Yes, I did say the new Hilton Honors. Of course, today is also the day of the new World of Hyatt but it is also the day that the first major change to the award system with Hilton Honors is put into play.
The newest “feature” of the Hilton Honors is here – the new mix of cash and points. I have been playing around with it a bit and have already found some good and bad about the new program.
The New Hilton Honors with Money and Points
First of all, what Hilton has said about this new switch is that it is a variable program, based on the cost of the room for the night. This can be a good thing if you would rather use points than cash but can also be a bad thing, depending on the season.
Another feature is that you can mix the amount of money and points you want to pay with which can help if you are short on the points and you do not want to actually buy them the regular way.
Finally, we also know that there is no such thing as Hilton reward categories anymore. They give a range and say that a given hotel price will not go above the top price but the category redemptions we are used to are no more.
First, the good news! I played around with many hotels in New York City as I am quite familiar with pricing options there and there are an abundance of Hilton hotels there.
On cheaper days (like many weekend days), the prices in points is actually quite incredible, for a Manhattan hotel. I was seeing prices as low as 26,000 Hilton points on some nights/hotels! That is quite a steal for a Manhattan hotel!
If you want to mix cash and points, you will be paying tax on the cash portion, so something to keep in mind. If you pay with points, it wipes out the tax involved so your value may be a little better using points.
Ok, here is the bad part. There is no fixed redemption rate for the new system. I found regular rooms switching from .38 cents per point to .49 cents per point. That, to me, is a negative. I would prefer to know that I can get the same rate for my points if they are going to float them around that much.
Also, suites used to price for lower than the actual category amount on some cheaper nights. That was an awesome way to get under the required award amount for that category and get a better room at the same time – while getting over .5 cents per point in some cases. Well, that seems to be gone as well. I am seeing some pretty poor redemption rates at the same hotels that I had just checked yesterday on the suites.
Of course, this all could differ quite a bit based on where you are looking and the taxes for the area you are booking in. But, at first glance, there are some negatives to this new redemption system.
Another point to add – Hilton made it sound like that maximum price would not be something that you would often see. Ahhh, that is not the case at many NYC properties for middle of the week. I am seeing several hotels at their max price on a lot of days! That is certainly bad news, especially since those dates were not peak times under the old chart.
This is just a quick look at what the new redemptions look like. There are a few nice things about it – if you are traveling someplace during low demand. If you are traveling to an upscale hotel during peak (or even non-peak times), prepare to pay the new maximum in points. At least you can help to offset that with cash, if you need to.
The good news is that, even with the maximum, it appears that you can still easily get .5 cents per point. So, even though the maximum may be the set amount on many days, you still may be getting a better value than if the price was lower and you are paying the variable rate.
What do you think about the new Hilton Honors redemption system?