Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

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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, 20000 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, 10000 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.

Comments (131)

  • Czechoslovakia says:

    My Lloyd’s avios twin pack only arrived last week, after having to wait 6 months for my old product to “Drop out” of the system. Nowhere did they ask for my avios account number when applying. Is that right, anyone? TIA.
    Shame about both the Hilton and Lloyd’s cards… Im afraid there are some enhancements looming….

    • Ian says:

      That means they will open you a new avios account and points will end up there.

      Phone and ask right away where the avios are going. It’s much easier to get this number and merge with avios than get lloyds to change it!

      • guesswho2000 says:

        Not necessarily, but possible. They did manage to match it correctly with mine. Wait until the first month’s points are due to drop, then see if they turn up. If not, call Avios and ask them to check for/merge, don’t bother trying to deal with Lloyds.

        • Mycity says:

          They’ve matched it with mine and my wife’s? I called and they told me that it’s matched by name and postcode

        • Ian says:

          That’s great you had better luck than me! It took me 8 months to get my avios they had matched it with someone else. I got a refund of my fees though as compensation it took so many emails!

    • Claire says:

      My husband just got one of these. They do it by email address .. so if you signed up to the card wth the same email address as you use for your Avios a/c then the points go in there automatically. If not they create a new a/c for you and then you need to speak to them (they have a live chat) and they can link it. This is what my husband was told last month, he used the same email address and his points went in to his Avios a/c no problem.

      • Michael says:

        They messed mine up quoted 6 month to fix and gave me £150 cheque. I have to call and they send me the point manually, although it takes a lengthy phone call. Each time they send the wrong amount also. Once I needed 8700pts, so they sent me 45000. Lloyds are worse than useless and im not suprised this has stopped the card.

        • RTS says:

          I am not sure why you are so upset about receiving free money and too many points…

        • Michael says:

          you assume I’m upset? no. Quite happy at their incompetence.

        • Michael says:

          Believe it or not but my postman has just been and I got a cheque for a further £75 as they have not been able to fix my account in the 6 months that they said they would. I closed the account last week as my double points offer had finished and got my last manual transfer done. How are Lloyds still in business, haha. Not complaining but come on they are totally incompetant. £150 + £75 + 45k extra points. Gutted they are stopping this card…

        • Lady London says:

          🙂

        • Phil says:

          Also £100 cheque delivered by postman today. I’ve lost track on whether they’ve sorted my points or not. Letter says they will have a final decision by April. Maybe I’ll get another cheque by then!

  • David says:

    I’ll be glad if Hilton move their agreement to MasterCard instead of Barclaycard. I never managed to get the Hilton card despite being “accepted” twice, because I already had a Barclaycard product. Hopefully a new Hilton MasterCard would be more accessible…

    • David says:

      Maybe? Mine have always been Visas… Either way, if Hilton can bin any sort of relationship with Barclaycard, the world would be a better place…

      • paulm says:

        Careful what you wish for, they may go to Creation!

      • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

        It won’t go to Creation. As I understand it, the P&L of the IHG cards is a horror show.

      • Andrew says:

        NewDay would be much worse than Creation.

      • Michael Jennings says:

        Barclaycard did issue Mastercards, but stopped doing so a couple of years back. he Mastercard that I had with them was changed into a Visa at the time. They now issue only Visa.

    • David says:

      N.b. Mastercard don’t issue cards themselves, so you are not comparing like with like.

      Mastercard is a payment network, the same as Visa.
      Barclaycard is a card issuer, that same as Natwest, MBNA, Creation, HSBC, etc.

      Amex is both a card issuer and a payment network.
      And other companies currently also have issued cards on the amex network.

    • john says:

      My work Barclaycard Business Visa card switched to Mastercard about a year ago so it’s not that Barclaycard don’t work with mastercard..

    • Michael Jennings says:

      I had a personal Barclaycard Mastercard that changed to being a Visa a couple of years ago. More recently than that, a notice of changes to terms and conditions for Barclaycard personal cards deleted all references to Mastercard and American Express, with a footnote saying that they no longer issue these types of cards. I guess it’s vaguely interesting that business cards are different.

  • Paul says:

    Pity about Hilton. My wife and I just cancellledcour cards and had hoped to churn them later in the year. Oh well looks like another travel benefit door closes. I just hope Hilton don’t go near Creation as they are truly awful credit card provider. Their IT and almost every aspect of their service is poor.

    I would speculate that big changes are also coming to Amex. I had a survey yesterday which asked me about the types of benefits I found most and least appealing. They were generally underwhelming and included airline status “without lounge access” as well as varying levels of travel related spend credit.

    I got the impression that major enhancements were coming dressed up as “ our customers have told us they want”………all for higher fees!

    • The_real_a says:

      If you have priority pass as part of the package then you dont need lounge access 😉

    • Heather says:

      Just wondering what you mean by churn? I thought it was a once lifetime sign up bonus with the Hilton visa? Not that it matters now…

      • Genghis says:

        It was possible to get it more than once…

      • TripRep says:

        Yes it was possible to get the sign up bonus again if you left a good grace period between cancelling and applying, I left over a year and got new Certificate for mine and Mrs TripReps for us to both use in the Maldives 😀

  • Brian says:

    Wow I literally applied and was approved for this card late last week. Things like this come totally out of the blue. The hotel credit card market in the UK is so volatile, just look at the changes in recent years with IHG and when creation pulled the Marriott Rewards MasterCard.

    • rob says:

      “The hotel credit card market in the UK is so volatile”

      Not just hotels but all credit cards, this due in part to the new EU interchange fees. If the Lloyds card goes that will be 3 of my credit cards gone.

      Maybe post-Brexit this rule can be changed; it just limits choice for the consumer. Frustrating.

      • Alan says:

        Didn’t Rob say previously that it was the UK Government pushing this interchange fee restriction with the EU? If that is correct then I wouldn’t put too much hope in it changing post-Brexit

        • George says:

          Yep. The UK gov had a big hand in this and I think it’s unlikely to be undone.

      • Andrew says:

        Let’s be honest here. The new interchange rules are good for consumers on average. Our generous rewards funded by relatively high Amex and other interchange fees were being subsidised by consumers in general since no stores listed separate prices for each and every card on the market. If a retailer had to pay 3-4% for an amex purchase compared to a fraction of a percent for a debit card then obviously the average consumer was subsidising the average points collector. If consumers all exercised their choice and went for similar expensive rewards cards then prices would have to go up to compensate retailers.

        That doesn’t necessarilly mean prices will now come down but hopefully when retailers next analyse their costs they’ll be less likely to put prices up given they’ve got a bit more headroom on their payment fees.

        • Rob says:

          My main concern was that this has, unequivocally, reduced choice for the consumer in the card market. Less choice potentially means higher charges for consumers, which i guess will include higher interest rates/fees or reduced bonuses/vouchers.

          The main drivers for reducing fees will be payment processors like Square, Worldpay, Alipay, izettle etc, some of those charge 1.5%. The interchange fees are a small part of a larger fee-pie for the retailer and a very small part of their overall cost base.

  • Trev says:

    Another one bites the dust… our options for non Amex spend are very limited now!

    Any ideas as to what to replace it with if this doesn’t get renewed as a viable/useful new card?

    Amazon or John Lewis cards maybe? I know they aren’t travel related but that market appears to be getting annihilated.

    • Rob says:

      New Virgin card

      • Genghis says:

        When can we expect an article?

        • pauldb says:

          Virgin Money had their results this week and gave an H1 launch, so not imminent.

        • Rob says:

          When they tell me I can write it …. the snag with what we’ve done re the NDA is that we can’t write about rumours which turn out to be true (as we know the truth) which is our normal editorial approach!

      • Trev says:

        I’m waiting to see what they come up with, do you have any ideas what the benefits might be? If they keep the fee from the old black card do you think they will be keeping the earnings and vourchers at the same rate too?

        • New Card says:

          You can’t write about rumours which turn out to be true … so does that mean it’s months not weeks then?! 😛

  • will says:

    I qualified for Gold (£10k spend) and Honors website said will remain Gold for as long as I am a cardholder (not 1 year and need to requalify) – that was a nice surprise

    However IF this card gets pulled tomorrow (or on 30 days notice or whatever) that seems to have been a bit of a pointless exercise! Can this legally happen?

    • guesswho2000 says:

      Yes, anything can happen, because the T&Cs give them the right to change the T&Cs at any time.

    • sunguy says:

      Where exactly did it say you will remain gold for as long as you are a cardholder ?

    • TripRep says:

      Will – where exactly does is say this??? can you quote it with the web page address, please 😀

    • Michael Jennings says:

      I also got the message as Will – that I will remain Gold for as long as I have the HH Barclaycard, However I qualified for Gold using a route that had nothing to do with the Barclaycard, and I was wondering if this was real. I guess it is moot if they abolish the card.

  • Anna says:

    Does “no impacts on existing customers” mean they will still honour the free night certificate? I got my HH visa last week.

    • Peter K says:

      You should be okay. Basically the first step to getting rid of a card is stopping applications. Stopping it for current users often takes months (years?) longer.

  • Andy says:

    Blimey Rob, what other cards did you say they should get? I better apply for them today before they get pulled too!