American Express 33% Transfer Bonus to Hilton — And the One Time it Makes Sense to Do It

American Express Membership Rewards is running a 33% bonus on transfers to Hilton HHonors through January 31.

This means that instead of transfer at a ratio of 1:1.5 you transfer at a ratio of 1:2.

Frankly, you can normally get a 1:2 transfer ratio by transferring American Express points to Virgin Atlantic at 1:1 and from there to Hilton at 1:2. (And for that matter you can do the same with Chase Ultimate Rewards points, making Hilton a stealth transfer partner of Chase.)

It’s even better to make the Hilton transfers when American Express is running a transfer bonus to Virgin. (One ended yesterday.)

Of course, transferring directly to Hilton is faster and involves one less step.

That said, I do not recommend it. I wasn’t even a huge fan of transferring to Hilton before the March 28 devaluation of Hilton points and it makes far less sense to do it now.

Roughly speaking I value a Hilton point at about half a cent apiece, or a little bit less. Transferring at 1:2 means you’re getting in most cases a bit under a penny per point in value.

If you need a small top off of an account to have enough points for the award you want, great, then you’re getting more value at the margin. Boost your balance, spend all of your Hilton points and move on — that’s a great use of this transfer bonus (especially now that the Virgin transfer bonus is not active). But that’s about the only scenario in which I’d be induced to take them up on the offer.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Is there a hotel partner you would transfer pts to (Amex or chase)? They all seem to have devalued. I prefer upscale if I’m transferring, but spg seems to require many pnts, and Hilton is the other chain that I follow due to Waldorf/Conrad. However, I’ve never ended using any points for hotel stays so far, only award flights. Thanks for your input.

  2. @Ash – hotel programs have never been as lucrative transfer partners for Amex as airlines have been. The point scales are different or (as you observe with SPG) the transfer ratios are. So not really a function of devaluation, this same was true even a few years ago, it’s just even more true now.

  3. When you can get HH at 0.2 cpp via Surpass at grocery, transferring MRs to HH makes little sense. Even if you have PRG 2x at grocery (0.6 cpp), you’d still only get HH ~0.3 cpp with this transfer promo.

    But even IF the cost were the same (0.2 cpp), the lost opportunity cost of using MRs for more valuable redemptions (like transferring to BA and using on short/medium haul flights) overwhelms the value you get from HH.

  4. Gary is Amex running a bonus with Aeroplan? I thought I could transfer say 50K to HHonors and then transfer the resulting 100K to Aeroplan and end up with 125K once the bonus hits (before December 9 I believe). Or am I an idiot and HHonors transfers aren’t 1:1 with Aeroplan?

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