From now till 21 September 2020, 11.59 a.m SGT, Hilton is offering a 100% bonus on points purchases.
The 100% bonus applies if you purchase at least 10,000 points (pre-bonus) in a single transaction. Hilton points usually cost 1 US cent apiece, so a 100% bonus means buying points at 0.5 US cents each, the lowest price we ever see available.
Normally, you can purchase up to 80,000 points a year, pre-bonus. With this promotion, Hilton has doubled that cap, so you can buy 160,000 points a year, pre-bonus.
The cap shouldn’t be an issue anyway, because Hilton lets you combine points across accounts for free. So there’s nothing stopping you from creating a few more accounts and consolidating them, or pooling them with a friend or family member.
Hilton points expire after 12 months of inactivity, but earning or redeeming even a single point resets the 12 month clock. Hilton has temporarily paused the expiration of all points scheduled to expire between now and 31 December 2020, on account of the COVID-19 situation (see below).
Hilton’s COVID-19 cancellation policy
For any reservation booked up till 31 August 2020 with any future arrival date, Hilton will allow cancellations up to 24 hours before arrival with no penalty. This includes reservations made by points.
So you might consider booking travel for 2021 (assuming this all blows over by then), knowing that any reservation made during this period will have an enhanced cancellation policy.
That said, it goes without saying that no one should be travelling out of Singapore until we get the all-clear from the government. Do remember that should you contract COVID-19 due to traveling against the government’s advisory, you’ll be on the hook for the full, unsubsidized hospital charges.
Is it a good idea to buy points for staycations?
Leaving aside the fact that none of Hilton’s three properties in Singapore have been approved for staycation guests yet, is it a good idea to buy Hilton points for staycations?
Generally no. Hilton properties in Singapore range from 20,000 to 60,000 points per night, which would be anywhere from US$100 to US$300 if you buy points with the current sale. US$100 may sound not bad, but keep in mind that (1) for a Hilton Garden Inn, (2) without any of the usual additions you get when you book staycation packages, like free breakfast and late check-out.
I’d say wait and see what staycation packages these hotels offer when they do reopen for staycations.
What can you do with Hilton points?
The classic use case for buying Hilton points is to snag a stay at a luxurious property for much less. Take for instance the Conrad Maldives where an award night at goes for 95,000 Hilton Honors points. Paid rates can cost as much as US$990+ a night before tax.
If you purchase Hilton Honors points at a 100% bonus during this sale and use them at the Conrad Maldives, you’ll effectively be paying only US$475 a night. Remember that if you’re a Silver member or above, you get the 5th night free on awards, reducing the overall cost to US$380 a night. Hilton Honors Silver status is offered to all AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend cardholders.
What’s even better is that using Hilton Honors points to book your stay gives you a flexible reservation, compared to paying the lowest available rate which is usually a non-refundable rate.
Another idea is to try your luck booking the Waldorf Astoria Maldives, which costs 120,000 points a night. That’s a hefty US$600, but this is a property that charges upwards of US$1.5K a night, plus the 5th night free benefit would reduce your average cost to US$480.
The Maldives may not be on many people’s travel radars at the moment, but even within ASEAN you can find a decent number of Hilton Category 1/2 properties, which cost just 5,000/10,000 points a night (US$25/50 if you buy points at 0.5 US cents each). You can see a listing of these properties here.
Don’t buy points speculatively
You should not be buying any sort of points or miles speculatively, and Hilton is no exception. Back in June 2019, it was reported on Flyertalk that Hilton had quietly raised the redemption rates on numerous hotels worldwide without any notice.
Fortunately, this didn’t affect the top-tier properties (so the Conrad Maldives still costs 95,000 points for example), but it just goes to show the dangers of “dynamic pricing”. My advice is that you confirm award pricing and availability at the hotel you want before buying points.
My sense is that the best value Hilton redemptions are for properties in the highest tier (80-95,000 points). Remember, Hilton no longer publishes award charts and can change hotel categories at will; it’s a lot easier for them to move lower tier hotels between bands than it is to increase the highest cost redemption band. This is still fixed at 80-95,000 points, with the exception of the Waldorf Astoria Maldives and Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos.
What card should I use to purchase Hilton points?
Hilton points purchases are processed by Points.com and charged in US$. You should use the following cards to maximize your returns from buying Hilton Honors points:
|4 mpd||Cap of S$1K per s. month|
|UOB Visa Signature|
|4 mpd||Min S$1K Max S$2K FCY spend per s. month,|
|SCB Visa Infinite||3 mpd||Min spend S$2K per s. month|
|S. Month= Statement Month | C. Month= Calendar Month|
Hilton is basically running the same points sale as it always has, even before COVID-19.
There’s little doubt in my mind we’ll be seeing another 100% bonus this year, so buy points if you have plans, but otherwise don’t feel bad about waiting for the next round.