Hilton Adjusts Points Prices of Several Hotels Effective October 14 (78% are Increases)

After Hilton’s dramatic award chart gutting of nearly two years ago, there weren’t huge changes again this year.

Hilton decided to change the way they made changes to how they re-assign hotels to award categories. Instead of an annual change to tons of hotels (a schedule they really weren’t wedded to in the past anyway) they decided they would make rolling changes throughout the year. And instead of informing all members proactively of these changes, they would just post them on a web page in the name of ‘transparency’.

At least they are announcing the changes. And savvy members could create a change detection for the page.

Hilton HHonors is making category adjustments to several hotels effective October 14.

33 get more expensive. Overall a sliver of the overall HHonors portfolio (although when you make these changes several times a year it’s easy to make any given cohort of changes seem small).

For good measure, 9 hotels are dropping in category. (There are also 93 new hotels assigned categories for the first time.)

That’s after 18 hotels went up and 2 went down in July.

Of course HHonors categories do not all have fixed award prices anyway so category changes aren’t the only way to increase reward night prices. And there are no announcements when hotels get more expensive within a category thus we really can’t say whether there have been big increases or not.

Lucky suggests this makes sense. Back in April I walked out of a meeting with Hilton’s Mark Weinstein right as he was walking in. And the insight he gleaned from the conversation was Mark’s comment that, “paid room rates vary night to night, so why shouldn’t the points rates reflect that?”

In other words, Hilton’s awards are like Delta’s. Just as HHonors premium room awards are based on the actual paid rate at the hotel for the room type booked on a given night, that’s the direction they’ve gone with their award nights as well.

What this means, of course, is that you don’t get outsized value from your points. While hotel programs are somewhat revenue-based generally (reward categories based on the average cost of a room redemption) you can do very well by this — pay cash when rates are cheap, redeem points on nights that hotels are expensive. But Hilton prices many of their awards so you can’t do that, since they vary the points price along with a hotel’s prevailing rate.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. More than just misspellings and grammar errors, proofreading would ideally catch mistakes like the incorrect decrease table before publishing.

  2. so what’s the point of putting spend on a Hilton card when we could just earn cash back if the points have no more leverage than cash?

  3. It’s also worth noting that the average daily rate (ADR) at the property typically dictates the amount that properties are reimbursed by the loyalty program for accepting a points booking. When the ADR is higher, the loyalty programs lays out more cash, so it makes sense for programs to adjust the points redemptions to match. Categories are also determined by many programs by a rolling ADR average, so as demand increases for room inventory worldwide and ADR rises, categories follow.

  4. I would be perfectly fine with ranges for categories if the hotels in those ranges were actually using them to price on a seasonal basis (like they suggested was the purpose), but I have found that many, if not most, hotels have the exact same points rates year round, so there is no point to having the ranges other than to obfuscate how much you can expect to pay.
    Having said that, I disagree with @credit. Between my wife and I, we have 4 Hilton Reserve cards and will be staying at the Conrad Hong Kong and the Conrad Tokyo in two rooms for 2 nights each next year, entirely on certs (and with diamond status and an additional 360,000 points from the $120,000 spend used to earn them over the last 2+years). By time we complete those stays, we will have received 14 free nights with a total value of $9036 and will still have one more cert available. So, for 7 annual fees ($600 roughly) and $2400 worth of cash back foregone (2% on $120,000), we have received more than $12,000 of value plus gold status for the last 2 years and diamond status for next year. Without the 8 sign up bonus nights, the value drops to about $7500, which is still a pretty good return on $600 spent and $2400 not received from cash back.

  5. With less than 1% of Hilton’s 4,440+ hotels changing categories, this whole post is a big yawn, a tempest in a teapot…

    @credit — Yours in an ignorant statement. I have the HHonors AMEX Surpass, which is I use all the time to pay for my revenue stays for which it awards 12 HH points/$ to essentially triple the number of HH points I earn/$ (exactly 32HH/$ every time with no promo) as HH Diamond. Anyone who takes you seriously and puts their HH card in the drawer would be playing the game with less than a full deck.

  6. @DCS- Not everyone pays for Hotel stays..so 12 HH pts/$1 doesn’t apply to them. Most of the folks get their pts from regular non-bonused (3pts/$1)spend and initial bonus.
    @0.4cents, that is just 1.2cents value for HH vs. SPG ~2.2 per$1.

    Hilton is becoming like Delta of Hotel deval king. We should name it “HDishonors” or maybe be Hzimbabwe..

  7. Totally clueless, @ff_lover sez: ” @0.4cents, that is just 1.2cents value for HH vs. SPG ~2.2 per$1.” Do not throw around or compare bloggers’ estimates of “values” of loyalty points without having a clue what they mean. If Hilton is the king of devaluation, can you explain why their top-tier awards costs exactly the same as Hyatt’s or Marriott’s and why they are, in fact, much cheaper than SPG’s? Go ahead, make my day…

  8. @DCS- Why do you love Hilton pts so much even though every blogger on earth concurs they are less value than other Hotel programs? Are you from Zimbabwe?

  9. @ff_lover — Well, the bloggers are dead wrong, as I have shown here repeatedly, but being clueless, you wouldn’t know it. At least some of us from ‘Zimbabwe’ can think for ourselves…

  10. Please don’t feed DCS. He’s a blind Hilton loyalist (paid is my guess) and is deaf to any logical argument you make. He just likes to pick fights and trash bloggers, is very rude, and is best ignored. I assure you he is totally ineducable.

  11. @DCS

    I think the bloggers don’t like Hilton HHonors because Hilton doesn’t throw them the freebies like Hyatt and SPG. Once high end stays become 50,000+ points a night, there was no way the bloggers would have enough points to stay at the Hilton properties for an appreciable amount of nights and properties. The 2 nights from a credit card sign-up are not enough to review many Hilton properties.

  12. @mbh: “Deaf to logic…He is uneducable” — You sound really silly (read: stupid) saying that about a FULL professor — me — with joint appointments at the medical schools of two Ivy League universities in Manhattan (there are only two such institutions in Manhattan so it should be clear what they are).

    You sound even sillier saying that I am paid by Hilton, when it is no secret (read their disclosures!) that bloggers do get a commission for pushing various products, including co-branded hotel loyalty credit cards. Since it is clear that I get no commission to comment here and bloggers are in the business of getting you to sign up for credit cards so that they can earn a commission, it should be clear to any “educable” person who among us stands to gain more by, well, embellishing. I believe it’s the same point that @JohnB just made above, but I guess he too is paid by Hilton 😉

    When you have something intelligent to say, especially if it’s proof that my comments are simply to “trash bloggers” (I am sure that bloggers know better), ring me up.


  13. @Gary — Be careful about throwing around the word “doctor” because what you meant by “doctor” was a “medical doctor” (M.D.), who are actually pretty good with finances, but not every “doctor” is a “medical doctor”. I am not a “medical doctor”. I am a physicist (Ph.D.; Professor of Physics in Radiology), who specializes in medical imaging (I develop technology that drives MRI machines), which I use primarily in neuroscience (brain) research, for which I do a lot of mathematical modeling and signal analysis to try to make sense of what we measure. Therefore, by comparison, modeling loyalty points is a rather trivial exercise; simple stuff that seems to stump so many here… 😉


  14. @Gary — Not as odd as your blind spot for Hyatt Gold Passport — a loyalty program that’s a work-in-progress, at best; a joke at worst — and SPG, which has, by far, the most expensive and least rewarding loyalty program out there. I have done the math and so have you, but you have refused to go to where your own results have always pointed you because of your “odd blind spots” for Hyatt and SPG.

    If I have a “blind spot” for HHonors, it is an “educated” one, because, as I have said repeatedly here, I am an equal opportunity opportunist, who goes where I will get the best deal. Therefore, as much as it may appear that I am wedded to the HHonors program, that is simply the contrarian in me rebelling against the bloggers’ totally unjustified idolizing of Hyatt GP or SPG, while they denigrate HHonors, which is by far the more mature and rewarding program.

    In the real world, I earn and redeem points on stays at the hotels of most of the major loyalty programs. Typically, I would earn points all year from my business travels and then I would do a single, huge (3-4 weeks) redemption at the end of the year, which I call my Year-end Asian Escapade because since 2011, when I begin doing this, it has always been in Asia. Case in point, I have already nearly fully booked my award plane tickets and hotel stays for my 2015 Year-end Asian Escapade. Below are the hotel stays that I have booked, which will also tell you the cities that I intend to visit from Dec 18, 2015 to January 12, 2016. I have:
    — redeemed HHonors points for a 3-night award stay at Hilton Shanghai;
    — redeemed HHonors points for a 3-night award stay at the brand new Waldorf=Astoria Beijing;
    — redeemed HHonors points for a 5-night award stay at the highly “aspirational” Conrad Koh Samui;
    — redeemed Marriott Rewards points for a 1-night (stopover) at Marriott Renaissance Bangkok;
    — redeemed Hyatt GP points for a 3-night cash+points stay a Grand Hyatt Singapore;
    — redeemed Hyatt GP points for a 3-night cash+points stay at Park Hyatt Siem Reap (3rd year in a row!);
    — redeemed Hyatt GP points for a 3-night cash+points stay at Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok.

    Why do I stay at Hyatt so often if GP is a joke? That’s exactly it! Hyatt, the hospitality company, has some of the most tastefully done hotels out there, with overall service that’s second to none. That’s really what bloggers like about Hyatt and they do not know it. They think that it is GP that draws them to Hyatt but it’s not! I have no status (I am a GP Plat but it’s the same thing), meaning that I get no perks whatsoever, but I am still drawn to Hyatt properties because of what I just said above…

    How about SPG? They are too expensive, so I do not invest in acquiring their points. I had about 12K starpoints in my account, which I used last month for a 1-night cash+points stay at Sheraton Burssels Airport, where I managed to be upgraded to the exec floor and have access to their lounge as SPG Gold (through my AMEX Biz Platinum card)…

    I still need to redeem points for my last 3 nights in Asia — Hong Kong — before returning to the US next January, and am leaning toward Conrad HKG, but JW Marriott just next door and Grand Hyatt remain definite possibilities.

    See how that covers all the loyalty programs? Considering how I mix it up, you’re right quite right that my purported “blind spot” for Hilton is “odd”. In fact, I invariably chuckle when folks here get hysterical (both meanings of the word) about my “thing” for Hilton…really 😉

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