When Should You Buy Hilton Points?

Filed Under: Great Deals, Hilton
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Since early September, 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, the good news is that it’s valid for several more weeks, through October 22, 2019.

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 spending, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® (review) or Citi® Double Cash Card (review).

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. Best I can tell, 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.

The Best Uses Of Hilton Honors Points

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, below are what I consider to be some of the very best hotels for redeeming Hilton Honors points, especially when you specifically purchased them for redemptions:

The Waldorf Astoria Maldives For $480 Per Night

Perhaps the best example nowadays is the Waldorf Astoria Maldives, which opened this past 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 a small fraction of the regular rate.

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

Or you can pay $14,198 including taxes, fees, and service charges.

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 Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam for $380 Per Night

The Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam is generally regarded as one of the best hotels in the city. 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 paying $380 per night, which is often about half of the regular rate.

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

Or you can pay $3,650 including taxes.

The Conrad Bora Bora For $356 Per Night

The Conrad Bora Bora has varying award pricing throughout the year, but in general, they seem to charge 89,000 points per night. I stayed here last December, and this hotel is spectacular.

So for five nights, you can either redeem 356,000 points ($1,600 at 0.5 cents per point)…

Or you can pay $5,450.

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 $6,560 for the same stay.

Buy Hilton Points Summary

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 $356-480 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.

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?

So if you are considering one of Hilton’s top properties, do consider buying Hilton points.

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Comments
  1. Love how the same three Hilton properties are always cited in thrse articles. Just have to fly 20 hours from the US to get decent value!

  2. Am I really supposed to see 8 adds in the main text of the article? I feel like this is a fairly recent change…

  3. Can anyone please explain to me why/how some Hilton properties in Tokyo/Osaka can charge up to 250K Hilton points per night?
    I thought there was a cap?
    Am I missing something?

  4. @Julia — Yes, you are missing something. The capped awards are ‘standard’ awards, which are the ones that virtually every program’s the terms and conditions apply to. Any HH award that costs more than 95K/night is considered a ‘premium’ award, which is a hotel’s way of letting you know that they would rather do only cash bookings at that particular time. Other programs would simply show no awards available. Decide for yourself which situation is more annoying, but the practical effect is the same…

  5. Julia
    Same here. I am looking at Hiltons in Tokyo and they are 70k points a night. They aren’t even that expensive. The Intercontinentals are at 55k points. I would almost prefer these and pay for my breakfast.

  6. I am wondering when Ben’s obsession with the Maldives will fade, and a new third-world destination will pique his interest.

  7. Unfortunately the Hilton points only worth for their high end properties as you mentioned in your article. If one wishes to stay in the lower end properties such as Garden Inn, Hampton, DoubleTree, etc. paying with points or cash is almost the same. That’s why I am ignoring purchasing points, and points earning efforts for Hilton.

    There used to be a lot of values from Hilton Honors but ever since they switched to their Dynamic system, things went downhill.

  8. @Ben Kingsley — What you just stated about Hilton “points” (maybe you meant Hilton “redemptions” because Hilton points are worth almost exactly the same as most other hotel points currencies) is pretty much true across the board, and nothing to do with the dynamic award pricing.

    That’s why the unspoken objective of the mile/point game is to pay cash for cheap airline tickets or hotel stays and then to redeem the points earned from such affordable activities for premium cabin tickets or ‘aspirational’ stays that would otherwise be unaffordable. As @Lucky showed in this post, for “just” 480K HH points, a 5-night award stay WA Maldives is quite affordable, whereas at $14,198 a 5-night revenue stay at the same property would not be affordable for most people.

    To put it bluntly, redeeming points for award stays at Garden Inn or Hampton Inn, or, for that matter, at Hyatt House or Hyatt place may not generally be the best use of hotel loyalty points…

    G’day.

  9. IMHO it would be honest to comment, that point availability on those “fantastic value” places is in most caes extremely rare: for example 0 availability for 5 days on points in Conrad Bora Bora starting 22 Oct 2019…

  10. @mk I booked a points redemption stay at Conrad Bora Bora in July and could pick any five day period a month before and after the week I was chose with the exception that it couldn’t start or stop next to a “weekend night” They were definitely blocking the ability to use the free weekend night award (because they showed reward availability on those nights, just not in five or six night blocks) but I was able to use my 5th night free just fine (and got a room upgrade as a Diamond for the whole 6 nights). I used the Hilton purchase promo to spend $800 and get enough points to pick up two extra nights that I’d been planning to spend my weekend award coupons on….The base room (not that upgrade I actually got) was going for $650/night, so that was a $250/night savings plus the fact that I needed at least one more night to get a 5th night free.

    6 nights in upgraded suite for cash cost of $800, plus I used the $250 resort credit from my Aspire for food, boat taxi, etc. I still spent plenty of money on overpriced crappy food, but I’m more than pleased with the value and availability I get from Hilton points.

    More recently I booked a reward stay at the Curio Chicago LondonHouse over Labor Day weekend at about a month’s notice. I researched Curio, Waldorf and Conrad properties in several major cities for that weekend and only found one with limited availability. Last Thanksgiving I made a 5 day rewards booking at a Curio in Paris (for 65k pts a night, below the standard redemption rate at the time). No problems with availability on any of these trips and aside from the bought points for the Bora Bora trip these were all “paid” for by the points off cards that I’ve paid $450+$95 for so far. I’ve gotten a lot of additional benefit from breakfast, upgrades, Priority Pass, the AmEx offers, etc. on these cards…I used to hate AmEx, but I think my Hilton card(s) are tied with the Sapphire as my favorite/most valuable.

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