An integrated loyalty program travel plan provides numerous opportunities to use airline miles and hotel points for travel savings. The knowledge of equivalent exchange values for points and miles between loyalty programs allows the traveler to save money on travel. This loyalty traveler is always looking for a good exchange of hotel points and airline miles for an economical 5-star vacation.
Hilton HHonors advertises itself as the only program letting members earn both hotel points and airline miles for a hotel stay. This feature is what HHonors calls “Double Dipping”. Starwood, Marriott, IHG, and Hyatt loyalty programs all allow the member to select in the member’s guest profile an earning preference for either hotel points or airline miles.
An even more impressive feature of Hilton HHonors is the ability to exchange airline miles into HHonors points. Airline miles to points exchange can be done with the following airlines: American, Hawaiian, Mexicana, Midwest, South African Airways, and Virgin Atlantic Airways.
Exchange rate is 5,000 frequent flier miles = 10,000 HHonors points for all these airlines except Virgin Atlantic which has an even exchange of 5,000 miles = 5,000 HHonors points.
Over the past ten years I have exchanged nearly 1,000,000 airline miles from American Airlines, LatinPass, and TWA into hotel points with Marriott Rewards and Hilton HHonors. The option to transfer airline miles into Marriott points was discontinued several years ago.
I discovered the value of this strategy when I planned a trip to Spain and the Netherlands in 1999. Hotel prices were about $150/night at the Hilton hotels in Amsterdam and Barcelona. I exchanged 50,000 TWA miles into 100,000 Hilton HHonors points. The miles could have been exchanged for an economy class airline ticket to Europe ($500 value) whereas the 100,000 HHonors points were good for 9 hotel nights ($1,300 value).
It is also possible to purchase up to 40,000 points in a calendar year for $400. http://hhonors1.hilton.com/en_US/hh/points/purchase.do
If you purchase more than 10,000 points at one time the price is $0.01/point and $0.0125/point if less than 10,000 points are purchased. Points will appear in account in about 30 minutes.
A strategy I have frequently used for stays at Hilton Hotels was to change my airline miles earning preference to frequent flier programs holding miles in accounts I might not use for the year. Losing your frequent flier miles for inactivity is cheaply avoidable. A Hilton-brand hotel stay allows the guest to maintain an active account with 500-miles earned for most Hilton-brand hotel stays. And, you also get HHonors points for your stay.
Paradise with an Ocean View
In 1995, when I worked as a special education teacher in Maine, I received my classroom’s first Mac computer. The desktop picture I selected for the monitor was a beautiful white sand island with palm trees. The island paradise was my fantasy image when the day-to-day grind of behaviorally impaired special education students had me feeling whipped. The picture title named the location as the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, a thousand miles off the coast of Africa.
My dream of an Indian Ocean resort getaway has eluded me to this date. I have had opportunities to fly British Airways using miles and stay for free at the Hilton Mauritius on points, but my vacation fantasy was not my wife’s ideal vacation. The resorts of the Maldives, the Seychelles, and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean are still a trophy travel dream of mine. These locations are about as far as a person can travel from the USA.
Nearly every year the resorts in these island locations go up in price (at least for Americans exchanging devalued dollars) and the Category rating for many of these hotels continues to rise in various loyalty programs.
Which brings this discussion around to Hilton HHonors PointStretcher discounted hotel stay awards.
Hilton HHonors PointStretcher Award Chart
HHonors PointStretcher Participating Hotels for 2008
Hilton Mauritius Resort, [Pointstretcher dates: May 25-June 30, 2008]
Category 6 HHonors hotel = 40,000 points/night or 175,000 points/6-night GLON2P award
PointStretcher Award is available for 24,000 points/night
Monday, June 16 –Sunday, June 22
King Deluxe room = 144,000 points/6-nights
Cash price is 13,696 MUR/night = $472/night for the nonrefundable internet only lowest rate or 17,120 MUR/night flexible rate. In this instance, 24,000 HHonors points can be redeemed at a value of almost 2 cents each for a $472/night room.
A complimentary upgrade for an elite status member may be even more rewarding with a PointStretcher stay in a Corner Suite = $772/night or Deluxe Suite = $868/night.
Other PointStretcher Opportunities:
Hilton Prague, Czech Republic, PointStretcher dates: March 8-14, 22-28; April 20-26
HHonors Category 4 hotel, standard award = 30,000 points/night or 150,000 points/6-nights GLON2 award.
PointStretcher Award = 18,000 points/night
March 22-28 PointStretcher award is available for 108,000 points/6-nights.
Pointstretcher saves 42,000 points on regular GLON2 award.
Paid rate = 158€/night = $235/night compared to 18,000 points/night ($180 value)
Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio, Hawaii - Rated #11 of 85 Honolulu hotels on TripAdvisor.
HHonors Category 6 = 40,000 points/night
PointStretcher dates = April 1-7, 2008
24,000 points/night and 5 night award available for 120,000 points. This saves 80,000 points on regular award rate.
Internet only paid rate = $172/night.
Even at a pointstretcher award rate the value of points redeemed is worth less than one cent each and is a low redemption value for hotel points compared to other hotel options. This hotel may be a better value for a paid stay and save your points for a higher value redemption.
Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio - $172 night vs. 24,000 points/night ($240 value)
Hilton Prague - $235/night vs. 18,000 points/night ($180 value)
Hilton Mauritius - $472/night vs. 24,000 points/night ($240 value)
Also, for a more accurate comparison, the traveler needs to calculate the points not earned on award stay that would be "added value" for the cost of a paid stay. (Another outstanding and unique feature of Hilton HHonors is an award stay counts as a stay for elite status qualification - terrific added value for elite status seekers.)
Hilton Prague $235 night = 2,350 points + 1,175 points = 3,525 HHonors points for non-elite with Points&Points preference selection) = $35.25
The value of points not earned for a PointStretcher stay compared to a paid stay at Hilton Prague is about $35.00. A comparison of the value of using a free hotel award must include the "added value" that would have been earned if paying for the room. The 18,000 points for a free night have a $180 purchase value. The "added value of a paid stay would be $35. Together, $180 + $35 = $215, the points value and the missed opportunity for "added value" from a paid stay, can be compared to the going room rate for a comparison of award value to paid stay value.
$180 + $35(added value, if paid stay) = $215 value of using PointStretcher Award. Even considering the "added value" of the HHonors points not earned for an award stay, the PointStretcher award option is still a higher value alternative than a paid stay.
Hilton Prague PointStretcher = $215/night
Hilton Paid Stay Nonrefundable internet-only rate = $235/night