Earlier today it was possible to cash out Hilton points at Amazon.com at 0.5 cents per point (cpp). This was a good deal. I personally think the average redemption value of Hilton points, for Hilton award stays, is around 0.45 cpp. Being able to redeem it at a slightly higher value for something more universally useful like Amazon is pretty cool. I was busy at work the whole day and missed it. Would I have partaken had I not missed it? Probably not. Here’s why.
I get closer to 1 cpp for my Hilton redemptions. The sweet spots are in “<=10k” and “>=80k” levels. In other words, the lowest and highest levels. Probably my last ~20 award nights at Hiltons were all in the <=10k level, including several in my top 10 low category redemptions list. On the other end of the spectrum, I have reserved Conrad Bora Bora for 80k/night next year. The most basic room in high season (when I’m going) is going for $1,300 after tax. That’s over 1.5 cpp! Even if you deduct the expensive inter-island flight cost to Bora Bora from the room price, it’s still about 1 cpp. Would I ever pay this kind of cash for this room? Absolutely not. Then again, I also wouldn’t pay the cash price for a 10k hotel like Hilton Sibiu, when I can get something just as satisfying (for what matters to me) for half the price.
So, the lowest and highest redemptions levels are where the best CPPs are. That’s not to say every hotel in those categories have amazing CPPs, but on the whole they’re higher. Where you see the crappy average 0.45 cpp is in the middle levels – the 30-60k levels. I see all the time mediocre hotels, especially in the US, that cost $150 after tax, require 40k points. That’s a horrible value. I am never going to redeem for those. I hope you don’t either. If you do, then today’s short-lived Amazon deal was probably better. After all, for just 2x of 40k, you can have the $1,300 Conrad Bora Bora. That possibility makes it even hard for me to redeem 40k points for a $250 hotel (like DoubleTree Queenstown), although I could be convinced if there were no cheap cash options in the vicinity.
I will continue to use Hilton points for the lowest and highest redemption levels for maximum value, which should far exceed the 0.5 cpp Amazon deal. This means ~95% of Hilton properties, in the middle levels, are worthless to me from a redemption perspective.