Hilton’s new HHonors redemption rates: Excessively complex and expensive


For anyone with a stash of Hilton HHonors points tucked away the news out today is likely to drive you just a wee bit crazy. And not in a good way. Hilton announced the changes for their 2013 program rules and the details are not good news at all. The new rules go into effect on March 28, 2013. On the plus side, elites will get a 5th night free with any 4 night award reservation. On the down side, however, there are now 10 different tiers for hotels and within the top 7 of those tiers variable pricing based on which month of the year you are booking the hotel. It is, quite frankly, a mess.

The 5th night free thing matches other major brands and I suppose that’s nice for some of their members. I don’t begrudge them that benefit though it means nothing to me; I haven’t stayed that long in any one place that I can remember. Maybe 10 years ago in St. Lucia but that property isn’t even a Hilton anymore. So there is a little bit of value in that benefit but not for me.

The other changes, however, pretty much destroy the program, if only by making what was already probably the most complicated hotel program even more difficult to manage and understand. Here’s the old award chart:

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Pretty straightforward and easy to figure out. Not so much with the new one:

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So I suppose the first thing everyone is supposed to get excited about is that the points required for a room are dropping at the bottom end of the spectrum. And they are. Alas, there aren’t all that many properties there. And the inflation and complexities introduced at the mid-tiers are miserable. Here’s a look at some NYC hotels over a 3 month window:

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Not only are some of the rates astronomical but the variation is hard to comprehend. Everything is at max rate in November/December in New York City. I get that. But in January they don’t drop consistently. Figuring out rates will take way too much time and effort. And that’s putting aside that all the rates are at least 40% higher than they are today at peak season; the DoubleTree in Times Square is one of many properties now 95% more expensive to book. YIKES!

I’m not going to spend much time going through all the properties to figure out what got more expensive. My quick scan of major cities is sufficient for me to believe that enough have to make this move similar to the Marriott devaluation from last week: Massive. And with the added bonus of making things way more confusing than they need to be.

This one really hurts.

Related Posts:

Marriott rate changes announced for 2013: OUCH!

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

21 Comments

  1. I was thinking of staying at the Grand Hyatt on a future Hong Kong booking, but now that the Conrad is going up from 50K to 80K points, I figure I might as well go there instead and drain my account. Sad, but then I was never a big Hilton fan to begin with.

  2. Damn, that’s a huge hit all around. HHonors was always pricey to begin with but people used to justify it by saying how easy it is to earn HHonors points.

    With the major devaluations this year, and some like PCR that already had some last year… how much is it really worth chasing hotel loyalty programs anymore?

  3. Wow, this is really a huge devaluation. Making me think twice about my vanilla reload cards 🙂

  4. You see everyone seem to think the folks in the travel arena are stupid; all the changes I’ve seen coming out shows they are not.

    Seth, users will get over the changes and move on. Also there are new people everyday who do not know how “good” it was.

    Like anything else, you, travelers, will look for the value where it lies.

  5. At this point, can an additional Hyatt devaluation be expected in the near future? I’m sure they will feel like they are leaving too much on the table. Despite what we may think, hotel points and miles are about rewarding activity and not loyalty. Until the next recession or attack dramatically weakens the hotel industry, we will only see negative changes as the brands grow stronger.

  6. Looks like we’ll be burning and moving on. Hilton has always been our primary hotel – never less than 100 nights a year but I’m tired of having my loyalty rewarded with ever diminishing returns.

  7. @FlyingBear Yeah that was my first thought, Club Carlson is looking like the winner now! Hopefully they don’t jump on the deval bandwagon!

  8. Elites already got the 5th night free with GLON awards. So they’re not really adding a benefit…. they’re just rewording an existing benefit

  9. @RQ, they are actually making it worst and less flexible, as you could have discounts for 4, 5 or 6 nights, no you can only have that for 5 nights.

  10. I have 140k HHonors points, only 5k away from an AXON award! Since I’ve allocated almost all of this year’s vacation time for trips already, if I use them to book something before 3/28, it’ll have to be a domestic (I have the SW CP) trip on a long weekend. Any good, high-value candidates for this (if I’m able to get the remaining 5k points)??

  11. Encourage posting on twitter and facebook, the following, or similar:

    @HiltonHHonors @AmericanExpress @Citibank Years of business undermined by #HHonors devaluation. HHDiamond turns #disloyal, joins #boycott

  12. What about those of us who just got our Citi Reserve Hilton cards with 2 free weekend nights advertised at the highest category (7)? I recently applied and received two cards, one to use for business and one for personal. Now, in less than 2 months, my 4 free weekend nights (when I receive the awards) are limited to category 7, no longer the highest category! Did anyone else have the same experience?

  13. I am using up my last HHonors points for 4 nights in Munich during Oktoberfest (old AXON = 125K.) I have lost desire to earn more, as I now call them “good for nothing!”

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