Hilton’s new AXON award structure as of June 15: higher rates and categories 8-10 added

Up until late March, one of the very best uses of Hilton HHonors points were AXON awards, which are special four night rewards available exclusively to those with a co-branded Hilton American Express credit card. I considered the best value to be a four night AXON award at a category seven property, which cost just 145,000 points. Category seven properties used to be the highest category Hilton properties and went for 50,000 points per night, so this essentially translated into a 55,000 point savings for a four night stay. It was better than a “buy three get one free” offer, essentially.

Unfortunately in late March Hilton substantially devalued their HHonors program, including introducing seasonal pricing and adding three new categories.

While there was no immediate change to AXON awards, they’re only valid for up to category seven properties, meaning they weren’t available for the new category eight, nine, or ten properties. The future of AXON awards has been up in the air till now, though the future of them has finally been announced.

The new AXON (four night) award pricing starting June 15 is as follows:

  • Category five properties go from 125,000 points to 130,000 points (stays ordinarily cost 30,000-40,000 points per night)
  • Category six properties go from 125,000 points to 160,000 points (stays ordinarily cost 30,000-50,000 points per night)
  • Category seven properties go from 145,000 points to 190,000 points (stays ordinarily cost 30,000-60,000 points per night)
  • Category eight properties will cost 220,000 points (stays ordinarily cost 40,000-70,000 points per night)
  • Category nine properties will cost 260,000 points (stays ordinarily cost 50,000-80,000 points per night)
  • Category ten properties will cost 300,000 points (stays ordinarily cost 70,000-95,000 points per night)

As a point of comparison, here are the standard nightly rates under the new award chart:

Hilton’s devaluation in late March was almost unprecedented as it is. In the years I’ve been watching the hotel industry I’ve never seen a devaluation as extreme. Secretly I was hoping the new AXON awards would still be a bright spot, because surely Hilton doesn’t want to completely destroy the value of their program.

Sadly I’d say these new AXON prices are almost the worst part of the devaluation.

For Hilton’s top properties you’re now going from paying 145,000 points for a four night AXON package to paying 300,000 points for a four night AXON package, so the cost has literally more than doubled. For that matter these AXON awards really don’t translate into much savings, and in many cases are more expensive than not using the AXON award. For category eight properties some hotels are 40,000 points per night (compared to the AXON rate of 220,000 points), so an AXON could end up costing 60,000 more points than just making a standard outright booking. That’s horrible. Meanwhile if you just redeemed for four nights outright you’d get the fifth night free as an elite member, and that doesn’t even require having their co-branded credit card.

If nothing else we have to give Hilton credit for consistency. They sure did a thorough job with their devaluation…

Comments

  1. Since all the devaluations announced, I have not charged one cent to either of my Hilton Credit Cards, opting for better values elsewhere. We should all vote with our wallets. If everyone stopped charging on their hilton cards for several months they might get the message. Take a vow and spread the word!

  2. I’m sorry to say it, obviously a big devaluation but welcome to how things are for the rest of the world that were excluded from these AXON awards – at least you still have massively better earning potential on non-hotel spend in the USA than we have!

  3. The only thing good soon about Hilton is that breaKfast is free with a credit card. The occasional Virgin bonuses make the transfer from Amex cheap. By doing all this they have reduced the value of the points to ridiculously low levels.

    Hyatt has been the best chain for consistency and I hope they stay that way.

  4. I would not be surprised if Hilton’s decision to basically give away Gold status with a credit card is in some ways tied to the devaluation– lock people in with the breakfast benefit so they will stay regardless of the value of the points they will receive.

  5. Hilton will still do well because businesses will still choose to use Hilton based on convenience and their amount of properties in the US. People don’t understand that Hilton’s loyalty program isn’t that great nor do they see Hilton’s points are highly inflated.

  6. I’m Hilton Diamond and I don’t give a shit about free breakfast since I am a business traveler. I care about points and for this I say: Buh-bye

  7. It has been our experience that Hilton’s “free breakfast”, especially in the domestic executive lounge, is almost as good as the free breakfast everyone gets at Holiday Inn Express. We’re moving most of our business to Hyatt and SPG.

  8. It’s funny five out of six colleagues have moved from Doubletree Philly to Carlson Warwick, the other one defected to the Marriott. If Hilton was not owned by a private equity group, I would be shorting hilton stock. I think this is going to affect their bottom line, their loyalists are not idiots

  9. @ choi — I believe it’s still published by Hilton, though I assume there’s some agreement/negotiation between Hilton and American Express in figuring out the prices.

  10. The 5th night free is frequently a mirage. Try the Hilton Paris La Defense, in a business park a 15 minute Metro ride from central Paris. {Hilton no longer has a central property in Paris}.

    Sign in as an elite member, which is necessary to qualify for the 5th night discount rate. Now search for a 5 night award between June 1st and Sept 15. You will find that there is no award availability at all from June 1st thru July 27. You will be shown 5 arrival dates for a 5 night stay this summer, one July 28k, the other 4 in August. August has virtually no business travel in Paris, and most of the better restaurants are closed. But still, they will only give you 4 arrival dates in August, and this is with planning 3 to 4 months in advance. There is also nothing available from Sept 1st thru Sept 15.

    Sign out, and try the same thing, which means you no longer qualify for 5th night free. You will now be able to book most nights all summer for a 5 night award stay.

    BUT the points required are not the advertised low season rate of 60K per night. Instead the lowest rate you will see is @100K a night, meaning 500K for 5 nights.

    But most arrival dates will be much higher, with many of them pricing out at over 1,500,000 points. No I didn’t misplace a decimal point. Over 300K points a night, with a total of over one and a half MILLION points for five nights. You know those bloggers who brag they got over a million points last year? That’s not enough for 5 nights at the PHLD.

    So, yes, the AXON rate, if it is available, turns out to be a super deal. You can get enough points for the first night of a 4 night stay with the sign up bonus from the AMEX HHonors card alone. 🙁

    Now how does that Citi HHonors card, with a 50K sign-up bonus seem to you? For 5 nights at a hotel that last year was only a level 4 out of 7, you now need 30 of those cards for just 5 nights. I know that card is “churnable”, but come on…

    The rate for one night in September, assuming you book it far enough in advance to find it available, is 80K points. Meaning not one of the HHonors cards, from AMEX or Citi, gives you enough sign up points for a single night at PHLD. Which remember is not a aspirational property, but one that was mid-tier last year.

    Is there any question why HHonors waited to announce the new AXON rates until after the Freddies?

    When I first head about the HHonors devaluation, I thought it sounded horrible. The more I learn about it, the more I realize that horrible was a understatement !

  11. @ Robert Hanson — To clarify, the pricing you’re seeing is Hilton’s dynamic pricing. This isn’t standard award space, but rather the higher cost rate that’s based on the cost of a room.

    The actual standard room availability is the same regardless of whether you’re logged in as an elite member or not.

    I’d bet the reason there’s no standard room availability is because lots of members burned their points at the hotel for this summer before the devaluation kicked in. I’d bet availability will be much better for next summer.

  12. I stay at Hilton frequently- I need to be where the value is.,time to travel a little for Starwood or Hyatt. Diamond Member

  13. You are right as usual. 😀

    You can’t just try to book August 2014 straight up on the Hilton website, the booking calendar stops at April. But I googled “HHonors devaluation”, and found a post on Loyalty Lobby. It turns out if you choose “flexible dates” for a reservation in 2013, then click on “change dates” to August 2014, all 5 night arrival dates in August 2014 list at 60K.

    And if you are signed in they do give you the 5th night free. Or actually lower the rate to 48K, which works out to the same thing.

    So HHonors really shot themselves in the foot here. By incentivizing everyone to burn their points before the deadline, popular locations booked up. Especially PHLD since they no longer have a central Paris location. I’m actually one of those folks, since I booked the old 125K AXON rate at PHLD for this Sept.

    Without complaining here, and then seeing the other post, I would still think this is the new policy, rather than just properties being booked up. I’m guessing many other people will come to the same wrong conclusion. Then HHonors branded cc apps will plummet, along with spend on existing ccs, even worse than it otherwise would have.

    As bad as the category jumps, and increased AXON prices are, they have made it seem even worse than it is with the forced early booking. They should put a link to your blog on the HHonors website with a title like “Lucky explains it’s not as bad as it seems”. 😀

    Although it’s still plenty bad. 🙁

  14. Longtime Hilton Diamond….wow, I guess they decided to target people who don’t pay attention? I know Hilton is owned by a hedge fund so I guess this is their way of slashing costs in the short term, At any rate I’m 100% done with Hilton over this. My bf is STarwood plat so i want to diversify….is there an easy way to get Hyatt top tier status?

  15. @ maxfc — Not an easy way in the sense that you can’t earn Hyatt Diamond on credit card spend. That being said they do offer challenges, so you should be able to do one from Hilton Diamond to Hyatt Diamond if you want to.

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