Author: Mike Anderson
The card's rewards - 12 points per $1 spent at the Hilton and 6 points at stand-alone supermarkets and gas stations - rank it as one of the better everyday-purchases rewards cards. In fact, it ranks well even among the gas credit cards
for its ~3% rewards rate.
That said, there's something you probably don't know about Hilton. The hotel chain's points program isn't quite the same as its competitors.
NerdWallet estimates Hilton points are worth 0.5 cents, 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 .05 cents.
- 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, Lufthansa, Hawaiian Airlines, Mexicana 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 the American Express Blue Cash
and Blue Sky
, the Venture Rewards
, with its flat 2% rate, and the American Express Costco Card
, with its 3% on gas and 2% on dining and travel.
How to decide between the Hilton HHonors, the 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, like higher elite status and more amenities. 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 25,000 points each year to offset the $75 annual fee, which translates to ~$80,000 per year in spending.