Apr052013

HHonors Hotel Reward Category and Seasonal Drift Explained

The new Hilton HHonors is confusing. HHonors redesigned their hotel rewards in a radical way that no other hotel loyalty program has gone, except for Choice Privileges. HHonors in its restructured form is more member-friendly than Choice Privileges, yet it has removed one of the basic tenets of reward stays for consumers: the ability to know what a hotel reward will cost based on its hotel reward category within the program.

Book a Marriott category 6 hotel and the price is 30,000 points whether it is for a stay tonight or six months from now.  Book a Hyatt category 6 hotel and it is 22,000 points. Book SPG category 5 standard reward and the rate is 12,000 or 16,000 for peak season. In all the major hotel loyalty programs the hotel reward category does not change until the annual reassignment of hotels. Choice Privileges was the exception with seasonal rates changing the cost of rewards at some hotels every few months with a swing like 8,000 points per night to 20,000 points per night from season to season.

HHonors joins Choice Privileges in letting hotel reward category drift, yet HHonors is not displaying their HHonors Hotel Category and Standard Reward chart in that way.

Book a Hilton HHonors category 8 hotel and the cost might be 40,000 points or 50,000 points or 60,000 points or 70,000 points per night.

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This is the Hilton HHonors chart explaining their new Hotel Category system for Standard Rewards. I say toss this chart out and go with a chart HHonors members can understand.

Loyalty Traveler’s Chart for HHonors Rewards

HHonors Standard Reward rates in ten hotel categories.

PM = Points & Money Reward rate.

  • Hotel Category 1 – 5,000 points (PM 2,000 + $30)
  • Hotel Category 2 – 10,000 points (PM 4,000 + $35)
  • Hotel Category 3 – 20,000 points (PM 8,000 + $40)
  • Hotel Category 4 – 30,000 points (PM 12,000 + $50)
  • Hotel Category 5 – 40,000 points (PM 16,000 + $65)
  • Hotel Category 6 – 50,000 points (PM 20,000 + $85)
  • Hotel Category 7 – 60,000 points (PM 24,000 +100)
  • Hotel Category 8 – 70,000 points (PM 28,000 + $125)
  • Hotel Category 9 – 80,000 points (PM 32,000 + $150)
  • Hotel Category 10 – 95,000 points (PM 38,000 + $200)

P&M cash portion in U.S. dollars varies slightly at hotels priced in foreign currencies.

HHonors Hotel Reward Categories are meaningless most of the time.

Hilton Garden Inn Monterey is listed as a Category 7 hotel on its hotel homepage.

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Hilton’s Standard Rewards chart tells me the points required for a free night are 30,000 to 60,000 points. That is a huge range.

The most important HHonors website to bookmark:

http://hhonorspointssearchtool.com/

This website is vital for HHonors members planning reward travel.

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Hilton Garden Inn Monterey Standard Rewards Pricing for April-Aug 2013.

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Hilton Garden Inn Monterey Standard Rewards Pricing for Sep 2013-Jan 2014.

Hilton Garden Inn Monterey is listed as HHonors category 7, yet the hotel is priced at 40,000 points per night for every month of the year except August 2013 when the nightly rate rises to 60,000 points per night.

The only purpose for assigning a hotel reward category is to let members know the cost of a hotel reward. For HHonors to say Hilton Garden Inn Monterey is a category 7 hotel is meaningless, except for the month of August 2013 when the 60,000 points per night Standard Reward rate is in effect.

For the HHonors member the HGI Monterey is effectively a category 5 hotel for the next year, except during August 2013 when it is seasonally a category 7 hotel. Points & Money Reward rate is 16,000 + $65 for all months except August.

The primary issue of confusion with the new HHonors is a hotel listed in any of the categories from Category 4 to 10 is actually not fixed in that category. A hotel listed on the HHonors website as a category 7 can drift month to month between a category 4 and category 7 hotel reward for Standard Rewards and Points & Money Rewards. Points & Money Rewards are priced at 40% of the points required for the Standard Reward on those dates.

Bottom line is when you check the Standard Reward rates by month for any specific Hilton brand hotel, the Points & Money Reward rate will correlate to the Standard Reward rate shown for that month.

A Standard Reward rate of 50,000 points per night will mean a Points & Money Reward, if available, will be priced at 20,000 points + $85 USD regardless if the HHonors Reward Category is posted as Category 6, 7, 8 or 9 on the hotel’s homepage.

The HHonors Reward category has little meaning on its own unless it is 1, 2 or 3. These low category HHonors Reward hotels have one set rate and do not drift in category month to month.

Hotels assigned to Reward Categories 4 to 10 actually drift from one category to another with seasonal rates. The true hotel reward category is only determined by the Standard Reward price for that month as shown on the HHonors Points Search Tool.

 

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.

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Comments

  1. I have nearly 400,000 Hilton points, but I am done with them after this. I will use these points up, but not with the value they used to have.

    Will stick with Hyatt and SPG, and Marriott as a third choice.

  2. I’m hitting my Amex Hilton hard until May when the 6x drug store bonus category goes the way of the Dodo. Then, it’s hasta la vista HHonors.

    Just booked 8 nights in Conrad Koh Samui under the old points category. 37,500/night with GLON (50K/night normally). Book same room today, and it’s 95K/night. Granted, I’d probably redeem for 5 or 10 days to get the 5th night free (effectively 20% discount), but it still blows. If I booked today, I’d be paying an effective 76K points per night for a 5 night stay (vs 37.5K before) which is 100% increase.

    HHonors are now a disloyalty program. Pisses me off just thinking about it.

    Hyatt, here I come…

  3. I understand HHonors points are now worth less based on Pauls comments…but I was wondering if you now get more points per stay as an offset compared to before? If thats the case it would at least make the value reduction less painful (just screw people who had accumulated a lot of points previously). Does anyone know?

  4. @HHonors newbie – Hilton’s promotions are better than several years ago. In my opinion, based on following most of the major hotel loyalty programs for over a decade is Hilton HHonors has been one of the worst for moving properties to higher award categories.

    The 4 to 6 day discount of the past couple years was a competitive advantage, however the 2013 changes to a 5th night free lose that advantage.

    There are some good deals to be found with HHonors awards, but overall the changes this year make a huge devaluation in HHonors.

    The program can get away with these changes due to its size of 4,000 hotels. The credit card is an advantage, but without credit card earning the program has less competitiveness for the non-elite frequent guest compared to Marriott Rewards.

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