Hilton was feeling left out, so they decided to join Priority Club (via Gary, from View from the Wing), Marriott, Hyatt, and Starwood Preferred in making changes to their program. Hilton definitely makes those other changes look good.[Honestly, I'm waiting to see how AXON awards are affected before I start drinking heavily.]
Inflation and changes to award charts are here to stay, so I’m never shocked when I see a chart devalued. It’s what is expected and a big reason why there’s the “earn and burn” mantra among many miles collectors.
Here are the important changes from Hilton’s website that are going to go into effect March 28, 2013:
- Reward Categories – We will be expanding to ten hotel reward categories to account for all of the new hotels and resorts that have opened in the past few years. With 3,900 hotels and resorts in 90 countries you are sure to find the perfect place for your next reward stay.
- Seasonal Hotel Reward Pricing – For most of our hotels and resorts, we will introduce seasonal pricing for reward stays. The amount of points needed for a Standard Room Reward and a Points & Money Reward will vary during certain times of the year.
- 5th Night Free – Now members with Silver, Gold or Diamond elite status will get a free night* when they book a Standard Room Reward stay of five or more consecutive nights.
Right now, there are 7 categories of Hilton hotels (excluding the Waldorf Astoria 50k -80k), but that will be “expanding” to TEN categories. The more categories there are, the more points you’ll need to use. Here’s what the new chart looks like:
Yup, yup. More categories means more points. We’re looking at 70,000 – 95,000 A NIGHT for a top 10 category hotel. In the current chart, category 7 hotels are 50,000 Hilton HHonors points.
Another gem is the new “seasonal” hotel pricing. Translation: when you want to book a certain hotel, it will most likely be more expensive, unless you’re flexible with your travel schedule.
There’s no chart for the new “seasonal” pricing, but there’s a search tool to help you see the prices and new categories. I do like the simplicity of the search tool.
Hilton is pimping the new “5th night free” for members who have elite status, but they fail to mention anything about the Axon and Glon awards. I only redeem Hilton points for Axon awards, so when they announce that those are being devalued, I will cry it out.
Read my previous post on Axon and Glon Awards to fully understand the incredible value they once were (assuming their value is about to be shredded).
Why This Hurts The Heart
Simple. Hilton HHonors points have been the easiest to collect. There are about 100,000 rewards cards that give you the ability to earn HHonors points. Citibank and American Express both have a couple of Hilton-branded options. There’s the 2 Hawaiian cards and a Virgin Atlantic card that transfer to Hilton at a 1:2 ratio.
Plus, for the past few months, you could earn 6x points per $1 at drugstores with your Amex Hilton. People have been stockpiling Hilton HHonors points! That’s legit.
Also, I’ve written several times about the ability to earn top tier Diamond status with Hilton by spending $40,000 in a calendar year. I loved this option and actually got halfway there with my Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card. Boo to these changes! I will still receive a free weekend certificate for spending $10k in a year, but even that has the possibility of being devalued.
The certs that come with the Citi Hilton Reserve card are good for category 1-7 properties. Will it be updated to 1-10? I’ll try and find out. If not, this hurts my heart.
Silver Linings Playbook?
Jordan and I saw the movie, Silver Linings Playbook a few weeks back, and Bradley Cooper was the main male lead, always looking for the positive in every situation. Yes, even the most awful of scenarios. Like a hotel award chart being devalued.
So, are there any “silver linings?” Maybe.
- It appears that some of the lower category hotels could be cheaper. That’s not for everyone, but it is for some.
- Also, it gives us an opportunity to be creative and search for those gem properties that are still a bargain. That’s fun.
- If Axon awards aren’t tremendously affected, then I will still be able to find insane value (not counting on it).
- Hilton HHonors points are incredibly easy to accumulate, so there’s that.
- If the Citi Hilton Reserve cards 2 free weekend certs are upgraded to category 1-10, I will be happy. Even though it should be a no-brainer.
- It’s time to burn your Hilton points before the devaluation, which means…VACA! I like vacas, and this will force me to plan a trip. You just have to book before the changes (March 28) so you can lock in the lower price.
My Strategy & Conculsion
I was pumped about trying Hilton Diamond status. I have Hilton HHonors points saved and I was giddy to burn ‘em. Now, I will be looking to burn them sooner than expected and I won’t have the Diamond status I was trying to achieve.
If anything, this has solidified my loyalty to Hyatt and I will spend my efforts re-qualifying for Diamond status through them.
I will be hanging on to my certs earned through the Hilton Reserve in hopes they will upgraded to reflect the new changes. And the Gold status I get from the card is still a good deal since I will receive Gold status (free breakfast, room upgrade, internet, possible lounge access). I don’t think I will be holding onto the card for a second year though.
Devaluations are a way of life, but I thought the Hilton changes were pretty drastic. Oh well, time to burn!
Please comment and leave your thoughts on the changes down below.
— Geoff Whitmore