Nutmeg Avios

The Hilton Honors Platinum Visa has closed to new applicants – what now?

It seems like only last week when I spoke at a credit card conference and told everyone that they were idiots if they didn’t take out the Hilton Honors Platinum Visa card in order to get the generous sign-up bonus.  Wait …. it was last week!

I spoke to the Hilton credit card team at the event and we discussed some ideas they had been knocking around for changing the card.  What they didn’t say to us was that the current card was about to be pulled from the market.

The card has disappeared from the Barclaycard website – although it is still on the Hilton website albeit with a dead link – and they gave us this statement:

“Barclaycard and Hilton are collectively reviewing our Hilton Honors Platinum Credit Card proposition for new customers and have removed the product from the market whilst we undertake this review. There are no impacts [sic] to existing Hilton Platinum Credit Card holders.”

The Hilton Visa had the best sign-up bonus on the market

For someone coming into the world of miles and points, the Hilton Honors Platinum Visa was the best ‘starter’ Mastercard or Visa.   I have always recommended partnering it with Amex Gold as the best starter Amex.

The best way to get someone excited about points is to help them get a successful redemption under their belt.  The Hilton Honors Platinum Visa was fantastic for that.

All you had to do was spend £750 on the card and you received a voucher for a free weekend night at any Hilton-run property in the world – even the super-luxury Conrad beach resort in the Maldives.

If your partner got the card as well, you would get two free weekend vouchers between you.  You could back-to-back these free nights so that you got a free two-night trip away – perhaps two nights at the ‘all suite’ Conrad New York.  There was no easier way to show people what could be achieved with points.

The biggest problem with the card is that, long term, it didn’t encourage high spending.  The key benefit was Hilton Honors Gold status if you spent £10,000 per year.  This remains a decent deal but Hilton watered it down by offering generous status matches to all and sundry and by offering Hilton Gold as an American Express Platinum benefit, no spending needed.

It would have been better to not offer a one-off free night to new cardholders but to offer an annual free night to high spenders.  I like the idea of a someone having the card and working towards earning an annual free night which they could use for an annual anniversary or birthday treat.  It could become a family ritual.  Importantly, you could sell the idea of such a card to people who were not even interested in Hilton Honors itself.

2 Hilton points per £1 spent was also good – perhaps too good.  With a Hilton Honors point worth roughly 0.3p at most properties, you were getting a 0.6p return on your spending.  It trounced the pathetic 0.2 Avios per £1 earned on the (also now dead?) Lloyds Avios Rewards Mastercard, or the 0.125 Clubcard points per £1 earned on the Tesco Clubcard Mastercard.

Next steps

Even though the Hilton Honors Platinum Visa is closed to new applicants, it won’t impact existing cardholders – yet.  At some point, as happened to holders of the old Barclays-issued IHG Rewards Club credit cards, it is likely that you will be transitioned to a standard Barclaycard.

The rest of us will need to see if a new Hilton card comes along or not.  They will need to think more creatively in the new world of 0.3% interchange fees.  There were unconfirmed sightings of senior Hilton people being wined and dined at the Mastercard-sponsored Brit awards last week so we may see a change of issuer.

If you are looking for a way of earning Hilton Honors points for your card spending, remember that American Express Membership Rewards points convert into Hilton Honors points at 1:2.

This means that you effectively earn 2 Hilton Honors points for every £1 you spend on an:

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (free for year 1, 40000 Hilton points sign-up bonus if you convert the Amex points)

American Express Platinum (£450 per year, 60000 Hilton points sign-up bonus if you convert the Amex points)

Amex Rewards credit card (permanently free, 20000 Hilton points sign-up bonus if you convert the Amex points)

Amex Platinum also gives you Hilton Honors Gold status for as long as you hold the card.

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.

Excellent new BA promotion - up to 16,000 Avios with short-haul flights
Bits: Big Avios / Kaligo promo tomorrow, the bizarre Priority Pass vending machine at City
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  1. James says:

    Bugger 🙁 have missed out on that then 🙁

  2. Vasco says:

    I have to thank you Rob. If it wasn’t for your heads up about the Lloyds Avios Amex being pulled, I would have left applying for it for later and missed on it. As it is, I’ve got it and hopefully it’ll stick around for a while for existing cardholders. I’m currently using it for all spend due to the six month double Avios bonus. However, the real reason I got it was the no FX fees. Am I right in that with it gone, there won’t be any remaining rewards no FX fees card left in the UK market?

    • New Card says:

      No travel ones but Tandem Bank offer 0.5% cashback and FX free.

      • We have an article on Tandem lined up for the weekend – it does look interesting.

        • Taken out their card as part of their Co-Founder programme. Fantastic service, quick delivery of card and easy to track spend via their app plus of course 0.5% cashback, won’t make a million but nice little extra.

      • Kiran says:

        Isn’t the Aqua Rewards card 0.5% cashback and no FX fees?

        • And a maximum £1200 credit limit which doesn’t go far.

          Aqua offered me £32 commission per card if I plugged them on here, my disinterest in them is expensive.

        • imbruce says:

          35.9% APR on the Aqua Card, they say you use this card to build a credit rating

        • Crafty says:

          My credit limit with Aqua is £3,500, it was previously £5,000 and I asked for it to be reduced. I am not sure the assertions against their product stack up.

    • mark2 says:

      Halifax and Barclays Platinum Travel (which also allows free ATM withdrawals)

  3. guesswho2000 says:

    This is certainly turning out to be a good way of involuntarily cleaning out my UK wallet – 4x of the cards I’ve kept (Lloyds Avios, Barclaycard Hilton, MBNA AAdvantage and MBNA Etihad) are no longer available to new customers…if and when they become simple bank braded cards, I’ll have no use for them at all!

    I did wonder what was up with the Hilton card, Barclaycard have, for years, offered a near permanent string of offers on that account (for purchases, balance and money transfers), which all of a sudden halted about two/three months ago. I never had any use for these, but found it odd they simply stopped, maybe this was why.

    • Still get the regular BT, 0% on purchases etc, the most recent came today, bang on time… always 1st of month.

  4. Adrian says:

    I’ve just had my Hilton card, made the £750 spend and received my free night, the only slight issue is that it’s only valid for 6 months, if they do transition to an annual free night then i assume that would increase to 12 months. I’ve still managed to get $209 out of it, so I’m delighted. 2 Hilton points per £ is good and gets all of our non-AmEx spend. I had this as a replacement for IHG, as Creation were a horrible company to deal with. Providers need to consider who they give their name to, I’m hacked off with Creation so more business for Hilton with my hotel stays and almost none for IHG, sadly I’m sure they don’t care at all.

    I am one of those that would instantly take a £450 Aspire Amex Card (or visa or MC I’m not picky) if the benefits were similar to the USA. I value Hilton Diamond status, the airfare credit and property credit make it a no brainer, it’s even 0% for foreign transactions.
    Rob can you use your considerable influence and get us one of these for the UK please?

    • Michael Jennings says:

      I had offers like that up to yesterday, but they are now all gone.

    • I’m sure Creation aren’t great when there is a problem, and there website is backwards not allowing data export to financial software, but I’ve managed to spend over £200k in the past year without any issues. Maybe I’ve been lucky but both the marriott and IHG cards work well for me.

    • Chris Palmer says:

      Thanks to Rob for the information on the Hilton Card. Very glad I took mine out recently. Managed to get a night at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills in July. Cash price for the room is about £650, so a very good deal!

  5. pauldb says:
    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      Almost certainly, given how Lloyds are likely to have structured their systems. They’ll have taken down landing pages etc, but I doubt they’ve removed the product from their new application systems.

    • KevMc says:

      Thanks Paul! Mrs Mc has just applied and been accepted. We were waiting until the end of March when my 6 months double earning was up, but looks like we have got lucky.

  6. RussellH says:

    Just checked out a German Hilton Visa
    Annual fee of €48
    1 point per €1 ordinary spend.
    2 points per €1 Hilton spend.
    0.2% credit interest on any credit balance.

    Not a very attractive proposition TBH.

    I would guess that given the still widespread predjudice against credit cards in Germany, the number of cardholders will be much smaller than for the current Hilton Barclaycard.

    • New Card says:

      I wouldn’t bother for any new card at 1 Hilton point per £1. A 0.5% cashback card (or plenty of other travel reward offerings on Visa/MasterCard – IHG, HSBC Premier, legacy MBNA cards) would be more compelling.

      • But 1 point per £1 PLUS a free night for spending £10k? That becomes more interesting. It is also probably affordable because Hilton doesn’t really pay for the free night.

        If you offered that on a free card then you have something which would be more attractive to some than the IHG Premium card, depending on whether status mattered.

        My logic is that you want to create a card that a hotel reception desk in the UK can easily explain to guests who are checking in. There is nothing easier to explain than saying “by the way sir, if you get this free credit card and spend £10k on it then the next time you stay here you won’t have to pay”.

        • As most Hilton hotels are either under management contract or franchised, there will be a cost to Hilton HQ where the individual stays in a non owned property as the management contracts won’t allow for “free nights”. The ‘free card night’ still has a cost attached to it similar to the cost associated to Hilton when someone redeems Hilton Honors Points.

        • The cost is $25+ or so, which is the ‘room cleaning fee’ that Hilton pays the hotel on a redemption night unless the hotel is full, at which point it pays more.

        • RussellH says:

          Are there not problems with check-in staff promoting a credit card? Rob is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker so that he can recommend cards on this site. Check-in staff would need to be very careful as to what they said, surely, unless they were also subject to regulation?

        • That’s true. They would probably be restricted to having a stack of brochures on the counter but not being able to discuss it.

        • New Card says:

          I see the logic in that, though that would be such a significant downgrade on the free card which existed until yesterday, it’s quite hard to look at that proposition and think of it as attractive!

          The only problem is that would leave no incentive whatsoever to spend £10,001+. At 2 points per £1, I can realistically spend away and hope to earn another free night (or more) through points. That simply isn’t going to happen (ignoring bargain redemptions in KL etc) at 1 point per £1.

          How to solve this? Free nights triggered for *each* £10,000 spent on the card?

        • How could it be a downgrade? The free night for hitting £10k would be worth up to 90,000 points. The switch from 2 points per £1 to 1 per £1 would, on £10k of spending, only lose you 10,000 points.

        • New Card says:

          Because the free night is currently triggered by a £750 spend instead of a £10,000 spend?

        • I would personally prefer a free night every year for spending £10k than a once-per-lifetime free night for spending £750.

        • New Card says:

          So it’s a downgrade on both the free night threshold and the ongoing earning rate compared to what is already in my wallet. Am I missing something?

        • You don’t earn a free night on the Hilton card at the moment, except when you first take it out.

          What I’m proposing is that a switch from 2 points per £1 to ‘1 point per £1 plus a free night certificate for spending £10k’ would be better for everyone.

        • New Card says:

          Ah I see. So you’re proposing a free night triggered for each £10k which is spent? (so at £10k, £20k, etc…) That would be very interesting.

        • No, I’m saying one voucher per year, like the IHG Premium card.

          You need to understand that super-high spenders are effectively cancerous to credit card issuers now. The points cost more than the marginal interchange revenue. Creation will have lost at least £300 on the £50k of VAT, PAYE and tax I paid in January.

          One view from the conference last week is that there will be an annual spending cap imposed on points cards, or at the very least a tapering earnings rate beyond a certain point.

      • RussellH says:

        Provided that the card were free, I would take/keep it (I do have a current Hilton Barclaycard, and most of my non-Amex spend goes on it).. Clealy nothing like as good for contributing to free nights, but it would, presumably, stop my accumulated points expiring, which is crucial, surely.

        I seldom spend more than £5 per month on my MBNA Miles + More Visa and Amex, purely to keep my M+M points. Even though the Amex still earns 1.5 points per £1 (started out at 2 points), it is never going to earn me a free flight, but it does preserve the points.

      • New Card says:

        Or did you mean £10k each year? (so can get 1 free night each year).
        That would be less interesting (still no incentive to spend £10,001+ each year), but still worthwhile.

  7. Nigel Williams says:

    I wonder if it would still be possible to convert my cashback Barclaycard (0.5%) into the Hilton version as a way of replacing my “non-Amex” card?

    I’ve stayed loyal to the cashback card for years (I’ve had it back when it was the Egg card!) but it is becoming less and less competitive and I was considering switching to the Hilton version.

  8. mark2 says:

    In USA there is a Hilton American express card, which would be nice here too.

  9. Hilton and Barclaycard need to give serious thought to providing a premium product for those with cash to spend or they’l walk.

    Free or low fee cards are starting to feel like when you send someone to the off licence with a 100 quid for a bottle of wine and they keep coming back with a bottle of Blue nun and gush how how much they’re saved you.

  10. Ugh! That will teach me to wait before applying 🙁
    Fingers crossed something just as good gets released to replace it.

  11. JamesB says:

    Perversely I find myself loving all these credit card changes, our hobby has not been so thrilling since the days of calling up Pune 🙂

  12. Chris says:

    Card issuers need to do something to encourage increased spending. I hit the max on each card and move on. However, if there was something like a 2-4-1 voucher per £10k spent instead of 1 no matter how much you spend, I might actually be a loyal customer…

    • Chris says:

      It would also reduce churning

    • +1. I’m sure, given the taxes and fees BA charge on long haul redemptions, that they don’t lose money on the 2 4 1’s. (Though I’m happy to stand corrected!)

  13. Just applied and been accepted for the tandem 0.5% cashback card. Thought I’d get it out the way before Rob drops the article on Sat and opens up the floodgates 🙂

  14. Thomas Howard says:

    Its frustrating that these reward cards are being withdrawn, I’ve only just discovered I can get bonus Avios paying off the balance of MBNA and Lloyds cards with a Tesco Current Account and earning clubcard points (£8=1 point, which I think is 600 Avios per £2000 spent).

  15. Asda cashback card (creation) are reducing their cashback on outside of Asda spend from 0.5% to 0.2% as of mid April

  16. Did anyone else see the Amex Platinum and Hilton Honors Uk F1 competition on Facebook ad today?

    Only open to enter between 1-5th March. Winner wins an experience at McClaren HQ and free night in Hilton ‘resort bed’.

    Could that be linked to a new Hilton Amex, or simply promoting the free HH Gold with Amex Plat? I suspect the latter but got me excited for a minute.

  17. watfordh says:

    Found a link to one that ended on 28th Feb!
    Hadn’t seen anything about this until today.

  18. Talk about sneaking in just in time! Applied a month ago, refused as ‘have an existing account’, except that I don’t! Called, told would be escalated, nothing. Called again a week later, told the same thing – was going to call back this afternoon only to receive an email saying card approved 😀

  19. chris says:

    just had notification that barclaycard are issuing me a new card and my exisiting hilton card is valid until 2020 guess hilton points are no more have you got any news on this?

  20. Jason says:

    Applied today successfully using a window I had open from a few weeks ago. Phew.

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