Hilton decided to “enhance” their loyalty program at the end of February. Part of this “enhancement” was the elimination of their award chart. They introduced award prices that were based off the cash rate for the hotel. The one promise they did make was that the maximum amount of points required for a stay, in the new system, would never be more than the point requirement before the “enhancement.” They said that this would give their loyalty members even more savings.
Turns out what they said is only half true…
The biggest problem is that Hilton used to have low and high season pricing for their higher category hotels. Here is what the costs used to be:
Category 4: 20,000 points/night low season, 30,000 points/night high season
Category 5: 30,000 points/night low season, 40,000 points/night high season
Category 6: 30,000 points/night low season, 50,000 points/night high season
Category 7: 30,000 points/night low season, 60,000 points/night high season
Category 8: 40,000 points/night low season, 70,000 points/night high season
Category 9: 50,000 points/night low season, 80,000 points/night high season
Category 10: 70,000 points/night low season, 95,000 points/night high season
The problem with the new “enhanced” program is that there are no longer low season dates for hotels. The maximum amount of points you will now pay for an award night is always the high season price, even if you book a date that used to have low season pricing.
We will be staying at the Hilton Mauritius for 10 nights at the end of March/beginning of April. The Hilton Mauritius used to be a Category 8 hotel (before Hilton did away with award charts). The dates we booked were the low season price of 40,000 points a night. I booked the first nights a while ago using my Hilton points. I paid 160,000 points for 5 nights (the 5th night is free).
For the second 5 nights, I wanted to get Brit’s Hilton balance high enough to book the award. It was the beginning of February and I was rushing to get these nights booked because I feared this “enhancement” wouldn’t be an enhancement. I used a combination of methods: getting Brit the 75,000 Hilton point Amex no annual fee card, transferring points from Citi to Hilton at rate of 1 TY point to 2 Hilton points (there was a promotion; the rate is usually 1:1.5), and buying some Hilton points during a sale. Eventually, through some sweat and hard work, I booked another 5 nights for 160,000 Hilton points.
Just for kicks and giggles, I decided to check out the Hilton’s new pricing to see if I rushed for no reason or if I had good reason to rush.
Ouch! This is the exact same room, during the same time period, that I booked at 40,000 points a night a month ago. The point price is now 60% higher!
Ever since I’ve gotten into miles & points, I’ve noticed that whenever a hotel or airline announces an “enhancement” to their loyalty program, 99% of the time it means the program is going to have a devaluation. It pays to read about all of the changes and, if the hotel or airline was nice enough to give you some notice, book your travel plans before the devaluation occurs.
I always stay aware of future devaluations. Being aware has given us some amazing opportunities that we would not be able to afford today. My favorite was First Class on the Etihad A380 when it used to cost only 60,000 AA miles to fly between Australia and the Middle East in First Class.
What are the best bookings you have been able to make before a devaluation occurs?