This is the third in a series of posts on how to save money on hotel bookings by purchasing rewards points. For a more detailed explanation and walk-through of the theory, see the first post on Hyatt hotels.
The Nuts and Bolts
Disclaimer: This is a big fat dud. Tomorrow’s on Marriott should be interesting, though, as there are a couple of angles from which to approach the hack.
I’m somewhat loathe to talk about Hilton hotels, since their HHonors program is one of the worst around in terms of redemption rates, and that’s if you can actually find award availability in the first place. That said, it is one of the largest chains in the world, and there is some value to be had if you look hard enough, so here it is.
Hilton HHonors divides hotels into ten categories, with the quirk that the prices of hotels in each category can float anywhere in a range as large as 30,000 points. Of course, this is just a way for Hilton to reduce the value of their points, since hotels can just increase their award rates during times when the cash rate is high.
You can buy points in increments of 1,000 at a rate of 1 cent per point, up to 80,000 points in a year. That in mind, here are the maximum room rates you should pay:
|Category||Points (Low)||Points (High)||Total Cash (Low)||Total Cash (High)|
Basically, it sucks. I don’t have much else to say, except that points and money would be better were it not for the fact that availability is even less existent than points-only availability (since they’re not subject to the same rules). Here’s the chart I pulled from Loyalty Traveler, since Hilton doesn’t actually publish it:
Based on this chart, we get some significantly cheaper stays toward the upper end (note that the category labels here are irrelevant, and you should only focus on the original points cost):
|Original Cost||Points||Co-pay||Total Cash|
Honestly, they’re really hard to find, particularly because the points costs are generally so outrageous. That said, Hilton HHonors is the first loyalty program we’ve looked at that offers a fifth night free on award bookings, so if you’re planning on staying five days or more, you can get an extra 20% off versus the normal cash rate.
I really wish there were more to say here, but seriously, you could drive yourself nuts looking for award availability. That said, Hilton can offer good value for those who can generate their points cheaply or who are staying in areas with lots of low category hotels, but I’ll refer you to Freequent Flyer (the internet’s resident Hilton fanboy) and Travel is Free for details on that.
Happy (?) hacking.