Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Expensive Hilton stay ahead? Here's how to make it cheap(er)

    If you have some high-priced Hilton stays in your future, Discover America is offering Hilton points at a good price as part of their deal-a-day web promotion.
    Some of these deals haven't been too impressive. For example, they offered 60 discounted tickets to Universal Studios in Florida. They also offered a few discounted Seaworld tickets. Even if you were there at the stoke on noon Eastern time you were unlikely to be the "winner" of the discounted items. For a nation of 300 million, 60 theme park tickets just ain't going very far.
    Today, in addition to the discounted Universal tickets, which were impossible to buy, they offered eight vacation packages that included airfare, hotel and tickets. These were a good deal, but took longer to sell out. It was just a bigger commitment.
    I'm not at all impressed with the offers over the next three days, but on Monday, May 2, DailyGetaways is selling Hilton points and lots of them for just over one-half cent each. If you buy these from Hilton they cost a penny each. If you use your Amex card you get an additional 10 percent off, reducing your purchase price to less than one-half cent per point. These points are being sold as "nights," but you are really just buying points.
    Hilton is offering packages of 100,000, 150,000 and 250,000 points, with 150 to 200 of each package being offered. So there's a real chance of actually being able to buy some points, and if available one could buy one of each package for a total of 500,000 points. Since Hilton normally limits point purchases to 40,000 per year, so this is an unusual chance to buy points.
    But can you save money? Well, only if you are planning to stay at higher-end Hiltons. But here's a couple of examples. I assume at least Silver status (four nights per year) which gets eligibility for the VIP awards.
    The Sandestin Hilton again hosts the Mississippi Bar Convention this year. A six-night room booked on the hotel website costs $254 per night (or $269 if you ask for the special bar rate!). Add 11 percent tax and the cost for six nights is $1,691.64. You can purchase 250,000 points on the DailyGetaways special for $1,375 less 10 percent for Amex, or $1,237.50. Six nights at the Sandestin Hilton will cost you 225,000 points, or $1,113.75 worth of points. So if you buy these points and use them on the Sandestin Hilton, you save $454.14, plus you have 25,000 point left over to use somewhere else.
    In Europe these points are even more valuable. For the same dates as above, the Paris Hilton Arc de Triomphe costs almost $500 per night. So getting the room via the DailyGetaway points pretty much brings a Paris luxury hotel down to bargain hotel prices. And of course if you are a Hilton Gold or Diamond member you will get a complementary lavish breakfast and some nice cocktails in the evening. I would never pay $50 for a breakfast buffet, but it sure is nice to get one for free!
    I can't recommend just buying Hilton points to hold them. With the dollar tanking, there is a chance that it may become harder to cash in points for the expensive European hotels. But if some expensive Hiltons are in your future, now you know a way to make them a lot cheaper. With these points you should be able to book almost any Hilton in the world for six nights for about $185 per night.

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