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Starwood Points Transfer to Hilton Hhonors at 1:2.5….Should You Ever Do That?

MillionMileSecrets has a thorough (as always) post yesterday on how to acquire Hilton Hhonors points through credit card signups. (If you don’t feel like clicking over, just know there are a bunch of credit cards where you can get Hilton signup bonuses).

He didn’t mention one that has been taunting me for some time: you can transfer Starwood points to Hilton Hhonors at a 1:2.5 rate. How? By transferring SPG points to Hawaiian Airlines or Virgin Atlantic (20k SPG to get 25k frequent flyer miles), and then transfer into Hhonors at 1:2.

The question, of course, is whether this is a good deal. The answer is basically, no. However, it’s not a terrible deal in some cases. SPG points are worth something like 2-2.5 cents per point (in general, and yes I know this can vary); while Hhonors points seem to value out at something like .6-.8 cents per point. So perhaps at the very top end of the conversion it’s equal, but in most cases you’ll be “losing value” by transferring.

However, sometimes you just need to top off your points to get an award – it’s nice to know there’s another option out there to do it (you can transfer from American Airlines, but that only gets you 1.6 points per mile). Membership Rewards points transfer in at 1:2. So from a transfer perspective, it’s the best of the options (or the best of some not great options, depending on how you look at it).

If you’re not a frequenter of Hilton Hotels (for example, if you’re me), you’re likely confused by the mish-mosh of award charts out there (this FT thread is very helpful). At its best, top level Hiltons (category 7, not the Waldorf properties) can be had for 37,500 points per night when you’re staying between 4-7 nights). That’s roughly 15,000 Starwood points per night – about the cost of a Category 5 SPG hotel. At that point, while perhaps it’s not exactly an even exchange, it wouldn’t be crazy to transfer SPG points to pay for those Hilton hotels.

Waldorf Astoria hotels also have a discount program when you’re booking multiple nights. Most of those hotels (excluding “premium room only” properties) cost 60,000 Hilton points per night. There are discounts, though, for multi-night stays (15% for 4 nights; 20% for 5 nights; 25% for 6 or more nights). A 6-night stay would be 270,000 Hhonors points, or 110,000 SPG points (roughly). Again, it’s not exactly even, but it’s not insane either, especially if you don’t use Starwood points to transfer to airlines for premium travel (which is primarily how I’ve used them, and really where you can get huge value for those points. But I know that many people don’t use these points that way….).

I bring this up just to highlight another of the reasons why the Starwood program is so fantastic — it’s got a huge range of properties; great airline transfer possibilities; and if you don’t really care whether you stay at a 4-star Starwood resort or a 4-star Hilton Resort, it can offer some decent possibilities to transfer over to Hilton.

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  1. Per the HawaiianMiles Terms & Conditions:

    “Points/Miles transferred into a HawaiianMIles Account from another program may not be transferred to a third party loyalty program.”

    If you transfer from SPG into HawaiianMiles you won’t be able to get the miles out again.

    I don’t know whether or not the same is true for Virgin.

    • Ooh good catch. Virgin Atlantic does not have the same restriction.

      One question tho: if you have points in Hawaiian already and you mix in 3rd party points, then spend some points how do they determine which of those points you spent?

      • I don’t know the answer to your question or exactly how it’s enforced since I’ve never attempted to do this.

        I do seem to remember that this used to work, but that a lot of people were using Hawaiian to transfer Amex MR points to Hilton so they decided to put a stop it.

  2. monster beat me to it, but as you point out Virgin Atlantic doesn’t have that restriction.

    I think you should run some experiments with the transfer to Hawaiian via 3rd party points and let us know. It could just be an “unimplemented” term.

  3. Hilton has some truly outstanding redemptions like the

    Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
    Conrad Ko Samui
    Conrad Hong Kong
    Hilton Seychelles Northolme

    going for $700-$1,500/night. Paying 35k points a night (AXON award) is great value – it’s really hard to get a (comparable) St. Regis for 14k.

    So at the very top end Hilton and Hyatt provide great value. Starwood provides great value in Cat 1-5 – so very complementary of them :)

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