February 2, 2017
Big Changes Coming to Hilton Honors Program

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Straight to the Point

Hilton is introducing a new way to redeem points for rooms, an option to pool points with friends, an extension of Dimond elite status, a new partnership with Amazon and more! The changes will be rolled out in phases from today through the summer.

 

Name Change


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Hilton HHonors is changing its name to Hilton Honors (one H). I love it. Why was it even called HHonors to begin with?

 

Points and Money Redemptions

Hilton will allow members to book standard rooms with a combination of points and cash. There will be a sliding scale that customers can use to select what combination of points and cash they want to use. You need to redeem a minimum of 5,000 points, increasing in 1,000 point increments. The new points and cash option is not available for suites.


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What’s really interesting here is that there’s no fixed value for the points. The value changes according to the price of the room and the redemption rate. For example, let’s say there’s a standard room which costs $300 or 50,000 Honors points. This gives a value of 0.60 cents per point. Using the slider, you could for example elect redeem 20,000 points and $180 cash. This maintains the 0.60 cents per point valuation.

 

Finally, the award redemption rate will now fluctuate with the dollar price of the room. So as rates drop in the off season, the award rate will also drop. Hilton has said that the maximum award rate will not increase above the cap for that hotel’s category. For example, a category 8 hotel will never cost more than 70k points to redeem right now, but during the off season the rate could drop below 70k!

 

The new system offers tremendous flexibility to consumers as you’re no longer bound to redeem huge quantities of points at a time. And I love that Hilton isn’t using this change to devalue its program by pegging the per point redemption value to a set number!

 

Points Pooling


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You’ll soon be able to pool your points with up to 10 family members and friends for free! What this really means is that you can combine your points with anyone! You can send up to 500k points per year and receive up to 2 million points per year. Points pooling starts this Spring. I’ll be curious to read the details of this program as it appears very easy to exploit based on my first impression.

 

Amazon Shop with Points

You’ll be able to redeem Hilton Honors points towards Amazon purchases starting this summer. We don’t know what the redemption rate will be yet, but other Amazon partners typically offer $0.01 per points. I’d stay away from any redemption that low.

 

Extend Hilton Diamond Status


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Hilton members who’ve maintained Diamond status for 3+ years and accumulated 500k points or stayed 250+ nights will be able to extend their Diamond status for one year for free! Note that this perk is currently being offered as a one time benefit. For example, if you qualified for Diamond in 2016 but not 2017, you can get that extension if you meet the requirements. The option to extend will be rolling out this spring.

 

Final Thoughts

All these changes look great. I’m particularly excited about the Points and Money redemptions and the Points Pooling as those two will unlock a lot of value for customers. The Diamond extension is also a neat idea and makes sense as a great way to keep your most loyal customers. It’s always encouraging to see loyalty programs make positive improvements for their customers. Ultimately I’m still a loyal Starwood Platinum as I find the SPG program is the best hotel reward program out there today based on how I like to spend my points.

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