Here’s how Hilton’s Points Explorer tool can help you plan a better award redemption
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Not that long ago, Hilton Honors decided that published award charts were a thing of the past. Thankfully, the programme uses one on the back end to price awards, meaning that the points price is not simply tied directly to the cash price on any given night. But still, it’s hard to plan an award trip without knowing how many points a room will cost.
Fortunately, Hilton’s Points Explorer tool debuted in February 2019. We did some tests to see just how useful this tool might be as you sit down to plan out your next adventure.
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Before the Points Explorer tool was introduced, all we knew for sure was that standard award nights could range from 5,000 to 95,000 points per night, depending on the property (or 150,000 at this resort). This tool can help make it much easier to plan an award stay and figure out how many points you should save up for it.
What Can the Hilton Points Explorer Tool Do?
The Points Explorer tool shows a historic range of the number of points needed for an award at a specific hotel. It doesn’t show what’s available right now or in the future. To see actual pricing, you still need to go to Hilton.com and search specific dates. You can also use the Flexible Dates check box to get an idea of the redemption costs on different nights of the year.
But, seeing the lowest and highest number of points that Hilton Honors members have paid for a given hotel during a recent time period can be useful. When you use the tool, you will see something like this:
Lowest Points per night that our members have booked at this hotel as of June 12, 2020. Current Points per night may vary. Maximum Points per night for a Standard Room as of June 12, 2020. Subject to change.
How Does It Work?
Visit the Points Explorer page and begin your search. You can research a specific property or see what’s available in an entire city.
You can also filter by hotel brands.
You can quickly see the minimum and maximum award rates Hilton members have paid at various hotels during the prescribed time frame.
How Accurate Is the Point Explorer tool?
The Points Explorer tool shows you what award rates other Hilton Honors members have booked at hotels. It doesn’t mean you can book an award at the lowest rate you see. Sometimes rooms aren’t available at the lowest award rate currently, but other times, you can find rooms for fewer points than the minimum listed on the Points Explorer tool.
Here’s what I learned when searching four different properties in both the Points Explorer tool and at Hilton.com. (At Hilton.com, I checked nearly 12 months of availability at each hotel on my list.)
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
I started by searching in the Maldives, where Hilton has three properties: The Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi, SAii Lagoon Maldives and the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. The minimum and maximum rate at the Conrad was 95,000 points per night, which is accurate.
I checked almost 12 months of availability for the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island at Hilton.com. I didn’t find one date that was bookable for less than 95,000 points.
Embassy Suites by Hilton Orlando – Lake Buena Vista Resort
This is a super-popular option for families in Orlando. It’s got an on-site pool, a free shuttle to Disney World and complimentary evening reception open to all guests.
When I searched Hilton.com, I found I could book this property for fewer points a night than what was listed at the Points Explorer tool.
I found dates in September going for 21,000 points per night. That’s not a huge difference from the 24,000 point minimum listed. But if your family stayed at the hotel for four nights at 21,000 points per night instead of 24,000, you’d save 12,000 Hilton Honors points.
And, of course, Hilton Honors elites get the fifth night free on award stays, so if you could book this hotel at 21,000 points per night, you’d actually pay 84,000 points for five nights instead of four. That brings the average per-night redemption rate to 16,800 points.
That said, your rate will vary depending on when you’re travelling.
Canopy by Hilton Washington DC The Wharf
Next up was the Canopy by Hilton Washington DC The Wharf, where rates range from 45,000-80,000 Hilton points per night.
In this case, the current points range at Hilton.com differed greatly from what was listed on Points Explorer. When searching Hilton.com, I found much cheaper rates: as low as 25,000 Hilton points per night in February.
Doubletree Highline Vail
Next up was ski country and the DoubleTree Highline Vail.
Common sense tells you that ski season will cost more points on average than offseason in Vail. In this case, the tool shows us that Hilton Honors members have booked this hotel for as few as 32,000 points per night. In my search of almost a full 12 months, I found a better rate — 30,000 points per night, on some dates in mid-to-late April and throughout May (aka offseason).
Expect to find the 80,000-point rate around Christmas, January, February and most of March. In the fall, rates move between 44,000 and 65,000.
Hilton’s Points Explorer website is a good tool to use when you are at the beginning stages of researching a points-paid holiday. Current and future award rates don’t always line up exactly with what was available in the past, but previous rates can give you a good feel for what you might find going forward. Start with the tool and also do some cursory searches of real-time availability at Hilton.com.
All screenshots courtesy of Hilton.com
Additional reporting by Ariana Arghandewal
Featured image of the Grand Oceanfront Suite at Conrad Punta de Mita courtesy of the hotel
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