An email from a villa at the Conrad Koh Samui (or, why the Hilton credit card is great)

A couple of Sundays ago, I received an email from Head for Points reader Nick who was sunning himself in his villa at the luxurious Conrad resort in Koh Samui, Thailand.

It looks good.  Exhibit A:

Conrad Koh Samui

Exhibit B:

Conrad 2

He didn’t email me to show off.  He emailed to thank me for recommending the Hilton HHonors credit card on HFP, because he was staying at the Conrad using the ‘free weekend night’ voucher that comes with the card.

Since the Hilton credit card was relaunched in 2011, it has got a lot more attractive.  The current offer is a free night at ANY Hilton group property worldwide, triggered when you’ve spent just £750 in the first 90 days of having it.

Note that the free night covers the Hilton group, not just Hilton-branded properties.  That means you can also stay at a pricier Conrad (like Nick) or Waldorf-Astoria property, even one of the resort properties in the Maldives.  I redeemed my free night voucher at the Conrad in New York last year.

This freebie is worth well over £200 if used properly.  I don’t know what the rates were when Nick stayed, but a ‘standard’ pool villa at the Conrad Koh Samui for a Saturday in November is coming up as £440 including tax.  A refundable room is even more.

There are no catches about redeeming – if a room is available for a standard level Hilton HHonors redemption, it is available for use on the voucher.  You need to call the service centre to book, but that is the only niggle.  The voucher is good for six months from the date of issue (be careful – don’t apply for the card in the Autumn if you want the voucher for the following Summer!).

The card is a Visa issued by Barclaycard, so it is unlikely to clash with any other loyalty card you have.  The only other loyalty card they run is IHG Rewards Club.  There is also no annual fee.

Other perks on the card include 2,500 bonus points on your next four Hilton stays within 12 months, Silver status in Hilton HHonors (not hugely useful, but better than nothing) and Gold status after you’ve spent £10,000 in a year.  However, there are often promos about that give instant Hilton Gold for a trial period, so this is not such a great deal.

Long term, this card is NOT a keeper.  The earnings rate is only 2 points per £1 (3 per £1 when spending in a Hilton property), so you’d need to spend £35,000 to get one free night in a top property!  You would be better off using an Amex GoldAmex Membership Rewards points transfer to Hilton at 1:2, and you get double points on shopping, petrol, travel and foreign spend.

However, as Nick found, this card is certainly worth getting for the introductory free night.  If your partner gets one too, you could book two free nights, back to back, for a totally free long weekend.

(To see our complete list of all current credit card bonuses, click here to visit our ‘Credit Cards Update’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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  1. James67 says:

    Actually the rates you quote are very low; it must be combined effects of political unrest and rising £. I was considering using my free night there last spring. The rate was over 37000 baht/night before tax and service fees so at that time and exchange rate you were getting an incredible £800+ value from the card. In the end I passed up because Samui has become so developed and horrible in the last 10 years and I no longer like it. Such a pity because it was so gorgeous the first time I went there in late 1980s. Unless you need or want to take advantage of hotel points, for a holiday in Thailand I recommend always finding a small family-run hotel or guesthouse. There are one or two in every major resort area that are quite sensational. At arount £80-120/night they are reasonable by European prices but high by Thai standards but you will find something the Conrads, Starwoods and Marriotts can never match.

  2. James67 says:

    One other thing; unless I am mistaken you have to call and redeem the voucher within 6 months but you can make the actual reservation beyond this time. Hopefully somebody can confirm that or otherwise.

    • I tried that, and the call centre insisted that the stay had to be completed within the six month validity of the voucher. It may be that you used to be correct but they have changed the rules. A bit annoying as I was hoping to book one weekend later than when my voucher expired!

      • James67 says:

        Might be worth trying with another agent? I have no idea, I was just passing on what I heard frome somebody else last year.

  3. I’d suggest the card may be worth keeping after the introductory bonuses for those who collect HHonors, due to it being a Visa card and therefore useful for use at places which don’t accept Amex.

    • ankomonkey says:

      Agree with this, and use mine to keep my HHonors account alive as I think the points expire if you don’t credit anything for over a year. I normally do credit something, but like it as a back-up and to top-up when close to a redemption.

      I got my card before the 1-free-night sign-up bonus. Does anyone have any experience of churning this card and getting a sign-up bonus when you’ve had one previously? Even getting the 1-free-night once would be great!

      • Barclays is not big on churning. That said, I am thinking of getting this card again myself this year, so I will let you know!

        • I’ve had both Hilton and IHG VISA cards twice. I left it for six months before reapplying. Sa!e poor CS/slow points posting all four times, but got the intro bonus all times too 🙂

        • Sounds good. However, its a bit early to get the Hilton card for Summer use as I would trigger the voucher in Feb and then only have until August to use it.

      • Felixstowe Flyer says:

        I cancelled my Barclaycard Priority Club Black card 12 months ago. Am now going to reapply as it is one of my big win targets. I think the agent said I couldn’t re-apply for 12 months so will see. If this is the case I will try the same with Hilton for a free night in 2015. Only problem is keeping the Hilton account open to avoid expiry as I don’t use Hilton anywhere near as much as IHG.

        • James67 says:

          They told me six months but if 12 months keeps you within big win window it is probably best to wait the full twelve months. However, I think the big win also rquires you to pay one of the nights with the card too so don’t forget to factor that in when considering time to apply. The risk here is that is Barclay are monitoring churning you could be £140, 30-400k points and big win down.

        • Felixstowe Flyer says:

          Yes. I was not planning to cancel the Hilton card until I had the IHG black as it is crucial to my big win.

        • So one can reapply for the hilton card after one year and get the free night ?(even if there hilton honours account is open)

        • Yes 🙂 Although I’ve found Barclaycard-run cards quite difficult to successfully apply for. I’ve managed a couple of times for both but it took more than one go, despite consistent approval from other card companies.

        • It seems so, I intend to give it a go again soon.

  4. Interesting on the conrad, as Raffles knows (thanks again) used mine at the NY Waldorf last year, would also recommend the Millenium there too.

    Hilton has some interesting All Inclusive options, but again Egypt is somewhere I’d advise checking current situation prior to booking/travelling.

    Thinking of taking advantage of the Tesco CC –> x3.25 –> Virgin –> x2 –> Hilton points today to top up for future use, always handy for a London concert hotel, etc.

    Can 2nd James’es advice, Stayed in hilltop cottage in Koh Lipe 2011, awesome snorkelling, way better than Koh Samui, they call it the Maldives of Thailand. Sunrise beach is the quieter part of the island. We flew in via Langkawi, Malaysia and got the fastcat ferry across. (1 Hour). I would go back and stay in the Big Lebowski!

  5. Mrtibbs1999 says:

    Is the voucher eligible for bookings made within 6 months or stays within 6 months

    • The terms and conditions seemed pretty clear when I redeemed last year – stay completed within six months of issue I’m afraid. I redeemed at Hilton Mauritius between xmas and New Year – cash cost of room was about 500 pounds. I extended my stay by some days using cash and points, again representing great value.

  6. In response to Raffles’ comment: “unlikely to clash with any other loyalty card you have.”

    While that may be true, it could affect a card you don’t have… While I don’t know first hand, due to the Big Win this is something that could affect many of us: Other readers have reported being declined for the IHG Black because they already hold the Hilton credit card! So if you are are planning to hit the Big Win and the IHG Black is a requirement, as it seems to be for many of us, perhaps it’s best to hold of applying for this Hilton card until you safely have the IHG Black already.

  7. Thanks Rob for using my stay and experience of the Conrad using my Free Night Voucher. I must say, the Conrad was very quiet at the time of staying (Sunday 19th) but the restaurant we went to during the evening was rather busy and the following day for breakfast was busy too. I must say though that i do think some of those people were just having food there from outside the resort including the Conrad Sumui residence. The night we stayed was coming in at 24500BHT which would work out at approx £450 depending on what rate you use. I use All in all though, for using the voucher i think I picked well as we were staying on Samui at my friends house (Mansion really) anyway so it made sense to stay there being it at the top scale of cat 10. The Villas are lovely. James67 is right about Samui being over developed now though as i know myself because I’ve been going there for 15 years myself. North of the island is still quiet and nice in areas though. Anyway, thanks again to Rob for teaching me so much since HFP’s has started. By the way, after receiving my Hilton Honors CC I was made up to Gold automatically for some reason (i didnt ask why) so I’m currently stopping at Hilton branded hotels throughout SE Asia and am getting some brilliant free upgrades etc and points to go with it. I just received 16500 Hilton points for a 3 night stay at the Conrad Bangkok. And it was only 3400 BHT/NGT. The residence is cheaper but I don’t believe you accrue points staying there.

    • James67 says:

      I’m glad you had a great time Nick and I’m sure it is a superb resort. It just makes me sad what has happened in Samui, virtually the whole coast road is now so developed. I feel it is a classic example of how not to do things but then like everyplace else money talks and people need a livelyhood so it is understandable but regretable. All that said, this place probably comes close to the top of the list for value from the yhe HHonors card. If I get another one this year I will probably use it in Tokyo near Christmas.

      • Your right I agree on the samui thing. I thought the free night voucher was only available once?

        • James67 says:

          Well that is what we are not sure off. Some people report getting it twice, and as Raffles states above he is thinking of trying again. I may do so too but have other fish to fry so will leave it a while yet. Youf wife could apply if she has not already done so

  8. I cashed in around 300k HH points to stay 8 nights with the family in villa at the Conrad Koh Samui in 2012.

    Best thing I ever did as with the HH devaluation you’d need double that.

    A truly mind blowing place, and you see how the other half live. One place I could say is worth the rack rate if you can afford it.

    I coupled this with first class flights on Thai Airways, compliments of the old BMI Diamond Club gravy train!

  9. MarkCam says:

    I cancelled my Hilton card a couple of weeks ago and was told that I could re-apply in six months time which I fully intend to do.

    • cmcbugg says:

      Same here. Cancelled (just after receiving my PC Black Card). They said I couldn’t re-apply for 6 months.

      I used my free night at the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai – and got a room upgrade (apparently because of my status – so the Silver does count for something it seems). It was a very nice room indeed.

  10. I tried this morning to book either Hilton property in Phuket in 2 weeks time (heading there using Avios from TXL via AUH) was told only standard rooms are eligible for the free night and all were taken 🙁

  11. Eshaq Choudhury says:

    Are there any other hilton properties that are as amazing as this but also big enough for a family of three? I’m thinking of applying for the card for me and the mrs so we can get two nights for free.

  12. Add in the ease of obtaining a Gold status with Hh, with room uplift and the free extras, this programme merits serious consideration.

    • It’s not that easy at the moment … the Milepoint deal is now dead, I think all that is currently running is the deal for Accenture employees which still requires 4 stays.

      • Rochelle says:

        Hi Raffles,

        Do you think there will be any additional sign-up bonuses worth waiting for in the next few months on this Hilton card?


        • Historically the offer on the Hilton VISA has remained fairly constant. No guarantees of course, but personally I think it’s unlikely that a better offer will be coming along soon.

        • They have done modestly better targetted offers (10,000 Hilton points on top) but nothing markedly better.

  13. squills says:

    Try Koh Tao