Deals We Like says that Hilton HHonors is going to be introducing three new features to their program that look like they could be huge improvements, addressing areas that are sorely lacking. I haven’t verified any of this with Hilton directly, and I’ll be trying to get more information in the coming days, but in the meantime I thought I’d pass this along.
First is a cash and points awards option. Starwood and Priority Club already let you redeem awards for fewer points with a cash co-pay. With Priority Club, any award night can be had with a cash co-pay instead of full points, usually a pretty good deal. Starwood offers a better value still, but it’s capacity controlled. Hotels get the same reimbursement more or less for cash and points stays as on award stays, but they don’t get extra money on a cash and points stay when the hotel is full the way they do on a standard award night. As a result, Starwood hotels generally limit the availability of cash and points only to nights when they don’t expect to be full. The Hilton program looks similar — and a great deal, if/when available.
With new Points & Money Rewards, you can redeem points with a combination of points with money to book a standard room. Availability of Points & Money Rewards varies by participating hotels and stay dates at time of booking. Essentially you need to use half the number of points than a normal award. See the chart below to see the number of points and cost associated with each category.
Hotel Category Points & Money Rewards
Category 1: Unavailable
Category 2: 2 6,250 Pts + US$30
Category 3: 12,250 Pts + US$40
Category 4: 15,000 Pts + US$50
Category 5: 17,500 Pts + US$60
Category 6: 20,000 Pts + US$70
Category 7: 25,000 Pts + US$85
Waldorf Astoria® Hotels & Resorts: 30,000 Pts + US$100
Second is premium room awards. Currently with Hilton, like Priority Club, you can only use your points for a basic entry level room. (Elite upgrades still apply on award nights, unlike the official terms and conditions of Priority Club.) Starwood, Marriott, and Hyatt all allow you to spend additional points to confirm higher-level rooms, and this is a really big deal, plenty of members don’t want to redeem their points for a nice resort vacation and then face the parking lot!
You can now use HHonors points to book premium rooms and suites for stays all year round at our hotels worldwide. You can reserve our best rooms and confirm them at the time of booking, with no blackout dates. As long as a premium room or suite is available at the time of booking, it is yours to book using points. The number of points required to redeem Premium Room Rewards varies by room, hotel, and booking date.
It remains to be seen what the better rooms will cost but it’s been a sorely needed feature of the HHonors program.
Finally, upgrade awards, use your points for better rooms on paid stays. And this is for a guaranteed upgrade, not an upgrade based on availability at checkin. Of course, devil is in the details of pricing but it appears that these awards will not be capacity controlled.
Personally I’m just glad this was posted on April second or else I might think – at least until I can verify the information – that it was an April Fools joke. Because it would appear that Hilton is really beginning to plug the big holes in their program. (They just need to improve their Diamond elite program, to incorproate suite upgrades as an elite benefit, but at least program members should actually be able to access those better rooms with their points finally!)
Update: This link brings up a FAQ for the new HHonors benefits described above. It’s really glitchy, asking for username and password, but when you just keep clicking cancel a ton of times you’ll eventually just see the website with detailed Q&A. (HT: RicGarrido at Milepoint.)