First Hilton Killed Award Charts, Now They’re Doubling/Sextupling Some Award Prices Without Notice

Hilton effectively got rid of its award chart in 2013 when they introduced price ‘ranges’. They varied the price of hotel awards based largely on the price of a room.

A year ago this was the Hilton award chart:

Hilton formally dropped even this award chart but promised that they weren’t raising prices.

I wrote at the time after speaking to program leadership that Hilton says they are not increasing the maximum price of any hotel, and do not intend to do so. If they increase pricing and they do not make an announcement of this in advance they should come under much-deserved criticism.

However I also said I didn’t really believe hotels wouldn’t get costlier to members — that the elimination of award charts serves only one purpose, to keep information out of the hands of members. So I wrote that “I suspect that price increases in their ‘hidden award chart’ will eventually happen” but that “the question is whether or not they’re transparent with members about they changes they’re making — sharing clearly and prominently what they’re doing to the currency in advance.”

They kept their word for a little while, providing advance notice when changing the price of four hotels last summer. But it looks like that precedent hasn’t been maintained and potentially even in a big way.

I’ve reached out to Hilton for more information. Here’s what they had to say,

As we’ve shared in the past, we do need to make adjustments to properties from time to time similar to how we adjusted reward categories in the past. We carefully evaluate these changes to ensure we are delivering the best value to our members. You are still able to search by property on the pricing tool, which is updated periodically and includes the dozens of properties still available for 5,000 Points.

Hilton no longer lists when they make changes, you’d have to notice it yourself. And they don’t offer a way to search for all hotels at a given point level. You have to search hotel by hotel throughout their thousands of properties.

Kat007 complained that the cost of a former category 1 hotel doubled in points, and that there are “no more 5K points hotels, all starts with 10K now.” That’s not actually correct.

“Only” one third of the hotels available a year ago at 5000 points are now more expensive increasing a minimum of 100%.

Last year Loyalty Lobby compiled a list of 65 category 1 hotels as of last April. So I took a look to see what each of those properties now cost:

Country Hotel Was Now % Change
Argentina Hilton Garden Inn Tucuman 5000 5000 0%
Belarus Hampton By Hilton Minsk 5000 10000 100%
Brazil Hilton Garden Inn Belo Horizonte 5000 5000 0%
China Doubletree by Hilton Anhui-Suzhou 5000 5000 0%
China DoubleTree by Hilton Jiaxing 5000 10000 100%
China DoubleTree by Hilton Ningbo – Chunxao 5000 10000 100%
China DoubleTree by Hilton Ningbo Beilun 5000 10000 100%
China DoubleTree by Hilton Wuhu 5000 10000 100%
China Doubletree by Hilton Wuxi 5000 10000 100%
China Hilton Garden Inn Chengdu Huayang 5000 5000 0%
China Hilton Garden Inn Foshan 5000 5000 0%
China Hilton Garden Inn Fuzhou Cangshan 5000 10000 100%
China Hilton Garden Inn Guiyang 5000 5000 0%
China Hilton Garden Inn Guzhen Zhongshan 5000 5000 0%
China Hilton Garden Inn Ningbo 5000 10000 100%
China Hilton Garden Inn Shenzhen Bao’an 5000 10000 100%
China Hilton Garden Inn Xi An High-tech 5000 10000 100%
Colombia Hampton by Hilton Valledupar 5000 5000 0%
Colombia Hampton Inn Bucaramanga 5000 5000 0%
Egypt Hilton Alexandria Corniche 5000 10000 100%
Egypt Hilton Alexandria Green Plaza 5000 10000 100%
Egypt Hilton Hurghada Resort 5000 5000 0%
Egypt Hilton Sharm Dreams Resort 5000 N/A N/A
Egypt Hilton Sharm Waterfalls Resort 5000 5000 0%
India Hampton Inn Vadodara Alkapuri 5000 5000 0%
Indonesia Hilton Garden Inn Bali Ngurah Rai Airport 5000 5000 0%
Mexico DoubleTree by Hilton Queretaro 5000 10000 100%
Mexico Hampton Inn by Hilton Monterrey/Galerias-Obispado 5000 10000 100%
Mexico Hampton Inn Ciudad Juares 5000 10000 100%
Mexico Hampton Inn Merida 5000 5000 0%
Mexico Hampton Inn Monterrey Airport 5000 10000 100%
Mexico Hampton Inn Queretaro 5000 5000 0%
Mexico Hampton Inn Tampico Zona Dorado 5000 5000 0%
Mexico Hilton Garden Inn Queretaro 5000 5000 0%
Mexico Hilton Garden Inn Tuxtla 5000 5000 0%
Mexico Homewood Suites by Hilton Queretaro 5000 5000 0%
Oman Hilton Salalah Resort 5000 10000 100%
Poland Hampton by Hilton Krakow 5000 10000 100%
Poland Hilton Garden Inn Rzeszow 5000 5000 0%
Romania Doubletree by Hilton Sighisoara 5000 5000 0%
Russia Hampton Inn Nizhny Novgorod Gorkogo 5000 5000 0%
Russia Hampton Inn Samara 5000 5000 0%
Russia Hampton Inn Ufa 5000 5000 0%
Russia Hilton Garden Inn Ufa Riverside 5000 5000 0%
Russia Hilton Garden Inn Ulyanovsk 5000 5000 0%
Turkey Hampton Inn Bursa 5000 10000 100%
Turkey Hampton Inn Gaziantep City Centre 5000 5000 0%
Turkey Hampton Inn Istanbul Atakoy 5000 10000 100%
Turkey Hampton Inn Istanbul Zeytinburnu 5000 5000 0%
Turkey Hampton Inn Kahramanmaras 5000 5000 0%
Turkey Hampton Inn Kocaeli 5000 5000 0%
Turkey Hampton Inn Ordu 5000 5000 0%
Turkey Hilton Garden Inn Ankara 5000 5000 0%
Turkey Hilton Garden Inn Corlu 5000 5000 0%
Turkey Hilton Garden Inn Erzincan 5000 5000 0%
Turkey Hilton Garden Inn Eskisehir 5000 5000 0%
Turkey Hilton Garden Inn Istanbul Ataturk Airport 5000 5000 0%
Turkey Hilton Garden Inn Izmir Bayrakli 5000 5000 0%
Turkey Hilton Garden Inn Konya 5000 5000 0%
Turkey Hilton Garden Inn Kutahya 5000 5000 0%
Turkey Hilton Garden Inn Mardin 5000 5000 0%
Turkey Hilton Garden Inn Sanliurfa 5000 5000 0%
Turkey Hilton Garden Inn Sivas 5000 5000 0%
Turkey Hilton Kayseri 5000 5000 0%
USA Hampton Inn Columbus Airport 5000 30000 500%

The Hampton Inn Columbus-Airport isn’t 5000 points anymore. It’s now 30,000 points.

Hilton told us that the maximum points prices of hotels wouldn’t rise when they eliminated their award chart (after gutting the meaning of the chart in 2013), and they didn’t — for a few months.

Now they need a far better way to notify members when hotels are changing redemption price. For the last few years they at least maintained a web page listing changes, and members could check on that (or set a change detection for it, as I did). At an absolute minimum they need to bring that back.

It’s unacceptable to change redemption prices and not share that information with members. Redemptions prices aren’t like room rates. You earn Hilton points and hope to use them in the future. Hotel cash prices rarely double or quadruple the way they seem to with Honors, which is a loyalty program and not merely a currency.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. When I get Hilton points, I just spend them at Amazon. Probably a poor conversion rate, but at least it’s a known rate.

  2. Just got my newly converted Hilton AMEX….time to put that in a drawer and stick to SPG/Marriott

  3. Not sure why you are surprised with that. Every time I tried to book a Hilton property for my family it was sometimes over 200,000 points per night. Hilton is not a place I stay for the points. I only stay there if I don’t have a SPG property close by.

  4. Gary, the Hampton Inn Columbus Airport that was previously 5,000 was at CSG – Columbus, Georgia – not CMH. This Hampton Inn is also no longer a Hampton Inn – it is now a Baymont Inn and Suites.

  5. Forget about the award chart or what most bloggers tell you. Just bear in mind that at present 1 hilton point = 1/3 cent.

  6. Under current diamond conditions/promos with a amex HH card, I’m earning 7158 points on a $150 stay. Essentially earning 1/3 of a free night every 3 nights at a 20,000 point property. Hotels.com, you earn a free night every 10 nights. We’re fine. relax

  7. Why would anyone stay at Hilton anymore if they had other choices? I abandoned them after the great deval, and my only regret was crossing the line to stay at the crappy Hilton Woodland Hills for an event last year. Won’t make that mistake again.

  8. Yesterday I wrote an article on Hilton hotels in Europe at 5,000 points.

    Three of the hotels you show in Russia as still being 5,000 points are higher rates.
    Russia:
    Hampton Inn Nizhny Novgorod Gorkogo 10,000
    Hampton Inn Samara 10,000
    Hilton Garden Inn Ulyanovsk 10,000 most dates, 9,000 points some dates.

  9. @J, I don’t know what is wrong with my Hilton points, they must be broken. You say they are only worth 1/3 cent, but I just booked hotels in Paracas and Cusco and they were worth at 0.83 and 0.62 cents each.

  10. @Santastico, I don’t know why you can’t find a place for your family for less than 200,000 points. I have booked 71 nights at 25 different Hilton hotels (5 of them WAs or Conrads) and have paid an average of 40,000 points per night. The price has ranged from 10,000/night to 80,000/night.
    I have used various points to book 223 reward nights in 67 different hotels. Acknowledging that it is purely personal opinion, 7 of my top ten hotels from redemptions would be Hiltons.

  11. It’s an inflationary currency for a bottom-heavy hotel chain (lacking higher end properties) that has the worst top tier loyalty benefits.

    Other than that, it’s the best!!!

    (cue the inevitable posts from the deranged ranter…)

  12. @Ric Garrido, I checked out your article. I was surprised that there are 17.5% more 5,000 point hotels in Europe now than there were 6 months ago. When you read most blogs and Flyertalk, all you see are the hotels that have moved up in price. It was nice to see an objective accounting of the changes, even if it is for only one category.

  13. @Ric Garrido then that’s another issue — the Hampton Inn Nizhny Novgorod Gorkogo came up with a max price of 5000 just two days ago when I ran the search, now it’s 10,000.

  14. 200k for a night @ Hilton Garden Inn I was looking at
    For a suite at a premium property 500k in points for a single night
    Sheesh what are they smoking at HQ?
    Yes they have choices for customers but it is the Delta Airlines of hotel programs
    Maybe they should merge so they can screw their customers together
    I remember reading United once owned Hilton maybe they bought it back from Blackstone

  15. @farnorthtrader: Not sure where you travel but I don’t book 71 nights of hotel for my family. When I have points I want to use them when I need. Last year we went to Sorrento in Italy during the summer. A room (not a suite) that could accommodate my family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids) was 210,000 HH points per night. A quick search on the Grand Wailea in Maui shows a minimum of 220,000 per night for a Garden View room. Again, these are some examples of places I want to stay with my family. I don’t need to redeem points for Hilton Garden Inn and other cheap properties Hilton offers for less points. I much rather spend my business trips at SPG properties and then use the points to stay at St Regis properties for 30k points per night.

  16. Most of the hotels in china which need 5k points in your list actually need 10k points… for example all nights need 10k points at Hilton garden inn Huayang Chengdu.

    In fact when Hilton shut down my account last December, which happened after someone hacked my account and I reported the hack to Hilton, I decided to move on.

    Hilton is no longer what it’s used to be. And it’s time for all of us to move on.

  17. For anyone paying attention Hilton’s program changes over time certainly made it clear that Hilton’s program or points where worth very little in terms of trust or holding value.

  18. I stayed in a WA is Disney. They upgraded my family to a suite. Each night cost 60,000 points. No coplaints from me.

  19. It’s interesting, all this foaming at the mouth about Hilton from everybody but it never takes into consideration the earn side. Well, except for Steve, he gets it.

    A bowl of pho is $10 in DC and 40,000 dong in Hanoi but I can tell you which one is a better deal. Yet the readers of this blog would be up in arms!

    Honors has always given me about ~20% ROI, year-in and year-out, in a remarkably consistent manner…

  20. @Santastico, an excellent comparison. I assume that because the Hilton in Sorrento (we just stayed in that hotel last fall, it is excellent) was so expensive, you stayed in the local SPG property? Oh, that would be in Rome, just a couple of hours away. Darn, looking at the SPG properties in Rome, you can’t get a room for 4 at any points price.
    But at least you can stay at the St Regis in Hawaii this summer with 4 in a room for a reasonable price? Wait, you can’t get a room at the St Regis this summer either. Not for any price.
    If you want to use loyalty programs to only stay in the flagship properties in highest peak season with only the exact room you want, on the exact dates you want, all on short notice, then you will have a very hard time using any loyalty program.
    I have used Hilton points to stay at the Conrad Hong Kong, Conrad Macau, Conrad Tokyo, Waldorf Astoria Shanghai, and Waldorf Astoria Trianon Palace at Versailles, all during high season, all with my family (of 6, in two rooms) and all at standard points rates. As diamonds (only golds at Versailles on Fathers day weekend), we were also upgraded to suites in every one of these.
    I have also stayed at the Hilton Sorrento Palace with my wife at standard points rates just at the start of the film festival which they host. It was a wonderful hotel that, apparently, the studio executives rave about. Too bad you didn’t plan better so that you could have enjoyed it.
    My 71 award nights in Hilton hotels are over the last few years and yes, most of them were with my family. All but two of them were at standard award rates and one that wasn’t was in Miami and the premium award was for a junior suite that would sleep all 6 of us and was offered at less than the standard room rate. The other that wasn’t at standard rates was at the Hilton Molino Stucky in Venice and the premium room was pretty much the same rate as the standard room (3,000 points difference) and we were upgraded to a deluxe view suite there too.

  21. Let’s not start posting DCS-style #FakeNews here…LITERALLY the whole summer is open at the St. Regis Princeville (Kauai) for cash and points, 2 adults / 2 kids a room. Pick a date. Any date. SMH.

  22. Hilton seems to be following the predictable playbook of 1) make your award chart more “dynamic,” then 2) further erode value by using #1 to jack redemption prices. As previous commenters have noted, a primary value driver of “loyalty” is knowing how much your loyalty is worth. Investing in Hilton currency over other more stable, known quantity hotel currencies strikes me as unrewarding speculation.

  23. I’ve seen a big increase in award costs over the past month. I just got the AMEX Hilton Aspire Card for the 100,000 point bonus, and it appears that my points will already be less. If this continues to happen yes I’ll switch to another program.

  24. @UA-NYC, I checked week by week for 2 adults and 2 children starting July 1 through August and the St Regis Princeville showed no availability for points for any week.

  25. Go into the flexible calendar to show July and Aug. Not much in July but Aug has base level award availability on roughly 1/2 of the dates. September virtually every night.

    Of course, this is just a few months out from summer vacation season (when these rooms have been bookable for over a year at this point) – were you aware of that? Also if one is going to Kauai, it’s not like there are oodles of high luxury resorts.

    Furthermore, going into the Rooms page shows 41 rooms out of 251 that are the base level rooms (Mountain/Garden view, assuming both are base level). That’s a fair number for a luxury property.

    And – you may not be familiar w/SPG, but if you call in for the dates that don’t have a base room available, often more points will secure an upgraded room.

    There may be some legitimate things to attack SPG on (though IMO far, far fewer than Hilton), but award availability is not one of them.

  26. And BTW – July/Aug 2019 has 100% availability for award nights. And yes you can book those right now. Can’t do that w/Hilton…

  27. @UA-NYC – You are no longer able to book Starwood properties more than 350 days in advance. That went away when the 2018 award levels were implemented. Trying to make it consistent with Marriott.

  28. Ah yeah crap I forgot that just took effect…annoying that 500 days in the future still shows up on the calendar even though you can’t book through. So mea culpa on that last point.

  29. Ric Garrido,
    The change happened before 13, sometimes between March 8 and March 12 – I noticed it on March 12, and I am kat007 who started the thread on FT about this silent devaluation.

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