Burning 300K Hilton disHHonors Points

Planning

After the terrible news last week from Hilton about heavily devaluing their award program, Joann and I decided that we needed to burn our stash of Hilton HHonors points before these new changes take effect on March 28, 2013.

Thanks to Loyalty Lobby who found out a great loophole that allows one to book award nights further than the standard 1 year out.

Using this great tip, I was able to use 300K Hilton points for 8 nights at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort in 2015!

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

If this booking stays (and I think it should), Joann and I should be spending our anniversary in the Maldives!

I know it’s really far off, but I’d rather try this for 8 nights at 37,500 a night (the ‘GLON’ award rate for Hilton elites) than be stuck trying to redeem this property at 95,000 points per night after the devaluation.

Speaking of Hotel Loyalty

I’m happy I get to use these Hilton points; I’m slightly sad because I doubt I’ll ever turn my attention to a Hilton property again unless it simply has the best rate available. No way in hell I’ll go out of my way to earn points at a Hilton ever again.

In fact, will I ever go out of my way to earn points at any of my preferred hotel chains? Seth at The Wandering Aramean brought up some great points regarding the casual traveler (like myself) and the actual benefits of hotel loyalty.

In almost every case, finding the cheapest rate at any hotel and booking through Hotels.com will yield the most return. No, you won’t accrue “points”, but you will get 10% ‘cashback’ in the form of a nightly credit. It’s a pretty great loyalty program that I’ve written about before.

For a casual traveler like me, it’s the best way to earn and burn at a good pace and not get caught up in points hoarding.

Anyway, just food for thought. Anyone else have a successful booking experience using this trick? Where is everyone burning their HH points? Does anyone actually LIKE these changes?

MAJOR Hilton HHonors Award Chart Devaluation

First, let me apologize for this late post as I’m currently in Whistler, British Columbia snowboarding my butt off with some friends.

As you may have read on the travel blogosphere this week, Hilton has announced some earth shattering news regarding their award chart.

I first read about these changes on The Points Guy. He has a really detailed post on the changes, but I’ll just highlight the major points and my quick thoughts. FYI, these changes that Ill detail below go into effect March 28, 2013.

First, they added 3 more categories at the top end of their spectrum – categories 8, 9, and 10. This is huge because, currently, the highest tier (aside from the separate Waldorf Astoria category) is Category 7 and that costs 50,000 points per night. Now, most of the very high end Category 7 hotels have moved into Category 10 and that will cost you 70,000-95,000 points per night. That is a potential increase of 90%!

You can search for how many points a hotel will be in the new program at http://hhonorspointssearchtool.com. For a list of hotels in each category, check out this PDF. So much for my long-term goal of Conrad Maldives or Hilton Bora Bora.

What they are adding is a Fifth Night Free perk for elites only. At least that is some sort of silver lining since Hilton elite status has historically been easy to achieve through promos.

Overall, my initial thought is that I won’t be trying to accrue more Hilton points. I’ll stick to the more valuable and flexible Starwood points and Chase Ultimate Rewards (because I transfer them to Hyatt).

Again, these changes go into effect on March 28, 2013, so I’ll definitely be trying to get the most value I can out of my 320,000 Hilton points. After that, I hope someone finds some real value in the program else I will completely kiss Hilton goodbye.

Credit Update: August 15, 2012

How long has it been?

It’s been pretty quiet on the credit card front for both Joann and me. The last time I applied for cards was back in April. For Joann, March…

What’s the latest for Joann?

Joann applied for the 2 Southwest Airlines credit cards about three weeks ago and was approved with a monster limit on the personal card. We already met the easy spend goal of $1,000 each and are anxiously waiting for our first statement to post so we can see where we stand for getting her the Companion Pass. This will be easy to hit before year end because of Amazon Payments (AP). She’ll use the business card for her AP account and I’ll use the personal for my AP account since I’m an authorized user on that card.

She also applied for the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest credit card last week and wasn’t instantly approved. A few days later, we checked the status of her application on this web page and found out that she was approved! We still don’t have the card yet but $5,000 spend in six months won’t be difficult at all with good old Amazon Payments once again. This 30,000 Starpoints offer is only for a limited time and will expire on September 4, 2012.

American Express also sent Joann an official FICO score that they pulled from Experian. I like that about their application process. They always include a credit score; it’s nice to know every once in a while. Even with all the credit cards we apply for, she still has a credit score of 718.

Good score! Keep on churnin’!

Continue reading

How To: Vacation in Bora Bora – Part 2

Now that the air strategy is taken care of, it’s time to discuss the lodging options. This is where it gets more complicated (or interesting, if you’re me). Hotels are a totally different game. There are more options and more ways to get a good deal.

My friend and his wife want to stay in a luxury hotel for 5 nights in Bora Bora. They’ve already gone there before and stayed at the best Overwater Bungalow (OWB) at the InterContinental Thalasso so doing that again may not be a priority. With this information, I was able to put together a list of potential hotels along with ways of getting cheap/free nights.

Continue reading