Credit & Charge Card Reviews (10): Hilton HHonors Platinum Visa

This is my review of the Hilton HHonors UK Platinum Visa credit card.

It is part of my series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether or not they are worth applying for.  These articles will be linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Cards Update‘ page.  My other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.

Key link:  Hilton HHonors Platinum Visa application page

Key facts:  No annual fee

The representative APR is 18.9% variable.

About the card

The Hilton HHonors Platinum Visa is issued by Barclaycard.

Three years ago I had this card, claimed my free night, redeemed it at the Waldorf-Astoria Syon Park (now downgraded to the Hilton Syon Park) and cancelled the card.

I recently successfully applied for it again after a gap of two years, using the voucher for a family member to stay at the Hilton Park Lane in London. I also ensured that I spent enough to earn Hilton Gold for 2016.

Who can apply?

Barclaycard has recently brought in new rules on who can apply for its cards.  You will not find this information in writing anywhere, but unofficially:

a) you cannot have two Barclaycard issued cards at the same time

b) you must wait six months after cancelling a card before you can reapply for the same one

c) you can immediately apply for a different Barclaycard immediately –  if you cancel the IHG card, for example, you can get the Hilton card straight away

What is the sign-up bonus?

A free weekend night at any hotel in the Hilton system (not just the Hilton brand properties) when you spend £750 within 90 days – something that anyone should be able to achieve easily.

A ‘weekend night’ is treated as Friday, Saturday or Sunday for the purposes of redeeming the voucher.

There are no additional restrictions on using the free night – if a standard reward night is available, you can use the free night voucher. You are e-mailed when you have hit the qualifying spend (in my experience, this can take a few weeks) and you must ring Hilton to redeem it.

This is clearly a very valuable benefit. At the extreme end, a night at the Conrad Maldives would be worth well over £750. A free night at a top property in London or New York, such as the Conrad New York I reviewed here, would be worth £250+.

The only point you need to remember is that the voucher is only valid for six months.  If you want to use it over the Summer, do not apply for the card in the Autumn or Winter!

Any other benefits?

You get Hilton HHonors Silver status for as long as you hold the card. I do not rate these benefits too highly, as Silver is not worth much. The official list of Silver and Gold benefits can be seen here.

You will receive Hilton HHonors Gold status when you spend £10,000 on the card in a calendar year (note, calendar year, not card year).  Hilton Gold is probably the best mid-tier status in the hotel industry (free breakfast, room upgrade). This benefit has got more valuable since Hilton cut back on its special promotions to gain Gold status quickly, although note that Amex Platinum will soon be adding Hilton Gold as a perk.

You also get 2,500 bonus Hilton HHonors points for each of your first four stays (within 12 months) after getting the card. This is obviously worth having, and is worth about £30 of free hotel stays.

Hilton HHonors Platinum Visa credit card review

What is the annual fee?

There is no annual fee.

What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?

The earnings rate on the card is 2 Hilton HHonors points per £1 for general spending (3 per £1 at Hilton properties). In my experience, Barclays is slow at posting the points to your card and it can take a month from receiving your statement for them to appear.

Remember that the Hilton card has a fee of almost 3% for foreign currency transactions.  You may want to consider getting a separate card to use abroad which charges no foreign exchange fees, such as the Post Office Money Platinum card (free, no rewards) or the Lloyds Avios Rewards card (£24 fee, earns Avios).

What is a Hilton Honors point worth?

Long time Head for Points readers will know that Hilton massively devalued their reward scheme in 2013.

If you were the sort of person who redeems their hotel points for stays at five-star properties in major cities, then you took a major hit. The price of a night in a top London or New York property went up from 50,000 points to 80,000 points (with some seasonal variation). Conrad Maldives jumped from 50,000 points to 95,000 points per night.

If you work on the basis of a 5-star hotel in a major city being worth £250, then the value of a Hilton HHonors point dropped from 0.5p to 0.3p. This meant that the return from your card spend – at 2 points per £1 – dropped from 1% to 0.6% of your spending.

Regional, smaller city properties were not devalued at highly. However, these properties were arguably overpriced in the first place. If you can book either of the Prague Hilton properties for 30,000 points, for example, you are arguably still getting 0.5p per point. Your card spend is still worth 1% back on this basis.

There are some Hilton properties available at incredibly cheap rates – just 5,000 points per night – as I discussed here.

How does this compare to a cashback credit card?

The best cashback card on the market which offers a) a MasterCard or Visa, b) no annual fee and c) unlimited cashback is the Asda card, which pays 0.5%.

The Hilton card just beats this, although you are trading cash for illiquid points. In any event, the sheer number of points needed for a free night at a high-end property means that this card is of little long-term use if you do not stay at Hilton properties and collect points that way as well. Spending £40,000 to get a single free night at the Conrad New York is too much work for me.

How else can you earn Hilton HHonors points from a credit or charge card?

There are two alternative ways of earning Hilton HHonors points from your card spending:

The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold charge card offers 20,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up and is FREE for the first year.  These convert to 40,000 Hilton HHonors points.

The American Express Platinum charge card offers 30,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up.  These convert to 60,000 Hilton points.  It has a £450 fee, refunded pro-rata if you cancel.

As the earning rate on these Amex cards is the same as the Hilton card (you earn 1 Amex point per £1, which converts to 2 Hilton points) you may find the Amex route preferable for long-term spending.  You retain more flexibility – you can transfer to Hilton as and when needed, but you can also transfer to many other hotel and airline schemes if you change your plans.

The downsides to this plan are the annual fees on Amex cards, more limited acceptability than a Visa and the lack of the £10,000 Hilton HHonors Gold status upgrade (albeit Amex Platinum will soon offer this too) and the 2,500 point bonus for your first four stays.


It is difficult to argue that this is most generous sign-up benefit currently offered on any Visa or MasterCard in the travel sector.  If you maximise the use of your free night you will receive a hotel room worth £250+ and the £750 qualifying spend to trigger it is very low. The lack of an annual fee makes this an even better deal.

On-going earning is less interesting.  If you are careful about where you redeem, you may still get 0.5p per Hilton point, so 1% of your spend back. However, unless you collect Hilton HHonors points from other sources, you will struggle to get enough for a free night. The 2,500 extra Hilton points for each of your first four stays after getting the card is a decent bonus.

The free upgrade to Hilton Silver gives few practical benefits.  Gold status for £10,000 spend seems a lot, but it depends on your personal Hilton stay pattern and the benefits (free breakfast, upgrade) are decent.

The application form for the Hilton HHonors Platinum Visa can be found here.

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history. By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker.  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

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  1. What’s the churning rule for this card just out of interest? Also I’ve heard that you can only get 1 Barclays issued card at a time now is that right?

    • Asked about the newish rule and they confirmed that anyone (like myself) with a Barclaycard would have to close the account and then apply for the Hilton card.

      Couldn’t be bothered myself so retain the Barclaycard (lower apr I think, bit only way to find out would be to close it, apply for Hilton and be scored for the card).

    • Churning rule is still 6 months. The rule has supposedly changed to one hotel credit card per person, but after that rule came in I was still able to apply for their IHG card.

  2. Are the vouchers only valid for 6 months now? I got one 5 months ago with a years validity.

  3. Ok, so I’m thinking two nights in Maldives on my application and then two nights if my wife applies. How likely am I to get 4 free nights in a row? Is the free night availability the same as points availability?

    • The voucher is only valid for 1 weekend night. Availability is the same as points and is generally good. My wife was approved for the card on Tuesday, I’m just waiting for 410k points, from a virgin transfer, to top up my account to book 10 nights plus the 2 voucher nights.
      Anyone know how long virgin transfers take?

  4. Is the voucher valid if I cancel the card before using it?

  5. How long does it take to be upgraded to gold status once you hit the €10,000? I spent th amount during September but still waiting for the status to change on my account.

  6. How long do you keep gold once you spend £10000 ? Eg if you take the card out in January 2016 and hit the target by say April 2016 – do you only get gold till Dec 2016?

    • You should be Gold till March 2018. That’s a very cumbersome way to get gold. 10000 spend could be better spent and gold achieved in just 4 stays via a fast track promo

  7. Interestingly, I just discovered that the free night stay counts as one of the 4 stays that get a points bonus. So my free night *gained* me 2500 points… :-)

  8. My cert has a year validity date on it

  9. Its true that Platinum is of little value per se , but is the vital first step to gold.
    I got Gold (as many others have) from this card and four stays in 5/10000 point Hampton Inns which we wanted any way. We then got the benefit when we stayed in a full Hilton with free breakfast and upgrades

    • We both got gold for 4 stays in the Corby Hampton ( pre recent increase) whilst the 5000pt bonus offer was on. So effectively nil cost. Mainly to get free breakfast in the Maldives which is worth $840 for our stay.
      We’ve stayed in a couple of Hiltons since attaining gold, and the gold benefits do seem pretty nice, free breakfast, drinks etc

  10. Regarding the free weekend night for spending 750 in the first 3 months:

    a) does the voucher expire 6 months after it is issued or 1 year after issue (seems to be some confusion in the thread on this point)

    b) Does your stay have to take place before the expiry date, or do you just need to book the stay before expiry?

    • For a while they were mistakenly issued for 12 months. This has been fixed. Your stay must be within the 6 months.

      • I’m still not clear on the time element on this.

        Apply today, you have 3 months to spend £750 to trigger the voucher, so that takes you up to 12/02/2016 if you time it right.

        They email you to issue the voucher in the next few days/weeks. So lets say 31/03/2016.

        Is it then 6 months from 31/03/2016 to use the voucher or from the initial application ie today?


        • Neither. It is 6 months from the date the voucher is issued, which is a few weeks after you pass £750. If you hit the spend on 12 February then expect the voucher to be emailed you 2-4 weeks later, which would give you until early to mid September to use it.

  11. About Hilton rewards, I booked a night at the Hilton T4 last night. Standard room rate 60k points, premium rooms from 44-49k? I booked a king exec room for 49k.

  12. Any idea when the Amex Platinum/Hilton Gold link up will be added for UK Platinum holders? Currently weighing up a few days stay at Sofitel LA or Beverley Hilton in February next year. From what I’ve read the benefits from being Hilton Gold outweigh Accor Platinum…

    • At a Sofitel you are guaranteed lounge access as a Platinum (well, the wording was weakened a little this year but it is effectively still guaranteed). Hilton gets you free breakfast so not necessarily better.

      Worth noting that Hilton Gold is generally believed to be worth little in the USA because there are so many Gold members around. Outside the US you will get better treatment – I was upgraded to the club lounge floor in Helsinki on Tuesdsay night, for example, and that was on a reward stay.

  13. Planning to get this card in January for both me and my wife, I’m Hilton Gold but my wife isn’t so I’ve a couple of questions:

    If we make the booking for both the free nights on two subsequent nights at the same hotel, will my Gold status (i.e. breakfast/upgrade) be applied to both, my night only or none?

    If we make a booking with her free night and she doesn’t come, but names me on the reservation, I assume I can check in as you normally could but would any of my Gold benefits be honoured? I assume not but I’d like to know if anyone has experience of it.

    • You might get away with it – obviously you keep the same room, so your upgrade would be carried over to her booking. They may want to charge you for breakfast on the 2nd day, but there is a good chance they wouldn’t as the two bookings would have been merged into one with your initial night taking precedent.

      • Obviously policy and practice will vary between properties but I have done similar twice very recently. The first time was a paid night then my wife’s free night then my free night. I am gold and we got an upgrade and free breakfast and kept the same room. The second time was two night from my points followed by one night from my wife’s points. I upgraded the first for a remarkably small number of points and this applied to both bookings; no further upgrade but free breakfast.
        In both cases I had emailed in advance and arranged to keep the room. Logically they became single bookings but physically they were separate and billed separately which is good if you are collecting bookings e.g. for the credit card. I had to nominally book back in each morning.

  14. Slightly OT but still Hilton.
    I was recently upgraded as Gold to an Executive room. As it was the weekend the Executive Lounge was closed so we had breakfast with the hoi polio which was surprisingly good (Hilton Toronto). On Monday morn the lounge opened so we went there (vouchers had run out) expecting even better. Imagine our disappointment when the EL breakfast was more like Hampton Inn without the waffle machine! I asked for coupons for the normal breakfast and was refused.
    Is this a normal experience in Executive Lounges or were we unlucky?

    • Breakfast in ELs tend to be very basic affair due to space and facilities. As a diamond I always have breakfast in the restaurants as they are much nicer and have a wider range of items etc.

    • You will always get a slimmed down breakfast in the lounge. The trade-off is that it is a more casual environment, and for business travellers who watch their weight when travelling it provides all they need. If you are on holiday and looking for a big breakfast as a treat it won’t be for you.

      • I generally find the food in the exec lounge to be the unhealthier options (read fry up). Smoked salmon and poached eggs are only available in the restaurant.

        I always go to breakfast in the restaurant and just flash my diamond status and claim ignorance if they try and charge me at check out….

    • Hilton Gold only guarantees a continental breakfast, which is what some exec lounges provide.

      • That is exactly what I wanted, but good quality as supplied to ‘ordinary’ customers.
        I would never eat that hot food which has been festering for who knows how long.

      • The Gold members are only allowed continental breakfast is the loosest rule in all of Hotels I reckon….

        The only hotel that has ever enforced this for me was in NYC. EMEA hotels I always go to the main restaurant and give my name. It is on the diamond list then I ask for poached eggs (which obviously arent continental). Never been refused..

        • Conrad New York has a special menu for Gold members (not sure about Diamond) with clear instructions on how to ‘buy up’ if required!

          • Plus remember in the US they will often bring you a bill with the charges scored through but the tip line left empty – and they’ll be expecting you to fill it out based on the original charges!! *sigh*

    • That’s normal – if you want an extensive spread then always go to the restaurant. Some properties won’t allow Golds to have breakfast in the restaurant if they’ve been upgraded to the Exec Floor. In general in the US the benefits are much more stingy.

      If ever in doubt then this master thread is by far the best resource I’ve found on the issue:

  15. “Amex Platinum will soon be adding Hilton Gold as a perk”

    Is this actually confirmed or still just a rumour?

    If it is true, any idea when it will happen? Won’t requalify for Gold so considering putting the required extra £k’s on this card unless Amex Plat benefit is true.

  16. Raffles you mention you used your second free night for a family member. Can you advise if you checked them in or is it possible to add a second name on to the booking and have them check in effectively redeeming for a third party. I am using a free night at the Conrad Koh Samui in early 2016 and would like to try and use a voucher in my Mums name. My Wife already has the IHG card unfortunately. Thanks

    • This was a London hotel so the property couldn’t have cared less who was there. It was for my brother – to be honest I don’t know if he admitted to not being me or if he claimed he was and used a credit card from his wife as a ‘hold’.

      Little blighter got upgraded to a massive suite as well, apparently. Nothing to do with my account being flagged as VIP because the following week I was at the Reichshof and we know how that turned out …..

      I have been told that the Hilton call centre can make the booking in the name of another person although I have never tried it myself.

  17. OT but can anyone advise if cancelled IHG reward nights go straight back into availability as I need to change a night from my account to my wife’s as she now has status?

    • If there isn’t a room available for redemption for the night you want, then I think it would be risky to cancel your existing booking on the assumption that it will immediately appear to be bookable again on redemption. If the hotel is close to capacity, it might well not make released rooms available for redemption.

  18. I hit my spend point for the free night in October. No email but if i log into hilton honours under all activity it lists barclaycard one night free stay, but cant do anything with it!!

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