Comparing the Various Hilton Credit Card Options

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If you want to build Hilton HHonors points in a hurry, you are in luck as they have possibly the largest number of options when it comes to earning points via credit card sign-ups (and spending).  Unlike some other hotel chains that only buddy up with one credit card company, Hilton has co-branded Amex and Citi cards.  On top of that, you can also get their points from some other not-as-obvious credit card sign-ups.

HHonors points are admittedly not my favorite type of hotel points, as I think many of their redemption options are less than stellar.  It isn’t unusual to see Hilton hotel rooms that can be purchased for $100 – $150 going for 40,000 – 50,000 points per night.  That is a bunch of points for an average hotel room, but that is somewhat balanced with how easy HHonors points can be to earn.  They also do have some properties where using points is a very good value, and that is why I have started to build my own HHonors points stash.  Our plan is to use Hilton points to stay in the Maldives for 4-5 nights, which can be done easily by just obtaining a few Hilton cards.  Basically, Hilton points are a very good type of point to build if you have a strategic use in mind.

As a result of a new limited time offer I wrote about where you can receive up to 65,000 HHonors points via the no annual fee Hilton Amex, I was asked if I could do a post comparing the different Hilton credit card offers.  Ask and you shall receive – here is a list of the various Hilton credit card offers I am aware of today.

Hilton Specific Offers:

Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card:

Sign-up bonus: Two free weekend nights at a Hilton property (weekend is defined as Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night)

Annual fee: $95

Other notable perks: Gold status for as long as you have the card; access to GLON awards; free weekend night annually after spending $10,000; can potentially use “two browser trick” to get two cards and two sign-up bonuses.

Hilton HHonors Amex:

Sign-up bonus: 65,000 HHonors points (40,000 HHonors points when you spend $750 in the first three months, and then an additional 25,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in the first six months)

Annual fee: None

Other notable perks: Silver status for as long as you have the card; access to AXON and GLON awards

Hilton Amex Surpass Card:

Sign up bonus: 60,000 HHonors points (40,000 bonus points after 1st purchase and an additional 20,000 points after spending $3,000 within 3 months)

Annual fee: $75 (not waived the first year)

Other notable perks: Gold status the first year and then Silver status for as long as you have the card; access to AXON and GLON awards

Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card:

Sign-up bonus: 40,000 or 50,000 HHonors points (FT thread on 50K offer where offer terms are not displayed but seems to work for others, or the offer for 40K points after spending $1,000 in four months that is linked above with displayed terms)

Annual fee: None

Other notable perks: Silver status for as long as you have the card; access to GLON awards; can potentially use “two browser trick”


Non-Hilton Specific Offers Where the Points Can be Transferred to Hilton:

American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card:

Sign-up bonus: 25,000 Membership Reward points after spending $2,000 in three months; earn 15K bonus points when you spend $30,000 within one calendar year

Annual fee: None the first year; $175 in subsequent years

Transfer process: As I pointed out in this post, you can transfer Membership Reward points directly to Hilton at a rate of 1,000 MR points to 1,500 HHonors points.  However, you can transfer from MR to Virgin Atlantic at a 1:1 ratio.  You can then transfer from Virgin Atlantic to Hilton at a 1:2 ratio.  That means if you transferred the 27,000 Membership Reward points you would have after hitting the spending requirement to Virgin Atlantic and then to Hilton, you would have 54,000 HHonors points.  If you wanted to go directly from Membership Rewards to HHonors then you would have 40,500 HHonors points.

The Enhanced Business Gold Rewards Card® from American Express OPEN:

Sign-up bonus: 50,000 Membership Reward points after spending $5,000 in three months

Annual fee: None the first year, $175 in subsequent years

Transfer process:  These Membership Reward points can be transferred into up to 110,000 HHonors points as detailed below. One-day offers for 75,000 points with a $10,000 spending requirement have been coming around every couple months this year. The same transfer process applies as with the Amex Premier Rewards Gold card.  By going through Virgin Atlantic, you can end up with 110,000 Hilton points after meeting the spending requirement.

Bank of America Virgin Atlantic:

Sign-up bonus: 25,000 points after first purchase and adding authorized users AKA 50,000 HHonors points

Annual fee: $90 annual fee

Transfer process: Transfer the points 1:2 to HHonors

Bank of America Hawaiian Airlines:

Sign-up bonus: 35,000 Hawaiian Airline miles (20,000 bonus Hawaiian Airlines miles after first purchase and 15,000 bonus Hawaiian Airline miles after spending $1,000 within 4 months)

Annual fee: $79

Transfer process: Transfer the points 1:2 to HHonors.  There are some problems that have been reported where Hawaiian does not allow you to transfer points in from a third party and then out to Hilton.  However these points are not transferred in from a third party, so it should be fine.  You can also do this exact same offer with Bank of Hawaii.

If you wanted to do a big Hilton specific churn, you could easily rack up enough HHonors points for a blow-out hotel stay by hitting one or two of these offers from each of the three banks.  I’m sure someone out there has done just that!  Even you want to take it even a step further, you technically could also go from Chase Ultimate Rewards to Amtrak to Hilton, but there are some caveats to that one, so just read Lucky’s post if you want more info.  I prefer to leave my UR points as UR points and utilize some of these other opportunities for Hilton points.

What offers did I leave out?  Have you done a Hilton churn yourself?  Where do you like to spend Hilton points?


Disclosure: I do receive a commission if you approved for some of the cards listed in this post using my affiliate link.  Each represents the best respective offer of which I am aware.  As always, thanks for your support. 

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. I have the two Citi Hilton visa signature cards in June 2012. When is the earliest time I can do the two browser trick and receive another two cards? Also, is it best to get the 2 Citi American Airlines CC first? I have applied for them in May 2011 and canceled the Citi American Airlines AMEX in May 2012. Still have the Citi AA visa.

  2. It’s good to see that you finally see some value in Hilton points. Don’t get me wrong, I too like a Hyatt. But our three week trip to Europe is Hilton points in Prague, Vienna, Innsbruck, and Munich. Marriott in Budapest, and Priority Club in Berchtesgaden. Last I checked, no Hyatt’s in any of those cities. One really needs to have a diversified point balance. And as far as value goes, I agree with you about some Hiltons, but when I can get a room at the Hyatt Escala in Park City during ski season for $94, I would never spent 16,000 points. So value is in the eye of the beholder.

  3. I too am happy to see you “liking” Hilton points these days. I suspect that it may have to do with your increase in international travel. We tend to spend all of our HHonors points in Europe and Asia where you there are some wonderful hotels at decent award levels.
    I always enjoy your posts (especially now that you are venturing out of the US). Keep up the good work.

  4. @Sil, my understanding of Citi cards is 18 months from application. Sounds like you are closer to repeating on the AA cards due to application dates.
    @barb, totally agree that diversification is a good thing. HHonors points aren’t my primary focus due to my own travel patterns, but they do play a very strong role if you are traveling outside NA!
    @DL, I suspect you are correct about your assumptions. 😉 We aren’t the type that wanted to pack up our infant/young toddler and head across the world (just isn’t for us), but now that our kiddo is getting older, we will be venturing further from home.

  5. In addition to the BofA hawaii card, there is an identical Bank of Hawaii card, and you can get both at the same time for 70k hilton points each

  6. Do 7-11’s allow you to buy Vanilla reload with a credit card?

    If so, I will be using my Hilton (no fee) CC for purchasing Vanilla reloads, which in turn I plan on using to load Bluebird, in order to get points when I pay my mortgage. I already checked with AMX Hilton Honors. They wrote me back and confirmed that 7-11’s earn 6x points. Not a bad alternative if you don’t have the 5X “Ink deal” going. I just got a chase card, so the Ink card application will have to be put on hold for a few more months.

  7. I’m Amtrak Select so I can easily take advantage of the 50000 UR to AGR to make 100000 HH points. I’m still not sure if I’m getting best value for the UR points this way instead of moving them to United MP. Has anyone done the analysis to which one is better!

  8. @MrChu – have you successfully able to do the UR to AGR to HH?

    @Mommypoints – Nice blog today, I was hoping someone do a comparing like this.. now we just need one for AA and PC. I’m planning to build some HH, already have 80k PC so I think that would be enough.. but just using up my United points.. so I’m looking for some idea for domestic travel point now Any suggestion? Two Citi AA? or one Citi AA and one Citi HH?

    next appp-0-rama:
    Amex HH, no fee

    and need something for miles

  9. A couple weeks ago, I applied for Barclays USAir, Chase Ink Bold and Citi Hhonors Reserve gold on the same day. The first two were approved. I didn’t hear back from Citi and was procrastinating a reconsideration call, sort of worried about the 10k spend on the Ink Bold.

    Then, today, the Citi Hilton came via UPS. Doh! Whoops!! I need to do some careful Christmas spending math around here.

    One question: If I already booked a non-refundable room at a Hilton over Thanksgiving, will I be able to use my gold benefits then? I guess I can just change the res to the new card, right?

  10. Unfortunately, the B of A Virgin Atlantic card does not give you an additional 5K points for adding a user. It requires you to add 2 additional users. So for those of us with only 1 person to add, that makes the Hilton bonus 40K, not 50K.

  11. @Mary Kate You don’t have to change anything. Just having the card makes you Hilton Gold, regardless of what card you use to pay for your room. You may want to actually pay for all your Hilton charges with the card though, since it gets you 10 points per dollar spent at Hilton properties. Again, no need to change anything now, just have them swipe the Citi card at check in and check out. It doesn’t matter what card you used to make the reservation.

  12. MP –

    I think your target readership should give Hilton more than a fair shake, for this reason – they have the best collection of all suite properties (with frickin doors, not “studio suites”, aka a hotel room with a kitchenette) out there between Embassy, Doubletree and Homewood. Good availability of rooms where you don’t have to go to sleep because your little one did.

  13. @Tommy: Yes I have transferred 10000 AGR points to 20000 HH points earlier this year when I wanted to top off my HH account. So it does work. It would leave me with additional 30000 AGR points that I can transfer this calendar year and of course rinse and repeat in Jan for next year. But I’m not very convinced that it is the best option. The other disadvantage is that it is not instant. It takes about a week for AGR to HH so you have to plan your HH stay or transfer in advance!

  14. @Robert Hanson – yes, you are right that you need to add TWO additional users to get the 5K bonus. But I found that it was not very difficult. I added my wife and my 10 yr old daughter. The form just needed a SSN number. In another blog, a person said that he added his dog. Not sure how he did that, unless his dog has a SSN 🙂

  15. Thanks MP, good post!

    @Nick, Hilton Surpass page says 6X for “independent gas stations” or somesuch. Are you sure its 6X for 7-Elevens? That would make a significant difference to me.

    Also MP, I’m not sure what the point of Hilton Silver is exactly? I think Gold is pretty good, and Diamond has a few advantages over Gold, but not clear what Silver gets you really if anything…

  16. Silver gets you access to GLON rewards. But not much else.

    I have seen reports of 7/11’s being coded as gas stations. But one way to find out.

  17. @Glenn —
    Dear Nick,
    Thank you for writing in.
    7-11 is classified in our records as a U.S. stand-alone gas station against which you receive 6 HHonors Bonus Points for each transaction. Assuring you of our best services at all times!
    Sincerely, xxxxxxxxx xxxxx
    Email Servicing Team American Express Interactive Services

    If you think about it – they can classify it as “grocery” and they would still have to give you 6x per dollar. I guess they just have to classify it as something. I have traveled to some states, however, where there are 7-11’s that don’t sell gas.

  18. Good post. If you are looking at going to the Maldives from the US I highly suggest you stay longer than 4-5 nights. It will take you 2-3 days to get over the jet lag, especially with kiddo towing along. We are going to Conrad next spring-break with the kiddos (been twice with just me and my wife) and we are staying 7 nights plust a stopover in Abu Dhabi en route

    • @Phil, this will probably be an “adults trip” as a very belated honeymoon, but you are right that a longer trip would be better than a shorter one. Sadly, my husband only has two weeks of vacation a year, so to do a family trip and our trip in the year we can’t really stay longer than 4-5 nights. Oh the horrors of only having two weeks of vacation! 😉

  19. @Phil,

    Yeah, I live in California and almost all the 7-Elevens I visit are separate and not gas stations. But nevertheless, this is a useful note presumably. I just assumed they would classify it as a convenience store or something, meaning no bonus, just 1X.

  20. @MP wow that is tough 2 weeks a year?? Not sure I could deal with that 🙂 At the very least then let me recommend you go the “short” way via the Middle East. Both of our trips so far out there have been “adults only” but I do want to take the kids out there, the snorkeling is amazing and that is something they can experience. Just makes the planning and points requirement a bit more difficult!

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