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Credit & Charge Card Reviews (7): Hilton Honors Platinum Visa

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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 link: Hilton Honors Platinum Visa application page

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.

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 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?

Hilton restructured its reward scheme in early 2017.

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.

There are some Hilton properties available at incredibly cheap rates – capped at just 5,000 points per night – as I discussed here. The 10,000 point per night properties are discussed here.

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 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 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.

Conclusion

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.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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.

Bits: Now use Avios on Virgin America, new Marriott Amex coming?, a HFP winner
Credit & Charge Card Reviews (6): Flybe Mastercard
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Comments

  1. Pretty sure that you get a better return on points when paying for a Hilton room with the card.

    • Yes, 3 points per £, but only really worth it in the UK.

      If the hotel’s merchant name is listed as Doubletree or Hampton (or the previous brand) then occasionally the points will not post, which usually results in £25 compensation if you complain twice and ignore the first response.

      • Haha yes, Barclaycard complaints compensation is the real benefit of this card 😛

        • Hi Alan,

          How does this complaints compensation work, I have made 3 attempts to resolve a Hilton points issue with Barclaycard via the secure messaging but am yet to get a resolution. Each time I get a generic response telling me what points have been applied to the Barclaycard Hilton statement rather than them checking to see if the calculation is correct. I think I have been awarded 2x points for spend on Conrad rather than 3x.

          Thanks

        • Thanks Alan, they agreed to credit said missing miles and offered £20 credit on my statement. Also, how can i check on HFP for new posts/replies without checking back regularly. Is there some sort of alert or notification. Thanks

  2. Just to add I like this card…. I have re-applied within the year of cancelling and got the free night again ( I timed it to coincide with my travel plans).
    Hilton are very good and considerate. Hubby and I had a voucher each. We booked standard room for weekend then called hotel who upgraded us to a 2 bed apartment- result. They then allowed us to make a cash booking for the standard room and yet kept us in the apartment. A good saving for a week holiday in the algarve for a family of 5.

    We have both managed to trigger the 2500 by registering the card for incidentals (bar of chocolate) even when we paid for the room with a different card. They post 3-5 days later.

    • Hope you ordered the stays properly such that the paid booking earned points.

      The 2500 points are triggered by the first 4 stays that post to your Hilton accounts (after a flag is set indicating that you have just been approved for the card). You probably didn’t even need to buy the chocolate…. as I discovered after none of my advance bookings earned the bonus, yet several award bookings made before I even applied for the card did earn them after staying (but before staying on the prepaid bookings where I actually used the card). I also got £250 compensation for this.

      • Michael Jennings says:

        I’ve not stayed at a Hilton since getting the card, but I have four stays booked: the bonus night for getting the card and three stays booked using points. The plan is to have a beer in a bar in each hotel so that I have a non-zero bill when I check out. Interesting that this may not be necessary?

        I also have three stays booked for which the stay date will be slightly after the 12 month anniversary of getting the card. I booked them on non-cancellable non-refundable rates on the Hilton Visa, with the hope that I would be charged now by the hotel and this will trigger the bonus. I was charged for two of those three nights, but it didn’t work. Should it have?

        • I think they come from the Hilton side after a flag is set on your account so should in theory be triggered by the stay rather than the booking, even if non-refundable. That may be why there was an issue after churning but it hasn’t stopped me taking it up with Barclaycard before 😀 Last time ended up with cash equivalent to buy 10k Hilton Honors points after they didn’t post 🙂

      • Thanks John, I didn’t know that…. I will stop buying chocolate then.

        I initially made a mistake but have since changed it around such that I get points for the cash booking: my name cash, hubby free night then my free night.

  3. Genghis says:

    “As with most rewards cards, this is not a suitable product for you if you do not clear your balance in full every month. You should focus on a credit card with a low interest rate such as the Tesco Clubcard MasterCard Low Rate card. This has a very attractive representative APR of 5.9% variable – and you can transfer your Clubcard points into Avios or Virgin Flying Club miles.”

    I’ve said it before but I don’t think this is the best advice. Valuing avios at 1p, the points return is 0.3%. Paying any form of interest even at 5.9% and even for a short time would quickly eat up the 0.3%. Back of fag packet maths: 0.3/5.9 x 365 = only less than 19 days where if held an interest bearing balance you would be better off.

    Much better off getting a zero % on purchases / balances (depending on circumstances).

    • The Tesco card is the 2nd cheapest low standard rate card on the market so you aren’t real paying for the points if a low standard rate card is what you want.

    • If you want to run a balance then the Lloyd’s Avios card is an absolute belter. 29 months interest free on purchases.

  4. Sam wardill says:

    The voucher is only for a ‘standard ‘ redemption. I.e. the hotel needs to have ‘standard’ redemption availablity on the night in question. I’m probably going to lose my wife’s as I can’t get a room I’d want. This leads me to a question. Do you think I’d get away with using my wife’s voucher in Australia without her travelling? I mean from Hilton’s perspective not domestic :).

    • Genghis says:

      Name you as second guest and “my wife will be checking in later”?

    • I tried using the voucher in Sydney (George Street) last year but the representative I spoke to could not find any availability…on any date.

      • Standard (not Premium) Hilton Honors standard reward availability. If it shows online agent can book it, no discussion.

    • I’ve used one before for my folks. Called Hilton US CS to book. They had no issue doing it, but I noticed they just put it through as a stay in my name with them as additional guests – they even got Diamond benefits on the stay! If even their call centre books them that way I can’t seeing there being many issues (apart from places like Spain that want ID, but you’d be fine in Oz from that perspective).

  5. Think like the Amex Gold, its a great intro card for those relatively new to this game.

    How are most people cancelling this card, you used to have to do it in writing via Royal Mail, can it be closed via email, online chat or phone?

  6. Majunga says:

    Thank you Rob.
    Has anybody used these branded Barclaycards in conjunction with the UBER offer get 11th ride free?
    Thanks.

    https://www.home.barclaycard/media-centre/press-releases/barclaycard-and-uber-agree-exclusive-loyalty-programme.html

    • Yes, it works for me (although I’ve not used the free ride yet, but have earnt it by charging 10 rides to the card – there’s a counter of your eligible rides in the Uber app).

  7. Cancelling the card has no effect on the voucher?

  8. Couple of questions:

    1) I have Hilton Gold via Amex Platinum which is now cancelled. Is there any chance of my Hilton account being inadvertently downgraded to Silver when I apply for this card?

    2) I’m planning for myself and girlfriend to get a voucher each and use to book 2 consecutive nights. Will my gold benefits apply to both nights?

    • Genghis says:

      1) No. I retained my Diamond
      2) If hotel links the bookings, potentially. Put your booking first.

    • 1. No, you’ll stay Gold
      2. Depends on hotel. Maximise your chances by doing your night first, put yourself as additional name on her booking. Ask them to link the bookings. At checkin say you’re there for 2 nights hopefully they’ll upgrade you, not make you change room and give you breakfast for both days – can’t be guaranteed though for the 2nd night but worth a shot.

  9. MARCELO C CORREA says:

    Rob, any comments about Aqua cash back card? It has a 0.5% cash back and no foreign fee.

    • It is, in theory, a card for deadbeats or bankrupts with no credit history and comes with pathetic credit limits. I accept that this is not entirely true but it doesn’t really work for most readers.

      • Roger I* says:

        ‘It is, in theory, a card for deadbeats or bankrupts with no credit history and comes with pathetic credit limits’ – hmmm, so much for theory. I’m neither and have an adequate limit.

        ‘I accept that this is not entirely true’ – sorry, Rob, not like you to write nonsense.

        ‘… it doesn’t really work for most readers.’ I suspect most readers would be happier with 0.5% CB than 0.5% in ASDA vouchers. ASDA? Now I know you’re not serious. 😀

        • Rather patronising from Rob – everyone has issues at times and occasionally needs to get a helping hand. I would not call anyone a deadbeat just because they have issues. There by the the grace of God go I……

  10. My partner and I timed our Hilton sign ups to give 2 free nights for our Japan trip last month. Saturday nights tend to be the most expensive night of the hotel week in Japan so the weekend stay rule was a bonus. I was surprised to get a room upgrade as ‘silver’ (this was specifically mentioned) on our first paid 3 night stay in Niseko. I used my free night voucher for the brand new (open 4 months now) Conrad Osaka. We were welcomed like visiting royalty and upgraded to an executive room (‘thank you for choosing our hotel as a silver member’) with afternoon tea and cocktails in the lounge and breakfast in the executive dining area (not in the lounge). I checked online and the room was selling for £700 that night. My partner’s free night was at Conrad Tokyo, no complimentary upgrade here but at the desk we were offered to upgrade to an executive room for the equivalent of about £130. A reasonably attractive offer (for tea, cocktails and breakfast) but we’d already missed afternoon tea and we declined (also a ‘free night’ isn’t free at £130). The value of that Saturday night in Tokyo was £500 to book for cash. So we got £1200 value for spending £1500 across the 2 cards. This was one of our best travel deals this year, oh and we were on a 241 F to Japan.

  11. Wally1976 says:

    Hoping this card is still going in January – planning on applying for his ‘n’ hers to cover 2 nights in Dublin in September. When booking the stays, will I be able to book the night on my wife’s account at the same time as the one on mine or will she have to call separately (really hope the latter won’t be required as very difficult to get her to do such things!)? Or maybe they can just speak to her to pass security?

    • Optimus Prime says:

      I was able to redeem my wife’s voucher myself. They just ask for her elite membership number.

    • Genghis says:

      Bear in mind the voucher is only valid for 6 months once received.

    • ‘(really hope the latter won’t be required as very difficult to get her to do such things!)? Or maybe they can just speak to her to pass security?’ @Wally1976

      Mr Cate is exactly the same. Never had a problem with phone passing once he has passed security but he always asks if they could talk to me as I do all this stuff. I think they’re used to people doing this between partners.

    • Wally1976 says:

      Thanks all for the helpful replies :-).

      Genghis – yes I’ll be applying early January and trigger the vouchers early April to use for stays end of September! Just hoping this card doesn’t get pulled before then (and there’s still the availability I want come early April).

      • Out of interest, where are you thinking of staying in Dublin? We’re planning our first weekend without the children for the spring next year and our wondering about hotels there. Want to make the most of the fact that we won’t need to choose a hotel with the children in mind. Had a look at the BA holiday deals page mentioned on the weekend but the discounts didn’t seem to be anything too special.

        • Wally1976 says:

          I was thinking of the Conrad Dublin primarily but will depend on what’s available when I come to book. We have Hilton Gold status from Amex Platinum card meaning the free breakfast is a big pull towards Hilton!

        • I was at the Conrad on Saturday with a mate, very nice property – very well furnished and great staff. The basement bar has a dangerous selection of beers and lobby bar does great cocktails. Breakfast buffet worked too and confirmed as a Gold benefit at check-in which was a nice touch.

          It’s a little bit off centre – maybe 10-15 mins from Trinity/ Grafton St but actually that was a benefit, was nice and quiet and Dublin isn’t exactly big anyway.

        • Wally1976 says:

          Thanks for the mini review Stu. Sounds good (especially the ‘dangerous’ selection of beers :-)).

        • That sounds perfect then as we’ll finally be able to enjoy a hotel bar! We’ve got gold through Plat so might get the Hilton credit card each if the availability looks okay as it’ll take a while to receive the cards and spend 2 x £750.

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