Buying Hilton points saved me $1,000 — reader success story
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Rachael, who took advantage of a promotional bonus to book an upcoming hotel stay:
I had been looking to go to the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware in June 2020. Hotel prices were over $350 per night, but luckily there were three Hilton properties very close to the festival with redemption rates of 40,000 points per night. The most convenient hotel was $359 per night with the Hilton Honors member discount — I have Hilton Gold elite status from my Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card. After taxes and fees, the total would have been $1,559 for the four-night stay I had planned (or $1,809 for five nights) .
I recently saw Hilton was offering a 100% bonus on points purchases (no longer available), so you could purchase up to 80,000 points and get another 80,000 points "free." I paid $800 to buy 80,000 points, which got me the 160,000 points I needed for the stay in June because of the bonus promotion. Since I was staying four nights already, I was able to get the fifth night free, which I can use to relax after the festival! My five-night stay cost me $800 instead of $1,809, earning me a redemption value of 1.1 cents per point, which is almost double TPG's valuation of Hilton Honors Points. Now to buy sunblock for the festival!
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Buying points and miles at full price generally doesn't make sense unless you need them immediately (to book an impending award or keep other points from expiring, for example). But when you can buy points and miles at a discount, you'll find more opportunities to come out ahead. Hilton usually sells points for 1 cent apiece, but with the 100% bonus, Rachael was able to buy them for half that amount. That's below TPG's valuation of 0.6 cents for Hilton Honors points, which means the average redemption should yield a positive return. The takeaway is that you don't need a stockpile of points and miles to take advantage of favorable award rates; when conditions are right, you can save by buying them instead.
Rachael calculated her redemption value by dividing the cash cost of her stay ($1,809) by the number of points she redeemed (160,000). That yields the 1.1 cents per point she mentions, but her calculation fails to account for the $800 she spent to obtain those points. It also ignores the value of rewards she would have earned from a paid stay — a Hilton Honors Gold member paying with a Hilton Surpass card would earn 30 points per dollar spent on eligible charges, and potentially more when paired with a promotional bonus. Rachael's true redemption value is around 0.5 cents per point, but the bottom line remains that her approach reduced her out-of-pocket expenses by over $1,000.
I love this story and I want to hear more like it! In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Rachael a gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to firstname.lastname@example.org; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes. If your story is published, we’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can't respond to each story individually, but we'll be in touch if yours is selected.
Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!