Hilton Honors 2018 Program Changes

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I’m not a fan of Hilton Honors. There are some good Hilton chain properties (Conrad, Waldorf Astoria), but their loyalty program is terrible. Yesterday, they released some changes to the program. Here is a list of what they are doing:

Points Earning Changes:

  • Blue: 15 points/$ to 10 points/$
  • Silver: 16.5 point/$ to 12 points/$
  • Gold: 17.5 points/$ to 18 points/$
  • Diamond: 20 points/$

Blue and Silver members now earn fewer points per dollar. Gold members earn marginally more, and Diamond members earn at the same rate. Furthermore, Hilton is removing the points & miles earning option. Overall, this is a devaluation.

Waldorf Astoria Breakfast

Gold and Diamond members now get free continental breakfast at Waldorf Astoria properties, their luxury brand. This is an improvement to the Hilton program, but only matches other chains including Hyatt and Starwood. The only other chain that still hasn’t caught up is Marriott, which does not offer breakfast as a benefit at Ritz Carlton hotels.

Milestone Bonuses

If you stay 40 nights per year, you earn 10,000 bonus points. With each additional ten nights, you earn another 10,000 points. Finally, staying 60 nights gets you 30,000 more points.

Elite Rollover Nights

If you stay more than the minimum nights for status, those extra nights can rollover to count for next year.

Gifting Elite Status

If you stay 60 nights or more a year, you can gift Gold status. If you stay more than 100, you can gift Diamond status.

New Hilton American Express Credit Cards

The most interesting bit is that American Express is releasing two new Hilton credit cards. American Express already issues two personal credit cards, the Hilton Honors American Express, and the Hilton Honors Surpass American Express, which respectively have a $0 and $75 annual fee.

On January 18, there will be two new Hilton American Express cards you can apply for. American Express is adding a Hilton Business American Express, as well as the super-premium Aspire card that has an annual fee of $450.

My Thoughts

The additional benefits are for people who stay a lot at Hilton properties. Even then, they aren’t great. Someone who stays 60 nights per year get an additional 60,000 Hilton points. As well, they can gift Gold Status.

However, I find it hard to value Gold Status at more than $50, since it is so easy to get. Anyone with the American Express Platinum Card already has Gold status. While 60,000 points sounds like a lot, their most expensive properties require 95,000 points a night, with premium rooms often costing hundreds of thousands of points.

I dislike programs that give away high status levels. With existing Hilton American Express cards, you earn Diamond Status after spending $40,000 on the card in an year. With the new cards being released, you can now buy Hilton Diamond for $450 with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

Furthermore, you can easily status match to Diamond and get the status for 90 days, with no stay requirements. If you are travelling with a companion or a family, that means 6+ months of free Diamond status. It’s not terribly difficult to get many months with status.

It feels wrong that those who spend a lot of revenue and nights at Hiltons are treated the same way as someone who pays $450 a year. Starwood and Hyatt, the two most rewarding programs, in my opinion, require you to actually stay at hotels for status. I guess I’m most excited about the new American Express cards that will be launched January 18th. If you are a Canadian American Express cardholder, you may be able to get them too through AMEX Global Transfer.

What are your thoughts on the Hilton Changes?

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Comments

  1. The Amex Platinum card also provides Gold status at Starwood, which when linked to Marriott Rewards provides gold status at Marriott. Amex no longer has the stay 5 nights and get platinum status at Fairmont

  2. Any word if the Hilton Amex Aspire or Surpass card with those benefits for Canadians? I see they are now on the Honors website and American AMEX, but no word on Canada yet.
    SPG is great, and I have maintained Platinum with 25 stays or 50 nights/year; but it will be a slower travel year and seems the program is already starting to get tighter and degrade with the Marriott merger (cancellation is now standard 48 hours before arrival).

  3. You re taking about US Credit cards. It doesn’t make sense to the regular Canadian joe. If you don’t like Hilton (for some reasons) that’s ok, but it s like we have a lot of choice in Canada. Marriott will not be any kinder in August 2018. Marriott is very greedy on the accrual side.

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