Tip to Really Stretch Your Hilton HHonors Points
The Hilton HHonors program is a bit harder to extract big value from than some of the other hotel loyalty programs, but that doesn't mean it is impossible. Hilton has some properties that are great for families, and they simply have a massive footprint at more than 4,600 properties around the world under a number of brands ranging from DoubleTree and Embassy Suites to Conrad and Waldorf Astoria. In other words, there are times when a Hilton property will be in the area you are visiting, but the closest Hyatt or Starwood might be hundreds of miles away.
Using Points + Cash To Get More Value From HHonors Points
Hilton doesn't always get the spotlight put on them in part because the points world still hasn't fully recovered from 2013 when Hilton upended their award chart and prices jumped from topping out at 50,000 points per night to 95,000 points per night in one swoop. However, lots of other loyalty programs have made (slightly more incremental) changes since then as well, so the HHonors chart is no longer quite as out-of-line as it may seem, especially if you avoid the very top category properties.
There is a way to potentially extract more value from your Hilton points that Hilton pros probably already know, but others newer to the program might have missed...the Points + Money Rewards option. As it sounds, this type of booking allows you to combine some HHonors points + some cash to book a room. Just like with some other loyalty programs, while this type of booking can be a very solid value for travelers, it is very capacity controlled and hotels do not have to offer this type of award unless they want to so it can be hard to find.
Some Hilton properties seem to pretty much never offer this type of booking, while others offer it quite frequently. Many mid-range properties fall somewhere in between and offer it only when they expect to have rooms that would otherwise sit totally empty.
As an example, the Hilton Orlando goes for 30,000 HHonors points per night during some parts of the year, such as late spring. Cash rates can vary pretty dramatically during that time from around $125 - $300+ per night. However, if you are running low on points, or want to just stretch the points you have, you don't necessarily have to choose between paying all points or all cash as on some dates they have a points + money option for 12,000 points + $50 per night.
If you were going to pay say $155+ for a night at this property, and instead use 12,000 points + $50 cash, it is essentially the same as getting more than 8/10 of a cent in value per HHonors point that you use, which is probably well above the average redemption value of a Hilton point. This is because you reduce your out of pocket cash cost by $105 on a night that goes for $155 by using 12,000 points. Then divide the $105 you "saved" by the 12,000 points you are using and you get .00875, or just over 8/10 of a cent in value per point. Anything over 1/2 a cent in value for an HHonors points is generally regarded by pretty good by many in the points world.
How to Find Hilton HHonors Points and Money Rewards:
As I mentioned, finding these rates can be the tricky part as they aren't always offered, but here is a tip to make the process easier. Make use of the Flexible Date Search feature of the HHonors website as shown below, and then use the drop down box to display Points + Money Rewards as shown above. You can then easily scroll through dates a couple weeks at a time to spot when the Points + Money rate is offered at the property you are interested in, if it is offered there at all.
If you are having trouble getting the Flexible Date search feature to display while looking at rates for an individual property, try clicking on "change" as shown below and that should take you to a screen where you can select the flexible date search option. That tip also works if you are looking for pure points award nights.
Again, I can't emphasize enough that this type of award isn't always offered, but it is worth checking if you want to stretch your HHonors points. Just be sure to do the math to ensure you are getting the value you want out of your HHonors points.
Do you ever use the Hilton Points and Money Rewards and at which properties?