Why the Hilton HHonors Visa is the ideal starting point for the new miles and points collector

One of the first posts I wrote for this site back in mid 2012 was about the Hilton HHonors Platinum Visa card.

And, way back in 1989 or so, the very first travel deal I snagged was with Hilton. They had just launched their nascent loyalty programme which carried (I think) a £20 fee. However, joining up got you a free weekend night anywhere in the UK except for Hilton Park Lane. I quickly spotted the value of that one, especially as the Hilton Park Lane Mews had not been excluded.

Whilst now run separately, the Mews used to be a de-facto extension of Park Lane – the back door was opposite the front door of the mews hotel – with cross-charging etc. My brother and I had a very pleasant London weekend for my £20!

The representative APR on the card is 18.9% variable.

Hilton Visa

What I like about the Hilton Visa card is that the deal is VERY simple and VERY easy to reach.

Get the card (it’s free)

Spend £750 on it in 90 days, which is not a strain

Get a free night at ANY Hilton Group property, anywhere in the world, as long as you stay at a weekend (Friday, Saturday or Sunday) and within six months of triggering the voucher.

You don’t need to focus on the mid-range Hilton properties, you can also stay at the luxury Conrad or Waldorf-Astoria brands.  Free night at the Conrad Maldives or Waldorf-Astoria Rome? No problem. Conrad New York? Conrad London St JamesConrad Algarve?  You’re in (as long as they have standard award availability). Easy.

The best way to get excited about ‘miles and points’ as a hobby to have a successful redemption under your belt.

What could be better than booking a European weekend away using Avios and Reward Flight Saver (so minimal taxes) and then staying in a top-end Waldorf-Astoria or Conrad hotel for free (or even a slightly worse Hilton, Doubletree or Hampton!)?

The whole flight and hotel weekend – assuming one night away for two people – will only require 18,000 to 30,000 Avios plus £70 taxes in Economy, depending on where you went in Europe. You will be getting a package worth £500+ if you pick a suitably expensive hotel.

(And, of course, your partner could get their own Hilton credit card and get their own free night voucher. That would get you a 2-night stay and you could be pushing £750+ of value from your weekend away.)

Long term, I don’t recommend keeping the Hilton card unless you are a dedicated Hilton HHonors collector. You only earn 2 points per £1, so you would need a ludicrous £35-40,000 of spending to get one free night at the Conrad New York. If you occasionally need some Hilton points to top up your account from hotel stays, you could transfer American Express Membership Rewards points instead.

The only reason to push spend onto the card is that you receive Hilton HHonors Gold status when you spend £10,000 in a calendar year.  However, you can also get free Hilton Gold as a benefit of American Express Platinum and Hilton is also running status matches at the moment.

(Note that the £10,000 spend is based on calendar year.  This means that now is the best time of year to apply if you are keen to earn Hilton Gold.)

Two quick warnings though …

Remember that the free night voucher must be used within six months.  If you applied now and spent the £750 by the end of October, you would need to use it before the end of April.  This may not be convenient for everyone.

Secondly, under new rules introduced this year, the voucher is meant to be a ‘one time only’ deal.  If you reapply for the card after cancelling, you are not meant to get another one.

As a good ‘first card’ for newcomers to this hobby the Hilton Visa has a lot to recommend it.  The application page is 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. My wife and I used one this weekend gone at Conrad HK along with two nights paid stay. Combined with Hilton diamond status from one of last year’s matches, it turned out to be great. Got upgraded to a harbour view suite (around £650/night), lounge access with breakfast, afternoon tea, free flowing booze (like you have to tell them to stop filling your glass!) during cocktail time. So spent £400 cash for 2 nights (and got HH and Virgin shopping portal points) in the summer sale and got around £2k of room plus value of food and booze. Excellent end to our China trip.

  2. PalCsaky says:

    What is the churning frequency for this card?
    And off topic: Did anybody get the 100 heathrow rewards points for downloading their app? (http://www.headforpoints.com/2016/05/26/100-free-heathrow-rewards-points-100-avios-for-downloading-their-app/)
    I downloaded on 2 devices for 2 different HR accounts but none of them have been credited.

  3. I’ve been using the HH Platinum Visa for years now to get HH Gold status. However, what is an annoyance, is that they no longer show your eligible spend to date on getting to the £10K target on the HH Visa website. This was possible before Barclaycard took over the administration recently, when there was a clear indicator on the website of the spend to date, but there is nothing like that now.

  4. Are we story swapping? 😀

    Used mine story swapping on the last possible weekend for a room -> upgraded to a corner suite (Diamond via status match to Accor Plat) at the Sydney Hilton for my pamper night on the holiday. Approx £450 value. Booked it from the Hotel Lobby, and the clever US call centre forgot where Oz is located and booked me for the previous night.

    Eventually sorted by the excellent reception after 90 minutes, and I should be getting 50k points back as compensation for the trouble. Still to arrive so I need to drop them an email.

    To be fair I had at least one dateline embarrassment myself.

  5. Am I right in thinking if you cancel the free night redemption you get the points back (I.e the points value of the hotel you picked?)

  6. I’m not sure how this works when travelling as a family with kids? I understand the free night is for a standard room for 2 people?

    • Some standard rooms fit 3 people. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay the hotel’s charge for an extra bed or whatever. Ask the hotel directly – or just deposit the kids with their grandparents

    • Chelseafi says:

      Depends on hotel. I had 2 nights (me & OH got one each) & family stayed in very nice room on our US trip this summer, plus got free breakfast being gold, they saw we had four in room & gave us vouchers for all (kids 18 & 16)

    • My wife and I used 2 vouchers at the Conrad St James in London and without status at the time, we were offered a cheap paid for upgrade to a suite with lounge and inclusive a la carte breakfast (or the buffet).

      We were travelling with our child and they put in another bed, though I doubt they could have done so in the small standard room.

      Perhaps a combination of the season, it was the week or so before Christmas, the fact that we also booked a couple of nights on an Amex deal (£50 back on £150 spend) to extend the stay and when they offered we negotiated, it was a very pleasant 4 day stay.

      When I wanted to stay again, I telephoned the hotel direct, as I got a far better response, customer service and price than online or through the call centre.

      The USA one also attempted to mess up my two vouchers as well !

    • Some hotel can take 4 in a standard room and so you are OK, eg Park Lane in London. Otherwise you need to ask the hotel first for an upgrade price and then make sure they do the upgrade as soon as you book.

  7. A couple of questions re this card:
    1) is it still the case that you must have not held ANY barclaycard card for 6 (or 12?) months prior to application?
    2) and you can only apply for this card once?

    So be strategic about when you earn and burn this reward, because its a one-time deal!

    • A one time deal that may be withdrawn at any moment. My advice is use it for something decent but don’t plan on using it for that trip to Rangali you have planned in 5 years’ time…

    • Yes in theory, but it depends whether barclaycard’s computer manages to match your application to your previous cards. Unless a barclaycard and experian programmer come on here to reveal what exactly they do, nobody knows.

      • Yeah, we could sure do with a couple of them, a real high level mortgage underwriter and a few key others.

        I am sure there is a business opportunity in there somewhere :)

        • If you’re going to break your NDA anyway, you might as well reveal some juicy secrets and go into hiding on some tropical island instead of helping people earn a handful more points…

  8. Mr Fluff says:

    Can the voucher be used to book a room for someone else, or does it have to be the cardholder that redeems it?

    • Richmond says:

      You can book room for someone else on a phone. I booked weekend for my friends in Waldorf Amsterdam. Sent them on BA in CE using avios and booked room in WA with voucher. They were upgraded to better room from basic reward one. I had no time to use my voucher but I think it was excellent use for them. Room price was around 600 euro cash on the same dates.

      I use my HHonors card as main one right now and putting all personal and company expenses on it and getting quite good results. Gold status above £10K spend is added bonus. I stopped collecting avios with cards some time ago as flights are bringing me enough of them.

  9. I currently hold HH Gold via a SPG status match earlier this year – I will likely be put back to their standard tier in a few months time (just needed it for Conrad Tokyo & NY lounge access really). If I spend £10k on the HH Visa in this calendar year, do you think I will keep my Gold status for 2017?

    • I have been wondering similar! I have a feeling not. I suspect you’ll need to trigger the Gold perk (@ £10k spend) after you have lost your current HH Gold.

    • If you spend £10k this calendar year you will get gold next year as well.

    • I agree with Peter

      Taken from Ts & Cs
      “If in any calendar year of card membership your total eligible purchases reach £10,000, you will be upgraded to Hilton HHonors™ Gold status for the calendar year in which such status was earned through to the end of the next calendar year. Thereafter, standard requirements must be met to maintain Gold status. Allow 6-8 weeks for your status to be upgraded.”

  10. I find it a useful card to use for all those retailers that don’t accept amex, independent pubs, independent cafes etc. With the points and cash option there are some decent deals out there.

  11. Hilton Play have some Maclaren factory tours available again. I think HFP readers snagged a lot last time. It’s also a bit more expensive at 75,000 points. Details here http://auction.hhonors.com/iSynApp/auctionDisplay.action?auctionId=1298178

  12. Concerto says:

    Is it possible to check Hilton award availability even if you have only very few points on the account?

  13. Concerto says:

    Ah so you can see award availability without actually logging in? Thanks, I did not know that!

  14. I used to use Hilton hotels regularly for leisure stays and collected a number of HHonours points. Unfortunately, when I came to use them I was informed that I could only use them on a standard room and not on a family room. As we only travel for leisure as a family I lost the points and haven’t used Hilton since.

    • I managed to book 2 adults, one kid at the Park Lane Hilton, London. BUT it took three phone calls totalling well over an hour speaking to several people at the Hilton booking centre in the Philippines before I eventually hit on someone who was actually able to put the booking through.

      • Yeah, I gave up after the first person. Although I generally only stay in hotels for leisure (very occasional business stays) we do stay away quite a lot during the year so they have missed out on quite a bit of business since I started “boycotting” them. Still, their loss is Accor’s gain.

    • Ironically, that means you missed the introduction of Premium Rewards which now let you book ANY room for points. It is pretty poor value but the option is now there if you want it.

      Or just ring the hotel and negotiate an upgrade price.

  15. Wally1976 says:

    Just had a lovely weekend away with my wife in London. Used this Hilton free weekend certificate for Saturday night and paid for Friday. With gold status (from briefly-owned Amex Platinum) we were upgraded to an Executive room giving us access to the lounge (free booze 5pm-8pm) and of course the free breakfast!

    Thanks to Raffles and everyone on here for all the tips. A couple of years ago we were doing the same but spending more and staying in a Travelodge!

  16. Is the free night certificate one time only or can you cancel this card and reapply after X time for another free night?

  17. OT but there is an increased sign-up bonus (15,000 points) on the MBNA Etihad card: https://www.mbna.co.uk/compare-credit-cards/airline-credit-cards/etihad-guest/

  18. I posted this at the time, but I had a nightmare trying to redeem the voucher – numerous calls totalling an hour or more (to a non-geogrpahic number, not included in my call package) to people who weren’t aware of the voucher, nor how to use it to make a booking. When I eventually got it booked, I had to put a complaint into Barclaycard to get my call costs refunded. To their credit, they did so straight away.

    • Similar experience trying to redeem the voucher. Got put through to someone in the US who was rather unhelpful: told me that the WA Edinburgh couldn’t be booked with the voucher, and nor could the DoubleTree(!), then tried to sell me crazily expensive rooms elsewhere.

      Rang the WA the next day and they put me through to someone else – all sorted and booked in minutes. Definitely recommend contacting the hotel and getting them to put you through to bookings!

  19. Do you know if you can get this if you already have a Barclaycard? I have one that I’ve been meaning to cancel for ages lying around unused

    • They generally say no, after changing the rules last year, but some people have managed it. Try but be prepared for disappointment!

  20. Hi i presume “spend” £750 means purchases and doesn’t count for anyone doing balance transfers?

  21. Just got this card, triggered the voucher before I even got my pin!

    Turns out I’m going to need a good visa for long term heavy spend, given you don’t like this one for that what’s the favourite? IHG? Or the virgin visa?

  22. The only slight niggle with the redemption is that it is only valid for 6 months which is limiting, as like most people we only have one holiday planned in that time. Having said that the lady we spoke to booked my wife and I in for consecutive nights put a note on her booking linking it to mine (diamond, as a result of a status match) so we don’t have to move rooms, even with the limitation we managed to get £239 each out of this which is tremendous value.

  23. I’ve got a trip planned for my wife’s 50th next May – MAN-DUB-BOS-DUS-MAN

    This sounds like a useful way of getting the Dublin overnight paid for – and having seen the price of accommodation in Boston, my wallet needs all the help it can get!

    In terms of scheduling, to ensure I find availability, how soon after hitting the £750 spend threshold would the voucher be triggered?

    • Mine (and my wife’s) were available within days of hitting the £750 spend, far less time than the quoted time. However, it might have something to do with when your statement is created and we could simply have hit the target a day or so before the cut off date, thus shortening the wait. In such a case, triggering the spend threshold just after the statement date might result in a few weeks’ wait.

      • I posted about this when my last one triggered. It turned out they were batched – a lot arrived on the same day, mine was quick but others had been waiting longer.

        • Just clocked the “as long as you stay at a weekend (Friday, Saturday or Sunday)” restriction, so this is no good for me this time – Dublin will be a Thursday.

          Definitely one to know about for the future though….

  24. Just used mine for going back to the Rangali… 😀

    Also extra points for paid stays using HHonors app…

  25. I’ve tried applying for this card many times over the past few years but have never been approved. Quite annoying as I would have liked to have a good non-Amex card option. It’s never stopped me from having MBNA Etihad, Halifax Clarity and the usual collection of Amexes. Has anyone else had the same problem?

    • Yes, my wife and I have been rejected for both this and the (at the time Barclaycard) IHG card, even though we had good credit ratings. I was eventually accepted when I entered my address in a slightly different format. I assume the original format wasn’t matching up for their credit checking. Note that you have to leave 6 months between applications, as I understand it.

    • Yes, I found this was one of the most picky cards for approval – not sure if address issue or credit history being too good such that they thought they wouldn’t make anything out of me!