(EXPIRED) Buy Hilton points for half a cent each through 2/19/20

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Hilton is once again offering a 100% bonus on the purchase of points when you buy 10,000 or more points. While I don’t generally recommend buying points speculatively, this can make sense if you have a valuable redemption lined up (and it is indeed how I am generally planning to pick up Hilton points moving forward).

Living room of a 1 bedroom suite at the Conrad Fort Lauderdale

The Deal

  • Hilton is offering a 100% bonus on purchased points when you buy 10,000 points or more through 2/19/20 (this makes for a rate of 0.5c per point)
  • Our link to this deal

Key Terms

  • During this sale, you can buy up to 80,000 Hilton points before the bonus (160,000 with the bonus)
  • Expires 2/19/20

Quick Thoughts

Hilton points are among the least valuable hotel points (not quite at the bottom, but not far from it) and I generally find them to be worth about half a cent each. For that reason, I wouldn’t recommend purchasing points without any goal in mind.

That said, there are a few angles from which I think this sale is potentially interesting.

First: The limit higher than it appears

First up, the limit is very much a soft cap since Hilton allows you to pool points with up to 9 other people. With ten members in a pool, it is possible to buy up to 1,600,000 Hilton points through this deal and pool them in a single account. That would cost you $8,000 total and I definitely do not recommend anyone spend eight grand on Hilton points — my point, rather, is that you can more or less buy whatever it is that you need with this sale.

If I had stayed for 5 nights, this room at the Conrad Bora Bora would have cost me about $320 in points per night. That’s not cheap, but it’s far below the cash rates.

Note that Hilton ordinarily limits you to buying up to 80K points per year before bonuses. They have sometimes increased the pre-bonus limit to 160K, but not this time around.

Second: It’s possible to get much better value than the cost of the points 

While Hilton points are usually only worth about half a cent each, there are plenty of instances where they can be used for one cent each or even more. Just this year, I’ve used points for a couple of free nights at the Conrad Bora Bora (80K per night for a room costing north of $900 per night at cash rates) and a Hampton Inn in Atlanta for Super Bowl weekend (40K per night for a crummy hotel, but with cash rates around $1,000 per night at the time of booking). When you consider the fact that you don’t pay tax or resort fees when redeeming points, it is certainly possible to get better value than the cost of points here. I wouldn’t recommending buying in the hopes that maybe you’ll redeem the points well, but if you have an upcoming stay where the points will be useful, it can certainly make sense to buy.

Third: Turn your cash back cards into the best Hilton cards for everyday spend

I’ve talked quite a bit this year about my growing infatuation with cash back. I have said and will continue to hold that you’re better off putting most spend on a cash back card and buying Hilton points if it is Hilton points that you are after.

The current lineup of Hilton credit cards earn 3 Hilton points per dollar on everyday (unbonused) spend. Here are four cash back options that would be considerably better for everyday spend:

  1. Citi Double Cash card: Earn 1% when you purchase and 1% when you pay your bill for an effective return of 2% cash back — that’s two pennies back for every dollar spent. If you then use that cash back to buy Hilton points and buy 10K or more in a sale like this one, you’re essentially earning 4 Hilton points per dollar on all spend (since your 2 pennies will buy 4 Hilton points at a cost of half a cent each). In fact, if you then buy the points with your Double Cash card, you’ll earn an additional two percent back for an ever-so-slightly-bigger win.
  2. Discover IT Miles card for the first year: Since Discover doubles all rewards earned on this card in year 1, you earn an effective 3% back with this card in the first year. If you use that 3 cents per dollar to buy Hilton points, that’s a return of 6 Hilton points per dollar.
  3. Alliant Cashback Visa: This card earns 3% back in year 1 and 2.5% back in subsequent years. Even at 2.5% back, that’s an equivalent of 5 Hilton points per dollar when buying through a sale like this.
  4. Bank of America Premium Rewards with Platinum Honors: This card continually earns 2.625% back on all purchases if you have Platinum Honors with BOA (which requires $100K on deposit in cash/investments). That’s like a return of 5.25 Hilton points per dollar spent.

As you can see, it is therefore possible to earn a hefty number of Hilton points on everyday spend with cash back cards — perhaps even as much as the best category bonus on any of the Hilton cards (apart from Hilton spend) without any restriction as to where you earn. Furthermore, with Amex ramping up its war on gaming, it eliminates some amount of risk in MSing on Amex cards.

Of course, the real “best” category bonus for earning Hilton points is probably the Amex Gold’s 4x at US Supermarkets (on up to $25K in purchases, then 1x). That’s because Membership Rewards points transfer to Hilton at a rate of 1 Membership Rewards point to 2 Hilton Honors points. That means the return at supermarkets is really 8x. Furthermore, there are frequent transfer bonuses as high as 30%.

This analysis ignores the value of using your Hilton Honors Surpass card at US Supermarkets for 6x and spending exactly $15K in that category, which yields a free weekend night in addition to the 6x. That remains a good use of that particular card. However, for all other spend, it likely makes more sense to use cash back cards — both because you can earn a similar/better return in terms of the number of Hilton points and because it gives you the flexibility of cash that can be used to buy cheap Hilton points or buy whatever else you want/need.

The problem with that perspective is that you’re counting on there being a sale on Hilton points on the day that you need them. Assuming you’re likely to need Hilton points on a moment’s notice, perhaps you’re better off earning Hilton points. But with almost monthly sales on Hilton points at this half-a-cent price, I’d be more inclined to collect cash.

Bottom line

I don’t recommend that anybody buy Hilton points speculatively. However, with a good use in mind, it could certainly be worth it. With the ability to pool with others, it’s easy enough to buy the points you need for an extended vacation, and remember that Hilton offers the 5th night free on award stays (which might make your points a bit more valuable yet in comparison to cash rates).

For other current deals on point purchases, see this resource: Buy points for less: When does it make sense to jump on a deal?

Recent similar sales have happened through:

  • 12/17 – 12/28/19: 100% bonus (0.5cpp)
  • 11/15 – 11/26/19: 100$ bonus (0.5cpp)

Last updated on February 22nd, 2020

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

More articles by Nick Reyes »

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Travelwithapoint
Guest
Travelwithapoint

Great analysis Nick. It’s interesting how the branded cards are not always the best for earning points. The old SPG card was a good example. It earned the equivalent of 1.25 AA points, the citi AA card earned 1point. In your example, if someone was solely focused on earning Hilton points, the Amex Gold cards beats the Amex Hilton card.

Pam
Guest
Pam

Thanks, Nick – what card are you personally going to use for pay for thrm?

MSer
Guest
MSer

Buying Hilton at 0.5cpp? Please don’t. I’m Diamond via $60K @6x grocery with Surpass = 0.2cpp cost plus get second weekend night cert at $15K spend (despite claims the Aspire is the no-brainer card, it’s really Surpass for those with grocery access). Hilton are only worth 0.4cpp for most redemptions (ignoring value of Diamond perks). I’m a seller at 0.5cpp (converted a million when Amazon was allowing 0.5cpp redemptions). Combine with regular grocery promos and can get negative cost points.

Aloha808
Guest
Aloha808

Alliant cashback Visa is a no-no for MS.

Dee
Guest
Dee

My husband and I were booked at the Caribe Hilton in Puerto Rico for next week, but changed our plans on Tuesday after the earthquake. We booked at the Hilton Aruba instead for 80,000 pts/night for 4 nights + 5th night free + both of our Aspire weekend nights. Cash rate is $718/night, including taxes and fees. I’m happy with spending 320,000 Hilton points.

From reading Flyertalk, it looks like we won’t pay a resort fee either. The resort fee is 15% of the room rate. The base rate is $567, so 15% adds 85.05 a night. With points, 15% of $0 is $0. Hopefully, that’s what turns out to be true. We would have paid $40/night at PR.

I’m not sure I’ll buy more points right now though. Maybe we’ll rack up a few with food & drink spend on property… that will get reimbursed by our Aspire credits.

iahphx
Guest
iahphx

I personally might have stuck with the Caribe Hilton. There’s no earthquake damage in San Juan, and the Caribe is a decent deal at 50K (40K over 5 nights). The problem with saying the Hilton Aruba is “worth” 80K because room rates are $718/night is that you would probably never pay that price. You shouldn’t. I’m headed to Aruba and I’m “paying” 8000 points for the new airport Hyatt Place. I’d love to pay 2x that for beachfront, but that’s not possible to get that type of value with any of the chains. You could certainly find a decent beachfront place to stay in Aruba for $200.

Dee
Guest
Dee

It was a tough decision to go to PR or not. We were up against our deadline to get our airline miles back on Tuesday. The Hilton has no damage, but with more aftershocks every day, I didn’t want to chance power outages.

We chose Aruba because Hilton had Standard Award nights. That way we could use our Aspire weekend certificates. And we want to use our Aspire credits, so it has to be a Hilton. Aruba was not on my bucket list before Tuesday. I knew very little about it before yesterday. But, you’re right. I wouldn’t spend $700 a night on a hotel room. That’s why I book hotels with points. For a last minute booking, I think we did alright on points. Plus, as Diamonds, we get $25 per day to spend on food & drinks + our $500 for our two Aspire cards + I have a $250 credit balance on my Aspire from my airline incidental reimbursements. So, 7 nights with no resort fee, 320,000 points, $925 to spend on food and drinks – I’d actually rather do that than spend $1400 cash + meals at a decent beachfront place. That’s why we each do points and miles in ways that suit us individually.

We will cancel our Aspire cards when the AFs post this year. It is too restrictive to have to choose Hilton to use the resort credit that I really already paid as an annual fee. I’ll keep my Surpass for Gold status. I’m focused on Chase/Hyatt points in 2020 for 2021.

iahphx
Guest
iahphx

If you’re a flyertalker, please post a review of the Hilton Aruba after your stay (or use tripadvisor). Like many here, I’ve got a ton of Honors points and are always looking for good uses for them. I also have Aspire cards and the credit. I did look at staying at the Hilton Aruba and it just didn’t seem like I could get enough value at 80K/night. The hotel is certainly not loved. But maybe it’s better than the reviews. The Caribe Hilton is also not universally loved and is a good chain resort with a nice beach. At 50K, it’s a good place to use Honors points for a beach resort in winter (PR weather and water is much better than Florida weather this time of year).

Dee
Guest
Dee

I am happy to post a review of the Hilton Aruba on Flyertalk. Is there anything specific you want to know?
The Flyertalk reviews I read said not to expect anything special for being Diamond – no room upgrade, only $25/day food/bev credit, no lounge. I’m fine with that. I don’t need to eat a buffet for breakfast.

An aquaintance told me the Hilton is in the middle of the high-rise district, so an easy walk in either direction on the boardwalk and a bus stop right in front of the hotel.

I agree that the Caribe Hilton is a good place to use HH points. That’s why I booked it 9 months ago with the intention of going the day after tomorrow. Even with the $40/day resort fee eating one of the Aspire credits whole, it could be a good value. Maybe we’ll hang onto the Aspires one more year and try again next year for the Caribe. (I only get one beach vacation a year. Hubby gets bored with beaches.)

iahphx
Guest
iahphx

No resort fee at the Caribe if you pay with points.

MRS
Guest
MRS

@Dee and @ iahphx

There is a new Hilton-bookable property in Anguilla that looks VERY interesting, although flights are trickier than to PR. I stumbled on this list recently that includes some of the “under the radar“ point notes in the Caribbean. I would lobe to see Greg or Nick come out with their own comprehensive list since their analysis is always the best.

https://10xtravel.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-using-points-for-hotels-in-the-caribbean/

iahphx
Guest
iahphx

Thanks for the link MRS. Sadly, it confirms my suspicion that there aren’t a lot of good deals using hotel points in the Caribbean. Personally, I think the best current deal is at the new Hyatt Reserve in Puerto Rico (12K points), but I would caution that this isn’t a great resort. The second best deal is the Caribe Hilton. That Anguilla hotel looks VERY expensive; only really use for those weekend “any hotel” Honors certificates.

William
Guest
William

Nick, please help, you always provide well thought out responses.

To preface, I’m ineligible for amex bonuses so I’m deciding on two cards based on benefits. Also I hold no hilton status and have zero hilton points.

I’m looking to stay 4 nights in the Seychelles at the Hilton Northolme in about 4 months. The cash price for the stay is $1697. I was thinking of multiple options and couldnt decide which is best. First, I could sign up for the surpass and get the free breakfast with no free night for an extra $95 and then buy the points outright or the nights when theres a promotion going on. Or I could sign up for the aspire, get the free night and then buy the remaining nights OR I could get either card and then buy hilton points when their on sale. I know points have a little bit more flexibility in regard to cancellations. To buy the points for 3 nights would cost $1425 but then I’d have to pay the annual fee for the aspire upfront and I would earn no bonus on the spend vs paying for the hotel with the aspire. I suppose the resort credit could help offset that, though I’m a little worried about being able to fully use the airline credit even though there are some ways around the restrictions. plus i missed the deadline to triple dip the aspire so idk if I should wait but then i could be forgoing a huge amount of points if i buy the nights with huge aspire and promotion multipliers that would help offset me missing the triple dip.

Im so confused, please give me some guidance!

What would you recommend is the best way to secure this 4 night stay with zero current hilton points or status to make it the most enjoyable? (ie free breakfast, possible upgrade)

William
Guest
William

Also I’ll add that the $1697 price for 4 nights is a sale price that included breakfast in the rate. Idk if it has different restrictions then if I had gold status.

William
Guest
William

I guess a third level to this is that Rakuten is showing 7.5% cash back at hilton for blue members, my account is set to MR and I have a BBP, so 3 nights paid is $1273 multiplied by 9.5x which equals 12K MR conservatively valued at .015 that is $181 in value or an extra 14 % off.

anyone help lol.

Cameron
Guest
Cameron

This is actually quite useful. I’m looking to book a room that’s $412 including taxes or 50k points, so $250 if I buy the points. Seems like a great deal, anything I should be aware of (other than missing out on the points from Hilton spend and any cash back from a portal?)