Hilton HHonors Category Changes 2016

Filed Under: Hilton

As of April 2014, Hilton HHonors has shifted how they make award category changes. Rather than having massive hotel category adjustments every so often, they’re doing quarterly adjustments. That’s to say that they’re not changing the number of points required for each category every quarter, but rather are shifting which hotels belong in which categories.

Ultimately I favor anything which isn’t an award chart massacre like what we saw with HHonors in early 2013, so I guess that’s a good thing overall.

HHonors hotel category changes as of January 13, 2016

Rather than emailing members when there’s a big award chart change, Hilton now has a website where they list the category changes. And that website has just been updated to reflect the Hilton family properties changing HHonors award category this winter, which will kick in for bookings made as of January 13, 2016.

24 hotels will be going up in price:

Hilton-Category-Changes-2 Hilton-Category-Changes-3

Meanwhile 11 hotels will be going down in price:


Hilton has over 4,500 properties around the world, so we’re seeing the price of significantly less than 1% of properties changing, which isn’t a whole lot. It’s also interesting that a vast majority of the changes are at US properties.

The number of points required for a free night at the Hilton Vancouver Airport will increase

So if you want to book one of the properties going up in price, be sure to do so by January 13, 2016 — it’s okay if the stay is for a subsequent date.

Why Hilton’s hotel category changes don’t even matter

First of all, Hilton’s category changes aren’t really significant since less than 1% of properties are changing in price.

But more importantly, they don’t really matter since the Hilton HHonors program is already sort of kind of revenue based. I explained the logic in a post in April entitled “Here’s Why Hilton HHonors Has Variable Award Pricing Within Each Category.”


Within Categories 4-10 there’s a huge variance in the per night cost of a stay, depending on seasonality/demand. In other words, hotels are pretty easily able to “silently” raise award costs significantly without it being published as part of a category change.

The cost of a Category 4 property can increase by 50% without any award chart changes. The cost of a Category 7 property can increase by 100% without any award chart changes. The cost of a Category 9 property can increase by 60% without any award chart changes.

That’s not my preferred way for programs to operate, since it makes aspirational/expensive properties disproportionately expensive. But I also can’t fault Hilton for choosing to run their program that way. In some cases the loyalty program has to compensate the hotel for points redemptions based on the actual rate, so why shouldn’t the cost of redemptions reflect that? Again, that’s not the most rewarding system for those who like aspirational redemptions, but it also means some members aren’t subsidizing others’ redemptions.

Bottom line

35 Hilton properties are changing categories, which represents less than 1% of Hilton’s portfolio. Ultimately that’s not something to be worried about. I’d be much more concerned about hotels changing cost within a category, which is something we can’t easily keep track of.

All around I’ve been extremely pleased with Hilton HHonors this year, though. They really stepped it up in 2015 in terms of their promotions, which is something HHonors members should be happy about. I just status matched to Hilton Diamond and have some upcoming stays over the next few weeks, which I’m excited about. Maybe I’ll even be able to score some suite upgrades.

Have you redeemed points at any of the 35 Hilton-family properties which are changing categories?

  1. And Hilton really ought to know where their properties are – since when Hilton Taba Resort & Nelson Village are in Cairo I do not know. Taba is hundreds of miles away from Cairo!

  2. “Hilton HHonors program is already sort of kind of revenue based.”

    The program has been revenue-based for years.

    This year, I requalified for HH Diamond with JUST 13 stays/37 nights. That number of stays/nights would not be nearly enough to make top-tier elite status under any other program except under HHonors and that’s because, in addition to the usual metric of stays/nights, HHonors also allows elite qualification based solely on one’s SPEND at Hilton properties, measured as “base points”. One needs to earn 120K base points @ 10 base points/$ to make Diamond, meaning that one can make HH Diamond with a total spend of $12K at Hilton properties [it is why it makes no sense to rely on spending $40K on the AMEX Surpass to make HH Diamond, unless one was going to spend that much on other things anyway].

    Since I requalified with JUST 13 stays, it means that I averaged $12K/13 or ~$923/stay, which is about consistent, cost-wise, with my pattern of relatively long stays (4 nights or more) at mid- to high-end Hilton hotels.

  3. BTW, Happy New Year’s Eve from Grand HYATT Singapore, where I checked in yesterday and scored a [rare] suite upgrade as a HGP Platinum! All I did was to ask for a “bigger” or corner room, as per the T&C benefits for Plats. As usual, the agent said “Let me see what’s available”. She checked and then said that she could put me in a “bigger” room [without calling it suite], but that I should know that I was entitled to free breakfast. I said that got it, then I went to the assigned “bigger room” and it was a full suite!

    See how easy that is…


  4. Everyone gets suites in Asia. It’s not hard. Stop acting like you are special & your program is unique in that regard. You are really starting to embarrass yourself.

  5. Surprised that nobody noticed the outrageous increase in car rental redemption, incrsed about five-fold. Used to cost 70,000 points for a week, now well over 300,000 depending on the company.

  6. @UA-NYC sez, as mindlessly as usual: “Everyone gets suites in Asia. It’s not hard. Stop acting like you are special & your program is unique in that regard. You are really starting to embarrass yourself.”

    Clearly you are obsessed with me now because I have been trying to shake you off over the Gary Leff’s blog but you just won’t let go.

    Did you even notice that the comment you responded to was about my being upgraded at Grand HYATT Singapore, which has nothing to with my “program”. However, I will respond to just expose you for how truly stupid you are. Here are some of properties where I was upgraded to a full or junior suite THIS YEAR [as already posted at VFTW, but I will be doing a full post soon); my 7 of 13 suite upgrades (i.e., 54% or a plurality) out of 15 stays as HH Diamond were at these properties…

    — The Drake Hotel Chicago – December 2015
    — Hilton Berlin – October 2015
    — Hilton Orlando Buena Vista – October 2015
    — Hilton Sandton (a suburb of Johannesburg, SA) – September 2015
    — Hilton Milan – August 2015
    — Hilton Toronto – May 2015
    — Conrad Chicago – April 2015

    The last time I checked, none of those cities/properties were in Asia.

    Now, please get lost.

  7. Had a 4 night stay planned at a DT that was either going to be $400 a night or 40,000 points. I began using my Amex Surpass like mad. A penny a point! After two months, my statement closed and I finally had my 160,000 points. I was ready to book. I check the website again, and the hotel had gone up to 60,000 points! Now I was 80,000 points short. And those points that were a penny each were now only .66 cents each. I should have just put the spend on my 2.2% cashback card. I would have done better with less drama. Lesson learned. Bye bye Hilton credit card (earning points from stays on the other hand still makes sense to me).

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