My Hilton Honors Diamond elite status and my Hilton Honors Ascend American Express credit card give me loyalty points that reduce the costs of living in hotels. Following is an example of my adjusted expenses for a one-night stay at Embassy Suites by Hilton Portland Maine.
In an effort to share more financial details behind my hotel-living lifestyle, I will soon provide similar examples for hotels in the IHG and Marriott chains. Are there any other details you’d like to see? Let me know what you think in the Comments section below. As requested, I will also update my total expenses/budget that I originally shared in my 2015 post, Save Money by Living in Hotels?
How much did I spend?
I stayed at the Embassy Suites in Portland, Maine for one night, at a rate of $124. I enjoyed a free breakfast buffet, and my husband and I bought some food ($33) in the restaurant later that day. With taxes and tips, my total bill was $177.80.
How many points did I earn?
I earn Hilton Honors loyalty points when I stay at Hilton hotels, and I use my hotel-branded credit card to earn additional points.
Per Hilton Honors policy, I received points for the room rate ($124) and food ($33), but not for taxes or tips. This policy is consistent with the other major hotel chains.
Hilton also gives me 100% bonus for my Diamond elite status. Additionally, Hilton is always running a promotion of some kind, which typically provides at least another 100% bonus.
The Hilton Honors app is handy for seeing my points activity for each stay:
Following are the hotel loyalty point calculations:
Base points (10 points per $1 spent on room rate and food)
($124 room rate * 10) + ($33 food * 10) = 1570 points
Bonus Elite points (additional 100% of base points for Diamond elite status)
1570 * 100% = 1570 points
Bonus promotion points (registered bonus, usually it’s at least 100% of base points)
1570 * 100% = 1570 points
Total Hilton Honors points earned from hotel: 4710 points
Hilton Honors members earn additional points and free nights at certain milestones (e.g., after 30 nights, 40 nights, etc.). However, to keep this example simple, we’ll consider those external bonuses.
Credit Card Points
I used my Hilton Honors American Express Ascend credit card to pay my hotel bill. According to the Hilton Honors American Express terms, eligible expenses are any costs that “can be charged to your room and paid for with your Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card at checkout.” That includes expenses at restaurants and hotel shops, as well as taxes and tips!
American Express points (12x points per dollars spent at Hilton hotels)
$177.80 * 12 points = 2134 points
Total Hilton Honors points earned from credit card: 2134 points
TOTAL Hilton Honors points earned from Hotel + Credit Card: 6844 points
How much are my points worth?
Most loyalty points-focused sites, such as ThePointsGuy, assign a value for each point, but the calculations are soft and subjective. In my calculations, I assess direct, financial benefits by comparing the cost of the same hotel using points.
In my Embassy Suites example, one hotel night costs 41,000 points. However, I never book just one free night because Hilton has “Buy 4 Get 1 Free” when using points. A 5-night stay costs 164,000 (41,000 * 4) , so the average points needed for a free night is 32,800 (164,000/5).
When I use points to pay for my hotel stays, I do not need to pay taxes (or resort fees!). Therefore, the value of using points for a free night at this hotel is $135.16 ($124 + $11.16 lodging/tourist tax).
The points I earned (6844) is 20.8% of the points needed for a free night (32,800).
20.8% of $135.16 (the value of a free night) = $28.11
Therefore, the points I earned are worth $28.11.
With taxes and tips, my initial bill was $177.80. However, after subtracting the value of the points I earned ($28.11), my actual expenses were $150.
That includes furnished lodging, utilities, toiletries, housekeeping, a gym, transportation, 2 big meals, tips, taxes, and even complimentary alcoholic beverages and snacks in the evening!
How could I reduce my expenses more?
This day was more expensive that what I usually spend, especially because my husband and I ate at the hotel restaurant. Following are ways that I can reduce theses costs when I can:
- There is another Hilton Honors credit card that would give me 14x points instead of 12x points. It hasn’t been worth the $450 annual fee so far, but I’m still considering it. My current Hilton Honors Ascend card costs $95 annually, but that cost is offset by the free room night it provides each year.
- Stay at least 30 days. In most states, after 30 consecutive days in a hotel, you no longer have to pay lodging/tourist taxes. Some states require 60 days, and some states, like Florida, require 6 months.
- Don’t eat at the hotel restaurant. It’s such a high-priced tourist trap, but I get caught sometimes. For longer stays, I usually order groceries, so my food costs are significantly lower.
- Talk to the manager about lowering the rate. If I plan on staying long-term, I’ve had success with working with the hotel manager to reduce my nightly rate.
Question? Comments? Please let me know in the Comments section below.