We’ve seen the airlines change the value proposition of their frequent flyer programs over the last few years and now Hilton is taking similar steps.  What these changes have in common is that the changes give less to those who are infrequent customers or spend less and more to the truly loyal customers who spend more.

Hilton’s Old Honors Program rewarded bonus points like this:

Blue (No Status)   10 pts./ dollar for most hotels, only 5 pts./ dollar at Tru and Home2Suites

Silver                     11.5 pts./ dollar (a 15% bonus on your points)

Gold                      12.5 pts./ dollar (25% bonus)

Diamond               15 pts./ dollar (50% bonus)

In addition to the above, Hilton had their long-standing “Double Dip” which awarded the points above and also airline FF miles.  However, they also allowed you to opt to receive 50% more points in lieu of the miles and that’s what most people did.  Here’s what I would get as a Diamond on a typical stay.

So essentially, I got double points as a Diamond and somewhat less when I was either a Gold or Silver in earlier years.

Now the new program which just went into effect follows the following chart:

With the new program, there is no option to earn airline miles and the option for additional points has been rolled into the higher earning rates.  My personal example where I earned a 50% + 50% bonus, is now combined to earn the same 100%.  For Silver you are earning much less and Gold slightly more.  The upside is given as the permanent bonuses shown with 10,000 points for 40 nights and another 10,000 every 10 nights after that and then another 30,000 at 60 nights.  Since it takes 30 stays or 60 nights to make Diamond, this means very little to people like me who qualified on stays, but a lot to those who actually stayed 60 nights at a Hilton (+60,000 points).  I said that there is no option to earn airline miles like you had with the Double Dip, but they do give you the option to exchange Hilton Honors points for airline miles on a number of partners, but the exchange rate are so horrible, I can’t imagine anyone getting good value out of taking this path.

One mitigation you might want to explore, if the Hilton Program is one of your main hotels, is to apply for the new AEMX Aspire Card.  It has a 100,000 point bound for $4,000 spend in 90 days, but the benefits are a great reason to spend $450 on this card.  While there are several, the key ones are that you are a Diamond as long as you hold this card.  Also a $250 resort credit for stays at Hilton resorts.  This will either cancel out that annoying Resort Fee charged at many resorts or can be used to pay for dinner or other items when staying there.  The third key benefit is a $250 credit on a specific airline for any fees, such as baggage.  One tip is that lounge membership is included in the “fee” category so you could use this to offset most of a lounge membership if you don’t need to use it for baggage or a pad upgrade.  I conducted my own study and value Hilton points at 0.38 cents each, which says that 100,,000 points is worth $380.  Looks like you can come out way ahead on this credit card.  This makes you a Diamond to give you that top earning level – the benefits and upgrades at most hotels are very nice.  This is ideal for anyone who has a lot of hotel stays coming up in the year and wants to jump immediately to Diamond instead of working your way up the status ladder.

 

Posted by glenn | One Comment

One response to “Changes to the Hilton Honors Program and How You Can Take Mitigate Them”

  1. Jimmy G says:

    The Aspire card is great for AD Military as the annual fee is waived (like all Amex cards). Also, you get a free weekend night at any Hilton annually. Really a great card for AD folks.

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