See why Hilton Honors points don’t hold muster against many other loyalty program points.
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You may have spied the latest 100,000-point introductory offer on a Hilton Honors card, and perhaps your gut is telling you that such a large number seems a little too good to be true. In fact, you’re on to something. Hilton Honors points are inflated, so the numbers aren’t quite what they seem.
A great card for Hilton aficiandos
|Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card|
Why should you get it?
The card offers tons of value thanks to its 125,000-point introductory bonus, a high earning rate on Hilton hotel purchases and a free weekend night each year you spend $15,000. Also, it grants you automatic Gold status with valuable perks, including free room upgrades and a free 5th night on every rewards stay.
|More things to know:|
Hilton Honors points value
Hilton Honors points are one of the lowest-valued currencies in the universe of rewards programs. By our estimates, Hilton points are worth around 0.5 cent per point — about half the value of the average rewards program point. And, though hotel loyalty programs tend to have inflated points (Marriott points, for example, are worth only 0.8 cent per point), Hilton is beat out even by most hotel loyalty programs.
Why is the value of Hilton Honors points so low?
When we look at the points required for a standard room over a variety of locations and a variety of dates, and divide the room rate by the number of required points, the value comes out to 0.5 cent on average. This value applies to standard rooms at most levels (in fact, rooms in the midranges – between 30,000 and 80,000 points — tend to be worth even less):
Hilton standard room rewards
|Minimum points required||Average point value (cents)|
How to value your Hilton Honors points
We’ve told you how we value Hilton Honors points, but, really, the value of your rewards points is subjective, depending on your goals for your points and – ultimately – how you end up using them.
When trying to figure out how much Hilton Honors points are worth to you, you should keep the following questions in mind:
- How do you want to redeem your points? Do you intend to use them for standard room nights, Points & Money awards or another type of reward such as a purchase on Amazon? (Note, we don’t recommend redeeming your points for Amazon merchandise since the value is very low.)
- What level of hotel do you prefer? Do you want to redeem your points for a couple of nights at a luxury resort, or do you intend to stretch them out on a weeklong stay at a lower-tier hotel?
- Where do you want to travel? The value of Hilton points can vary by country and city (and more popular destinations tend to return a lower point value).
- When do you want to travel? In general, you can get better point values by traveling offseason and being more flexible on your travel dates.
- How far in advance do you tend to book? Keep in mind that Hilton Honors doesn’t use a fixed rewards chart and the required points for a hotel can vary over time. Rooms are likely to be more expensive as you get closer to your travel date (and points for hotels on the lower end tend to fluctuate more than higher end hotels).
- How far away is your travel date? If your intended travel date is far off, the value of your points could change by then. Hilton, like many Hotel rewards programs, makes frequent updates to its program that can alter the overall value of its points or, at least, the points required for your intended destination.
On top of all this, you also need to consider the flexibility of Hilton Honors points – whether you have to worry about blackout dates, points expiring, limited rewards inventories, limited redemption options, etc. — because points aren’t worth anything if the program makes it too hard to redeem them. The good news is, Hilton Honors points are fairly flexible (more on that below).
How to calculate the value of Hilton Honors points
There are varying philosophies on how to value rewards program currencies, but the basic calculation is pretty simple and boils down to the following steps:
- Pick your desired redemption option.
- If it’s a free night award: Look at number of points required for your desired date and location.
- Then: Figure out the cost that you would pay for the same room on that date (use a travel engine such as Google or Expedia). You should include fees and taxes, since these are usually not charged on award stays, and divide by number of points required.
The basic formula is:
Point Value = Reward Value (in dollars)/Number of Points
The value that you come up with will be a rough estimate. There are a plethora of factors that can affect the value of a rewards nights, such as the opportunity cost for the points that you could have earned if you paid for the room with cash or a rewards card, the lowest possible price that you could get by paying for the room in cash on your intended date (which could vary by the minute and depends on how diligent you are about checking room rates), the opportunity cost of having to forego other savings and promotions, the lowest possible price that you could get by staying at any hotels in your desired destination, and so on.
However, for doing a basic comparison of point values across rewards programs you probably don’t need to make things so complicated.
How flexible are Hilton points?
On the plus side, despite the low value of Hilton points, Hilton offers a fair amount of flexibility in redeeming your points. Here are the pros and cons of redeeming Hilton Honors points:
Pros of Hilton Honors points:
- Hilton points generally don’t expire if you earn or redeem points or use a Hilton credit card on a regular basis. (Otherwise, they expire in 12 months.)
- The Hilton hotel network is huge – it consists of more than 5,100 properties in 103 countries and a range of brands at many price levels – giving you a lot of travel options.
- Rewards, generally, are not restricted – if a standard room is available, you can book it with points (but, you pay for this flexibility with lower-value points).
Cons of Hilton Honors points:
- Though points are transferable – Hilton currently has 43 airline partners – the transfer rate is so low, it’s not worth it.
- You have a few other redemption options besides hotel nights and Points & Money awards, but their value is terrible.
- There’s no option to redeem points for cash back in case you want to cash out your points.
- There’s no fixed rewards chart. Instead, each property has a high and low range of points and the required points can fluctuate between these two values at any moment, which means rewards rooms are likely to be more expensive when they’re in high demand.
Are Hilton Honors points worth it?
Despite the inflated points value, collecting Hilton Honors can be a worthwhile endeavor if you are a fan of Hilton hotels and stay with them frequently, or if you manage to score a large introductory bonus.
Hilton Honors credit cards frequently feature supersized bonuses of 100,000 points and larger. If you are flexible with you travel dates, look for hotels in the lower point ranges and combine your points with Hilton’s free fifth night benefit, you can turn those points into at least a five-night stay.
For instance, the Hampton Inn near Universal Orlando currently offers rooms for 25,000 points on some dates. With the free fifth night benefit, you could redeem your 100,000-point bonus for a five-day visit to Universal Studios.