This is my review of the Hilton Honors 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.
If you want to check your credit record before applying for a new card, click here to get your free Experian Credit Score.
(EDIT: This article was updated on 1st March 2018 and is correct as of that date.)
Key facts: No annual fee
The representative APR is 18.9% variable.
About the card
The Hilton Honors Platinum Visa is issued by Barclaycard. It is the only travel loyalty card left in their portfolio.
Who can apply?
The rules have changed a few times in recent years, although they were never properly enforced. At the present, there are no stated restrictions on applying based on other Barclaycard products you may have. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this is not necessarily the case in practice.
However, if you have previously had the card then you will not receive a 2nd sign-up bonus if you re-apply. In reality, this is not always the case if you re-apply a few years after cancelling – but you don’t have a leg to stand on if your free night voucher does not appear.
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.
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 Honors Silver status for as long as you hold the card. I do not rate this benefit too highly, as Silver is not worth much. The official list of Silver and Gold benefits can be seen here.
You will receive Hilton Honors Gold status when you spend £10,000 on the card in a calendar year (note, calendar year, not card year). I used to rate this benefit highly as Hilton Gold is probably the best mid-tier status in the hotel industry (free breakfast, room upgrade). However, Hilton Gold status is now available for free, without any spending requirement, if you take out an American Express Platinum charge card so there is little reason to put £10,000 through the Hilton Visa.
You also get 2,500 bonus Hilton Honors 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.
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 Honors 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.
What is a Hilton Honors point worth?
There have been two key changes:
you can now use as few as 5,000 points to get a cash discount on any booking and
reward prices will now be lower on dates when cash prices are lower, meaning that there should be fewer times when it doesn’t make sense to use points
These changes have made Hilton Honors more flexible. Upper price caps on rewards remain, so you will never pay more than 95,000 points per night for, say, Conrad Maldives.
The value of a Hilton Honors point under the new system seems to be around 0.33p although there are variations. This means that the return from your card spend – at 2 points per £1 – is 0.66% of your spending.
In the current credit card market, getting 0.66% of your spending back on a FREE Visa or MasterCard is an attractive proposition. The free IHG Rewards Club card, for example, only gives 1 point per £1 which I value at 0.4p-0.5p.
How does this compare to a cashback credit card?
My default comparison card is the ASDA Cashback Credit Card which is free for life and offers 0.5% cashback. The representative APR is 19.9% variable.
The Hilton card beats these, although you are trading cash for illiquid points, with the extra carrot of Gold status for spending £10,000.
How else can you earn Hilton Honors points from a credit or charge card?
Oddly, the Hilton Honors Platinum Visa card may not be the best way of earning Hilton points from your card spending.
There are two alternative ways of earning Hilton Honors 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. You will also receive Hilton Honors Gold status for as long as you have the card.
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.
You will also receive Hilton Honors Gold status as a free benefit of having American Express Platinum – as well as SPG, Club Carlson, Melia, Shangri-La and Marriott status.
The downsides to this plan are the annual fees on Amex cards (although Amex Gold is free for the first year and you can cancel at any time), more limited acceptability than a Visa and the lack of the 2,500 point bonus for your first four stays offered with the Hilton card.
The Hilton Honors Platinum Visa has, undoubtedly, a very generous sign-up bonus. 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 also strong. If you are getting 0.33p per point then a return of 0.66p per £1 spent is very good for a free credit card. The 2,500 extra Hilton points for each of your first four stays after getting the card is a decent extra bonus. American Express Preferred Rewards Gold offers a similar earning rate, however, with more flexibility over where you eventually use your points.
The free upgrade to Hilton Silver gives few practical benefits, to be honest. Gold status for £10,000 spend may be worthwhile but it depends on your personal Hilton stay pattern. The benefits (free breakfast, ‘preferred room’ upgrade) are good.
The application form for the Hilton Honors Platinum Visa can be found here.
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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.