As you all probably know, Hilton announced that it was changing the structure of its Hilton HHonors reward program. There has been a lot of buzz around the blogosphere about how big of a devaluation this is. Hilton is moving from a seven category program to a ten category system with some properties almost doubling in cost! With that in mind, I’m planning a trip around a Hilton stay so that I can make sure to get the most value out of my points.
I have about 127,000 Hilton points after signing up for the Citi Hilton Visa card and the American Express Hilton card, both of which are no-fee cards. I had been collecting 6x Hilton points at drug stores by buying Vanilla Reloads, but that bonus was recently taken away. I had been saving up for a lengthier trip, but given where we are on the calendar, I’m resigned to using my points for a 4-night Category 6 AXON award, which costs 125,000 points. I have two long weekends in the coming months that I could potentially take a trip during – Memorial Day at the end of May and Labor Day at the very beginning of September. My only problem is that I’m not quite sure where I want to go, which is where all of you come in!
I have several places that I would love to go, but deciding which destination is the best for this particular award has been difficult. For instance, I loved Paris when I went there last summer, but there isn’t a great Hilton in Paris that I would want to redeem my points for. There is a Waldorf-Astoria in Versailles, but I can’t use an AXON award at a Waldorf-Astoria. Have any of you stayed at the Hilton Paris La Defense? It seems out of the way, but do you think it’s a worthy hotel? I’ve wanted to travel to Barcelona for several years and there is a Category 6 Hilton there. However, right now Labor Day weekend is right about 100€, so it would be a terrible value for my points. The only other Hilton in the city is a Category 7 so I wouldn’t have enough points, but even that is less than 200€. London has many Hilton Hotels, but they’re all Category 7 hotels! I could stay at the Hilton London Docklands, but it’s in a very inconvenient location outside the city. It seems I’m destined not to travel to Europe!
Looking domestically, there are a lot of different cities that I would love to visit. Charleston, SC has been on my list for a few years now, but they don’t have a proper Hilton there. I could stay at the Hampton Inn, but that just doesn’t excite my very much. I love Seattle, but even the Hilton there is a Category 7 and out of my price range. San Francisco is also out of the question with only Category 7 Hiltons available. Where is there to travel in a Category 5 or 6 hotel!? Miami has a Conrad that is a Category 6 hotel, but is only $148 right now! It’s back to the drawing board for me it seems, but I’m sure I’ll find something. There are so many places in the world that I want to go that I’m sure I’ll find something.
What are all of you doing with your Hilton points? Burning them like there’s no tomorrow or holding on to them? While a lot of hotels are increasing in price, not all of them are so make sure to see the new categories for all of Hilton’s hotels. Moreover, Hilton and American Express haven’t detailed how AXON awards will be affected. While I’m sure they’ll be devalued, they could still be a good value.However, it seems like aspirational properties like the Conrad Koh Samui are increasing dramatically so if you’ve been dreaming of one of those properties, make sure to make reservations before March 28!
IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card
- Annual Fee: $49 fee waived for the first year
- Foreign Fees: No
- Card Type: Hotel
The IHG Rewards Club Visa is often cited as one of the most underrated hotel credit cards, with good reason. The official offer is for 70,000 points after $1,000 spent within three months, with the first year’s fee waived. The card comes with an annual free night certificate that can be used at any IHG property, including Intercontinental hotels - making this certificate worth upwards of 50,000 points. This is far more generous than some other hotel cards, which limit the categories in which free night certificates can be redeemed.
Cardholders earn 5 points per dollar at IHG hotels; 2 points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants; 1 point per dollar everywhere else. Moreover, you’ll get a 10% rebate on award redemptions, up to 100,000 points per year. The card also comes with Platinum status, though that doesn’t get you much with IHG. Still, this is a fantastic card to have in your wallet, with benefits that far outweigh the already low $49 annual fee.
- Earn 70,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of account opening
- Enjoy a free night of card membership at over 4,700 hotels worldwide
- Earn 5 points for each $1 spent at our hotels
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants
- Bonus points redeemable at hotels such as Intercontinental® Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts and Holiday Inn®
- Automatic platinum elite status, as long as you remain a cardmember
- $0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $49