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Remember that time I transferred Amex Membership Reward points to Delta SkyMiles? A couple years ago I would have taken odds against me ever doing that since SkyMiles wasn’t generally thought to be a great frequent flyer program, and I had more lofty goals for my Membership Reward points than transferring to Delta for an economy domestic saver award. But, it made financial sense at the time, and I don’t regret it one bit.
Now I am in the same situation with Citi ThankYou and…..Hilton Honors. I did not earn my (or actually, Josh’s) Citi ThankYou points with Hilton Honors in mind as the transfer partner. I assumed I would most likely transfer them to Singapore KrisFlyer to fly Singapore, United, or some other Star Alliance partner. However, while I do like to plan a few big trips well in advance, I have also been enjoying burning some miles and points for more spur of the moment adventures that wouldn’t be a reality with cash, but can become a reality with miles and points.
Here’s the how and why of us very unexpectedly turning Citi ThankYou points into Hilton Honors points… Josh currently has a job that keeps him on the road quite a bit, way more than ever before. In the not too distance future he will be working for a week in California, which just happens to overlap the time that his parents will be here for a multi-night visit.
We love our time visiting with them here, but have also learned over the years that it works best if we are all together for a few nights, and then Josh and I are gone for a couple of nights so they can have one on one time with the grandkids without us getting in the way. Additionally, now that it is much easier logistically for me to get away from my youngest, when they are here it is a great opportunity for Josh and me to head off for a couple nights of a kid-free adventure.
While I hemmed and hawed about if for quite a while, eventually I committed to meeting Josh in San Diego for the weekend while his parents are here with the girls. He will already be in the area, and I’ve still never been to San Diego other than to connect at the airport. For the longest time my biggest hold-up in pulling the trigger on this trip was budget. No matter what I did, a weekend in San Diego paid for with cash wasn’t going to end up being super cheap. However, it also wasn’t going to be the best redemption value from a cents per point perspective, so I got temporarily hung up.
Once I came to my senses and remembered how rare it is for us to easily get away, I got over it and reminded myself to just use the points and make it happen. I don’t care that I am not getting the kind of cents per point from redemptions you get if you use your miles to fly in Etihad First Class Apartments. I mean, I’m sure that is super cool, but it’s just not my focus at the moment. I just want to go meet my husband in California for the weekend…which I think is still pretty cool. Not only that, but I decided it was the perfect time to spend at night at the historic Hotel del Coronado right on the water as it is joining the Hilton Honors family beginning August 15th.
Naturally, for the night we have to stay there, paid rates for a room with a king bed start at about $700 all-in. That obviously isn’t going to happen. We could pay much less to stay elsewhere in San Diego, but since I have yet to regret a splurge decision made with points, we are burning points instead of either spending half our monthly mortgage costs for one hotel night or shelving this travel dream for a substitute. I only have a handful of Hilton points in my account at the moment, so we needed to transfer in the rest in from somewhere.
There is currently a Citi ThankYou promo going on that temporarily increases the transfer ratio from 1 ThankYou point = 1.5 Hilton Honors points to 1 ThankYou point = 2 Hilton Honors points. This still isn’t amazing since Hilton Honors points are generally valued in the .5 – .6 cents per point range, so getting just a little over one cent in value from turning one ThankYou point into two Hilton Honors points isn’t outstanding since you can redeem those points for flights at a rate of 1.25 cents per point at anytime.
However, in our case it made sense. For our dates, a night at the Coronado costs 95,000 points. I already had about 10,000 Hilton points in my account, so I needed about 85,000 more to make it happen. My husband has a Citi ThankYou card that he hopes to close in the near term, so we needed to use his points soon for something. If we transferred 43,000 of his Citi ThankYou points to me, and then on to my Hilton account, we could make the booking and keep our cash safe and sound while living it up at the Coronado guilt-free.
A few clicks later and we had 43,000 fewer Citi points in his account, but we also had the exact hotel we wanted to stay in booked via Hilton Honors. Those 43,000 points made securing a $700 per night room a reality, and while it won’t go down as the best cents per point redemption to ever happen, it actually wasn’t horrible either. Math aside, it is the perfect redemption as it puts us where we want to be, when we want to be there.
This will only be our second no-kids trip in about 2.5 years, so I am thrilled we were able to make it happen while sticking to a budget and still staying exactly where we want to be!
Anyone else ever surprise themselves with how they ended up using some of their points?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.