Feb042009

Hilton HHonors Points Transfers – Using Friends and Frequent Flyer Programs to Score Your Vacation Hotel

The best redemption value for Hilton HHonors points is generally a high category hotel on a HHonors VIP Reward of six or more nights. 

hilton-auckland-new-zealand

Hilton Auckland, New Zealand

What do you do when after a year of traveling you have 100,000 points and you want a vacation in three months at a Category 6 hotel or Waldorf=Astoria low season hotel stay for 6 nights, but you need 75,000 more points for the hotel stay reward?

HHonors allows a member to purchase points, up to 40,000 points in a calendar year at a rate as low as $10 per 1,000 points.  The points should be in your account and available for redemption in less than an hour. 

Still, after a $400 internet purchase of your maximum annual buying limit of 40,000 points at HHonors, you are 35,000 points short of the 175,000 points needed for a six-night Category 6 GLONP2 HHonors VIP reward.

What does a determined traveler do to get 35,000 points at minimal expense? 

HHonors Points Transfers

Hilton HHonors allows members to transfer or receive an unlimited number of points between member accounts.  The fee to transfer points is only 25% of the fee to buy points. 

10,000 points can be transferred from one account to another for a $25 fee.  35,000 points can be transferred from one member’s account to another member’s account for $87.50.

“Hilton HHonors® points can be transferred to another HHonors member in increments of 10,000 points, at a cost of $.0025 USD per point, or $25.00 USD per 10,000 points. There is no limit to the number of HHonors points a member can transfer or receive. Fees are based on the number of points a member transfers out of his or her account. After transferring 200,000 points in a calendar year, any subsequent transfers that calendar year are complimentary.”

 

http://hhonors1.hilton.com/en_US/hh/terms.do#hilton_hhonors_point_transfer_and_registry_program

 

Your potential ability to tap this option is proportional to your network of friends and family who have HHonors points and who are willing to transfer them. 

Recap:  Goal is 175,000 points

                You have 100,000 points in your account from hotel stays and credit card activity.

                You purchased 40,000 points for $400.

                You need 35,000 more points which is an $87.50 transfer fee.

                You need to find someone willing to transfer HHonors points to your account.

Welcome to FlyerTalk’s Coupon Connection Trading Network

The next piece of advice is the grey area of traveler strategies Loyalty Traveler generally does not touch upon in blog posts, but today I will discuss what routinely happens in the world of frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs.

Travelers often find a great deal is just out of reach of your miles or points balance. 

Remember the corollary:

“Miles and Points have no real value, only potential value, until they are redeemed.” 

FlyerTalk has the Coupon Connection forum where members make exchanges of frequent flyer miles and hotel points through mutual agreement of terms.  There has been much discussion on FlyerTalk and elsewhere over the years of whether bartering these airline miles and hotel points is a violation of frequent flyer and hotel loyalty program terms and conditions.   All I can say is trades happen all the time and generally the only problems encountered are when a traveler sells miles to a broker. 

I have been contacted many times over the years by companies wanting to buy my frequent flyer miles. These kinds of companies are sometimes listed in the classified section of USA Today and major papers with pitches like – Sell Your Miles for Cash. 

Basically they pay you to redeem your miles for an award ticket for someone else.  I have been offered $2,000 for 100,000 miles, and I presume, the company can sell the award ticket for $3,000 to $5,000 and make a profit.  I have never sold my miles, but I sure was tempted a few years ago when I was unemployed and sitting on more than one million frequent flyer miles. 

I like travel too much to sell my hard-earned miles or points.

Now – present day – a million people have lost jobs in the past six months, and many big-time road and air warriors currently find themselves miles-and-points rich and cash poor.  This is the time for some mutually beneficial trading.

The Value of a Point

Coupon Connection may be an avenue to find people with points, but why would anyone just give points to you, even if you offer to pay the transfer fee?  For the timid traveler who wants to avoid trading with someone for HHonors points there are other methods to quick HHonors points.

HHonors Partners for Miles to Points Exchanges

Hilton HHonors allows some airline frequent flyer miles to be exchanged for HHonors points.

5,000 airline frequent flyer miles can be exchanged for 10,000 HHonors points from these programs:

·         American Airlines ($25 fee)

·         Amtrak

·         Hawaiian Airlines

·         Icelandair

·         Mexicana

·         Virgin Atlantic has a lower exchange rate of 5,000 miles = 5,000 points.

I have to wonder how many thousands of flyers are sitting on 5,000 Icelandair miles that will likely go unused after that one trip to Europe on Icelandair.

Purchasing 35,000 points would cost $350 if you were allowed to purchase unlimited HHonors points.  A good value would be to get 35,000 points for $350 with a transfer.  After deducting $87.50 for the transfer fee, the member needing points still has $262.50 in trade value to offer someone else for their points. 

I’ll leave it up to the reader to fill in the details of what is a fair trade for 35,000 points.

American Express Membership Rewards

Another route to HHonors points is making a credit card exchange of Membership Rewards points to HHonors points.  The exchange rate is:

                1,000 Membership Rewards = 1,300 points

This is not a particularly favorable exchange considering HHonors sells 1,300 points for $13, whereas, an airline sells 1,000 miles for $25 to $35 and 1,000 Membership Rewards points can be exchanged for 1,000 miles in many programs. 

A better option is to exchange American Express Membership Rewards points to one of the HHonors miles-to-points partner airlines.  Hawaiian, Mexicana, and Virgin Atlantic are Membership Rewards points-to-miles exchange partners.

Transferring Membership Rewards points to Hawaiian Airlines is your best choice due to the fact it is a US based company and gives a better exchange rate than Virgin Atlantic. 

Feb 13 Update:  There is limited usefulness to this strategy since Mexican and Hawaiian both limit mileage transfers out to miles earned from flying.  WebFlyer has a mileage calculator with options for maximizing transfers from one program to another.  I suggest checking it out for creative ways of exchanging miles and points between programs.

http://www.webflyer.com/programs/mileage_converter/index.php

Mexicana Airlines has restrictions on transferring miles out of Mexicana Airlines.  I have had over 100,000 miles in Mexicana Airlines for over five years and I can’t transfer them to HHonors due to earning them from a promotional bonus.  This condition may not apply for Membership Rewards exchanges, but I wouldn’t risk hassling with Mexicana Airlines when you have Hawaiian as an alternative.

                1,000 membership Rewards = 1,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles = 2,000 HHonors points

Miles must be earned from flight activity to be eligible for transfers from Hawaiian miles to HHonors.

Starwood Preferred Guest as a route to HHonors points

Another option is to transfer 20,000 Starpoints to an airline for 25,000 miles.  American Airlines is a SPG airline partner. 

                20,000 Starpoints = 25,000 AAdvantage miles = 50,000 HHonors points

Diners Club Rewards as a route to HHonors points

Icelandair and Amtrak are  Diners Club Rewards exchange partners. 

                1,000 Diners Club Rewards points = 1,000 Icelandair miles = 2,000 HHonors points

Club Rewards points can be transferred directly to HHonors, but at a lower rate:

Direct transfer of Club Rewards points to HHonors:

 1,250 Diners Club Rewards points = 2,000 HHonors points

To recap ways to accrue HHonors points:

1.       Purchase HHonors Points at rate of $100/10,000 points

a.       (40,000 point limit in a calendar year)

2.       Transfer HHonors points

(transfer fee is $25 per 10,000 points)

3.       Exchange airline miles directly for HHonors points:

5,000 airline miles = 10,000 HHonors points.

4.       Exchange Starwood Preferred Guest points to airline miles and then to HHonors points.

20,000 Starpoints can be exchanged 25,000 American AAdvantage miles and then into 50,000 HHonors points.

5.       Exchange American Express Membership Rewards points to airline miles and then to HHonors points. 

5,000 MR points = 5,000 Virgin Flying Club miles = 5,000 HHonors points

6.       Exchange Diners Club Rewards points to airline miles and then to HHonors points

5,000 Club Rewards points = 5,000 Icelandair miles = 10,000 HHonors points

A direct transfer from Diners Club to HHonors results in 20% fewer points:

5,000 Club Rewards points = 8,000 HHonors points. 

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

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  1. […] Hilton HHonors Points Transfers – Using Friends and Frequent Flyer Programs to Score Your Vacation… This is a golden strategy to help you figure out what to do with your frequent flier miles, just sitting there in your account. Well the author tells you how to convert those miles into Hilton Honors Points and use them for a luxury vacation with VIP honors. Check it out at the link above. Share and Enjoy: […]

Comments

  1. I just got off the phone with a Hawaiian Airlines FF rep. It is not possible to do a MR-HA-HH transfer. The rep referred to this as a “third party transfer” and they do not allow this.

  2. I would like to trade Hilton Honors points for Starwood points. What’s the best way to make this happen? I need enough Starwood points for a weeks stay at the Westin in St. John’s.

    Can anyone help?

    Thanks,

  3. FlyerTalk Coupon Connection is a good place to make “new friends” who are looking for ” travel friends”.

    There is no rule against giving your “friend” a Hilton HHonors hotel award.

    And your “friend” can give you a Starwood Hotel award.

  4. A typical Hilton Hotel night that would use 35K points can cost as little as $130 a night, so for anyone to try to get $350 for them is laughable and insane. I wouldn’t pay more t han $100 for them! Especially considering that most all Hilton Hotels allow you to use a combo of miles and points to book hotels.

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