How did 550,000 Hilton points become 55,000 Delta miles? And can you undo it, please?

Photo of author

By Christopher Elliott

When Gale Flake tries to convert his Hilton points to Delta SkyMiles, something gets lost in the translation. Can the conversion be undone?

Question

I recently read your story about how persistence pays and it inspired me to write to you about my problem with Delta and Hilton HHonors. I’m a gold member of HHonors, Hilton’s loyalty program, and have saved for many years to plan a trip to Paris. I have accrued 550,000 points, and wanted to redeem them for a flight.

I called Hilton and they suggested that I contact Delta to handle the transaction. At the end of the transaction, I learned that I’d been reduced to 55,000 Delta miles.

I immediately called and asked to put the mileage back into my Hilton account. I have spent months trying to do this, to no avail.
Delta tells me Hilton must request the points to be transferred back, and Hilton tells me Delta must do this. I have contacted supervisors and written to the president of Hilton. No response.

We recently spent nights in a Hilton in Las Vegas, and an employee told us to “be persistent” — that 550,000 miles were too many to lose. I am 80 years old, my wife is 75. We want to go to Paris. Can you help me? — Gale Flake, Everett, Wash.

Answer

Uh-oh. Looks like something got lost in translation when you converted your hard-earned Hilton points to Delta.

I couldn’t believe Delta was giving you a 1:10 conversion rate, but a check of the online conversion calculator shows it’s correct. For every 10 Hilton points you’ll get one Delta SkyMile. The conversion rates are also clearly disclosed by Delta and Hilton on their sites. (Related: Hilton points problem: I canceled my stay — but they charged me anyway!)

When you called to make the conversion, it might have been nice if someone had warned you before you pushed the button. It appears that didn’t happen, and when you received your balance statement, both Delta and Hilton then played the blame game and stonewalled you when you tried to undo the transaction.

Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

Gold-level loyalty

Why are these conversion rates so horrible? From my perspective, this unfair exchange shows how little these companies value their own miles and points. I’m not sure if the 1:10 conversion rate says more (or less) about Hilton or Delta, but one thing is certain: this is no way to repay a gold-level customer’s loyalty. (Here’s our ultimate guide to travel loyalty programs.)

Both companies should have been falling all over each other to help you fix this. I would say that I’m surprised, but I’m not. Loyalty programs are there to help the company, not the customer. Except for the top tenth of a percent of elite-level customers, who bend and break rules by churning credit cards and taking mileage runs at their employers’ expense, loyalty programs are a losing proposition for travelers.

I think it’s time to rethink your allegiance to Hilton. Giving you the cold shoulder — that’s no way to say “thank you” for your loyalty. If you ever have trouble contacting Hilton again, try these executive contacts that I list on my site.

My advocacy team and I contacted Delta, which had your miles, and it reversed the transaction.

Are mileage conversions fair to consumers?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
Photo of author

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Rio de Janeiro.

Related Posts