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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)

  • PAL says:

    And yet the USA has loads of cards available with ridiculous sign up bonuses.

    • guesswho2000 says:

      Completely different market and rules. Issuers can charge much higher interchange fees there, which in turn funds the lucrative bonuses, etc..

  • Andrew says:

    The new world of 0.3% interchange fees is important in Europe.

    I’m not clear on what happens with the interchange fees for a European hosted card when it’s used in, say, the USA or Canada. Is there scope for higher rewards in certain countries?

    • RussellH says:

      I would assume that the place where the transaction takes place defines the fees, as they are paid by the merchant.

      Used to be the case certainly that credit card fees for my business were the same wherever the card came from. Debit cards were different, and I assume still are, which explains why it is not unusual in some countries to find shops and vending machines that only accept locally issued debiot cards.

  • Bharat says:

    I have applied for the Hilton Visa card yesterday and was approved within a minute. Should arrive today. So will it be cancelled soon after receiving?

  • john says:

    Perhaps Hilton told Barclaycard to stop issuing cards until they can fix the branding so it says Honors and not HHonors. It’s only been about a year!

  • James says:

    Bugger 🙁 have missed out on that then 🙁

  • 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?

    • Rob says:

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

    • mark2 says:

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

    • 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.

  • 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.

    • Jay says:

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

  • 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.

    • BLT says:

      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!