Let’s face it, Hilton points aren’t really worth jack-squat. I mean that in the nicest way possible, of course. You are probably like many other travelers that find it very difficult to make good use of your Hilton Honors points. I am going to
try give you a glimmer of hope.
I will start with saying something nice about Hilton (my Mom taught me to do that). Hilton has a great variety of properties and a world-wide presence. If you pick a vacation destination on a map, odds are there will be a Hilton property somewhere in the vicinity.
The first thing that may help is for you to see a map of Hilton hotels and to be able to filter them by the number of points required for a free night. Oh but wait, that already exists! You can use Award Mapper to do exactly that. Keep in mind that some Hilton properties vary in the reward night cost depending on the season. If you go to Canada in the winter, a room will run 10k-20k fewer points per night than in the summer time. The only way to know the exact cost per night is to head the booking page and input your dates.
The Citi Hilton credit card now offers 75,000 Honor points, which may sound like a lot of points at first. Sadly, 75,000 Honor points don’t go far, Honor points are worth about .5 cents a piece. That nets you, on average, $375 in value from the 75,000 point bonus. Currently, the Starwood SPG hotel credit card offers 35,000 points and those SPG points are worth 2.5 cents per piece making them worth $875! Don’t always assume that more points means more free travel. It is important to take into account the redemptive value of a point and what you can eek out of it. The average Hilton hotel requires about 30,000 Hilton points for a free night where Starwood requires about 10,000 points per night on average. (just to give you a rough idea)
So where are the Hilton Honors sweet spots?
You can stay at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Carson City, NV, just 20 minutes from the gorgeous Lake Tahoe. Hampton Inn is Hilton’s bread-and-butter, you can’t really go wrong. Don’t expect a Ritz Carlton and you will be just fine. And who can beat the free breakfast and free WiFi?
If an international trip is on your horizon, the Double Tree in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia makes a great choice! At only 10,000 Honors points per night, this hotel makes an excellent redemption value of your typically weak ‘HHonors‘. Your credit card sign up bonus of 75,000 points would earn you 7 free nights in this Malaysian hotel. The best part is this Double Tree is a ‘premium’ property. You will have some great views and the rooms are very modern.
As you can see above, the room would cost 410 Ringgits or 10,000 Honors points per night. The 410 RM’s covert to about $100 USD per night. If you can get 7 free nights out of your credit card sign up bonus (70,000 points for 7 nights), you will have scored $700+ in free travel from a single credit card. That is a great redemption option!
Have you ever been to Austria? Not Australia, Austria, the country in Europe. The Hilton Garden Inn in Vienna, Austria makes for a great redemption option at only 10,000 points per night. The Hilton Garden Inn is nothing-to write-home-about but has always been a nice, comfortable stay for me. Vienna happens to be Austria’s capital city, and a gorgeous one at that! This hotel is not in the main down-town-y area, so keep public transportation or taxis cost in mind if you plan to stay for more than a few days. There is a tram station about 20 minutes away on foot, it will take you straight into downtown.
So yea, Hilton points do take a little maneuvering to score a good deal. Many of the best redemption choices reside outside the United States (which isn’t always a bad thing). Remember, by using your points you get free cancellation of your stay and you DO NOT pay taxes! Since there is no transaction involving tender, you will typically pay no taxes for your award nights. That makes things truly free for you! If you are interested in travelling to Europe, check out my starter’s guide.