Why We Turned Citi ThankYou Points Into Hilton Honors Points

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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.

Comments

  1. Last year I redeemed 61K IHG points earned from mailing in index cards towards a 1-day park-to-park ticket at Universal Orlando. Not sure if I would do it again but it saved me $170 last year. Not a great redemption but it did save cash.

    • Indeed – we will have a chunk of two days there, but just one night. I agree with you 100% in theory, but without kids this time around we will work with what we have got!

  2. I just redeemed 250,000 Hhonors points for 2 nights in an upgraded room at the El Conquistador in Puerto Rico (cash price would have been $800 so about 0.3c per point). Already paying cash for the first 4 nights using Citi Prestige 4th night free. Just didn’t want to spend the extra $$ for the last two nights. Might still change my mind…

  3. haha, after seeing the title, thought u were not happy with TY benefits devaluation last wk and wanted to xfer all out

  4. I think it makes perfect cents (ha ha). When I planned my Italy trip last year, I used a whole lot of points and saved a lot of money. Some one else may not have thought that the value per point was great but I know we saved a lot of money on our trip. By the way, it was an awesome 15 day trip that cost us very little out of pocket. I have thought about transferring my leftover Citi Prestige points to Hilton myself.

  5. Yes, I’ve definitely made far from ideal redemptions that enabled us to do exactly what we wanted on the dates we wanted. In my case, the one that stands out is using Avios to fly Cathay Pacific first over the holidays. The seats were sold out by the time the AA calendar opened. And I also don’t regret it one bit!

  6. It’s about making memories not point values. People with kids know this. Can’t wait for the Hotel Del Coronado to be apart of the Hilton properties.

  7. I used all of my membership rewards points several years ago (can’t even remember how many) for lift tickets in Beaver Creek. I’m sure it wasn’t a great redemption, but it saved us a ton of cash for our family of 5 (and we used SPG points for the Westin!)

  8. First off – yep, I have made plenty of ‘not best redemption’ per points – such as domestic economy awards for family members who could not otherwise afford to go on vacation. To me, I think that intangible value is sometimes missing in our math 🙂

    Second – thanks for this post. One of the reasons I am a faithful reader of your blog is that you are in a stage of life that I can connect with – that is, coordinating family schedules are a different type of parameter when it comes to point redemptions . A lot of Travel bloggers can get that amazing redemption value for exotic places but it’s typically at a drop of a hat, having only 1 or 2 people you need to juggle work scheduling for and not having to deal with school schedules/breaks. Nice to see this recognized on your blog and writings. Keep doing what you’re doing!!

  9. I have to say I need to take a page from your playbook and learn to be okay with not redeeming points for their most effective value. On several occasions in my travel life I’ve been bailed out, so to speak, by using points or miles when I had to resort to doing that rather than spend cash. Even though redeeming at those times was a means to an end, it still stings a little in retrospect, and it stung a lot at the time. However, in the large scheme of things, when I’ve redeemed at not a great ratio, there are plenty of times when I have, so in some weird universe, it balances out. Hopefully.

    • As long as you are finding a way to make it all work you are doing great! Sometimes we redeem for the over the top experience and sometimes it is to make little domestic trip happen. It all balances out for sure.

  10. Stayed here last year and loved it. The rooms in the older section are extremely small though and smell moldy/musty. I am allergic to mold, so we went back down to the desk and they put us in a ground floor room in the newer room that was so much bigger. Perhaps you have an allergy to mold??? 🙂

  11. Sounds like a great redemption! I think sometimes we (myself included) can get hung up on getting the best cents per point value. In reality, I think if points can get you a hotel or flight that you couldn’t do in cash it’s a good redemption. That hotel looks great – can’t wait to hear what you think about it. Have a great trip!

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