Online shopping portals can be a great way to earn additional rewards for your spend, with the option of earning bonus airline miles, hotel points, transferable points, or even cashback. Essentially you just initiate your purchase with a retailer through one of these portals, and then your purchase will be tracked, and you’ll be awarded a bonus.
The payouts on these portals can vary significantly, so I always recommend using a site like evreward.com to compare the payouts through various portals.
Many hotel chains even participate in these online shopping portals, meaning you can earn cashback for your hotel stays. The catch is that there are usually quite some restrictions in terms of what rates, brands, regions, etc., qualify. So it’s not as straightforward as just going through a portal and always earning a certain percent cashback for hotel stays.
At the moment Hilton is discriminating against elite members in a way I haven’t seen before through Topcashback, which is one of the biggest cashback shopping portals.
What are they doing? Hilton is offering different payouts depending on whether or not you’re an Honors member, and also depending on your status — the higher your status, the smaller the payout. Here are the payouts:
- 10-12% for non-Honors members
- 8% for non-elite Honors members
- 6% for Silver elite members
- 2% for Gold elite members
- 1% for Diamond elite members
On one hand I find this ridiculous. What a slap in the face to offer your loyalest guests the lowest “payout,” especially in such a transparent way. It’s one thing if you had to log in to see what the payout was, where they could hide it from most people. But in this case a Hilton Honors Diamond member sees that the normal payout is 12%, and that they’re entitled to just a 1% payout. That generates more ill will than goodwill. Hilton works so hard to try to convert as many guests as possible into Honors members, so it’s ironic that even on the base level they’re rewarding non-members more than members.
At the same time, from a business standpoint I sort of see where they’re coming from. Elite members earn more rewards, and are more likely to stay with that hotel group anyway. The intent of these online shopping portals is to generate incremental business for retailers, and it’s questionable how much incremental business is generated by people who are already very good customers of a brand.
So while I see Hilton’s thinking behind this, I find the execution here to be very poor.
Have you ever seen this before with any other hotel chain?
(Tip of the hat to Sherman X)