Rather than just complain endlessly about the changes to the Hilton program, I thought I’d share a way to use fewer points than you might expect for stays at top-tier Hilton properties.
I’ve been looking at rooms at the Grand Wailea in Maui, and they now start at 95,000 Hilton points per night. Hawaiian Airlines and Virgin Atlantic both allow you to transfer miles to Hilton at a 1:2 basis, which is why many people get the Hawaiian Airlines credit cards. That’s fine. Theoretically, though, Hawaiian will not allow you to transfer points into the Hawaiian program and then out to Hilton (you’d have to earn the Hawaiian miles through flying or credit cards). Virgin Atlantic, however, doesn’t have any issue with that.
So you could transfer Membership Rewards points or Ultimate Rewards points into Virgin Atlantic. In this case, it would take 47,500 UR points for a free night.
But what if you just bought the room and paid for it with Ultimate Rewards points? I know that we bloggers tend to dismiss the 25% bonus you get by booking travel through UR and using points to pay for it. However, in this case it may make sense: A room including breakfast is $453. You can pay using UR points and it’s only 36,248 points per night – 10,000 fewer than if you booked an award night using those points.
The Hilton Bora Bora is, gulp, 166,000 HHonors points per night – 83,000 UR points transferred to Virgin Atlantic. Or you can pay with UR points and it’s 48,000 points per night.
The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua is 50,000 UR points (transferred to Marriott) or you can buy a room for 27,800 UR points.
My larger point is this – the 25% point bonus is always worth a look, especially with the Hilton program because of the ridiculous amount of points they charge for top-tier rooms.