Last updated on March 30th, 2013 at 08:53 pm
Hilton Honors Devaluation Announced
Today Hilton announced a major devaluation to their Hilton Honors program for redeeming points to purchase rooms at high end hotels. I am not very happy with this change. (thanks for the heads up TPG and Lucky)
Traditionally, Hilton honors points have been very easy to earn – the easiest to earn among all hotel programs. As a result of this ease of earning, it costs up to 50,000 Hilton Honors per night to redeem a free night at their nicest hotels.
These nicest hotels will now cost 95,000 Hilton Honors points per night starting March 28, 2013.
While these rooms were a decent value at 50,000 points per night, they are not worth anywhere near 95k points per night, or a 90% increase in points needed to redeem. That’s about 15 years of points inflation rolled into a single change.
What business in the history of business has ever introduced a 90% increase to their prices and not had a backlash from their customers? None that I can recall.
This is almost as bad as when Netflix split their DVD by mail business into Quickster and nearly went out of business as a result.
I have been a gold Hilton member for the past 5 years and have stayed relatively loyal to the hotel, even though it takes a LOT of effort to earn even a free night. Recently, I have been branching out into higher end hotel chains like Hyatt and SPG to take advantage of their aspirational properties. With this change, I can see Hyatt becoming my new hotel chain of choice.
Don’t get me wrong – Hilton and I had a good run over the years. The staff at the Hilton Sydney gave me and my fiancee the best room in the house when we got engaged. Other properties were decent as well, especially the international ones. Maybe I will go back to those properties in the future to relive the magic of the moment, but I will not be visiting them out of loyalty to Hilton.
There’s no reason for me to stay loyal to Hilton anymore. They took away the one thing that kept me coming back – HOPE. Now there is no hope of these points really being worth anything. Hilton, you are the anti Obama campaign slogan.
I love your graphic at the beginning of this post! Priceless!!
Glad you liked it! Sometimes the simple ones are the most effective!
this is unbelievable ! 60k points a night at a Hampton in the new change! I will cancel my Hilton amex and Citi Hilton tomorrow
Yeah, I’m on my way out with Hilton too. Too bad I have 3 trips booked in the next 6 months or else I’d break it up sooner.
I agree…absolutely ridiculous program change. I can only speculate that this change was precipitated by the increasing number of ways they allow members to earn points and status (airlines, credit cards, etc.). Status in the program is greatly diluted by this practice, and it increases the number of redeemable points available. Hilton’s solution? Increase the requirements for earning/retaining status (which they did previously) and DRAMATICALLY increase the point requirement for stays. Gee thanks!
I’m with all of you – I just called HH and let them know that I’m done. The person on the phone (god bless her) had not a clue that the increases were so dramatic. She did her best to make it seem “not so bad” saying “there will be off-season reductions” but I told her it’s like the price of gas going up 90% overnight and I asked her how she’d like that? Crickets…I got crickets on the other end of the phone. I also told her my AMEX HH card is going in the shredder since it’s not worth it anymore. I’d rather get the airline miles on my MasterCard. Time to ring up AMEX…Ugh…
The worst part of the Hilton Pesos program is that they changed the rules of the game. The value of the earned points should be consistent with the program at the time. Any reward program, can change the rules, but changing them on customers that have already earned the points is very shameful! Shame on Hilton.
I am a diamond member that carries a Hilton Honors Amex card. I wrote a protest letter to Hilton and they responded with we are doing this because we have a bunch of new properties. What a bunch of mularkey. I responed to them that I would be using Hotwire and Priceline for my travel arrangements in the future and that I would be closing the Amex account. I suggest that all Hilton Honors do the same. I also wonder if there are grounds for a class action lawsuit as Hilton has devalued points that they themselves put a dollar value on in cases where additional points are needed to qualify for a reward stay.
Honors program is horrible. I left Marriott two years ago because there were more Hilton properties in the areas that i travel but I made a BIG mistake.
I get about 50% less value for my points at Hilton as I did at Marriott.
2011 I used my years Marriott points for a 6 day resort stay in the Florida Keys
2013 I used my years Hilton points on a 2 night stay at the least costly (point standard) Hilton in DC
What a discrepancy.
Great post Jeff. I am currently with Hilton Honors, however that will be changing shortly.
The new redemption scheme is a massive disappointment.
If I book a travel package (airline and hotel) and chose Hilton (higher cost than other choices) they do not give any points! Not even credit for staying there! My loyality also went by-by.
Ok, so i’m new to traveling and Just racked up my first 100K with hilton.. any thoughts should I switch?
Cliff – I would recommend that you try to earn points somewhere other than Hilton if at all possible. The reason is that other points will get you more redemption value at hotel properties. Those 100k points will likely get you 1-2 nights in a Hilton hotel. With other chains like Hyatt and Starwood, 100k points would get you at least 4 nights, and possibly 8-12 nights in a hotel using those points. So the other currencies are more valuable.
With that said, it’s MUCH easier to earn Hilton points than any other hotel, so you can earn 100k points much more quickly, and that means you may get a free stay sooner than with other chains.
The biggest gripe with Hilton is that they made your points 90% less valuable with their program changes, which is extremely unpopular with loyal customers!
Jeff, I am on the verge of using up my Hilton points (like you a road warrior so thought I had a lot but now have a lot less in value) and getting rid of the credit card. Was trying to get an answer from one of their resorts to a question and waiting almost 3 months. Sent emails to CEO that got no answer (but never got sent back as undeliverable) and also sent a copy snail mail a few weeks ago with no response. They obviously don’t care. Not only do I stay in the hotels but also plan events so give them a lot of revenue and still get no reply.
hmmm thanks for the heads up i will apply for marriot instead
Marriott isn’t much better – they have devalued their program similarly. Hyatt and Starwood have done the best job of maintaining their value over time.
While I feel the same about these ridiculous rate hikes. However, it will be hard to replace the dependable Hilton chain hotels, especially when traveling to small towns. Hyatt and Sheraton simply don’t exists in rural markets. I guess I will have to give more of my business to Marriott, which recently had a similar points devaluation as Hilton.
The truth is that there isn’t a perfect program. Hilton can still be valuable if you earn status on a co-branded credit card and use that status to get some benefits while you stay. Also, many of the rural markets have lower redemption rates for hotels that may not be affected by the devaluation. In fact, some properties saw reduced miles for redemptions.
That’s all to say that the devaluation of Hilton Honors points was a big hit for me and has made me change my loyalty preferences, but may not impact others nearly as badly.
I am a Diamond member and I was sort of excited when hilton announced cash and points options. I enjoy this option with Sheraton and holiday inn. What a bunch of crap for hilton. I have tried a particular city for months and none of the hilton properties have the option available.
I recently stayed at the Hilton Grand Wailea in Maui prior to the devaluation. Five nights were ~380,000 points. Now after the program change they want ~250,000 points/night for the same room. I understand inflation but this is crazy.
Howard – that could just be seasonality/room availability. Before the devaluation, the most you would have to pay for a base room was 50,000 points. Now it’s 90,000 points. So, to get the 5 nights, you may have already been booking something outside of their normal availability window at a higher rate. Those rates have always been high, even before the devaluation… so while it’s astronomical to pay 250,000 points for a night, that was possible before they devalued their points as well.
My general rule is to book the lowest cost room possible and then upgrade using status, points or cash later on. Then you’re only on the hook for a low amount and can still enjoy the top rooms.
That’s actually what I did with the room I am staying in as I write this – an overwater bungalow at the Hilton in Moorea.
I have been a Diamond member for many years. And Gold for years before that.
In December of 2012, for my 10 year anniversary, the wife and kids and I stayed in 2 rooms at the Grand Wailea for 11 nights, all on points. It is a fantastic hotel, the staff was great, and we had an amazing time.
I booked these rooms nearly 11 months prior to our trip. The total I paid per night was about 1.3 million points; around 60,000 per night, per room.
This was from the 19th to the 30 of December; their busiest week. It took me quite a long time to save all those points, and I spent tens of thousands of dollars doing it.
I’ve earned another 500,000 in the past year and was looking at potentially doing the trip again next winter (December 2014) over the same week, knowing that I would have to pay $$ for the majority of the trip but could offset a few nights with my points.
This morning I priced out an award trip and the same (standard) rooms I stayed in (Deluxe Garden) now goes for 324,000 points…. A NIGHT!! A Flipping NIGHT.
I know there has been a devaluation in points, but this is on another level.
When I check out of my Conrad hotel today, I will never check back into a Hilton property again. My colleagues have been telling me to switch to Starwood for years. Starwood here I come.
Wow that’s outrageous! This is definitely the same reason why I stopped trying to earn Hilton Honors points outright and focus on other programs. The points don’t mean anything when they overprice things so much.
I have started a petition on Change.org concerning Hilton Honors points devaluation. Please check it out and sign on to help get Hilton’s attention! Maybe we can still turn this Titanic around!
Here is the name of the petition on Change.org.
Hilton Honors: Stop the “restructuring” of Hilton Honors Points
Jeff, I hope your many Twitter followers will sign on!
There are only 2 HEMIspheres. Just my 2 cents. If you are such a jetsetter, you can get your precious points with someone else. Quit bitching, because these are programs set for the uber rich and not a poser like you.
North, South, Eastern, Western? http://www.ask.com/question/how-many-hemispheres-are-there
How are discount programs for uber rich? That’s the opposite of what a loyalty program is aimed at.
Either way, you do make a good point that I should stop bitching.
i am a hilton honors member who just got to silver status. i know, big deal. i’m not a big traveler and don’t stay at the fancy hiltons. i sign up every time there is a double or triple points promo. the last time i traveled to visit family i used points and dollars and stayed 3 nights for $40 a night. to me this was wonderful. i don’t much care if i get a free room or an upgrade. a clean room and friendly staff are fine with me. guess it’s just my point of view.
Lynn – I agree that there are still nice aspects of staying with Hilton. In fact, I still do stay with them on occasion, even after writing this blog post.
I have just found that it is no longer a valuable proposition to try and actively earn Hilton Honors points, because they are nearly worthless. For example, I have over 100,000 points sitting in my account right now and I can only use them to get at most one night at a Hilton hotel. For many places that I would like to stay, a hotel room costs well over 100,000 points on their website.
As a Gold elite member, I still do enjoy the benefits they offer of free Breakfast and Internet. I will continue to maintain a Gold Elite status for that reason. I just won’t count on being able to use their points for any of my vacations.