Hilton HHonors major award devaluation March 28, 2013

Hilton HHonors is the biggest hotel loyalty shock yet in 2013 with today’s announcement of changes coming March 28.

  • 10 hotel award categories ranging in per night price from 5,000 points to 95,000 points.
  • 5th night free for elite members. I assume this means the end to VIP awards since it makes no sense to offer 5th night free to elite members when that discount is currently already the norm.
  • Seasonal award rates.


There are many program changes to HHonors award stays so I will give a preliminary analysis now and update as more information is clarified.

10 Hotel Award Categories

The new HHonors program will place hotels in ten categories. The main impact will be many of the current category 7 hotels will rise to category 8, 9 or 10.

The good news is Hilton HHonors has published the new HHonors award categories for all hotels globally in this pdf. You can book hotel awards at the current and most likely lower rates through March 27, 2013.


Hilton HHonors 10 award categories with peak season rates effective March 28, 2013.


HHonors current award chart valid through March 27, 2013.

Here are some properties rising to new higher category awards to give you an idea of the devaluation that might be in store when you redeem points after next month:

  • Hilton Nashville Downtown from category 7 = 50,000 points to category 8 = 40,000 to 70,000 points.
  • Hilton Whistler Resort, British Columbia, Canada  from category 7 = 50,000 points to category 9  = 50,000 to 80,000 points.
  • Hilton Garden Inn Portland Downtown Waterfront, Maine  from category 6 = 40,000 points to category 8 = 40,000 to 70,000 points.
  • Hilton Garden Inn Saratoga Springs from category 6 = 40,000 points to category 9 = 50,000 to 80,000 points.
  • Hampton Inn & Suites – Berkshires-Lenox from category 5 = 35,000 points to category 8 = 40,000 to 70,000 points.


5th night free for elite members.

This looks to me like a major devaluation for elite members.

HHonors elite members already have fifth night free using VIP awards for 5 nights and this change looks like it eliminates two of the better award options.

Currently HHonors VIP awards give the following discounts:

  • 4-night stay = 15% off standard reward price.
  • 5-night stay = 20% off standard reward price (same as 5th night free)
  • 6-night and longer stays = 25% off standard reward price.

Here is the impact of the New Award Rates using Hampton Inn & Suites Berkshires-Lenox currently at category 5 and rising to category 8 with a 6-night award stay.

February 2013 category 5 hotel for 6 nights = 35,000 x 6 = 210,000 points with 25% discount = 157,500 points.

The new rates with 5th night free mean at low season this category 8 award is 40,000 points x 6 nights = 240,000 points – one free night = 200,000 points.

At a minimum this hotel goes from 157,500 to 200,000 points.

Peak season next July or August at 70,000 points per night means this Massachusetts hotel will rise from 157,500 points for a VIP award to 350,000 points for a 6-night stay with the new 5th night free discount.

157.500 points to 350,000 points is more than a 100% increase for this Hampton Inn.


Here are links to follow the March 28, 2013 changes:

HHonors changes announcement.

HHonors seasonal rates search.

HHonors 10 category award chart.

HHonors Changes FAQ.

FlyerTalk thread on HHonors changes.

MilePoint thread on HHonors changes.

I’ll follow up this post when I have had the opportunity to digest the changes.

Ric Garrido, writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.

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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  1. This is disgusting. Glad I only bother with SPG and Hyatt, but now getting new Hilton cards seems useless unless it provides free nights outright like the Reserve card.

  2. I was never a Hilton person, only joined to get Grand Slam hits so it’s no great loss to me. At least now I don’t have to even bother considering the credit cards when I run out of airline cards.

  3. I decided to leave HH a few months ago because of a surly clerk at a Hampton Inn. Seriously, I had been thinking about leaving for some time, this was just the icing on the cake. I am already a Platinum with SPG and Hyatt. This just confirms I mad the right decision

  4. Suggesting we make a splash here. Maker’s Mark, anyone? Copy/edit/retweet – let it be known — loyalty is a two-way street!

    @HiltonHHonors @AmericanExpress @Citibank Years of business undermined by #HHonors devaluation. HHGold turns #disloyal, joins #boycott

  5. Be easier to qualify for higher levels at Starwood and Hyatt now that I’m leaving HH. (already a Lifetime Platinum at Marriott)

  6. The best part of Hhonors for me was ease of getting Gold status. In particular, I loved using that status overseas to get upgraded rooms and access to the executive lounge, not to mention free wifi, breakfast, and 25% earning bonus.

    I don’t stay in hotels often enough to earn a high tier status the old fashioned way. My question is, what is the fastest and easiest way to get a worthwhile status level with one of the other hotel loyalty brands?

  7. I switched most paid stays to Hyatt after a status match three years ago. Hilton was valuable primarily on my frequent London trips, especially the Tower Bridge Hilton, for reasons mentioned @Eric. Hyatt has few London options (Andaz, Churchill nice but VERY pricey).

    Unfortunately Hilton is the vison of the future for all hotel loyalty programs. Too many unused points have accumulated.

  8. @Steve, I thought status matching was airline only. You can status match hotels? If so, this would be a great post for those of us with Hilton gold who want to switch loyalties without losing our status perks.

    If I read your post correctly, how do I status match hotels and which hotels allow it?


  9. As an old timer HHonors member my love for the program faded when 6-night awards went from 100,000 to 150,000 points in 2003. That was a 50% devaluation for category 4 and 5 hotels in a 6 category system. Top level category 6 GLON awards for six nights went from 125,000 to 175,000 points.

    HHonors devalued again in 2009 when category 7 was added and 83% of hotels globally went up one category level. Many hotels went up to 180,000 to 225,000 points for six night awards with the new 25% discount on standard award rates. The improvements at that time were 15% discount on 4-night awards and 5th night free (20% discount).

    Over the past four years I thought HHonors actually regained much of its competitiveness with Gold elite benefits. Then Diamond members were hurt by Premium Rewards reducing the ability to use ‘Diamond Force’ to secure awards when standard award availability was gone.

    Now many hotels that were 100,000 points for 6-nights 10 years ago are 350,000 points.

    The loyalty members who play credit cards and make partner purchases for bonus points are the only ones possibly keeping up with inflation.

    The fact is hotel rates in most places are not much higher than they were ten years ago so the ability to earn points from hotel stays has not changed all that much over the past decade.

    Award stays are now two to three times more expensive than a decade ago at most properties where someone would want to spend a week on vacation. The value of HHonors points has decreased significantly for a loyalty member who spends the same amount with Hilton in 2013 as they did in 2003.

  10. Join my outrage, post to twitter or facebook.

    @HiltonHHonors @AmericanExpress @Citibank Years of business undermined by #HHonors devaluation. HHDiamond turns #disloyal, joins #boycott

  11. They are out to screw their customers!! All of the Hotels I stay in had free parking and now they want $10.00 to $20.00 a night now, multiply that times hundreds of hotels…….they don’t care about their customers anymore, it’s all about the dollar!!!

  12. Now that all the major players have devalued their programs, can you do an analysis and let us know which offers the best value?

  13. @wtm- I plan to do an analysis to compare programs with new higher award rates and I will likely do overviews of each program over the next month.

  14. Let me join the chorus of discontented Diamond members. I’ve been a Hilton Honors Diamond for 17 years and at the time of this posting, I am staying at a Hilton property in the Caribbean courtesy of Hilton Honor points. For that I have to thank Hilton. I got the email today on the increase of points needed for the trips that used to cost me 100k points. This trip cost me over 350k and I was disappointed with that. The program just got worse. So thanks for all the good years with Hilton. I loved it, but no thanks anymore. Better programs out there and time to explore my options. Extremely disappointed, especially with 17 years of loyalty.

  15. If you’re reading this you’re probably as irate as me to take time out of your day to see how others feel. My NYC hotel stay made last year went from 40,000 points to 80,000 points for a 100% increase in points! Look up some of your destinations to see how you’ve been hosed if you think I’m kidding. This is how Hilton treats their once loyal customers? I’ve read the Hilton book that they once provided in many of their hotel rooms and this is a blatant contrast to the Hilton brand and philosophy. I’m sure many once loyal customers will flee in droves if they don’t put back the original program. Exec VP Jeffrey Diskin needs to evaluate his decision because these egregious program changes are a classic bait-and-switch marketing scheme. They are an insult to our intelligence and I’m sure Hilton has underestimated our collective resolve in making this right. I would like to hear those of you in the legal profession so we can initiate a class action law suit. My direct impact from these changes is more than $5000 and needless to say to say that I’m upset is an understatement.

  16. I have to agree with Joe H. above. I have directed a huge amount of credit card spend to AMEX with the agreement that I get a certain number of points for that spend, and that those points are worth a certain value. Now that value has been halved overnight. Although credit card companies- and for that matter hotel chains- do have the right to change their programs, my American Express card agreement stipulates a certain number of points awarded for certain spend. Now if those points can be halved in value with NO CHANGE to the cardholder agreement- is that even legal?? So, if all of us went out and purchased 100,000 American Airlines miles for example today, knowing that those 100,000 miles could be exchanged for a certain airline ticket with a certain monetary value, and suddenly tomorrow American Airlines would decide that an international F ticket now requires 200,000 miles instead of 100,000 when I purchased those miles yesterday for cash- is that legal? This would be a perfect example of suddenly changing redemption values and the implied associated monetary value- I ask you, would this be legal??
    I don’t think it’s an understatement to say that people are really outraged- from families saving up for a year and directing stays and spend for those points, to friends planning honeymoons, to those wanting aspirational stays- everyone really. The outrage is palpable. And most of all, it makes companies associating with this Hilton devaluation look UNTRUSTWORTHY. Hey American Express- take everyone for suckers for the past year, and now halve the value? Hmm Chase doesn’t have any programs that have decreased by half in value- why didn’t we spend with them? My point is: I think class action is entirely justified here, and I think that everyone should make a big stink about all of this. Really.

  17. Let’s also remember that Hilton raised the requirements for Hhonors Gold from 16 qualifying stays last year to twenty this year. They did it in a very sneaky way too. Didn’t send any notification to existing Gold members, just changed the number of required stays for Gold on the status progress bar on my online account. I am already Lifetime Gold with SPG, am going to switch back and work to regain my Platinum status. I think its bye-bye Hilton!

  18. I am fed up with HHonors – you are loosing me, a Platinum with 1.7 m points. I’ll burn them my 1.7 m and will not come back. Have canceled my AMEX HHonors credit card, signed up for Priority Club VISA. Already booked 20 + stays (about 140 days) for rest of 2013 on Priority Club program.

  19. I just discovered this devaulation play today on this thread.

    This makes sense now. I have an AMEX Hilton card that gives me, for example, 6 HH points per dollar when I pay my wireless or cable bill with it. Other points for other items as well and no annual fee.

    Guess what? In my last bill I got a “Terms Change” that eliminates the points for wireless and cable and cuts many other things in half. The only plus is one extra bonus point for staying at Hilton per dollar spent.

    So they have devalued the card points program AND the points themselves. What is this – the Venezuelan monetary approach applied to HH points? A loser and I too will look elsewhere.

    If they wanted to do this they could have AT LEAST made it effective in one year so that all of us who had been saving points would have time to use them BASED ON THE TERMS WE BELIEVED IN AT THE TIME WE EARNED THEM.


  20. Wow. Thanks for posting this info. Hilton failed to inform me of the impending changes. Good to have a heads up. I’ll now be shopping around for a new program to give 150+ nights/year to.

  21. Although I am a HH Gold, and Hilton Amex is my primary card, I just can’t get worked up over this. I think a lot of folks are like me — using HH points for Hamptons, Hilton Gardens, etc. I don’t see much change here, up through cat 4/5 hotels. The world isn’t full of elite spenders who only wish to redeem at aspirational properties. Business/family/rural travelers might not make up the majority of Loyalty Traveler blog readers, but there are a lot of us who probably see this as mostly a non-issue.

  22. TOTALLY should have read this! Now I can’t go to Conrad Maldives anymore on my honeymoon so I’m pooped for sure.

  23. Question: I earn about 100,000 points or so a year with Hilton. Is it worth transferring these points to Frontier at 15% of value based on how much it costs to use Hilton Honors points now?

  24. Am forwarding my letter this date to Jeffrey Diskin. I certainly agree with most of the above comments.

  25. @Kevin – there is still good value to be found with HHonors hotel rewards. I would never transfer HHonors points to airline miles at their poor exchange rates.

  26. Re: #34 above. I just received an Outstanding reply to my letter from Mark Weinstein, Hilton Worldwide Vice President-Strategy & Loyalty, Commercial Services, which has reinstated my faith in, and support for, Hilton HHonors. At best, I had expected “the bedbug letter” and am truly impressed by the attention paid to my letter and the steps being made to keep me a loyal Diamond customer!

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