Author: Mike Anderson
The card's rewards - 6 points per $1 spent at a participating hotel within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio.* In fact, it ranks well even among the the gas credit cards
as it earns 3 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent on purchases at supermarkets, drugstores and gas stations.* But.
The key to understanding the Hilton HHonors cards is understanding what a Hilton Point is worth. If each point had similar value to other point programs, the card would be very attractive, because you earn in excess of 2 points per $1 spent. However, this is not the case.
NerdWallet estimates Hilton points are worth 1/2 of a cent, about 1/2 the value of other point programs.
Waldorf Hotel: 50,000-60,000 points per night versus retail of $250 per night. Point value, about 1/2 of a cent.
Hilton Casino Gaming Chip: 40,000 points versus face value of $100. Point value, about 2.5/10 of a cent.
Carnival Cruise Gift Certificate: 480,000 points versus face value of $1000. Point value, about 2.1/10 of a cent.
American Airlines Gift Certificate: 25,000 points versus face value of $50. Point value, 2/10 of a cent.
The exchange rate is even less favorable when you exchange Hilton points for airline miles or buy points directly:
You can exchange 10,000 Hilton points for 1,500 airline miles, which is about a $15 value. Participating partners include American Airlines, Gulf Air, Hawaiian Airlines, Mexicana Airlines, Midwest Airlines, Qantas Airways, South African Airways, and Virgin Atlantic Airways
You can purchase points for 1 cent each when you buy more than 10,000 at a time.
If you're confident you can consume all of your Hilton points at Hilton/Waldorf hotels, assume more rewards than NerdWallet's estimate. If you never stay at Hilton/Waldorf hotels, assume fewer rewards than our estimate.
Also, before you take the leap with HHonors, we'd recommend considering a few cards where you can redeem points directly on your credit card statement, to offset (ANY) travel expenses made with the card. The American Express Blue Sky
comes with no annual fee, and lets you offset travel at a rate of 1.33%, the Discover Escape
has a $60 annual fee but lets you use purchases to offset travel at a 2% rewards rate, and the Capital One Venture Rewards Visa
card has a $59 annual fee, but also lets you offset travel at a 2% rewards rate. Note that Discover Escape and Venture Rewards have sign up bonuses worth about $250 and $100, respectively, which helps offset some of the pain of that annual fee.
How to decide between the American Express Hilton HHonors
, the American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass
, and the Citibank Hilton HHonors card?
The Citibank card only offers a base reward rate of 2 Hilton points per $1 spent, so unless you really need a Visa card, it is a poor choice.
The Surpass has difficult to value fringe benefits, such as airport lounge access. Excluding these benefits, the main tradeoff is that the Surpass card has an annual fee of $75 but earns points slightly faster, so we'd use our Credit Card Finder to calculate which card is a better deal based on your spending habits. Roughly speaking, you have to earn an EXTRA 15,000 points each year to offset the $75 annual fee, which translates to ~$7,500 per year in spending.