In February this year, Hilton announced some significant changes to its loyalty program. Five changes kicked in from March 1,2017.
- Hilton HHonors will now be Hilton Honors
- Introduction of flexible points + money for award redemptions
- Using Hilton Honors points for purchases on Amazon.com
- The ability to pool points among family and friends
- The provision to extend Diamond benefit for a 1-year period in case of a life event
Some of these changes are definitely positive for not so frequent travelers. Like pooling points with up to 10 people where each member can transfer up to 500,000 per year and each account can receive a maximum credit of 2 million points annually. Another good one which probably I won’t use is using points for Amazon purchases. This is a good one if you have points expiring in your account and no opportunity to use them.
The most interesting change though is the introduction of Points +Money where Hilton has now introduced a Standard Rewards Pricing Tool that can be used to check the high/low number of points required for an award night. The category chart will be used as a guideline and this also means that the maximum number of points required for a given hotel under the new Points + Money will not exceed the points under the old method. Here’s the standard rewards chart.
For example: Conrad Pune which is a category 4 hotel costs 30,000 Hinton Honors points for a reward night. Now with the new ‘Pay with Points & Money’ option you can slide the bar and choose to use any number of points (in multiples of thousands) and it will calculate the cash component. The point slider starts at 5,000 points.
This depicts essentially that I have the ability to use points on this property at INR 300 for 1000 points, which is roughly INR 0.30 per point. The value changes based on different properties, but one will have to do a more thorough assessment of where it makes sense to use points, and where to go all cash.
As expected, I did not notice a drop in points in low season for Conrad Maldives which continues to be prices at 95,000 points per night. Also, keep in mind that Points & Money will never remain constant and the points required will vary as per the season and occupancy at the hotel. So like before it’s good to compare before redeeming blindly.
I do feel that some of the new changes incorporated like Points Pooling and Points & Money are good. Hilton Honors was anyways more like revenue-based program where number of points changed depending on the season one booked in, this however gives more flexibility to play around. Also if you have very few Hilton Honors points and like me do not believe in spending them on Amazon shopping, you now have the option of using the slider to decrease the cash price for a night or pool in and stash in one account to redeem later.
Have you tried your hands at the new Points & Money slider? What are some good Indian properties which now turn up as deals on the Hilton network?