Buying Hilton HHonors points to trim your business travel costs

By Chris C., April 26 2016
Buying Hilton HHonors points to trim your business travel costs

Buying loyalty points to save on business and first class flights is a topic frequently covered on Australian Business Traveller, and in the same vein you can also buy hotel loyalty points to deliver similar savings while you’re on the ground.

A timely example is the Hilton HHonors program, which currently offers a double points deal on all points purchases made until June 3 2016.

At the top end of the scale, you could buy 80,000 HHonors points for US$800 (A$1,032), which this promotion will instantly transform into 160,000 HHonors points.

Your new collection of points can then be used to book hotel nights at properties like Conrad, Waldorf Astoria, Hilton and DoubleTree by Hilton, in many cases at a far lower overall cost than if you were to book and pay for a room the conventional way.

But buying Hilton HHonors points in advance doesn't always work in your favour. Here's what you need to know.

Buying HHonors points: the basics

For starters, know that the number of Hilton HHonors points you’ll need per night not only varies between hotels, but also based on demand.

As a result, sometimes you're better off paying for your room in cash rather than points.

It’s also possible that there could be no rooms available for booking with HHonors points on your preferred travel dates.

This means you should always find a cost-effective way of using points before ever buying them: ideally, knowing the cities you'll be visiting as part of your forthcoming travel schedule and when you'll be there.

Buying HHonors points: assessing value

Calculating any possible savings from this deal involves a few quick calculations based on your travel plans. Start by visiting the HHonors site, plug in your destination and travel dates, select the “Use HHonors Points” checkbox and then click “find it”.

On the next page you’ll see a list of hotels in that city – those with rooms available for booking with HHonors points will indicate as much, along with the normal paid rate.

Here's an example from London:

You're given the option to part with 80,000 HHonors points or £269 for the room.

That's a cash rate around A$498, while the cost of buying those points comes in at A$516 (A$0.00645 per point).

In this instance, the cost of buying points outweighs simply booking the room rate, and is a great example of when this deal won’t help you save.

Where you’ll save a little

Over at the Conrad Hong Kong the numbers are more in your favour.

On the dates we searched, rooms were available from HK$2,860 (A$476) including a 10% service charge not quoted in the initial price…

… or could also be booked for either 80,000 points outright – again costing you A$517 to buy – or with a mix 32,000 points (costing around A$206) and a payment of HK$1,278.67 (~A$212) for an overall price of $418: some 12% cheaper than the retail rate.

Where you’ll save a lot

China’s Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund hotel offers fantastic savings when buying and then using points, with rooms available for either 28,000 HHonors points plus ¥928 (A$184) including taxes and the hotel’s 15% service charge…

… or from ¥2,742.75 (A$546) for comparable paid rates with all taxes and service charges included and with similar change and cancellation rules to reward bookings.

Those 28,000 points only set you back US$140 (A$180), making for a total cost of A$364 per night – or a daily saving of A$182 over the retail rate.

On a five-night stay, that represents an extra A$910 in your pocket at the end of the week: simply by buying HHonors points and using them to book the same hotel room you’d have otherwise paid for.

How to buy HHonors points

Found a deal that works for you? Great – if you’re not already a Hilton HHonors member, take a minute to join via the Hilton website and make a note of the membership number you receive at the end.

Existing members and those who’ve completed the sign-up process can then head to the ‘buying points’ page of the Hilton HHonors website, and if prompted for a username, enter your HHonors membership number.

From there it’s as simple as selecting the number of points to buy, remembering only to buy points when you have a specific plan in mind for their use, which in itself will tell you how many points are needed.

Enter your credit card details and wait patiently for up to 24 hours, after which your points will appear in your account and can be used to book rooms through the same process as above.

Also read: Fly Virgin Australia business class for the price of economy

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

20 Nov 2012

Total posts 20

You missed two things: the opportunity cost of points forgone when not on a cash rate and those with Hilton status (they are offering status matches) get the fourth night free on points redemptions. 

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2437

Hi Rakesh, these aspects were intentionally excluded.

The opportunity cost of points not earned when redeeming points is insignificant when booking the highest-discounted options, as we'd suggested was the best value in the article, as the extent of the savings outweighs any future value of points not earned on the side.

(Obviously, any additional spend during that stay like room service or laundry charges will still earn points as usual, but if the difference is of concern people are welcome to do their own calculations.)

The deal you've mentioned also requires bookings of at least five nights, not four ("5th night free") on standard room rewards (not points + cash), and the limit to how many points you can buy under this deal is much lower than the number of points needed for 4-5 nights at most hotels which present good value under the same deal, so it's not a feature we included. :)

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Buying Hilton HHonors points to trim your business travel costs