We just spent five nights at the Hilton Garden Inn in Foshan, China and used Hilton Honors points for our stay. You could say that we stayed for free since we used points, but points do have value. This time, I used some of the Hilton Honors points I recently purchased. I bought 80,000 points on sale for $400.
As with most hotel loyalty programs, the number of points required for a free night varies by hotel location, hotel class, etc. With the Hilton Honors program, the fewest points required to get a free night is 5000 points. There are not many hotels in the Hilton system that require so few points – approximately 50 hotels in their portfolio of over 5000 hotels in Hilton Worldwide. If a 5000 point per night Hilton property is in a place you want to go, it can be a great deal to use points.
The Hilton Garden Inn in Foshan is a very nice hotel. It opened in May 2016. We had a King Room with a city view. The room was quite large, 355 square feet (33 square meters), had a mini fridge, 42-inch LCD TV and other amenities. Since we are Hilton Honors Gold members, we got a free hot breakfast in the morning.
How did I spend only $20 per night?
Two things helped me get five nights at the Hilton Garden Inn in Foshan for less than $20 per night: purchasing Hilton Honors points at a discount, and taking advantage of the fifth-night free aspect of the Hilton Honors loyalty program.
I accumulated 1.6 million hotel and airline points before retiring in January 2016, 1.3 million of those points were accumulated in a period of 12 months. Look at my post http://ournomadicexperience.com/over-million-hotel-airline-points-year/ to see how I did this.
The actual value of a hotel varies from hotel chain to hotel chain. It depends on what is available in a particular location on a particular night. For example, if a Hilton Hotel requires 20,000 points for a free night and the cash price of the hotel room is $100 per night the points are theoretically worth $0.05 each.
One of the websites I go to frequently is www.thepointsguy.com . On average, he values Hilton Honors points at 0.6 cents per point, so when Hilton had a special offer where I could purchase 80,000 points for $400, or 0.5 cents per point, I purchased the maximum 80,000 points. Since I used a Hilton branded credit card to make the purchase, I got an extra 1200 points from Hilton for the purchase (3 points for every dollar spent on the credit card). Considering the credit card bonus, my points cost me 0.493 cents per point. In other words, 5000 points cost me $24.63.
When you are a Silver, Gold or Platinum Hilton Honors member, when you redeem points for a stay of 5 nights, you get the fifth night free. I only had to redeem 20,000 points for five nights. At 0.493 cents per point, the five nights cost me $98.52, or $19.70 per night.
What would it have cost to pay cash for the stay?
The lowest price I could find a five-night stay at the Hilton Garden Inn in Foshan for a City View King Room with breakfast was $431.62 USD including tax. One of the nice things about using points for a hotel stay is that you typically don’t have to pay anything out of pocket for your room, not even a room tax.
By buying points and using those points for my stay, I basically got the room for a 77% discount. Using purchased points for a hotel stay typically doesn’t give you such a large discount, but given that the purchased points were on sale, and that the room only required 5000 points, and we got the fifth night free, it ended up being a tremendous deal.
How to stay for free
When I accumulated my 1.3 million hotel and airline points in 12 months, 77% of those points came from credit card spend and credit card signing bonuses. If you don’t have Hilton sponsored credit card, there are two currently available from American Express. I recently got the Hilton Honors Surpass American Express card. At the time, it offered a 100,000-point bonus when you spend $3000 using the card in the first three months of ownership. Another great thing about this card is that it gives you Hilton Honors Gold status instantly. This has benefits like upgraded rooms, free breakfast at select locations, welcome gifts, etc. In addition, every year on the anniversary of your card signing date, you get a certificate for a free weekend night at a Hilton hotel. This card comes with a $75 per year fee.
Getting the Hilton Surpass American Express card gave us 100,000 points. Spending the required $3000 gave us an additional 9000 points (3 points per dollar spent). With those 109,000 points, theoretically, we could spend 27 days at the Hilton Garden Inn in Foshan. Not a bad return for a credit card with a $75 per year fee.
Points Hacking has been very beneficial to us
With our global nomadic retirement lifestyle these past two years, using hotel points has paid for months of our accommodation and has enabled us to take some very enjoyable getaways. We realize that we are in a different position than most people. Since we live out of a suitcase and a backpack each with no fixed address, we have the freedom and opportunity to stay in hotels when it suits us. Before I retired, there were times where I had trouble using my airline or hotel points due to limited vacation schedule, etc. However, if you approach points hacking with a plan, you can gain a great deal of benefit and enhance your travel experience.
Take a look at my post on points hacking to learn the basics of how to start accumulating lots of points for yourself – http://ournomadicexperience.com/introduction-to-points-hacking/