The big news this week is the Hilton HHonors points devaluation. In case you missed the festivities, or didn’t get the email from Hilton HHonors, here is a quick breakdown of what you missed:
- Starting March 28, 2013, Hilton HHonors will add THREE categories to its award chart, making the highest category a Category 10.
- Seasonal award pricing will also be introduced, meaning the redemption rate can fluctuate based on whether or not you’re traveling in a peak or off-peak season.
- Silver, Gold and Diamond members who reserve a standard room award stay of five or more nights will get the fifth night free.
Your first question is probably, “What’s the damage?” Here’s the answer:
Yes, you’re reading that right. After March 28, it will now cost you 95,000 points for one free night in a Category 10 hotel. Keep in mind that’s just for a standard night. With Premium Room Rewards, it’s going to cost you even more. Have a look at this chart to see how your favorite properties are being hit by these changes.
At first glance, you may have noticed that redemption rates for Categories 1 through 3 have all decreased. Don’t get too excited. With the addition of three new categories, that means a number of properties are moving up. One FlyerTalk member mentioned a Hampton Inn that would cost 60,000 points after the changes take effect. Sixty thousand points for a Hampton Inn? Wow.
With regard to fluctuating rates based on seasonal activity, I wouldn’t get too excited there either. As many people flock to redeem their points before the devaluation, they have reported seeing little to no fluctuation at all throughout the year.
The fifth night free option certainly sounds intriguing. However, this is just marketing spin. As The Points Guy astutely points out, Hilton HHonors Silver, Gold, and Diamond members already receive a discount on reward redemptions in the form of GLON awards.
Currently, GLON awards for elites offer the following discounts:
Four-night stay: 15% discount
Five-night stay: 20% discount
Six-night stay or longer: 25% discount
So a 5-night stay already earns a 20% discount, which is the same as fifth night free.
With all that said, what should you do? The first thing you should do is review the new category chart (mentioned above) and see what is happening with your favorite properties. After that, see what you can do about burning your points before March 28. If you book before then, you can still redeem your points at the current rates. At the very least, you could make some speculative reservations and hope everything works out when your travel date(s) arrive. Worst case scenario, you cancel and get your points back.
At this point, you have just over a month to take action. Personally, I don’t like to react too quickly to changes like this. Let it sink in and think about how these changes really affect you. If you were saving for a big trip to an aspirational property, this announcement is likely going to hurt you more than most people. If you were just saving the points for a rainy day, this may not be too bad. You can still use your points for some nice mid-level properties on short staycations.