Clever use of airline and hotel loyalty points is the absolute cornerstone of great value travel, and when it pays off, it can do so very well.
This is perfectly illustrated by the “free” night I have just booked at the Hilton Malta, which I paid €80 for.
So how can it possibly have been free?
It all goes back to Hilton’s current double points promotion, and an alert I included in my post on that. I said:
At the risk of sounding like I take my loyalty point collecting way too seriously, there is a tactical approach to this promotion, which I may try and use. I have already booked 10 days at a fairly expensive Hilton in late November 2014. Now obviously if this is my first stay in this promotion period, I won’t earn the double points, which would mean missing out on a sizable bonus. As such, I’m looking into trying to book a cheap Hilton stay in advance of this, as that will get my “non-double points” first stay out of the way, and the late November mega-stay will get double points.
The point being, if you have (or may have) a mammoth Hilton stay coming up as your first stay in the promotional period, it is worth looking into trying to get a cheap stay in first. It may well be (and almost certainly will in my case) that the cost of this is covered by the value of the double points you earn on the big stay.
Well I have been true to my word.
Using the Hilton points calculator, I worked out that the stay I have already booked in late November will bag me a very decent 20700 base HHonors points.
Unfortunately, the current double HHonors points promotion only kicks in on your second stay. Therefore these 20700 base points would not, unless I stayed in a Hilton before this stay, be doubled. That seemed like a waste to me.
As such, I found a room at the Hilton Malta in mid-November, for just €80 a night. This will make a nice midweek break, I’m not merely staying for the sake of it. I’ll get 1750 points for this stay too.
So, I booked the Hilton Malta for €80, getting £2.51 (€3.20) by doing so through Topcashback. This takes the room cost down to €76.80.
However, as a result of spending this €76.80, I will receive:
- an additional 20700 bonus points for my late November stay; and
- 1750 points for the Hilton Malta stay
Given that I conservatively value Hilton HHonors points at €0.003 (i.e. 0.3 Euro cents each), these additional 22450 points are worth €78.58, so the night at the Hilton Malta is in fact costing me MINUS €1.78. It does a cracking breakfast too.
While I derive a slightly pitiable sense of satisfaction out of “working the system” like this, I really am not trying to be smug (it’s not likely to be a story I’ll be recounting too frequently at dinner parties, either). The simple point I am making is that loyalty programmes can be “gamed”, “hacked”, “played” or whatever you want to call it with real success at times. This current Hilton promotion is a very good example of how sometimes a quick look at the small print and a cunning bit of tactical booking can result in a bargain. Of course, we’re always more than happy to flag these opportunities to euflyer.com readers, too.
The Hilton double points promotion runs until 31 January 2015 and, as mentioned above, you’ll earn double points on your second stay and onwards. Accordingly, if your first stay in the promotion period is a big one, have a look into a quick stay at a cheap Hilton Group hotel in advance of this: it may just pay to do so.