There is currently a plethora of excellent Hilton sign-up bonuses on the market. They are: Citi Hilton HHonors Signature card, Hilton HHonors card from American Express and Hilton HHonors Surpass from American Express. Confused? We are just getting started.
You can read about specifics on all three in this post So, here are some things you should be aware of:
1) While all three offers are very good, they may not be good for you
In general, Hilton points aren’t exceptionally valuable. In fact, I speculatively value them at 0.25 cents each. Emphasis on “speculatively.” I actually did recently buy them at 0.5 cents each, but only because I had a specific redemption in mind, and math IMO was favorable. It was a category 1 property in Europe, which means it costs 5,000 points per night. At that rate, I only paid $25 for hotel that includes breakfast. A good deal in my book.
That said, there aren’t that many category 1 properties in USA. They do exist, and I even wrote a post on one. If you are heading to one of them in a near future, by all means, get one of Hilton credit cards. In fact, it could make sense to do it for a category 2 or 3 property (cost 10,000 and 20,000 points respectively). See my post on Amex Surpass for more on this.
But if you are currently swimming in hotel points, perhaps you should take a look at mileage or cash sign-up bonuses listed on this page. In general, I value 1 mile at 1 cent, but all things being equal, I will go for cash bonus. In fact, if I don’t see myself using a certain type of miles within the next few years, I’m more likely to select an offer of cash, travel rebate or gift cards even if it’s technically worth less. One exception is Chase. I wrote about new restrictions on co-branded card approvals that are supposedly coming our way in April. So…
2) If you constantly switch credit cards and don’t have specific use for Hilton points, consider getting a Chase hotel credit card instead
This might be the case of “use it or lose it.” Hilton cards will still be there for your “churning” pleasure after April. The same can not be said for Chase co-branded offers. Right now, we are operating under assumption that Chase will cut off people like me, namely, those who like to fleece it.
So, if the evil plan materializes, those hotel cards will be off-limits, possibly forever. Maybe picking up Marriott, IHG, Fairmont or Hyatt offer would be advantageous at this particular time. I’m not saying you should and personally, I plan to go for Southwest bonus. But assuming you are looking to accumulate hotel points (any hotel points) speculatively, you may want to reconsider getting a Hilton card.
3) Any time I see extremely high offers like this, my first thought is that significant devaluation is around the corner
This goes along with my warning to readers about collecting hotel points speculatively, period. It’s true that Hilton has hugely devalued its program few years ago. Many think that they can’t possibly do more damage. Well, I disagree. I believe the most vulnerable are low-tier redemptions, and that’s where real value is for many regular families.
4) If you only plan to get one Hilton card and don’t have specific plans for points, it should probably be Citi offer
You can qualify for Citi sign-up bonus again as long as the card has been closed for at least 18 months. So, by getting it now you can start the clock. Amex bonus on personal cards can only be received once per lifetime. You might as well “save” it for the future when you might actually need it. In all likelihood, the bonus will be increased again at some point.
This card pays me commission.
5) If you plan to get two Hilton cards and don’t have specific plans for points, you should probably eliminate Amex Surpass
It has an annual fee of $75, not waived. The offer is 100,000 points compared to 75,000 points on the regular Amex Hilton HHonors card. But if you don’t have any plans to use them, what’s the point?
6) If you have specific goals for Hilton points and plan to stay at properties that don’t include breakfast, add Amex Surpass
While the fee of $75 is not waived, this card comes with automatic Gold status that gives free breakfast at most Hilton properties. You also might receive a free upgrade, but it’s hard to quantify the value of those. If you travel as a couple, it’s probably marginal. When you have a family, it’s a different story. Either way, $75 fee will probably pay for itself after just few hotel nights. Plus, you are getting a more generous bonus to start with.
If you love Hilton brand and want to accumulate their points via everyday spending, Surpass will probably be your best bet. See my linked post earlier in the article.
7) If you put very little on credit cards each month and don’t do any manufactured spending, consider Hilton HHonors card from American Express
Barrier to entry is very low at $1,000 in 3 months as far as minimum spending goes. While this isn’t an issue for most hobbyists who can easily knock off $10,000 in 3 months via various methods, most normal people are not like that.
If you are that normal person I’m referring to, stick to what you can comfortably handle. Amex cards are very good to hang on to long-term because you can access all kinds of valuable offers in your profile. Plus, this card has no fee, so no pressure to cancel it at some point in the future.
My reader Erik reminded me that both Citi Hilton offer and this card come with complimentary Hilton Silver status, which gives access to “5th night free” benefit as well as other perks. Gold status has this benefit as well.
Well, it’s a wrap! Readers, what would you like to add?
P.S. Check the comment from reader TropicGal on how you can sort Hilton hotels into corresponding categories.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.