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One of the recent changes to the Hilton Honors program introduced last year was the opportunity to pay with Points & Money. This opened up some opportunities to make award redemptions when you didn’t have the full required amount of points for your booking. It’s a great feature that’s very convenient (although the value you receive from Points & Money can vary).
I recently took advantage of the Points & Money perk when I booked a four night stay at the Hilton Auckland. The stay required a total of 240,000 Hilton Honors points (60,000 per night) and rooms were gong for about $635 NZD or $450 USD for redemptions at .75 cents per point which is great for Hilton.
But at the time of booking I was around 20,000 Hilton points short. I forgot the math I did at the time but I recall Points & Money not offering a huge value proposition. But I didn’t care too much about the cents per point value calculations because I knew that I’d be earning enough points to rebook the room 100% with points soon enough and take advantage of that .75 cents per point.
I had inquired with a Hilton rep if later on I’d be able to essentially rebook the same hotel room but cover the cost entirely with points once I got enough points and she confirmed this would be possible.
But then a problem arose.
I called in to change the booking so that I didn’t have to pay any portion of the stay with cash. I was told that this would not be possible because there were no more rooms available that were identical to the one I booked. I thought this was odd because I was already booked in the same award room that they were now saying was unavailable to me.
But I understood there was probably just a technical limitation. Surely, they’d be able to just cancel my booking and hold the award rooms open as they rebooked me instantly. But no. They couldn’t guaranty that I’d be able to get my room back if I canceled it and rebooked it, even if I did so instantly.
So I decided to call the Hilton Honors Diamond Desk when they opened today, thinking that they might be able to do something. I explained the situation to a rep and she told me that there’s nothing they can do. She seemed to agree that the policy wasn’t ideal but stressed that there was nothing that could be done to resolve what seemed like an IT issue.
Luckily, an award room did open up overnight so they were able to process the reservation change without issues and now I have a stay booked completely with points.
Although my issue was resolved, I still think that there’s a problem here.
For one, a rep told me that I would be able to rebook my hotel stay without any problems once I had the points sitting in my account. There was nothing stated to me about availability affecting the ability to initiate this and had that risk been communicated to me, I would have gone about booking this hotel differently.
Secondly, I think it’s pretty odd that you can’t modify the way you pay for an award booking due to availability when you already have that award room secured and booked for yourself. I understand there could be some reasoning for this policy that involves the complex relationship between hotel award logistics and IT systems that I’m not aware of or smart enough to figure out, but I still think this is a less than ideal way of handling Points & Money bookings and that a simple IT fix could and should resolve this issue.
If award rooms booked with Points & Money supposedly end up staying award rooms after cancellation (i.e, they remain bookable with 100% points) then why wouldn’t you, the original and current award guest, be able to alter the ratio of points and cash you used to book them in the first place so that you ultimately are using 100% points?
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.