This is another post in my Anatomy of an Award series, in which I take a real award I’ve booked and break it down step-by-step to elucidate the award booking process. If you have a real award you’d like to write up in a similar post, please contact me, and you can write a guest post.
Yesterday, I talked about transferring 10,000 Hawaiian Miles to 20,000 Hilton points. I don’t generally recommend transferring Hawaiian Miles to Hilton points; I made this transfer with a specific redemption in mind: four nights at the Sydney Hilton in January.
My brother and I are starting our Australia adventure in Sydney, so we wanted to have a nice hotel lined up to acclimate to Australia. I had 135,000 Hilton points sitting in my account after getting 90,000 from a Virgin Atlantic miles transfer that I wanted to use.
This is where Hilton’s alphabet soup comes into play. Beyond one night redemptions, Hilton has AXON and GLON redemptions. For a full breakdown of these discounted awards, read this article by thepointsguy. The basic things to know are:
- AXON– discounted award rate for American Express cardholders for stays of exactly 4 nights or multiples of 4 nights on category 5, 6, and 7 hotels, must be booked by calling 800-920-5649
- GLON– discounted award rate for all Hilton elites on stays of 4 nights or longer on category 3-7 hotels, the four night discount is 15%, the five night discount is 20%, and the six or more nights discount is 25%, these awards can be booked online if you’re signed into your Hilton account and you have status, they appear automatically
There’s actually a flowchart in thepointsguy’s article showing every contingency. Normally for stays of four nights, AXON awards are better than GLON awards.
This is especially true at a category 7 hotel like the Sydney Hilton where a four night AXON stay is 145k points and a GLON stay is 170k points. One reward night at a category 7 hotel is 50k points, so the GLON award is 15% off and the AXON award is 27.5% off (and cheaper than just booking three nights at the regular rate.)
Having checked out the Sydney Hilton online and seeing that it met our needs and had a great location, I called up to book my AXON award. 800-920-5649 is the number of the Diamond Desk, which handles AXON redemptions.
After giving my dates and the hotel I wanted, the agent quoted me the 145k points price and asked for an American Express card. Remember AXON rates are for American Express cardholders.
AXON, GLON, and normal one-night awards are capacity controlled. But I had already checked hilton.com and seen there was availability on the nights we wanted.
I booked the award, and I was told I have until 3 PM on the day of check in to cancel and get my points back.
How you can get access to both AXON and GLON rates
Get the Hilton HHonors American Express. Its offer gives 50,000 Hilton points after $750 in purchases within 3 months (this offer has expired, click here for the top current credit card sign up bonuses.) As an American Express cardholder, you’d get access to AXON rates. The card also instantly confers Hilton silver status, which means you can get access to GLON rates as an elite cardholder.
Of course, 50,000 points are worth maybe $200, so it’s not a great card to get.
A better way to access these rates might be to hold a different American Express card to get AXON rates and go to this page to get free Gold Status and access to GLON rates. That page is targeted to Visa Infinite cardholders.
The way they verify that you have one is by having you type in a card number. Commenters on several sites offer up card numbers that work. Be your own ethicist here.
Here is some info about the booking:
Four nights at the Sydney Hilton in January: $850 ($201 AUD per night)
Our subjective value of the hotel: $600, my brother likes hotels more than I do, and I summed our valuations of $50 and $100 per night respectively
Hilton points needed: 145,000
Total taxes and fees: $0
Miles foregone by not purchasing itinerary: 18,275
Cents per point as booked: 0.37–would have been 0.52 cpp at retail value of $850–according to the milevalue calculator. (I plugged 600; 0; 145000; 18275 into the calculator. Do you see why?)
Most importantly, I’m happy with the booking. Hilton points are worth very little. I value them at 0.4 cents each, and this redemption is in line with that. If you value hotel stays at retail value, then you will value Hilton points more highly. This stay will let my brother and me acclimate to Australia in the comfort of a nice hotel instead of on someone’s couch. And I can use the $425 I saved by not paying for half the room to buy some tickets to the Australian Open quarterfinals!