Hilton Honors Program Changes 2017: New Points & Money, Award Categories Gone, Use Points On Amazon, Points Pooling & Diamond Onetime Status Extension

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Hilton Honors is introducing changes to its program in 2017, starting with dropping one of the H letters from the name.

Hilton HHonors Changes

Hilton Honors will introduce new Points & Money awards (all the award categories are gone), members can use their points for shopping on Amazon.com, members can pool points together from 11 accounts, and Diamond members will be eligible for a one time status extension.

You can access Hilton HHonors web page for the change here.

READ MORE: Hilton HHonors Rate & Bonus Points And Miles Promotions

Points & Money

Hilton HHonors Changes Points Money

Hilton Honors is introducing new Points & Money awards where members can (on a sliding scale) mix points and cash. This can be applied towards Best Flexible and Member Only Rates, but certain sale rates are excluded such as those sales in Europe and Asia. This feature will be launched late February.

Hilton HHonors Changes Points Money Examples

The fixed Points and Money awards will be discontinued when this sliding scale option is launched. Members will earn points and airline miles based on the paid portion of the rate.

Members can still redeem for full points awards and get their fifth night free.

Here’s video from Hilton how this pricing will work:

Award Categories Gone

Hilton HHonors Changes Award Categories Gone

This is actually quite a drastic change. Hilton Honors will discontinue award categories for all hotels. They will, however, introduce a Standard Rewards Pricing Tool that you can use to see the high/low number of points required for an award and the former maximum.

Hilton Honors assured during the call that the maximum number of points required for any given property is not changing. Hilton is using the maximum point requirement from the old method as the maximum price under this new Points + Money.

The illustration uses higher category properties so not sure how this will affect those category 1 and 2 that only require 5,000 to 10,000 points per night.

Hilton HHonors Award Category Changes December 30, 2014 Standard Room Rewards

You have to keep in mind that Hilton Honors made a change back in 2013 (read more here) where they introduced more variability within categories 4 to 10 per the table above.

Using Hilton HHonors Points For Amazon Purchases

Hilton HHonors Changes Amazon

Members can use their points for Amazon purchases later this year and enjoy Amazon Prime benefits.

It is unclear what value is assigned to a Hilton Honors point when used for purchases. My educated guess is one third to one quarter of a cent each.

Points Pooling

Hilton HHonors Changes Points Pooling

Member can start a pool with up to ten other members who then can transfer anywhere from 1,000 to 500,000 points. The member starting the pool can then use the points any way she or he wants. Exactly the same way the points from a single member are used.

Diamond Status Extension

Hilton HHonors Changes Diamond

Diamond members can extend their status one-time if they don’t qualify based on the base points or number of nights/stays.

This feature is available for those members that have been Diamond members more than three years and accumulated 250 nights or 500,000 base points since joining the program. This feature will be launched in March.

Conclusion

These certainly are interesting changes, and the only thing that may create some ambiguity is the new Points + Money awards due to the fact that the award categories are discontinued.

The new Points + Money awards, however, make using smaller amounts of points more feasible than before and some airlines already offer this in their programs.

Merchandise rewards are popular among members that earn way more points from their stays than they can ever use. I have always wondered why these programs don’t just use someone like Amazon to do the fulfillment. Now they use other third party providers that likely pay more for the merchandise than Amazon. The selection when using Amazon is almost limitless.

Points Pooling makes it easier to pool points from member accounts that may only have a few thousand points or those that no longer have any use for them. It is good that there is no fee to pool points.

The Diamond status extension can come handy in a year when travel drops. You must have been a Diamond member for a minimum of three years and qualify based on the spend or nights as well.

Hilton HHonors points have been the most valuable for me both at the lower end categories, and at the high end like the Category 10 Conrad Maldives or when the paid rates are throughout the roof.

I have often felt that the award prices for many properties have been out of sync. When I was booking the Hilton hotel in Rio de Janeiro, I had the option of paying $79 ($99 was the flexible rate) or 60,000 points. I hope that this new Points + Money help in a situation such as this.

I still feel bit uneasy about abolishing the award categories altogether. I prefer knowing the maximum price for any given property. You can use the soon to be launched new tool to find this out, but I am not sure how often these ranges will be changed.

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  • Gaijinsan

    I certainly welcome the expanded flexibility of the Points & Cash awards, too often before I’d see a hotel with availability for a full points award but not a points & cash which never made sense to me. I hope though that it doesn’t in aggregate increase the number of points required (or cash contribution, as some of those were quite good before).

    Also the pooling is nice, it was VERY expensive to “share” Hhonors points before. Marriott has been free for elite members for quite some time, making SPG by default also free if the member has any sense about them.

    I also have concerns about the really cheap points awards as you mentioned. I have certainly taken advantage of the 5k per night (5th night free) awards on the Red Sea in Egypt. I don’t even use my own points for those, it’s so cheap to buy 20k points for a 5 night stay and they always upgrade me to a Jr. Suite. It’ll be a shame if there are no more Category 1 hotels out there.

    • dKoh

      I second this. Hilton Salalah was amazing value and I really hope it is just as much of a bargain after these changes.

    • Geenfietsen

      I’d be a bit concerned that the terrific value you’d often see from points + cash will disappear. When executed with airlines, they’ll typically assign a set value for each point where mixed awards don’t represent particularly good value.

      I find the IHG implementation of points + cash is along these lines, whereas in the past P+C in HH could often yield some bargains. The Amazon points are likely to be poorer value than redemptions as pointed out in the article. The Diamond status probably only impacts a very limited subset of high value customers – so, it’s great, but it’s an improvement with minimal impact for the vast majority.

      I’ll reserve judgment but it seems like the changes are more negative than positive.

  • Travelling Atom

    Do you know when the changes take effect please? I’m worried that current Cat 1 properties might start charging more points, and wondering if I should make some tentative bookings!

  • Craig Gaspar

    John-
    Do you know if this will change the 5th night free program? Also, I am currently condsidering booking a 5 night stay at the Waldorf in Boca Raton in June. It would currently cost me 40,000 points per night, do you suggest booking this now or waiting for changes to take effect?

    • Fifth night free will stay. You should book the WA for Boca now and cancel and rebook if it is cheaper under the new method. Nothing to lose by doing it this way.

  • Harry Webb

    Hilton obviously told John a great deal more than they have told Diamond members.

    If the extension of Diamond status for a year (once only in a lifetime, it seems) is intended to be dependent on the member’s having been at Diamond status for at least 3 years, PLUS the other iniquitous requirements, I suspect that few Diamonds will qualify under these very-far-from-generous conditions.

    The benefit you have when you’re not having a benefit.

  • Tamer El Gendy

    When does points pool start in april ?