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How a name change almost cost me 200,000 Hilton Honors points

Oct. 29, 2019
5 min read
How a name change almost cost me 200,000 Hilton Honors points
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In my quest to plan a winter getaway for my family, I started searching for hotel award availability in a few different tropical locations. I thought to myself, "I have a nice stash of Hilton points. I'll start there." I logged into my Hilton account thinking I had a few hundred thousand points, but to my surprise (and horror), my points balance read zero.

I didn't know what was going on, but I knew that I'd recently earned the welcome bonus on the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card and had spent quite a bit on the card beyond that, too. I should at least have some points in my account.

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I've had my Hilton account since 2011 and hadn't actually used it since 2014. So when I applied for the Hilton business Amex card in 2018, the fact that my name had changed a few years prior didn't even cross my mind as a potential issue. I added my original Hilton account number to the application and went on my merry way. Clearly, though, something was wrong.

I started an online chat with a Hilton representative who informed me that my Hilton points had expired about three weeks ago because I hadn't had any activity on my account in over 12 months. "That's odd," I said as I informed her that I had the Hilton business Amex card and had most definitely earned points with it over the last few months. She let me know that there wasn't any credit card linked to my account, which was the start of unraveling the mystery of the expiring points.

Hilton Waikoloa (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

Related: Best travel credit cards for 2019

I logged in to my Amex Hilton business card account and sure enough, the loyalty numbers for that card and my 2011-era account didn't match. "Ugh, I'm an idiot!" I exclaimed to the chat rep. When I received my card, I didn't notice that they had issued me a new Hilton account number because my last name on my Hilton account didn't match the one I used on the credit card application. I explained to the rep what I assumed had happened, given the fact that I changed my last name a few years ago, but said I'd hoped the company could understand and that I wouldn't lose my points.

The representative said she understood and that she could, in fact, see that I'd been earning points with the card but unfortunately, there was nothing she could do about the expired points. The rules were the rules. I asked politely if she could restore my expired points, but she just directed me to the spot where I could reinstate my points for a fee -- which happened to be $250, given the number of points I had.

I eventually closed out the chat, but I wasn't going to give up just yet. I emailed Hilton's customer support explaining my predicament and waited a couple of days for a response. After not hearing anything, I hopped onto a chat again and explained my situation to a new representative. I mentioned that I had already emailed customer service but hadn't had any luck.

This particular representative was very understanding and offered to restore 20% of my expired points at no charge, but also noted that I wouldn't be able to pay to reinstate the remaining points if I accepted the offer. I thanked him but said I'd need to think about it. I wanted to do the math to see if this made more sense than paying to have all of my points restored.

After evaluating the situation, I determined I'd get far more value by just paying to have my nearly 200,000 points restored. Knowing that, I decided to try one more time via chat to see if someone could help. Sure enough, this particular representative said he could restore all of my points as a one-time exception.

Related: How to use Hilton points to vacation in Hawaii

After five days, an email to customer service and chats with three different representatives, I had all of my points reinstated -- for free.

Lesson learned: Whether you're applying for a business card or one of the best travel credit cards, be aware of the effect of a name change, especially if you're applying for a cobranded card and are linking the card to an existing loyalty account. Also, don't forget to be polite -- and persistent.

Featured image by (Photo by Ryan Patterson /The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees