Hilton HHonors AXON awards are an exclusive benefit to HHonors American Express card members for a supposedly reduced rate on a 4-night stay. The changes to AXON rewards effective June 15, 2013 will mean far less probability of saving points with an AXON reward on a 4-night stay compared to the HHonors Standard Reward rate.
The changes in Hilton HHonors last month with the introduction of 10 hotel reward categories has a major impact on the AXON awards with this award choice now requiring comparison to standard reward levels for the dates of your hotel stay to determine if the AXON is less or more points than a standard reward stay.
New AXON HHonors reward stays (effective June 15, 2013)
- Category 5: 130,000 (Standard reward: 120,000 or 160,000 points).
- Category 6: 160,000 (Standard reward: 120,000 or 160,000 or 200,000 points).
- Category 7: 190,000 (Standard reward: 120,000 or 160,000 or 200,000 or 240,000 points)
- Category 8: 220,000 (Standard reward: 160,000 or 200,000 or 240,000 or 280,000 points)
- Category 9: 260,000 (Standard reward: 200,000 or 240,000 or 280,000 or 320,000 points)
- Category 10: 300,000 (Standard reward: 280,000 or 320,000 or 380,000 points)
The basics of old AXON HHonors reward stays (through June 14, 2013):
- HHonors AXON awards are only applicable to 4-night reward stays.
- Formerly available only for category 5-7 hotels.
AXON rewards are available for 4-night stays at hotels in categories 5 through 7, as follows:
Category 5: AXON = 125,000 points (through June 14, 2013)
- Old Category 5 VIP 4-night reward rate (15% discount off 35,000 points standard night rate at 140,000 points) = 119,000 points.
- HHonors VIP 4-night reward for 6,000 less points than category 5 AXON was better deal.
Category 6: AXON = 125,000 points (through June 14, 2013)
- Old Category 6 VIP 4-night reward rate (15% discount off 40,000 points standard night rate at 160,000 points) = 136,000 points.
- HHonors Category 6 AXON 4-night reward for 11,000 less points than category 6 VIP 4-night reward was better deal.
Category 7: AXON = 145,000 points (through June 14, 2013)
- Old Category 7 VIP 4-night reward rate (15% discount off 50,000 points standard night rate at 200,000 points) = 170,000 points.
- HHonors Category 7 AXON 4-night reward for 25,000 less points than category 7 VIP 4-night reward was better deal.
HHonors 5th Night Free Reward Change (effective March 28, 2013)
The former HHonors VIP reward stays gave a 15% discount on 4-night stays. VIP reward stays for 5 nights were a 20% discount; same as the current 5th night free. Stays of 6 or more nights were 25% off standard reward rates.
The new HHonors only gives a 5th night free discount.
Hilton HHonors now uses floating reward categories for hotels in the 10-hotel-reward-category system.
I refer to Hilton HHonors new system as seasonal drift of hotel category. The cost of a standard reward night is posted by calendar month on HHonors.
The reasons Hilton HHonors rewards are more confusing since last month’s changes are the floating reward categories. Under the new HHonors system the only way to know if an AXON reward stay is a better deal is to check the hotel category standard reward rate for the month of your anticipated stay.
Hilton Garden Inn Monterey (HHonors category 7 hotel) is a great hotel example for how the new AXON rewards screw over HHonors American Express card members.
HHonors category 7 hotels have a reward cost range from 30,000 to 60,000 points per night depending on the month. The hotel reward category assignment really has no impact on the HHonors standard reward rates when a hotel like Hilton Garden Inn Monterey is listed as a category 7 hotel. The only thing that matters is the month of your reward stay.
The standard reward rate for a category 7 hotel can be one of four rates:
- 30,000 or
- 40,000 or
- 50,000 or
- 60,000 points.
Hilton Garden Inn Monterey is 40,000 points per month for 11 of the next 12 months. HHonors Points & Money Reward rates are based on 40,000 points for stays during those months.
August 2013 is the only seasonal variation for this hotel when the rates rise to 60,000 points per night.
Hilton Garden Inn Monterey, California HHonors 4-night standard reward = 160,000 points for every month over the next year, except August 2013 when the standard reward rate is 240,000 points.
The new HHonors AXON rewards do not account for seasonal variation. Hilton Garden Inn Monterey is listed as a category 7 hotel and a 4-night HHonors AXON reward will always cost 190,000 points.
The AXON reward at 190,000 points for a 4-night stay at the Hilton Garden Inn Monterey is priced 30,000 points higher than the HHonors standard reward rate of 160,000 points for four nights. For 11 of the next 12 months, the HHonors standard reward is a better value than AXON at this hotel, except August 2013 when the 4-night HHonors standard reward rate rises to 240,000 points and the AXON 4-night reward at 190,000 points saves 50,000 points on a 4-night reward stay.
Except for AXON reward rates, the new HHonors monthly rates have no impact on HHonors members since HHonors Points & Money reward rates align with the standard reward rate shown for the month and not the hotel’s listed HHonors category.
I created the chart below and removed seasonal variability to show how HHonors Points & Money rates align to the posted standard reward rate for any specific month at any specific hotel.
Hilton HHonors Standard Reward and Points & Money Reward Rate
(These categories are not the same as HHonors designates hotel category on the hotel’s website. These category numbers are based on the actual reward cost per night for any specific hotel.)
- 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)
PM = Points & Money Reward rate.
The only real impact of the HHonors hotel reward category listed on any specific hotel’s webpage is for HHonors AXON rewards. And in most cases the posted hotel reward category is a negative impact making AXON rewards less useful as a reward stay savings.
HHonors Hotel Reward Category and Seasonal Drift Explained (April 5, 2013)