purchase exclusive Hilton@PLAY experiences, categorized as Music, Sports or Culture. These experiences include premium-seat concert tickets, VIP access to sporting events, and meet-and-greets with musical artists via a new partnership with concert/event promoter Live Nation. There are two redemption types featured on the site: Bid Now and Redeem Now.
Experiences offered for auction feature a Bid Now button, and bidding for them is a truly democratic process: if you have the highest bid at the time the auction closes, you win. One current example of a Bid Now experience is the U2 (Red) Zone Experience in Los Angeles—May 27, 2015, which includes two VIP, stage-adjacent tickets to U2’s upcoming show at The Forum in L.A., as well as a Backstage Tour. The starting bid for this experience was 200,000 Honors points, and bids can be made in increments of 10,000 points; at the time of writing, the bid amount was 210,000 points. (Note that this auction closes on April 8, 2015 at approximately 4 am EST.)
For this concert, The Forum’s Ticketmaster/Live Nation site lists a Official Platinum Seats—set directly adjacent to the stage, and sold in pairs—at a top price of $650. These tickets don’t include backstage access like the auction experience does, but since I presently value Hilton Honors points at .5 cents apiece, those 210,000 Honors points represent $1,050—a whopping $400 more than what you’d spend on the tickets alone. Before bidding on this experience, it’s best to consider how big a fan of U2 you really are!
Experiences that feature a Redeem Now (Buy Now) button are first-come, first-served opportunities, offered in a limited quantity and for a fixed amount of points. For example, the USA Men’s Indoor V0lleyball: USA vs. Iran experience, which includes two lower-level seat tickets and two hospitality passes for two days’ worth of matches (on both May 30 and 31, 2015) at L.A.’s USC Galen Center, requires a redemption of 25,000 Honors points. (Note that the redemption period for this experience closes on May 18, 2015 at 3 am EST.)
The USC Galen Center’s site lists lower-level tickets to each of these two events at $15 apiece, so access for two people to both events with seats at this level would cost $60; hospitality passes aren’t available to the general public. This redemption of 25,000 Honors points would be worth $125—so unless you’re really into volleyball—or just want to see citizens of the U.S. and Iran enjoying some healthy, positive activity in the same room with each other—this experience doesn’t present a good value.
At present, there aren’t a huge variety of experiences available for bidding or redeeming, but new experiences are regularly added to the platform, so if you don’t see anything that interests you now, be sure to check back to see the latest offers.
If any of the present auction experiences have caught your eye but you’re low on points, take a look at these current Hilton/Honors promotions:
- Now through April 22, 2015, Hilton is offering a targeted bonus of up to 40% on purchased points.
- The co-branded Hilton American Express cards are offering limited-time sign-up bonuses: 100,000 Honors points after $3,000 spent within the first 3 months for the $75-annual-fee Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express; and 80,000 Honors points after $2,000 spent within the first 3 months for the no-annual-fee Hilton Honors Card from American Express.
- Now through May 31, 2015, the Double Your Honors promo allows you to earn either Double Honors Points or double airline miles (with Honors travel partners like American Airlines and Delta) for qualified Hilton hotel stays completed by May 31, 2015.
Additionally, the $95-annual-fee Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve nets you 10x per $1 on Hilton stays, and comes with two free nights and automatic Honors Gold status, and the no-annual-fee Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card has a sign-up bonus of 40,000 points and earns you 6x per $1 on Hilton stays.
Already sitting on a big stash of Honors and looking for some unique ways to redeem? These Hilton Honors Auction Platform experiences could be a good option, just be sure to investigate/estimate the out-of-pocket cost of the experience to make sure you get the best value.
Also, see these other TPG posts on redeeming points for experiences:
How to Redeem Points for Adventures, Events and Experiences
My Favorite Use of Points Ever? VIP at the Knicks With SPG
VIP NY Jets and Giants Football Experiences With Chase Ultimate Rewards
How to Earn and Use Points For Broadway Show Tickets