Reminder: Hilton Honors Changes Become Effective Next Week
Starting next week, the Hilton Honors frequent guest loyalty program will be updated with changes which were first announced on Monday, January 8, 2018 — and the changes which will be in effect include:
- Earning more Hilton Honors bonus points per stay if you have earned elite level status
- Unlocking unlimited milestones for bonus points
- Rollover of nights towards elite level status for the next year; and
- Gifting elite level status to someone else — starting next week due to new updates to the frequent guest loyalty program
Reminder: Hilton Honors Changes Become Effective Next Week
The updates are designed to simplify the Hilton Honors frequent guest loyalty program while simultaneously delivering additional benefits and higher “industry-leading” rates for earning points for greater than 70 million members, as Hilton Honors is striving to become “the most customer-centric loyalty program to its members.”
I had the opportunity to speak to Mark Weinstein — who is the senior vice president and global head of loyalty and partnerships for Hilton — back in January of 2018 about the aforementioned updates.
Earn More Hilton Honors Points Per Stay
You will continue to earn ten Hilton Honors base points for every eligible United States dollar you spend — which is the current earning rate — but whenever you earn elite level status, you will see increased bonus rates as follows:
|Hilton Honors Elite Status Level||Current Bonus Rate||Bonus Rate as of April 2018|
|Silver||15 Percent||20 Percent|
|Gold||25 Percent||80 Percent|
|Diamond||50 Percent||100 Percent|
The introduction of the improved bonus earning rates are not without a casualty: as of April of 2018, the ability to choose either Points & Miles or Points & Points through your MyWay Earning Style Preferences will be eliminated.
“Only one percent chose the Points & Miles option,” Weinstein explained to me as a reason for changing the way Hilton Honors points are earned — as well as to simplify and streamline the earning process. “86 percent of blue members found the MyWay Earning Style Preferences confusing. People have enough complications in their lives.”
Blue members are members of the Hilton Honors program who have not earned elite level status. Because these members will continue to earn ten base Hilton Honors points per dollar spent, they lose the ability to earn additional points or miles with the elimination of the MyWay Earning Style Preferences.
Members who earn Silver elite level status also lose a little: under the current earnings rate — assuming the MyWay Earning Style Preferences is set to Points & Points — those members earn a total of 15 Hilton Honors points per dollar. When the new earning rates become effective as of April of 2018, they will only earn 12 Hilton Honors points per dollar.
Note that for all status tiers, point earning rates for stays at Tru by Hilton and Home2 Suites hotel properties will only be half per dollar spent of comparable stays at all other brands which comprise the worldwide portfolio of Hilton. This article pertains to my experience at a Tru by Hilton hotel property, as I have stayed at one recently.
Also, the Points & Miles option — which was once known as the Points & Variable Miles option — was an excellent way to keep frequent flier loyalty program miles from expiring, as you could earn one mile per eligible dollar spent in addition to the ten base Hilton Honors points per dollar spent. This means that the opportunity to “Double Dip” — which for years had been a unique benefit of Hilton Honors — will officially disappear as of April of 2018. “You can still transfer Hilton Honors points to the programs of partner airlines to keep miles alive,” Weinstein said.
He is correct: you can choose from 40 airline partners to which you can transfer a minimum of 10,000 Hilton Honors points — with the exception of Aeromexico, which requires a minimum of 25,000 Hilton Honors points — but unfortunately, those exchange rates have traditionally been mediocre to poor.
The MyWay Earning Style Preferences had lost a third option as of Monday, January 6, 2014: through the Points & Fixed Miles option, you were able to earn 500 frequent flier loyalty program miles per stay at most brands — except at hotels under the Hampton Inn and Home2 Suites brands, with which you earned 100 frequent flier loyalty program miles — regardless of how many dollars you spent on your stay.
“Miles prevented Hilton from offering bonuses” which were bigger or better, said Weinstein.
Unlimited Milestone Bonus Points — and Even More For Diamond Members
Once you have stayed a minimum of 40 nights within a calendar year, you will automatically earn 10,000 bonus Hilton Honors points on every tenth night you stay.
You do not have to sign up or register for this benefit, as it will become a permanent part of the Hilton Honors program; so the more times you stay at hotel or resort properties worldwide which are within the brand portfolio of Hilton, the more points you can earn — and you are not limited with a maximum cap…
…other than the number of days in a calendar year, of course; so theoretically, you can earn up to an additional 320,000 bonus Hilton Honors points within a calendar year — but you may as well not have a primary residence if that occurs.
If you have earned Diamond elite status and stay a minimum of 60 nights in one year, you will automatically earn a reward of 30,000 bonus Hilton Honors points.
Elite Rollover Nights
You will be able to rollover excess qualifying nights earned beyond your current elite tier status requirements to count towards your elite tier status the following year — starting this year — so that every night counts towards earning elite level status…
…but those nights are only valid for the next calendar year; and if they are not applied to elite level status, they will expire thereafter. Elite rollover nights must be used in the following calendar year from when they were earned.
“I promise you that we were planning to offer rollover nights before Marriott Rewards eliminated that benefit,” Weinstein insisted as he gave a short laugh, referring to the elimination of the Elite Rollover Nights from Marriott Rewards starting this year.
To achieve or retain Hilton Honors elite level status, you need to do either of the following during a calendar year:
|Hilton Honors Elite Status Level||Stays; or||Nights; or||Hilton Honors Base Points|
Also, only nights can rollover towards the next year — not qualifying stays or Hilton Honors points.
Gifting Elite Status
This benefit is straightforward:
- Stay a minimum of 60 nights within a calendar year and you will automatically have the ability to gift Gold elite level status to your favorite travel partner.
- Stay a minimum of 100 nights within a calendar year and you will automatically have the ability to gift Diamond elite level status to your favorite travel partner.
You Can Still Earn Airline Miles Through Hilton Honors — But…
The Double Dip benefit — through which both Hilton Honors points and airline miles could be earned with eligible stays — will indeed cease to exist as of next week; but that does not mean the end of earning frequent flier loyalty program miles through stays with Hilton.
“Members who want to convert their Points into miles can still do so with participating airlines around the world”, according to one of my contacts at Hilton. “We will continue to evaluate with our airline partners how we can provide the highest value for Hilton Honors members, which includes continuing stay-based airline promotions.”
This means that you can continue to see promotions in the future which are customized to specific airlines — such as this promotion last year through which you could earn up to 10,000 Avios in five stays with Hilton.
Another way to still earn airline miles is that you can choose from 40 airline partners to which you can transfer a minimum of 10,000 Hilton Honors points — with the exception of Aeromexico, which requires a minimum of 25,000 Hilton Honors points — but unfortunately, those exchange rates have traditionally been mediocre to poor.
Although neither of these options may be as good as the Double Dip benefit to some members of Hilton Honors, at least two ways will still exist to earn airline frequent flier loyalty program miles.
Also remember that Mark Weinstein — who is the senior vice president and global head of loyalty and partnerships for Hilton — told me that “miles prevented Hilton from offering bonuses” which were bigger or better. I suppose that may be a reason why no other frequent guest loyalty program currently offers a true option similar to Double Dip.
Quarterly Promotions Will Continue to Be Offered
Speaking of promotions, quarterly promotions — such as the current Points Unlimited promotion— will still be offered in the future. This is in addition to the new benefit of unlimited milestone bonus points through which once you have stayed a minimum of 40 nights within a calendar year, you will automatically earn 10,000 bonus Hilton Honors points on every tenth night you stay; and if you have earned Diamond elite status and stay a minimum of 60 nights in one year, you will automatically earn a reward of 30,000 bonus Hilton Honors points.
Some members of Hilton Honors were reportedly concerned that the new benefit of unlimited milestone bonus points had permanently replaced the quarterly promotions for earning bonus Hilton Honors points…
…but remember that effective as of next week, members of Hilton Honors who have not earned elite level status will see a reduction of 33 percent of earning Hilton Honors points, as they will earn only ten points per dollar instead of 15 points per dollar; and members of Hilton Honors who have earned Silver elite level status will see a reduction of slightly greater than 27 percent of earning Hilton Honors points, as they will earn only 12 points per dollar instead of 16.5 points per dollar. For those members of Hilton Honors, the quarterly promotion is one of the only ways with which they can amass a significant amount of Hilton Honors points.
People have complained that since reward charts were eliminated last year, point redemption prices have increased — leading to trepidation of trusting that announced changes are indeed actually going to be beneficial to members of Hilton Honors.
“We are not changing value as you choose Hilton Honors as your hotel program,” Weinstein assured me when I asked if any “surprises” which could be perceived as negative are in the works for the future. “I hope we earned enough credibility for members to believe that these changes are not a back door to bad news in the future. We have no plans to devalue the program. We want to be transparent.”
Despite that many people share the point of view pertaining to the increased earnings for members with Diamond elite status being nothing more than the rough equivalent of having selected the Points & Points option anyway, I still believe that the team at Hilton Honors did a good job at further differentiating the Gold and Diamond elite status levels without devaluing either one. I have always considered Hilton Honors Gold to be by far the best mid-level elite status in the industry. If I were downgraded to Gold elite level status, I would not mind — but yet, I would still strive to achieve and earn Diamond elite status once again.
Although I lament the loss of the “Double Dip” benefit — I personally did not find it confusing, as I still use Points & Miles as my MyWay Earning Style Preference to this day until it ends next week — and that point earning rates will be reduced for members who have earned either Silver or no elite level status, I find the changes to generally be positive overall to members of Hilton Honors who have earned either Gold or Diamond elite level status.
Source: Hilton Honors. All photographs ©2014, ©2015 and ©2017 by Brian Cohen.