As a continuation of my previous post, let’s start by filling in the blank to my previous post title:

The history of my hotel loyalty, and why I’m seriously considering Hilton HHonors

Well done, Steven, you were the first to guess correctly.

Let me start by saying this — the last thing I want is to have to maintain status with another hotel program, for the sake of both my wallet and my sanity.

But I have found myself salivating more and more over some Hilton properties and redemption values, and I don’t know how to deal with my urges short of doing the unthinkable, which is going for Hilton Diamond status.

Top tier hotel status on credit card spend

The good news is that Hilton Diamond status can be earned solely on credit card spend. $40,000 of spend per calendar year on the American Express Hilton Surpass card will get you Diamond status, while the card comes with free Gold status the first year. The card is fairly rewarding even without the Diamond status, given that it earns nine points per dollar spent at Hilton properties, six points per dollar spent on gas, groceries, and phone bills, and three points per dollar spent on everything else (and for the record this isn’t a card I earn any referral credit on).

In my recent post valuing hotel points, I valued Hilton HHonors points at 0.8 cents each. Since you’re earning at least three points per dollar spent, that’s basically a 2.4% return on everyday credit card spend, which is great.

While I’m not suggesting this would work on a large scale, PayPal’s fee is something like 3%, so $40,000 processed by them would cost you $1,200. But you’d earn 120,000 Hilton HHonors points for that, which I value at 0.8 cents each, meaning you’re really only paying ~$240 for that $40,000 of spend (since you’re also earning $960 worth of points by my valuation). Again, I’m not suggesting this would actually work on a large scale since you may very well get hit with an American Express Financial Review or an audit by Paypal, but it’s more the principle I find interesting.

My parents have a business through which they have to make quite a few purchases, and right now I have them using the Starwood American Express card, since their purchases don’t qualify for any bonus category. That being said, I’m very tempted to sign up for the Hilton Surpass card and add them as authorized users. I’m sure I could work out something that’s mutually beneficial.

The general idea is that I think most of us know someone that puts a lot of spend on a credit card, so use that to your advantage. Very few people value their credit card rewards at over 3%.

Easy Hilton HHonors points through Hawaiian Airlines credit cards

Hawaiian Airlines has co-branded credit cards with the Bank of Hawaii and Bank of America, both of which offer 35,000 HawaiianMiles after spending $1,000 within four months. HawaiianMiles can be converted to Hilton HHonors points at a 1:2 ratio, so that’s an easy 140,000 Hilton HHonors points.

How Hilton has improved over the past year(s)

I’ve always found Hilton’s loyalty program to be lackluster. It’s still not my favorite, though I do think it has improved considerably.

First of all, they’ve been running much better promotions than in the past, not only in absolute terms, but especially in relative terms as both Hyatt and Starwood have been offering less lucrative promotions lately. During their current promotion, for example, you can earn up to 49 points per dollar spent at Hilton properties.

Furthermore, Hilton has also added some Diamond benefits over the past couple of years. Previously there was very little differentiation between Gold and Diamond status, though now Diamond members get free internet, plus free room upgrades, plus the 1,000 point welcome amenity, plus club lounge access or restaurant breakfast. That’s much more generous than what they offered in the past, whereby they made you choose between those options.

In January they even added suite upgrades as a benefit for Diamond members, though unfortunately it seemed to be more hype than an actual concrete benefit. All they really did was give hotels the option of upgrading Diamond members to suites, as opposed to promising it based on availability. In other words, even if all of a hotel’s suites are empty, they have no obligation to upgrade you. And there are some other negatives, like Hilton’s award chart devaluation a couple of years ago and addition of “premium rooms,” though I consider neither to be a deal killer.

But still, the program has improved considerably, and top tier status seems an especially good value if achieved on credit card spend.

The amazing value of Hilton’s AXON awards

Hilton’s most expensive hotels (category 7) go for 50,000 points per night which is definitely on the high side, though one of the best values in the hotel industry are their AXON awards, for those with co-branded Hilton credit cards. Through this program you get a discount for extended stays. For example, if you book an AXON award, four nights in a category 7 hotel is only 145,000 points. That’s better than getting the fourth night free, and brings down the nightly cost to ~36,000 points per night.

For me, four nights is the perfect length for a hotel stay, so I appreciate the discount for the shorter stay, unlike Marriott, which offers travel packages for seven night stays (I don’t think I’ve ever stayed anywhere for seven nights… including at home).

The real reason Hilton is tempting me

I’m all about the aspirational award, and frankly I’ve been let down by just about all my preferred brands in that regard lately. Just as an example, I really want to go to Koh Samui, Thailand, which looks stunning.

InterContinental has a new property there, though it’s $350USD+ per night. While I could redeem points there, Royal Ambassador benefits wouldn’t be honored, so for me that’s not much of a reward.

Hyatt doesn’t have any property in Koh Samui.

Starwood has the W Retreat. The revenue rates are $500USD++ per night, and the hotel is marked as having “limited participation” in Starwood. This is because all of their rooms are villas, so you have to pay double as many points for a free night, making it 40,000+ SPG points per night. Given that SPG points are worth nearly three times as much as Hilton points, that’s an outrageous amount.

Meanwhile Hilton has the beautiful Conrad Koh Samui. Every review I’ve read has been great, and the property looks breathtaking. The cost is 50,000 points per night, but through an AXON redemption you’d pay just 145,000 points for four nights.

~36,000 points for a villa that would cost ~$1,000USD per night? Now that’s a spectacular value, not just because of the retail cost, but because the hotel looks stunning.

So I guess what it comes down to for me is that in the same way Park Hyatt hotels make loyalty to Hyatt worthwhile, Conrad hotels make loyalty to Hilton worthwhile. They have some amazing hotels in Hong Kong, the Maldives, and Tokyo, just to name a few cities.


View from the Conrad Hong Kong

Conclusion

I’m not looking for a hotel chain to park another 30+ nights per year, but rather a program that has some top resorts I can redeem for economically. And I think in a way Hilton has exactly what I’m looking for. I don’t like staying places for a week, but I do like staying places for four nights, and getting the fourth night free and then some is a pretty unbeatable value. They have enough aspirational hotels that I feel the program is worth accruing points with, and then making maybe two “big” award redemptions per year at their properties.

But then I have to ask myself, am I just becoming a complete points sl*t? I mean, they are called loyalty programs after all, and can you really be considered “loyal” when you’re sleeping with 80% of the major hotel brand loyalty programs?

What would you do? Anyone else in a similar situation and at least a bit tempted by Hilton? Or should I just stick to the programs I have and be happy?

  1. June 25th, 2012 at 7:49 am

    Phil said,

    Hey Lucky you are definitely not insane I have been going through the same thought process. The craziest thing about Hilton’s program is it really is not a LOYALTY program in any sense of the word. Today my Hilton balance is around 650k, plus another 360k coming in from two Citi cards, an Amex card and a BofA Virgin Card that I will then convert. I have Gold status with them, which gets me breakfast and free internet at most places. And in the last TEN years I have stayed at a Hilton property…. ONCE. Last year when I had a missed connection and DL put me up overnight in one near the airport!

    So yes the attraction is to use the Amex Surpass to get to Diamond and then mine the award chart for great value. The Conrad Koh Samui and the Conrad Hong Kong (and Singapore for that matter) are great values indeed. I am looking at a booking at the Conrad Maldives for next spring break – absolute peak season in the Maldives – for a crazy 37,500 per night. For a room they are selling at $2,200 a night!!! Other crackers on the list for us are the Waldorf Astoria Park City, a beautiful looking ski resort in Utah. And even at the other end of the spectrum there are gems like the Homewood Suites Tremblant, which is right by the ski lift. Normally not great value but rates over Christmas are through the roof making this a great value. There are others in the Seychelles, Europe, all over where you can find great value. The best bit is for most hotels, the redemption rates are awful, so most actual LOYAL members bitch and moan about the woeful lack of value, they are seen as the GroundPesos of the hotel world! It is all about finding these diamonds in among the lumps of coal

  2. June 25th, 2012 at 7:53 am

    Mitch said,

    Lucky,

    As someone who maintains status with Hilton I have to give the programme an endorsement. I find that the geographic coverage is very good and they do have a number of aspirational properties that I find appealing. Conrad hotels and some of the Waldorf Astoria properties are true gems, with Conrads being the better value of the two in my mind. Hilton has done a much better job of upping their game with regard to Diamond benefits over the last year and they have been competing in the promotion game much more frequently than in the past. The earn rate is also very good for in hotel spend relative to some other programmes.

  3. June 25th, 2012 at 7:56 am

    Gary said,

    Hilton HHonors Diamond is a great value when earned from credit card spend. That’s how I do it. But HHonors doesn’t treat you nearly as well as Hyatt or SPG. I don’t want to actually spend that many nights with Hilton. Just a few aspirational stays.

    The Conrad Koh Samui was great, but there are no upgrades there, every room is an ocean villa with pool. Golds and Diamonds get breakfast and internet. Diamonds get a 50 minute Thai massage complimentary, Not necessary to be a Diamond when you stay there.

    HHonors is in my view improved over the past few years though others disagree. It’s better than Marriott and Priority Club. That’s great given its wide coverage, for cities with no Hyatt or Starwood property. But I wouldn’t make it my main hotel program.

    And yet I too re-up my Diamond each year.

  4. June 25th, 2012 at 7:56 am

    Award Travel Consulting said,

    Don’t forget the BofA Virgin Atlantic card:

    20,000 after 1st purchase
    25,000 after $2,500 in purchases within 90 days
    5,000 for 2 authorized users
    15,000 anniversary if you spend $25,000 in 1st year

    These transfer 1 VA to 2 HH so fairly easy to get 50,000 Virgin to 100,000 HH

  5. June 25th, 2012 at 8:04 am

    mike said,

    I think you need help, my friend. :)
    You have an addiction.

  6. June 25th, 2012 at 8:17 am

    Euan said,

    I can understand that you would want to use your points where you can (don’t we all!) but I am just curious when you last stayed at an ‘independent’ hotel through choice i.e. not one where you have loyalty or where loyalty schemes exist?

    We visited Koh Samui a few years ago and stayed at the Sandalwood Villa (http://www.sandalwoodsamui.com). It was a truly superb stay but one that couldn’t be bought with points and one where we didn’t earn points either. If we went back again we’d stay at the same hotel. Whether you believe tripadvisor or not (Every hotel has one or two bad reviews!) it was #1 back then and it’s still #1.

    The same goes for cities/towns, etc all over the world where there are some amazing hotels worth an experience but that don’t reward you the same as Hilton, Starwood, Hyatt, etc all do.

    I am not having a go at you or anyone. We used to collect miles/points from every hotel stay. However, recently we’ve taken to picking a hotel first and if we can collect points/miles or use them for the stay then great.

    So far we’ve experienced some excellent hotels that we probably wouldn’t have considered if looking at it from a points perspective.

  7. June 25th, 2012 at 8:25 am

    MarkJ said,

    I am a Starwood Platinum and I wanted top tier at a second hotel chain. I had a big tax payment and I put it on the Hilton Surpass card and paid the convenience fee. The 120,000 points that came with paying $40,000 was like getting Diamond for free. So far…so good.

  8. June 25th, 2012 at 8:27 am

    matt said,

    Hilton Diamond (via stays) is my secondary status to SPG platinum. When I look at the top-end of the award chart and compare in-hotel earnings I sometimes wonder why I don’t do a bit more with Hilton. Top-end (and only top end) redemptions have great value and you earn a lot of points before promotions (which matters a lot more in these days of uniformly mediocre promotions). I don’t hit too many full service properties, but was upgraded to a rather odd suite last week at a doubletree. Curious to see how the suite upgrades turn out at properties that matter.

  9. June 25th, 2012 at 8:35 am

    Jim said,

    There are so many CC to get Hilton points.BOA Virgin 50,000 points and also has 2/1 so it yields, 100,000 points.Also you can do the two browser trick with Citi and get another 100,000.The two amex CC would yield another 100,000.Add in the two cards you mentioned and you can get 440,000 points in one round of apps.I just spent some time this week end looking at Hilton and I agree there is a real opportunity.

  10. June 25th, 2012 at 8:47 am

    John said,

    I would have to agree Conrad redemptions using AXON awards or using 6 nights or more award rates (with status)is a very good value. I have stayed at 4 Conrads in the last 6 months all in Asia. I only used an award stay at the Conrad Hong Kong. Some of the other like the Conrad Bangkok I pd cash since the rate was so low. The Conrad Maldives is another hotel that would be an exceptional award redemption. I have not stayed there though. The room rate is over $1200 a night. Thus, an AXON award is a great value. The Maldives Conrad does not give Hilton Diamonds or Golds free breakfast or upgrades though. Also, their food rates are sky high.

    Agree that SPG redemption rates for high end hotels is a way to high and not a good value.

  11. June 25th, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Charlene said,

    I currently have Hilton Gold from previous hotel stays for my old job, but haven’t taken advantage of the status since getting it. I might go for a credit card churn to get some 400,000+ points though and to keep Gold from the Surpass card. Seems worth it for some good redemptions in the future! Plus, it seems easier to rack up more of these points that Priority Club for Intercontinentals…

  12. June 25th, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Peter Dominowski said,

    How does one access the AXON awards? I have the Hilton AMEX and have never seen the AXON mentioned online when booking award nights. Do you have to call reservations and request AXON?

  13. June 25th, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Steve said,

    I typically maintain Hilton Gold Status, and I accumulate points. When it’s time for me to plan for a nice rewards vacation with HHonors points, I will upgrade to the Surpass card, and put 40k on it to get Diamond status for my vacation.
    Other than that, I’m happy to stick with earning 50-100k points/year with spend+CC signups.
    I have really been appreciating this summers promos too.

  14. June 25th, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Peter said,

    When you said that Hilton Diamonds give you free internet, plus free room upgrades, plus the 1,000 point welcome amenity, plus club lounge access or restaurant breakfast. While I’m not totally well versed in the program, Golds get at least free internet, club lounge access or restaurant breakfast and probably some room upgrade. I don’t really see the additional benefits of Diamond over Gold. They, as well as all chains, have some “gems” in their portfolio of properties. So for you I’m not sure it’s worth it – while for some other travelers (domestic US to smaller cities/towns without other choices) it could be.

  15. June 25th, 2012 at 10:17 am

    chitownflyer said,

    Here is a summary of the advantages of Hilton HHonors Gold & Diamond status. The main difference between Diamond over Gold is guaranteed Executive floor access, possible suite upgrades, and the 20 HHonors points per dollar spent at Hilton hotels if selecting points and points as your earning option. Both get free internet, free breakfast, and a room upgrade which makes Hilton’s Gold the best in any hotel loyalty program.

    The great benefits of Hilton’s program is the number of global locations. London has circa 15 or more properties, how many do SPG and Hyatt have? Hilton has been good about offering decent promos like double or triple points, and it was the only program to offer a free night for four stays last year. AXONs are good, and don’t forget GLONs for six or more nights with a Cat 7 costing 37,500 a night. Waldorfs can also be discounted via AXON-GLON, but you have to call the HHonors desk for this. Hiltons are also often better prices relative to the competition. Compare the rates for a SPG property and a Hilton in a major city, and you will likely find the Hilton to be less expensive.

    IMHO, you should really jump on the Hilton bandwagon, as they have a good program for earning and redeeming points.

  16. June 25th, 2012 at 10:24 am

    calvin said,

    Oh the irony.. I’m tempted to try another hotel chain just to try out new hotels. Have been a Hilton guy for the past few years.

  17. June 25th, 2012 at 10:32 am

    AAExPlat said,

    I find hotel programs to be more or less useless.

    1) If you travel with young children like I do, then standard rooms never permit a party of four. Therefore, points can never be redeemed for free nights.

    2) Many of the chains (Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, etc) have hotels overseas and even in Hawaii that look like they could be in Kansas. I find them to be devoid of character and local flavor. Just another posh hotel (the IC Bali is a rare exception).

    For those reasons, I like the Small Luxury Hotels of the World and LHW. Yes, you pay for your stays in full and no freebies beyond free breakfast and maybe an upgrade (rare), but at least I always stay in hotels where I can really experience the local flavors and people.

    I have been HH Diamond, PCR Plat and I am Hyatt Plat and IC Ambassador, and I have found all of these programs to be more or less useless since I started traveling with my kids. If you are single or a couple only, I can see how that would change the equation…

  18. June 25th, 2012 at 10:43 am

    John said,

    AAExPlat- “I find hotel programs to be more or less useless”. Your comments sound so arrogant. You can always redeem for an adjoining room. I’ve heard of no problems with two young kids in the same room on an award redemption, though.

    You can go rt ahead a pay high rates at LHW. I’ll stick to free redemptions at Conrads. In fact I loved the Conrads in Hong Kong, Singapore, Bali, and Bangkok. I plan to hit a few more Conrads next yr.

  19. June 25th, 2012 at 11:00 am

    thrashsoundly said,

    I do like many Hilton properties and love how easy it is to get points for award stays.

    However, for me there is a moral dilemma remaining – do I really want to help line the pockets of Paris Hilton?

  20. June 25th, 2012 at 11:01 am

    AX9465 said,

    for a parent traveling with wife and teenage child, SPG is no use for me as I dont want to constantly monitor whether rollaway will be available and whether hotel is considering my child to be a child or an adult.
    So biggest SPG limitation for me is that they have this idiotic rule of “2 adults per room maximum”. So for me it’s hilton, Marriott or Priority club.

  21. June 25th, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Tiffany said,

    I switched a lot of stays from Hilton to Hyatt last year, and so have dropped from HHonors Diamond to Gold, and to be honest, the only difference I’ve seen is the slightly lower points accrual.

    I’m still getting upgrades, the same breakfast benefit (even applied to multiple guests in multiple rooms at some properties), and free internet. Granted, these have all been at overseas properties, but my experience has been really good.

    Since HHonors Gold is so easy to come by, maybe you can just test that out and see?

  22. June 25th, 2012 at 11:27 am

    John said,

    thrashsoundly- The Hilton family does not own Hilton Hotels. The buyout firm Blackstone has owned Hilton Hotels for yrs.

  23. June 25th, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Jim said,

    Lucky, If you were going to Koh Samui what routing would you take from TPA/BKK?

  24. June 25th, 2012 at 11:36 am

    thrashsoundly said,

    @John Thanks for that! I haven’t paid attention and have avoided Hilton properties for a long while now, but it seems as of late 2007 my moral dilemma should have been abated. Time to move forward.

  25. June 25th, 2012 at 11:41 am

    dhammer53 said,

    @Jim, can you be more specific. Transpac or TATL? ;)

  26. June 25th, 2012 at 11:56 am

    beltway said,

    Peter Dominowski, for info on AXON rewards (including how to book them), see my summary on FT.

  27. June 25th, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Phil said,

    @AAExPlat –

    You should not give up on hotels because you have kids. I booked up a week at the Conrad Maldives next year the basic room is capable of accommodating 2 adults and 2 children. We went to Disney this year, stay at the Swan, got that with SPG points, 2 adults and our 2 kids were just fine. Last summer did Grand Mauritian and Meridien Seychelles all the same. And even in Europe where it’s tougher, I find it makes sense to just use double the points and buy two rooms. I’d have to do that with cash anyway.

    Don’t give up so easily! :)

  28. June 25th, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Jim — Well I need to go to Munich in a couple of months, so I’d hopefully do something like SFO-MUC(stopover)-BKK-USM.

  29. June 25th, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Dan said,

    Lucky,

    As someone who previously thought that Hilton awards were too expensive to bother with, I’ve recently changed my mind. SPG has its strong suit in mid to low tier properties. Hilton and Hyatt shine at the top end.

    12 nights at top properties for one round of credit card apps is really, really hard to beat.

  30. June 25th, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Carol said,

    I’ve been checking Conrad Koh Samui for my niece’s honeymoon, and have only been finding rates of 150K points/night and up. I’m not finding any AXON rates.

    @Euan, I’m very intrigued by your recommendation of Sandalwood Luxury Villas for them. I will look into that more.

    I keep trying to break up with Hilton, but keep getting drawn back in. There are a lot of places around the world where I find Hilton and don’t find other chains. I’m no longer emotionally engaged with Hilton. I’ve marched thru almost all their aspirational properties the last 10 years. And yet, and yet.

    I was sure last year would be when I’d let diamond lapse. But last winter, when no other chain had a decent promo, Hilton had the stay 4, get 1 free night – and the free night could be used at any level property. I’ve gotten good use from the new Cash and points program this year. And while I’m not enamored of their variable points pricing for upgraded rooms, every so often an upgraded room is available for fewer points than a standard room.

  31. June 25th, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Nguyen said,

    May I ask what the conversion ratio for Citi cards (AA) to Hilton points? Thanks.

  32. June 25th, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Elizabeth said,

    @chitownflyer wrote “Waldorfs can also be discounted via AXON-GLON, but you have to call the HHonors desk for this.”

    It was my understanding from all of beltway’s threads on FT that W-A could only be discounted via GLON, not AXON. All GLON awards are bookable online including those for W-A.

    So are you saying that the Diamond Desk can book 4-night W-A stays for 145k AXON instead of the 170k GLON?

  33. June 25th, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    David said,

    I’ve been traveling with 3 or 4 people, and it’s normally worth the $ upcharge to get a rollaway…or spend 2X pts to get 2 rooms. I don’t see why this would make someone give up on loyalty programs.

    On a side note, Hyatt and Hilton have been most generous when it comes to booking 3 people in an award room on an online booking without extra $…for SPG you have to contact the hotel and pay $ for a higher room category. However, there are times when this room category can be had for an extra 2.5K SPG pts, and then you just pay a small charge for a rollaway. Example: Westin Frankfurt ( 2.5K extra for Grand Deluxe, which incl. Club access, plus 35€ for a rollaway.)

  34. June 25th, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    snic said,

    I’ve never quite seen the point of “aspirational” hotel awards because I’m just not that excited by luxury hotels. Look at it this way: it’s downright impossible to travel around the world in economy class and be comfortable during the flight. So business and first class awards are definitely something to aspire to. But it is *very, very* possible to find hotels that are clean, comfortable, and well located with respect to the sights (or beaches or whatever) I want to see, which are NOT expensive luxury hotels. And if I’m staying more than a few days, I’d rather find an apartment or condo or beach house to rent.

    That said, I’ve been pretty loyal to Hilton because (1) wherever I go in the US, there’s a Hilton-branded hotel, and (2) some of their NYC hotels have great redemption rates. For instance, when rooms were $300+ per night, I spent something like 30k points for the Hilton Garden Inn on Times square – which happens to be very comfortable, if a little basic. Deals like this make for significantly cheaper weekends on the town, and because we don’t go to NYC to stare at the four walls of a hotel, all we really need is someplace clean and quiet.

  35. June 25th, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Ripper3785 said,

    Note for the Travel Agent readers here… The StarPRO travel agent rate rate(take their online course to be eligible) at W Retreat Koh Samui is an incredible deal..

    Yes you need TA credentials (IATA #)

  36. June 25th, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Euan said,

    @Carol – it was superb. Couldn’t fault them at all and a fantastic setting and location.

    They gave us a Thai mobile phone when we arrived so if we were on the beach, etc we could phone the hotel and they would send a taxi to pick us up. Email me if you want more info.

  37. June 25th, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Josh G said,

    Lucky hopefully this is a mishap on Amex’s part but it looks like 145k is AXON6 not AXON7:

    With your Hilton HHonorsTM Card from American Express, you can redeem for less. Receive 4 HHonors reward nights at Category 5 or 6 properties within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio worldwide at a special rate exclusively for Cardmembers.7

    Call 1-800-920-5649 to redeem a four night stay:

    Category 5 hotels — 125,000 HHonors bonus points (normally 140,000). Mention promo code AXON5.
    Category 6 hotels — 145,000 HHonors bonus points (normally 160,000). Mention promo code AXON6.

  38. June 25th, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Kevin said,

    My fiancé and I have the Hilton surpass card. We spend $40K per year on it for our business travel, and we hardly step foot in Hilton properties, unless redeeming. Just on the $40K spend alone you earn A LOT of points. It’s the perfect system. We do nothing. We get top tier status. Can’t wait for our stay at the Conrad Maldives in October :-).

  39. June 25th, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Aaexplat said,

    @John: unless you are the parent of my kids, you can’t possibly know how I value hotel stays…my kids are too young and my son too curious for it to be SAFE to have adjoining rooms (never mind allowing the room neighbors some respite)…unless my wife and I split up…and adjoining rooms don’t always work out either. And even if they do, my value proposition is HALF of that for other folks. It is simply easier at that point to find a hotel that has more flexibility even if it is not free (which I would contest, too, since the churning etc is a fair bit of work and availability isn’t always there either)

    @Phil: Thanks for the encouragement. I might just need it. I have been having a lot of bad luck with hotel chains in the last several months.

  40. June 25th, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    sil said,

    okay, never thought much of any Hilton program as there are so many different banks offering Hilton points. I like to jump on the bandwagon. Which card(s) should I apply for for best result in obtaining points and especially the AXON rewards folks are talking about.?

  41. June 25th, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Gene said,

    Hilton? uninspiring….

  42. June 25th, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    dfz said,

    @AAExPlat – we travel as a family of four with 2 youngsters in tow and love Hilton HHonors because of the Embassy Suites brand – we always can fit everyone (sometimes with the kids in the separate living room & pull-out sofa bed), and the value included with hot breakfast for 4 and a frig / mini-kitchen to store juice, snacks, treats, etc while traveling has been worth it’s weight in gold!

  43. June 25th, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    beltway said,

    Josh G, if you read the Hilton reward FAQ I linked to earlier, you’ll see that this has been discussed in detail on FT. Bottom line: Amex has a lot of stale info left over from then the highest Hilton hotel category was cat 6. Ignore what you read (and posted above); 145K also gets you an AXON7 award.

  44. June 25th, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    Ken said,

    Aaaahhh, you Americans are truly lucky, so many ways to rack up points, so many cheap ways to obtain status. We suckers in Europe or Australia or truly handicapped in that sense, if only those chains and cc companies treated the rest of the world a little better….

  45. June 25th, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    sil said,

    Did my own research at flyertalk . couldn’t wait for an answer. Just want to let you know that under MilesBuzz and Citi Hilton Honors 50k, the link on lst post still works. I applied for 2 Citi Hilton Honors Visa Signature cards with 2 browsers. Both approved and both with 50k points with $1500 spending within 6 months and NO annual fee. Equifax pull from S. CA

  46. June 26th, 2012 at 7:15 am

    greek2me said,

    Switching $40k spend to Surpass to get Hilton Diamond from better earning options really costs you an add’l $800 (if 2% cashback card) to $4,000 (if 10% from 5x UR fron vanilla OD using IB) you would have earned on that spend. I get wanting the card for AXON, but why put any spend on it to go from Hilton Gold (which they give away constantly for free) to Diamond when all you pick up is 25% pt bonus. An extra 2.5 pts/$1 at your 0.8cpm value is only an extra $200 on every $10k spend at Hilton/yr.

  47. June 26th, 2012 at 7:50 am

    greek2me said,

    Upon further thought, allow me to amend my comment above. I personally only value Hilton pts at 0.5cpm so I view regular spend (1.5% rebate at 3 pts/$) on Amex Surpass as significantly suboptimal. However in your post you noted you believe you are earning a 2.4% rebate on regular spend on the Surpass (3x your 0.8cpm est), so it is only the better earning card options (such as amex prepaid) that impose an add’l cost to you given your personal assumptions.

  48. June 26th, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Gene said,

    @lucky — You say “AXON awards, for those with co-branded Hilton credit cards.” Do these require the AMEX card or can you also access these with the Citi card?

  49. June 26th, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Gene — Sorry, I should have clarified that it has to be an American Express.

  50. June 26th, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Paul said,

    I’m currently a Diamond and SPG Plat. I’ll be honest, Hilton has not been doing much for me the past few years and I have no problems dropping down to Gold this year. Outside of a few incidental benefits received over my last 6 years as a Diamond, I can’t think of any one thing that has reflected loyalty from their side of the house. As a comparison, I receive “the love” from SPG every time I check in. I don’t know…maybe I don’t go to enough nice cities to appreciate Hilton, but every domestic and international Sheraton\Westin I’ve been to has convinced me I’ve made the right choice…..

  51. July 5th, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    The Traveler said,

    As popular as Embassy Suites are, I just can’t bring myself to reserve a room there. The odds of inattentive parents with screaming kids who play with the elevators are too high when dealing with all-suite properties.

  52. July 7th, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Robert Hanson said,

    “Call 1-800-920-5649 to redeem a four night stay…Mention promo code AXON5″

    Actually, you don’t need to call, just use the AXON CODE when booking on the website. Assuming you are logged in as a HHonors member, it recognises that you have the HHonors Amex card, and gives you the AXON rate without any need to contact a CSR. I’ve booked AXON stays at the Amsterdam Doubletree and the Hilton Paris La Defense locations this summer this way.

  53. July 10th, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Andy said,

    i spent at hilton 140 nights in 2010 and purposely reduced to 75 nights in 2011 because i found many hilton hotels made me unhappy or even angry. this year of 2012, i am half way done to manintaining my hilton diamond status. i’m hesitating whether I should go ahead to keep my hilton diamond status.

    i have SPG Platinum and Marriott/Ritz-Carlton Platinum status already. I love marriott status and would definitely keep it (so far, by july 4, already spent 105 nights this year). I newly picked up my SPG Plat status in Jan-Feb 2012 through Platinum Challenges by staying 18 nights in 5 weeks. Now my question is whether I should give up Hilton and enhance my SPG for next year?

    Marriott reward has annnual roll-over that makes me happy. Many hilton hotels abused customers and surcharged me that I hated them. I am not that familiar with SPG as I only stayed 18 nights there.

    Is there a comprehensive review on this wbesite or elsewhere to compare SPG and Hilton to help me make a decison?

  54. August 24th, 2012 at 6:02 am

    Michelle said,

    As someone with a million Hilton points I say Hilton all the way

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