Hotel Devaluations Galore – AKA I love Hyatt and Starwood Even More

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Now Hilton HHonors has joined the list of hotel loyalty programs that are slicing and dicing a chunk of the value out of their programs.  The short version is that some Hilton properties now top out at 95,000 points per night instead of 50,000 and they introduced “seasonal” pricing where properties can charge more at certain times of the year.  It is a very, very bad devaluation since fancy (expensive) aspirational properties were the only ones I was interested in with my HHonors points, and many have gone from around 50K per night (less when using AXON awards) to 80K – 95K points per night!  Crazy.  You can read all about that devaluation at View From the Wing.  Frankly I’m just not up for writing in detail about another hotel devaluation quite yet.

Instead I’d rather write about the two hotel loyalty programs I have liked the best for a long time…Hyatt and Starwood.  Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t immune to devaluations – especially SPG recently with their cash and points shake-up, but both seem very fair compared to what has happened this year with other programs like Hilton, Marriott, Wyndham Rewards, and Priority Club.

I already thought that SPG and Hyatt points were worth more than those other hotel points, and I trusted the programs to be more stable and less likely to suffer dramatic increases that would leave my points worth half as much overnight.  Of course SPG and Hyatt points (especially SPG) are harder to get than some of the other types of hotel points, but that isn’t always a bad thing.  If it is too easy to get any one type of point, it isn’t far fetched to think that the hotel program may eventually tighten it up and require you to spend more of them to get the hotel reward nights you want.  I still think it is nuts to devalue quickly and dramatically, but apparently that is the route that some chains are taking.

Hyatt hotels top out at 22,000 points per night.  Compare that to the 95,000 points per night you might now need with HHonors.  Crazy.  Plus, Hyatt has great award availability, solid hotels, good customer service, and I trust those who run the Gold Passport program to be fair (they even have a sense of humor).  I’m sure their award chart will suffer some “enhancements” at some point, but I trust them to be more moderate than what has happened to other chains.  Hyatt, please don’t make a liar out of me. 

Starwood top tier properties can get quite expensive at up to 35,000 points per night, but many properties are Category 5 and below, and run 12,000 points per night or less.  Their award availability is also stellar, and while the new cash and points chart that goes into effect on March 5th is not as lucrative as the old one, it is still a solid option to make your points stretch further.  I also personally put faith in the SPG program.

I put my money, time, and energy into programs I know and trust, and on the hotel front that is primarily Hyatt and Starwood.  That doesn’t mean I won’t get credit cards from other programs and say thank-you for the free nights, but I don’t put most of my focus on those programs, and won’t until they demonstrate I can trust them.

For the foreseeable future, Hyatt and Starwood remain the champs in my book!


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  1. I’m done with hotel loyalty.
    Just not worth it anymore for EU residents that can’t apply for all these credit card deals.

    Starwood, meh, awful earn/burn ratio, especially for aspirational properties.

    I do like Hyatt though, but because there hotels are far and few between outside the US, it’s hard to rack up the points or achieve Diamond.

  2. I completely agree. I am actually thinking of canceling my hilton honors surpass, 2 years in a row devaluation. I normally take my trips and book hotels on points and this will make me focus even more on spg and hyatt.

  3. Keep in mind that if all of your points come come from credit card use you earn at least 3 points per $ with any Hilton card purhcase as opposed to one point per $ on a Hyatt or SPG card. So it would make sense that the points are worth 1/3 as much. With the new chart it appears that Hilton points may only be worth about 1/4 amount of Hyatt or SPG points on high end hotels. You should note that they have added a fifth night free on all award stays, so if you are staying that many nights the increases are not as large as they initially appear.

    That being said, the real problem is that Hyatt and SPG have so few hotels, about 500 Hyatt’s and about 1400 SPG’s. Far less combined than either Hilton, Marriott or Priority Club.

  4. SPG hasn’t announced their annual devaluation yet, but hopefully it isn’t too terrible. While SPG and Hyatt have smaller footprints, if you travel mainly to cities you are well covered.

  5. I continue to find it interesting that the preferred programs of the bloggers tend to be the hotels that are the most expensive to stay at and offer at best fractionally better base earn/redemption ratios even with the latest HHonors devaluation.

    Take Starwood with 2 points per $ earned vs 15 with Hhonors. That’s a 7.5:1 ratio for earning. Now look at redemption. Even if you could compare a 90,000 point Hilton with a 12,000 point Starwood you end up with surprise, surprise a ratio of 7.5:1. So when you start looking at aspirational properties that ratio gets better on Hilton’s side. Every blogger out there seems to think that SPG is a great program but I have yet to find any real value. It’s harder to get elite status and without it the typically more expensive hotel just got more so since you’re now having to shell out for wifi and breakfast.

    Hyatt on the other hand is a 3:1 earn and comparing top tiers, a 4:1 redemption, so they have a slight advantage but again lack of value properties in many markets makes them a challenge to get elite status with and without the value properties you’re doubly “taxed” by having to pay for wifi and breakfast as well.

    The only way I made Hyatt Platinum status last year was that there was a Hyatt Place near our project location so I had more stays there.

    All of my thoughts are of course for those of us on the road who earn the majority of our points the hard way. Credit cards become somewhat of a playing field leveler, although there appear to be a greater number of Hilton cards you can churn.

    Outside of hotel stays, it remains easier to get Hilton points so it follows that it should require more points to redeem them for an award at a comparable hotel to the other chains.

    The biggest losers in all of this are those who ignored the advice and hoarded points attempting to get some kind of aspirational award. The reason you’re not going to see this level of devaluation with Hyatt or Starwood is simple, they are stingy to begin with so of course they have little motivation to devalue.

  6. I’m also starting to think the game just isn’t worth playing anymore. I’m seriously considering shifting more of my stays to Kimpton or more independent properties– often the experience is much better than at the big chains, with the trade off being that they often aren’t linked to big loyalty programs.

  7. Your comparison of points required for redemption across programs is completely nonsensical as it does not take into account at all how easy it is to earn these points.

  8. Each of the programs has its own sweet spots, but a sudden devaluation like this abuses the trust of its users. It’s a bait and switch to lure people to get the credit cards with the huge bonuses and then radically devalue the redemptions. People often (usually?) plan to use their points on those aspirational properties. So, it’s not fair to suddenly devalue them. A more gentle ramp up would’ve been understandable.

  9. I have 140k HHonors points, only 5k away from an AXON award! Since I’ve allocated almost all of this year’s vacation time for trips already, if I use them to book something before 3/28, it’ll have to be a domestic (I have the SW CP) trip on a long weekend. Any good, high-value candidates for this (if I’m able to get the remaining 5k points)??

  10. What Jack said. The best thing about Starwood points is that they convert 1:1.25 to airline miles. There are plenty of other ways to save on accommodation.

  11. Yawn. This won’t change my participation in HHonors AT ALL. There still is tremendous value in HHonors for the Disneyland area, especially during more expensive peak times.

  12. As I go for Hyatt Diamond again, I’m wondering if it is worth it — I could achieve status and then see a massive devaluation this year or next.

  13. Don’t look now, but SPG just published their list of 2013 redemption category changes. Been a brutal month for hotel awards!

  14. I went from loving SPG, to just liking it. They are still – by far – the least devalued program. I still value them higher than all hotels and most airlines.

    I’d love to do more Hyatt stays, but there are not as plentiful as HH or SPG hotels.

    All that said, based on convenience, my next bookings are scheduled with Hilton 😛

  15. I perused the hotel search function, and lo and behold, I found one property which will even require LESS points for certain times of the year. For example, the Hilton Orlando near SeaWorld & Universal is going from 40,000 points always to a range of 30,000-50,000 points. For a 5-night stay in July, it goes from being 200,000 points (160,000 with Silver or higher status) to 120,000 points in the new. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and for those who go to kid-friendly tourist traps, she’s a real beaut, Clark. Expect that long lazy river to be packed with HHonors silver and aboves with their kids.

  16. Love those that are finding some “bright spots” in this devaluation. I am trying to put on my happy face and dig for more of those, too. Just not quite there yet. Just posted about the SPG category adjustments. There are many more hotels going up than coming down, but it isn’t near as brutal as what happened at HHonors.

  17. I must say I’m disappointed, Summer. Of all the bloggers, we need you to help us navigate this new river instead of folding like half of the points and miles community. Sure, the cost of the supper special hotels went up to match Hyatt and SPG, big deal. Families may travel there, but they also do a lot of family vacations to other places, and need to know that their time wasn’t wasted staying away from their families.

    On FlyerTalk and the View from A Wing comments, I noted the Diney World and Disneyland Hiltons did not increase, rather held steady or decreased for most of the year. The Hilton Clearwater Beach, FL went down 10,000 HHonors points on all but one month, where it went up 10,000. Don’t go that one month! Finally, the Hiltons in DC held steady or dropped, except the Capitol Hilton that went up in March only! Oh, and Hilton downtown Portland stayed the same, too. Come here and enjoy your vacation!

    Did New York go up, probably, but oh well. Plenty of great family options stayed the same or dropped for much of the year. Also in my basic searches, when one hotel was up, others were the same or increased even less, so if the destination is truly the target, then a Hampton Inn suite is just as good as a standard Hilton.Conrad room for most families.

    We need you, Summer, to add the proper context for families, as the super travelers are about to jump off the cliff! It is ok to keep the depression within our community, but those who put everything on the line during the year for a week award stay at the Hampton Inn at some beach need to know their award won’t be affected, and if it is, then here are some other great places to go!

  18. Chris, as I said, I’m just not there yet. Devaluation after devaluation after devaluation gets to ya a bit – especially when the places you wanted to use your points goes up in smoke. However, I agree with you and do plan to post on exactly that info very soon.

    • Chris, aw. 😉 Sometimes these changes just hit closer to home since I’m a player in the game too. Oh well, time to re-strategize and maximize what is available…and that is topic for tomorrow morning’s post (that you helped to inspire).

  19. So far I’m actually not seeing many “points changes” on properties. Then again, perhaps I like to maximize my points and stay in “middle of the road” types of properties.

    For example, other than a month or two out of the year, the points redemption stays the same in places like Italy, Colorado and some places in Chicago I’ve been monitoring. So it’s not all doom and gloom. Yeah, changes suck…but this is NO WHERE NEAR the Wyndham devaluation or even SPG in some cases.

    BTW, this makes the Citi HHonors with 2 free nights worth even more especially if you plan to use those 2 free nights during peak season at a higher tier property.

  20. I’m also actually finding a lot of airport hotels to be cheaper now under the new program. Gonna move a reservation before an international flight from Aloft to Doubletree thanks to this change!

  21. So, I decided to go back and look at places I was looking at staying to see how bad the “devaluation” hit me.

    Surprise, surprise the kid friendly resort places like Rose Hall and Waikaloa Village both stay the same and with the 5th night free for silver and above, the reality is my points are worth more now.

    While I understand you’re upset about losing out on some of the aspirational properties like the Maldives, that is not a property I would consider taking my kids to. I think you’d do a lot of families a favor by going back and looking at how this really impacts Hilton stays at family destinations like Orlando or more realistic family locations like Hawaii.

    • omatravel, I agree. Tried to do that some in the post the following day, but plan to look into it more. Truth is, HHonors was not at all one of my primary programs even before this shake-up, so I’m not as familiar with what the hot family properties are than I am with some other chains, but I will add those to the list.

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