Why Hilton’s proposed new UK credit card could be one of the best

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Hilton Honors sent a few members a questionnaire yesterday seeking their opinion on two new UK credit card options.   And, it has to be said, it looks promising.

I have written before that Hilton is known to be working on a new product to replace the existing Barclays product, now closed to new applicants.  The two scenarios being circulated are both attractive, and one could be great for high spenders.

Here are the two options (click to enlarge):

New Hilton Honors UK credit card options

Let’s summarise this briefly:

Neither scenario has an annual fee (surprising, because in the new 0.3% interchange environment, a fee is one of the few ways to generate revenue)

The proposed sign-up bonus is pretty good for a free card, being worth £33-£50 for £1000 spend

The proposed earning rate for spending at Hilton properties is excellent (4-5 points per £1)

All cardholders get Silver status in Hilton Honors, with Gold (free breakfast) for spending £10,000 in a year

The earning rate would be either 2 points per £1 (worth about 0.66p – very good for a Visa / Mastercard in the current environment) or, far more interesting, 1 point per £1 PLUS a free weekend night voucher at £15,000 and ANOTHER free weekend night voucher at £20,000

Let’s do the maths.

For someone who spends £20,000 on the proposed 2nd version, you would receive:

20,000 Hilton Honors points, worth £66

Gold status in Hilton Honors, which we’ll assume is worth £100 to the average leisure guest over a year

TWO free weekend nights which – if they can be used at any Hilton Group hotel, including the top Conrad and Waldorf Astoria options – could be valued at £500 between them

This gets you £666 of benefits for £20,000 of spending.  This is an attractive 3.3% return.

The proposed 1st version is better for low spenders but less attractive to high spenders.  All you receive is 2 Hilton Honors points per £1 spent, which I value at 0.66p, so a 0.66% return on your spending.  This goes up to 1.66% if the cardholder spent £10,000, earned Hilton Gold status and got £100 of value from the free breakfasts.

How does this compare to other cards on the market?

This is how I value the long-term spending benefits on the airline and hotel credit cards still available to new applicants.  To understand my calculations, read this article.

The free Virgin Money Reward Mastercard varies by status:

  • Base Virgin Flying Club member – up to 2.4% on first £20,000
  • Silver Virgin Flying Club member – up to 3.4% on first £20,000
  • Gold Virgin Flying Club member – up to 6.4% on first £20,000

The £160 Virgin Money Reward+ Mastercard also varies by status:

  • Base Virgin Flying Club member – up to 4.4% on first £10,000
  • Silver Virgin Flying Club member – up to 6.3% on first £10,000
  • Gold Virgin Flying Club member – up to 12.3% on first £10,000

As you can see, if Hilton Honors went with the 2nd proposal above:

It would be more generous for a high spender than the IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard 

It would be more generous than the free Virgin Money Reward Mastercard if you don’t have Virgin Flying Club status

I have a proposed tweak though ….

I accept that Hilton Honors may not want to launch a card which requires £20,000 of expenditure to unlock all of the benefits.  It excludes a lot of the potential market.

I would be tempted to ‘do an IHG’ and have two variants:

as ‘Option X’ above, a free card earning 2 points per £1, giving Silver status to everyone and Gold at £10,000

a revised ‘Option Y’ with an annual fee of, say, £75 but with a higher earning rate of 2 points per £1 plus the two free night vouchers for spending £20,000

My revised ‘Option Y’ is actually a better deal for Hilton than their ‘Option Y’ except when dealing with ultra-high spenders.  One way around this would be to reduce the earning rate to 1 point per £1 after spending, say, £50,000 per year.

On £20,000 of annual spend they would be giving out 20,000 additional Hilton Honors points but they are getting a £75 fee – albeit the card issuer will want a cut.

Importantly, both of the cards I outline above would be more attractive than their respective IHG Rewards Club variants.  The free card would also be more attractive than the Marriott Rewards Mastercard, assuming that it returns to the market next month with the same benefits package (1 point per £1, no long-term spend incentive) as the old version.

Conclusion

If Hilton Honors does go ahead and launches a free Mastercard /  Visa product offering two free weekend nights EVERY YEAR for spending £20,000, I think it would have substantial appeal to Head for Points readers.  A product which got you a free 2-night weekend break every year at Hilton Venice, Conrad London St James, Waldorf Astoria Rome, Waldorf Astoria Berlin etc would be very tempting.

It isn’t that clear cut of course.  I am assuming that the free night voucher can be used at any hotel, which may not be the case.  Restricting it to weekend use also makes it less flexible.

Make no mistake though – I would be getting one of these cards if they did come to market.  (I am less excited by the version with no free nights, so let’s hope Hilton drops that one!)  Thanks to Andrew for the screenshot.

What happened at the Head for Points Summer Party
Bits: new Amex hotel cashback deals, 500 Accor points and cocktails at MGallery, 3000 IHG points with Hertz
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Comments

  1. Option Y for me. Shame they got rid of the £750 spend for certificate. This was most appealing in the hotel loyalty card world. Waldorf Astoria Palm Island was meh, they charged me for a bacradi when I didnt even touch the mini bar. Wouldnt go back.

  2. Martin says:

    Do we have any idea who will be managing the cards? Hopefully not Creation and assume not Barclaycard as they have the current one..

    • No idea. I also don’t know who Lufty is looking to work with. My best guess would be that New Day has been persuaded to get into the travel sector.

    • Christian says:

      Urgh, Creation are useless.
      And so slow to process payments – ever heard of Faster Payments if you’re reading this? They’re about 10 years behind the rest of the market.

  3. Nigel Williams says:

    Went through the questionnaire today.

    They really need to make diamond attainable – The goal of these cards is brand loyalty through status more than anything else.

    Points for spending in the hotel itself is pretty useless, as many will be churning limits on other cards (Amex etc) anyway.

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