Hilton just announced that they will be introducing a new program. Until it really gets fully unraveled, there is no way of saying if it is better or worse. For starters, Hilton will be changing the name of the loyalty program from “Hilton HHonors” to “Hilton Honors”. Not sure why they are doing this, but I actually think it is a cleaner and easier look. All other changes, however, will directly affect their members mostly on the redemption side of things. The first few are definitely a positive, while the last change is still to be unknown. You can check out the new site with all the changes here.
Pool your points
Through the new program, starting in April you’ll be able to pool your points with other Hilton members. You’ll be allowed to do this with up to 10 family or friends. I like that they are not limiting it to only those within the same household. You can share up to 500,000 points per year. Overall, this is a win!
Redeem points at Amazon
You’ll be able to redeem your Hilton points for purchases at Amazon.com. Many other points and miles programs already do this and typically it is a pretty bad redemption. I assume the redemption rate for your Hilton points to be sub-par as well (the rate has not yet been announced). However, for those that are sitting on a ton of points and would like to get rid of them sooner then later, getting free products that you’d be purchasing anyways might be beneficial to some. This “benefit” will not be introduced until July.
Extend your Hilton Diamond status
If you are not able to maintain your Diamond status, Hilton will allow you to extend it by 1 year (you are allowed this benefit once in a lifetime). You just need to meet the following qualifications: 1) Maintain Diamond status for the past 3 years; and 2) Have either 250 elite qualifying nights or 500,000 base points. This is something unique to the industry and an interesting benefit to have. I can actually foresee many members being able to benefit from this. From personal experience, I love this benefit for parents having a baby where travel and work schedule changes and they no longer have to lose status because of this.
More Points + Cash opportunities, but no more award chart
While you can currently book some Hilton hotels using a combo of Points and Cash at a fixed rate, they are introducing a sliding scale that will allow you to make all standard room reservations using whatever combination of points and cash you so desire. So you can redeem just a minimal number of points for the room or the entire amount, or anywhere in between. This is nice for those that do not have enough Hilton points to redeem for an entire free night stay. As of right now, while I assume every point redeemed will equal a fixed number of points, they have not announced it yet.
Unfortunately though, with the sliding scale being introduced, Hilton is doing away with their award chart. This could be good or bad, we do not really know yet. My assumption is it won’t be great based on past history of Hilton changes. Currently, Hilton has a range for each category on the number of points you’ll pay. Hilton has confirmed that you will never pay more for a hotel in that same category as the high end of the range. But they have said there are opportunities to pay less then the low end of the range. So they are positioning it as a win-win situation, but I am not sure. We should find out more information throughout this month.
Here is the currently the number of points required to redeem for a free night based on the hotels category:
You can also see their flexible award pricing chart here. While it does not tell you the exact number of points for a particular hotel, it will tell you the highest number of points you’ll see once the new program is rolled out (which should align with the above category chart) and the estimated lowest price. I believe a lot of this will have to do with the current selling rate at a hotel, so we might see more of a revenue-based redemption system. Here is an example of some:
If you are looking to use your points throughout the next year, I suggest booking now (as long as you can cancel) and then seeing what the point structure will look like when the new program is rolled out at some time this month. This will allow you to lock in a price now, and if your particular date requires less points, you can always cancel and re-book.