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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express
Yesterday, Hilton had some big news to share. In addition to changing the name of its loyalty program from HHonors to Honors, the chain added four new perks, including a much more versatile Points & Money option, Points Pooling, Amazon Shop with Points and a Diamond Status Extension. You can read about each of those additions in detail here, but there’s one in particular that we’re able to expand on a bit today.
Points & Money
Hilton’s refreshed Points & Money redemption option lets you pair a variable number of points (in increments of 1,000) with an equivalent value in cash. Interestingly, while Hilton will officially be doing away with its hotel categories, they’ll still be used to calculate redemption targets internally. Namely, while the lowest award price may vary from a hotel’s current category-based threshold, it won’t climb above the current category maximum.
As with anything in this industry, those maximums are subject to change, but for now, you can rest assured that you won’t need to redeem more points than the max level previously outlined for any given property. That said, the lowest redemption price will change for most hotels, though a few select properties will only be available at the highest permitted rate (more on that below).
As the first step toward implementing this change (which is expected to launch later this month), Hilton is now allowing members to search for the new redemption ranges for any property in its portfolio. You can play around with that tool yourself right here — I’ll also be sharing a few examples below. (Note that this option is not yet available for Hampton Inn hotels in China.)
Hilton Times Square (36k-80k points)
With off-peak rates hovering just above $100 per night, it’s a relief to see that you’ll soon be able to redeem for this property for as few as 36,000 points. That said, using that many points to book a ~$100 hotel room doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, so hopefully this rate will apply when paid stays are a fair amount pricier as well. Either way, it’s a nearly 50% drop from the previous lowest price of 70,000 points (which was simply ridiculous for such an otherwise reasonably priced hotel).
Hampton Inn SFO (25k-60k points)
Another hotel with paid rates that fluctuate wildly is SFO’s Hampton Inn — this month, paid rates range from ~$100 per night to almost $400, depending on the day of the week. Once you factor in taxes, the hotel’s new low-end rate of 25,000 points isn’t half bad, and when rates approach $400 a 60,000-point redemption certainly makes sense, given our valuation of Honors points at 0.5 cents apiece.
Conrad Tokyo (49k-95k points)
Rates also jump around quite a bit at Tokyo’s top Hilton — I’m seeing a range of about $400 per night this month to more than $700 for a mid-week stay in May. Given that rates rarely drop far below that $400 mark, you’ll be getting a great value for your points when you can redeem at the hotel’s new low of 49,000, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see that 95,000-point figure pop up more often than the 49,000-point low.
Conrad Pune (23k-30k points)
India’s Conrad Pune is an interesting example, in that in this case the lowest points price is actually going up. I’m sure this isn’t an isolated case, and while a 3,000-point bump might not sound like much, this hotel now has a pretty limited range. Paid rates here tend to fluctuate between ~$80 and ~$120 per night, so a 20,000-point minimum seems entirely doable given our 0.5-cent valuation of Hilton points.
Conrad Maldives (95k points)
TPG reviewed this hotel first in 2013 and again in 2014, and I had a chance to visit the hotel’s unique underwater restaurant in 2015 — so the Conrad Maldives is clearly near and dear to this site. That said, it’s also tremendously popular with Honors members, and paid rates can climb above $1,000 per night — even for a base suite. Given that the hotel is always in demand, it isn’t too surprising to see that Hilton doesn’t plan on offering reduced redemptions here. Considering the sky-high paid rates, a 95,000-point redemption is certainly reasonable, netting you more than 1 cent per point in value depending on your dates.
Honors members seem generally pleased with these changes, and overall this is a positive move for the program. Having the ability to mix a variable amount of cash and points brings redemptions within reach of even the most infrequent Hilton guests, and this rollout seems to be very well managed so far — launching with this handy new tool certainly adds to the program’s transparency, which seems to be a priority for Hilton now.
I’m a recent Hilton loyalist myself, and while I won’t be earning Diamond status again this year, I will be able to maintain Gold thanks to the chain’s partnership with American Express (and that Amex Platinum perk won’t be going away). I’ve also recently added the Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express, and I’ve had my eye on the Citi Hilton Honors Reserve Card (for its two free weekend nights) as well.
Do these program changes make you more likely to book a stay with Hilton?
Featured image courtesy of the Conrad Pune (India).
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