Is It Worth Spending $15,000 On Hilton Card To Earn Weekend Night Reward?

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Earlier this year we saw American Express and Hilton transform their card portfolio, with the introduction of a new super premium card, as well as two new mid-range cards. In this post I wanted to look at a specific benefit offered by two of these cards, both of which offer welcome bonuses of up to 100,000 points upon completing minimum spend:

  • The Hilton Honors Ascend Card offers 75,000 Honors points after spending $2,000 within the first three months, plus an additional 25,000 points after spending an additional $1,000 within the first six months
  • The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card offers 75,000 Honors points after spending $3,000 within the first three months, plus an additional 25,000 points after spending an additional $1,000 within the first six months

These two cards also have potentially great benefits, including Hilton Honors Gold status for as long as you have the card, 10 Priority Pass visits per year, Honors Diamond spend when you spend $40,000 on the card in a calendar year, a weekend night reward when you spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year, and more. In this post I wanted to focus specifically on one benefit of these two cards, which reader Anthony brought up on a recent post.

How the Hilton weekend night reward works

The Hilton Honors Ascend Card and Hilton Honors American Express Business Card each offer a weekend night reward after you spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year. This certificate can be redeemed at a vast majority of Hilton properties, and there’s only a very small list of excluded hotels.

The certificate is valid for a year from when it’s issued, and as long as a standard room is available on a weekend night (in most parts of the world that includes Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights), you should be able to redeem it. Hilton standard rooms cost as much as 95,000 points per night, so that’s potentially the maximum value you could get from this.

Is it worth spending $15,000 on these cards to earn a weekend night reward?

To decide whether it’s worth actually spending $15,000 on these cards in a year to earn these certificates, you have to look at the return on spend that you’re ordinarily getting. The exact bonus categories on the cards vary a bit, as follows:

  • The Hilton Honors Ascend Card offers 12x points per dollar spent with Hilton, 6x points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations, and 3x points per dollar spent on everything else
  • The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card offers 12x points per dollar spent with Hilton, 6x points per dollar spent at U.S. gas stations, on wireless phone services with US service providers, on U.S. shipping purchases, at U.S. restaurants, on flights booked directly with airlines or with amextravel.com, and on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies, and 3x points per dollar spent on everything else

For non-bonused spend, you’re earning 3x points per dollar spent on both cards. For all practical purposes let’s assume that you’re spending in non-bonused categories. While there’s a chance you use some of the bonus categories, the reality is that there are other cards offering great bonus categories as well.

So if you spent $15,000 on either of these cards you’d receive 45,000 Honors points, plus you’d get a weekend night reward, valid at a hotel retailing for up to 95,000 points per night. That’s potentially a return worth up to the equivalent of 140,000 Honors points, or ~9.3 Honors points per dollar spent.

It’s important to be clear that this is the absolute maximum value you’re getting. In reality you shouldn’t value that reward at 95,000 points because:

  • It expires after a year, so you have a limited window in which you can use it
  • In order to maximize this certificate you’d have to redeem at the most expensive hotels, which greatly reduces the flexibility in terms of where you can redeem
  • You can only redeem for weekend stays

At most you’re earning the equivalent of 140,000 Honors points worth of value for that $15,000 of spend. That’s not a fair objective valuation, though it is possible you’ll get that much value. Perhaps more realistic would be to apply some sort of discount to that certificate, due to the restrictions. To keep things simple, maybe we should instead say that certificate is worth 75,000 points, meaning your total return is 120,000 points on $15,000 of spend, which is about eight Honors points per dollar. I value Honors points at ~0.4 cents each, so that’s the equivalent of a ~3.2% return.

You also have to factor in the cost of the annual fee

Both of these cards have $95 annual fees, so you have to decide how much of that annual fee you want to allocate to the ability to earn a weekend night certificate. For example, in my situation:

So the truth is that in my particular situation, having this card might not otherwise make sense. As a result, when I decide on whether or not it would make sense to put $15,000 of spend on the card, I’d allocate the entire $95 annual fee to that reward, because it would be the primary reason I have the card.

So… is it worth spending $15,000 on the card?

While I’d love to provide a direct answer of whether or not it’s worth spending money on one of the $95 annual fee Hilton cards to earn the weekend night reward, I’m afraid the math is too subjective to give a “one size fits all” answer. Instead I’d encourage everyone to do the math based on the following:

  • How much you value Hilton Honors points at
  • How much you value the weekend night reward at, taking into account the expiration date and day of week restrictions
  • Whether you’d otherwise have the card or not; if you’d have the card even without this, then you don’t have to factor in the $95 annual fee with the math, while otherwise you’d have to subtract the annual fee from what you perceive the value to be

I do think this is a spend bonus that’s worthwhile for many, and that’s worth considering.

In my particular case I’m not sure the math works out as favorably. I value Honors points at 0.4 cents each, and let’s say I value the certificate at 75,000 points, and that I wouldn’t otherwise have the card. When you add all of that up, I’m earning the equivalent of 120,000 points of value for spending $15,000, which I value at $480 (0.4 cents per point). When you subtract the $95 annual fee from that, that brings us to $385 of value on $15,000 of spend, which ends up being a return of ~2.55%.

On business cards, I tend to think I can achieve a better return on that with The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express, which has no annual fee and offers up to 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent annually. For personal cards, I can do just about as well by using The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, which offers 1.5x points per dollar spent when you make 30 transactions per billing cycle.

The math could work out radically different for others.

Do you find it worthwhile to spend money on the Hilton Honors Ascend Card and/or Hilton Honors American Express Business Card to earn the weekend night reward certificate?

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Comments

  1. The juice is spending $40K and getting Diamond. Unlimited upgrade potential, including suites.

  2. Lucky,

    Thanks for posting this. This post, and our interaction in the best card for dining post, is helpful.

    One of the reasons I am interested in this question is that I just got the Hilton Ascend a few weeks ago instead of the Aspire because I didn’t want to add another $400+ Amex fee to my Platinum and I figured I could easily spend $15,000 for the free night. I stay at Hiltons a few times a year (under 10 nights or so as I spread around my nights between all of the major brands and independents) on business travel, and use the points for cash/points redemptions and for occasional full stays. The ability to earn a chunk of Hilton points and a free night plus in addition to the points I already get by staying at Hilton (compounded with double points) seems to get me to good value on the Hilton card pretty quickly with minimal effort.

  3. $15,000 for a free hotel night? No, not worth it. But, I’ll keep the card since it comes with Priority Pass and ten free lounge visits in exchange for the annual fee.

  4. I’m already about $4500 in from the min spend. I need a hotel night in Tokyo and HK so could get the 95k point value from the Conrad hotel.

    Seems like it’d be worth it for me?

  5. I have been debating upgrading my Ascend to the Aspire. The annual fee is $450 vs $95, but that free weekend night without having to meet the $15K spend might make a case. It was easier with the Citi card when the free night was after only $10K in spend.

    If I say that is worth about $200, then I can make a case for the upgrade and use that 15K spend somewhere else to get some other bonus.

    Decisions…..

  6. Your analysis should instead consider whether it is worth it to spend an additional $11k/$12/k, not $15k, because you need to spend $3k/$4k regardless to get the signup bonus. I’m assuming this is first year consideration, since neither of these cards make sense to keep after the first year.

    I ended up doing it, but only because I had a short term opportunity to overpay on taxes so that I can soon hit $15k. The value of the free night+ extra points on the spend exceeded the fees. For most though you have to consider the opportunity cost of that spend (i.e. putting that spend towards a new signup bonus), so for most people it would not be worth it.

  7. I have the Ascend card because I used to have the Citi Hilton card. If I cancel the Ascend card, would I ever be able to apply for it in the future and get the sign up bonus? Since I didn’t receive the Ascend bonus originally, I’m hoping I could get it when I cancel and reapply at a future date.

  8. Use sunnier assumptions, like one would actually use the certificate to book a free night that would cost 95K/night and that a HH point is worth .5-.6 cent as other have it, and you easily have a return of 4.7%-5.5% 🙂

    I would not put any spend on these cards that is not associated with a Hilton travel activity, however…

  9. Valuation on Hilton points may be a bit low. Not for use of the certificate which is limited, but rather close in booking on most hotels I can get nearly 1 cent per point regularly. It would be interesting to take this a step further and go all the way to 40K and include the value of diamond status to see if it adds up to a nice return when the free night is included in the 40k spend

  10. Just spending 1/3 or just $5K on Hilton stays as a HH Diamond during Q2 with the 2x promo that would earn me 42HH/$ on the Ascend card would get me 210K HH points, which would be good enough for 2 free nights at 95K/night and then some, or nearly 3 free nights at 75K/night…

    The full power of the Ascend or Aspire is unlocked when either card is used to pay for revenue stays at Hilton properties, and I think that is by design…

  11. I liked the $10K spend free night perk with the Citi Hilton card. That’s one area where they devalued this card switching it to AMEX. I only put Hilton spend on this card so if I hit $15K so be it but I’m not putting any other spend on this card. There’s too many other valuable rewards to be earned.

  12. For the 10 Priority Passes that come with the Ascend card, can you take in guests? Would the guess be able to use 1 of the 10 passes? Thanks.

  13. DCS – It is true that spending on Hilton stays it the best use of these cards. Unfortunately, many of us have to book a majority of our revenue hotel stays with a corporate card that return nothing on spending… As a result, I use these cards like this to “top off” actual earnings more than anything else.

  14. @Mser,

    Why not spend a mere $450 instead for the annual fee on the Aspire card to get Diamond status and call it a day?

  15. @Anthony — That is indeed an unfortunate company restriction. It thus does make sense to go for the next best thing because the Ascend or the Aspire card remains the best way to earn significant numbers of HH points on non-hotel spend…

  16. I’m starting to agree with Mojo but sucking up that $450 fee ugh! That’s why I rid myself of the AMEX Platinum (again) among others-/ too high fees for the benefits. So many cards have redundant benefits. Each should provide a unique benefit or Feature that only it provides to its customers that is of value to you.

  17. I just used my free weekend night at the Conrad Osaka which was charging $540 cash rate for the night. Add in 45k points at half a cent each is another $225, less the $95 annual fee and I would get 540+225-95 = $670 of value back on 15k spend or 4.5% return on spend. Where else can you get that on non-bonused spend?

  18. I use the Aspire for dinning. Doesn’t have the CSR. Tired of reading that people value HH points at 0.4-0.6 when I usually get 0.8 or even 1 cents at high end properties. Please…if you are getting 0.4 cents or so in value don’t use the points and pay for the room and get 34+ points per dólar if Diamond. Redeeming at that value is like redeeming SPG points for a cent…

  19. I made the 15000 and I spent the certificate in Conrad Bora Bora plus the 45K, this movement really worth it for me….

  20. I got a free night from Ascend spend and was notified by email. You have to call to redeem unlike Marriott cat 1-5 which can be done online. Good for a year.

  21. So disingenuous not to mention the Aspire, which provides a free weekend night and Diamond status without spending a penny – and the resort credit and airline incidental credit cancel out the high annual fee without even taking into account the free weekend night (which comes at account opening) and Diamond status that you’re asking people to spend a ton of money for through the above two cards. You are a credit card shill. Every time you report on these crappy cards without mentioning the Aspire I have even less respect for you…

  22. “So disingenuous not to mention the Aspire, which provides a free weekend night and Diamond status without spending a penny – and the resort credit and airline incidental credit cancel out the high annual fee without even taking into account the free weekend night (which comes at account opening) and Diamond status that you’re asking people to spend a ton of money for through the above two cards.”

    You have your facts a little distorted. The airline incidental credit is not useful to most of us who travel a lot. The incidentals reimburse for food purchased aboard a plane and for a charge for checked baggage. With airline status, most of us do not get charged for checking a bag. Flying business or first, food is free. So, please tell us how awful it is for the author not to push this card. Thanks

  23. @dmg you must be kidding me if you don’t know that the incidental credit can be used for gift cards for every major US airline except United, which is currently having issues with the Gift Registry. Ben has shared the Flyertalk threads for AMEX incidental credit for each airline numerous times. Secondly, the card is still 100 times better than the other two Hilton AMEX cards I mentioned even if there was no airline credit. I already outlined the reasons above.

  24. @Daniel M — @Lucky did not mention the Aspire card, despite being the most revolutionary card in the industry, not because he was trying to be disingenuous, but because AMEX has a gag order that prevents MOST travel bloggers from writing about the Aspire. At the moment, TPG seems to have landed exclusive “rights” to write about and collect commission fees on the Aspire.

    @dmg’s claim that “The airline incidental credit is not useful to most of us who travel a lot” is silly, especially to those who travel a lot. For instance, paying for onboard Wi-Fi, which is not *yet* free, is an incidental that could eat up the airline credit for a frequent traveler. I have often needed to take short flights on regional airlines on which I have no status to get to remote vacation locations while carrying a heavily packed bag, whuch I would check and would be so heavy I would have to pay a fee. That is incidental spend that would qualify…

  25. @Daniel M — @Lucky did not mention the Aspire card, despite being the most revolutionary card in the industry, not because he was trying to be disingenuous, but because AMEX has a gag order that prevents MOST travel bloggers from writing about the Aspire. At the moment, TPG seems to have landed exclusive “rights” to write about and collect commission fees on the Aspire.

    @dmg’s claim that “The airline incidental credit is not useful to most of us who travel a lot” is silly, especially to those who travel a lot. For instance, paying for onboard Wi-Fi, which is not *yet* free, is an incidental that could eat up the airline credit for a frequent traveler. I have often needed to take short flights on regional airlines on which I have no status to get to remote vacation locations while carrying a heavily packed bag, which I would check and would be so heavy I would have to pay a fee. That is incidental spend that would qualify…

  26. @MarkG, likely rolling his eyes, sez: “Tired of reading that people value HH points at 0.4-0.6 when I usually get 0.8 or even 1 cents at high end properties.”

    Not only do point currencies have no redemption value until they are redeemed, anyone who would knowingly redeem HH points for a redemption value of .4cent is not playing the game with a “full deck” and should hang it up…

  27. “DCS says:
    May 2, 2018 at 5:06 am” – – – – “For instance, paying for onboard Wi-Fi, which is not *yet* free, is an incidental that could eat up the airline credit for a frequent traveler.”

    I specifically asked Amex if wifi is covered as one of the incidentals. The Amex agent consulted the terms and conditions and found that Wifi is not covered. I also asked about the “Gift cards” and I was told that they will soon be a prohibited item for purposes of incidentals.

  28. @dmg – I flew on UA from IAD to PEK. Just checked my AMEX account:

    There is a line for the charge (and its description under the fold):

    “UNITED AIRLINES – HOUSTON, TX DCS: $13.99
    “Passenger Name: DCS/WI-FI PANASONI
    Date of Departure: 03/24
    Ticket Number: 01629259567110
    Document Type: WIFI”

    then a line for reimbursement:

    “Mar26 AMEX Airline Fee Reimbursement DCS: -$13.99”

    Unless the policy on Wi-Fi has been changed since March 26, 2018, the agent was wrong.

  29. DCS – “I have often needed to take short flights on regional airlines on which I have no status to get to remote vacation locations while carrying a heavily packed bag, which I would check and would be so heavy I would have to pay a fee. That is incidental spend that would qualify…”

    You said “airlines” (plural). According to the terms and conditions of the card, you must select only one airline for the year. Therefore, airlines (plural) would not be reimbursed.

  30. Aspire vs Ascend is an interesting debate.

    Aspire gets you Diamond status, the free weekend night automatically, and the credits. The property and resort credits are hard to value because you have to use them on incidentals at the Hilton properties or at resorts; which are limited. Airline credits are fine, but are available with Platinum. I see the main benefits as Diamond status, extra points on spend and the free night automatically. Those are probably worth the $450 fee (though people always seem to complain about Diamond recognition in the US), but the Ascend may be a safer bet if you don’t know if you will use all of the benefits. I’ll consider upgrading to the Aspire in a year.

    It is somewhat annoying that AMEX has all of these $450+ fee products with overlapping benefits. Amex Platinum is worth it for Centurion and Delta Lounge access by itself, so its difficult to drop that. With the SPG “Luxury” card, at least you get $300 off the actual room rate of a Marriott hotel, which is much easier to redeem than the Hilton Aspire credits.

  31. @dmg – You are right. In that case the AMEX airline credit would be no good. It got stuck in my head that it would be if I paid with the AMEX Biz Plat, but in reality it’s worked only on UA. My mistake. The last time I needed to pay for such an incidental on another airline I put it on the CSR.

    The on-board Wi-Fi alone still makes the credit valuable, however.

  32. The above is another illustration of why the CSR is way above AMEX reward cards. The latter are too restrictive [good only for one airline, or gotta book through AMEX]…

  33. @Anthony – The Aspire vs. Ascend “debate” is similar to the CSR vs. CSP “debate”. I depends on one’s travel pattern and circumstances.

    For me, there is no debate: the Aspire wins hands down because I take advantage of every credit to the fullest, and, this is the kicker, it no longer costs me $12K to requalify for Diamond! Importantly, the card is loaded with perks so that focusing on just a few that are important to oneself does not do it justice. The card packs it all. Here’s a refresher…

    A. OFFER TERMS

    100,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points
    Earn 100,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $4,000 on purchases on Card in first 3 months of Card Membership starting from the date account is approved.

    B. BENEFIT TERMS (selected)

    Hilton Honors Complimentary Diamond Status

    You will receive complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status with your Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. Complimentary Diamond status benefit is only available to the Basic Card Member.​

    $100 Property Credit

    When you use your Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card to book through HiltonHonors.com/aspire card or by calling Hilton Honors at (855) 292-5757, for a two-night minimum stay at Waldorf Astoria® Hotels & Resorts, and Conrad® Hotels & Resorts, you will be eligible to receive a property credit of up to $100 per booking. You must confirm you are booking a room package eligible for the $100 property credit benefit at time of booking. Please reference ZZAAP1 when booking by phone.

    $250 Hilton Resort Credit

    During each year of your Card Membership (“reward year”), you are eligible to receive up to $250 total in statement credits on your Card Account for eligible purchases made directly with participating Hilton Resorts with your Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card during that reward year. Your first reward year begins on your account opening date. Each subsequent reward year begins on the anniversary of your account opening date.​

    $250 Airline Fee Credit

    Benefit is available to Hilton Honors Aspire Card Members only. To receive statement credits of up to $250 per calendar year toward incidental air travel fees, Card Member must select one qualifying airline at http://www.americanexpress.com/airlinecreditchoice.​

    Annual Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors

    During each year of your Card Membership, you will receive one Annual Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors. The Annual Weekend Night Reward will be issued in the form of a redeemable code and sent in an email from Hilton Honors to the email address listed on your Hilton Honors account. You will receive the reward email within 8-14 weeks after opening your Card Account and each year within 8-14 weeks after your Card Account anniversary date.​

    Hilton Honors Bonus Points on Eligible Purchases

    You will receive 3 Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases.
    You will receive 11 additional Hilton Honors Bonus Points, for a total of 14, for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a property within the Hilton portfolio, including bookings and incidental charges.​

    No Foreign Transaction Fees

    American Express will not charge any foreign transaction fee on the purchases you make outside of the United States with your Card. However, there may be circumstances where ATMs or merchants charge a fee on foreign transactions.​

    Premium Global Assist® Hotline

    While Premium Global Assist® Hotline coordination and assistance services are offered at no additional charge from American Express, Card Members may be responsible for the costs charged by third-party service providers.​

    Premium Roadside Assistance

    Premium Roadside Assistance provides the following services at no additional cost up to 4 times per calendar year when Card Member is present with the eligible vehicle: towing up to 10 miles, winching, jump starts, flat tire change when Card Member has a workable spare, lockout service when key is in vehicle and delivery of up to 2 gallons of fuel.​

    Priority Pass Select- Unlimited Visits

    These Terms and Conditions govern Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card Members’ participation in and use of the Priority Pass™ Select program. Priority Pass is an independent airport lounge access program. At any visit to a Priority Pass Select lounge that admits guests, you may bring in two guests for no charge. You will be charged $27 for any additional guests. Some lounges do not admit guests. By enrolling in Priority Pass Select, you agree that you will be responsible for any additional accompanying guest visits and that your Card will be automatically charged after you have signed for the additional guest visit and it has been reported to Priority Pass by the participating lounge.​

    Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors

    If, in any calendar year of Card Membership, your total eligible purchases on your Hilton Honors Aspire account reach $60,000, you will receive a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors. The Weekend Night Reward will be issued in the form of a redeemable code and sent to you in an email from Hilton Honors to the email address listed on your Hilton Honors account.​

    Additional Benefits

    · Baggage Insurance Plan
    · Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance
    · Extended Warranty
    · Purchase Protection
    · Travel Accident Insurance

    and much more…

    You don’t got the Aspire Card yet? Then get it!

  34. @MarkG: “Tired of reading that people value HH points at 0.4-0.6 when I usually get 0.8 or even 1 cents at high end properties.”

    In an ideal world, that is how everyone would redeem their points. The problem with this, though, is that the high-end redemptions, where the value hits those levels, is becoming fewer and far between.

    As a long-time Diamond sitting on well over 1 million points, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually redeemed points last year. And even then, the best I was able to do in my particular instance was a penny per point — otherwise, I’m lucky if I can get two-thirds of a cent per point based on my own travel patterns. I have a point stay coming up this weekend where I can use 30,000 points on a $200 room – by and large, that is my realistic expectation for getting value out of point redemptions for my personal travel patterns, barring a special event or something out of the ordinary.

    This is the other side of the argument that people such as yourself and DCS are making. Yes, no one can argue that high-value Honors redemptions aren’t still out there, but as the program has evolved, those redemptions are becoming scarce. And when 42 percent of the hotels in the Honors portfolio are Hampton Inns and HGIs where a standard redemption is between 30,000 and 40,000 points per night (2,194 out of 5,221 total Honors properties, based on the latest LoyaltyLobby list), and you couple that with a movement towards a revenue-based system where Honors essentially fixes the redemption value close to 0.4 cents per point, it becomes more and more difficult to squeeze value out of the program for a lot of people.

    The people who comment here want to save their points for high-end properties, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If someone else’s stay patterns don’t get them to those high-end properties, though, and they end up having stays that are more reflective of the Honors portfolio as a whole, they might end up seeing lesser value in their points than you do.

    And as I’ve said here before, your opinion of the value of a Hilton point is no more or less valid than the opinion of someone who has a lower value than you do, because value of anything is wholly subjective.

  35. Here’s a scenario based on actual numbers I just got from doing a dummy booking.

    Hampton Inn by Hilton Merida, Yucatan, Mexico:

    Standard Room Reward: Queen w/ Sofa bed
    – Nightly cash rate: $58
    – Nightly award rate: 5,000

    *** award value: $58/5,000= $0.012/point or 1.2cents/point

    ‘Premium’ Room Reward: King SUITE
    – Nightly cash rate: $107
    – Nightly award rate: 40,000

    *** award value: $107/40,000= $0.0027 or 0.27cent/point

    ___________________________

    The scenario illustrates that
    (a) The revenue system does not “fix” redemption values at 0.4cpp. Even at the very same properties, redemption values can vary widely.

    (b) Just because the number of points is low (5K) and the redemption value high (1.2cpp) does not mean that it makes sense to redeem points. It may still be better to pay cash.

    (c) In the scenario above, I would not even pay cash for the STANDARD room. I would pay cash for the SUITE, which would earn me, as a HH Diamond with the Aspire card: 34*107= 3,638/night — i.e, almost enough points to be able to afford a standard award at the property. While the suite is affordable in points (40K), the room rate in cash ($107) and the redemption value (.27cpp) are too low to justify redeeming points. Cash all the way.

    The focus on the “value” of points outside of an actual redemption scenario is not a very informative exercise. One must first identify a redemption and then do the math to decide what to do…
    ___________________________________________

    What would YOU in the above scenario?

  36. @DCS: “The revenue system does not “fix” redemption values at 0.4cpp.”

    I never said that the redemption value was strictly fixed at 0.4 cents per point. What I did say, though, is that the mechanism that was created – a sliding scale for redemption between a minimum and maximum award level – creates a redemption level that is close to that 0.4 cent range, barring anomalies in the BAR.

    To the extent that the actual rate within that minimum/maximum range will slide along the BAR, the rate for that hotel is essentially fixed to an absolute redemption value that is going to be around 0.4 cents per point, though the point levels could climb above that and get closer to 0.5 cents. Also, though the point levels are effectively fixed in that range due to the math involved, they will not be absolutely fixed, due to the variations caused because of the non-scaled relationship between the BAR and the point level (the BAR moves by single dollars, where the point level will raise or lower by thousands).

    For example, the Hilton Barbados, for a weekend night in June, is $233 or 53,000 points per night for a standard king room (which is a redemption value of 0.42 cents per point). Move the stay to the end of October, and it’s $247 or 56,000 points per night, which increases the per-point redemption value to 0.44 cents. Change the stay to mid-December, and it’s $262 or 70,000 points per night, which is 0.37 cents per point.

    As another example, let’s choose the Hilton San Francisco Financial District for the same three weekends. For the June weekend, it’s $224 or 50,000 points per night, which is 0.45 cents per point. For the weekend at the end of October, it’s $204 or 46,000 points, which is 0.44 cents per point. For the weekend in mid-December, it’s $263 or 59,000 points, which works out to 0.45 cents per point.

    Finally, because it’s a hotel that I was just looking at for my own needs, let’s look at the Hampton Inn in Seneca, South Carolina, for the same three weekend nights. For the June weekend, it’s $141 or 30,000 points (or 0.47 cents per point), and for the December weekend, it’s also 0.47 cents per point ($132 or 28,000 points per night). The October weekend I chose happens to be the outlier here – the last weekend in October happens to be a home football game for Clemson University, which is about 10 miles away, and so the rate that Saturday night is $417 or 40,000 points (or 1.04 cents per point), which makes using points a no-brainer in this scenario, in my opinion.

    The point that I would raise, though, is that you’re going to find a lot more Hampton Inns and other properties that are in the 0.4 cent-to 0.5 cent per point range. Recalling that the majority of properties in the Honors portfolio have maximum redemptions of 30,000 to 40,000 points, this means that the BAR for these properties is going to be in the range of $150 to $200 to meet that redemption value, which is a safe assumption for the bulk of nights. The nights where you’d get the 1 cent per point are going to be exceptions to the rule, because for most of these properties, it’s going to take a special event (such as a football game bringing in thousands of people to the area) to get the BAR up to a level supporting that redemption.

    The example you provide of the 5,000 point Hampton Inn – just like my example of a 1-cent redemption in South Carolina or the 1-cent redemption I had last year at the Hilton Helsinki Airport – doesn’t change my argument, because I never said that these redemptions don’t exist. What I did say, though, and will continue to say, is that the math involved in the new revenue system – the BAR compared to the minimum and maximum award rates – has created a system where being in the range of 0.4 cents (and even getting up to 0.5 cents) is the new normal, rather than an exception or an anomaly.

  37. The argument about the “sliding scale” makes sense, but it goes too far in presuming more rigidity in the relationship between costs in cash and in points than there is practice. It is not by accident that the AVERAGE value of a Hilton point has been around 0.5cent for years. That was the redemption value that one was likely to get EVEN before the revenue system, and that remains the case after the revenue system. There are more than 5K hotels in the Hilton system. The correct approach to take to figuring out the value of a points redemption is to first identify the redemption and then do the math. There is no a priori value because things are not as rigid as people think they are.

    A big part of the fun in playing the game is planning a redemption, finding what is available, comparing the value of different redemptions to maximize value and deciding whether to pay cash or redeem points. But a realistic scenario is required.

    There is too much emphasis and focus on estimating the “value” of a redemption in the abstract and that is the nonsense in it.

  38. I think it depends on when and where you’re redeeming the free night. with 6x grocery, you can easily get at least 90k hilton points with 15k spend. that’s already a night in conrad tokyo for a normal weekday, which is worth at least 380~390. Factoring in the free weekend night, it could easily get a net return of 700.

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