Hilton Honors can be a solid alternative for those looking for a large footprint and variety among brands. Hilton is one of Amex’s hotel transfer partners (though Hilton also has many credit cards issued through Amex that earn Hilton Honors points). When using transferable points for hotel stays, most of us focus on transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt, which usually results in great value. But Hilton Honors is a worthy option for Amex Membership Rewards (MRs). Under the right circumstances, you can get better value for MRs by transferring to Hilton than you would from transferring URs to Hyatt.
Transferring Amex Membership Rewards to Partners
Amex Membership Rewards has 18 airline partners and 3 hotel partners. Amex's hotel partners are Hilton, Choice Hotels, and Marriott.
Hilton is a 1:2 Transfer Partner of Amex Membership Rewards, meaning every 1,000 MRs transferred yields 2,000 Hilton Honors points. On top of that, Amex regularly runs promotions during the year offering bonus points on transfers to Hilton. Transfer bonuses are usually 30%, 40%, or 50%. This means that during a transfer bonus, 1,000 MRs can yield 2,600, 2,800 or even 3,000 Hilton Honors points.
Booking Award Stays with Hilton
Hilton does not have a published award chart, meaning awards are subject to dynamic pricing. Award stays start at 5,000 points per night.
As with other hotel points, the biggest value for Hilton Honors points will be when the cash price of the hotel is high. For example, redeeming 30,000 points for a stay that costs $130 in cash is not as good as using those same points for a hotel costing $500 cash.
Hilton offers many tools to help members book award stays. We cover each of these below.
Fifth Night Free on Award Stays
Hilton elite members with silver, gold, or diamond status receive a fifth night free on award stays. This is a great perk that helps your points go further.
Hilton calculates the fifth night free value by taking the average award rate you pay across your five-night reservation. For example, say you book a five-night stay where three nights cost 40,000 points and two nights cost 30,000, for a total of 180,000 points. The average rate for those five nights is 36,000. Hilton will charge you 144,000 points (180,000 – 36,000) for that five-night stay.
Points & Money Rewards
Hilton offers booking flexibility through its Points & Money tool. This allows you to use fewer points by paying for a portion of your stay with cash. Points & Money is great if you don’t have enough points for your stay but still want to save cash. This tool is especially flexible because it lets you adjust the points to cash ratio in increments of 1,000 points to suit your budget. However, if you use cash for any portion of your reservation, you will have to pay taxes on that cash portion.
Hilton’s Points Explorer tool lets you search for properties based on location and the number of points you want to spend per night. You can also filter your search results among Hilton's 18 hotel brands.
Points Explorer can be a good starting point for searches. However, Points Explorer uses historical data (remember that Hilton uses dynamic pricing for awards). This means that Points Explorer results show what properties have priced their rooms in the past. Still, this is a helpful tool to get a sense of what you could afford with your points budget.
How to Maximize Hilton Honors Points
Transferring Amex MRs to Hilton can yield great value, especially when taking advantage of transfer bonuses or fifth night free. Here is an example. We searched for a two-night stay at the Conrad in Midtown Manhattan for a weekend in the fall, which is going for $931 per night in cash after taxes, or 95,000 Hilton points per night:
This yields a value of about 0.98 cents per Hilton Honors point, which is already a good use of Hilton points. For MRs transferred from Amex, this yields about 1.96 cents per MR, since Amex MRs transfer at a rate of 1,000:2,000 to Hilton. This falls within the range of what we at ToP value Amex MRs.
But what if we transfer during an Amex transfer bonus at a ratio of 1,000:3,000? The stay would only require about 32,000 MRs per night, which results in 2.9 cents per MR. This is an excellent value for Amex MRs. But what if we take advantage of the transfer bonus and book this room for five nights to enjoy Hilton’s fifth night free? Then the value jumps to 3.66 cents per MR! That’s 127,000 Amex MRs for a hotel room that would cost you $4,655!
Transferring Amex Membership Rewards to Hilton Honors makes a lot of sense in certain scenarios. Taking advantage of Amex’s regular transfer bonuses and Hilton’s fifth night free can yield tremendous value for your MRs.
Do you have any questions about how to maximize MRs or Hilton Honors for a great redemption? Come join our Facebook group and ask!