Hilton HHonors piloted three new hotel rewards since April 2011 with Points & Money, Premium Room, and Room Upgrade Rewards. These options are spreading to more hotels worldwide in 2012. Points & Money Rewards truly enhance the HHonors program for all members. Premium Room Rewards are a mixed bag of expanded reward choice and hotel points devaluation. Room Upgrade Rewards using points on paid reservations are not covered here due to insufficient data for point value analysis. HHonors upgrade rewards may not be practical when you see the rates displayed in HHonors points.
Points & Money Rewards (P&M)
Points & Money Rewards, where available, are a blessing for HHonors members with more hotel reward needs than points. P&M require half the points of Standard Rewards plus a cash supplement in the range of $30 to $100 per night based on hotel reward category. The real value for HHonors members is the ability to conserve HHonors points for more reward nights.
The money component of P&M saves thousands of HHonors points at the rate of $3.20 to $3.50 per 1,000 points for each reward night redeemed. Buying points directly from Hilton HHonors runs $10 to $12.50 per 1,000 points. The replacement cost to earn more points through hotel stays and credit card spend is far higher. P&M Rewards provide significant point savings on one to three night stays with lesser value for extended stays of four or more nights as HHonors Going Global Rewards already offer 15 to 25 percent point discounts.
Note: Oct. 3 — HHonors replaced the Points & Money Reward table showing fixed rates for each hotel category with this wording: “The number of points required to redeem Points & Money Rewards varies by room, hotel, and booking date.” Hopefully this is not a post-pilot reward devaluation.
HHonors Points & Money Rewards offer similar savings to the 60 percent points discount with Starwood Preferred Guest Cash & Points awards. SPG members pay a cash rate equivalent of $10 to $12 per 1,000 points saved compared to $35 to buy 1,000 points.
IHG Priority Club offers a unique Points & Cash Reward. Points required for a free night are not reduced. Instead, the option to buy 5,000 or 10,000 points when making a reward night redemption offers members over 50 percent savings on the regular purchase price for points.
HHonors Premium Room Rewards
Members can book confirmed premium room reward stays, including suites, using only HHonors points. Premium rewards offer the ability to confirm a specific room type at booking or book a reward stay even when no standard room reward availability exists. The Premium Rewards drawback is low redemption value. Most hotels I sampled offered $3.33 per 1,000 points redemption value. HHonors redemption value will likely be somewhat lower booking Premium Rewards compared to Standard Rewards. Several independent analyses I’ve seen for HHonors points calculate $5 per 1,000 points is an average value for HHonors hotel rewards.
Hilton Checkers Los Angeles — Nov. 15, 2011. Standard Reward Two Queen Beds = 40,000 points or $229 room rate. Redemption Value = $5.73/1,000 points. Premium Reward King Junior Suite = 134,565 points or $449. Redemption Value = $3.34/1,000 points. Premium Reward Presidential Suite = 323,376 points or $1,079. Redemption Value = $3.34/1,000 points.
Hilton Prague Old Town — Oct. 10, 2011. Standard Reward Twin Guest Room = 40,000 points or $372 USD. Redemption Value = $9.30/1,000 points. Premium Reward King Executive Plus = 147,323 points or $491. Redemption Value = $3.33/1,000 points. Premium Reward King Penthouse Suite = 748,564 points or $2,497. Redemption Value = $3.34/1,000 points.
Point Stretching Premium Rewards
Premium Rewards have far better redemption value at hotels with Point Stretcher Reward dates.
Conrad Bangkok — Oct. 28-31, 2011. Point Stretcher Reward King Guest Room = 21,000 points or $154. Redemption value = $7.33/1,000 points. Premium Reward King Executive Floor = 32,928 or $185. Redemption value = $5.62/1,000 points. Premium Reward King Executive Suite = 51,744 or $291. Redemption value = $5.62/1,000 points. Premium Reward King Deluxe Suite = 88,521 or $498. Redemption value = $5.63/1,000 points.
Premium Rewards during Standard Reward dates at the Conrad Bangkok Nov. 10-13 reduce the redemption value to a low $3.21 per 1,000 points for these same premium room types. The room rate for King Deluxe Suite increases $12 to $510 per night, yet the Premium Reward increases from 88,521 to 158,653 points per night. Higher value Premium Rewards during Point Stretcher dates is a pattern seen at many hotels.
Points & Money Rewards are an enhancement placing more hotel rewards within reach of Hilton HHonors members. Premium Rewards and Upgrade Rewards are geared for high account balance members willing to redeem points at relatively low value for the benefit of a confirmed upgrade.