Hilton announced several changes to their loyalty program in February of this year, the least of which was changing the name from “HHonors” to “Honors.” The team was much more excited about the opportunity for members to redeem their points for merchandise at Amazon.com.
You can learn more about it on Hilton’s website or visit Amazon.com to enroll. You only need to link your account once to get started. It’s not necessary to pay for the entire purchase with points, which helps if you don’t have enough or if you want to save some for a different award later.
But despite this new option, I was skeptical when I first heard about it.
Redeeming points and miles for merchandise often doesn’t work out well for the customer because instead of giving you their own excess inventory — a flight or hotel room that would otherwise sit vacant — the program needs to pay full price for someone else’s products. You might assign the same value to a free hotel night and a set of golf clubs, but the golf clubs will require many, many more points.
Unfortunately that seems to be what’s happened with Hilton Honors and Amazon. You can expect to get 0.2 cents ($0.002) per point when you use them to pay for purchases at Amazon.com, compared to what I view a fair redemption value of between 0.4 and 0.6 cents per point when used for a free hotel night.
If you’re curious like me and decide to link your account, make sure you uncheck the box that applies points to your future purchases automatically. Try not to redeem all of them by accident!
The only reason I would consider an Amazon redemption is if I already spent too much time at hotels and didn’t want to use my points for more travel. But other options could still make more sense, such as pooling your points with family to help them book a free night.
Lest you think Hilton is an isolated incident, a similar problem exists if you try to redeem Membership Rewards at Amazon.com. You can get 0.7 cents ($0.007) per point from Membership Rewards through Amazon.
Admittedly this is better than the 0.5 cents per point you get for a gift card or 0.6 cents per point you get for a statement credit, but it’s still much worse than the 1.4 to 1.6 cents per point I expect from transferring Membership Rewards to an airline partner.