Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

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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.

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.

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.

Why I don’t recommend keeping this card in the long term

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.

Even if you do collect Hilton points via hotel stays, there are good reasons NOT to collect them via this credit card.

The first alternative card is American Express Preferred Rewards Gold.  This is why you should consider Amex Gold instead for day to day spending:

you receive the same 2 Hilton points per £1 of spending if you transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points to Hilton Honors

…. but Amex has many other airline and hotel partners too.  Your points remain flexible – up until the day you choose to send them to Hilton, you retain the option of using them for Avios, Starwood, Club Carlson, Virgin Atlantic or even retail gift cards.

… Amex Gold is free for the first year and has a sign-up bonus of 20,000 American Express points, which convert into 40,000 Hilton Honors points

… and you get two free airport lounge access passes as well

You may also want to take a look at American Express Platinum which I reviewed here.  Whilst this card is expensive, it comes with a lot of valuable travel benefits including Hilton Honors Gold status for as long as you keep the card.

Two quick warnings before you apply ….

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

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.  For long term spending, however, I would recommend Amex Gold or Amex Platinum instead as the points are worth the same but are far more flexible.  The application page is here.

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – October 2022 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER), £200 travel credit and unbeatable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

1% cashback and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (54)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Chris H says:

    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?

    • Scott says:

      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.

    • Alan says:

      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!

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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