Hilton Makes Big Changes to Award Program: What You Need to Know

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Big news for folks who like Hilton hotels.  Hilton has announced positive changes to how you redeem award points & cash, and keep elite status starting late February 2017.  But they’re eliminating their award chart, which makes planning award travel more inconvenient.

The good news is, you’ll be able to use Hilton “Points Plus Money” awards in a flexible way to make bookings.  And if you’ve had Diamond elite status for at least 3 years, you’ll be able to re-qualify for an extra year even if you didn’t have enough stays in the previous year to earn it.

And they’ve renamed their loyalty program.  They’ve dropped the extra “H” from “Hilton HHonors.”  Now, they’re simply “Hilton Honors.”  One less “H” to type!  😉

Hilton Makes Big Changes To Award Program What You Need To Know
There Will No Longer Be an Award Chart for Hilton Hotels, Like the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu

I’ll explain the changes and what it means for you!

Hilton Program Changes

Link:   All the Ways to Earn Hilton Points

According to One Mile at a Time, Hilton will make changes to their loyalty program in late February 2017.  They’re also simplifying their name, which will become “Hilton Honors” (minus the extra “H”).

Hilton hotels include Conrad, Canopy, Curio, DoubleTreeEmbassy SuitesHampton InnHiltonHilton Garden Inn, Hilton Grand Vacations, Home2Suites, Homewood Suites, Tru, and Waldorf Astoria brand hotels.

1.   Good News

a.   Flexible Points & Money

Soon, you’ll be able to use a sliding scale to pick the number of points and money you use for award bookings.  For any booking if a standard room is available.

So, if you don’t have quite enough points for an award, you can choose a certain number of points plus a cash co-pay, depending on how many points you’d like to spend.

Hilton Makes Big Changes To Award Program What You Need To Know
Use the Points You’d Like for an Award Stay, and Top-Up the Rest With Cash

This could be good for folks who want to stretch their Hilton points for more award nights.  But the cash co-pay for individual hotels isn’t yet known.

b.   Points Pooling

This is excellent news!  You’ll soon be able to combine Hilton points with up to 10 friends or family members for no fee.  Up to 500,000 Hilton points per year.

Hilton Makes Big Changes To Award Program What You Need To Know
Share the Love! Pool Your Hilton Points With up to 10 Pals With NO Fee – Up to 500,000 Points per Year

Currently, Hilton charges $2.50 per 1,000 points you transfer to another Hilton member.  So, for example, if you transferred 50,000 Hilton points to a loved one for an award stay, it would cost $125 (1,000 Hilton points X $2.50 per 1,000 points X 50).

That’s usually not worth it.  But soon, you won’t pay anything to transfer up to 500,000 Hilton points to friends and family each year.

So if you and your partner collect Hilton points, it will be free and easy to pool your points for an award stay.

c.   Extend Your Hilton Diamond Status

If you had Hilton Diamond elite status for at least 3 years, but didn’t have enough stays or nights in the last year to re-qualify, Hilton will let you extend your Diamond status for an extra year.

That’s very generous, and good for Diamond elite members who’ve gone through a life change, like a new baby or job loss, that has them traveling less frequently than before.  That said, Hilton has offered Diamond status to folks with elite status at other chains in the past.  Hilton Diamond status gets you perks like free breakfast, lounge access, and room upgrades.

d.   Use Hilton Points at Amazon

Hilton hasn’t shared details, but you’ll soon be able to use Hilton points for Amazon purchases.

I do NOT recommend using miles and points for merchandise, but this could be an option for folks who have a handful of Hilton points left in their account and no plans for an award stay before they expire.

2.   Bad News

Link:   Hilton Award Chart

Hilton is eliminating their award chartCurrently, they have 9 categories for award nights, between 5,000 and 95,000 Hilton points per night.  The higher categories cost a variable amount of points, depending on the season.

They say award prices for hotels will not increase past the maximum for each category.  For example, Hilton category 10 hotels (their top tier) currently cost 70,000 to 95,000 Hilton points per night.  So we should not expect these hotels to cost more than 95,000 Hilton points per night.

Hilton Makes Big Changes To Award Program What You Need To Know
Emily and Her Folks Snorkeled at the Conrad Maldives. Going Forward, Hilton Says It Won’t Cost More Than 95,000 Hilton Points per Night, but It’s NO Longer in a Category

But you’ll no longer be able to easily estimate the number of points to expect for an award night based on their previous category.  Instead, you’ll have to search for the specific hotel and your stay dates to see how many points you need.

It’s not good when award programs remove their award chart, because it means they can change the number of points and miles needed for a hotel night or flight whenever they want.  It makes it harder to plan award travel.

Bottom Line

Hilton is revamping to their award program starting this spring.  Most of the changes are good:
  • You’ll be able to use a sliding scale on Points & Money bookings, which means you get to choose the number of points you pay plus a cash co-pay
  • Diamond elite members who didn’t have enough nights or stays in the previous year can requalify if they held Diamond elite status for 3 years
  • You’ll be able to pool your points with anyone (up to 10 friends or family) for no fee, up to 500,000 Hilton points per year
  • And you’ll soon be able to use your Hilton points for purchases at Amazon, although I don’t recommend using points for merchandise

But they’re eliminating their award chart, which is NOT good news.  This will make it harder to plan award travel, although Hilton says their hotels won’t cost more than the maximum number of points in their previous category.

What do you think of the changes to Hilton’s loyalty program?  Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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