I transferred Amex points to Hilton — a notoriously bad idea — to book one of the best hotels in the world
I transferred 225,000 American Express Membership Rewards points to Hilton for a stay at one of the world's best hotels.
This statement is likely to make seasoned points and miles enthusiasts cringe. After all, some of Amex's other transfer partners — such as ANA, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and Etihad — are superstar transfer partners that can give potentially more than 4 cents per point in value for fancy business- and first-class seats.
But on the other hand, half of Amex’s transfer partners offer a very poor value. You’re almost certain to receive a poor value for your Amex points when transferring them to partners such as Aeromexico, Marriott and, yes, Hilton.
For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
However, there’s an exception to every rule. I just transferred 225,000 Amex points to Hilton for a five-night stay at perhaps the most aspirational award stay in existence. Plus, I received excellent value for my points.
Why you should (almost) never transfer Amex points to Hilton
There are two main reasons you should think twice before transferring Amex points to Hilton.
1. Hilton points are easy to earn
All four Hilton cards currently offer decent welcome bonuses:
- Hilton Honors American Express Card.
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card.
- Hilton Honors American Express Business Card.
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.
These cards also offer up to 5 points per dollar on everyday spending like at restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations.
The information for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
2. Amex points are normally worth way more than Hilton points
It’s widely agreed that the best use of Amex points is for lie-flat airplane seats to international destinations.
For example, you can fly Singapore Airlines’ first-class suites between John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Frankfurt Airport (FRA) for 86,000 Singapore Airlines miles. This seat would otherwise cost more than $9,000, giving you a value of 10.4 cents per point. There are many staggering uses like this for Amex points, making them the go-to currency for premium cabins.
Related: How to redeem Amex Membership Rewards for maximum value
When you transfer Amex points to Hilton, you’ll receive a transfer ratio of 1:2. In other words, 1 Amex point equals 2 Hilton points.
Still, transferring Amex points to Hilton is usually a bad deal. According to TPG valuations:
- Amex points are worth 2 cents each.
- Hilton points are worth 0.6 cents each.
This means that, on average, Amex points are worth more than triple the value of Hilton points.
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi: The best resort points can buy?
My husband and I visited The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort (a Marriott hotel) a few years ago. Ever since then, I’ve been thirsting for a return to the Maldives. It's true you can find powdery, white sand without leaving the U.S., but a trip to the Maldives offers something more than breathtaking sunsets and pristine beaches — and you’ve got to be there to comprehend it. There’s an intangible element that draws tourists to this archipelago.
The Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi is the new aspirational must-do for points and miles collectors, and the hotel’s award availability reflects that. Despite its offensive price tag of 150,000 points per night, standard award availability is very difficult to find.
Hilton offers the fifth night free on award stays lasting at least five nights. This effectively drops the award price at the Waldorf Astoria to 120,000 points per night.
Related: Paradise perfected: A review of the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi
The issue is that it's nearly impossible to locate five consecutive standard award nights. For the past month, I’ve made a daily ritual of casually searching the property’s award calendar for a string of five nights.
Last week, the daily searches paid off. I found myself staring at a handful of five-night blocks, each for 600,000 Hilton points. But I only had 150,000 Hilton points in my account.
Is it worth burning Amex points for a stay at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives?
Due to the rarity of reward space, I decided to immediately transfer 225,000 Amex points to Hilton, injecting my account with the remaining 450,000 Hilton points needed to book the stay.
That was a lot of Amex points. Was it worth the splurge?
During these same dates, the Waldorf Astoria Maldives sells for $2,275 per night. Let’s do some math:
- The hotel costs 600,000 points for five nights.
- The hotel costs $11,375 for five nights.
- This reservation offers a value of 1.9 cents per Hilton point.
Because the transfer ratio from Amex to Hilton is 1:2, I’m getting a value of 3.8 cents per Amex point. That’s 90% higher than TPG’s valuation of 2 cents each.
All this is to say that I received a value of $8,550 by transferring 225,000 Amex points to Hilton. Not bad!
Related: 8 ways to maximize Hilton Honors redemptions
How to earn points for an award like this
As I previously mentioned, Hilton points are easy to earn; members can earn by opening either Hilton credit cards or Amex Membership Rewards points cards. Here are the current offers from the top Hilton cards:
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points and a Free Night Reward after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the card within the first three months of card membership.
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Earn 150,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening your account.
- Hilton Honors American Express Business Card: Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors bonus points and a Free Night Reward after you spend $4,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors Business card within the first three months of card membership.
Related: How to earn Hilton Honors points
Here are some of the best offers from Amex Membership Rewards-earning cards (remember, 1 Amex point equals 2 Hilton points):
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership.
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first three months of card membership.
- American Express Gold® Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you use your new card to make $4,000 in purchases in your first six months of card membership
Under almost all circumstances, we don’t recommend that you transfer Amex points to Hilton. However, if you know you’ll get a value of at least 2 cents per Amex point, it can be a worthwhile option.
That said, if you find a Hilton hotel you’d really like to stay at and you don’t want to use money, you also shouldn’t neglect a bucket list item just because you’re getting a redemption value equal to TPG valuations. Use your points and miles in whatever way makes you happiest.