I’m No Longer Bothering with Hilton HHorrors

If you’re part of the points community, you’ve probably already heard that Hilton just MASSIVELY devalued their award chart effective March 28, 2013. The gruesome details have already been covered by The Points Guy, Loyalty Traveler, and View from the Wing, among others. Essentially, they’re going from 7 categories to 10, and increasing the points required by a ton.

This is a big deal in the points world because Hilton is by far the biggest hotel chain in the world AND offered the best value for top-end properties. This was the sweet-spot, so to speak, for HHonors points – high-end hotels that can be had at a relative steal when paying with points.

Now all of that is going away, with those same high-end hotels nearly doubling in points. Yup, a 90% increase on many of the hotels that you’d actually want to stay at (Maldives, Koh Samui, etc.). At least they were kind enough to let us know what properties would be increasing, but that kindness is kind of useless when it’s all bad news from there.

 

My New Strategy

Thankfully I wasn’t in too deep with Hilton when this change was announced. I currently have about 100K HHorrors points with about 10K more on the way, plus three free night certificates from the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card (minimum spend was 2 nights plus I hit the $10K requirement for another night).

My plan was to go big on Hilton cards for my next churn/app-o-rama so I could build a reasonable stash of 200K-300K points for one or two great trips, but not anymore. I plan to burn the points I have in combination with the free night certificates, cancel my Citi HHonors Reserve card, and be done with Hilton…at least for now.

I have no respect for a company that prints points faster than Zimbabwe did cash to create hyperinflation of their currency. It was amazing to get 12x/10x at Hilton properties when using the right credit card. It was fantastic that we could buy gift cards for 6x at CVS. But to then turn around and double the cost of award redemptions? That’s just dirty.

Note that the devaluation itself isn’t a problem for me. That stuff happens. SPG devalued Cash & Points, Priority Club added several categories, Marriott screwed all their customers, etc. The problem is the degree to which it was done.

At least you have a fair warning of one month to use all your points. I recommend you empty your accounts while you can, unless the property you’re eyeing happens to still be a reasonable rate (not likely). It’s worth checking.

 

Alternatives to Hilton

So now that everyone is running away from Hilton (read the comments in any article that discusses the topic – people really are pissed, and for good reason), it’s time to consider your other options.

Hyatt and Starwood are the major players. While I really do love the SPG program, it’s not the best for high-end properties. You can easily see this when you consider that signing up for their credit card doesn’t even get you enough points for a single night at the top St. Regis hotels in exotic locations, for example. Hyatt, on the other hand, looks like our best bet.

Not only does the Chase Hyatt card give you two free nights anywhere, but Hyatt is a 1-to-1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate rewards, giving you even more options. Since a night at a top end property costs 22K Hyatt points, the 50K point bonus for the Ink Bold/Plus cards, for example, will yield you more than enough points for two more free nights. In my opinion, this is your best bet for “aspirational” stays.

I think it’s also time to consider Club Carlson’s program, which contains Radisson hotels. While their footprint is small and elite benefits are still lacking, their points program is pretty strong. The Radisson Blu hotel chain is their top end product and costs 50K points a night, but that can be offset by the 85K point bonus on their credit card. The showstopper, so to speak, is that if you’re a credit card holder and you book two award nights, the second night is free. So two nights at a Radisson Blu effectively costs 50K points, which is a great deal.

Unfortunately, Hilton does have properties in places that no one else does. Auckland, New Zealand is one of them, for example. You may be stuck in situations like that, but perhaps you can try smaller bed & breakfast-type places instead of giving your business to Hilton. I know I’ll consider it.

I’ll be sticking to SPG and using Hyatt for when I want a hotel in a popular destination like the Maldives or Koh Samui, and somewhere down the line I’ll consider Club Carlson’s program as well. But for now, I’m no longer bothering with Hilton HHorors.

 

Note that you can apply for any of the credit cards I mentioned from the bank directly or using my link on the Credit Cards page.

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Comments

  1. And I was planning to go all in for Hilton this yr too :/

  2. Seems like Hyatt will be the next devalued. everyone else is.

    • Travel Summary says:

      Hyatt sort of had a devaluation, but it was extremely mild. But completely agree…they are next on the list. Let’s hope it’s not as brutal as this was.

  3. I’m upset also. On top of the devaluation…Citi will cut the number of points earning on Hilton Visa.

    • Travel Summary says:

      Time to cancel the card! I will speak with my wallet, and not give the Citi Hilton cards or Hilton properties any more business unless it’s completely free!

  4. How can we let Hilton how pissed we are!!!!!

    • Travel Summary says:

      Right now I’m enjoying all the Twitter users’ outrage by tweets to @HiltonHHonors @HiltonHelp @HiltonHotels and credit card issuers Amex and Citi. I’m retweeting all the fun ones!

  5. Fortunately there are plenty of non-chain hotels at various price levels in just about every place that offer more authentic local experiences that chains.

  6. My strategy was to buy as many VR at CVS before May 1st, and then after May 1st, switch to the Club Carlson card. Now, with this devaluation, I just have to file away the Amex Hilton card sonner than the 1st. Like the British airway card, the airline has minted so many points when the card came out, that not long after , a big devaluation.

  7. I think, to be fair, the new Hilton chart is more in line with the Hyatt chart.
    For Hilton, category 8 (new chart) requires 40K to 70K points, meaning a credit card spend of $ 13333 to $23333 ( divide by 3 because $1 yields 3 points). Compare this to Hyatt, the 6th (top) category requires 22K points, meaning $22K credit card spend.
    But remember, Hilton gold status (easy to get) gives free breakfast, while Hyatt doesnt give breakfast unless you’re diamond which is not that easy to achieve. Therefore, I have to say, this Hilton new chart is somewhat similar in benefits for the same amount of credit card spend. It’s just not as lucrative as before.

    • Travel Summary says:

      The reason I disagree with you is because Hyatt’s category 6 will get you a top-end hotel, while Hilton’s new category 8 will not. You’d have to compare the points value of a Category 9-10 property, which will cost a lot more spend.

      Also, the Hyatt card isn’t a great card for everyday spend because of the low earning ratio, but when you factor in the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Freedom, and Ink Bold/Plus cards, there are a lot more opportunities to earn those points.

      • But I certainly would not transfer those UR points into Hyatt point. I respect your opinion though. If I earn my points based on paid hotel stays, then this devaluation is massive and really hurts. But since I use credit cards to gain points, Hilton card will no longer be my focus now. But still, given the ease of getting points, to me, the many properties around the globe, the gold status, hilton program is still very much in line in award nights compare to Hyatt.

        • Hyatt points on high end properties are best value, bar none. 22K for a night at the Vendome? Fantastic value. And I’d redeem UR for Hyatt any day over any other program.

      • Agreed. Cat 6 Hyatt is as good or better than Cat 10 Hilton. So it’s 22K vs 95K. And suites are 33K vs ~200K. Hands down, Hyatt are best value

        • I dont understand how it is, like you say, ” 22K vs 95K”. If $1 spend yields 3 points, then it is more like 22K vs 32K. In the meantime, if you use Hilton card at CVS before 5/1, it is “22K vs 16K ( 95 divided by 6 because $1 yields 6 points).

          • Travel Summary says:

            No one spends money on their Hyatt card to earn points. They earn them through Ultimate Rewards, where they can earn 1.07 using Sapphire Preferred (cost becomes $20.5K), or even better the Ink cards, which are still valuable even with $200 gift cards.

            Using Ink, your cost drops to less than $5K to get 22K Hyatt points…assuming you use those $200 gift cards. Add that to the fact that Hilton 6x goes away in 2.5 months, and Hyatt wins every time for the top end properties.

  8. I believe this is the beginning of the end of the free point party. Blame it on airline consolidation. It’s only a matter of time before cc sign up bonus’ goes the way of inflight smoking. And then God forbid, we will have to pay for travel. The nerve of some companies

    • Travel Summary says:

      It certainly feels that way based on all the bad news this year.

      • Oh no! What other “bad news” this year? So far I just know of the Hilton face slap. :( What else has happened and/or going to happen? Airlines? Other hotels? Bank rewards cards? I’m new to the points world. :( (Thank you for great articles Travel Summary.)

        • Travel Summary says:

          Priority Club (Holiday Inn, InterContinental, etc.) also added categories and ruined their program, just not as bad as Hilton did. Starwood is also increasing their Cash & Points costs, in addition to raising hotel categories. Hyatt hasn’t really done anything this year, but they’re likely next.

  9. @ Travel summary 2:39 pm

    Hmmm….I must be missing something. Feel free to tell me what I’m missing .

    First, you talk about using Sapphire, Freedom for Hyatt points, for that it takes 20.5 spend . Then Hilton’s spend is at the most 30K.
    Nextyou talk about

    using Ink points for Hyatt, if it only takes 5K, it has to be the $ 200 vanilla gift card. But what about liquidating? Wont it cost 25 cards x $11 ( 7+ 4 for VR) = $275 ?
    But after 5/1, if I use Hilton card at CVS, it only costs 60 card x 4 =$240 for a 30K spend @ 3points per dollar. ( 60 cards @ $ 500/card). I just dont know how Hyatt is easier than Hilton? I must be too dense on this.
    By the way, I dont put spend on the Hyatt card. But I feel Chase points are too valuable to transfer to Hyatt.

Trackbacks

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