Minneapolis is the third city in my five U.S. cities survey of the redemption value for HHonors points following the March 28 hotel award reassignment from seven categories to ten categories and the introduction of peak season rates. Most of the analyses I have seen on other travel blogs focus on the rate changes at international properties.
My focus on five U.S. cities is to get a picture of the value of points in the USA. The majority of Hilton brand hotels are located in the USA. My initial surveys indicate there are generally more favorable redemption options at international locations. I will follow up the five cities survey with an international cities survey.
I checked random dates over the next three months for Hilton brand hotels in five U.S. cities.
My objective is to see what the typical redemption value is for HHonors points.
My hope was to find redemption values in the range of $8.00 to $10.00 with Points & Money Rewards. My survey of five U.S. cities over random dates selected between April and June 2013 reveals Points & Money Reward availability is scarce. Premium Room Rewards make higher category rooms available at most hotels, but generally at a far lower redemption value than HHonors Standard Reward nights.
Lucky of One Mile at a Time gave his valuation of Hilton HHonors points at $4.00 per 1,000 points. The analysis of Boston and San Francisco Hilton brand hotel rates and award rates indicates that $4.00 per 1,000 points might even be a higher than average valuation. This means 200,000 HHonors points are only worth $800.
The fact that HHonors Premium Room Rewards can take your HHonors points value down to $278 per 100,000 points means poor redemption value opportunities abound. Spending 100,000 points to save $278 is a poor value compared to the redemption values in other hotel loyalty programs.
The challenge with Hilton HHonors is to redeem for high value properties and plan to pay the hotel rate or seek another brand when spending points drops your value to under $4 per 1,000 points. Spending 100,000 points for $278 to $400 in value is a poor value.
Hilton in Minneapolis Redemption Value Survey
HHonors Award Observations for Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis shows the effect of peak season rates and variability of award cost for same category hotels. A Hilton, DoubleTree, Homewood Suites and Hilton Garden Inn are all category 5 hotels. HGI is 30,000 points and the other three hotels are 40,000 points for a Standard Award on the same date.
Hilton HHonors has gutted the primary value of a hotel loyalty program in the aspect that the hotel stay award cost is generally far more predictable than room rate changes throughout the year. Hilton HHonors new peak season award era makes award rates as unpredictable as room rate variation at Hilton brand hotels.
A category 7 hotel award might be 30,000 points per night or 60,000 points per night as a Standard Award. And if Premium Room Rewards are the only award stays available, then the rate can easily be six figures per night, quickly draining your HHonors account balance.
Minneapolis HHonors Awards
- Standard Hotel award redemption average value: $4.10 per 1,000 HHonors points. This is lower than San Francisco at $4.82 and Boston at $7.11 redemption value on HHonors Standard Rewards. Room rates are much lower in Minneapolis compared to San Francisco and Boston. Lower published rates means lower redemption value rates for these hotels even with their lower hotel award category levels.
- Standard Hotel award redemption value range: Low – $3.18 per 1,000 HHonors points at The Marquette Hilton for an ADA room at 50,000 points (category 6). This is a peak season rate.
- Standard Hotel award redemption value range: High – $4.98 per 1,000 points at Hilton Minneapolis for ADA room at 40,000 points (category 5). This is a peak season rate.
- Only 1 of 6 hotels surveyed in Minneapolis offered Points & Money Reward. A redemption rate of $4.92/1,000 points is still a lower than desired points value.
- DoubleTree Minneapolis Park Place also had the anomaly of having Premium Room Rewards at lower rates than Standard Awards for the hotel. A King bed standard award at 30,000 points for a $109 is a poor option when the Premium Room Reward is only 29,800 points for an award stay in a two room suite on the Executive Floor with lounge access in a $149 room. Premium Room Reward redemption rates at $5.00 per 1,000 points are higher than Standard Room redemption rate.
- Several of the major Hilton brand hotels located in Minneapolis offer a Premium Room Reward value fixed at $3.57/1,000 points.This is a better rate than the $2.78 common in Boston and San Francisco. The $3.57 value was also found at some hotels in Boston and San Francisco showing there are fixed rates nationwide at the $2.78 and $3.57 value. This means a $278 room rate or $357 room rate will cost 100,000 points as a Premium Room Reward.
- Obviously there is a practice across many Hilton hotels in the U.S. fixing the Premium Room Reward rate at $2.78/1,000 points. This means that every $10 of BAR room rate will cost 3,600 points. For example: 50,000 points for Standard Reward on a $200 room will cost 75,600 points for a $210 Premium Room Reward. Premium Room Rewards really screw members when trying to redeem points for good value. A member with 200,000 HHonors points might only get $558 to $714 in redemption value using Premium Room Rewards. In 2003 I typically got $2,500 to $3,000 in value for 200,000 HHonors points ($250 per night room for 12 nights).
- Hilton Minneapolis showed widespread Standard Room Award availability only for ADA designed rooms with special bathrooms and roll-in showers. Hilton Minneapolis standard rooms did not offer Standard Rewards on the HHonors website. Either an ADA room booking at Standard Reward rate or Premium Room Rewards were the only online options at several Minneapolis hotels. Minneapolis Hilton had five different room types, all ADA mobility or hearing rooms, available at the Standard Reward 40,000 points rate for a category 5 hotel. King Bed Standard room did not show award availability.
- Hilton Minneapolis standard room size with allergy-friendly décor is a room rate increase $20 more per night in room rate, but as a Premium Room Reward the cost rises from 40,000 points to 61,319 points per night.
- Important to note that the published room rates shown are BAR. Discounts available with AAA and other special rates means the redemption values shown in the table are higher than when compared to other available rates like AAA.
- Important to note that hotel tax is not considered in this survey of redemption value for HHonors points. Hotel tax can be as low as 6% in the USA up to near 20%. International rates often include the tax, but check carefully. Some hotel rates might be as much as 25% more than shown with international taxes.
- The discount rates available with AAA or Advance Purchase at about 10 to 15% are about the same as the hotel tax saved on award stays, typically 10 to 15%. The value of the tax saved with award stays on points probably makes up for using BAR rates and not considering lower rates like Advance Purchase and AAA rates when calculating redemption values.