When Should You Buy Hilton Points?

Filed Under: Great Deals, Hilton
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Since early January, Hilton Honors has been offering a 100% bonus on purchased points. I’ve written about this promotion before. This promotion is valid for just under another week, as it expires on February 19, 2020.

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 point. This is as low as the cost on purchased Hilton points gets.

Hilton Honors members can purchase up to 80,000 points per calendar year pre-bonus. That means through this promotion you could buy a total of 160,000 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 spending.

I’d recommend using a card on which you’re trying to reach minimum spending, 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 that 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 Hilton Points Above The Limit

As mentioned above, each member can purchase at most 80,000 points pre-bonus per account per calendar year.

However, even beyond that 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

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

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. 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.

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 sometimes have to do so through multiple accounts, as explained above).

I’m going to ignore festive season here. During peak 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.

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 in the summer of 2019. 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.

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 Los Cabos For $480 Per Night

The Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedragal recently joined Hilton Honors, and is one of the most popular new Hilton luxury properties in North America.

This is only the second ever Hilton Honors property to cost 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.

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

Or you can pay $5,863 including taxes, fees, and service charges.

That’s about 60% off, and a large part of those savings comes from revenue rates having 34% in taxes, fees, and service charges, while those aren’t due on award stays.

The Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills For $380 Per Night

The Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills is one of the most well-regarded hotels in LA, and best of all it’s even a points property (I recently reviewed it, and had an amazing stay). It typically goes for 95,000 points per night, or 76,000 points per night with a fifth night free.

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

Or you can pay $4,061.

That’s over half off!

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.

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 LXR Zemi Beach House Anguilla For $380 Per Night

Zemi Beach House recently joined the Hilton Honors portfolio, as part of LXR Hotels & Resorts (which is Hilton’s independent luxury brand). The resort is located in Anguilla, which is a nice getaway that’s not too far from the US.

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

Or you can pay $7,240 including taxes, fees, and service charges.

That’s savings of about 70%!

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 a bit over a year ago, and in my opinion this hotel is spectacular.

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

Or you can pay $5,670.

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?

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.

  11. @Carl,

    The ads that I see are to the right of the text and isn’t usually in the flow of the text. At least not on a computer. Maybe its different for a phone/tablet?

    And yeah, these aren’t realistic redemptions. Most people don’t have the time to fly off to these remote places for a long vacation or desire to go there. You’d gain points if you actually found reasonable redemptions in Europe, US or someplace more commonly used for a vacation.

  12. Pretty much @Gene nailed this.

    And pretty much outside these listed properties the answer is never outside a weird event property where they failed to block standard redemptions.

    Hilton points very rarely redeem at 0.5 cents let alone above !

  13. Same here about the Tokyo Hilton. 70000 points for this property? I would rather blow off the free breakfast and stay at the intercontinental. The intercontinental staff and rooms will far surpass anything Hilton has to offer.

  14. @M sez: “Hilton points very rarely redeem at 0.5 cents let alone above !”

    Well, so what? Hyatt points do not often redeem at ‘1.5cents let alone above’, nor did defunct starpoints often redeem at ‘3.0cents let alone above’, either one of which is what would be equivalent to redeeming Hilton points at “0.5 cents let alone above”. You were not aware of that, were you? You are not alone!

  15. @DCS: “Well, so what? Hyatt points do not often redeem at ‘1.5cents let alone above’, nor did defunct starpoints often redeem at ‘3.0cents let alone above’, either one of which is what would be equivalent to redeeming Hilton points at “0.5 cents let alone above”. You were not aware of that, were you? You are not alone!”

    I like the fact that DCS thinks that he’s making a point here that defends Hilton, but it really doesn’t.

  16. Sorry, but I am a buyer at a half cent a point, but unfortunately I already maxed out this year. But perhaps, I use my Hilton points differently. We stayed 5 nights each at the Conrad Bora Bora and the Conrad Maldives in early 2019, and got great value for those 700,000 points–far, far in excess of a half cent per point. I’m looking at other exotic places where there are Hiltons in 2020 and where I can get great value. To me, that is what the hobby is about–not the value of using Hilton points at a roadside Hampton Inn. No one is forcing me to use my Hilton points at less than a half cent per point–I use them where I can find real value and try to use them primarily on five night stays. Where I don’t find that value, I pay cash.

    @Dan–we stayed at the Hilton Tokyo two years ago for six nights on Hilton points–double room upgrade and that lobby breakfast was one of the most amazing I have ever experienced at a city hotel, plus there was so much food in the lounge at dinner that we could easily make a meal out of it after a long day of touring. I think it was 50,000 points per night back then.

  17. @DCS: “Q.E.D“

    Typically, this is used when something is actually proven, but you keep on with your delusion that your arguments actually make any sense.

  18. Hilton customer service has turned from bad to worse. Please be aware when you want to book using reward certificate. I had booked a night at WA Cabo using points. When I received reward certificate, I called to replace my points with certificate. They booked a night using reward certificate and also cancelled my previous reservation using points. All was fine until last week when they deducted 120,000 points from my account. The explanation was that they had loaned me 120,000 points. I have talked, chatted and emailed their customer service explaning that they had not loaned me any points and to review my points activity. I have also sent them a spreadsheet with detail transaction for this year but they don’t seem to care and now I have negative balance on my account.

  19. @ Ben — See above. My advice remains the same. This and the 100% IHG promotion are practically continuous, so need to buy speculatively.

  20. I have been thinking of buying points with this promo but when I checked it was very difficult to find any award night availability. Does anyone have any advice on how to successfully find availability at Hilton for a five night period at some of the top Hiltons?

  21. I’ve been traveling to SEA the last few years and been unable to find good value in using HH. Have better returns just paying cash/aspire card with the hope I can find a sweet spot somewhere else.

  22. You never ever want to buy Hilton points except right before redeeming for the above properties. Hilton points are worth well under 0.5 cents on average (typically 0.4). They occasionally redeem for me at more conventional properties. But that’s not a reason to buy them.

  23. Buying Hilton points rank far down the list in terms of how to acquire them

    1) Paid stays, preferably during double points promotions
    2) Hilton card sign up bonuses (3 are available)
    3) Spending towards Surpass free night
    4) Purchasing

    Only buy when the first three are exhausted

    I need to replenish Hilton points in 2020, so here is my plan
    1) Hilton Aspire sign up bonus
    2) Put restaurant and grocery spend on Surpass up to $16,000

    This should get me two weekend nights and 240,000 points. Still focusing paid stays on Bonvoy for now

  24. As I mentioned above, I spent five nights at the Conrad Maldives and five nights at the Conrad Bora Bora on points in 2019. In 2020, I am sitting on reservations for eight nights in the Seychelles (five nights at one resort with fifth night free, and three nights at the second resort with one Surpass certificate and points for the remainder). All of these redemptions are far in excess of a half cent per point. Value is out there. This can be done.

  25. Bloggers, sponsored by the chains, always try to maintain the bizarre fiction that you can measure the value of points against some laughable rate that an expensive hotel would have liked to charge. But the truth is, those points are only worth the amount that YOU would have been prepared to pay.

  26. @DSK you’re actually proving a point opposite the one you’re thinking you’re making.

    Merry Christmas to you btw

  27. @harry hv sez: “But the truth is, those points are only worth the amount that YOU would have been prepared to pay.”

    Nonsense.

    I paid 480K Hilton points for a 5-night award stay at WA Maldives Ithaafushi, the cash value of which is about $23K. In no way, no how was I prepared to pay $23K for the cash stay, while I did not hesitate a single solitary second before I pulled the trigger on the 480K HH points to book the award stay. However, that did not change the fact that the cash value of the 5-night award stay that I got for 480K points **was** $23K.

    Think of this way: using points allowed me to have something I would not otherwise have had in a million years, meaning that the often heard claim that “those points are only worth the amount that YOU would have been prepared to pay” is total bullshit.

    Heads-up: I am about to do a report on my 2019 Year-end Asian Escapade(tm) on which I have now been for about two weeks, with 2 weeks to go, and would not have been able to afford if I did not play the mile/point game…

    Holidays cheers!

  28. Regarding the WA Maldives, does the award rate include Breakfast? Also, is there any offer for the transfer from Male to the Hotel?

  29. @M I actually thought we were in basic agreement. There are certain high end properties where buying points can get you an excellent value, particularly when combining with 5th night free (which I try to do in most cases). It is not limited to Lucky’s list above, because there are many other similar properties where that is true (although probably a small fraction of the Hilton chain).

    In most cases, though, you will not get great value (often not even 0.5 cents per point) at a USA Hampton Inn or Hilton Garden Inn unless you happen to catch those properties during an event weekend and they haven’t blocked points at the lowest rate, and particularly if you aren’t booking five nights.

    Only buy Hilton points speculatively when you have certain aspirational properties in mind (doesn’t need to be one–could be several) and the airfare on points works or you think the airfare on points eventually will work (in general, it is harder to get the air part to work if going for J or better, and I want the hotel points in hand so I can book the whole package when there is a narrow window to book the airfare).

    Seriously, anything you disagree with (other than ending a sentence with a preposition)?

  30. @Lucky I think there are more hotels than those you’ve listed where one can get great value here. We’ve gotten very good results at Grand Wailea, AZ Biltmore and WA Park City to bake a few plus a few others in recent years on points stays. (Not to mention a Hampton during Balloon Festival in Albuquerque for 20K points when paid was well over $200++).

    Also you should update this post to show how to search availability on the Hilton website: Search for a one night stay at the start of your booking window and select flexible dates. In the results you can scroll through the entire booking window and see week by week whether any single nights are available. Once you see the correct number of nights in a row for dates that work for you, go back and select an X night stay for those exact dates and search again. This should then allow you to book the full stay. The only exception is if one or more of the award nights are for different room types (eg double/king). YMMV but I’ve had luck booking separately and then calling the hotel and asking nicely to have the reservations linked and the same room type applied. They don’t have to do this but often will. (Helps to have Diamond status via Aspire).

    Note the above is also useful for finding weekend nights (Fri-Sun) for annual Aspire credits. Throw a weekend night at the end of a 5 night stay and your getting 6 nights for 4 night’s worth of points. This can be a huge value.

  31. @Richard +1 You’re speaking my language. As part of a 6 week trip to Vietnam, stayed at HGI Hanoi for 5 nights for 40K total, went to Sapa, came back for another 5 nights. Way better deal than the Hilton Opera (Hanoi Hilton 😉 ) which was 40K/night at the time. HGI has free self-serve laundry to boot.

    On shorter trips I don’t mind a little luxury though.

  32. “Buying hotel nights for $356-480 when they would cost $1,000-2,000+ ”

    The vast majority of people don’t spend $400 a night on a hotel room. I’m single, make a good salary, have a nice house in a very nice area but $300 and up per night for a hotel room is pretty high and $1,000 a night is just crazy unless you are bringing in a $500K+ salary on a regular basis.

    Getting something for less than you can usually get it, doesn’t mean it is a value, unless you can flip it for instant cash.

  33. It’s the oldest trick in the book, display some ludicrous high price and cross it out. Then write some lower-but-still-costly price beneath, or a points-price, and claim your customers will “save” that amount.

    The intrinsic value of a point is where you are indifferent whether to spend cash or points. Just because a hotel is listed at thousands of dollars per night, that isn’t the amount you’re “saving” because you’d never have paid that much anyway.

    Ask yourself what price you’d actually be prepared to pay for that room – maybe $250, $300 ? Or less? That’s the value of getting the same room for points, not the silly price they’re displaying.

    Realistically buying points isn’t worth it unless you’re topping up for an award.

  34. The point valuations are incorrect.

    I spend about 200-250 nights a year in hotels – work and vacation. Here’s one different way to look at it.

    Work:

    Hotels within 15 mile radius:
    – different rates from $95 – $145 / night
    – different point redemptions (depending on the chain)

    I pick the one towards $100 and pay for it. And earn points based on the $100 rate.

    Now, when I want to spend the points or see how much the point is worth to me, lets say the following redemptions are available.
    $95/ night hotel – 10,000 points Chain A
    $100 / night hotel – 10,000 points Chain B
    $145 / night hotel – 12,500 points. Chain C

    To me, I could spend 12,500 at chain C points OR stay in a $95 / $100 hotel.
    So I am saving $95 plus taxes for 12500

    and not $145.

  35. @USCGTO: “To me, I could spend 12,500 at chain C points OR stay in a $95 / $100 hotel.
    So I am saving $95 plus taxes for 12500

    and not $145.”

    By that logic, if anyone’s choice is between a Motel 6 and the Waldorf Astoria, then the 80,000 points you spend for a night at the W=A only really are worth the $30 that you saved by not staying at the Motel 6.

    I don’t think that most people realistically will (or even should) value their points that way.

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