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From now until October 21, Hilton is running a promotion on purchased points.
Buy Hilton Points at 0.5 Cents Each
Under this promotion, you will receive a 100% bonus when you buy at least 20,000 points, and you can buy up to 80,000 points a year.
If you do the math, this basically means you can buy up t0 160,000 points (including the bonus) at 0.5 cents apiece. Hilton properties fall into one of 10 categories, and a free night requires anywhere form 5,000 to 95,000 points.
Maximize Your Redemption Value
However, if you have even the lowest (Silver) elite status with Hilton, can receive the 5th night free when you book a 5-night stay. Hilton statuses are easy to acquire; you can get it just by having a Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express, or even the the AMEX Platinum Card. With the 5th night free, you will essentially get a 20% discount on a 5-night stay, and free nights will, on average, cost 4,000 to 76,000 points a night that way.
Free night redemptions, even ones redeemed entirely in points, count as elite-qualifying. So you can earn Hilton statuses even if all your stays are from points redemption. Additionally, with some rare exceptions, reward stays are refundable. As a result, using points can potentially give you more flexibility than the (usually lowest) advanced purchase cash rate.
Before I make any award redemption, I always compare it to the paid rates. However, it’s worth noting that you don’t have to pay taxes on free nights redeemed entirely with points. Depending on the hotel, taxes can go as high as ~20%, so make sure you factor that into your calculations. On the other hand, you will also forgo the opportunity to earn points from a paid stay, so there’s an opportunity cost to redeeming points as well.
Redemptions on the Low End
Most Hilton award categories require a variable number of points for redemption, depending on the dates or seasons. One of my favorite use of Hilton points, therefore, are actually for Category 1 – 3 hotels. When you buy points at 0.5 cents, you can essentially “buy” a night’s stay at the following rates:
- Category 1 = 5,000 points * $0.005 = $25
- Category 2 = 10,000 points * $0.005 = $50
- Category 3 = 20,000 points * $0.005 = $100
For example, the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Agra, just minutes from the Taj Mahal in India, is a Category 2 hotel.
I looked at a night in November, and the pay rates are $108, with an additional ~$16 in taxes. Instead, I could use 10,000 Hilton points for one night there. That would only cost me $50 under this promotion, and I won’t have to pay taxes. That’s more than a 50% savings!
What if you’re more into big cities? The DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur is one of my favorite Category 2 hotels.
It has a fantastic city center location, and is just minutes away from the iconic Petronas Towers. Depending on the season, the paid rates usually float around $90. However, with the current Hilton promotion, you can buy 10,000 points for a night here at just $50.
The DoubleTree by Hilton Beijing is also a great Category 2 hotel. However, Hilton is actually bumping it up to a Category 3 on October 12. So if you want to get in on the 10,000 points/night rate, you should book really soon.
Redemptions on the High End
Now, inexpensive hotels can be great redemptions, but what about on the other spectrum? Conrad Maldives is one of the poster child of great redemptions. The hotel’s cash rate are usually in the low $1000s, but as a Category 10 hotel, it costs at most 95,000 points per night.
At a rate of 0.5 cents per point, you can essentially pay $475 instead of over $1000 for a night at the Conrad Maldives for a beach villa. Granted, if you are starting with a zero balance in Hilton points, it will take you a while before you could redeem for more than 1 night here.
Plenty of high category Hilton properties can also be good value, albeit not as dramatic. For example, you might want to check out the Waldorf Astoria Grand Wailea for a Hawaiian vacation.
Instead of paying the room rate of almost $500, you can buy 70,000 points at $350 under this promotion.
So…Should You Buy?
I rarely buy points speculatively, and this isn’t one of those crazy deal I’d jump on. But as you saw above, there are some potentially great uses for Hilton points, even if you are buying them outright.
It’s hard to provide a blanket “yes” or “no” answer to everybody. If you don’t have anything planned, or you rarely stay 5 nights at one hotel, I don’t recommend hoarding points. There could always be a devaluation, and there will always be another opportunity to buff up your balance on the horizon.
However, if you have a stay coming up, take a look at the cash rates, and see if redeeming points would represent a better value. If you can regularly take advantage of the 5th night free elite benefit, crunch the numbers, and buying points could end up saving you a bit of money!