When Should You Buy Hilton Points?

Filed Under: Great Deals, Hilton
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Since early April, Hilton Honors has been offering a 100% bonus on purchased points. I’ve written about this promotion before, and if you haven’t yet taken advantage of the promotion, it expires tomorrow, Tuesday, May 28, 2019, so this is your last chance to buy points.

In this post I wanted to look at some specific examples of when it makes sense to buy Honors points.

What’s the real cost to buy Hilton points?

When Hilton is offering a 100% bonus on purchased points, you’re paying just 0.5 cents per purchased point. This is as low as the cost on purchased Hilton points gets.

Each member can purchase up to 80,000 points pre-bonus, meaning you can purchase a total of 160,000 Honors points at a cost of $800.

But really the cost is slightly lower than that, since you have to factor in the value of credit card rewards you’re earning for buying points.

Hilton points purchases are processed by points.com, meaning they don’t count as a hotel purchase for the purposes of credit card spend. So I’d recommend using a card on which you’re trying to reach minimum spend, or otherwise, a credit card that maximizes your return on everyday spend, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® or Citi® Double Cash Card.

These are the credit cards which are best for buying points.

For the math I do below I won’t even factor that in (since different people will use different credit cards), but keep in mind the cost is even lower.

How to buy more than 160K Hilton points per year

As mentioned above, each member can purchase at most 80,000 points pre-bonus per account per calendar year. However, Hilton Honors has the best policy of any hotel program when it comes to letting you easily transfer points to other members. You can transfer them online to a family member, friend, etc., at no cost.

The limits for this are as follows:

  • Members can transfer up to 500,000 points per calendar years to others
  • Members can receive up to two million points per calendar year from others
  • Members are limited to making six transfers to other member accounts per calendar year

So in reality you can buy Hilton Honors points for several accounts, and then pool them. This doesn’t violate any rules (assuming the accounts belong to actual, consenting people).

Hilton offers a fifth night free on awards

In the below examples I’m going to provide, remember that Hilton Honors offers a fifth night free on award redemptions for all elite members. Just about anyone should have Hilton Honors elite status, since you get it just for having one of their co-branded credit cards (and there are other easy ways to get it as well).

You don’t pay most taxes and fees on awards

When you’re calculating the value of your redemption, you of course want to compare it to how much a cash stay would cost. But one important thing to keep in mind is that most taxes and fees are a percentage of the room rate, and for an award stay that amount is zero.

So you don’t just want to compare the points cost to the base rate, but compare it to the “all-in” cost, given that taxes and fees can often be 20%+ of the room rate.

Some hotels that are an exceptionally good value

There are many hotels where you can get an incredible deal by just outright buying points for a stay (you’ll have to do so through multiple accounts, as explained above).

I’m going to completely ignore festive season here. During the high season, you can get even better value, because hotels can often charge two or three times as much as they’d usually charge. But let’s forget that for now, and just look at “normal” pricing.

So, let’s look at a few examples.

The Waldorf Astoria Maldives for $480 per night

Perhaps the best example nowadays is the Waldorf Astoria Maldives, opening this summer. This hotel costs 120,000 points per night, so in five-night increments will cost 96,000 Honors points per night. At the rate of 0.5 cents per point, that’s like paying $480 per night, which is less than a third of the otherwise lowest rate.

So for five nights you can either redeem 480,000 points ($2,400 at 0.5 cents per point)…

Or you can pay $9,833 (note that this rate is non-refundable, while the points rate is typically refundable up until closer to your stay).

The Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills for $380 per night

The Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills is quickly becoming one of the most well-regarded hotels in LA, and best of all it’s even a points property. It typically goes for 95,000 points per night, or 76,000 points per night with a fifth night free.

So for five nights you can either redeem 380,000 points ($1,900 at 0.5 cents per point)…

Or you can pay $3,883.

The Conrad Bora Bora for $320 per night

The Conrad Bora Bora has varying award pricing throughout the year, but in general it starts at 80,000 points per night. I stayed here last December, and this hotel is spectacular.

So for five nights you can either redeem 320,000 points ($1,600 at 0.5 cents per point)…

Or you can pay $4,725.

The Conrad Maldives for $380 per night

While the Waldorf Astoria Maldives is no doubt the new “it” Hilton hotel, there’s still potentially some value in staying at the Conrad Maldives. At almost all properties in the Maldives, base rooms are over land, while only premium rooms are overwater villas, which is an experience a lot of people want to have.

What makes the Conrad Maldives potentially worthwhile is that they actually let you redeem points at the standard rate for either a land or overwater villa.

This hotel costs 95,000 points per night, so in five night increments will cost 76,000 Honors points per night. At the rate of 0.5 cents per point, that’s like buying $380 per night.

Alternatively the cash rate would be $5,583 for the same stay.

Bottom line

There are plenty of circumstances where buying Hilton points for 0.5 cents each can make sense. This isn’t just true for luxury hotels, but also for mid-range hotels in peak season.

However, the above are just a few hotels where you’ll almost always score well over 50% off just by buying points directly at a discount and then redeeming them.

Buying hotel nights for $320-480 when they would cost $1,000-2,000+ is a heck of a deal, if you ask me.

Now, I’d note that Hilton sells points fairly regularly (though the 100% bonus only comes around a few times per year). Generally speaking, I’d only recommend buying points with a relatively short term use in mind, since it’s always possible there will be devaluations.

But seriously, this is a very clear case where there’s a lot of value to be had to start from scratch and buy enough points for an award at specific properties.

Even if you don’t usually collect points but want to go to the Maldives, where else will you get something of the caliber of the Waldorf Astoria for $480 per night (well, we’re hoping it’s good, since the hotel isn’t yet open)?

So if you are considering one of Hilton’s top properties, do consider buying Hilton points. But act quick, because this promotion expires tomorrow.

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Comments
  1. I’ve bought 110,000 so far this year as Diamond member. @Lucky, you say only 80k can be purchased. Is that for just this promotion or annually?

  2. Well Ben,
    Just checking Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills in coming August and price for awards booking is 466,000 points per night. IMO, you should use average points for room award for low & mid & high season to be example or you should make note to be aware that you using low season to be example.

  3. thanks Kitti that is a huge differnece : 466,000 points per night vs 75,000 per night!

  4. @Kitti
    Normally only the base room type is available for the base award price and then suites would cost more points. Did it show up as a “Standard Room Award” or an upgraded room type?
    Hilton doesn’t do peak / off peak pricing (for now) so you should be able to see the standard room price all year round if there’s availability.

  5. Kitti,

    That is not a standard award – it is a premium award (when all of the standard rooms are sold out). In my experience, Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills (and Waldorf properties in general) are available several months out (I have a reservation for that property for November) and sometimes close in (like a day or two before the trip).

    However, you do make a good general point – with award bookings in general (especially Hilton), rooms st the “standard” rate are often not available to book when you search for them, requiring that you spend a lots of time and mental energy checking for awards daily. I wish travel bloggers talked about this more and gave people guidance on when to actually look for “standard” or “saver” availability

  6. Andrew,
    You are right, it is showing premium room award. However, I just try to search for July & August and found only premium room award available which is cost more than 400,000 points per night. So, my point is when Ben mention this is a heck of a deal for buy hotel night around $400 for room rate around $1000, he should mention about how is hard to find standard room award during travel season for this type of hotel. It like you buy airline points for redeem business or first class award ticket and find that none of saver award type available.

    Anthony,
    Yes, you totally right for everything you said. All bloggers mention how good for buying hotel & airline points or signing bonus from credit card. But I find nowadays it is quite hard to get “standard” or “saver” available for both hotel and airline or you have to be very flexible on your schedule for your vacation. I hope all bloggers should mention this information too.

    Also, I am very tried that all people keep saying about the value of redeem room for hotel at Maldives. Yes, it is very excellent value but how many of their readers can travel from US to Maldives? They should use more example for hotel that possible for their average reader can go to that location.

  7. There is nothing wrong with how @Lucky presented the types of outsized redemption values that are often possible with purchased points. The key is to understand or remember that such posts here or elsewhere always pertain to STANDARD awards, which are the only awards that are worth booking, but their supply or availability is, unfortunately, limited in every program. Therefore, anyone who plays the game should be well aware of this caveat and not expect bloggers to spell it out.

    Where Hilton would show exorbitantly priced “premium” awards, other programs would simply show no awards available. You just have to decide for yourself which of those two situations is more annoying, but their practical effect is the same…

  8. We spent 5 nights in Adelaide this March during the Fringe. Stayed at the Adelaide Hilton, used 140,000 points. This is a nice Hilton, not Bora Bora but not bad either. They upgraded us to a nicer room and comped breakfast for two (full buffet) given my gold status (like everyone with a Amex Plat). Rooms were going for USD 350 per night for a standard room and since it was Fringe time, availability was tight. My total cost was about $150 for booze and such. Very good use of points IMHO. I don’t have a trip planned right now so I won’t take advantage of this offer, but given the right timing this could have saved us 50% plus on the cash value of our stay. If another of these comes around while I am planning our next trip I will pull the trigger. But no loyalty program is a good store of value, so I will not do this on spec.

  9. I just purchased the max to top up my balance in order to stay at the Conrad Bora Bora for 6 nights. I booked it less than a month out and got a standard room at 80k pts/night. The only frustrating part was that there was no availability starting or stopping at a weekend so i couldn’t redeem my free night (part of why I needed more points). Paying $800 for 6 nights in Bora Bora (plus the points I’d accumulated from cc bonus and actual spend) sounds good to me!

    Does anyone know if the “5% resort fee” (5% of what, I’m not paying cash) at Conrad Bora Bora can be paid for with my $250 annual resort benefit on my Aspire?

    People have commented on the difficulty in getting award flights at the same time and it’s true. I was hunting flights deals with Hilton locations and actually had my eye on Belize when the Bora Bora flights out of SFO went on sale ($945). Belize just went on sale after I pulled the trigger, but I’m happy with my choice even though the reward rate in Belize means I wouldn’t have had to buy points.

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