Friday, August 17, 2012

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff - Hilton vs. Starwood Edition

There's a running debate going on between One Mile at a Time and View From the Wing about the value of Hilton points vs. Starwood points (and about the notion of valuing points in general, but I'm going to leave that bigger question alone for the time being). The question basically comes down to whether 3 Hilton points are worth slightly more or slightly less than 1 Starwood point. The reason why this supposedly matters is because there is a new Hilton credit card that offers 3 Hilton points for every $1 spent on "every day expenses" (anything that doesn't fall into their spend bonus categories - airlines, car rentals, Hilton hotels), while the Starwood Amex offers 1 Starwood point for every $1 spent on "every day expenses" (which in this case includes anything that isn't a Starwood hotel).


The fact of the matter is it doesn't really matter. What we're talking about here is a difference in value of about 0.2 cents per dollar. Scale that up and it is 2 cents for every $10 spent, $2  for every $1000 spent, or $20 for every $10,000 spent.

I'm all for maximizing the return on each and every dollar I spend, but if you're earning and burning your points strategically, a difference of this magnitude is basically rounding error. I'll be sharing tips on exactly how to do that in a future post, but in the meantime, what is your favorite hotel program? Cast your vote in the poll off to the right!

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