Why I’m not going to bite at the 100,000 point AMEX Hilton Surpass card offer.

When I was at work this week, my travel news feed was full of these headlines.

Best ever offer on Amex Hilton cards: Up to 100k + free weekend night!
AMEX Hilton Cards Offering Highest Sign-Up Bonuses Ever
Limited Time: 100,000 Hilton Honors Points Available Via Bonus!

I was all ready to go ahead and write about why I was going to jump in on this offer, and why you should, too. Then I started looking at how I could use these points and upon closer inspection, the cracks in my logic started to show.

Hilton just recently revamped their program, including changing the name from Hilton HHonors to Hilton Honors, as well as the ways you can redeem points. Hilton previously had a clear system with 9 categories for their hotels and each category had a set range of points needed to redeem a free night. They have now gone to a variable point redemption model, where you can apply some or all of your points to get any room. However the amount of points needed to book a room can change based on the going rate. While this does increase your opportunity to use points, the value of your points is now a mystery.

I crunched the numbers for some Hilton brand hotels I’ve stayed at before, to give myself an idea of what type of value I could get from Hilton points. I searched for the same weekend in May and compared the points rate to the AAA rate I would usually book.

Lets go toward the top of my range. The Hilton Garden Inn Times Square.

gi_exterior_1_698x390_FitToBoxSmallDimension_Center
One night at this Hilton Garden Inn will cost you 70,000 points

Times Square Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 10.25.51 PM

With the AAA rate, a 2 night stay after taxes is $686.55. If I used points, the stay would cost 140,000 points (that is well over the 100,000 sign up bonus offered). I would be getting $0.49  a point value (686.55/140000) x 100.

Maybe a value hotel would give more value. Here’s a hotel we stay at when visiting family, the Hampton Inn Linden.

Linden HampronScreen Shot 2017-03-24 at 10.26.04 PM
Rooms here are going for 30,000 points a night

A two night stay with AAA rate would be $287.73. With rooms costing 30,000 points a night, this would mean that you would be getting $0.47 a point (287.73 / 60000 x 100)

Hmmmmm, that’s almost the same as the first example.

Maybe a different hotel might give a better value. Here’s a hotel we are considering staying at later this year, the Palmer House – a Hilton Hotel in Chicago.

Palmer Shot 2017-03-24 at 10.26.15 PM
Nights at Palmer House cost 60,000 points

Even with a stay costing 10,000 points a night less than the hotel in New York, the price for a 2 night stay would cost $824.93 or 120,000 points. This would be a value of $0.68 a point (824.93/120000 x 100). That is a much better value for the points than the other two examples.

With this value, I might have jumped at the offer for 100,000 points. However for the weekend we are looking at, the rooms are going for a much more reasonable price of $525 for two nights. This would only be a value of $0.43 a point. That’s even lower than the other examples.

I’d say the maximum value I’d get from this sign up bonus of 100,000 Hilton points would be $680 but I’d be more likely to find it worth a little less than $500. There are way too many other cards I could sign up for that would give more value. One thing you learn with miles and points is to go after good deals when they show up. With experience, you also learn that what is a good deal for other people might not be the best deal for you.

So I think I’m gonna let this one go. I have 1 or 2 other cards that I was already thinking about getting. Even though this is a compelling offer, I have a inkling that this will not be the last time we see a higher sign up bonus for this card. It’s a risk I’m willing to take. Your Mileage May Vary.

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